Column

COLUMN: Recap of June 28 county board meeting

San Benito County Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki writes about recent board actions such as roadwork, COVID-19, zoning and contracts.

This column was contributed by San Benito County Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites all community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.

The following is a recap of key items from the San Benito County Board meeting June 28:

Roadwork to start in July on Carr, Anzar, Cienega:

Interim RMA Director Steve Loupe announced to the board that paving work is scheduled to begin on Carr Avenue, Anzar Road and Cienega Road between July and October. I am very pleased these projects are moving ahead. Residents can reach out to me with any questions or issues, but this is a positive step forward and we have many other road projects on the way. Loupe asked for patience from residents due to the narrow nature of some of some areas. Granite Construction is the contractor for the work. 

 

Santana Ranch park set to open:

The new park in the Santana Ranch development off Fairview Road is ready to be opened soon. While the county is still waiting for PG&E to energize the irrigation and lighting, Santana Ranch has agreed to manually water the park. The park is expected to open in mid-July. 

 

Board urges expediency on homelessness projects:

Upon my recommendation, supervisors gave clear direction to staff to move aggressively on several endeavors related to addressing homelessness issues in the county. The county is pursuing the purchase of a building at 1135 San Felipe Road near the current homeless shelter in order to expand shelter operations and offer a safe parking/camping area on 4 acres adjacent to it. The county is also pursuing the purchase of the Wiebe Motel and Sure Stay Hotel. Meanwhile, the board gave direction to staff to pursue a towing contract that would allow for illegally parked or abandoned vehicles to be stored at a county location off Buena Vista Road. We expect the latest homeless census number (estimating the local population) in the next few weeks. 

 

COVID-19 update/discussion:

Supervisors received an update on COVID-19 including county and state specific vaccination rates, testing data, hospital data and other updates. The county’s vaccination rate is in line with that of the state. Testing locations will be offered in the coming weeks in San Juan and Tres Pinos to go with what’s been offered for several months at Brigantino Park. The county is continuing aggressive advocacy to engage residents from ages 19-34 who have shown the most reluctance to being vaccinated. 

 

Election certification approved:

Supervisors accepted the certified Statement of Election Results for the June 7, 2022 Statewide Direct Primary Election. 

 

Zoning code overhaul approved:

Supervisors approved a comprehensive update to the zoning code, the first since 1984. According to staff, the update is intended to conform with recently enacted state laws, implement the 2035 General Plan, make the code more user friendly, modernize land uses and regulations and streamline development review. Although I urged the board to examine whether the planning commission should be strictly advisory in nature, which is not the case now in certain instances, I supported the broader zoning code update. My fellow supervisors and staff did agree to make three changes for which I advocated: Addressing language that would have allowed up to 20 single-family homes per acre, eliminating authority for the planning director to approve hotels/motels on agricultural lands without further review, and adding language to the section allowing food trucks that addresses safe distances from highways and other roadways. 

 

Grant writer provides update:

Supervisors received a presentation and introduction to newly contracted grant-writing firm, California Consulting. In 2021, the prior Economic Development Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Supervisors Tiffany and I directed staff to seek grant writing services for the county. The grant writer has been tasked with focusing on such priorities as roads, parks, economic development, library expansion and broadband. 

 

Post-employment benefits cost increase:

Supervisors approved allocating an additional $600,000 contribution for Other Post-Employment Benefits contribution in light of increased costs with just under $300,000 from the General Fund. Supervisor Dirks dissented in the 4-1 vote. An actuarial study concluded our funded status dropped significantly from 86.1% in 2019-20 to 72.1% in 2020-21 due to the county previously opting to contribute a flat amount. The county board gave direction to move away from the flat amount contribution to an “actuarial determined contribution” that will help avoid the county’s financial ratings. 

 

CalPERS savings mechanism approved:

Supervisors approved the county auditor’s recommendation for a potential cost-reduction opportunity through the county’s pension plans with CalPERS. For fiscal year 2022-23, payments for the county’s three pension plans combined equal an annual amount of $6,785,072. A lump-sum prepayment as opposed to pay as you go would equal $6,559,377, or a savings of $225,695. 

 

Growth initiative placed on ballot:

Supervisors approved placing on the November ballot a proposed initiative that would remove commercial node designations in the General Plan and require voter approval of future land-use designation changes from agricultural to other uses through the year 2050. The board also received a previously commissioned fiscal impact report on the initiative. 

 

Chamber presentation delayed:

The San Benito County Chamber of Commerce Foundation asked to be removed from the agenda, which initially had the organization making a presentation on its activities over the past year as an update for the county’s nearly $36,000 donation to the organization for economic development activities.

 

Appeal on required road improvements for developer:

Supervisors in a 3-2 vote denied an appeal of a Planning Commission denial for a request to amend the condition of approval regarding standards for Buena Vista Road frontage improvements by owner PLH Vineyard Sky LLC and Ecos Energy LLC. The owner is building a ground-mounted solar photovoltaic electricity generating facility. On May 14, 2014, the commission granted Ecos the minor subdivision and use permit with certain conditions. One of the conditions was for Ecos to bond for or make certain road improvements along the property frontage to a standard applicable for lots less than 5 acres. The applicant was claiming the standard was wrongly applied to the project. I was in the majority in denying the appeal and underscored how the applicants had two prior opportunities to oppose the condition in 2014 and 2018 and never did so. 

 

Vehicle miles traveled policy approved:

Supervisors approved implementation of a County Vehicle Miles Traveled policy. According to the agenda, VMT allows for an analysis of a project’s impact throughout the jurisdiction rather than only in the vicinity of the proposed project, allowing for a better understanding of the full extent of a project’s transportation-related impact.

 

Santa Cruz 911 contract renewal:

Supervisors approved an agreement with Santa Cruz Regional 9-1-1 for communications services for a term of July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, with automatic renewals for an additional three one-year terms unless otherwise terminated. 

 

America’s Job Center contract:

Supervisors approved the Workforce Development Board contract between the San Benito County WDB and partners of the America’s Job Center for the period of July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2025.

 

Homeless shelter contract:

Supervisors approved an agreement with Community Homeless Solutions in the amount of $500,000 for the period of July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 for the operation of the H.O.M.E. Resource Center.

 

Transitional housing program contract:

Supervisors approved a contract with Community Homeless Solutions for the operation of the Transitional Housing Program for the period of July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023 in the amount not to exceed $65,000. This is the second year contracting with Community Homeless Solutions for the operations of the Transitional Housing Program. 

 

Public health nurse contract:

Supervisors approved a contract with Anita Alvarez for the period of July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023, in the amount of $120,000. The Public Health Department has contracted with Alvarez since January 2019.

 

Landfill environmental review extension approved:

Supervisors approved amendment No. four with Grassetti Environmental Consulting adding $21,600 reimbursed by Waste Solutions Group to complete the county’s independent review of the environmental impact report and all related documents for the John Smith Road Landfill expansion proposal. 

 

Construction management for migrant camp improvements:

Supervisors approved a contract with Vanir Construction Management Services in the amount of $93,120 to provide construction management services to the Southside Road Migrant Camp improvements for the period of July 1st, 2022 through June 30th, 2023. The project is funded by a nearly $2.4 million state grant. 

 

Santana Ranch Fairview Road widening agreement:

Supervisors approved recording a a grant deed and easement from Anderson Homes for right of way and public utility easement for the purpose of Fairview Road widening improvement within Santana Ranch Specific Plan area.

 

Strada Verde consultant contract:

Supervisors approved a contract amendment with Denise Duffy and Associates for planning services on the Strada Verde Innovation Park in an additional amount not to exceed $341,426.00. Services are reimbursed by project applicant.

 

Library kiosk contract approved:

Supervisors approved a contract with Mesiti-Miller Engineering in the amount of $52,400 for the period of July 1, 2022 through June 30th, 2023 to perform engineering services for the Library Kiosk project.

 

Zoning code consultant contract amendment:

Supervisors approved contract amendment No. 2 with Interwest Consulting Group to complete the work on the Zoning Code Update and address accessory dwelling under the SB2 State Department of Housing and Planning grant and the Regional Early Action Planning Grant awarded to the county. The amount will not exceed $38,149.10 until June 30, 2023.

 

Mining contract amendment:

Supervisors approved contract amendment No. 1 with Benchmark Resources extending the contract to June 30, 2026 to provide the compliance support services for all surface mining operations in San Benito County. It is required from the California Surface Mining and Reclamation Act in the additional amount not to exceed $890,280.00 reimbursed by mine projects and operators.

 

Kollin Kosmicki

Kollin Kosmicki is District 2 Supervisor in San Benito County.