Treatment will include administering psychotropic medications
By Daniel Borsuk
Unlike six months ago when Contra Costa County supervisors faced the rage of protestors opposed to the $95 million expansion of the West County Detention Facility in Richmond, supervisors approved without a whimper of protest a request by the Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston and Health Services Director Robert Walker to designate the expanded detention facility as a mental health treatment facility.
The item at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting was a consent item and did not draw either citizen or supervisor comment.
Supervisors unanimously approved the item.
That action was in sharp contrast to the time supervisors faced nearly 70 protestors opposed to Sheriff-Coroner Livingston’s proposal to expand the jail. Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the sheriff’s proposal at that time with Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond casting the lone dissenting vote.
In Tuesday’s vote, supervisors were complying with their action taken in June by designating the West County Detention Facility and the future West County Reentry, Treatment, and Housing Facility as mental health treatment facilities in accordance with California Penal Code Section 1369.1. This will permit sheriff deputies or detention facility wards to administer psychotropic medications to persons in county custody who have been adjudged incompetent to stand trial due to mental disorder, refuse to take psychotropic medications and are unable to provide informed consent as recommended by the Health Services Director Dr. William Walker and Sheriff-Coroner Livingston.
“We have to be prepared to take all that comes regardless of their mental state, “said Sheriff-Coroner Livingston in June. “I don’t have a choice.”
“Without medication, symptoms such as increased aggression, self-destructive acts, and severe behavior outbursts can jeopardize the safety of the inmate-patient, the other inmates, and the detention facility staff,” Dr. Walker and Sheriff Livingston jointly wrote in a memo to the supervisors. “The Health Services Department, and the Office of the Sheriff remain committed to transferring individuals to treatment facilities in a timely manner. These facilities, however, are crowded and have long waiting lists. The recommended extension of this designation to the West County detention facilities can help the county cope with the effect of delays beyond the county’s control.”
County Zoning for Solar Energy Generating Facilities Gets Green Light
Supervisors unanimously adopted a zoning ordinance that will pave the way for commercial solar energy generating facilities primarily built by Marin Clean Energy (MCE), which this year inked contracts with county supervisors and city councilmembers of 13 municipalities to be their clean energy options commencing in 2018.
County planning officials presented a map and an ordinance that allows commercial solar energy generating facilities in industrial and commercial zoning districts in unincorporated portions of the county. Areas of the county’s northern waterfront stretching generally from Richmond to Bay Point were designated for the zoning designations. There were no speakers in opposition or in favor of the zoning proposal, but supervisors did receive a Nov. 12 letter addressed to the county planning commission from Howdy Godey of El Cerrito encouraging planning commissioners to approve the zoning proposal.
“I enthusiastically support the adoption of general plan zoning amendments regarding solar generation facilities.” he wrote. “These actions will support the Contra Costa County Climate Action Plan (2015) by providing opportunities to build solar generation facilities that will lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with electric power generation.”
In addition to the county, the city councils of Concord, Danville, El Cerrito, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Oakley, Pinole, Pittsburg, Richmond, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek have signed contracts with MCE to serve as their clean energy option contractors.
In a related planning issue, supervisors directed Conservation and Development Department officials to budget up to $7 million to update the county’s General Plan that will require an update by 2020. Supervisors also instructed department officials to budget $1.5 million to bring the county’s zoning code into the 21st Century. The zoning code has not been updated since 1947 when the county had about 300,000 residents. Today 1.2 million persons reside in the county.
Supervisors also approved as a consent item a new county library commission composition as recommended by the Library Commission and County Librarian Melinda Cervantes. The reconstituted library commission was triggered mainly with the City of Richmond library leaving the county library system.
The new library commission composition will consist of 29 commissioners. Supervisors must select a representative to serve on the library commission that represents the Contra Costa Central Labor Council, the Contra Costa Community College District, the East Bay Leadership Council, the Contra Costa Friends Council and the Contra Costa County Office of Education. Library commissioners will serve four-year terms and serve in an advisory role to the board of supervisors and county librarian. The library commission will meet at least quarterly and no more than six times a year. There is no fiscal impact related to the newly reconstituted library commission.