Contra Costa County Public Works Department will perform work on San Pablo Dam Road from Bear Creek Road to Appian Way, from September 11 through September 28, 2017. The work will occur Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to trim trees encroaching into the roadway and improve sight distance.
The work may be rescheduled based on weather conditions. Electronic message boards will alert drivers of the scheduled work. There will be traffic control through the work area and drivers can expect delays of 10-15 minutes.
Learn about role of the DA’s Office and ask questions of the candidates
The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors has the responsibility under state law to appoint an interim District Attorney (DA) to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of former DA Mark Peterson.
The Board of Supervisors will interview the five finalist candidates at its September 12 public meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. A final decision may be made that day, or at the following board meeting on September 19, 2017. The public is invited to provide input at the board meetings.
This Saturday, a coalition of community organizations (see flyer above) is sponsoring a community forum to hear from the five interim DA candidates with an opportunity for the public to ask questions. District 1 Supervisor John Gioia will be speaking at the forum and providing his comments about the importance of the appointment.
“This is an important appointment,” said Gioia who represents Richmond and much of West County on the Board. “The DA is a major stakeholder in our County’s justice system and makes the final determination about who is prosecuted.”
“I strongly believe that the new DA must bring values of integrity, equity, empathy and fairness to the office,” he continued. “The new DA should understand the importance of justice reform and commit to support the work of the Racial Justice Task Force in addressing the disproportionate involvement of people of color in our justice system.”
WHAT: Community Forum to hear from Contra Costa Interim DA candidates and ask questions
WHEN: Saturday, September 9, 1 pm to 3 pm
WHERE: Miracle Temple, 2425 Cutting Blvd, Richmond
MORE: There will be a presentation on the role and importance of the DA followed by presentations from the candidates and questions to them.
El Sobrante residents will soon enjoy the benefits of extensive new improvements at the public space around the El Sobrante Library. A September 9 Ribbon Cutting will unveil a new Mini-Park and small amphitheater, and improved parking lot. There will be a community volunteer planting event immediately after the 12 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony.
Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, the El Sobrante Municipal Advisory Council, the El Sobrante Library and the Public Works Department are pleased to host the celebration of the recently completed project. The improvements were funded through East Bay Regional Park District Measure WW funds, local County park dedication funds, the Contra Costa County Public Works Department, and Contra Costa County Library. The new Mini-Park features a plaza including concrete seating, small amphitheater, and a parking lot with drought-friendly pervious concrete, which filters to the creek along with beautiful new landscaping features.
“The new improvements at the El Sobrante Library will make the library site a more welcome place for community events. We’re hoping to see more civic celebrations, picnics, reading events and family gatherings at the site” said Supervisor John Gioia.
The El Sobrante Mini-Park project is the result of a partnership between Supervisor John Gioia’s office, Contra Costa County Public Works Department, El Sobrante Library, the San Pablo Watershed Neighbors Education & Restoration Society (SPAWNERS), and the community.
Children’s craft and nature activities will be available. Light refreshments will be provided.
There will be a community event after the ribbon-cutting where SPAWNERS volunteers and any interested residents can spread mulch and prepare a planting bed for a native plant garden.
What: El Sobrante Library Mini-Park Ribbon Cutting
Where:El Sobrante Library
Who: Supervisor John Gioia, Contra Costa Public Works, Contra Costa Library, El Sobrante community leaders
When: Saturday, September 9 – Ribbon Cutting at Noon (with community volunteer work event from 1 to 2 p.m.)
Kickoff event involves local youth in North Richmond
September marks the beginning of a significant flood control and water conservation project in North Richmond. Last winter’s storms heightened the entire bay area’s awareness of the need for creek improvements and level projects, as we saw flooding in places we wouldn’t ordinarily expect it. The Wildcat-San Pablo Creeks Levee Project will raise and improve the existing levee system in the area, reducing the risk of flooding and recertifying flood protection capability for the community. Contra Costa County is leveraging grant funding to make these improvements.
On August 29th, County and community leaders and volunteers will be on hand at the Urban Tilth Farm near the project site preparing for the work. The County Flood Control District is partnering with Urban Tilth, a local non-profit organization, to employ local youths to work on vegetation management for this project. Additional benefits will include protecting and preserving natural creek resources with litter cleanup, the removal of nonnative invasive species, and job training for the local youth.
WHO: Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, Office of Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, Deputy Public Works Director Mike Carlson, community partners and local youth
WHAT: Community Kickoff for the Wildcat-San Pablo Creeks Levee Project
WHEN: Tuesday, August 29, 2017 12:00 p.m. (staff onsite until 2:00 p.m.)
WHERE: Urban Tilth Farm, 323 Brookside Drive, Richmond
High school and community college students will have opportunity to engage political leaders
Contra Costa students will have a special opportunity to meet and engage local elected officials next month for a new series of town halls hosted by the Contra Costa Young Democrats. These forums seek to build a stronger relationship between the officials and the students, while sparking the interest of our next generation’s political leaders. Topics will include current hot-button issues such as immigration, criminal justice reform, education, and whatever else students may ask.
“Politics is about more than just showing up to vote when you turn 18,” said Contra Costa Young Democrats Student Outreach Coordinator N’dea Johnson. “Speaking with and learning from elected officials at a young age can foster a lifetime of engagement, which is critical to our political process. This is about engaging students now in order to build our next generation of leaders.”
The two town halls are currently scheduled for August 24th and September 7th. The first, featuring Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, will be sponsored by Diablo Valley College’s speech and debate team and held on campus for local community college students. Details below:
What: College Town Hall
When: Thursday, August 24, 2017 @ 4pm (Free food at 3:30pm)
Where: Diablo Valley College Cafeteria, Pleasant Hill
**IMPORTANT: You must RSVP to email@example.com in advance for this event**
The second town hall on September 7th will be hosted at John F. Kennedy High School in Richmond will feature a panel of local elected officials, currently including El Cerrito Councilmember Gabriel Quinto, Richmond Councilmember Jael Myrick, Former Richmond Planning Commission Chair Sheryl Lane, local education advocate Demnlus Johnson and West Contra Costa School Board Member Mister Phillips. All CCC students, middle college students, and middle school students of West Contra Costa are invited.
What: Back to School Town Hall
When: Thursday, September 7, 2017 @ 5pm (Free food at 4:30)
Where: John F. Kennedy High School, Richmond
An online petition requesting an audit of the Contra Costa Animal Services (CCAS) Department was delivered this week to the Board of Supervisors. CCAS maintains animal shelters in Martinez and Pinole.
The petition cites problems of inadequate veterinary care, unsanitary conditions, insufficient staffing, substandard behavior assessments, and cramped conditions that negatively impact the well-being of the housed pets.
Currently the shelters are experiencing outbreaks of highly contagious and often fatal diseases – canine parvovirus and feline panleukopenia. Dogs have been exposed to distemper with wards shut down to the public.
The several thousand petition signors maintain that CCAS and the County have been notified of the severe, chronic problems but have not provided or implemented a meaningful response.
An audit will identify the urgent problems, recommend immediate corrections and provide a roadmap to guarantee that the dogs and cats housed at the shelters receive adequate care.
The petition reads as follows:
“As reported on by the ABC7 Bay Area News Team on June 1, 2017 at http://abc7news.com/pets/i-team-exclusive-critics-say-contra-costa-co-animal-shelter-overwhelmed/2061936/, Contra Costa Animal Services (CCAS) is drastically failing in its stated mission to provide humane care for the dogs and other animals at its Martinez and Pinole shelters. CCAS is a taxpayer funded local public agency and its failure is both obvious and inexcusable.
- Healthy dogs are becoming sick and even dying unnecessarily due to chronically understaffed, insufficiently monitored and inadequate veterinary care.
- Stressed, scared, shy, anxious and/or untrained dogs are being deemed unadoptable due to invalid and outdated behavior evaluation methods.
- Dogs are suffering in cramped conditions and are not being provided with adequate walks, exercise, interaction or other stimulation all of which lessens their chances for adoption.
- Far too many dogs are being euthanized purely due to overcrowding and kennel stress, with inadequate steps being taken to improve or relieve these conditions.
The dog pictured at the top of this petition, Thompson #A872494, is a single example of an animal who arrived at the CCAS shelter in good health in January 2017 then was dying of untreated pneumonia only days later.
Community members, volunteers and other concerned citizens have repeatedly contacted CCAS staff, the county administrator and members of the Board of Supervisors about the severe, chronic problems and shortcomings including failure to properly evaluate animals; failure to provide animals with needed veterinary care and basic humane housing conditions; failure to institute and follow reasonable and appropriate procedures for the care and housing of animals; failure to comply with applicable State of California laws requiring the release of animals to appropriate rescue groups; and euthanizing dogs unnecessarily and arbitrarily.
As signors of this petition, we share these grave concerns about this ongoing, intractable failure to provide an acceptable level of humane treatment to the homeless animals of our county which CCAS is mandated to shelter.
We therefore request that a thorough assessment by a qualified independent third party be conducted forthwith to ensure that all animals in CCAS custody are cared for in a proper and humane manner. This assessment must include a complete audit of CCAS policies, procedures and current practices leading to specific recommendations for change, with mechanisms to ensure that the recommendations will be prioritized, implemented in a time manner and maintained in full effect going forward.
The residents of Contra Costa County need, want, deserve and demand a shelter that takes full advantage of modern methods for animal care and sheltering including appropriate efforts to save the lives of our companion animals. We the signors of this petition insist that our public officials act seriously and expeditiously to bring Contra Costa Animal Services to a place where it will be the same kind of compassionate, transparent, efficient and accountable lifesaving shelter that is being achieved in other jurisdictions.”
The petition and comments can be viewed at https://www.change.org/p/contra-costa-county-board-of-supervisors-request-for-investigation-audit-of-contra-costa-animal-services-martinez-pinole-shelters
On Thursday morning, July 21, the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District hosted a public ceremony at the Training and Education Division to mark the ten-year anniversary of the Line-of-Duty Deaths of Captain Matt Burton and Engineer Scott Desmond. The two firefighters lost their lives as they tried unsuccessfully to rescue a couple from their burning home in unincorporated San Pablo, July 21, 2007.
A seemingly routine call for help quickly turned disastrous with four lives lost, and left the 300-member Contra Costa County Fire Protection District reeling from the first on-duty deaths in its history. Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Capt. Matt Burton, 34, of Concord, Fire Engineer Scott Desmond, 37, of Brentwood, and residents Delbert Moore, 67, and Gayle Moore, 62, died in the blaze.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, the District produced a comprehensive report of the factors that lead to the deaths of Burton and Desmond. This report has guided the operations and training of the department, and led to many changes that have improved firefighter safety for current and future firefighters. Now ten years later, the District is drafting a second report reviewing each of the original 115 recommendations, providing an honest assessment of the progress and improvements the department has made, while at the same time identifying remaining items to be addressed.
Contra Costa County is a very culturally diverse community. Many cultures celebrate life and death in their respective ways.
In Polynesian, the Maori culture from New Zealand dances the HAKA. Originally a war dance calling on the spirit of ancestors for strength, the HAKA has evolved into a dance that promotes morale in a community. It is performed at weddings, graduations and celebrations of all occasions.
During the ceremony firefighters honored their family members with the Contra Costa County Fire HAKA.
To see video of the dance, visit the ConFire Facebook page by clicking, here.
On Thursday, July 20, 2017, at about 6:22 PM, Office of the Sheriff dispatch received a report of a gunshot victim on the ground near Truman Street and Chesley Avenue in North Richmond. Deputy Sheriffs arrived to find a 12-year-old boy who was shot. He was airlifted to a local hospital and is said to be in stable condition.
The suspect vehicle was seen leaving the area and was stopped by Deputy Sheriffs. The suspect was arrested. He is identified as 20-year-old Javier Flores of San Pablo. He was later booked into the Martinez Detention Facility for attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and participating in a gang. He is being held in lieu of $570,000 bail.
The investigation into this case is ongoing. Anyone with any information on this case is asked to contact the Office of the Sheriff at (925) 313-2500. For any tips, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (866) 846-3592 to leave an anonymous voice message.
Supervisors consider Grand Jury Report on East Contra Costa Fire Protection District
By Daniel Borsuk
Contra Costa County Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston exited the County Administration Building in Martinez the victor on Tuesday when county supervisors voted 4-1 to spend $25 million in general funds towards the construction of the controversial West Contra Costa County Reentry, Treatment, and Housing Facility in north Richmond. Only District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond voted no.
As the Sheriff left the building, a cluster of opponents to the project, chanted, “We Shall Overcome.”
Supervisors had agreed to spend county funds of which $15 million comes from the General Fund Reserve, $4.5 million from the Sheriff’s Plant Acquisition Account, and $2.5 million from the 2011 Local Revenue Fund upon learning the county was awarded $70 million in Senate Bill 844 Jail Construction funding from the California Board of State and Community Corrections on June 8. In addition, $3.2 million of 2011 In-Kind Match Land Value funds will be allocated for the project.
Two years ago Livingston was unsuccessful in securing SB 844 funding for the jail project when the county’s application was disqualified by the state corrections agency, but this time around the county’s application sailed through without difficulty, he told supervisors.
“It comes as no secret that I will vote no on this project,” said Gioia. “Spending $15 million of general fund money is inappropriate.”
The supervisor said this jail project has started a movement to “shift money from enforcement to prevention” in the community, a statement a number of community speakers had pleaded supervisors do numerous times over the past several months.
See the Sheriff’s presentation to the Supervisors, here: West County Detention Facility expansion presentation
Obviously, the community push to spend county public money on community health programs instead on a county jail project that would provide mental health services for inmates fell apart.
Board Chair Federal Glover of Pittsburg disagreed with Gioia, saying, “I’m always on the prevention side. This will give those in our jail a pathway. They need programs where they can get another opportunity and find necessary tools to make it in the world when they are released.”
“We need to find ways to prevent and divert people from going to jail,” said District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis of Brentwood. “People want services, not jail cells. I understand that.”
Even then Burgis decided to spend the general fund money to construct the jail addition in north Richmond.
For five minutes District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville read a list of community based behavioral health organizations such as the North Richmond Center for Health, West County Health Center, Bay Point Family Health Center, Pittsburg Health Center and Willow Pass Wellness Centers which all receive a piece of the $253 million in public funds that the board of supervisors spends each year.
While Andersen listed the county backed mental organizations, opponents turned their backs to her in protest.
“I want you to know I have been out in the community,” said Andersen,” I’ve talked to people on both sides of the issue. There are many people who want this project to move forward, but are not here to speak. Those of you with your signs don’t want to listen to the truth.”
District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff concurred with Andersen. “I’ve been in public office 14 years,” said Mitchoff, “We have been listening. This board has been putting millions of dollars into mental health programs in our communities.”
Mitchoff also said the board of supervisors had nothing to do with the April 2015 closure of Doctor’s Medical Center in San Pablo, a topic that infrequently popped up sporadically during the public hearings. The San Pablo hospital closed in April 2015 when a parcel tax measure placed by the hospital’s owner, the nonprofit West Contra Costa Health Care District, failed to gain a two-thirds voter approval in a May 2014 ballot by mail election.
There were plenty of speakers voicing disapproval over the jail project. Sixty-five of the 70 speakers opposed the jail project. Some speakers urged supervisors to delay making a decision over concerns the supervisors were being influenced to approve the funding because Sheriff Livingston had secured the SB 844 funding from the state.
Supervisors did not elaborate, but they said they were not swayed by the Sheriff-Coroner Office to approve the local funding portion for the jail project.
Gordon Miller insisted public money should be spent on mental health programs outside the jail. “It’s like putting lipstick on a pig,” he said in reference to the planned West Contra Costa County Reentry, Treatment and Housing Facility project.
“I want to understand why four out five of supervisors are on the wrong side on this issue,” said Kaiser nurse Susie Riley. “Mental health is the civil rights issue of our time.”
But County Mental Health Commissioner Karen Cohen of Walnut Creek, a mother of a mentally ill child, called on supervisors to approve the $25 million allocation so that the county can build the 416-bed jail expansion. “Do the right thing and move the project forward,” she said.
The project will provide 416 beds of which 320 beds will be for high security prisoners and 96 beds for behavioral health inmates, Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston told supervisors. The new facility will replace 420 beds in the existing Martinez jail.
While informing supervisors his department does not conduct United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement sweeps or participate in any other ICE activities, Livingston said his department has since 1992 provided beds for ICE arrestees.
“We receive $6 million a year in revenue from the federal government for that ICE contract and I won’t walk away from that kind of money,” Livingston said.
Grand Jury Report on East Contra Costa Fire Protection District
County officials will respond to at least two recommendations and one finding the Contra Costa County Civil Grand Jury has requested the board of supervisors respond to concerning the financially troubled East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.
Supervisors accepted the report at Tuesday’s board meeting, but did not comment on the report.
After closing five of the eight fire stations under the ECCFPD’s jurisdiction in 2009, the grand jury listed nine recommendations of which the county is responsible to respond to two recommendations.
One recommendation states: “The County should consider adopting a policy to collect impact fees from all developers of residential and commercial properties to fund capital improvements that will be needed to open future stations.”
The second recommendation the county needs to respond to states, “The County should consider adopting a policy to enter into agreements with all developers to establish Community Facility Districts to provide operating revenue for ECCFFD.”
The Grand Jury also wants the county to respond to a finding, “The County does not always require developers of residential and commercial properties establish Community Facility Districts.”