Mitchoff gets heat over Pleasant Hill Library closure during construction of new library
By Daniel Borsuk
At their meeting on Tuesday, Contra Costa County Supervisors approved on a 4-1 vote the ordinance that ties their base salaries to 60 percent of the salaries of superior court judges. Supervisor Candace Andersen cast the dissenting vote. The pay raise goes into effect for the period between July 2, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2019; then increases to 63 percent of judges’ salaries for 2020 and finally to 65 percent of judges’ salaries thereafter.
Supervisors will receive the same periodic increases as are as granted by the legislature to the judges as recommended by the Ad Hoc Citizen’s Committee.
Supervisors waived the reading of the ordinance and fixed their April 16 meeting for adoption of the ordinance. Two weeks ago, supervisors had voted 3-1 with Andersen opposing and Supervisor Diane Burgis absent due to recuperation from heart surgery.
In casting a negative vote again this week, Andersen said, “I still have my reservations. We still earn Bay Area salary, but this isn’t a full-time job. It’s more than a full-time job. I can leave my house at 8 a.m. and not return until 10 p.m.”
Consider Exempting Transportation Impact Fees for Accessory Dwelling Units
Supervisors can be expected to adopt a policy aimed at exempting the imposition of public transit fees on homeowners wanting to build accessory dwelling units to homes as a jab of slowing down the Bay Area’s runaway rising housing costs.
Supervisors on Tuesday instructed county Conservation & Development Department (CDD) officials to draft a policy that would halt the levying of transit impact fees on ADU applications in unincorporated Contra Costa County, a move that could lift a financial burden off the shoulders of homeowners wanting to add living units onto their homes. ADU transit impact fees are imposed taxes for public transit improvement or road construction to mitigate increased public transit patronage and automobile trips stemming from ADU construction.
Based on county data, since 2017, there’ve been 130 ADU’s approved, 42 interior conversions and 88 new footprint additions approved. County records also show 130 ADU permits were issued via administrative means such as variance or deviation from the standards. Total ADU tax revenues data collected during that two-year period was unavailable.
“Ultimately, however, the reduction and or elimination of traffic impact fees would unavoidably create a funding gap.” warned CDD Director John Kopchik in a memo to supervisors. “That gap cannot be filled using the fee program’s revenue and must be backfilled with other sources.”
So far there has been political posturing locally and out of Sacramento concerning the status of ADU transit fees, but housing affordability advocates have maintained ADU transit fee are part of the reason for the Bay Area’s housing unaffordability crisis.
Leading the charge on the ADU fee exemption conversation at the county level has been board chair John Gioia of Richmond who has been tuned into the ADU and tax exemption discussions at West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee level.
Gioia said by exempting the transit fees it would remove financial barrier on homeowners wanting to add onto their homes. In West County, the additional costs a homeowner pays on average per ADU is $10,000 the supervisor said.
Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville praised the ADU transit fee exemption fee proposal saying” It’s a great way for families to stay together.”
CDD staff is expected to present a draft ordinance on the ADU tax exemption proposal sometime either in June or July.
Mitchoff Gets Heat Over Library Closure
The upcoming closure of the Pleasant Hill Public Library drew protests from upset community residents, some of whom accused Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill of playing into the hands of real estate interests by closing down the library too soon.
Besides the construction of a new library, the county in conjunction with the city of Pleasant Hill are making way for the construction of a housing development on county owned property long vacant nearby the library.
The outdated library will be demolished in late spring or early summer to clear the site for a new library that will eventually feature a café, a used book store and shelf space for 70,000 books. The new library will be completed in 2021 and according to Pleasant Hill residents like Dick Offerman that won’t help middle school students who rely on the library to study.
Mitchoff took issue with Offerman’s statement that the library’s closure would negatively impact middle school students.
“I’ve visited the library when middle school students are there and many of them are playing video games rather than studying,” she said.
Pat Morgan also of Pleasant Hill criticized supervisor Mitchoff for not doing enough in keeping the old library open.
“It’s unacceptable. This demonstrates real estate money interest. Greed. It’s shameful, “she said.
Consent Items Approved
Supervisors approved the Sheriff-Coroner’s request to purchase Automated License Plate Reader cameras in the Discovery Bay area for an amount not to exceed $283,000. The ALPR camera capabilities are not only for the detection of stolen vehicles, but also as an investigative tool for persons and property crimes.
They also approved and authorized the Sheriff-Coroner to execute a contract with the State of California, 23rd District Agricultural Association (Contra Costa County Fair Board), including all indemnification of the State of California, to pay the county an amount not to exceed $35,000 to provide law enforcement services at the County Fair for the period of May 15-19, 2019.
Approve the collection loss write-offs in the public housing program in the amount of $106,729.09 for the quarter ending March 31, 2019, which is up nearly double from the $50,381.06 in collection losses for the same quarter in 2018. The Bayo Vista housing development in Rodeo led with the most loss write-offs with $73,470.36 followed by the Vista del Camino housing development in San Pablo with $10,501.
Supervisors also approved new Housing Choice Voucher payment standards for the Housing Authority that goes into effect April 15. Studio to three-bedroom sized unit payments standards have been reduced between $19 to $101 while the four to seven-bedroom sized payment standards are being increased between $121 and $175.