By Daniel Borsuk
The $500,000 planning study to ignite an economic renaissance designed to create 18,000 low-tech manufacturing jobs by 2035 along the county’s northern waterfront gained momentum Tuesday when the Board of Supervisors joined the city councils of Hercules and Pittsburg in approving a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the major waterfront planning project. (See the Northern Waterfront Report)
Officials expect the city councils of Antioch, Brentwood, Martinez, and Oakley to soon adopt similar MOUs that have been prepared to permit jurisdictions to participate or not participate in joint projects that will generate jobs in the industries of food processing, clean tech, bio-tech/bio-medical, and advanced transportation fuels.
The county’s MOU also authorizes Department of Conservation and Development Director John Kopchik to file and obtain trademarks for “Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiative” and “Capital of the Northern California Mega-Region” or similar phrases on behalf of the county.
District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff cautioned colleagues over the planning project’s rising costs. The county awarded a $500,000 grant a year ago, but that amount has now dwindled to $94,500.
“I’d like to know how those funds are to be spent in the future,” she said.
Mitchoff forecast there will be competition from the Association of Bay Area Governments to pay for future regional planning studies that could potentially jeopardize funding for the waterfront project. “ABAG will give some push back,” warned Mitchoff, who represents the county on the ABAG board.
“There is going to be shared funding,” District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg forecast about any potential planning funding tug-of-war with ABAG. Glover, who has been instrumental in launching the NWEP continued “I’m excited about what is happening.”
Glover mentioned Bombardier Transportation’s announcement last week to use an empty Pittsburg manufacturing site on Loveridge Road to assemble 775 new BART cars that will initially create 50 jobs.
“Right now, the economy is good so we need to invest in the Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiative and create jobs,” said District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis.
“This is something so critical to prepare a workforce that is ready to go,” said Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville.
Complaints Over Animal Services Staffing
When supervisors unanimously flashed the green light for Animal Services Director Beth Ward to award a $200,000 contract to Unconditional Dog to provide animal enrichment services at the county’s two shelters, supervisors got an earful of complaints from speakers about how the shelters are inadequately staffed by fulltime employees and volunteers.
Although the speakers did not specifically criticize the Unconditional Dog contract, they talked about the inadequate staffing levels at the Richmond and Pacheco shelters that can jeopardize the training and prospects of placing dogs in permanent and appropriate new homes.
“I’m not objecting about the contract,” said Wendy Wolf of Moraga. “The shelters have primarily a volunteer staff but, are now at a very low fulltime staffing level. This raises concerns about having a wellness training program for dogs.”
Supervisor Mitchoff said she recently met Animal Services Director Ward and criticized the department’s handling of the animal enrichment services contract transaction. “I believe this is a good contract,” she said.
Mitchoff said that the Finance Committee in September will review funding to increase staffing at the shelters. “I look forward to the Finance Committee meeting in September,” responded Animal Services Director Ward.
Finance Committee to Review City Contract for Animal Services
Under consent items, supervisors also referred to the Finance Committee a review of city contract fees for Animal Services that, over the past 14 years, the cities contract fees have increased by $3.92 per capita from $2.46 in fiscal year 2005-2006 to $6.38 for fiscal year 2019/2020. The actual cost to provide animal services should be $12.02 per capita for fiscal year 2019/2020. The only city it doesn’t affect is Antioch, which provides its own animal services.