According to Kim McCarl, the county health services communications assistant, the “guidelines will be the same as the state’s”. No word on if the requirement to create lists of the names and contact information of all attendees to be given to the county upon demand will still be included. (See related article)
From Contra Costa Health Services
Contra Costa County residents may again enjoy outdoor swimming pools, outdoor seating at restaurants and dog parks under a new health officer order released today.
The order, effective 5 p.m. today, also allows for outdoor religious services of up to 100 people, indoor religious services of up to 12 people, use of outdoor picnic and barbecue spaces, and overnight camping for people belonging to the same household.
Because of the progress made in the fight against COVID-19, Contra Costa health officers feel confident opening additional businesses and activities. The State of California has determined that while counties can move slower than state in reopening, they cannot move more quickly. The openings announced today bring Contra Costa County in closer alignment to state guidelines. It also aligns with other Bay Area counties taking similar steps.
“We have made great progress slowing COVID-19 in our county,” said Candace Andersen, chair of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors. “I want to offer a heartfelt thank you to all who suffered and sacrificed to follow these health orders throughout this pandemic. I know it has not been easy. But you have helped save lives.”
This order follows a modification earlier this week that allowed offices and many retail businesses to reopen and created guidance for small gatherings including people from different households.
Previous health orders requiring physical distancing and face coverings in public spaces remain in effect. Contra Costa residents should also continue to emphasize handwashing and other hygiene measures in their daily lives to reduce their risk of becoming infected.
“COVID-19 is still circulating in our community, and we need to take precautions to prevent outbreaks,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, the county health officer. “Another way we can keep ourselves and our families safe is to get tested, even if we feel well.”
The new order includes guidance for safely conducting the newly permitted activities, including requirements for businesses. Details, including the full text of the order, are available at cchealth.org/coronavirus.
Andersen elected Board Chair for 2020
By Daniel Borsuk
Without any citizen opposition, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to approve an ordinance that will prohibit food vendors from using polystyrene food service ware (Styrofoam) and require vendors to use environmentally-friendly food service products.
The ordinance goes into effect on May 1, 2020. The Contra Costa County Department of Public Works will enforce the law.
The ordinance includes a procedure where a food vendor can file for a one-year hardship exemption from the county. The exemption is renewable.
Concerning the exemption, the ordinance states:
“Application for hardship exemption. A food vendor may request a hardship exemption from the requirements of this chapter by submitting a written request to the Public Works Director. The food vendor must establish to the satisfaction of the Public Works Director that use of polystyrene food service ware will cause an undue hardship to the vendor, or that no suitable alternative polystyrene food service ware is available in the form of environmentally-friendly food service ware. The Public Works Director may require the food vendor to provide additional information in support of its request for a hardship exemption, including, but not limited to a list of available alternative packaging materials and the reasons why those materials cannot be used without causing a hardship to the food vendor. A hardship does not exist solely on the basis that an environmentally-friendly food service ware product costs more than a similar polystyrene food service ware product.”
Exempt from the ordinance are raw meat trays, polystyrene-based ice chests and coolers intended to be reused, and prepackaged food products that use polystyrene-based packaging materials.
“This is great” declared Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood, who briefly talked about her environmental work removing polystyrene dissolved pellets from polluted creeks in the county. “Reusable is the way to go.”
“I welcome the ban of polystyrene foodware in the proposed ordinance,” Howdy Goudey of El Cerrito, who also chairs the Contra Costa Sustainability Commission and wrote in a letter to the supervisors. Goudey also appeared at the board meeting.
“The Contra Costa County ordinance does not go far enough,” said Goudey. “It is inappropriate to exclude compostable foodware products from the definition of environmentally friendly food service ware. “
The county ordinance defines environmentally friendly food packaging as:
“(1) Single-use, disposable containers and other products made from recyclable materials and used for selling, vending, or serving food or beverages, including, but not limited to cups, bowls, plates, and hinged or lidded containers (clamshells).
“(2) Products that can be used more than once in their current form to serve or transport prepared, ready-to-consume food or beverages, including, but not limited to cups, bowls, plates, and containers made from ceramic, glass, porcelain, metal, or other composite or product intended to be reused.”
Andersen Elected Board 2020 Chair, Burgis Vice Chair
Supervisors have broken tradition on the way it elects Board Chairperson and Vice Chairperson by electing the new incoming chairperson and vice chairperson in late September instead of on the first regular board meeting held in January.
The supervisors elected Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville as Chairperson and Supervisor Burgis of Brentwood as Vice Chair after unanimously adopting new rules on election of new year officers.
Supervisors switched the election of Board officers from January to September because the reorganization “requires many weeks of advance planning.” In addition, “The early selection of officers of the Board of Supervisors would facilitate a seamless transition of leadership at the time of reorganization,” the board’s ordinance states.
Also, supervisors inserted a teleconference provision so supervisors who are absent or are attending a meeting elsewhere can attend or vote on crucial business items via teleconference.
In addition, supervisors modified their Disruption of Meeting Rule to read: “For the purpose of insure the orderly conduct of the Board of Supervisors meeting, no whistles, horns, drums, noise makers, megaphones, air horns, bullhorns, or other amplified devices are allowed inside the County Administration Building while the meeting is in session. If any meeting is willfully interrupted by a group or groups so that the orderly conduct of the meeting becomes infeasible and order cannot be restored by the removal of individuals who are willfully interrupting the meeting, the Chair may order the meeting room cleared, as authorized by law (Gov. Code, 54957.9), recess the meeting, adjourn the meeting.”
There were no public comments for or against Ralph M. Brown Act changes proposed by the supervisors.
Approve 35-Home Alamo Subdivision
Seven years in the making, developers got the green light from supervisors to begin construction of the environmentally sensitive Ball Estates subdivision development in the Alamo area. Supervisors approved the development’s ordinance on a 5-0 vote.
The development on a former orchard of which 735 trees of 3,489 total trees are on the project site will have to be removed, to clear ground for the gated subdivision’s 35, single family custom houses.
There was no public comment concerning the development that had previously earned environmental impact report certification from the Contra Costa County Department Conservation and Development.
Approve $25 Million in Housing Bonds for Walnut Creek Development
Supervisors approved the issuance of $25 million in revenue bonds to the nonprofit affordable housing developer Bridge Housing to finance the acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of Coggins Square Apartments in Walnut Creek. Located at 1316 Las Juntas Way in an unincorporated area nearby Walnut Creek, the development consists of 87 multifamily rental housing units.
Bridge Housing is a participant in the county’s multi-family mortgage revenue bond financing program.
By Scott Alonso, Public Information Officer, Office of the District Attorney, Contra Costa County
On December 18, a Contra Costa County jury found defendant David Michael Bufano guilty of violating California Labor Code for failing to provide workers’ compensation insurance for his employees. Bufano is the owner and operator of Grant Street Pub & Pizzeria in Concord and has at least 18 employees. Additionally, the jury found Bufano violated state law when he violated a stop work order issued by the Department of Industrial Relations.
Bufano was sentenced to two years of court probation and fined $10,000 by the Honorable Charles Burch in Department 23 at the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez. Under the Labor Code, the fine is paid to the California State Treasury to the credit of the Uninsured Employers Fund. Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Caleb Webster prosecuted the case behalf of the People for this misdemeanor jury trial. DDA Webster is assigned to the Office’s Special Operations Division in the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit.
In July 2018, the District Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint against Bufano. The criminal filing stemmed from a joint enforcement strike force operation with the District Attorney’s Office, Department of Industrial Relations’ Labor Commissioner’s Office and Employment Development Department. Inspectors from these agencies conducted surprise inspections at Contra Costa County restaurants during the summer of 2018. These restaurants were suspected of deliberately evading the obligation to provide workers’ compensation insurance to employees.
“The jury verdict in this case underscores the importance we must place on actively protecting employees in the workplace. All too often, employees first discover their employers lack the appropriate coverage after injuries occur and the employees are stuck with medical bills to pay. Employers need to follow the law and protect their staff,” stated DDA Webster.
Bufano’s restaurant was cited on June 25 and a stop work order was issued by the Labor Commissioner until he could provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance. The very next day, Bufano’s employees were back at work at his direction in violation of the stop work order. On June 27, a follow-up inspection revealed that the restaurant remained open for business and employees were present working. Bufano still had not obtained workers’ compensation insurance at the point of the follow-up inspection. He was cited by the Labor Commissioner and fined $6,000.
“This conviction demonstrates that employers who cheat their workers — whether of wages or the protections of workers compensation — will not get away with it,” said California Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “The victims of such practices are not just working people but law-abiding employers and we will do everything in our power to level the playing field.”
Willful failure to provide the insurance is punishable by substantial fines and misdemeanor criminal prosecution. Employees that do not know whether they are covered can check their employer’s notices board or ask a manager. Labor Code section 3550 requires an employer to post a notice identifying the current insurance at a conspicuous location.
Anyone with information about employers who dissuade employees from filing claims after they are injured, lie to a workers compensation insurance carrier about who is employed and what jobs they actually do, or fail to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage at all, can report that information to DA-ReportFraud@contracostada.org. Labor Code section 1102.5 prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who reports a violations of a California statute, rule, or regulation to a supervisor or government agency.
The misdemeanor counts against Bufano are:
- Count 1, Failure to Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage
- Count 2, Failure to Observe Stop Order
Case information: People v. David Michael Bufano, Docket Number 01-186535-1.