Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Applicants sought for Contra Costa Advisory Council on Equal Employment Opportunity

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

The Contra Costa County Advisory Council on Equal Employment Opportunity (ACEEO) has one (1) vacant Community seat open to applicants. The successful candidate must reside within Contra Costa County and have an interest in equal employment matters. The ACEEO meets the fourth Friday of each month from 9:30 a.m. -11:30 a.m. except for holidays.

The ACEEO assists with the implementation of the County’s Equal Employment Opportunity and Contracting Programs and serves as an advisory committee to the Board of Supervisors. The Council reviews the Equal Employment Opportunities Program and recommends actions to facilitate the attainment of the County’s goals for equal employment opportunities regardless of gender, and race/ethnicity.

The Board of Supervisors established the ACEEO on July 9, 1991. The Council has thirteen (13) seats representing the following groups:  4 Community seats; 2 Labor seats; 2 Management seats; 1 Educational seat; 1 Disability seat; 1 Business seat; 1 Veteran seat; and 1 Labor/Trade seat.

Application forms can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by calling (925) 655-2000 or visiting the County webpage at www.contracosta.ca.gov/3418.  Applications should be returned to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, 1025 Escobar St., 1st Floor, Martinez, CA 94553 no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, May 31, 2021. Applications can also be emailed to ClerkoftheBoard@cob.cccounty.us.

Applicants should plan to be available for public interviews on June 7, 2021. Due to COVID-19, interviews will be conducted via Zoom.  For further information about the ACEEO, please contact Antoine Wilson at antoine.wilson@riskm.cccounty.us or (925) 335-1455. You can also visit the web page at www.contracosta.ca.gov/4503/Advisory-Council-on-Equal-Employment-Opp.

 

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Antioch Council adopts three more police reforms, homeless resident services guidelines

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

The Antioch City Council and city clerk included a new timer for public comments during their meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. Video screenshot.

With little to no discussion council on final resolutions council approves police lateral hiring disqualifying factors, training matrix additions and notification protocol;  uses new on-screen timer for public comments.

By Allen Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, April 27, 2021, the Antioch City Council voted to approve three additional police reforms and homeless services guidelines all on 5-0 votes. But before dealing with the major issues on the agenda, when addressing the proclamation entitled Honoring Our Elders Month, May 2021, Thorpe was severely criticized during public comments and responded with a dig at those who made them. He said, “OK. While others continue to live in the past, we will move on to the next proclamation.” Following the mayor’s comments, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker smirked.

Although the reforms were discussed during their marathon meeting on February 26, there was little to no discussion by council members on the final resolutions they adopted during the Tuesday meeting. Nor were any findings offered by council members or staff to demonstrate the need for the reforms. (See related article)

As part of the consent calendar, the council also voted 5-0 to approve spending an additional $60,000 on homelessness consultant Focus Strategies. Asked why, when the city has already hired an Unhoused Resident Coordinator, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock responded, “to get all the programs in place.” Unhoused Resident Consultant Contract Extension

Approve Disqualifying Factors for Lateral Police Hires

With just a few public comments and no discussion by council members, but after staff conferred with the two Antioch Police Department bargaining units, the resolution adopting disqualifying factors for lateral police hires was approved on a 5-0 vote, with a rare time that District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica moved approval and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock seconding the motion of one of Thorpe’s police reforms. APD Disqualifying Factors for Lateral Hires

Approve Training Matrix Additions

Following a few comments by the public, mostly in support but one opposing, the council took up the issue of adding language  to the Antioch Police Department’s training matrix, which will include annual, public review by the city council. APD Officer Training Matrix topics

“Having all the good police officers I’ve ever met, they always want more training, and I support more training,” Barbanica said before making a motion to approve and Ogorchock seconding, again.

“Implicit bias, effectively is racial bias training, isn’t it?” Thorpe asked Police Chief T Brooks before the vote.

“They’re separate. Racial bias could be more of an explicit bias. They’re similar. But they can be separate,” Brooks responded.

One of the other additions that will be required in the training matrix for Antioch police officers is procedural justice. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services, procedural justice is based on four pillars: fairness in the processes, transparency in actions, opportunities for voice and impartiality in decision making.

The motion passed 5-0.

Notification Protocol Approved

Following a few public comments, including members of Angelo Quinto’s family asking for public communication to be included in the protocol, Barbanica made a motion to formally approve disqualifying factors associated with the lateral hiring of officers by the Antioch Police Department. However, no public notification requirements were included in the protocol. Those will be considered later, according to Thorpe. APD Notification Protocol 

The motion was approved on a 5-0 vote.

Approve Unhoused Resident Services Policy Guidelines

After the city council set aside $531,174 for new homelessness response efforts in November 2019 – with $140,000 already allocated for mobile showers and toilets, trash and sharps disposal, laundry services, motel vouchers, and pilots for safe parking programs and warming centers – and accepting five FEMA trailers that remain unused, hiring an Unhoused Resident Coordinator and contracting with a consultant at a cost of $133,000 so far, the council finally adopted policy guidelines for unhoused resident services. Antioch Policy Guidelines for Unhoused Resident Services

“This is essentially a first step,” Barbanica said. “To identify and bring services in and get people into housing. Does this include renting a hotel for housing? It does not.”

“We are trying to put together a pathway,” he continued. “This is how do we help people, right now, today hopefully get into long-term housing.”

“I think that, my belief is we need our own CORE Team and I ask that be added to the budget,” Ogorchock stated.

With no more discussion, Barbanica moved approval of the guidelines, with Ogorchock offering the second. The motion passed on a 5-0 vote.

The council then discussed additional homeless related ideas including a human rights commission, all of which will be considered in committee.

 

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Contra Costa County seeks applicants for Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is seeking applicants interested in serving on its 20-member Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (JJCC).  The JJCC currently has vacancies for two (2) At-Large Youth and one (1) At-Large Community-Member Representatives.

The JJCC is a multiagency advisory body that informs the development and implementation of a countywide juvenile justice plan composed of several critical parts, including, but not limited to an assessment of existing law enforcement, probation, education, mental health, health, social services, drug and alcohol and youth services resources which specifically target both at-promise as well as system-involved youth, and their families. The JJCC will also coordinate on a countywide basis the work of those governmental and non-governmental organizations engaged in activities designed to reduce the incidence of juvenile crime and delinquency in the greater community, develop information and intelligence-sharing systems to ensure that county actions are fully coordinated, and provide data and appropriate outcome measures.

The Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council is composed of the following 20 members:

Ten (10) Ex‐Officio Members:

  • Chief Probation Officer, as Chair
  • District Attorney’s Office representative
  • Public Defender’s Office representative
  • Sheriff’s Office representative
  • Board of Supervisors’ representative
  • Employment and Human Services Department representative
  • Behavioral Health Services representative
  • Alcohol and Other Drugs Division representative
  • Public Health representative
  • Juvenile Justice Commission Chair

Ten (10) Additional Members, appointed by the Board of Supervisors, as follows:

  • City Police Department representative
  • County Office of Education or a School District representative
  • Four (4) At-Large members, residing or working within Contra Costa County
  • Two (2) Community-Based Organization representatives
  • Two (2) At-Large youth, fourteen to twenty-five years old and residing or working within Contra Costa County

Appointments to the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council will be for a term of two years ending June 30, 2023. The JJCC meets monthly October through April and bi-monthly the remainder of the year. Members have the option to serve on three (2) two subcommittees that each currently meets monthly.

The application deadline is 5 pm on May 10, 2021. All timely applicants will be invited to the public interview process conducted by the Board of Supervisors’ Public Protection Committee: Supervisors Candace Andersen, District II, and Federal Glover, District V. This committee will then recommend a selection of applicants for the Board of Supervisors to appoint to the Racial Justice Oversight Body.

Below is a complete timeline of this recruitment process to fill the three (3) vacant JJCC seats:

  • May 10: Final Day of the Application Period, due by 5 pm
  • May 24: Public Protection Committee Meeting: Interviews
  • June 8: Board of Supervisors Appointments

Application forms can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors by calling (925) 655-2000 or by visiting the County webpage at www.contracosta.ca.gov/3418. Completed applications should be emailed to ClerkoftheBoard@cob.cccounty.us. Applications can also be mailed to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors Office at 1025 Escobar Street, 1st Floor, Martinez, CA 94553.

 

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Supervisors condemn xenophobia, hate crimes against Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

By Daniel Borsuk

A spike in assaults and crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islander citizens has triggered the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to publicly condemn the rising number of attacks. CCCBOS Resolution Condemning Xenophobia and Hate Crimes Against Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Communities

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020 there have been about 3,700 attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On March 19, President Biden proposed $300 million to improve public safety for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

“Too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying, waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake.” President Biden said on March 19.  “They have been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed.”

Supervisors approved the resolution at the request of District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff who brought the issue to the attention of Chair Diane Burgis.  Mitchoff’s chief of staff, Anne O, recommended that the board consider a resolution condemning attacks on the Asian and Pacific Islander citizens because her parents reside in Oakland’s Chinatown, a main area where assaults on Asian Americans have occurred especially to the elderly.

Supervisors did not hear any speakers either in favor or against the proclamation.

“The reality is racism and hate happen every day to Asians, Latinos and Blacks,” said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia. “We need to put it all together and to stand up against those that promote hatred against Asians. We need to do more than calling it out.”

“Racism is very widespread,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover. “We know that it exists. This situation really highlights the issue we have in the United States.”

Supervisor Mitchoff Wants County to Super-Charge County’s Electric Vehicle (EV) Fleet

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors wants to jump start its sluggish Electric Vehicle fleet acquisition efforts, especially when Mitchoff inquired at Tuesday’s meeting if the county is actively applying for state and federal grants to assist the county in the purchase of electric vehicles (EVs).

The answer, was yes, from County Administrator Monica Nino, but Mitchoff, who represents the county on the San Francisco Bay Air Quality District Board which awards grants to counties to buy EV vehicles. Contra Costa faces stiff competition from counties like Santa Clara to be awarded the air board grants to acquire EVs.

Out of a fleet of 1,569 vehicles, equipment and trailers, 951 are vehicles in Contra Costa County’s Internal Service Fund, County Director of Public Services Brian Balbas wrote in a March 8 report to the supervisors’ Internal Service Committee.

Currently, 2.2 percent of the county’s fleet of vehicles are electric powered, 2.4 percent are Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) powered, 16.2 perc are Hybrid, 8.8 percent are Renewable Diesel powered, and 70.4 percent are Unleaded gasoline vehicles.

“Fleet Services continues to promote building a ‘Green Fleet’ by purchasing 8 electric and 17 hybrid vehicles as replacement vehicles in 2019-2020,” Balbas reported.  In 2019-2020, the county spent $16,311,795.

Mitchoff admitted it is difficult for the county to get grant money for Contra Costa County to purchase EVs when Santa Clara County tends to be awarded most of the air district’s grants for EVs.

“This is where we ought to be moving,” she said in reference to increasing the county’s low EV fleet.  “The President and the Green Economy direct us how we should address the budgetary process.”

In a related item, supervisors approved a letter of support for the GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit corporation, to have PG&E serve as implementer for the Empower EV Program that intends to reduce barriers to electric vehicle acquisition in low and moderate-income communities. The program was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in 2019.

The $4 million program will provide incentives for up to 2,000 low- and- moderate income households to cover the costs of a residential EV charger, increase awareness of the benefits of EV adoption through targeted education and outreach, and provide information on other incentives and programs available to customers. PG&E has named “the Bay Point to Discovery Bay corridor area,” as a region of focus for Empower EV.

GRID Alternatives, a Bay Area non-profit that installs solar energy in low-income communities while providing job training and helps low-income persons access clean vehicles, is applying to be the implementer for Empower EV.

16-Year-Olds to Get COVID-19 Vaccines

With the Contra Costa Health Services and State of California having inked a Memorandum of Understanding on the allocation of COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer), Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth reported that the county is ramping up accessibility of the vaccine to Contra Costa County residents 50 years and older and will soon open the vaccination program to anyone 16 years old and older.

Roth expected eligibility will open in the next seven days. She asked the public to be patient when attempting to make an appointment.  Soon the county will open the Richmond Center and Bay Point Clinic to accommodate citizens registering to be vaccinated.

“Forty-four percent of resident have at least one dose of the vaccine,” Roth said. “We are removing barriers and making it easier to get the vaccine.”  She expected by April 15 the county will be in full compliance with the state.

Chief Equity Officer Gilbert Salinas reported that 19 additional ambassadors have been added to help register persons in communities like Bay Point, San Pablo and Richmond, communities with high numbers of black and Latino residents.

Deputy Health Officer Dr. Ori Tzviell said with Easter almost here, he advised that persons continue to wear masks and social distance as much as possible. “Outdoors is better than being indoors,” he said.  “Outdoors is safer for grandparents. It’s always safer to wear a mask.”

Approve Density Bonus for Walnut Creek Apartment Project

Supervisors approved as a consent item a density bonus inclusionary housing development agreement for the proposed 284-unit Del Hombre Apartments planned for Del Hombre Lane between Roble Road and Honey Trail in Walnut Creek.  Under the agreement, the developer is required to set aside five percent of the total number of rental units to moderate income households for a minimum of 55 years.

The development will include 21 studio units, 174 one-bedroom units and 89 two-bed-room units all located in one building. In addition, the development will include parking, landscaping, a community building, laundry, a pool, long-term bicycle storage, and trash enclosures.

Recognize Employees Skeritt, Emigh, Waters for Years of Service

Supervisors  recognized Kevin L. Emigh for 33 years of public service with the Road Engineering Division of the Public Works Department, Election’s Divisions Warehouse Unit employee Chuck Waters for 25 years of public service, and Victoria Skerritt for her 14 years of service with the Public Works Department.

Skerrit, who started her career with the Public Works Department as an Administrative Services Assistant II in Special District was promoted to Administrative Services II in Special Districts in 2007 and to Administrative Services Assistant III in 2014. Known for training new staff, Skeritt, who helped establish the Special Districts Community Center Policy, the Alamo Summer Concert Series and the implementation of the Tree Asset Management Program for all Special Districts was part of the 2017 Special Districts team that received the J. Michael Walford Team of the Year Award for delivering eight projects to seven communities from initial planning to construction in a single construction season.

Emigh is retiring from the Public Works Department after a 33-year career. As a licensed Professional Civil Engineer in California since 1993, some of his major projects that he played a part in the design and construction during his career include the Bethel Island Bridge, Iron Horse Overcrossing Project, Orwood Road Bridge, Alhambra Valley Road Washout Repair, Morgan Territory Road Slide Repair, Three Creeks Restoration and many others. Emigh received an Award of Excellence in June 1998 for his work designing and coordinating with the community on the Hilltop Drive Pedestrian Path-Phase 2 Project. He received an Award of Excellence in January 2000 for his contributions on the Editorial Board of Public Quirks Departmental Newsletter. He received an Award of Excellence in 2004 for his planning work and communicating with the community on the Rossmoor Detention Basin Project.

Waters, known as the Elections Division “MacGyver,” who would save the day by fixing anything with a paperclip, rubber band, straw or hammer, administered 73 elections during his career, including 11 primary elections and 12 general elections, seeing five different governors and five different presidents elected during this tenure. He is a certified technician, who maintained and repaired the county’s voting equipment, and provided regular safety lectures, while wearing his neon orange vest. He ensured that every Vote-by-Mail ballot was safely transported from Post Offices and Ballot Drop Boxes across Contra Costa County. He assures the Elections Division he will return to volunteer as an essential worker for future elections., the county proclamation stated.

Sheriff’s Deputy Acquires Service Dog Anavi for $1

Supervisors approved the request by Sheriff Deputy Timothy Allen to pay the county $1 for retired Sheriff’s Service Dog “Anavi.”  Since Dec. 18, 2007, the board of supervisors had approved a resolution (No. 2207/172), which authorized the transfer of ownership of retired police canine (K9) service dogs to their respective handlers for $1.

 

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Rep. McNerney to host Virtual Town Hall with Small Business Administration today

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

With the passage of the American Rescue Plan, more funding has been dedicated to programs that provide assistance and relief to small businesses and hard-hit industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Congressman Jerry McNerney (D, CA-9) will hold a virtual town hall with Small Business Administration (SBA) officials on Thursday, April 1st from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM to provide updates on SBA programs to help small businesses including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG). He will be joined by special guests Julie Clowes, District Director of the SBA San Francisco District Office, and Heather Luzzi, District Director of the SBA Sacramento District Office, to discuss these programs, answer questions, and share resources for small businesses.

Join Online:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82924454895?pwd=Nk94NXN6dmxnbGU0b3FCdVVIc05wUT09   

Passcode: 015998

Join by Phone:

(669) 900-6833

Webinar ID: 829 2445 4895

Passcode: 015998

Participants can join via phone or by using the webinar link above and can submit questions in advance here.

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Antioch sales tax oversight committee report shows serious crime decreasing 13.9%

Monday, March 29th, 2021

2019-2020 Measure W Expenditures. Graphic: City of Antioch

Continues to provide incorrect figures of additional sworn officers funded by Measures C and W – actually 26 more not 32; Code Enforcement staffing and activity increased

By Allen Payton

During the Tuesday, March 23, 2021 Antioch Council meeting, the Citizens’ Sales Tax Oversight Committee presented their 7th Annual Report on the use of Measure C and Measure W funds. There was a total of $15,582,340 in Measure W funds and $120,468 in Measure C funds received in Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2020. The report is required by April 1, each year.

Measure C was approved by Antioch voters in 2014 and established the city’s half-cent sales tax for seven year. “Measure W was approved by the voters in November 2018 and went into effect on April 1, 2019, which increased the tax to 1% and extends for 20 years,” the report states.

The presentation was provided by the outgoing chair of the committee, Susana Williams and current Vice Chair Dr. Kate Svyatets.

“Based on our review, we can ascertain all Measure C and Measure W monies are accounted for and meet the objectives of these Measures,” the report begins. “The entire balance of Measure C monies remaining were allocated to police per the City Council.”

“Measure W will continue to maintain our public safety services, as well as other quality of life services such as code enforcement, we are cleaning up blight, repairing roads, we’re supporting youth and senior services, recreation, etc.,” Williams shared. The report also shows the funds area used to attract new business and jobs to Antioch.

Incorrect Figures of Net Additional Sworn Officers

“Since the start of Measure C in 2014, the City hired 85 sworn police officers with a net gain of 32 sworn police officers,” Svyatets said. “By the end of the latest fiscal year 2020, the city of Antioch has 115 sworn officers.”

However, the information she provided is incorrect. There were 89 officers on the Antioch Police force at the time Measure C was placed on the ballot, according to the ballot argument in favor of the measure by the mayor and council at that time. The Arguments For Measure C read, “A Yes on Measure C will allow us to immediately hire 22 new police officers, decreasing the time it takes to respond to 911 calls. Our police force has dwindled from 126 officers four years ago to only 89 today.”

That means the City had an actual net gain of 26 sworn officers funded by Measures C and W.

Violent & Property Crime Continues to Decrease

There has been an “Overall reduction of 13.9% in Part 1 Crime compared to 2019 for the eighth consecutive year. ‘Part 1 Crimes’ are those which are mandated to report to the FBI under our Unified Crime Reporting (UCR),” the report continues. They include violent crimes of homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, and property crimes of burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft. Arson is also included but categorized separately.

The report shows that 83.77% of Measure W funds were spent on police in the 2019-20 Fiscal Year, and 8.3% on recreation, 6.92% on code enforcement and the remaining 1% on other city services.

FY 2020 Antioch Police Calls for Service. Source: City of Antioch

Police Calls for Service

The report shows there were a total of 92,557 police calls for service during the fiscal year with the top four being 21.2% for quality of life calls, 17.7% person or vehicle stops, 14.3% for fire or medical and 12.7% for information.

Recreation Programs Funded

The report shows that $1,293,382 was allocated for Recreation Programs and that there is a $350,000 balance remaining of those funds due to facilities/programs being closed because of the pandemic.

Key Programs Funded by Measure W:

  • Rolling with Rec bus
  • Family Nights (including Summer Movie Nights, Paw Parade, Game nights, and Performance/Concern Night)
  • Pop-Up Recreation (Afterschool Park Programs): offered at different parks throughout the City
  • Preschool Academy Classes (expanded the program to make Montessori curriculum)
  • Dance team Classes (expanded to include Afro Beats and Hip-Hop classes)
  • Camptoberfest (expansion of camp for the fall break)
  • Big Truck Day
  • Adventures in fun and fitness (ages 6 through 12); and
  • Tumbling Program (for ages 2 through 12)

Code Enforcement Expanded

A total of six additional Code Enforcement Officers were hired as a result of both Measures C and W, plus two Development Services/ Engineering Technicians, four maintenance workers and two laborers.

The report shows the following Code Enforcement activity for FY 2020:

  • 2,087 Code Enforcement cases opened in 2020 and 1,066 cases opened in 2019
  • 2,788 cases closed in 2020 and 1,127 cases closed in 2019
  • 5,538 cubic yards of blight and rubbish abated in 2020 and 7,056 cubic yards in 2019
  • 1,394 shopping carts abated in 2020 and 1,506 shopping carts in 2019

Vehicle Abatement

The report also provided that, “The City continues its active Vehicle Abatement Program with 488 Vehicle Abatement Notices Issued 407 citations issued in 2020.”

2019-2020 FY Measure W Revenue Sources. From City of Antioch Finance Department

Sources of Funds

The report also shows the top sources of sales tax revenue from Measure W.

“As you can see general retail and transportation were the bulk of the monies that came in,” Williams said. “That was followed by business-to-business and food products, and then the rest of it went in the construction area and there’s a miscellaneous area. These figures are sourced by the City of Antioch’s finance department.”

“We’re really blessed in having some very large, big box retailers,” she continued. “So, you can see 7-11 tops the list, followed closely by Amazon. We’ve got a lot of our auto dealerships in here, Best Buy, Costco. So, you can get a really good idea of the types of businesses that are contributing to this sales tax.”

FY2020 Antioch 1% Top 25 Sales Tax Generators. Source: City of Antioch Finance Department

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Contra Costa expects to move to COVID-19 Red Tier by next Wednesday

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

Supervisors ink negotiating agreement with Pacific West Communities for Bay Point Orbisonia Heights mixed use development; Extend temporary industrial hemp cultivation moratorium to Sept. 30

By Daniel Borsuk

By next Wednesday, Contra Costa County residents can expect the county to graduate from the Purple Tier to the less restrictive Red Tier, Contra Costa County Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano announced Tuesday as the daily cases per 100,000 continues to decline to 7.9 per day.

The red tier designation means businesses and gyms can reopen at 25 percent capacity and retail businesses can reopen at 50 percent capacity. Schools are also reopening with COVID-19 health precautions in place for students and on-site staff.

When Contra Costa County does graduate to the red tier next week, it along with Sonoma County will be the final two Bay Area counties to move into the less restrictive tier.

Dr. Farnitano delivered the upbeat report at the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.

Progress is also materializing as more Contra Costa County residents from all economic and racial groups roll up their sleeves to be inoculated with COVID-19 vaccines. About 370,000 county residents have been vaccinated with either the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, said Contra Costa County Health Director Anna Roth.

As for last week’s development where the state designated health giant Blue Cross to manage the state’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment system, Dr. Farnitano said. “We are still working with Blue Shield during the transition.”

Orbisinio project site in Bay Point. Photo by Daniel Borsuk

Approve Bay Point Property Exclusive Negotiating Agreement

After years of neglect and bumps in the economy, the county might be taking another stab at trying to nail down an exclusive negotiating development agreement to finally get a 7.7-acre of county-owned property on Bailey Road to the west, State Highway 4 to the north and West Leland Road to the south, developed.

Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the exclusive negotiating agreement that was a consent agenda item at Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting.

The vacant property is near the Bay Point-Pittsburg BART Station, the Oak Hills Shopping Center on Bailey Road and Ambrose Park to the East.  The proposed development is commonly known as the Orbisonia Heights project in Bay Point.

In 2009 the county failed to develop the property when the real estate market collapsed, said Maureen Toms, deputy director of policy planning division of the Contra Costa Conservation and Development Department (CCCDD).

Supervisors designated the CCCDD Director John Kopchick. or his representative. to negotiate and execute an exclusive negotiating agreement with well-known multi-family housing developer Pacific West Communities of Eagle, ID for the potential development of a at least 325 multiple family residences and 40,000 square feet of commercial space.

At least 15 percent of the residential units would be affordable housing, Maureen Toms, CCCDD deputy director of policy, told the Contra Costa Herald in an email.

“There were delays due to the poor economy and the elimination of redevelopment. We have been working with Pacific West Communities to develop the property,” Toms wrote in the email.

Planners have visions of developing four-story structures over parking with 15 percent of the residential units designated as affordable housing.

“It has been a long time coming,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who is reservedly excited about the potential of getting the Orbisonia Heights development finally up and running. “We’re at that point to get the development underway because it is near BART, shopping, and Ambrose Park.”

Glover envisions the possibility that other services could be included in Orbisonia Heights project such as a library and retail.

A representative for Pacific West Communities was unavailable for comment.

Supervisors Extend Temporary Industrial Hemp Cultivation Moratorium to September 30

Even though District 3 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill initially pushed for a June deadline on extending an urgency ordinance extending a moratorium on Industrial Hemp cultivation in East Contra Costa County, Mitchoff eventually relented and agreed with colleagues and CCCDD Director Kopchik to set a deadline of September 30.

The supervisors’ action marks the third urgency interim ordinance that the supervisors have set in order to accommodate county officials in developing new regulations that accurately balances the sensitive commercial and agricultural activities of hemp interests versus homeowners land value and safety interests.

Supervisors have heard complaints from East County homeowners about criminal and traffic impacts stemming from hemp growing operators while hemp growers have defended their thriving businesses as being safe and economically solid sources of income for local residents.

At one point, District 3 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill wanted to curtail the timeline for CCCDD staff and Agriculture Commissioner Weights & Measures Director Matt Slattengren to draft a new county hemp ordinance by setting a July 30 deadline.  But CCCD Director Kopchik was able to convince Mitchoff and other supervisors that due to work assignments, a September 30 deadline would be more realistic.

Making it difficult for county officials to draft new regulations on hemp cultivation is the fact there is little if anything on the books that regulates the rising hemp industry in California.  The urgency ordinance makes this obviously clear stating: “Under state law, industrial hemp is not subject to the same regulatory provisions as cannabis. Health and Safety Code section 11018.5(b) exempts industrial hemp from regulation under Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. As a result, the county’s cannabis regulation ordinance, Chapter 88-28 of the County Code, does not regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp within the unincorporated areas of Contra Costa County.”

At least this observer thinks, it appears county officials are left hanging in limbo on this hemp issue. It will be interesting to see what Kopchick and Slattengren are able to concoct in ensuing months.

Dentist-Engineer Dr. Jack Rosenfeld Recognized for 30 years of Service

Supervisors recognized Dr. Jack Rosenfeld, who retired after 30 years of service with Contra Costa Health Services as a dentist. “Dr. Rosenfeld has worked at various clinics throughout West, Central and East Contra Costa County, providing a wide array of dental services to the community,” the board of supervisors’ resolution stated about the dentist.

His specialty was practicing dentistry in underserved populations at several community clinics and Native American reservations throughout California.

Before studying dentistry at UCSF School of Dentistry, Dr. Rosenfeld was an electrical engineer. Dr. Rosenfeld used his electrical engineering training to develop a dental safety device that is still in production.

Supervisors Recognize American Red Cross Month 

With March being American Red Cross Month, supervisors acknowledged the organization’s 140- year mission of preventing and alleviating suffering by noting that in 2020 in Contra Costa County, 115 families affected by home fires relied on the American Red Cross volunteers for aid.

Contra Costa County residents donated 17,350 units of blood, the resolution stated. The resolution also noted that the American Red Cross hosted 142 blood drives, 3,459 local community members took classes to learn skills that save lives, and 719 military members and their families received support and services.

“Nearly 200 years since the birth of American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, we dedicate this month of March to all those who continue to advance her noble legacy, and we ask others to join in their commitment to care for people in need,” the resolution stated.

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Antioch’s Fulton Shipyard Road boat launch to close March 15 through Summer 2023

Tuesday, March 9th, 2021

Fulton Shipyard Road boat launch area and location of The Red Caboose restaurant nearby. Source: Google maps

For construction of brackish water desalination plant; could impact business for The Red Caboose restaurant nearby; boaters will have free access to launch at Antioch Marina during construction period

The Red Caboose restaurant. Photo from their Facebook page.

By Allen Payton

Today, Wednesday, March 9, 2021, the City of Antioch has announced that the boat launch located at 225 Fulton Shipyard Road will be closed beginning next Monday, March 15, with an anticipated re-opening in the summer of 2023. The closure is a result of construction related to the City of Antioch’s brackish water desalination plant. (See related articles, here and here)

John and Judy Pence, owners of The Red Caboose restaurant, nearby, are concerned about possible impacts to their business.

“You’d think they’d notify the only businesses nearby,” Judy Pence said when reached for comment. “If they’re going to have the road closed, obviously we can’t have that. We get some business from the boat launch ramp, but not a lot because they took out all the docks. So, there’s nothing for boaters to tie up to.”

“We’re going to have an issue, because that’s been overflow parking for us, if they close the parking lot,” she continued. “So, we’ll be very concerned if that happens.”

Questions were sent to City Manager Ron Bernal, Economic Development Director Kwame Reed and Public Works Director John Samuelson asking if all of the nearby property and business owners were notified about the boat launch closure and if there are any plans to help the restaurant offset any negative impacts that it might cause.

“I spoke with Judy Pence, just now,” Samuelson responded. “She was supposed to be notified but that didn’t happen. So, I apologized to her for that.”

“I explained to her that we won’t be closing the street during construction, so traffic to the restaurant won’t be blocked,” he continued. “Hopefully, this could be good for their business, as our contractor and workers can eat there for lunch.”

“We’ll be using Roger’s Point as the staging area,” Samuelson added.

Free Launching at Marina Location

Anyone seeking access to a boat launch will have access to the Antioch Marina Boat Launch located at the end of L Street. It will be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at no cost during the construction period. Additionally, Antioch residency is not required for use of the Antioch Marina Boat Launch.

About the City of Antioch Brackish Water Project

At a price of $110 million, the Brackish Water Desalination Plant was made possible with $93 million in funding from the State, and $17 million from the City of Antioch.

This is a resiliency project that will mitigate the impacts of upstream freshwater diversion, prepare for future freshwater diversion, once the Delta conveyance project/tunnel is completed beneath the Delta to send the water south, and will accomplish drought reliability improvements. Once completed, Antioch will be firmly positioned to preserve its pre-1914 water rights and provide the city with a reliable source of drinking water for generations. For more information: http://www.antiochbrackishdesal.com/ 

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

City of Antioch PIO Rolando Bonilla contributed to this report.

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