By Bryan Scott
East of Clayton and Antioch lies a broad swath of what used to be Contra Costa County farmland. The California State Senator representing this area, Steve Glazer, seems to be ignoring the public safety needs of the people who now live there.
While East County used to contain just 8,000 residents and the largest irrigated orchard west of the Mississippi, the 249-square mile area now contains the cities of Brentwood (2016 pop. 60,532) and Oakley (pop. 40,622), along with the unincorporated communities of Bethel Island, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, and Morgan Territory.
All combined East County has a rapidly growing population of over 115,000 Californians.
A 2016 report by the Contra Costa County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) stated that emergency medical and fire services provided by the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) were funded at a rate of $94 per-person. The report also said that these same services were funded at the rate of $449 and $370 per-person in central parts of the county.
This low funding level has forced ECCFPD to close five of the eight fire stations operational in 2010, and drastically reduce staff. Response times are at levels that far exceed any industry standards or goals.
In an interesting parallel, the nearby city of Lathrop in San Joaquin County has experienced significant growth and continues to grow due to its location along Interstate 5. From 2000 through 2016, according to the US Census Bureau, it grew by 97%. Lathrop’s 2016 population was 22,073, and the city expects to be at 35,000 by 2020.
The fire and emergency medical services that Lathrop Manteca Fire District (LMFD) provides are funded at a rate of $316 per resident (2016). Lathrop is part of a 100 square-mile, mostly rural, area served by LMFD, with over 30,000 total area residents. The district has four fire stations, 33 career firefighters, and 25 reserve/volunteers.
Yet, in East Contra Costa, have steadily deteriorated and the population and development grew. In 2016 ECCFPD recognized the funding crisis, called a “public safety emergency” by another elected official, and passed a resolution pleading for help from Senator Glazer and others in the legislature. You can view Resolution No. 2016-21 on the ECCFPD website.
The crisis was also the subject of reports by the Contra Costa County Grand Jury and a government task force, and it was noted by industry consultants as well as the media. Concerned residents have erected a billboard along Vasco Road, a major arterial route into East County, drawing attention to the crisis.
“The District lacks sufficient funds to provide fire and emergency response to the communities it was created to serve,” said a three-page letter the ECCFPD Board sent to Senator Glazer in 2016, signed by then Board President Joel Bryant.
So far, Senator Glazer has done little or nothing to address this issue.
A review of bills authored or co-authored by Senator Glazer shows a wide range of subjects. He’s sponsored ten “Awareness” month/week/day bills, several bills to ban smoking on public beaches and in parks, and one bill to change the names of California places because the names commemorate Civil War-era figures.
But he’s authored or co-authored no bills to improve the public safety of his ECCFPD constituents.
The Courage Campaign is a group of mostly online organizations that advocate for progressive causes in California. Representing an estimated 1.4 million members, the Courage Campaign uses digital tools with grassroots community organizers and targeted messaging.
The group focuses on the areas of Economic Justice, Human Rights and Corporate and Political Accountability. It annually ranks California Senators and Assembly Members, and for 2017 Courage Campaign gives Senator Glazer a letter grade of “F,” along with a numeric score of 32 out of 100.
The “Courage Score” as it is called, grades California legislators on political courage, how well they stand up for their constituents. While 16% of the all California Senators received an “A” grade, 40% received an “F” grade in 2017, including Senator Glazer.
According to the California Senate website, each Senator represents 931,349 Californians. So the residents of the ECCFPD service area represent only about one-eighth (12.35%) of Senator Glazer’s district.
It is clear that Senator Glazer is not acting to address or improve the public safety emergency involving his constituents of the ECCFPD service area.
Bryan Scott is Co-Chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizen’s action committee striving to improve funding for the ECCFPD. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.