Low-income housing in the county “stagnates”
Voters in the financially challenged East Contra Costa Fire Protection District convincingly decided in a mail ballot election concluded on March 6, to shrink the number of board members from nine appointed directors to five elected directors.
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors certified the election results as presented by Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters Joseph Canciamilla as a consent item at Tuesday’s supervisors meeting.
Of the 64,351 ballots mailed to registered voters residing in the ECCFPD, county election officials received and tallied 11,772 ballots or 18.29 percent of the total ballots mailed.
Of those ballots returned and counted, 90.46 percent or 10,605 votes were in favor of changing the board from nine chosen board members to five elected directors. Only 1,119 votes or 9.54 percent of the of the ballots returned wanted to retain the present setup of nine appointed ECCFPD board directors.
Results of the special election means those wanting to serve on the ECCFPD board of directors will have to run for office in the November 6 general election. Winners will be sworn into office on December 3.
The ECCFPD board presently has four directors appointed by the Brentwood City Council, three directors appointed by the Oakley City Council and two appointed by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.
By transitioning to an elected board of five directors, the ECCFPD will be in step with other policymaking boards like the city councils of Brentwood and Oakley and special districts such as park, water and irrigation districts, said ECCFPD Fire Chief Brian Helmick, who oversees the $15 million a year fire district that operates three fire stations and a Marsh Creek station under contract with CalFire from November through April.
There are plans for the fire district to operate as many as nine fire stations.
Historically, the ECCFPD has been hammered with financial mismanagement issues that have hampered its fire effectiveness due to the closure of fire stations and the departure of seasoned firefighters who join fire districts offering better pay and benefit packages.
Under a five-person elected board, Chief Helmick says the district can convey a more consistent and solid financial picture about the ECCPFD than under the current nine member appointed board.
“The election results will bring efficiencies and more effective communications to the general public about the district’s direction,” Helmick told the Herald. The fire chief said a newly elected board of directors will play a key role in the roll out of the fire district’s new strategic plan. A consultant is slated to present a mockup of an ECCFPD strategic plan at an April 9 meeting, Helmick said.
“I am excited to see that voters supported the East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District’s plan to move from nine members to five,” said District 3 Board of Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood. “Nearly 12,000 people cast ballots and over 90 percent of them voted for the district’s initiative. That level of engagement and confidence shows that the district’s efforts to communicate more actively with residents and to be transparent about the district’s challenges are paying off. Chief Helmick and the board are making their case to residents and building the right foundation for the future.”
Report: County Housing for Low and Very Low-Income Residents “Stagnates”
Contra Costa County’s production of new housing units built for families in low-and very low-income categories continues to “stagnate” while permits issued for the construction of above-moderate income housing units continues to soar, a new housing report approved by the Board of Supervisors reveals. CoCoCo 2017 Annual Housing Report
In order to be in compliance with annual housing regulations set by the Association of Bay Area Governments, California Department of Housing and Community Development, and California Office of Planning Research, the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department’s annual report prepared by Christine Louie reported, “While the county has made significant progress in achieving gross housing production goals, production of new housing units available to households in low-and-very low income categories continues to stagnate.”
Last year, the report states, the county issued three permits for new units available to low-and very-low income households. Through the first three years of the current housing cycle only 11 such permits have been issued, constituting 1.2 percent of the total building permits issued for new units.
Discrimination, high land acquisition and construction/development costs are key factors for the county’s low housing production for low and very low-income households.
“Through the first three years of the current housing cycle, the total number of units for which the county has issued building permits is 856 units, which includes 11 low-income units, 14 moderate income units and 721 above-moderate income units,” the county housing report stated.
Last year, the county sponsored a number of subsidized housing programs designed to increase affordable housing. Among the housing programs the county sponsored were:
- The issuance $19.5 million in tax-exempt bonds for the rehabilitation of 114 units in unincorporated Bay Point and the city of Richmond.
- The release of $146.8 million in tax-exempt bonds for construction of 376 new units in the unincorporated community of North Richmond and the cities of El Cerrito and Richmond.
- The issuance of $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for an 82-unit senior housing project in the city of Pleasant Hill.
- Providing $625,000 of HOME funds to support rehabilitation of a 14-unit apartment complex in Bay Point.
Neither the supervisors nor general public commented on the annual housing report that was approved as a consent item on the supervisors’ agenda.