Archive for the ‘Supervisors’ Category

Supervisors approve two home developments, one outside the Urban Limit Line

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

Tassajara Parks General Plan Amendment land use maps. From presentation.

Tassajara Parks in the San Ramon Valley and Pantages in Discovery Bay will add 417 single family homes in Supervisorial District 3 with support of environmental groups

Approve Ameresco Renewable Natural Gas Processing Facility and Pipeline at Keller Canyon Landfill

Flash green light for further study moving Byron boys ranch to former Martinez Juvenile Hall

Tassajara Valley vicinity map. From presentation.

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors worked on solving the county’s complex housing shortage during their meeting on Tuesday by approving two major housing developments, the 277-single family housing unit Pantages residential project in Discovery Bay and the controversial 125-housing unit Tassajara Parks residential project near San Ramon, both in District 3, board chair Diane Burgis’ turf.

The more controversial Tassajara Parks Residential Project drew the support of major environmental groups like Green Belt Alliance, Save Mt. Diablo and East Bay Regional Parks District mainly because the developer’s moved to do a “fee simple transfer “of 727 acres of land to the East Bay Regional Park District.

“This fee simple conveyance to the EBRPD will ensure that the Dedication Area is protected and preserved in perpetuity for the following non-urban uses only: agriculture, open space, parks, recreation, scenic uses, wetland preservation and creation, and habitat mitigation,” the supervisors’ background information states.

Save Mt. Diablo Land Conservation Director Seth Adams called the land transfer “a great trade off” and will go a long way in the preservation of wildlife, especially raptors and eagles.

“It’s a 30-acre adjustment to the Urban Limit Line which is allowed by a four-fifths vote of the Board of Supervisors based on at least one of seven findings,” Adams shared with the Herald. “Here it was the creation of an ag preserve by two more agencies.”

The Danville city council opposed the project contending the open space trade offer was inadequate especially when California is in a drought. “The city council felt that the scope and magnitude of the project with 125 homes in exchange of open space was insufficient.  The city council did not feel it was worth the trade off, “said City of Danville Manager Joe Calabrigo.

The approved Tassajara Parks Urban Limit Line realignment. From presentation.

District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of San Ramon, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said she was concerned any action by the supervisors would require approval of the voters to adjust the urban limit line.

“I know we need the right mix of housing,” said Andersen. “If we move the urban limit line, that is up to the voters.  I have strong reservations about the environmental impact report.  Then there is no source of water for this project.”

Before supervisors approved the Tassajara Project on a 4-1 vote, District 1 Supervisor John Gioia successfully added to the board’s resolution several conditions, one that included that the developer must install solar panels and EV charging stations inside the garage or carport.  In addition, he added the installation of high efficiency appliances and insulation to zero net energy and to meet the standards to be solar-ready as defined by the California Building Standards.

The developer agreed to Gioia’s additions to the project’s resolution of approval.

Pantages Bays site map. From presentation.

The Tassajara Parks project also garnered support from parents of Tassajara Hills Elementary School parents who were pleased the developer plans to make safety corrections to the school’s parking lot. The school is immediately west of the project’s northern side.

Pantages Bays General Plan Amendment maps. From presentation.

Dave Rehnstrom, EBMUD Manager of Water Distribution Planning, said contrary to the developer’s proposed water conservation efforts, “EBMUD finds this project’s water conservation measures are insufficient.”

Mainly because developers of controversial the Tassajara Parks Residential Project have proposed to dedicate 727 acres of land to the East Bay Regional Park District, that move won the support from a few environmental organizations especially Save Mt. Diablo.

After several failed attempts to obtain state and federal regulatory permit approvals since 2013, developers of the proposed Pantages Bays Project near Discovery Bay, the new project proposed would subdivide the same site into 277 residential lots, which is 15 lots less than the original 2013 project.

With two public trail systems providing 5,200 linear feet of trails and walkways, the proposed project consists of two lakes, Lake South approximately 23 acres in size, and Lake North, about seven acres in size.

Of the 277 units planned for Pantages Bay Project, about 42 units are required to be set aside as affordable housing units. Eighty percent of the affordable units, 33 units, would be affordable to Moderate income households and 20 percent of the required affordable units, 8 units, would be affordable to low-income households. “An in-lieu fee will be paid for the remaining 0.55 units,” the county planning department document states.

“This project will help alleviate a lot of the illegal dumping that occurs in that area,” Burgis observed.

Approve Amersco Natural Gas Processing Facility and Pipeline

Without receiving any public comments either in favor or in opposition, supervisors approved on a 5-0 vote Ameresco Renewable Natural Gas’s (ARNG) proposal to construct a new 48,000 square foot renewable natural gas facility on the Keller Canyon Landfill site in Pittsburg.

The publicly traded Ameresco that has been operating on the Pittsburg landfill site a RNG operation since 2009 now proposes constructing a newer RNG processing facility of about 48,000 square feet or 1.1 acres on a level pad of about 84,000 square feet. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the operation would be overseen by two operators for 40 hours per week.

According to a press release from Republic Services, which owns the landfill, “The dedication of the Keller Canyon Landfill gas-to-electricity project marks the second time this year that Republic Services, Inc. (NYSE:RSG) and Ameresco have partnered to develop and expand renewable energy sources for California and to provide power to residents of and businesses in Palo Alto and Alameda.”

“Most of the equipment would be less than 10 feet high except for the proposed enclosed flare, and a few larger pieces of equipment that would vary in height from 25 to 35 feet,” the Conservation and Development Department background document stated. “The proposed enclosed flare would be approximately 50 feet in height, similar to the two existing flares at the Keller Canyon Landfill enclosed flare facility.”

The project also calls for a new RNG underground pipeline to a proposed PG&E metering station located near the eastern edge of the Keller Canyon Landfill.  The Ameresco project has drawn some concern from Concord-based Discovery Builders that the proposed pipeline will be near a proposed residential development in Pittsburg.

A spokesman for Ameresco would not answer how much the new RNG facility and pipeline will cost.

During the supervisors’ meeting, Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg said through his office, Ameresco has agreed to pay the county at least $50,000 a year into the Keller Canyon Land Fill Mitigation Fund to help moderate any economic or environmental impacts stemming from the RNG project.

Every year, millions of dollars collected from Republic Services, operation of the Keller Canyon Landfill, are distributed to nonprofit organizations in the Bay Point and Pittsburg area through Supervisor Federal Glover’s office.

Supervisors Seek More Information on Orin Allen Youth Rehab Center Closure

Supervisors also instructed Contra Costa County Chief Probation Officer Essa Ehmen Krause to proceed and collect additional information, including cost figures, about a proposal to potentially move juvenile inmates at Orin Allen Youth Rehabilitation Facility in Byron (Byron Boys Ranch), closing that facility and transferring the inmates to a renovated former juvenile hall on Glazier Drive in Martinez.  The former juvenile hall facility is now used or storage.

The proposal was presented to supervisors who are attempting to figure out how to best use resources and address the educational and psychological needs of juveniles at the aged Byron Boys Ranch, constructed in 1960 and is now out of compliance with the American Disability Act.

Due to state legislation and local juvenile rehabilitation efforts, there are now about 15 youths housed at the Byron Boys Ranch, which is used for youths convicted of non-capital crimes.  For youths convicted or charged for capital crimes, they are housed at the 209-bed John A. Davis Juvenile Hall constructed in 2005.  There are now about 24 inmates at juvenile hall, Krause told supervisors.

Expect Krause to give periodic updates on the potential closure of Orin Allen and the reuse of the former juvenile hall facility.


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Contra Costa Supervisors approve Regional Housing Needs Allocation

Friday, June 25th, 2021

Source: MTC-ABAG

Extend ban on residential rent increases through September 30; inadequate county housing policy fuels crisis

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to extend the prohibition on residential evictions and rent increases through September 30 even though a driving factor for the county’s housing crisis can be linked to the county’s preference to permit the construction of more high-income housing than low-and-moderate-income housing.

While supervisors heard citizens make requests that the rental moratorium be extended through December 30, supervisors resisted those pleas and preferred that extension go through September 30.

“If another extension is needed after September 30, we can then take it up at that time,” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.

The action the supervisors took on Tuesday marks the fourth rental moratorium that the elected officials have passed since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2019.

“The trouble is we already have a blanket moratorium on any rent increase,” said District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen.  “I don’t want to go through this again at the end of the year.”

Approve Housing Needs Allocation

But supervisors did not publicly comment on an approved consent item that reflects the county’s longstanding preference to have far more above moderate-income housing units – 3,147 units – constructed in the unincorporated areas of the county from 2023 to 2031, according to the recently released Association of Bay Area Government’s (ABAG’s) Final Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).

The ABAG RHNA item was passed as a supervisor’s consent item and was not publicly discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.

RHNA also shows Contra Costa County is designated to permit 2,082 very low-income housing units, 1,199 low-income units, and 1,217 moderate income units from 2023 to 2031.

Conservation and Development Department Director John Kopchick said the county will appeal ABAG’s RHNA findings on grounds the Draft Allocation is 5.59 times as high as the county’s allocation for the prior period (which was 1,367).

“As of the end of 2020 the County had issued building permits for 1,881 new housing units,” Kopchick wrote in a memo to the supervisors. “While we have met the overall allocation for the 2015-2023 period, we have so far met only 16% of the allocation for very-low income and 53% of the allocation for moderate income. Staff is concerned that an allocation that significant change is likely not achievable.”

Kopchick added, “The increase in the county’s allocation from prior cycle is larger than the increase for the Bay Area as a whole (5.59 times higher for the county versus 2.35 times for the region as a whole). In the view of staff, the amount of the increase relative to the region may not be equitable. The county’s draft allocation is almost 2,000 units higher than the largest allocation for any city in the county. The county’s allocation is the second highest allocation for a county in the Bay Area (only San Francisco is higher) and is the 9th highest among the 110 jurisdictions in the Bay Area.”

The county and cities have until the July 9th deadline to submit an appeal of the Draft Allocation.

ABAG will conduct public hearings in September and October on the RHNA appeal. ABAG will act on the final RHNA in January 2023.

Other Board Action

Among consent items supervisors approved were:

·         Sanjiv Bhandari of Alamo was appointed to a (District 2 – Supervisor Candace Anderson) four-year term to the Contra Costa County Planning Commission.  Bhandari is president and chief executive officer of BK BC Architects, Inc. of Walnut Creek.

·         Discovery Bay resident Bob Mankin was reappointed to the District 3 seat on the Contra Costa County Planning Commission.  Recommended by Board Chair Diane Burgis, he will serve a four-year term.

·         A $100,000 contract with Loomis Armored US, LLC for armored cash transportation services for the County Treasurer-Tax Collector for the period July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2024 with two possible one-year extensions. This marks the first time that the County Treasurer-Tax Collector has used another vendor for armored courier services to transport cash/check deposits because over the past several years, the County Treasurer’s Office became “increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of service provided by that vendor….”

·         Authorized Sheriff-Coroner David O. Livingston to applied and accept the United States Department of Justice Programs, DNA Program Backlog Reduction Grant in an initial amount of $250,000. This grant will reduce the number of backlogged DNA tests in the Sheriff’s Criminalistics Laboratory for the period of Jan. 1, 2022 through the end of the grant period.

·         An update on the formation of permanent regulations for the cultivation of industrial hemp will be presented to the board of supervisors by June 30.  Kopchik said a draft ordinance is scheduled to be considered by the County Planning Commission at a public hearing on June 23.  Subject to the Planning Commission’s review of the draft zoning ordinance, staff expects that it will present both draft ordinances to the board of supervisors in July or August.

Supervisors Select September 14 to Reopen In-Person Sessions

Supervisors set Tuesday Sept. 14 as their first in-person session meeting to be conducted in the new David Twa Public Administration Building in Martinez.

At a price tag of $60 million, the new building with 72,000 square feet will be open to the public with COVID-19 public health safeguards in place, in other words face masks if required.

Supervisors also promoted the hybrid meetings with both in-person and virtual or telephonic public comments.



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Contra Costa Supervisors pass fireworks ordinance, prepare for hot, dry summer

Wednesday, June 9th, 2021

Photo by CCCSheriff.

Mitchoff questions holding July 4th parades; approve funds to address illegal dumping

By Daniel Borsuk

Fourth of July celebrations are around the corner and the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday took a strident step in minimizing fires by unanimously passing a stronger fireworks ordinance that pins financial liability on owners of property and vessels where fireworks are used in unincorporated areas of the county.

Recognizing the extreme dry vegetation conditions the county now faces due to low winter rain fall, supervisors passed the ordinance as a consent item without hearing citizen comments on Ordinance No. 2021-19 that amends the county’s fireworks ordinance, Chapter 44-2 of the County Ordinance Code.

Contra Costa County received only 30 percent of average rainfall, said Brian Garcia, a National Weather Service meteorologist.  “The fuels that we have for fire this year are already at record levels. It’s really bad already and we’re not at the peak of the fire season.”

Conditions are so dry, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Deputy Fire Chief Aaron McAlister said, “Whether its moderate, high or very high, the risks are here in this county. We definitely have that potential that existed south of us and north of us in previous years. That potential now exists here in Contra Costa County.”

Under the new ordinance, property and vessel owners are responsible for ensuring that the use of illegal fireworks does not occur on their property.  Owners may be liable for ordinance violations if illegal fireworks are used on their property or vessel.

Board Chair Diane Burgis of Brentwood was the supervisor who shepherd the tougher fireworks ordinance, citing an increase in fireworks violations in her District 3 area.

“Illegal fireworks are a drain on our system,” Burgis said. “We simply don’t have the resources to address this continued problem. I would encourage cities and towns to adopt stronger ordinances and send the message that illegal fireworks will not be tolerated in Contra Costa County.”

“Due to unseasonably dry fuel conditions in Contra Costa County, we urge the public to take every precaution to prevent wildfires,” said Contra Costa County Fire Department Chief Lewis T. Brouschard III. “The use of illegal fireworks caused a recent fire in our county that destroyed two apartment buildings and displaced 30 residents. Playing with illegal fireworks is dangerous and poses the very real possibility of causing wildland fires that could easily destroy homes and threaten lives in this time of critically high fire risk.  We urge everyone to follow the regulations and stay safe.”

“Illegal fireworks in our county continually pose a threat to the safety of our communities,” said East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Fire Chief Brian Helmick in a press release. “On behalf of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, we would like to thank Supervisor Burgis for taking these necessary actions to curb the use of illegal fireworks and for helping to protect all citizens who have been impacted by illegal fireworks.”

Passage of the fireworks ordinance, a supervisors’ meeting consent item that did not draw public comment.

According to the supervisors’ agenda background information:

“Chapter 44-2 of the County Ordinance Code prohibits the possession, manufacture, sale, use and discharge of fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the County. The Sheriff and fire department in the County receive numerous calls for service each year stemming from illegal fireworks, including calls to address vegetation fires, structure and exterior fires, personal injury or death, and noise or other public nuisances.

“The proposed ordinance would amend Chapter 44-2 and authorize the Sheriff to arrest and cite a responsible party as defined in the ordinance, for violations of Chapter 44-2.   The proposed ordinance established that a responsible party is required to maintain, manage and supervise the property or vessel for which they are responsible to prevent violations of Chapter 44-2. A responsible party is liable and violates the prohibition on fireworks under Chapter 44-2 if any person possesses, manufactures, sells, offers to sell, uses, or discharges, any fireworks at the property, or on the vessel, for which the responsible part is responsible, regardless of whether the responsible party is present when the violation occurs.

“The proposed ordinance defines a responsible party as any of the following:

  1. A person that owns, rents, leases, or otherwise has possession of, or is in immediate control of a residence or other private property or a vessel.
  2. A person that organizes, supervises, sponsors, conducts, allows, controls, or controls access to the possession, manufacture, sale, offer for sale, use, or discharge of fireworks at a residence or other private property or on a vessel.

“If a residence or other private is rented or leased for a period of more than 30 consecutive days, the landlord or lessor is not a responsible party unless the landlord or lessor: has possession of, or is in immediate control of, the residence or other private property; or has knowledge of the possession, manufacture, sale, offer for sale, sue, or discharge of fireworks at the residence or other private property.

The owner of a residence that is rented for a period of 30 consecutive days or less (a short-term rental) is a responsible party and is liable for violations of Chapter 44-2 if the short-term renter, or any other person, possesses, manufactures, sells, offers to sell, uses, or discharges, any fireworks at the residence, regardless of whether they owner of the short-term rental is present when the violation occurs.”

Mitchoff Questions Holding July 4th Parades

At one point during the meeting, Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill questioned the wisdom of cities permitting July 4th parades at least this year even though the county and all other counties will be off the Centers for Disease Control color tier system effective June 15.

“If you have not been vaccinated, people need to take this seriously for one more year,” said the supervisor. “There are communities that think they can handle this.  I am not so sure that is the case. The public needs to take this seriously. People will show up at parades and will be unvaccinated.”

Contra Costa County Deputy Health Director Ori Tzvilell said the state’s mask mandate will be relaxed effective June 15 “only if everyone has been vaccinated.”  Mask requirements will remain in place for retail businesses, he noted.

County Chief Equity Officer Gilbert Salinas said the health department will conduct a mobile vaccination unit in a census tract in Antioch (North of Highway 4 from L Street to Sommerville Road) to vaccinate about 16,000 unvaccinated persons on June 11.

Salinas said future mobile vaccination activities are planned for Antioch Park, Antioch Middle School and Pittsburg City Park.

Stormwater Utility Assessments Approved

Even in severe drought conditions, supervisors had to think about the potential of stormwater pollution issues, especially funding. Supervisors approved assessments for Stormwater Utility Areas 1 through 18 that will provide $15,914,283 in funding for the cities and county for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program and drainage maintenance activities during fiscal year 2021-2022.

Approve Initial Illegal Dumping Funds

In other action, supervisors launched the county’s Illegal Dumping Initiative with the allocation of $350,000. “This is exciting,” said Burgis, who served as one of the key catalysts to jump start the initiative three years ago.

The board’s action instructs that $200,000 of the $350,000 will be spent for the installation of lighting and $150,000 will be directed to remove 50 derelict boats and recreational vehicles during the current 2021-2022 fiscal year.

Burgis and District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover were key players in initiating in 2018 the formation of an interdepartmental “Think Tank” team of professionals from county departments to propose how to address the illegal dumping problems.  County departments involved in the Think Tank are the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Public Works, the Environmental Health Division of the Health Services Department and the Department of Conservation and Development.

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Contra Costa to remain in Orange Tier until June 15, won’t follow CDC’s new mask guidelines

Thursday, May 20th, 2021

Graphic by State of California from Gov. Newsom’s Wear a Mask campaign.

Following state’s guidelines instead; Antioch library reopening delayed until June 8

By Daniel Borsuk

Seventy percent of Contra Costa residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but  Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth says that vaccination rate is still insufficient to convince state health officials to change the county current Orange Tier health restrictions to less stringent Blue health restrictions until at least June 15.

“We are accepting the state’s instructions to keep masking guidelines in place,” Roth said at Tuesday’s board of supervisors’ meeting.

Even though COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to children as young as 12 to 15, requirements remain in effect for persons to wear masks while indoor businesses, Roth said.

But CCHS Ambulatory Care Director Dr. Gabriela Diaz Sullivan presented a study’s gloomy findings about how COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the state’s health care delivery system.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, 48,000 more Californians have died,” said Dr. Sullivan, “Heart attacks was the number one cause of death followed by cancer as number two and COVID-19 as number three.”

“Thirty-three percent of Californians had an urgent care need, unrelated to COVID-19, wanted to see a physician, but did not see a physician,” Dr. Sullivan emphasize.  She said mammograms, colorectal cancer screenings, diagnostic colonoscopies, and blood pressure procedures were all down.

In summation, the COVID-19 pandemic has eroded the state’s health care system with Californians foregoing medical care when needed in preference to staying home.

On another related matter, Contra Costa Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano denied Supervisor Candace Andersen’s statement that she has learned 3,500 people have died from taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has caused deaths,” Dr. Farnitano said.

Supervisors Approve Keller Canyon Permit

Over the objections of the City of Pittsburg’s Environmental Affairs Manager Laura Wright, who was the only opponent, supervisors unanimously approved a three-year land use permit for Republic Services to continue to operate the Keller Canyon Landfill on Bailey Road.

The supervisors’ action does require the county Department of Conservation and Development to conduct a one-year permit review of the landfill to determine if new or modified conditions should be considered.

Wright objected to the three-year permit renewal because the county did not adequately address the visual impacts by the inadequate number of trees that have been planted to block the view of the landfill and the inadequate measures undertaken to eradicate the dumping of litter outside the landfill.

Initially launching operations in 1995, the landfill has served as either an environmental irritant to residents living nearby the landfill or as a valuable source of money for numerous Pittsburg and Bay Point nonprofit organizations that Supervisor Federal Glover oversees the distributes thousands of dollars from Republic Services’ mitigation fund.

Two years ago, the landfill was the site of public concern when reports surfaced that radioactive waste from the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco had been transported and deposited at the Contra Costa County landfill.  A landfill radiation study last year revealed no evidence that any radioactive material had been deposited at Keller Canyon Landfill.

Antioch Library Reopening Delayed Until June 8

Citing the need for additional time to install shelving and update computers at the Antioch Library, supervisors approved County Librarian Alison McKee’s request to extend the reopening of the library to Tuesday, June 8.

In late April, supervisors had approved a request to close the library on June Tuesday, June 1 for interior paint and the installation of new carpeting and shelving, but due to additional time needed to install shelving and update computers the reopening has been delayed by a week.

Tougher Fireworks Ordinance Proposed

Supervisors are expected to consider at the June 8 meeting a proposed ordinance toughening the law banning the possession, manufacture, sale, use and discharge of fireworks.

“The proposed ordinance would amend Chapter 44-2 (i.e., vegetation fires, structure and exterior fires, personal injury or death, and noise or other public nuisances) and authorize the Sheriff to arrest and cite a responsible party, as defined in the ordinance, for violations for Chapter 44-1.  The proposed ordinance establishes that a responsible party is required to maintain, manage, and supervise the property or vessel for which they are responsible to prevent violations of Chapter 44-2. A responsible party is liable and violates the probation on fireworks under Chapter44-2 if any person possesses, manufactures, sells, offers to sell, uses, or discharges, any fireworks at the property, or on the vessel, for which the responsible party is responsible, regardless of whether the responsible party is present when the violation occurs.

“The proposed ordinance defines a responsible party as any of the following:

  1. A person that owns, rents, leases, or otherwise has possession of, or is in immediate control of, aa residence or other private property or a vessel.
  2. A person that organizes, supervises, sponsors, conducts, allows, controls, or controls access to, the possession, manufacture, sale, offer for sale, use, or discharge of fireworks at a residence or other private property or on a vessel.

If a residence or other private property is rented or leased for a period of more than 30 consecutive days, the landlord or lessor is not a responsible party unless the landlord or lessor: has possession of, or is in immediate control of, the residence or other private property; or has knowledge of the possession, manufacture, sale, offer for sale, use, or discharge of fireworks at the residence or other private property.

The owner of a residence that is rented for a period of 30 consecutive days or less (a short-term rental) is a responsible party and is liable for violations of Chapter 44-2 if the short-term renter, or any other person, possesses, manufactures, sells, uses, or discharges, any fireworks at the residence, regardless of whether the owner of the short-term rental is present when the violation occurs.”

The proposed tougher fireworks ordinance already has won the support from the Discovery Bay Community District which released a letter from district board president stating:

“The revisions, in essence, would hold persons in control or possession of private property responsible for fireworks violations occurring on their property,” wrote board president Byron Gutow. “The discharge of fireworks is a common problem in the district, especially during celebrations of Independence Day and New Year’s.  In many cases, the fireworks are professional grade and pose a significant risk of danger to persons and properties. We support efforts to dissuade the use of illegal fireworks.”

Promote Chief Assistant to County Counsel

Chief Assistant County Counsel Mary Ann McNett Mason was promoted to County Counsel by supervisors to fill the position that became vacant when Contra Costa County Counsel Sharon Anderson died on April 30.

Ms. Mason will earn $463,000 a year of which $105,000 is pension costs.  All the costs are budgeted in the county’s General Fund within the County Counsel’s Office operating budget.

Mason, a graduate of the University of California Hastings College of Law, started to work for the county counsel’s office in 1987 as a deputy county counsel.  In 2010 she was appointed assistant county counsel and in 2016 was promoted to chief assistant county counsel.

While serving the role of chief assistant county counsel, Mason assumed the duties of the County Counsel in her absence, supervised the attorneys in the General Government Group, and assisted in management of the County Counsel’s Office. In addition to those duties, Mason has served as the county’s retirement and employee benefit counsel, is the office specialist on open meeting and conflict of interest laws and serves as General Counsel to Delta Diablo.

Mason previously served as the counsel to the Contra Costa County Board of Education and County Superintendent of Schools, the Contra Costa Superior Court, the Grand Jury, and the Assessment Appeals Board and other clients.

“I am so happy to have this opportunity to represent the board of supervisors and the county at an important time in our history and to carry on Sharon Anderson’s legacy,” Mason told the Contra Costa Herald.  “I have some big shoes to fill.”

Load Limits Imposed on Delta-Mendota Canal Bridge

In an unusual action, supervisors approved the Contra Costa County Department of Public Works request to post 23 ton per vehicle (i.e., Type 3 Truck) load limit signs for the deteriorating Delta-Mendota Canal Bridge on Lindemann Road over the Delta-Mendota Canal because of “on-going deterioration found in multiple timber columns of the bridge.”

Supervisors did not receive any public comment pro or con on the proposal for the bridge’s load limit. “This order shall remain in effect for 90 days, or until Caltrans issues a Director’s Order establishing a permanent load restriction on the bridge, whichever occurs first,” the supervisors’ resolution states.

Alamo Architect Appointed Acting Planning Commissioner

District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville received board consent action approval on her request to appoint Alamo architect Sanjiv Bhandari to fill on an acting basis the planning commission post vacated by Rand Swenson’s resignation on April 28.

“Supervisor Andersen has been advertising the District II Commission seat since April 15, 2021 in preparation for filling the vacancy scheduled to arise at the end of Mr. Swenson’s current term on June 30, 2021.  Mr. Bhandari applied and met with Supervisor Andersen. Supervisor Andersen feels his knowledge an experience will be a positive addition to the commission,” the board agenda item report states.


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Contra Costa Supervisors approve $4.06 billion 2021-22 budget thanks to federal funds

Friday, May 14th, 2021

Source: CCC Administrator

Balance budget based on keeping 879 positions unfilled

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to approve a $4.06 billion 2021-22 budget that increases staffing especially for public health, the sheriff-coroner and district attorney. It’s an increase of $80 million from the 2020-21 fiscal year budget of $3.98 billion.

During the 2021-22 fiscal year, county officials expect to spend $1.78 billion in local general funds and yet to be determined amount of Measure X sales tax funds that voters approved last November.

Supervisors learned President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will bring to Contra Costa County’s coffers $233 million over the next 24 months of which the first $116.5 million installment will be delivered later this month.

In addition, County Administrator Monica Nino said by keeping 879 positions unfilled the action will save the county $115 million and allows the county to achieve a balanced budget.  Nino cut one position from her staff, a person who was assigned to census outreach and activities, a position that is no longer needed since the census has been completed.

Among other staffing reductions or additions, three vacant positions in the Assessor’s Office will be eliminated, but the District Attorney’s Office will pick up one new position, a District Attorney Senior Inspector for Real Estate Fraud and Prosecution.

Twenty-five unfilled Employment and Human Services positions will be eliminated in Child Welfare and Community Services, but the Sheriff-Coroner can hire 10 deputies to be assigned to acute psychiatric and mental health in detention services.

Next fiscal year, 39 new mental health workers will be hired in Health Service’s to beef up the Mental Health Community Support Unit to enhance conservatorship and guardianship issues.

Source: CCC Administrator

Public Comments, Complaints

Supervisors once again got an earful of complaints from citizens that supervisors still plan to fund Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston’s request to hire 10 deputies to be assigned to mental wards at the Martinez jail and Richmond detention center.

Speakers, including the mother of Miles Hall, who was killed by a police officer in Walnut Creek, requested supervisors not approve Sheriff-Coroner Livingston’s staffing request but to consider donating the funds to the non-profit Miles Hall Foundation.

Dan Geiger of the Budget Coalition objected to the request from the Sheriff-Coroner to hire 10 deputies because Sheriff-Coroner Livingston will have hired 24 new deputies over a two-year span.  “If the Sheriff needs 10 more sheriff deputies, he needs to find the money elsewhere in the budget,” Geiger said.

District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond responded to the sheriff-coroner’s critics by saying the county is bond by the Prison Law Office settlement to spend $250 million over 5 years to improve jail conditions for prisoners requiring mental health services.

“The reason why 10 deputies are being hired is due to the settlement to improve jail conditions and to comply with the Prison Law Office settlement,” Gioia said.

During the upcoming 2021-2022 fiscal year, Supervisor Gioia requested county officials provide reports on the potential closures of the Marsh Creek Detention Facility that houses 28 inmates and is staffed with 15 sworn and five non-sworn Sheriff’s Office employees, and on the future of juvenile hall.

Countywide Curb Ramp Project Contract Awarded to Second Lowest Bidder

Instead of approving the lowest bid, supervisors approved the second lowest bid of $1,172,074 from Sposeto Engineering Inc. when the lowest bidder, Burch Engineering & Construction, Inc. had given timely written notice to the county of a “mistake made in the filing of Burch’s bid and that it be relieved of the bid.”

Supervisors unanimously approved the Sposeto Engineering bid for the countywide curb ramp project. Burch Engineering & Construction Inc. had submitted a bid of $875,954 for the curb ramp project before alerting the county about an error in its bid.

Three other bids that were submitted for the project were Kerox Engineering Inc., $1,390,408; J.J.R. Construction Inc., $1,398,702; and FBD Vanguard Construction, Inc., $1,406,522.

Pay Respects to County Counsel Anderson and former Public Works Director Shiu

Supervisors paused to pay respects to two county employees, county counsel Sharon Anderson, who passed away on April 28 and former county Public Works Department Director Maurice Shiu, 74, who passed away recently from Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer.

Shiu, who was born in Guangzhog, China on Dec. 6, 1946, but moved with his parents to Hong Kong where upon graduation from high school  moved to the United States to attend the University of California at Berkeley where he received Bachelor’s of Science and Masters of Science degrees in Civil Engineering. He met his wife Esther at UC Berkley.

During his distinguished career at Public Works, Shiu’s major accomplishments included the Willow Pass Grade Project and the State Route 4 Bypass Project. He was president of the Contra Costa County Engineers Association.

Shiu retired in 2008.  He is survived by his wife Ester, two children – Perkin and Vanessa and his four grandchildren – Jaden, Justin, Noelle and Gabriella.

“It’s a loss to our county and our department,” said current Public Works Department Director Brian Balbas. “Maurice was very tactful and active in transportation.  He was very good at preparing me for the challenges that I face as Public Works Director.”

“He worked on the Highway 4 widening,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover. “He was so brilliant on that project.  He was very helpful with me and he had a great sense of humor.”

For the past 37 years Sharon Anderson, a resident of Benicia and a graduate from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, has been known as a dedicated and hardworking lawyer for the county. She died on April 30. The cause of death was not released.

“She was such a wonderful person,” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff.

Upon recognizing Anderson’s leadership and mentoring skills District 5 Supervisor Glover said the county is in great shape legally and with its successor, most likely Assistant County Counsel Mary Ann Mason.

“Sharon was so well-grounded. What I loved about Sharon was that she did not take herself so seriously,” said District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville.  “I am grateful we have Mary Ann Mason.”


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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 for details and a look at the previous ceremony.

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