Archive for the ‘Supervisors’ Category

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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Supervisors chastise DA Becton over outdoor wedding, OK demolishing old admin, county jail buildings

Wednesday, February 10th, 2021

Historic photo of old Contra Costa County jail. Source: Architectural Preservation Foundation of Contra Costa

Architectural Preservation Foundation wants old jail preserved for other uses; Board hears from Budget Justice Coalition on COVID related equity issues; COVID-19 variant draws concern

By Daniel Borsuk

Contra Costa Supervisors Candace Andersen and Karen Mitchoff chastised Contra Costa District Attorney Diana Becton, during the Board’s meeting on Tuesday, for holding her wedding reception in the backyard of her El Sobrante home in August in violation of COVID-19 health protocols.

“I think we give up hope when our top public officials improperly conduct themselves,” District 4 Supervisor Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill said.

“What District Attorney Becton did was wrong.  There were so many events that so many of us had to give up that were important,” Mitchoff later said. “It just needs to be called out.  We cannot sweep it under the rug and act as if this did not happen.”

“I feel very frustrated about the wedding District Attorney Becton had at her home” remarked District 2 Supervisor Andersen of Danville.  “I was very surprised that she would have a party after a wedding, knowing it was in violation of county health codes.”

In her defense, Becton said: “I did everything I believe was in proper guidance with what I thought was allowed.  I realize public officials like myself are held to a higher standard as we should be.”

Becton married Rev. Dr. Alvin C. Bernstine, a fourth-generation preacher and the author of his most recently published book, Hope Us, Lord. (See related article)

Approve Demolition of Old County Administration Building, Old County Jail

Over the concerns of preservationists, supervisors flashed the green light for Contra Costa County Public Works officials to hire a design-build contractor to demolish the old 12-story county administration complex at 651 Pine Street in Martínez and the old county jail across the street from the administration complex so that either a two or three-story office building can be constructed on the site of the old administration building.

In December, the county opened a new four-story, 71,000 square foot Administration Building across the street from old the Pine Street building.

It would cost about $65 million to demolish the old building and then build a two-story building and $75 million to build a three-story office building.  The County plans to provide parking and open public space on the land cleared through demolition.

“Four years ago, we presented over 300 signatures to you for preservation,” said Architectural Preservation Foundation of Contra Costa President Cheryll Grover. “There has been no current relevant community outreach on this issue.”

According to the organization’s website, “In 1989 the entire Contra Costa County ‘Court House Block’ was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 1903 County Jail and the present-day Finance Building.  The National Register described these as classically inspired dignified structures of Vermont granite ‘designed to represent stability and permanence.’”

County officials have shown interest in using the Pine Street site for office space for the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Public Offender’s Office, Health Services and the Office of Racial Justice and Equality.

Supervisors said because of the old jails building material – concrete to keep prisoners inside along with concerns about the presence of asbestos, made it problematic to renovate the old jail.  Grover said her preservation group did propose alternative proposals to rehabilitate the old jail, but their proposals apparently fell short of the mark as far as meeting County Public Works criteria.

From slide show presentation to CCCBOS 020921.

Hear from Budget Justice Coalition on COVID Related Equity Issues

In other action, the Supervisors heard a presentation from the Contra Costa Budget Justice Coalition and the Bay Area Equity Atlas on COVID Related Equity Issues, to ensure all county residents are treated fairly during recovery from the pandemic.

According to their slide show, “The Contra Costa Budget Justice Coalition advocates for community engagement in the Contra Costa County budgeting process and for a set of values-based budgeting principles that support safe and affordable housing, stable employment with fair wages, sufficient healthy food, essential health care, access to critical social services, and quality early care and education.”

Presenters spoke on the subjects of Disparate COVID Health, Housing, and Economic Impacts, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Community Challenges and Stabilizing Neighborhoods and Equitable Relief.

They offered proposed solutions and plans of action in response including: “Producing and Maintaining lasting affordable housing”; “Prioritize equity and those most in need – evictions, food, housing, health, essential services”; “Protect and stabilize vulnerable households and workers”; “Connect low-wage workers with economic opportunities”; and “‘Build Back Better’ through equitable investments in a stronger, fairer, more sustainable economy”; among others.

Santa Clara County COVID-19 Variant Draws County Warning

A deadly Coronavirus variant now prevalent in Santa Clara County could surface in Contra Costa County, Contra Costa County Health Department Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano informed supervisors.

“Getting a vaccine is still the most important thing one can do to protect oneself,” said Dr. Farnitano upon informing supervisors about the Santa Clara County variant.  So far, 800 patients in Santa Clara County have been stricken with this variant and “there have been a couple of cases of this variant in Contra Costa County,” he said.  “We expect to be more knowledgeable about this variant in the next couple of weeks.”

The Santa Clara County COVID-10 variant is one of a number of Coronavirus strains to have surfaced globally, particularly in Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Farnitano said because Contra Costa County remains in the Purple Tier, at or under 46.2 new infections as it was in late January, school grade levels K to 6 can “bring back students as soon as tomorrow (Wednesday).”  The restart of school for grade levels 7 to 12 will be determined later.

County health officials made the COVID-19 announcements at the same time United States health officials announced Tuesday that the most severe surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation has weakened significantly based on major metrics.  Nationally, newly reported cases have declined 56 percent over the past 30 days.  Hospitalizations have declined 38 percent since January 6.  The seven-day average of COVID-19 tests returning positive declined to 6.93 percent over the past week, the lowest rate since October 31.

Dr. Farnitano announced religious institutions can reopen at 25 percent occupancy, but chanting, singing and the serving of food are prohibited, he said.

Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth also confirmed the county will receive $40 million in stated COVID-19 vaccine distribution funding but, could not provide details.  Last week, there were initial reports the state aid the county would receive would be shared with health organizations Kaiser Permanente and Blue Shield.

County Health Equity Officer Gilbert Salinas said the county’s efforts to equitably distribute the vaccine throughout the county, especially in parts of the county where there are more people of color or economically disadvantaged is gaining traction.  He reported that about 70,000 vaccine shots had been administered to county residents and retailers like Safeway, RiteAid, and WalMart are participating in the administration of vaccine shots.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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Contra Costa to share $40 million state grant with Kaiser, Blue Shield for COVID vaccine distribution

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

Supervisors question if it will help in high minority areas; form Measure X Sales Tax Advisory Committee; appoint new County Librarian

By Daniel Borsuk

An announcement that the Contra Costa Health Services will share a $40 million state grant with Kaiser Permanente and Blue Shield in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccinations, stirred Contra Costa Board of Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond to question whether the state aid will actually make a difference in leveling the inequity playing field where low vaccination rates under 6 percent persist in high minority parts of supervisorial District 1, District 3, and District 5 have not progressed while the vaccination rates in communities that have populations that are predominately white and wealthier are at nearly 20 percent vaccination rates.

“I acknowledge the good and hard work of the county, but we’re still not getting enough doses from the state,” said Supervisor Gioia at the supervisors’ meeting on Tuesday when Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth introduced Gilbert Salinas as the county’s equity officer.

Salinas said he will coordinate the work of 24 adult ambassadors to reach out in areas with high minority and elderly residents, particularly in the three supervisorial districts where vaccination rates are now less than 10 percent – 5 percent in Bethel Island, 6 percent in Oakley, 5 percent in Bay Point – while in wealthier and more Caucasian areas the vaccination rates have been 19 percent in Walnut Creek, 15.3 percent in Orinda, and 18 percent in Danville.

District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville said while her colleague Gioia focuses on black and Latino residents in high minority communities of Richmond, El Cerrito, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, Oakley and Bethel Island, she said, “We also need to focus on the most at risk, and that includes the seniors at Rossmoor.”  Her comment did not draw much reaction from colleagues or the public.

“I appreciate you (i.e. Supervisor Gioia) for bringing up this inequity issue, but this is an issue in slow motion. We have the sites and the staff. We just don’t have the supplies,” said board chair Dianne Burgis of Brentwood.

“I want to see the gap closed,” said vice chair Federal Glover of Pittsburg. “It’s a question of how we close the gap. Let’s close the gap. There are major equity issues that we need to address including the high percentage of evictions in these areas.”

Contra Costa Health Services Director Roth said the county might be turning the corner in its fight against Covid-19 as countywide hospital intensive care unit occupancy is falling from a high of 296 patients to a current occupancy of 172 patients. She also said of one million doses given in California, 127,560 doses had been administered in Contra Costa County.

Form Measure X Sales Tax Advisory Committee

Supervisors voted 4-1 with District 3 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff casting the dissenting vote, to form a 17-member Measure X Advisory Committee to advise the board of supervisors on how to spend an estimated $50 million in annual tax revenues for a wide range of county services.   County voters last November passed Measure X, a ballot measure authorizing a ½ cent sales tax be levied countywide, exempting food sales.  Collection of the sales tax begins in April and will be available for distribution in the fiscal year 2021/2022.

For a while Supervisors Mitchoff and Gioia squared off arguing over the pros and cons of two different models whereby volunteers serving on the Measure X Advisory Committee would advise the board of supervisors on public services.  Gioia supported a 95% option and 5% option while Mitchoff favored a 50% -45%-5% formula.

“I am trying to avoid conflicts,” said Mitchoff. “There needs to be more of a level playing field.  Fifty million dollars is a lot of money. I want the advisory committee to do some work. We are creating another layer for county staff to work with.”

Gioia’s proposal attracted the support of supervisors Burgis, Glover and Andersen. Appointments to the committee will be announced at a future meeting.

Appoint McKee County Librarian

Deputy County Librarians Alison P. McKee was appointed on a 5-0 vote to fill the post of County Librarian that was vacated by the retirement of former County Librarian Melinda Cervantes last year. The county will pay McKee $281,442 in annual cost for the post of which $51,568 is pension cost.

McKee holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University and a Bachelor of Music Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Extend Eviction Protection and Rent Freeze

Supervisors passed Ordinance No. 2021-04 that extends a temporary eviction moratorium for certain residential and tenants and prohibits residential rents increases through June 30, 2021.   The Urgency Ordinance also continues a temporary eviction moratorium on commercial tenants through March 31, 2021.

“Even as Covid-19 vaccines distribution gives us hope to ending the pandemic, we recognize the needs of Contra Costa residents and businesses,” said Board Chair Diane Burgis.  “We encourage residents to stay vigilant and to seek resources.  We will get through this together.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Contra Costa County Supervisors extend eviction protection and rent freeze

Thursday, February 4th, 2021

At their Board meeting on February 2, 2021, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed Urgency Ordinance No. 2021-04 that continues a temporary eviction moratorium for certain residential tenants and a moratorium on certain residential rent increases through June 30, 2021. The Urgency Ordinance also continues a temporary eviction moratorium for certain commercial tenants through March 31, 2021. Ordinance No. 2021-04 supersedes Ordinance No. 2020-29.

“Even as COVID-19 vaccines distribution gives us hope to ending the pandemic, we recognize the need to continue protections for Contra Costa residents and businesses,” said Supervisor Diane Burgis, Board Chair. “Now is not the time to let down our guard against the virus. We encourage residents to stay vigilant and to seek resources. We will get through this together.”

Read the full document Ordinance No. 2021-04 (PDF). Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding this ordinance on the County website soon.

For information and resources, visit Contra Costa County at www.contracosta.ca.gov. For COVID-19 updates, visit Contra Costa Health Services at cchealth.org/coronavirus. If you have questions about the coronavirus, contact the multilingual Call Center at 1-844-729-8410, open daily from 8 am to 5 pm. For assistance after hours in multiple languages, please call 211 or 800-833-2900 or text HOPE to 20121.

 

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Contra Costa health officials to address Gioia’s complaints of COVID-19 vaccine inequity in high minority population areas of West, East County

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

Source: Contra Costa Health Services

Less than 5% immunization compared to 11-13.8% in Alamo, Lafayette and Walnut Creek where the population is older.

The county is distributing the vaccine primarily to residents 75 years and older, said Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano – “I really do believe we are at the turning of the tide of this pandemic at this point.”

Annual Board Retreat held virtually

Photo: CC Health Services.

By Daniel Borsuk

During the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors annual retreat Tuesday, Jan. 26, the county’s top health official made a major admission, saying her department will investigate questions into claims of unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccination injections in areas with high populations of Black and Latino residents.

Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth was put in the hot seat by District 1 Supervisor John Gioia who, like last week, raised similar questions as to why the COVID-19 vaccine is being unequally distributed in the district he represents. His district includes the cities of Richmond and El Cerrito and other communities with high percentages of minorities who are more prone to be stricken with coronavirus, than in other communities that tend to be wealthier and have higher percentages of white residents.

Gioia also cited other high percentage minority communities like Antioch, Bay Point, and Pittsburg in supervisorial District 5 for exposing residents to the COVID-19.  District 5 is represented by Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg who did not comment on the issue.

Gioia said the vaccination rate in Antioch is five percent, in Bay Point it is 4.3 percent, in Richmond it’s 4.5 percent, while in Alamo the vaccination rate is 11 percent, 12 percent in Lafayette, and 13.8 percent in Walnut Creek.

“You make a very important point.  The early data is showing an inequity,” Health Director Roth said.  “We hear your request for a more specific plan.”

Last week, when Gioia raised the same inequity issue, Roth did not acknowledge the Supervisor’s issue as significant enough for possible further study.

Discussion about the vaccine inequity distribution issue arose at the same time Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s administration announced it would boost the supply of COVID-19 vaccines by about 16 percent for the next three weeks.  White House officials said the order would buy enough additional doses to vaccinate most of the U.S. population with a with a two-dose regimen by the end of summer.  Contra Costa County Health officials were unavailable to comment about that development. Like all counties in California, vaccine distribution is overseen by the state.

However, during the Health Services COVID-19 Response Update to the board, Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county’s health officer, pointed out that the county is distributing the vaccine primarily to residents 75 years and older. Of 93,000 doses administered, 61,000 have been given to citizens older than 75 years, he explained.

“I really do believe we are at the turning of the tide of this pandemic at this point,” Farnitano also stated at the end of the presentation.

Retreat Highlights

During their remotely held retreat, the supervisors were presented glimpses of the 2021 budget, economic forecasts, future capital improvement projects, redistricting, economic development, and developments planned at the two County-owned airports in Byron and at Buchanan Field in Concord.

Among some of the highlights of the presentations were:

  • Supervisors expressed their preference for the potential construction of a 20,000 square foot, two-story office building with 80 underground parking spaces to be built at 651 Pine St., the former site of the 12-story McBrien Administration Building that will be demolished now that that county’s new four story $95 million administration David Twa Administration Building has been completed and is open for limited occupancy due to COVID-19.

“The economy will be roaring back,” forecast economist Dr. Christopher Thornberg. He made the prediction despite the fact that California faces a $54 billion budget deficit, “public transit like BART is going to have a tough time getting out of this thing, but electrically powered cars I see coming down the pike.”

  • Former County Administrator David Twa will oversee work on the county’s redistricting process, a process that occurs every 10 years to adjust supervisorial district boundaries. The complex process involves conducting public hearings and meeting state and federal guidelines that are dependent on when the federal government releases 2020 census data.  There is concern that due to COVID-19, the availability of census data might be delayed.
  • The two county airports at Byron and Buchanan have generated a 9% increase in revenue for the county since 2017. The Byron airport recently landed, said Airports Director Keith Freitas, a vertical take landing aviation company.  There are 10 ongoing development projects at the airports including fire station No. 9 and a new administration building at the Buchanan Airport in Concord.
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Supervisors query Contra Costa health officials queried on low vaccine locations in West County

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Members of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors and new County Administrator Monica Nino (top center) during their meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. Video screenshot.

Celebrate MLK day, honor Humanitarians of the Year, appoint 11 to Racial Justice Oversight Body including Antioch Council Member Torres-Walker, increase vehicle license fees

By Daniel Borsuk

During the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, under the questioning of District 1 Supervisor John Gioia, Contra Costa County Public Health Director Anna Roth was asked why West County has the fewest vaccine locations, five, while other districts in the county have more sites where citizens can get vaccinated.

Gioia brought up the issue on why there are far fewer vaccination sites in the Richmond and El Cerrito area that has the highest COVID-19 incidence rates in the county because of its high percentage of Black and Latino residents. He noted that there were 10 vaccination sites in East County, 10 sites in the South County (San Ramon Valley) and seven locations in Central County.

Roth said she would report back to the Board on why West County had fewest vaccination sites, but District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville said many of the vaccination locations in her district are drug stores or grocery stores.

Gioia brought up the disparity of vaccination locations in West County after Roth had reported that the County had given about 52,000 vaccine shots since Dec. 15.  She noted persons over 65 are now eligible to receive the vaccine and the vaccine is being distributed through Kaiser, Sutter and at Safeway stories.  The vaccine is being distributed at 960 doses a day.

“The vaccine is giving us hope” said Contra Costa Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano.  “Almost one third of the deaths in Contra Costa County were COVID-19 related.”

Velma Wilson, Kimyatta Newby Honored at MLK Ceremony

During the county’s 43rd Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, the Board Chair Diane Burgis presented a spectacularly produced video (see 2:34:00 mark) featuring Antioch activist Velma Wilson as the Humanitarian of the Year and Howard University student Kimyatta Newby as Student Humanitarian of the Year. (See related article)

Appoint 11 to Racial Justice Oversight Body

Supervisors approved, without discussion, the appointments of 11 residents to the Racial Justice Oversight Body, a multi-agency advisory body established by the Board of Supervisors in 2018 to oversee the implementation of the recommendations made by the Racial Justice Task Force to reduce disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.  The 11 new members will serve their appointment throuogh December   31, 2023.

Richmond Police Chief Bisa French will serve as the Local Law Enforcement representative.  LaShanta Smith of the West Contra Costa Unified School District will serve as the school district representative.  Also appointed are Tamisha Torres-Walker, an Antioch Council Member; Jeff Landau, a County public defender; Michael Pierson, an Antioch lawyer; Chala Bonner, a political education organizer; Stephanie Medley, an attorney; Ronell Ellis, an entertainment company owner; Cheryl Sudduth, a Goodwill Industries director; Apollo Sulse, a pastor of The Bay Church; and Noe Gudino, a coordinator at Ryse Youth Center.

Vehicle License Fee Hike OK’d

Without hearing any citizen objection, supervisors unanimously approved increasing an annual vehicle license fee of $1.00 for all motor vehicles registered in Contra Costa County and an additional $2.00 for commercial vehicles to provide additional funding for the county’s CAL-ID program.  Used by the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies in the county, the CAL-ID system provides funding for the Automated Fingerprint Identification System for persons who may be involved in driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, vehicular manslaughter, or any combination of those and other vehicle-related crimes.

The fee increase will help cover a projected deficit of $1.1 million starting August 1, 2021.

Bay Point Fire Station Construction Contract Approved

Serving as the Contra Costa Fire Protection District Board of Directors, supervisors unanimously approved a $9,579,000 contract with C. Overaa & Co. to construct a new Fire Station 86 in Bay Point at 10 Goble Dr. even though the second lowest bidder for the project, D.L. Falk Construction Inc., with a bid of $9,714,000 had submitted an objection that was rejected by county officials.

No public objections were lodged about the contract during the Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday.

“Overaa’s bid is responsive and that County Public Works Department staff has thoroughly reviewed the bid and determined that Overaa has documented an adequate good faith effort to comply with the requirements of the County’s Outreach Program, as provided in the Project specifications.  Staff recommends that the construction contract for the Project be awarded to Overaa Construction Inc., the lowest, responsible bidder, in the nearly $9,579,000, as listed in Overaa’s bid,” said the Public Works Department statement.

A third bid of $10,088,000 had been submitted by Alten Construction, Inc. of Richmond.

The new Fire Station 86 will replace the asbestos-plagued, 60-year-old fire station that is so outdated and “is too small to accommodate the needs of the modern fire service,” Contra Costa Fire Protection District Chief Lewis Broschard III wrote in a recommendation to the supervisors. “The layout consists of unconnected buildings used for various purposes. This station itself is believed to contain asbestos …This project has had several starts and stops over the decades.  This fire station will serve Bay Point and the adjacent City of Pittsburg.  The Pittsburg area south of Highway 4 has seen significant growth in recent years.  This growth is anticipated to continue.”

Retiring EBRPD Director Doyle Recognized

Supervisors also recognized Robert Doyle for his 25 years of service at the East Bay Regional Park District, the past 10 years where he served as General Manager of the park district.  Among his numerous achievements at EBRPD, Doyle was instrumental in managing the parks during the current COVID-19 crisis in which park use increased dramatically.

 

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