Begin review of marijuana regulations
By Daniel Borsuk
Retailers of menthol and flavored tobacco products that are located within 1,000 feet of a public, private school, playground, park, or library in Contra Costa County will be required to sell off their inventory by the end of 2017 now that the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to approve an ordinance creating tobacco sales restrictions and a cap on tobacco retail licenses.
Supervisors limited the number of tobacco retailers in unincorporated Contra Costa at 90.
Supervisors drafted the ordinance after conducting public hearings on how menthol and flavored tobacco products have serious health consequences for teenagers congregating at schools, playgrounds, parks or libraries that are within 1,000 feet from a store selling those tobacco products that are known to lead to heart and cancer health problems later on in life.
Some of the ordinance’s provisions include:
- Failure to obey the new law could mean a retail license suspension of 30 days for the first violation, up to 90 days for a second violation within two years after the first violation, and up to one year for a third and subsequent violation within two years after the first violation.
- Although the county tobacco law sets requirements on the how retailers sell cigars, including little cigars that must be sold in a package of at least 10 cigars, the ordinance states “This requirement does not apply to cigars that have a sale price of at least $5.”
- The ordinance bans retailers from posting tobacco displays on their premises.
- The law prohibits pharmacies from selling tobacco products.
- The ordinance also requires retailers to “examine the identification of a person who reasonably appears to under the age of 27 before the tobacco retailers sells tobacco products or paraphernalia to that person.”
“The National Association of Tobacco Outlets opposes this ordinance,” said Jaime Rojas, a NATO representative, “because it represents a bad case of government overreach. You are forcing retailers to sell off an inventory within six months or face consequences.”
“You are taking a big step towards improving public health,” said Dr. Phillip Gardner of the University of California at San Francisco. He hailed the supervisors action because it will help reduce the influence of menthol flavored tobacco products especially on the African American community.
During the supervisors’ meeting, nothing was disclosed about how the ordinance will be enforced between the Sheriff’s Department, Health Department and perhaps Planning Department and at what cost to county taxpayers.
“Currently we have no idea what the costs will be to enforce this ordinance,” County Administrator David Twa told the Contra Costa Herald after supervisors voted. “Just wait when the board adopts the recreational marijuana ordinance (see item below). Expenses will go up dramatically then.”
“We will not begin enforcement on whether a retailer is within the 1,000-foot buffer until Jan. 1,” said District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville.
In the meantime, the passage of the ordinance put retailers on notice they should not be reordering flavored tobacco products if they are located within the 1,000-foot buffer zone, said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond.
Review of Marijuana Regulations
In other business, Supervisors also kickstarted the review process on how to regulate commercial cannabis enterprises in unincorporated Contra Costa County in compliance with the voter approved State Proposition 64, the legalization of recreational marijuana sales.
During the presentation, supervisors were shown eight preliminary land use maps of where outdoor and indoor cannabis enterprises could potentially operate in unincorporated county.
Planning officials were instructed to present at a future meeting revised land used maps showing other buffer configurations.
The board voted 5-0 to permit County Administrator David Twa to negotiate with the consulting firm of Hinderliter, de Llamas & Associates to prepare a study with recommendations on options for taxation for various cannabis activities.
Twa did not disclose what the county will pay the Hinderliter, de Llamas & Associates because the price has yet to be negotiated. Twa said information from the Hinderliter, de Llamas & Associates study would be used to draft a proposed countywide cannabis tax measure that would need to go before voters at the next general election, November 2018.
“If the tax fails to pass, so does the marijuana law in the county,” Twa told supervisors.
Gita Dombroski, owner of an Oakland cannabis nursery who said he has $4 million in the bank and wants to expand his nursery operations into Contra Costa County, warned supervisors that they are heading in the wrong direction by potentially levying high taxes.
“You need to be realistic. Your taxes are going to be too be too high and they will dissuade prospective businesses from coming to your county,” he said.
Instead of investing in Contra Costa County, Dombroski said he will open up another nursery in Oakland.
Cannabis proponent Max Fogarty objected to the county proposal of establishing a 1,000-foot buffer between cannabis businesses and public and private schools, parks, playgrounds and libraries, and a 500 foot distance from existing tobacco retail establishments.
“Why 1,000 feet from a school, playground or library. It does not make sense,” said Fogarty
“Not everyone feels the way you do. We need to protect our communities” said Gioia in defense of the buffers.Read More
Next meeting Tuesday in Brentwood
The Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) have taken the next step necessary in evaluating the Phase 2 expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir from 160,000 acre-feet up to 275,000 acre-feet at an estimated cost of $800 million. Interested stakeholders can now review the draft document, and provide comments in writing or at a public meeting scheduled in July. (See Fact Sheet, here: http://www.ccwater.com/DocumentCenter/View/4033)
Los Vaqueros Reservoir, south of Brentwood, is owned and operated by CCWD. CCWD and Reclamation have been working on a joint evaluation of expanding Los Vaqueros Reservoir to develop water supplies for environmental management for fish and habitats, increase water supply reliability, and improve the quality of water deliveries. In 2012, the first phase of the expansion increasing capacity from 100,000 acre-feet to 160,000 acre-feet was completed by CCWD and provides customers with drought supply and water supply reliability benefits.
With the State’s announcement of availability of Proposition 1 funding for storage projects, a group of 11 water agencies entered into agreements with CCWD to prepare a funding application and necessary environmental documents for a Phase 2 Expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir from 160,000 acre-feet up to 275,000 acre-feet.
The next step in evaluating that further expansion is releasing the Draft Supplement to the Final Environmental Impact Statement / Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for public review. The Final EIS/EIR was certified in 2010 by CCWD – the Draft Supplement to the Final EIS/EIR updates that document with new information available. See the draft documents, here: http://www.ccwater.com/709/Expansion-Documents.
CCWD is currently working with the Bureau of Reclamation and local partners to evaluate project alternatives, facilities and operations. Upcoming key milestones include a funding application due to the California Water Commission in August 2017 and completion of the Final Federal Feasibility Report in November 2018. Construction could begin as early as 2022.
The potential local partners include:
o Alameda County Water District
o Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency
o Byron Bethany Irrigation District
o City of Brentwood
o East Bay Municipal Utility District
o East Contra Costa Irrigation District
o Grassland Water District
o Santa Clara Valley Water District
o San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
o San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority
o Zone 7 Water Agency
Interested stakeholders can participate in six public meetings to learn more about the Phase 2 Expansion and provide comments. Meeting locations allow for attendance by customers of the water agencies considering project participation. All meetings will start with an open house and presentation in the first hour, followed by a public hearing for the second hour. Remaining meeting details are as follows:
Brentwood: Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Brentwood Community Center, 35 Oak Street
Los Banos: Thursday, July 27, 2017, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m., San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Complex Headquarters and Visitors Center, 7376 S. Wolfsen RoadRead More
PLEASANT HILL, Calif., July 19, 2017 – It was a morning of absolute inspiration for the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) employees and invited speech judges at the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Speech Presentation, held this morning at the CCCOE’s Stewart Building, in Pleasant Hill.
After a rigorous selection process, the four current Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year (TOY) finalists concluded their progression by each presenting a prepared three- to five-minute speech, titled: “What have I learned from my students.” It was clear that the 10-person judging panel and audience were very impressed with the four speeches. (For more information about the Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Program, and the three-stage judging process, please review this Web page.)
This year’s Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year finalists:
Paula Raj, West Contra Costa Unified School District: Before she was old enough to attend school, Raj began honing her teaching skills with a “classroom” of stuffed animals and younger neighbor kids. Raj teaches Spanish to grades 9-12 at De Anza High School, in Richmond. The 35-year teacher has taught at De Anza for the past 21 years. Prior to her current position, the Brooklyn native taught middle and high school Spanish and French in Brooklyn, New York City, and Lexington, Massachusetts.
Kari Stewart, Walnut Creek School District: While majoring in genetics, Stewart found her career in education through a college internship tutoring local at-risk students. Stewart will soon begin her 25th year of teaching for the Walnut Creek School District. For the past two years, Stewart has taught multiple subjects at Tice Creek School, in Walnut Creek. Her former experience includes teaching at the school district’s Walnut Creek Intermediate and Buena Vista Elementary, grades 5-8.
Tom Trowbridge, Mt. Diablo Unified School District: Trowbridge has been a building trades and engineering educator for more than 11 years at Concord High School. His high school courses include CTE/ROP robotics engineering, civil engineering and architecture, woodworking technology, and construction technology. For the past year, Trowbridge and his students have continued to make news with the construction of their low-cost, eco-friendly Tiny Homes project.
Marissa Ware, San Ramon Valley Unified School District: Ware was well on the road to becoming a physical therapist, but during her college work with an infant development program, she became fascinated watching the development stages of the infant and toddler patients grow. From this experience, Ware changed course to education. The 18-year educator has been teaching grades K-3, at John Baldwin Elementary, in Danville for the past six years.
(For additional information about the four finalists, please visit this Web page.)
On the evening of September 28, 2017, all 22 TOYs, accompanied by their families, friends, and co-workers (an audience of close to 500) will be honored at the annual Contra Costa County Teacher of the Year Gala, held at the Hilton Concord. Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Karen Sakata, who serves as master of ceremonies, introduces the TOYs by sharing a special story that reflects her classroom visits of each teacher during the current spring and summer months. This will be followed by the four TOY finalists giving their speeches to the filled banquet room (same speeches that were presented today). Finally, the night will come to a dramatic close with the announcement of the two 2017-2018 Contra Costa County Teachers of the Year.
The two winners of the County TOY program will represent Contra Costa County in the California State Teacher of the Year Program this coming fall.
TOY Speech Judges:
- Phil Arnold, Jr., Team Lead, Government Alliance on Race & Equity, “Outstanding Friend of Education Award Recipient 2004” awarded by Joseph A. Ovick
- Hon. Steve Austin, Superior Court Judge, CCC Superior Court
- Michael Casten, Undersheriff, Office of CCC Sheriff David O. Livingston
- Luke Ellis, Law Partner, GJEL Accident Attorneys
- Hon. Jill Fannin, Presiding Superior Court Judge, CCC Superior Court
- Robin Lipetzky, County Public Defender, CCC Public Defender’s Office
- Eric Maldonado, Community Involvement Officer, Travis Credit Union
- Hon. Dan O’Malley (ret), Law Partner, O’Connor, Runckel & O’Malley, LLP
- Marsha Tokuyoshi, Coordinator, CCCOE
· Erica Williamson, Human Resources/Communications Manager, CCC Schools Insurance GroupRead More
By Captain S. Albanese, Pittsburg Police Department
On Wednesday, July 19th at 3:00 in the afternoon, Pittsburg Police Officers responded to the Baskin Robbins on Century Boulevard, in regards to a reported shooting. When Officers arrived on scene they located a 43-year-old male suffering from several gunshot wounds. Pittsburg Police Officers immediately began performing CPR on the victim for life saving efforts. The victim, a resident of Bethel Island, was transported to Sutter Delta Medical Center and succumbed to his injuries. The Investigations Division responded to the scene and took over the investigation.
Based on initial information, it appears the victim and suspect knew each other. Detectives are currently contacting witnesses and obtaining additional statements.
The Pittsburg Police Department asks anyone with additional information to please contact their Tip-Line at 925-252-4040.Read More
Youth activities, health improvement, safety strategies, senior meals and beautification efforts in Bay Point, Pittsburg and Antioch benefited from the Keller Canyon Landfill Mitigation grants.
Over $1.3 million were awarded to community-based organizations and public agencies, including county departments, from the grant program administered by the District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover. The grants were approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors, Tuesday morning, July 18.
“I’m inspired by the number of good people doing good work to enhance our community,” said Glover. “They sometimes get overlooked by the media, but they continue to work behind the scenes to help our young people, the elderly, the hungry and the sickly.”
The mitigation fund was negotiated by the County in the 1980s to offset the impact of having the landfill in Keller Canyon, just south of Pittsburg and Bay Point off of Bailey Road. The amount of the fund is based on the tonnage of debris, waste and trash brought to the dumpsite.
Some of the programs receiving grants this year include:
• Antioch Arts & Cultural Foundation;
• Opportunity Junction job training and placement program;
• Crossing guards for Bay Point schools;
• Feeding programs for senior citizens;
• Code enforcement and beautification efforts;
• Violence prevention programs; and
• Tutoring programs for youth
“The programs and services offered by these agencies help improve the quality of life in our community,” said Glover.
For a complete list of the grants, click here.Read More
Washington, D.C. – On Monday, July 17, on the 73rd anniversary of the Port Chicago tragedy, Congressmembers Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) introduced a House Resolution calling for the public exoneration of the Port Chicago 50. The resolution is part of their ongoing effort to bring attention to the injustice suffered by the Port Chicago 50, a group of African American sailors who were wrongly charged with mutiny following the deadliest home front disaster of World War II at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in California.
They’re continuing the efforts begun by former Congressman George Miller.
They’re continuing the efforts begun by former Congressman George Miller. According to a July 5, 2002 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Miller (D-Martinez) lobbied to get the the sailors’ convictions overturned and to get a presidential pardon in 1999 for one of the sailors, Frederick Meeks. Miller introduced legislation to make the Port Chicago National Memorial into a National Park.
After experiencing segregation in the Navy, 320 African American munitions sailors, who were not properly trained or supported, were killed and another 115 injured when a cargo vessel exploded. This incident accounted for more than 15 percent of all African American Naval casualties during WWII. When 50 of these men understandably refused to return to the unsafe working conditions that killed their fellow sailors, they were discriminately charged and convicted of mutiny.
“For 73 years the names of 50 brave sailors have been sullied by the racial discrimination they experienced during their service in World War II,” said DeSaulnier. “Given today’s political climate, there is no better moment in America to unite against discrimination and inequality. While we cannot erase the memories of the past, we can express our gratitude for the Port Chicago 50 and ultimately set the record straight through exoneration. An important step in healing our country is recognizing and correcting our past mistakes.”
“As the daughter of a veteran, I wholeheartedly appreciate the sacrifice made by the men and women who bravely serve to protect our freedom. That is why we must exonerate the 50 African-American sailors, who boldly stood against discrimination and refused to return to unsafe work conditions,” said Congresswoman Lee. “It’s past time to honor them, not only for their pivotal role in the World War II home front effort, but also for their unwavering commitment for justice. I am grateful to Congressman DeSaulnier for his staying the course on this vitally important issue.”
DeSaulnier and Lee first introduced this resolution last Congress, and jointly sent a letter to former President Obama requesting he acknowledge the injustice suffered by these sailors and remove these racially biased convictions from their records.
Additionally, DeSaulnier successfully included a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which required the Navy to investigate the circumstances surrounding the treatment of sailors at Port Chicago. DeSaulnier has also called upon the Smithsonian Institution to include information about the Port Chicago 50 in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture.
To read more about the Port Chicago explosion see the History Channel website at http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/port-chicago-disaster. To read more including a list of those who perished, visit http://www.usmm.org/portchicago.html.Read More
As the debate continues over how best to address California’s water needs, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09), during a press conference in Stockton on Monday, July 17, 2017 announced the introduction of new, comprehensive legislation that would provide a long-term plan to improve water sustainability in California and across the country.
The Water and Energy Sustainability through Technology Act (WEST Act) includes provisions that support innovative technologies and infrastructure for urban and agricultural areas, as well as efforts to improve efficiency.
“Our water infrastructure is declining and in need of repair,” said Congressman McNerney. “Water supply in California, and across the nation, is a serious challenge, but we’ve only been presented with short-sighted and ill-conceived plans that rely on the shipment of water from one area to another. Instead, we should be focusing on creating water sustainability through conservation, recycling, and capture.”
Currently, the United States uses approximately 80 billion gallons of fresh groundwater per day. Under the WEST Act, reimbursements would be authorized for recycling and reuse projects that create new water, and regional self-sufficiency would be improved through the encouragement of storm water capture and increased water storage. It would also require a study on ways to improve leak detection location, mapping, and communications for pipeline systems and provide grants to implement these solutions.
“It’s time to change the narrative and focus on practical, forward-thinking solutions instead of high-cost, short-term fixes,” said Congressman McNerney. “California has long been a leading innovator in energy and technology and we now have the opportunity to apply that type of ingenuity to modernizing our water systems.”
The WEST Act would also establish a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation groundwater information system and groundwater management technical assistance, in addition to a smart energy and water efficiency program to support innovative technology solutions for agricultural use and to improve efficiency at federal buildings.
“This bill is the result of extensive engagement with a diverse group of stakeholders – including farmers, technology innovators, industry and community leaders,” Congressman McNerney stated. “These are tangible, commonsense approaches that we can accomplish in the short-term that will benefit all of us in the long-term.”
To launch the legislation, Congressman McNerney hosted a press conference yesterday, featuring local leaders and advocates who voiced their support for this legislation.
To view the full press conference, click here.Read More
Candidate Forum set for August 15
Friday, July 21, 2017, is the deadline to submit an application for the vacant position of District Attorney for Contra Costa County. The June 14 resignation of Mark Peterson from the position of District Attorney created a vacancy that will extend until the current term of office expires on January 7, 2019. The next election for the District Attorney will take place in June of 2018, with a potential runoff election in November of 2018.
At the August 1, 2017, Board of Supervisors meeting, the Board will review the applications and determine which applicants will continue in the process. The finalists will be invited to participate in a public forum to be held on August 15 at 6:00 p.m., with final candidate interviews by the County Board scheduled for September 12, 2017.
At the forum, a moderated discussion will take place, with questions solicited from the public in advance, as well as during the forum. If you would like to offer a question, you can submit it online via the District Attorney recruitment section of our website. On that site, you can also offer public comment to be submitted to the Board of Supervisors and entered into the public record. The forum will be open to the public, televised live and streamed live online.
Completed applications and a supplemental questionnaire must be returned to the County Human Resources Department no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 21. Materials can be found online at: https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/contracosta. A background investigation will be conducted on all finalists. Any offer of employment will be contingent upon the successful completion of a thorough background investigation, which will include fingerprinting; county, state, and national criminal records checks; Economic Disclosure Form 700; and civil filings.
Story and Photos By Allen Payton
A car caught fire on the side of eastbound Highway 4 just west of the Highway 160 onramp and interchange, Sunday, July 16, 2017 at approximately 6:00 p.m. The fire then jumped to the grass on the adjacent hillside and quickly spread up the hill. Fire crews were able to bring the fire under control, but not until it had consumed approximately 30 acres. See more photos and video at www.facebook.com/cocoherald.
Car stolen in Concord
By Brandon Correia, Public Information Officer, Contra Costa CHP
Saturday night, July 15, 2017 at about 8:07 p.m., Contra Costa CHP was advised of a head-on collision at HWY4 at Sand Creek Road in Brentwood, with the report of injuries. Upon CHP arrival, it was learned that multiple parties had suffered major injuries. It was determined that one of the vehicles involved was a reported stolen vehicle out of Concord from the same day, a 1994 gold Honda Accord – License#7RAE887 – and that …the gold Honda was traveling the wrong way on HWY4. Two parties had to be air-lifted to trauma centers.
A 2015 Honda Odyssey van with seven occupants was traveling westbound on HWY4, just west of Sand Creek Road. The stolen gold Honda Accord entered the westbound lanes of HWY4, traveling wrong way-eastbound in the westbound lanes-from Lone Tree Way. The suspect vehicle was reported at a high rate of speed and passing multiple vehicles in the wrong way direction until ultimately colliding head-on with the Honda Odyssey. HWY4 was briefly shut down for the investigation.
Injured people from the 2015 Honda Odyssey are listed as follows: The driver, a 30-year-old Asian male adult, out of San Francisco, sustained moderate injuries. Passengers: a 34yr old Asian female adult, out of San Francisco, sustained minor injuries. A female baby, 1yr old-out of San Francisco, just for precaution. A 61-year-old Asian Adult female, out of San Francisco, sustained major injuries but is in stable condition. A 2-year-old Asian Female baby, out of San Francisco, sustained minor injuries. A 72-year-old Asian Adult female, out of San Francisco, sustained minor injuries. A 10-year-old Asian female juvenile, out of San Francisco, sustained minor injuries. All injured parties from the minivan were taken to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek.
The suspect driver, 24-year-old Rafael Duarte (DOB-11-16-92), out of Oakley, was transported to John Muir Walnut Creek for minor injuries. Upon his release from the hospital, Duarte was arrested and booked into the Martinez Detention Facility for the following charges; Felony DUI, possession and driving of a stolen vehicle, unlicensed drivers license, no vehicle insurance, and driving wrong way on the highway causing injury.
Asked about the victims of the collision, Brandon Correia, Public Information Officer for Contra Costa CHP said, “they’re all in stable condition. The passenger in the gold Honda had major injuries, but they’re not life threatening.”
This is an ongoing investigation and if anyone witnessed this collision or has information regarding it, please contact CHP-Contra Costa in Martinez at (925) 646-4980.
See video of the crash scene on KRON4.com.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.Read More