By Daniel Borsuk
Contra Costa County supervisors moved closer to adopting in June a commercial marijuana ordinance on Tuesday, and unanimously increased a three-year moving contract without raising a single question.
The officials approved a $3.5 million contract extension for Metropolitan Van and Storage to provide moving services countywide through the end of its three-year contract that expires on May 31, 2019. The supervisors’ approval boosts the overall payment limit to Metropolitan from $4 million to $7.5 million.
Placed on the agenda as a consent item, none of the five supervisors had asked to have Item No. 31 pulled from the agenda for discussion and action at a meeting where the elected officials were clearly more focused on a progress report from the county Conservation and Development Department on a draft cannabis ordinance, an agenda item that drew 53 speakers.
When asked about the moving contract agenda item, board chairperson Karen Mitchoff said she was unaware of the Metropolitan contract item being on the consent agenda.
“I am informed about what consent items are to be pulled for discussion by my staff,” Mitchoff said. “This item was not brought to my attention by staff.”
County Administrator David Twa said he had reviewed the Metropolitan contract increase and found no irregularities.
The county needs to add $3.5 million to the Metropolitan Van and Storage contract in order to complete the three-year contract that expires in May 2019, newly appointed Public Works Directors Brian Balbas said.
While admitting the spending of the initial $4 million “came as a bit of a surprise” to him, Balbas said about 50 percent of the 2,266 invoices Metropolitan Moving submitted for 1,429 jobs came from, three major county departments – Assessors Department, Employment and Human Services Department and Health Department.
In addition to moving furniture and other material, Balbas said Metropolitan Moving also takes down and erects cubicles in county department offices.
When asked if the extra $3.5 million will cover the next 12 months of the contract, Balbas responded, “I sure hope so.”
Supervisors Aim for June 26 Marijuana Ordinance Adoption
Supervisors set the stage to adopt a cannabis zoning ordinance on June 26 after listening to long list of speakers, mostly opponents to the legalization of recreational marijuana. On July 10, supervisors are scheduled to consider adopting health and tax measure ordinances that will go before the voters, perhaps in November.
After nearly two hours of public testimony coming mostly from residents in Supervisor Candace Andersen’s District 2, a district widely opposed to the sale and cultivation of recreational marijuana, the supervisor commented, “In a perfect world, I’m for a moratorium.” The supervisor hinted she might vote against the county ordinance because of the overwhelming opposition from her constituency, even though the county Department of Conservation and Development has spent hundreds of manhours and attended 27 community meetings around the county to inform the public about the county’s proposed marijuana ordinance.
District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who had earlier observed most of the proposed cannabis zoning is located in his district along Highway 4, remarked, “We need to make sure the safety measures are put in place and that won’t occur unless a tax is passed by the voters. Until that happens this ordinance will not be enforced.”
When Dr. Phillip Drum, a marijuana legalization opponent, listed butane explosions and a number of other reasons why supervisors should stop developing a marijuana ordinance even though 61% of Contra Costans approved Proposition 64 in 2016, Board Chair Mitchoff pointed out the Contra Costa ordinance will prohibit the use of butane to extract oil from marijuana plants.
The proposed ordinance will feature zones for commercial cultivation, retail storefront, delivery only, manufacturing/processing, distribution and testing.
For personal cultivation, the county is proposing six or less plants for indoor, private cultivation and not more than three plants that are more than five feet in height for outdoor cultivation.