Archive for the ‘Supervisors’ Category

Contra Costa Supervisors defer action on Assessor Kramer’s $325K legal cost claim; sets stage for new court battle

Wednesday, April 28th, 2021

Approve temporary Antioch Library closure until May 31 for improvements; $233 million Regional Action Plan for unsheltered homeless; ban retractable dog leashes

Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer.

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors decided in closed session on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 to take “no action” on County Assessor Gus Kramer’s claim to pay him $325,000 in legal fees stemming from a misconduct trial that was declared a mistrial in November in Superior Court.

“This is going to cost the county much more money,” commented Kramer, who was unaware of the supervisors’ executive session decision when contacted by the Contra Costa Herald.

The supervisors’ inaction on his claim means Kramer will appeal the executive session “no decision” to Superior Court.

In his claim, Kramer says former Contra Costa County Administrator David Twa had told him on several occasions that the attorney costs for the misconduct trial would be paid by the county.

“I took him (i.e., Twa) at his word,” the 70-year-old Kramer said. “He said this to me up to 10 different times. Just how a person, who was responsible for managing the county’s money, can make promises like that and then the county does not come through with the money?”

Twa, who retired as Contra Costa County Administrator earlier this year and returned to his native Minnesota, continues to work as a consultant on the county’s redistricting that needs to be completed by the end of this year. Supervisors honored Twa by dedicating the new 3 1/2-story, 72,000 square foot administration building in Martinez in his name.

Supervisors did not comment on their executive session decision on Tuesday, especially District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who when contacted by the Contra Costa Herald, refrained from issuing any remarks other than informing this reporter on the board’s executive board decision on the Kramer claim.

Glover defeated Kramer in last November’s election for the supervisorial District 5 seat,  and is currently serving his sixth four-year term as a county supervisor, the longest tenure of any current member of the board.

Approve Temporary Antioch Library Closure

Supervisors approved the temporary closure of the Antioch Library to the public from April 21 through May 31 so that Public Works workers can paint the interior of the library and install new carpet and new shelving. The library is slated to reopen on Tuesday, June 1.

“Although initially planned to take place the prior fiscal year, the improvements were postponed for several months due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Librarian Alison McKee. “Despite the initial delay, shelving has been purchased and scheduled for installation, and work requests have been submitted for Public Works for the paint and carpet work.”

During the closure, Antioch library staff will be temporarily reassigned to other libraries to fill vacant positions.  The book drop will not be open at the Antioch library, and holds will not be available for pickup. Those needing library services during the closure should visit the nearby Prewett or Oakley libraries or any other county library.

Supervisors Approved Regional Action Plan for Unsheltered Homeless

During their regular meeting, on a 5-0 vote, supervisors accepted an ambitious regional action plan, by All Home, that aims to shelter the homeless at a cost of about $223 million, partly covered by Measure X sales tax revenues over the next three years. If funded and properly implemented as planned it will reduce by 75 percent the unsheltered homeless population by 2024.

According to the presentation to the board, “All Home is a Bay Area organization advancing regional solutions that disrupt the cycle of poverty and homelessness, redress the disparities in outcomes as a result of race, and create more economic mobility opportunities for extremely low-income (ELI) individuals and families.”

The action plan is based on a statement by the Regional Impact Council that the Bay Area is a “Region in Crisis.”

Board Chair Burgis, who represents the county on the nonprofit’s board of directors, called the plan a “bold plan” several times in addressing the complex issue of homelessness in the county.

Supervisors Gioia of Richmond and Burgis admitted that any effort to adequately house the homeless will require spending Measure X dollars, a new source of sales tax revenue county officials is expecting to come into county coffers later this year.

“This is a great time of opportunity to get people off the streets by leveraging our tax dollars,” said Gioia. “Contra Costa County is a great leader.”

“I am really excited Contra Costa County is shining the light on this crisis (i.e., homelessness). This will be presented to the Mayors’ Council and the Measure X Committee,” added District II Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville.

$12.99 Million Buchanan Field Terminal Project Approved

Supervisors approved as a consent item the $12.99 million construction of a new Buchanan Field Terminal to replace the existing terminal at 181 John Glenn Dr. in Concord. Supervisors approved a construction contract submitted by W.E. Lyons Construction Co.

The Federal Aviation Administration will cover $6.1 million or 47 percent of the project’s cost.  CalTrans will provide $150,000 or 1 percent of the construction cost and the Airport Enterprise Fund will fund $6.74 million or 52 percent.

The new building will replace the existing terminal structure at the north end of John Glenn Drive.  The new terminal will include space for the Airports Divisions Administrative staff, Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting staff and equipment, public space to support scheduled and unscheduled air service providers, office space for aviation businesses, and general public meeting space.

The W.E. Lyons Construction Co. bid topped six other bids for the Buchanan airport project to be found to be responsive and in good faith.  The other six bids submitted for the project were:

Marcon Builders, $14,489,355; Zovich & Sons Inc., $14,559,000; Thompson Builders, $14,680,000; Patriot Contracting, $14,990,000; Rodam Builders, $15,315,000; and CWS Construction, $15,975,000.

Ordinance Bans Retractable Dog Leashes

With no public comment, supervisors approved a new Ordinance No. 2021-13, allowing community members to care for found dogs and cats and establishing new leash restrictions. Dog and cat leashes cannot be longer than six feet under the newly adopted ordinance.

Ordinance 2021-13 provides that a dog will be deemed to be “at large” if it is on a leash that is longer than six feet or that is extendable or retractable.  A long, retractable, or extendable leash allows a dog to get too far away from its handler, which does not allow for effective control of the dog.

Ensuring that a dog is walked on a leash that is six feet or less could reduce dog bites to children due to helping to ensure more effective control. According to a Consumer Reports and Consumer Union’s analysis of statistics collected in 2007, there were 16,564 hospital treated injuries associated with pet leashes, 10.5 percent of those injuries were to children less than 10 years old.

EHSD Language Line Contract

Supervisors approved a $1.1 million contract with Language Line Services, Inc. to provide interpretation and translation services for the Employment and Human Services Department from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. Language Line Services provides telephone interpretation, on-site interpretation, and document translation services to the Employment and Human Services Department and to the clients serviced by the department.

Over One Million COVID-19 Vaccines Given in County

On the COVID-19 news front, Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth announced the county has administered over one million vaccines, the second highest in the state.  That translates into 90,000 vaccines a week were administered, said Roth.

Persons 16 years old and older can now get the vaccine, said Roth.  “No appointment is necessary.”

“A million doses are amazing!” said board chair Diane Burgis of Brentwood. “I want to acknowledge the hard work.”

“I also want to acknowledge everyone in Public Health on one million vaccinations,” said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, a frequent critic of the department’s inability to adequately vaccinate minorities in underserved communities like Richmond, El Sobrante, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, and Oakley.

“County Equity Officer Gilbert Salinas has done a great job in closing the equity gap,” Gioia said.

Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano said people will have a choice of vaccines when they report for their shots. Dr. Farnitano said last Friday the CDC and FDA had accepted the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations to lift pausing on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for all adults.  The region’s health officers agreed that the risk of developing the rare clotting disorder in females is extremely low.

“According to the CDC, to date there have been only 15 confirmed cases of the rare clotting event among nearly 8 million total doses administered in the United States, all in females, which translates to a risk less than 2 cases per million doses overall and 7 cases per million doses among women between 18 and 49 years of age,” a joint press release of Bay Area Health Officers states.

 

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Contra Costa Supervisors presented $4.06 billion 2021-2022 budget

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

Source: CCC Administrator

Speakers want Sheriff’s requested $7.5 million for inmate mental health services to go to Walnut Creek’s Miles Hall Foundation

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will probably act on a proposed $4.06 billion 2021-2022 budget at a May 4 meeting and will listen to another barrage of critics of Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston’s proposal that a portion of $54 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funds be diverted to an outside nonprofit mental health organization.

Contra Costa County’s proposed 2021-2022 budget surpasses the current fiscal year budget of $3.98 billion and includes $7.5 million designated for the staffing of additional sheriff deputies assigned to protect inmates requiring mental health services.

A contingent of speakers opposing Sheriff-Coroner Livingston’s request for the additional funds for inmate mental health services, argued instead for all or a portion of the $7.5 million be awarded to the Walnut Creek-based Miles Hall Foundation.  The newly established Miles Hall Foundation is named after the Las Lomas High School graduate who was slain by a Walnut Creek police officer in June 2019 while Hall was undergoing a mental health episode.

Lois Thomas of Lafayette was one of the speakers supporting the detouring some or all the $54.2 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding designated to the Sheriff-Coroner to the non-profit Miles Hall Foundation. “Keep deputies out of mental health, “Thomas demanded.

Sheriff Livingston said the additional funding to hire 10 new deputy sheriffs arises at a time the county has a new contract with the Prison Law Office to provide improved acute mental health care while behind bars.

Even though the jails have an average daily population of 785 inmates, Sheriff Livingston said, “We have had a 43 percent decrease of inmates in our jail (about 14,000 inmates) due to COVID-19.”

County Administrator Nino prepared a chart that showed the Coroner-Sheriff’s Office, and the Contra Costa County Health Services are in line to receive over half of the county-produced general-purpose funds with health services picking up 30.5 percent of the general-purpose revenue at $162.5 million while the Coroner-Sheriff collects 19.8 percent, or $104.7 million.

Source: CCC Administrator

Supervisors were told funds from the November voter approved Measure X sales tax increase will not begin to arrive until next fall. The county has yet to hire tax auditors.  “Measure X funding is not anticipated to be received until October 2021 for the first quarter of collections starting April 2021,” Nino wrote in her budget statement.  “The amount of Measure X included in the recommended budget totals $600,000 for the new Department of Racial Equity and Social Justice and $65,000 for the sales tax auditors.”

Expenses the county will need to round up funding for the upcoming 2021-2022 fiscal year is $600,000 for the operation of the Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice, $300,000 for redistricting and $15.3 million for a new finance computer system.

With ongoing efforts to vaccinate every age-eligible county resident with the COVID-19 vaccine, Contra Costa County Health Department Director Anna Roth said one of the biggest hurdles next fiscal year will be the county’s negotiations with the California Nurses Association.  The CNA represents 812 county nurses, and the contract is set to expire on Sept. 30.

The health services are the county’s most expensive department to operate with general purpose funds at $162.5 million or 30.5 percent of overall general fund disbursements.

As for the five elected board of supervisors, the proposed budget designates $7.7 million or 1.4 percent of overall general-purpose funds to cover the salaries and expenses of themselves and support staff.

Board vice chair Federal Glover of Pittsburg said during the budget presentations one item that was missing was further analysis on the potential reuse of the Marsh Creek Detention Facility and “more discussion on the future of the Orin Allen Rehabilitation Center near Discovery Bay and juvenile hall in Martinez.”

Glover’s supervisorial colleagues and County Administrator Nino acknowledged the supervisor’s request that there will be discussion about the fate of the detention facility and juvenile hall.

 

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Antioch High grad honored as one of Contra Costa’s 27th Annual César Chávez Youth Hall of Fame Award winners

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

This year’s theme: Move Our Community Forward! ¡Adelante Con Nuestra Communidad!

César Chávez. Source: Contra Costa County

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors celebrated the memory of César Chávez recognizing his commitment to social justice and respect for human dignity during the 27th Annual César E. Chávez Commemorative Virtual Celebration on Tuesday, March 30.

“We honor the memory of César E. Chávez and continue his commitment to fight for social justice and for those who can’t fight for themselves,” said Board Chair, Supervisor Diane Burgis. “We also recognize our 2021 Youth Hall of Fame awardees, highlighting deserving teens and their commitment to community and service.”

The theme for this year’s celebration was Move Our Community Forward – Adelante Con Nuestra Comunidad. The celebration featured three keynote speakers, including Antioch School Board Trustee Mary Rocha, Jane Garcia, Chief Executive Officer of La Clínica de La Raza, and San Pablo City Councilman Arturo Cruz. The event also included musical performances by Mariachi Monumental and Ballet Folklórico Netzahualcoyotl.

The Youth Hall of Fame Awards presentation acknowledges outstanding Contra Costa County teens who demonstrate excellence in one of six categories. The 2021 Youth Hall of Fame Awardees are:

Good Samaritan: Chris Garcia, Antioch High School

Leadership & Civic Engagement: Ryan Raimondi, Liberty High School

Middle School Rising Star: Stephanie Boustani, Acalanes High School

Perseverance: Bianey Douglas, Carondelet High School

Teamwork: Haley Brathwaite, Carondelet High School

Volunteerism: Jonathan Castaneda, Pinole Valley High

Garcia, who graduated in 2020, was also honored, last year as Antioch’s Youth of the Year and previously honored for helping a fellow student during a medical emergency in 2019. (See related article)

The annual celebration honors the diversity and richness of our community and its immigrants. Visit the César E. Chávez Ceremony webpage found in the “County Celebrations” section of Contra Costa County’s website www.contracosta.ca.gov for details and a look at the previous ceremony.

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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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Supervisors reverse Planning Commission decision on East Contra Costa cannabis micro plant farm

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

Diablo Valley Farms indoor cannabis cultivation site plan.

Bay Point Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project moves forward

Honor Deer Valley High student, other winners of annual Poetry Out Loud competition

Closeup view of greenhouses.

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to permit longtime Brentwood grower Bob Nunn and land planner Lisa Borba, who also serves as a Contra Costa Water District commissioner, to proceed and develop two 10,000 square foot indoor cannabis cultivation greenhouses at 4425 Sellers Avenue over the objections of residents. DVF Business Proposal

According to the conditions of approval for the project, the use “permit is for the commercial cultivation of cannabis micro plants only” and “no mature cannabis plants are permitted on the site at any time.” DVF Findings & Modified COAs 03152021

The supervisors’ action reverses a January 27th county planning commission decision that had negated an earlier approval of the proposed cannabis development in Eastern Contra Costa County that had proposed only one 10,000 square foot greenhouse.

During the hearing, supervisors listened to six unidentified speakers oppose the proposed Diablo Valley Farms project on grounds it is nearby a youth center and it will breed crime, noise and odor problems into the environment.

In a Feb. 8th letter from attorney Shawn J. Zovod, the developers Robert Nunn and Borba, and addressed to Contra Costa County Planner Joseph Lawlor, Zovod wrote: DVF SZovod Appeal Letter 02082021 SZovod 030521 Letter to JLawlor Project Planner

“The owner of DVF, Robert Nunn, and the applicant, Lisa Borba (collectively “Applicant”) appeals the CPC decision on the following grounds:

  1. The CPC decision to deny the Permit was based on an erroneous finding that Sunset Park is a “youth center.” This finding is not supported by the evidence and provides grounds for appeal under Code Section 26-2.2404c (3) Sunset Park is a park and is not a youth center within the meaning of the Cannabis Regulation and Section 11353.1 of the California Health and Safety Code…The CPC’s finding that Sunset Park is a “youth center” and thereby a Protected Use is not satisfied by evidence and is a gross misinterpretation of the Cannabis Regulation.
  2. “…. Denial of the permit based on an inaccurate and inconsistently applied reading of the requirements of the Cannabis Regulation is denial of equal protection. The CBO cannot turn its back on the laws that it adopted after years of careful consideration. Appellant has invested significant time and tens of thousands of dollars in reliance on the county’s application of its standards on a fair and equitable basis.

Appellant requests the Board of Supervisors uphold this appeal of the CPS, reinstate the Permit as approved by the Zoning Administrator, and decline to add any additional conditions requested by the City of Brentwood to the Permit.”

While supervisors heard from six unidentified Brentwood residents about concerns that the proposed Diablo Valley Farms project will produce crime, odor and noise, Brentwood Police Chief Tom Hansen said the proposed development will bring more “serious crime” to the city and his “officers will be in grave danger.” The police chief recommended that supervisors keep the county planning commission’s January decision intact.

Board Chair Diane Burgis of Brentwood turned the table when she recommended that supervisors reverse the county planning commission’s January action and to approve the Nunn/Borba project.

“They have made it clear there will be no plants of value,” said Burgis. “There will be security. There will be no cash on site. The permit will be valid for five years.”

Supervisors approved the permit on a 5-0 vote.

Approve Engineering Contract for Bay Point Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project

Supervisors approved a $590,000 contract with MNS Engineers, Inc. to provide consulting services with the county Public Works Department for construction management services for the Bailey Road/State Route 4 Interchange Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvement Project for the period March 23, 2021 to June 30, 2022 in the Bay Point area.

The project consists of constructing a retaining wall, widening the State Route 4 westbound diagonal off-ramp, installation and modification of traffic signals, removal of the SR4 westbound loop off-ramp, storm drain modifications, and installation of sidewalk along Bailey Road.

Funding for the project is from the Active Transportation Program (ATP), Bay Point Area of Benefit, Navy Mitigation Funds, Contra Costa County Measure J transportation half-cent sales tax, and the state gas tax.

Recognize 2021 Poetry Out Loud Winners

Supervisors passed a resolution honoring Pinole Valley High School Senior Jermaine Gitana who won first place honors in the Contra Costa County Poetry Out Loud 2021 Competition. Gitana topped second place winner Esmeralda Noyola, a junior at Antioch’s Deer Valley High School, and third place winner Tessa Brubaker, a junior at San Ramon High School in Danville. (See related article)

Initiated by the National Endowment for the Arts and run by the California Arts Council in the state and locally by the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County, the program, now in its 14th year, engages high school students in the presentation of poetry through memorization and performance.

Almost 1,000 viewers watched the students’ recitations that were viewed at the Virtual Screening and Awards Ceremony Facebook Live event.

Recognize Melody Hung-Fan and Eric Moe for Years of County Service

Supervisors passed two resolutions recognizing the years of service for Melody Hung-Fan, director of the Contra Costa County Public Health Laboratory, and Eric H. Moe, a 35-year Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office expert in automation and streamlining workflow of default-tax procedures.

Ms. Hung started her career at CCCPH in 1988 as a public health microbiologist and rose through the ranks to become director of the Public Health Laboratory in January 2013 where she has spent the last eight years planning, evaluating, organizing, and directing all activities and staff of the CCCPH.

She became a licensed Public Health Microbiologist (PHM) through the California Department of Public Health in July of 1988 after receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Services and a Master of Public Health, both from the University of California at Berkeley.

Ms. Hung has been recognized for her background in research through the publication of various abstracts and journal articles, the most recent including articles published by the American Society for Microbiology, entitled: “A Population-Based Surveillance Study of Shared Genotypes of Escherichia coli Isolates from Retail Meat and Suspected Cases of Urinary Tract Infections.”

Her work has been credited in all phases of creating, running, and evaluating testing procedures for a variety of public health issues including HIV, West Nile virus, Zika virus, Influenza, SARS-CoV-2 and other diseases.

Moe is retiring from a long career in the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Officer where he became an expert in defaulted=tax collections, bankruptcy claims, and the annual sale of properties subject to the Tax Collectors Power to Sell. He began his career with the county in 1986 as a Clerk-Beginner. He rose up the ranks and his major accomplishment include automating and streamlining workflow of default-tax procedures to more accurately and expeditiously address and manage the many accounts that transfer to the Redemption or delinquent Secured tax roll annually, and the documenting and re-organizing of standard operating procedures of the tax-default program into a comprehensive electronic manual.  Moe has also been helpful in assisting the California State Controller’s Office with review and feedback to the “Annual Pre-Notice Guide”, the “Review and Taxation Code,” and “The County Tax Collectors’ Reference Manual.”

County Awards Contract to Labor Attorney Kramer

Supervisors awarded a contract with labor attorney Karen Kramer, who is not related to Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer, for workplace investigation and workplace legal advice.  Ms. Kramer specializes in employment law and litigation. She will be of assistance to the County Counsel in the county’s workplace investigations.

Kramer Workplace Investigations will bill the county at an hourly rate of $325 for legal and investigatory services and $400 per hour for testimony.

She is not related to Assessor Kramer, who last November had misconduct charges dropped against him by Superior Court Judge John Cope for accusations of making sexual comments to employees and at least one ethnic slur to a co-worker.

Approve Property Cleanup Cases in Oakley, Martinez and El Sobrante

Supervisors approved three abatement cases. No public speakers were heard on the cases.

The biggest case totaling $38,056.20 was charged to the owners of 2600 Dutch Slough Road in Oakley. The residential property is jointly owned by Darlene Joy Gargulia, Nguyen Ha and Long Hoang Le.

Another residential abatement action costing $4,306.70 occurred at 5321 Alhambra Valley Road in Martinez.  The property is owned by Carol M. Gainey.

Supervisors approved abatement action totaling $4,296.70 at 3870 Valley Lane in El Sobrante. Greg Fremont Livermore is owner of the property.

 

 

 

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Contra Costa to enter Orange Tier April 7, Supervisors extend protections for commercial tenants until June 30, accept rental housing grant

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

Will allow indoor worship services, indoor dining and movie theaters at 50% capacity, gyms at 25%

Sheriff: Jail Population Down 27% Due to COVID-19

By Daniel Borsuk

During their meeting on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors were given good news from the county’s health officer about COVID-19 restrictions, accepted a federal grant to assist residential tenants and extended protections for commercial tenants through June 30.

County to Enter Orange Tier on April 7

Contra Costa County Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano told supervisors that by April 7 the county should move from the Red Tier to the less restrictive Orange Tier as the county’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate begins to decline.  Dr. Farnitano said the county’s current hospitalization rate 5.8 percent per 100 persons is too high and must get to a 4.2 percent hospitalization rate.

When the county goes from Red to Orange Tiers, indoor worship services, indoor dining and movie theaters can increase from 25 to 50 percent capacity, and gyms can increase from 10 to 25 percent capacity with modifications.

Dr. Farnitano said that cutting the distance for student desks in classrooms from six feet to three feet “will provide additional flexibility for school districts to bring back students safely.”

Accept Federal Rental Housing Grant  

Supervisors unanimously approved a $514,445 Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program grant that will assist households with up to 80 percent Area Medium Income with a priority for those up to 50 percent AMI with a funding focused to ensure rental arrears are addressed to stabilize households and prevent evictions.

The program will be administered by three non-profit housing organizations – RYSE Center, which convenes the more than 200 member West County COVID Community Care Coalition, the Family Justice Center that covers Concord. Pleasant Hill. Martinez, and the East Contra Costa Community Care Alliance.

Protections for Commercial Tenants Extended Through June 30

Supervisors unanimously approved Urgency Ordinance No. 2021-11 to continue the temporary prohibition on evictions of certain small-business commercial tenants financially impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic. This protection now continues through June 30, 2021.  Protections for residential tenants were unchanged by the urgency ordinance and last through June 30, 2021.

“As we make progress together toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses in our community are still struggling and need help,” said Board Chair Dianne Burgis of Brentwood. “Today’s board action will extend that helping hand for small businesses even as we continue to help eligible renters and landlords during this time. Let us continue to work together to find resources and ways to move forward.”

The ordinance also bars landlords from charging late fees to small business and non-profit tenants, and extends to August 31, 2021, the grace period to pay back rent.

Sheriff ‘s Office Responds to Public Protection Committee/Racial Protection Committee Questions: Jail Population Down 27% Due to COVID-19

In a consent action, supervisors approved a Public Protection Committee report where the Sheriff’s Office and Health Services responded to questions about the treatment of inmates in jail facilities.   It marks the first time the Sheriff’s Office has responded to questions emanating from the committee with input from the Board of Supervisors’ Racial Justice Oversight Body.

Main Conclusion:  due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, jail population is down 27 percent.

In a Feb. 18 report to the Public Protection Committee, Assistant Sheriff Steve Simpkins reported as of Jan. 15, 2021, “We have released 1,574 arrestees who were eligible for $0 bail. This information was to comply with a request on information about how many inmates were detained because they cannot afford cash bail.”

The Sheriff’s report stated, “In January and February 2020 (pre COVID-19) the Sheriff’s Office received an average of 1,753 arrestees being booked at the Martinez Detention Facility. The monthly average of arrestees booked between March 1 2020 and December 31, 2020 (during pandemic) is 946, a drop of nearly 50%.” the report said.

“The average daily inmate population in February 2020 (pre COVID-19) of all physical facilities combined was 1,093.  The average daily inmate population in December 2020 (during pandemic) of all physical facilities was 795. That is a 27 percent sustained reduction in the average daily inmate population.  This morning’s population was 715 (1/22/2021).”

“Seventy Sheriff’s Office employees from the Custody Services Bureau have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began.  All have recovered,” the report said, “and are back to work except for the most recent three who ae out for quarantine.”

 

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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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New state vaccination program concerns Contra Costa health officials, supervisors

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Contra Costa Health Officer said he expects Contra Costa County to remain in the Purple Tier for the next two to three weeks before moving into the less restrictive Red Tier. 

By Daniel Borsuk

The old saying “there’s nothing like good old competition” can apply when Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover on Tuesday questioned county health officials if an announcement a day earlier that the state and health care giant Blue Shield of California will jointly launch a statewide COVID-19 vaccine registration system that will compete against county sponsored vaccine registration systems like Contra Costa’s My Turn.

Glover, who represents the East County communities of Pittsburg and Antioch, with high numbers of underserved black and Latino constituents, asked Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano if the new statewide vaccination system will benefit or hinder the County’s efforts.

“Our scheduling system will still be in place,” Farnitano responded.  Furthermore, the health officer said that the county’s scheduling and testing capabilities will not be jeopardized.

The new central site sign-up system Blue Shield of California will operate on behalf of the state aims to make obtaining vaccination appointments more efficient and straight forward.  In addition, when the state is ready to expand vaccination eligibility to the next population category for doses, every county in the state will have to follow suite at the same time.  This takes the decision-making out of the hands of county health officials and into the hands of State or Blue Shield of California health officials.

Health care workers, long-term care residents aged 65 and older and employees working in agriculture and food, education and child care, and emergency services are currently eligible to receive a vaccine in California.  Beginning March 15, residents between 16 and 64 years old with severe health ailments, including cancer or heart conditions, and those with developmental or high-risk disabilities will also be eligible for vaccination.

Board Chair Dianne Burgis of Brentwood said that she has received inquiries from constituents if they can select the vaccine to be given when it is their turn at the clinic.

“They are all great vaccines,” answered Farnitano. “With all the vaccines in short supply, we get what is available.”

In the meantime, Farniton said he expects Contra Costa County to remain in the Purple Tier for the next two to three weeks before moving into the less restrictive Red Tier.

Farnitano also said Contra Costa County’s exposure to any COVID-19 variants is “not of concern.”  He said there have been no reports of the United Kingdom or South Africa variants in the County.

“Even though we are seeing a lot of good news, we are not out of the woods yet.  Up until now we’re winning the race, but we cannot let down our guard too fast.  Continue to wear masks, wash your hands and social distance,” he said.

District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond said 86 percent of Contra Costa residents age 75 and over have at least had their first dose

The County Health Director said through the County Health Department, the Contra Costa County Office of Education and School Districts, 25,000 doses of vaccine are dedicated to educators as schools ramp up to reopen.

“More teachers are getting vaccinated,” Farnitano stated.

Supervisors Flash Green Light for Danville Roundabout

Supervisors gave county Public Works officials the green light to start the eminent domain process to change an accident-prone intersection in Danville into a traffic roundabout designed to reduce car speeds and improve pedestrian crossings at Danville Boulevard and Orchard Court.

The County project will include curb extensions, curb ramps and entry medians at the roundabout to cut down on vehicle speeds and improve pedestrian crossings.  Sidewalks will be reconstructed along with curb extensions and curb ramps in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

The intersection has one of the highest collision rates in the state.  It is 2.5 times higher than the state average.  Over the last 10 years there were at least 13 bicycle and three pedestrian collisions.

Ann E. Elliott Appointed Director of Human Resources

From a field of 62 applicants and seven semi-finalists, Supervisors unanimously selected acting Director of Human Resources Ann E. Elliot to the full-time position at an annual salary of $240,000 and a $57,000 pension per year.  The appointment became effective March 1.

Elliot has served as Interim Director of Human Resources since Sept. 30, 2020 when former Director of Human Resources Dianne Dinsmore retired.

Elliot started her career at the Contra Costa County Human Resources Department in 2015 and has developed a reputation of having an understanding of the responsibilities of Human Resources Management and the value Human resources can contribute to an employer.

Through the recruitment firm Peckham & McKenney, 62 applications were received and seven semi-finalists were forwarded to the County Interview Panel on Dec. 1, 2020 and interviewed on Dec. 9, 2020.  The County Interview Panel consisted of Joe Angelo, Alameda County Human Resources Director; Timothy Ewell, Contra Costa County Chief Assistant County Administrator; Lisa Driscoll, Contra Costa County Finance Director; and Kathy Ito, President of KMI Human Resources Consulting, Inc.

After the interviews, County Administrator Monica Nino recommended Elliot’s appointment.

Elliott is a graduate from Indiana Wesleyan University with as Master of Science, Management degree and from Cedarville University with a Bachelor of Arts, Behavioral Science and Psychology.

Approve $17.6 Million in 2020-2021 Property Tax Administration Charges

Facing no citizen comments, Supervisors unanimously approved the 2020-2021 Property Tax Administration Charges with net costs totaling $17,599,506.  That amounts to about .56 percent of all 2019-2020 property taxes levied countywide.

“The County absorbs the schools’ share, which amounts to $8,436,409,” according to the county staff report on the item. “School districts, community college districts and the County Office of Education are exempt from the provision, authorizing county recovery of their proportionate share of property tax administrative costs.”

 

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