Place half-cent transportation sales tax measure on March 2020 ballot
By Daniel Borsuk
County supervisors are hopping aboard the bandwagon in banning the sale of any e-liquid or electronic smoking device in unincorporated Contra Costa County.
Supervisors voted 5-0 voted on Tuesday to set the stage to formally adopt an ordinance next week that will outlaw the retail sale of e-liquid flavored smoking devices within 1,000 feet from a school, park or library at the supervisors’ upcoming November 19 meeting.
The ordinance also inserts limitations on the delivery of cannabis-related e-devices in unincorporated Contra Costa County.
The supervisors’ action means Contra Costa County will join an expanding number of California counties including Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Mateo that have already adopted laws banning the sale of e-cigarettes that have killed three Californians while some 151 related medical cases have been reported around the Golden State, Dr. Chris Fonataano of the Contra Costa Health Services reported. More than 800 cases and 12 deaths across 46 states have been reported by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.
Since 2019, the City Councils of San Pablo, Lafayette, Richmond and Oakley have passed laws banning the sales of e-cigarettes within city limits.
The rising health concerns about e-cigarettes at the national level has financially hit the e-cigarette industry. Major e-cigarette maker Juul Labs on Monday announced it is cutting about 650 jobs, or about 16 percent of its total workforce because of the national pullback on its products, especially its most popular flavors mint and mango flavored pods, in the U.S.
During the public hearing, where Board Chair John Gioia discretionarily decided to cut speaker time fifty percent to one minute per speaker in order to accommodate the supervisors’ annual Veterans Day ceremony scheduled at 11 a.m., 45 speakers, many from middle and high schools, shared stories about how fellow students have become hooked to e-devices in restrooms or anywhere they can sneak in a smoke.
Mt. Diablo High School student Dominique Vine complained that vaping is a serious problem at his school. “The air is contaminated,” he complained.
“It is my understanding that this proposed ordinance would help improve public health and continue the positive work the county has historically done to combat youth tobacco usage,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier in a written statement read by District Director Shanelle Scales-Preston.
Lafayette City Councilwoman Susan Kendall encouraged supervisors to pass the ordinance. Adopt this ordinance. You are the right body to do this. Lafayette is an island that none of its neighboring cities have addressed.”
The new ordinance will also impose new retail delivery standards on cannabis products from about 84 retail locations in unincorporated Contra Costa County, which is a priority issue of Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville, who has previously overseen tough protections on cannabis deliveries in the county.
“We are providing an additional layer of protection to residents wanting this kind of service,” Supervisor Andersen told the Contra Costa Herald.
The new ordinance states:
A – The delivery of more than eight hundred milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol in the form of edible cannabis products to a single cannabis customer in a single day is prohibited.
B – The delivery of any cannabis product listed in Title 17, California Code of Regulations, section
40300, is prohibited.
C – The delivery of any flavored cannabis product for which the primary use is human inhalation of the gases, particles, vapors, or byproducts released as a result of combustion, electrical ignition, or vaporization of the flavored cannabis product, is prohibited.”
Support Half-Cent Sales Tax for Transportation Ballot Measure
Supervisors voted to place a half-cent sales tax measure on the March 2020 ballot for transportation. Contra Costa County voters will get a chance to vote up or down on a half-cent sales tax measure to raise $103 million a year for local transportation annually for 35 years. The tax measure will be placed on the March 3, 2020 ballot and will be spent for only county road or transit projects. The state cannot take the funds. See how the funds will be spent, here – Draft 2020 Transportation Expenditure Plan
The purpose of the half cent sales tax is to reduce congestion and fix bottlenecks on highways and major roads, make commutes faster and more predictable, improve the frequency, reliability, accessibility, cleanliness and safety of buses, ferries, and BART; improve air quality and repave roads.
Animal Service Fees Hiked
Starting in 2020, Contra Costa residents wanting to adopt cats or dogs or other veterinary services from the county’s Animal Services Department will have to dig deeper into their wallets.
Supervisors unanimously approved new Animal Services Department fees that have not been increased since 2008.
No one spoke either against or in favor of the fee increases that vary all over the map from a 2% rise to spaying a dog over 100 pounds from $195 to $199 to spaying a dog less than 20 pounds to $121, a 29% increase of $27.
“The average cost to care for an animal made available for adoption for the Animal Services Department is $908.21,” stated the report prepared by Animal Services Director Beth Ward. “These costs are based on an average length of stay of 30 days and includes the cost of daily care, basic medical care and spay/neuter to prepare an animal for adoption.
New adoption fees for a dog are $155 (age of dog), $135 (puppies under six months), $85 dogs over six years), $5 (senior citizens over 65 years of age or dogs over six years old). New adoption fees for cats are $120 (age of cat), $100 (kittens under four months), $55, (cats over six years), senior citizens (over 65 years of age) adopting cats over 6 years old $5.
2018 Agriculture Production Down 10 Percent
Agricultural crop production in the county declined 10% last year, according to a report submitted by Agricultural Commissioner Director of Weights and Measures Matt Slattengren. Supervisors approved the report as a consent item.
“The total gross value of agricultural crops in 2018 was $208,556,338, a decline of $11,884,662 or 10% from 2017. In general, demand and prices have remained strong from agricultural crops in Contra Costa County,” wrote Slattengren in his report submitted to California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Contra Costa Count Board of Supervisors.
Slattengren cited a decrease of 27 percent of vegetable and seed crop values because of rainy weather and market conditions for the decline.
Rodeo’s Lefty Gomez Community Center Fee Increase
Supervisors will consider an increase in rental rates for the use of the Lefty Gomez Community Center facilities in Rodeo at their meeting on Dec. 19. Fees have not been increased in 16 years. The fees for rental use of the center, restrooms, and security guard have not kept up with current maintenance and energy costs.
The Public Works Department requested that renters of the facility obtain insurance with coverage of $1 million of liability coverage. The department also has imposed a specific prohibition against the use of inflatable jumpers.