Following state’s guidelines instead; approve Keller Canyon permit; appoint new County Counsel
By Daniel Borsuk
Seventy percent of Contra Costa residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but Contra Costa Health Services Director Anna Roth says that vaccination rate is still insufficient to convince state health officials to change the county current Orange Tier health restrictions to less stringent Blue health restrictions until at least June 15.
“We are accepting the state’s instructions to keep masking guidelines in place,” Roth said at Tuesday’s board of supervisors’ meeting.
Even though COVID-19 vaccines are being administered to children as young as 12 to 15, requirements remain in effect for persons to wear masks while indoor businesses, Roth said.
But CCHS Ambulatory Care Director Dr. Gabriela Diaz Sullivan presented a study’s gloomy findings about how COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the state’s health care delivery system.
“Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020, 48,000 more Californians have died,” said Dr. Sullivan, “Heart attacks was the number one cause of death followed by cancer as number two and COVID-19 as number three.”
“Thirty-three percent of Californians had an urgent care need, unrelated to COVID-19, wanted to see a physician, but did not see a physician,” Dr. Sullivan emphasize. She said mammograms, colorectal cancer screenings, diagnostic colonoscopies, and blood pressure procedures were all down.
In summation, the COVID-19 pandemic has eroded the state’s health care system with Californians foregoing medical care when needed in preference to staying home.
On another related matter, Contra Costa Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano denied Supervisor Candace Andersen’s statement that she has learned 3,500 people have died from taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
“There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine has caused deaths,” Dr. Farnitano said.
Supervisors Approve Keller Canyon Permit
Over the objections of the City of Pittsburg’s Environmental Affairs Manager Laura Wright, who was the only opponent, supervisors unanimously approved a three-year land use permit for Republic Services to continue to operate the Keller Canyon Landfill on Bailey Road.
The supervisors’ action does require the county Department of Conservation and Development to conduct a one-year permit review of the landfill to determine if new or modified conditions should be considered.
Wright objected to the three-year permit renewal because the county did not adequately address the visual impacts by the inadequate number of trees that have been planted to block the view of the landfill and the inadequate measures undertaken to eradicate the dumping of litter outside the landfill.
Initially launching operations in 1995, the landfill has served as either an environmental irritant to residents living nearby the landfill or as a valuable source of money for numerous Pittsburg and Bay Point nonprofit organizations that Supervisor Federal Glover oversees the distributes thousands of dollars from Republic Services’ mitigation fund.
Two years ago, the landfill was the site of public concern when reports surfaced that radioactive waste from the former Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco had been transported and deposited at the Contra Costa County landfill. A landfill radiation study last year revealed no evidence that any radioactive material had been deposited at Keller Canyon Landfill.
Tougher Fireworks Ordinance Proposed
Supervisors are expected to consider at the June 8 meeting a proposed ordinance toughening the law banning the possession, manufacture, sale, use and discharge of fireworks.
“The proposed ordinance would amend Chapter 44-2 (i.e., vegetation fires, structure and exterior fires, personal injury or death, and noise or other public nuisances) and authorize the Sheriff to arrest and cite a responsible party, as defined in the ordinance, for violations for Chapter 44-1. The proposed ordinance establishes that a responsible party is required to maintain, manage, and supervise the property or vessel for which they are responsible to prevent violations of Chapter 44-2. A responsible party is liable and violates the probation on fireworks under Chapter44-2 if any person possesses, manufactures, sells, offers to sell, uses, or discharges, any fireworks at the property, or on the vessel, for which the responsible party is responsible, regardless of whether the responsible party is present when the violation occurs.
“The proposed ordinance defines a responsible party as any of the following:
- A person that owns, rents, leases, or otherwise has possession of, or is in immediate control of, aa residence or other private property or a vessel.
- A person that organizes, supervises, sponsors, conducts, allows, controls, or controls access to, the possession, manufacture, sale, offer for sale, use, or discharge of fireworks at a residence or other private property or on a vessel.
If a residence or other private property is rented or leased for a period of more than 30 consecutive days, the landlord or lessor is not a responsible party unless the landlord or lessor: has possession of, or is in immediate control of, the residence or other private property; or has knowledge of the possession, manufacture, sale, offer for sale, use, or discharge of fireworks at the residence or other private property.
The owner of a residence that is rented for a period of 30 consecutive days or less (a short-term rental) is a responsible party and is liable for violations of Chapter 44-2 if the short-term renter, or any other person, possesses, manufactures, sells, uses, or discharges, any fireworks at the residence, regardless of whether the owner of the short-term rental is present when the violation occurs.”
The proposed tougher fireworks ordinance already has won the support from the Discovery Bay Community District which released a letter from district board president stating:
“The revisions, in essence, would hold persons in control or possession of private property responsible for fireworks violations occurring on their property,” wrote board president Byron Gutow. “The discharge of fireworks is a common problem in the district, especially during celebrations of Independence Day and New Year’s. In many cases, the fireworks are professional grade and pose a significant risk of danger to persons and properties. We support efforts to dissuade the use of illegal fireworks.”
Antioch Library Reopening Delayed Until June 8
Citing the need for additional time to install shelving and update computers at the Antioch Library, supervisors approved County Librarian Alison McKee’s request to extend the reopening of the library to Tuesday, June 8.
In late April, supervisors had approved a request to close the library on June Tuesday, June 1 for interior paint and the installation of new carpeting and shelving, but due to additional time needed to install shelving and update computers the reopening has been delayed by a week.
Promote Chief Assistant to County Counsel
Chief Assistant County Counsel Mary Ann McNett Mason was promoted to County Counsel by supervisors to fill the position that became vacant when Contra Costa County Counsel Sharon Anderson died on April 30.
Ms. Mason will earn $463,000 a year of which $105,000 is pension costs. All the costs are budgeted in the county’s General Fund within the County Counsel’s Office operating budget.
Mason, a graduate of the University of California Hastings College of Law, started to work for the county counsel’s office in 1987 as a deputy county counsel. In 2010 she was appointed assistant county counsel and in 2016 was promoted to chief assistant county counsel.
While serving the role of chief assistant county counsel, Mason assumed the duties of the County Counsel in her absence, supervised the attorneys in the General Government Group, and assisted in management of the County Counsel’s Office. In addition to those duties, Mason has served as the county’s retirement and employee benefit counsel, is the office specialist on open meeting and conflict of interest laws and serves as General Counsel to Delta Diablo.
Mason previously served as the counsel to the Contra Costa County Board of Education and County Superintendent of Schools, the Contra Costa Superior Court, the Grand Jury, and the Assessment Appeals Board and other clients.
“I am so happy to have this opportunity to represent the board of supervisors and the county at an important time in our history and to carry on Sharon Anderson’s legacy,” Mason told the Contra Costa Herald. “I have some big shoes to fill.”
Load Limits Imposed on Delta-Mendota Canal Bridge
In an unusual action, supervisors approved the Contra Costa County Department of Public Works request to post 23 ton per vehicle (i.e., Type 3 Truck) load limit signs for the deteriorating Delta-Mendota Canal Bridge on Lindemann Road over the Delta-Mendota Canal because of “on-going deterioration found in multiple timber columns of the bridge.”
Supervisors did not receive any public comment pro or con on the proposal for the bridge’s load limit. “This order shall remain in effect for 90 days, or until Caltrans issues a Director’s Order establishing a permanent load restriction on the bridge, whichever occurs first,” the supervisors’ resolution states.
Alamo Architect Appointed Acting Planning Commissioner
District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville received board consent action approval on her request to appoint Alamo architect Sanjiv Bhandari to fill on an acting basis the planning commission post vacated by Rand Swenson’s resignation on April 28.
“Supervisor Andersen has been advertising the District II Commission seat since April 15, 2021 in preparation for filling the vacancy scheduled to arise at the end of Mr. Swenson’s current term on June 30, 2021. Mr. Bhandari applied and met with Supervisor Andersen. Supervisor Andersen feels his knowledge an experience will be a positive addition to the commission,” the board agenda item report states.