Send letter to Homeland Security Secretary over changes to federal “public charge” rule changes which could adversely affect illegal immigrants
By Daniel Borsuk
Unlike 15 years ago, a new study with a potential crackdown on illegal dumping in unincorporated Contra Costa County might succeed, with an infusion of money, the possible assistance from the county’s two chief trash collectors, and the installation of surveillance cameras at hotspots where illegal haulers go to dump their loads.
Even though the county launched earlier this year its permit program for private haulers, there are telltale signs the program might be in trouble because not enough haulers can afford to buy the permits to legally pickup, haul and dump trash at authorized sites.
Supervisors are scheduled to receive an update from the county Health Department on the new trash haulers license program at their Nov. 6 meeting.
“I’ve seen haulers park their trucks in residential neighborhoods because they have no other place to go,” said District I Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond, whose district receives most of the illegally dumped litter in the county. He speculates those haulers probably illegally get rid of their hauls by dumping their load in empty dumpsters. “There is more illegal dumping in North Richmond than anywhere else,” said Gioia.
Bay Point places second in luring the most illegal dumping. Bay Point is so serious that in less than a year the Bay Point Blight Program collected more than 13 tons of trash, the Illegal Dumping Think Tank County Interdepartmental Team reported. “Illegal dumping in Bay Point is so bad that at time it spills onto streets and sidewalks,” the report stated.
The illegal dumping problem is so bad countywide that last July the county launched a $1.82 million interdepartmental team activity to identify strategies to wipe out the county’s chronic illegal dumping problem that cost the county more than $1.2 million to clean up litter in 2017-2018, but had only budgeted $400,000 for a part-time private contractor to pick up illegal litter for the current fiscal year.
District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg said he saw many of the same recommendations 15 years ago when another anti-litter study was conducted.
“We have not found the right mechanism that fits,” he said. “We still have the illegal haulers. They can still pick up and dump illegally, especially in Bay Point.”
Supervisor Gioia agreed with Glover that 90 percent of the task force’s recommendations resemble those proposed in a 2003 study, but county Conservation & Development Department Director John Kipchak, who lead the illegal dumping think tank effort, listed six of the 55 recommendations that supervisors should pay particular attention.
Those recommendations include setting aside $10,000 for public outreach, budgeting $58,000 for mandatory garbage service, establishing a free mattress recycling program, on-call right-of-way debris removal by Public Works and on-call right-of-way clean-up by franchise haulers (Republic Services and Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery that will require increased garbage rates), dedicate two law enforcement deputies to investigate dumping crimes at an additional cost of $566,000 and the installation of surveillance high definition, license plate reader cameras at a cost of $50,000.
Supervisors were interested in in hearing how the city of San Pablo has curbed illegal dumping with the installation of 165 cameras located in strategic hotspots in a in a city that is six square miles, said city Public Works Director Jill Mercurio. San Pablo has plans to install more cameras, Mercurio said, because they have proven to help law enforcement arrest the illegal dumpers at an economical cost.
Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery representative Sal Evola, who also serves on the Pittsburg City Council, said while the company and the county’s other major commercial garbage hauler, Republic Services, have not been involved in the county’s illegal dumping initiative, both companies would be willing to provide input at future meetings. Getting the two garbage haulers involved in the county’s trash initiative could give the county’s illegal trash initiative an extra incentive.
Supervisors learned the county has a private contractor who picks up illegal dumped trash around the county at a yearly price tag of $400,000. Contra Costa County Public Works Department Deputy Director Mike Carlson was unable to exactly answer supervisors’ questions as to how frequently the on-call contractor picks-up litter, but he said the contractor actually picks up litter two days a week for the county and the contractor may take up to four to six weeks before the contractor gets to a reported litter area for cleanup.
Supervisors Oppose Proposed Rules Changes to Federal Public Charge
Concerning a new United States Department of Homeland Security published proposed change to the “public charge” in the Federal Register, the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to instruct staff to send a letter to the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Senate and House leader and the Contra County Federal Congressional Delegation to declare the board’s opposition to the proposed rule change to public charge.
A public charge is someone who is likely to become dependent on the government for subsistence.
Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Director Kathy Gallagher, Contra Costa County Health Services Director Anna Roth, and Contra Costa Housing Authority Director Joseph Villarreal recommended that the rule change would impose “grave economic and health consequences” to the county’s immigrants.
“While the proposed public charge changes are primarily directed toward applications for Legal Permanent Residency for those already in the United States, there could be an overall chilling effect of causing uncertainty and confusion among immigrant families about using public programs for themselves and their children,” Contra Costa County Human Services Director Gallagher wrote in her recommendation to the supervisors. “Not only would disenrollment or foregone enrollment lead to worse health outcomes and greater poverty risk for the families foregoing benefits, but public health at-large could be affected by sicker individuals in the community, increased emergency room use and uncompensated care.”
Rene Zimmer of the Contra Costa County Economic Opportunity Council urged supervisors to oppose the rule change by labeling it a “disturbing rule.”
Antioch City Councilman Lamar Thorpe said that this rule change promotes “unnecessary fear” in community.
$1.2 Million Landscaping Contract Awarded
Supervisors awarded Dominguez Landscape Services, Inc. a $1.2 million contract to provide landscape maintenance services countywide from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2021.
The county is searching for ways to reduce water usage at county facilities. The contractor will convert the grass and green ground cover to drought resistant plants that require less water.
Capital Road Program OK’d
The county’s Capital Road Improvement Preservation Program for 2018/2019 to 20124/2025 was unanimously approved without comments from the public. The county road improvement program for the next seven years is paid through state gas tax revenue, a source of revenue state voters will decide on the Nov. 6 ballot with Proposition 6. The CRIPP lays out road projects for the Contra Costa Public Works Department for the next seven years.