Appointments now available for couples to get married on Valentine’s Day
The Contra Costa Clerk-Recorder Division is taking appointments for couples who wish to exchange wedding vows on Valentine’s Day. Because of the popularity of this day, the division is also extending ceremony hours and accommodating additional appointments.
There are 47 appointment times available from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
“Valentine’s Day is the most popular day at our office for marriage ceremonies,” said Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder Joseph E. Canciamilla. “Additional appointments give more couples the opportunity to get married on what many consider is the most romantic day of the year.”
Interested couples are encouraged to make an appointment online at www.contracostacore.us using our new appointment system. Walk-in couples are welcome and will be accommodated based on availability of ceremony rooms.
A civil marriage ceremony is $60. Couples can obtain a public marriage license for $86 or a confidential license for $90. To save time, marriage license applications are available for completion online at www.contracostacore.us prior to visiting the office and may also be purchased before the ceremony date.
The Contra Costa Clerk-Recorder Division features two beautifully appointed ceremony rooms adorned with handcrafted stained glass windows. The largest ceremony room accommodates up to 24 guests. The smaller ceremony room seats 17 guests. Learn more at www.ccclerkrec.us/clerk/marriage/wedding-ceremonies.
For more information, contact Elizabeth Gutierrez, Clerk-Recorder Services Manager at (925) 335-7920.
After leaning on Los Vaqueros Reservoir for supply during the drought, the Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) is pleased to announce that the reservoir is now holding more water than it ever has for its customers. The reservoir is doing its job and the filling underway is good news for serving customers now and into the future.
This week, the reservoir’s storage level rose above 133,000 acre-feet, surpassing the high reached in 2013. CCWD will continue to fill while conditions are favorable, depending on Delta water quality and energy costs.
“Los Vaqueros continues to serve CCWD customers well, especially during this drought,” said CCWD Board President Lisa M. Borba. “Customers responded tremendously to the call for conservation, and we were able to save conserved water in the reservoir, positioning us well if dry years continued. Now we are adding to our water saving account.”
CCWD owns and operates Los Vaqueros Reservoir primarily to manage water quality for the 500,000 residents of central and eastern Contra Costa County. Water from the Delta is pumped into the reservoir when water quality is good and then is used to keep water quality delivered to its customers high when salinity levels rise in the Delta. The off-stream reservoir located near Brentwood was originally constructed in 1998 with the ability to store up to 100,000 acre-feet of water.
An expansion of the reservoir was completed in 2012 increasing the capacity to 160,000 acre-feet. Stores of water in the off-stream reservoir reached a then high of 132,900 acre-feet in 2013 and was then drawn upon, as designed, to meet water supply demands during the past few years of drought.
With strong and steady storms this winter supplying fresh water to the Delta, CCWD has turned on its pumps to move high quality water into Los Vaqueros for future use.
Learn more about CCWD and Los Vaqueros Reservoir at www.ccwater.com.Read More
East County Voters for Equal Protection (ECV) announced that the Honorable Noel Gallo, Oakland City Councilman, has agreed to be the Keynote Speaker at a Fire District Funding Workshop being held February 23, 2017, in Brentwood.
Councilman Gallo represents Oakland’s District 5, where the Oakland Ghost Ship fire occurred causing the death of 36 people. He will describe the importance of adequate fire and emergency medical services to a community and the implications of a catastrophic fire on local public safety policy and elected leaders.
East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) is currently underfunded, receiving the lowest property tax allocation rate in the county. A recent study indicates that the district receives just $106 per resident, while fire districts in other parts of the county receive $366 or $349 per resident to provide the same services.
The funding workshop will cover the historical causes of the underfunding situation, how lack of funds has impacted ECCFPD response capability, and the procedural steps needed to correct the situation. While the public is not invited, members of the press will be in attendance, and State Senator Steve Glazer and Assemblyman Jim Frazier have also been invited.
Roughly two dozen government entities are on the guest list, including the cities of Brentwood and Oakley, the county, nine special districts and eight school-related entities.
Councilman Gallo has represented District 5 on the Oakland City Councilsince 2013. He is chair of the Council’s public safety committee, where he advocated for the creation of a Public Safety Oversight Commission. Gallo previously served on the staff of Oakland city manager Robert Bobb, and in 1992 he was the first Hispanic elected to the Oakland School Board, also serving as its President.
In addition to Gallo’s presentation, members of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection Board of Directors will present current and proposed conditions.
East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) is currently underfunded, receiving the lowest property tax allocation rate of all fire districts in the county. A recent study indicates that the district receives just $106 per resident, while fire districts in other parts of the county receive $366 or $349 per resident to provide the same services.
There are 110,000 residents in the 249 square-mile district, and the district has funding for just three fire stations and nine firefighters. Response times far exceed national standards, as well as those standards mandated by Brentwood’s General Plan.
Entities invited to the Fire District Funding Workshop are:
General government role (5): Contra Costa County (David Twa), City of Brentwood (Gus Vina), City of Oakley (Bryan Montgomery), Town of Discovery Bay (Mike Davies), Bethel Island Municipal Improvement Dist.(Jeff Butzlaff);
Special/independent districts (9): Bay Area Rapid Transit (Grace Crunican), East Bay Regional Parks (Robert Doyle), BBK Union Cemetery Dist.(Barbara Fee), East Contra Costa Irrigation District (Patricia Corey), Contra Costa Mosquito Abatement District (Craig Downs), Contra Costa Flood Control (Mike Carlson), Contra Costa Water Dist. (Jerry Brown), Ironhouse Sanitary Dist. (Chad Davisson), RECL-800 Dist.(Robert Lyman);
School-related entities (8): Liberty Union High School Dist. (Eric Volta), Brentwood Elementary School Dist. (Dana Eaton), Contra Costa Community College Dist. (Dr. Fred Wood), County Board of Education (Karen Sakata), Oakley Elementary School Dist. (Greg Hetrick), Byron Elementary School Dist. (Debbie Gold), Antioch Unified School Dist. (Stephanie Anello), Knightsen Elementary School Dist, (Theresa Estrada).
California fire districts are funded principally by local property taxes, and the allocation percentage rate was set over 30 years ago. ECCFPD receives about 7.5% of the property taxes collected in East County while other fire districts in the county receive 14%, 15%, 20%, and 30% of the taxes collected in their respective areas.
East County Voters for Equal Protection is a non-partisan grass roots citizens action committee formed to address the unequal funding of fire and emergency medical services existing in 249 square miles of Eastern Contra Costa County. About 110,000 residents, as well as those who work and play in Eastern Contra Costa, have services funded at a level one-fourth to one-third of those levels in other parts of Contra Costa County. For more information contact committee Co-Chairs Hal Bray at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bryan Scott email@example.com. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/Read More
Transit agency failed to implement plans notifying first responders of the presence of large quantities of hazardous materials at its facilities throughout the Bay Area
Martinez, , CA – The Contra Costa County Office of the District Attorney, along with District Attorneys from Alameda County and San Mateo County, announced today that Alameda County Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson has ordered San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to pay $1.275 million as part of a settlement of a civil environmental prosecution alleging that the transit agency failed to implement hazardous materials business plans at facilities throughout the three counties as well as violating aboveground storage tank, underground storage tank, and hazardous waste laws.
The judgment agreed to by BART, resolves allegations made in a civil enforcement lawsuit filed January 31, 2017 in Alameda County and covers environmental violations dating back to January 2010. The lawsuit claimed that at over 30 of BART’s 190 facilities throughout Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo Counties, BART unlawfully failed to establish and implement a hazardous materials business plan for emergency response to a release or threatened release of hazardous materials. These hazardous materials included large quantities of diesel fuel, petroleum, sulfuric acid contained in industrial batteries, and fire extinguishing chemicals. The lawsuit further alleged that at these and other facilities, BART violated its environmental obligations related to its aboveground storage and underground storage of petroleum, and its hazardous waste.
“The protection of the public and the environment from dangerous hazardous materials through the enforcement of environmental protection laws is and always will be a high priority,” say District Attorney, Mark A. Peterson. “I am committed to ensuring both private and public entities comply with environmental laws enacted to protect our community and environment.”
In January of 2014, during routine compliance inspections, hazardous materials inspectors from the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health observed large aboveground storage tanks containing diesel at BART facilities in East Dublin/Pleasanton, West Dublin, and Castro Valley. These tanks, which contained 500 to over 1,700 gallons of diesel, fueled backup generators and were located in close proximity to areas accessed by thousands of BART commuters each day. Despite the presence of large quantities of hazardous materials, BART had never implemented a hazardous materials business plan for any of these facilities as required by law. These plans contain critical emergency response information for first responders, such as firefighters, and BART employees, should there be a release or threatened release of hazardous materials into the environment. These hazardous materials business plans are designed to ensure the protection of the public and the environment in the event of a hazardous materials spill.
The violations were brought to the attention of the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Environmental Protection Division who then conducted a follow up investigation with the District Attorney’s Offices’ Environmental Protection Units of Contra Costa County and San Mateo County. The Contra Costa Health Services Hazardous Materials Program and San Mateo County Environmental Health Division also conducted inspections of all BART facilities in their respective Counties. The follow up investigations revealed that BART’s failure to implement hazardous materials business plans was more widespread and covered over 30 BART facilities in the three counties. The investigation also revealed that, at numerous other BART facilities, BART was committing violations of California’s aboveground storage tank, underground storage tank, and hazardous waste laws.
BART was cooperative throughout the investigation and worked hard to bring their agency into substantial environmental compliance. During the investigation, BART hired an third party to conduct an audit of its environmental management programs and the audit identified areas of improvement related to hazardous materials, aboveground storage tanks, and hazardous waste. As part of the settlement, BART agreed to implement the recommendations from this audit.
Under the settlement, BART must pay $675,000 in civil penalties paid out, according to statute, to other government agencies, and $300,000 to reimburse the costs of the investigation. As part of the settlement, BART must also commit $300,000 to an additional environmental compliance position, for a total of two such positions for the next two years. BART will also be bound under the terms of a permanent injunction prohibiting similar future violations of law.Read More
Former child star Gavin Stone (Brett Dalton) must perform 200 hours of community service after trashing a hotel in his Illinois hometown. Temptation strikes when Stone learns that the church he’s assigned to clean is staging a lavish religious production. After landing the lead role of Jesus Christ, Gavin finds himself drawn to the show’s director (Anjelah Johnson-Reyes), a young woman who also happens to be the daughter of the affable pastor (D.B. Sweeney).
Directed by Dallas Jenkins, who produced the independent feature Hometown Legend at the age of 25 and shepherded it to distribution by Warner Brothers. He made his directing debut with the short film Cliché, and his next short film, Midnight Clear, starring Stephen Baldwin, won a Crystal Heart Award from the Heartland Film Festival and was the opening night selection of the San Diego Film Festival. He is the co-executive producer of Though None Go With Me, a Hallmark Channel feature that aired in April 2006.
In 2007 Jenkins directed and produced Midnight Clear, based on the short, which won awards in festivals all over the country, including the San Jose Cinequest Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize for “Best First Feature,” and the “Audience Favorite” award at the Kansas International Film Festival. It’s currently available on DVD from Lionsgate. His latest feature What If…, starring Kevin Sorbo, Kristy Swanson, Debby Ryan, and John Ratzenberger released in theaters in 2010 and is currently available on DVD.
The film is distributed by Walden Media who brought you the Chronicles of Narnia movies. It’s currently showing at Maya Cinemas in Pittsburg and AMC Theaters in Brentwood. Check movie times and buy tickets on Fandango.
View the official trailer by clicking here.Read More
Following is the letter submitted by a coalition of supporters of the Community Choice Energy program:
The CCE Draft Technical Study and the Need for Fuller Consideration of All Studied Options
Dear Members of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors:
We, the undersigned, represent organizations that have been following the progress made by the cities and County of Contra Costa as they decide how to implement Community Choice Energy. We do not share a preference for any one of the three options outlined in the Draft Technical Study, but we do share the following concerns about the adequacy of that study and the public process that has unfolded in its aftermath.
1) We are highly critical of the current Draft Technical Study prepared by MRW, as well as the very cursory presentations made by the county and the consultants. Neither the study nor the presentations include enough necessary information or the specificity of detail required in order for the cities and the County to make fully informed decisions with lifelong consequences. To cite one such example, when addressing the very basic question of risks associated with the startup costs, the study actually neglects to mention that to date, all CCEs in California have paid back their loans in less than a year.
2) We are, moreover, extremely troubled by the premature decision of the Board of Supervisors on January 17, 2017, to eliminate the stand-alone Community Choice Energy option, which the draft study identified (in Table ES-5) as offering the “greatest” amount of local governance and local economic benefit. The decision to exclude the in-county (stand-alone) option unnecessarily limits the choices offered to residents and businesses in unincorporated areas of the County, and preempts input from leaders, residents, and businesses in the incorporated cities before they have had the opportunity to question and comment on the study. Seven cities contributed to the study’s cost and are entitled to one that fully addresses the impacts to their respective cities—e.g., what amount of buildout is reasonably possible in the Concord Naval Weapons Depot over a ten-year period, and what its economic impact would be. We therefore urge you to reconsider your decision to remove the in-county option from consideration.
3) We would like to know why neither the Contra Costa study nor the presentations have answered this fairly simple question: Why did the study for Alameda County done by the same MRW Consulting firm give a much more robust analysis of the economic benefits of local buildout?
4) We would also like to know why, if the technical studies of six other Bay Area counties (Sonoma, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Yolo) show the stand-alone option to be superior, this would not also be the case in Contra Costa.
5) Unfortunately, the Draft Feasibility Study does not enable the reader to determine which option, in the choice between MCE and EBCE, might result in the greater buildout and job development within Contra Costa. In fact, the study does not indicate that any such buildout or job development will occur by joining either MCE or EBCE. We strongly encourage the county to communicate with both MCE and EBCE about these issues.
Attached is a letter from Scott Rafferty addressing in much more detail some additional concerns about missing or misrepresented facts in the current Contra Costa Draft Technical Study, including the paucity of current information about MCE. This is not an attempt to indicate that MCE is a bad choice, but rather to point out that relevant information about MCE that is available to the public is not included in the draft study. We understand that information about both a stand-alone option and EBCE is necessarily limited because neither yet exists.
Here are some of the points that Scott Rafferty makes:
- a) He agrees with MCE’s criticisms that the analyst provides “scant analysis of MCE’s operational program,” and “no analysis” of MCE’s local renewable program, customer-sited solar, job creation, and other benefits. But despite some impressive claims about past performance, MCE doesn’t really provide much insight into its forward-looking plan. He suggests that MCE may bring more legacy costs than synergies to our county.
- b) MCE wants credit for $4.6m in subsidies from the CPUC for energy development (that have already been fully committed to programs in Richmond or outside CCC). An independent CC-CCE program would probably be better positioned to seek equivalent subsidies from CPUC than MCE would be in getting them increased proportionally, which MCE does not suggest is likely.
- c) He argues that the Supervisors have relied too heavily on the consultant’s analysis of the more obvious “first order” effects of piggybacking on MCE—less “effort” and greater risk on “start-up costs,” which the consultant concedes are small. The risk to which the BOS is averse, therefore, might be political. If things go awry, they can share responsibility with the existing local bodies.
- d) He also rejects MCE’s notion that El Cerrito and Richmond have an identity of interests with the rest of CCC or that there will be brand confusion. On the contrary, they share the climate and rate structure of Marin and Oakland, which is very different from the rest of Contra Costa County and Alameda east of the I-680.
- e) Neither MCE nor, at this stage, our BOS has clear direction on how to weigh competing objectives—low electric rates, GHG mitigation, progressive rate design (including low-income and residential preferences), job creation and economic benefits, worker and public safety and service reliability. MCE is self-regulating and subject to very significant shifts in voting power.
- f) The jury is still out on MCE’s effectiveness in dealing with regulators. It settled very quickly with PG&E in a pending rate case, with limited concessions for clean energy or consumer rate relief. At the state level, two voices will likely have more clout than one—a statement MCE itself has made.
- g) As the Governor’s attempts at CAISO regionalization have made clear, larger geographic scale does not always increase the GHG benefits. Neither MCE nor the consultants have yet developed a measure of environmental benefit that accurately accommodates displacement to PG&E and other utilities.
For all the above reasons, we strongly urge the Board of Supervisors to reconsider what we believe was a premature narrowing of the choices. We request that more complete information be shared in future presentations, especially as regards the potential for local buildout and the economic benefits of each of the three proposed CCE choices, and that the final technical study include far more concrete information which the cities will need to make a truly informed choice.
Very sincerely yours,
Contra Costa Clean Energy Alliance
Generation Green / Contra Costa County Climate Leaders (4CL)
Contra Costa Progressives
350 Bay Area
Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce Green Group
Contra Costa Chapter Organizing for Action
Interfaith Climate Action Network of Contra Costa County
Contra Costa Health Services’ Environmental Health division (CCEH), acting for CalRecycle as the Local Enforcement Agency (LEA), has issued a cease-and-desist order to a Richmond composting facility to stop them from accepting new green-waste, food waste or other compostable material until it changes business practices that increase fire danger and cause foul odors in the surrounding community.
The cease-and-desist order was issued on January 24, 2017 after repeated inspections showed that West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill’s Organic Materials Processing Facility accepted more compostable waste than permitted and unsafely operated the biological manufacturing operation (composting).
“Since September 2016, there have been more than 400 complaints from the surrounding community about odors coming from the facility. Although the odors are not imminently dangerous they do cause a public nuisance and some reports indicated having headache, nausea, throat irritation and breathing problems,” said Dr. Marilyn Underwood, CCEH Director.
CCEH will meet with CalRecyle and the compost facility to ensure the cease-and-desist is done in a manner that does not a create public health nuisance.
Inspectors have repeatedly cited too-high piles of composting material and volumes of material greater than permitted at the facility, and in October 2016 issued an order requiring the operator to stop releasing noxious odors off site. The facility did not comply and was fined $45,000.
“We have been in regular communication with the facility regarding its waste management practices,” Dr. Marilyn Underwood said. “We are not satisfied that the facility operators are doing all that it should to prevent fires or the release of strong odors into the community. We encourage composting but it must be done correctly. ”
Since March 2014, seven fires have been documented in the composting area of the facility on Parr Boulevard, resulting from improperly managed concentrations of organic material.
CCEH has ordered the facility to submit a written plan detailing how it will change its business practices by February 1, and to remove material identified as causing off-site odors to a permitted facility.
Failure to comply with the order may result in additional fines and the permanent loss of the facility’s permit.
The order will not prevent private individuals from bringing waste materials to the facility.
To make a complaint about air pollution or industrial odors in Contra Costa County, call the Bay Area Air Quality Management District at 1-800-344-ODOR (6367).Read More
Upcoming construction activity for the Express Lanes on I-680 between Walnut Creek and San Ramon requires a temporary, nighttime ramp closure. The construction activity will include asphalt repair work for the on-ramp. The following ramp closure is scheduled:
- The southbound Rudgear Road on-ramp is scheduled to be closed from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. each night Monday, January 30 through Wednesday, February 1.
Things to Know
Detour route for the southbound I-680 Rudgear Road on-ramp closure:
- Enter northbound I-680 from Rudgear Rd.,
- Continue on northbound I-680,
- Exit on the Olympic Blvd. off-ramp,
- Continue west on Olympic Blvd.,
- Enter southbound I-680.
When traveling near the construction site:
- Always use caution,
- Be prepared to reduce speeds,
- Follow posted signs.
Construction is a dynamic process and information is subject to change without notice. Work is subject to weather conditions.
For more information about the I-680 Express Lanes project between Walnut Creek and San Ramon, click here.Read More
By Jimmy Lee, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
On Saturday, January 28, 2017, at about 8:22 PM, a deputy sheriff observed a stolen vehicle travelling in the area of Somersville Road in Antioch.
Office of the Sheriff helicopter STARR3 was overhead as the deputy followed the vehicle on surface streets. A traffic enforcement stop was initiated at Buchanan Road and San Jose Drive in Antioch once Antioch PD units were in position to assist. The suspect vehicle failed to yield, leading the deputy and officers on a pursuit.
STARR3 stayed overhead following the pursuit.
The pursuit continued onto eastbound Highway 4 and then exited onto Hillcrest Avenue. In the area of Eagleridge Drive and Eagle Court, the two suspects fled on foot trying to hide in backyards. One person driving by who called the Herald said it looked like there were about 10 police and sheriffs vehicles on the scene.
One witness said he saw Sheriff’s Deputies and Antioch Police capture the two men in the backyard of a nearby home after they ran from the suspect vehicle. STARR3 directed ground units to where both suspects were hiding on Owl Court. They were taken into custody.
They are identified as 31-year-old Herbert Williams of Pittsburg and 29-year-old Etuate Faiva of Oakley. Both were booked on numerous charges: vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, evasion, obstruction, and probation violation.
Both are being held at the Martinez Detention Facility without bail.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More
Contra Costa County Sheriff David O. Livingston recently administered the oath to those newly hired and those newly promoted at a ceremony in the Board of Supevisors Chambers, on Friday, Jan. 27.
Those hired represented a number of classifications: Deputy Sheriff, Sheriff’s Ranger, Sheriff’s Specialist, Sheriff’s Dispatcher, Criminalist, and various levels of Clerks.
Those newly promoted include Captains, Dispatch Director, Sergeants, Deputy Sheriff Forensics Supervisor, Forensics Supervisor, Dispatch Supervisor, Sheriff’s Ranger, Sheriff’s Specialist, Sheriff’s Aide, Accountant Supervisor, Administrative Services Assistant III, Accounting Technician, Clerical Supervisor and Lead Detention Services Worker.
Sheriff Livingston thanked the many family members in the audience for their support, which is critical to the success of the organization.