Contra Costa County and Martinez officials broke ground Tuesday, May 22 for the construction of the $60 million energy efficient Contra Costa County Administration Building at Escobar and Pine streets in Martinez. The county has attempted to replace the antiquated 11-story constructed in 1965 for the past 25 years but due mainly to national financial crisis those plans were scrapped. The new administration building is expected to be completed in May 2020. The county is also building a new $40 ‘million emergency operations center near its existing EOC in Martinez. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.
Assemblymember Tim Grayson (D-Concord) announced that the California Transportation Commission (CTC) has approved $34 million in funding for improvements of the Interstate 680 / State Route 4 highway interchange in Concord, one of the most congested freeway interchanges in the Bay Area.
“Anyone who has driven in the East Bay knows this interchange is notorious for gridlock, which is why I have been working for more than a year with the CTC, Department of Transportation, and Contra Costa Transportation Authority to secure the funding needed to get this project started,” Grayson said. “As a critical artery for the region, it is incumbent on us to ensure the conditions of this interchange are improved so commuters are able to navigate this interchange without the additional stress caused by standstill traffic and bottlenecks. I applaud the CTC for funding this project so that the people of my district, and the East Bay Area, will be able to spend less time sitting in traffic and more time at home with their families.”
The I-680/SR4 Interchange connects a major north-south thoroughfare for Solano, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties with the main east-west artery for Contra Costa County. In its review, the Commission concluded the existing I-680/SR 4 interchange has deficiencies that contribute to heavy traffic congestion and inefficient traffic operations. This project, one of several phases of improvements planned by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority for Highway 4, will construct almost 10 miles of new traffic lanes to ease congestion and will retrofit bridges to meet seismic standards as well as extend on-ramps to improve traffic safety. CCTA was awarded the funding through the CTC’s competitive Local Partnership Program.
Grayson represents the 14th Assembly District that includes the communities of Benicia, Concord, Clayton, Martinez, Pleasant Hill, Vallejo, Pittsburg and Walnut Creek. For more information please visit the Assemblymember’s website, www.assembly.ca.gov/a14.
May 12th Candidate Workshop will demystify the process of campaigning
Contra Costa County residents who may consider running for office are encouraged to attend a free workshop being held by the County Elections Division this month.
The Candidate Workshop will be held Saturday, May 12th from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm at the Pacheco Community Center, located at 5800 Pacheco Boulevard in Pacheco.
The workshop is designed to remove the mystery from running for office. Experts will cover what’s involved in running for office, including how to file and appear on the ballot, campaign finance disclosure requirements, strategies for spreading a message through the media and social media, and what happens when candidates are in the public eye.
“Being a public servant is a worthwhile endeavor, but there are many steps to get your name on the ballot. It can be confusing and daunting to those unfamiliar with the process,” said Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters. “Our goal is for anyone who attends the workshop to leave feeling confident and energized to take that next step to successfully run for office.”
The workshop includes a panel of former elected officials from a variety of local offices who will share their experiences as candidates, including what inspired them to run for office.
For more information, visit the Contra Costa Elections website at www.cocovote.us.
Contra Costa County Public Works will perform roadwork on Mountain View Boulevard just east of Palmer Road between April 23rd and May 10th, weather permitting, to replace an existing storm drain culvert.
Traffic will be controlled with flaggers between the hours of 9:00am – 4:00pm. Construction signs will be placed in advance of the construction activities. Delays should be expected.
Affects 56 workers at eight care homes in Walnut Creek and Concord
Last week, the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office collected $1,153,695.88 on behalf of victims of wage theft at care homes in Contra Costa County. The defendants’ companies are Abraham/Sanchez Corporation and Abraham Rest Home Inc. The California Department of Industrial Relations will distribute the money to the victims. In total, 56 workers will benefit from this action and obtain these lost wages.
The defendants paid back all minimum wage and overtime amounts. The amounts were identified by the Department of Industrial Relations Audit pursuant to the defendants’ plea agreement. The recovery of these wages brings closure to a multi-agency investigative effort led by the District Attorney’s Office that included case agents and representatives from the Department of Industrial Relations Bureau of Field Enforcement and the California Department of Insurance.
The investigation began in 2012 and 2013 following complaints at the United States Department of Labor and California Department of Industrial Relations regarding labor practices at several care homes in Contra Costa County. In November of 2013, the Department of Industrial Relations and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office conducted a joint operation at eight care homes in Walnut Creek and Concord.
According to a 2014 claycord.com article, on Sept. 17, 2014, “A multi-agency task force led by Contra Costa District Attorney Mark A. Peterson served search warrants on four residential care homes today and arrested and filed charges against the owners of several other residential care homes based on previous and separate search warrants. Four owners and 19 homes were involved in the investigations.”
The District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges on September 15, 2014. On January 20, 2016, defendants Sara Abraham and Julio Sanchez pled no contest to wage theft in violation of California Penal Code section 487 and insurance premium fraud in violation of California Insurance Code section 11880. As part of the disposition, they agreed to pay back the employees the restitution that they owed and negotiated a jail sentence.
Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734).
Case information: People v. Abraham, et. al; Docket Number 05-152162-4
Allen Payton contributed to this report.
By Daniel Borsuk
Contra Costa Supervisors flashed the green light on Tuesday for county airport officials to ink a long-term lease with a Southern California developer to build a 52,000 square foot, single story mixed-use building at 550 Sally Ride Drive near Buchanan Field Airport in Concord.
The supervisors’ 4-0 action serves as a signal that more commercial and aviation related developments are in the pipeline on county owned property adjacent to the county’s two airports – Buchanan Field Airport and Byron Airport.
District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis was not in attendance because she was at a business meeting representing the supervisors.
The supervisors’ action on the consent agenda item means that Airports Director Keith Freitas can proceed to execute a long-term lease with Montecito Commercial Group, LLC for the lease of about 3.21 acres of unimproved county-owned property at the south end of Sally Ride Drive.
As part of the supervisors’ action, the developer will receive a mitigated negative declaration attached to the project’s environmental impact report. During the EIR procedure, the Contra Costa Water District submitted a letter about the developer’s water usage and an easement issue. Both issues were resolved according to the CCWD.
The county can expect to cash in on the proposed single-story office-warehouse-distribution building. During the two-year construction period, the county will be paid $1,000 per month, but once construction is completed monthly rent will increase to $4,247 and will be adjusted every year on April 1 based on the Consumer Price Index.
The Montecito lease calls the one-year period beginning April 1, 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026 any adjustment will not be greater than 75 percent of the CPI factor. For the one period beginning on April 1, 2028, throughout the lease term, any adjustment to ground rent based on CPI may not be more than 4 percent of ground rent then in effect.
The Montecito development serves as an indication more projects near the county’s two airports are on their way for future supervisors’ review and action, Assistant Airports Director Beth Lee said. Supervisors are expected to soon consider two large developments proposed for the Byron Airport. One is a proposed building for aviation use and the other building is for non-aviation use, Lee said.
Lee noted the developer has yet to complete design and other procedural work before the Montecito project can get underway.
Before the Montecito -Buchanan Field development, the last development constructed on county airport property occurred in 2012 at the Byron Airport when the Patriot Jet Team building was constructed, said Lee.
When asked if real estate developers are finally recognizing how county airport projects can generate ideal real estate deals, Lee responded: “We sure hope so. This could mean a major new source of revenue for the county.”
Two State Grants Approved for Sheriff-Coroner
Supervisors approved two major state grants for the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office.
A $300,000 grant from the California Division of Boating and Waterways was awarded to the Sheriff-Coroner for the removal of abandoned vessels and the vessel turn-in program on county waterways. The grant goes into effect beginning Oct. 1, 2018 and remains in effect when grant funding runs out. Ninety percent of the funding comes from the state and 10 percent is an in-kind match.
Supervisors also approved a $97,100 grant for the Sheriff-Coroner from the Office of the Attorney General, California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement Tobacco Law Enforcement Grant Program. The grant will be used from June 1, 2018 through June 30, 2020 to decrease juvenile access and use of tobacco products.
Both grants were approved as consent items.
Controversial Kansas church to protest churches and a school in Contra Costa
In their public statement in response to an announcement by the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, Kansas to target four churches and a school in Contra Costa County this weekend, the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County stands in solidarity with those congregations and schools in our county that the WBC plans to visit this weekend.
Four press releases on their Picket Schedule page of their website state, “WBC to peacefully preach Jesus Christ, with great zeal, love & fervor at four locations in Walnut Creek, CA on Sunday, March 25th”. A fifth press release states, “Lord willing, WBC will bring the name & message of Christ Jesus to Rancho Romero Elementary School” in Alamo, on Tuesday, March 27th.
That last press releases gives an explanation for the protest stating, “A horrible thing has happened in the land and we must warn the children at Rancho Romero Elementary School, because they deserve to hear the truth for once in their lives! ‘A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?’ (Jeremiah 5:30-31) From the cradle, your parents, teachers, preachers and leaders have all lied to you. They all told you that there is no standard in the earth, and that God’s commands are merely suggestions, if they spoke of them at all. The worst part is that they did this horrendous thing to you to justify their own sins. The result is that you are left rudderless and without a polestar in this sea of lies with absolutely no hope in life, nor any hope of heaven when you die.”
The school is part of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District.
The WBC is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such groups nationally. They proselytize all those groups who don’t believe like they do. They have been known to attempt to entrap municipalities or counter protesters for “not protecting their first amendment rights of free speech” in order to bring law suits against them.
A press release from the Interfaith Council and East County Shared Ministry, offered the following information about the protests and proposed response:
The Interfaith Council stands with all of those who peacefully use their first amendment rights of the freedom of religion and the freedom of association and assembly as they attend the faith community of their choice. We call all Americans to honor the choices others make as to how, when or where to worship according to their own consciences. We call not only for tolerance of other people’s religious freedoms, but for respect, care and love for our fellow Americans as they do so.
The four congregations in Walnut Creek (St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist; First Church of Christ, Scientist; and St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception) being targeted by the WBC ask that people who join them in solidarity focus on our common love, whether it be with those with whom you agree or those with whom you disagree. Most congregations won’t have a direct response and are encouraging members not to respond to the protesters directly, but to have a gentle, peaceful or silent response if at all. Another way to support these congregations in this peaceful witness is to join them inside for their services, where you will be most welcome.
The churches and the school are most interested in being able to be left alone to worship and carry on normal school functions, so we are not encouraging a large crowd. The idea is not to give WBC the attention they crave.
WBC has contacted the police in each city, who have created plans for where the protesters will be allowed to stand. The police will keep the driveways and walkways open. The police have been told it will be four people with many offensive signs, but we don’t know how many local protesters they may have recruited so it could be more.
If anyone comes to counter protest, please know that the congregations are united in responding with love, peace and grace and ask you to honor and follow their approach. Parking will be quite limited near some congregations, especially those on the dead-end street of Eckley Lane, where only street parking may be available to preserve enough space for congregation members.
The Rancho Romero Elementary School in Alamo, where the WBC will be protesting on Tuesday morning, March 27, is in a residential neighborhood without enough room to park and is usually quite crowded as students are being dropped off for school. Those wishing to be a peaceful presence will be dressed for the weather and using rainbow umbrellas to block the hateful message of the protesters. They will be meeting early to park a mile to the north in the Safeway shopping center parking lots and walking south on the Ironhorse Trail as there are no safe sidewalks on Danville Blvd to walk there upon.
East County Shared Ministry (Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg and First Congregational Church of Antioch) stands in solidarity with those congregations and schools in our county targeted by Westboro Baptist Church (WBC).
Again, parents are asking that no counter protesters attend unless you make a commitment not to verbally or physically engage with WBC and be a part of their peaceful, protective presence. A large crowd will not be necessary to ignore them and protect the children. If you must attend, please follow these guidelines they have laid out:
The Rainbow Umbrella Mindset
- Focus on Loving Kiddos & Ignoring WBC
- #1: Do not engage with WBC. If you find ignoring WBC challenging, please stay home.
- Show up in solidarity for all kiddos in our community.
- Turn your back on hate. Get to know your neighbors.
- Model positive adult behavior, not only for the small kiddos but also especially for the high school students, who may attend. Fold in the young adults, keeping things under control. Take this opportunity to talk to them.
- Love in Action is Safe, Not Angry or Scary
- Think quiet, calm, reassuring, warm, and relaxed.
- Think smiles, waves, laughter, and singing.
- No yelling, no chanting, and no anger. (If this sounds hard, please stay home.)
- Send loving messages (verbal/clothing/signs), telling all children that they are safe and celebrated.
- Protect the School by Staying Off School Property
- Be a barrier of love that shields the school.
- Be aware. Please do not go on school property for any reason.
- We are not guests of the school. They are not hosting us.
- Keep cars parked far away, using trail access to avoid Danville Blvd.
- Leave the Area Better than You Found It
- Backpacks are best.
- No bathrooms will be available.
- Be a good neighbor by bringing a trash bag to clean up litter at the end.
- Help minimize any disruption or additional clean up for the school, the law enforcement support, and the surrounding neighborhoods.
About the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County (ICCCC) is an autonomous local organization solely governed by its own Executive Committee, elected by the membership at the Council’s annual meeting. There are over 100 congregations and organizations holding membership and affiliation from a wide range of Christian and other faith traditions throughout Contra Costa County, including Jewish, Buddhist, Baha’i, Unitarian, Islamic, Sikh, Unity, Latter-Day Saints, and Religious Science.
About East County Shared Ministry
East County Shared Ministry consists of Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg and First Congregational Church of Antioch. ECSM recognizes, celebrates and gives thanks for the many diverse gifts of God among us. All are invited to participate in community and worship life including, but not limited to, believers, seekers, agnostics, women and men, those of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions, those of all races and cultures, those of all classes and abilities, those who hope for a better world and those who have lost hope.
The Diablo Valley College-Pleasant Hill Campus will reopen and resume all scheduled classes, student services, and activities on Friday, March 23, 2018. The San Ramon Campus will resume its regular schedule of Friday closure.
As a precaution, all classes and college activities at the Diablo Valley College (DVC)-Pleasant Hill Campus were cancelled today, March 22, 2018, due to a potentially serious threat made against the campus.
The college found graffiti threatening the use of a firearm on the DVC-Pleasant Hill Campus. The situation is under investigation and so we are unable to share any further details at this time. DVC staff and students have been notified of this decision. All classes at the Diablo Valley College-San Ramon Campus, Contra Costa College, and Los Medanos College, are continuing as scheduled.
The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority. Additional information will be placed on the college website at www.dvc.edu as it becomes available and so we are unable to share any further details at this time. DVC staff and students have been notified of this decision. All classes at the Diablo Valley College-San Ramon Campus, Contra Costa College, and Los Medanos College, are continuing as scheduled.
The safety of our students, faculty and staff is our top priority. Additional information will be placed on the college website at www.dvc.edu as it becomes available.
Friday morning, March 16 at about 8:29 A.M., Contra Costa CHP was advised of a solo vehicle, solo occupant, vehicle vs. a tree collision on Highway 4 westbound at the Alhambra Road off ramp. Upon CHP and emergency personnel arrival, the driver (unknown age male from Walnut Creek) was trapped within the Honda sedan and unresponsive. The driver was pronounced deceased at the scene.
In the initial investigation, it appears that the driver was driving the 1994 Black Honda Civic Highway 4 westbound approaching the Alhambra Road off ramp at an unknown speed. At the time it was raining and the roadway was wet. For unknown reasons, the driver veered from his lane to the right and off the roadway, down the embankment towards the off ramp located below. His Honda’s left driver side impacted directly into a large tree and came to rest with the tree fully crushing into the driver seat and male. He was pronounced deceased on scene. While the vehicle was being recovered the off ramps and #1 lane were partially shut down to recover the Honda.
It is unknown if alcohol or drugs are a factor in this collision. It is still under investigation and if anyone witnessed it or the events leading up to it, please contact Contra Costa CHP in Martinez, (925) 646-4980.