Supervisors approve business relief, pavement program funds
Compiled by Heather Bailey, Staff writer, SoCoNews, May 26, 2021
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors took action on various items during its May 25 meeting — including approving business relief funds, authorizing funding to help county roads and ordering a recall election for county district attorney Jill Ravitch following a successful recall petition campaign. Subsequently, the county released various press releases on action taken by the Board of Supervisors, which we’ve gathered below.
Supervisors approve $2.8 million in COVID business relief
On May 25, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution authorizing nearly $2.8 million in relief for businesses forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The aid package, in the form of environmental health permit fee offsets, applies to restaurants, body art businesses and pools that were required to close or limit operations after March 1, 2020. The funding is part of the county’s pandemic recovery plan to assist the business community impacted by the pandemic and restore the economy.
“During the pandemic, we took extraordinary measures to protect public health, including restrictions on businesses to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, in a statement. “As a result, our economy has suffered. This board is committed to helping business owners get back on their feet, and part of that strategy is waiving fees that the county collects.”
The measure will reimburse 1,610 eligible restaurants for the cost of their Environmental Health permit fee. The 282 eligible body art businesses will be reimbursed for permit fees for the eight months they were not able to operate. The county previously extended body art permits by six months. Indoor pool operators will be reimbursed for the year, while outdoor pool operators will be reimbursed for the 79 days that the businesses were required to close and for 25% of the fees for the remaining year that the operations were reduced. The county previously extended pool permits by one month.
“We thank our business community for complying with our health orders to keep the community safe during the pandemic,” said Tina Rivera, interim director of the Department of Health Services, in a statement. “Our local businesses made sacrifices for the greater public good. The Environmental Health permit offset program is one way that the county can help make them whole.”
Pavement Preservation Program funding authorized for county roads
On May 25, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today authorized the allocation of $39,951,890 for road maintenance and paving projects during the 2022 and 2023 construction seasons. The two-year Pavement Preservation Program will repair or replace pavement on 43.44 total miles of arterial, major and minor collector roads and local roads in unincorporated Sonoma County. The board also authorized $20 million in PG&E settlement funds to go towards an unprecedented infrastructure investment program repairing roads, retaining walls, culverts, an emergency vehicle access road, shoulder widening, bike lane striping, funding of a bridge design and a drainage study and the preparation of a county wide disaster debris removal plan.
Since 2012, the Board of Supervisors has invested more than $120 million in discretionary dollars resulting in the completion of almost 433 miles of pavement preservation and rehabilitation projects throughout Sonoma County.
“Investments in ongoing road maintenance and capital improvements reduces maintenance liabilities, maximizes use of taxpayer dollars, improves public safety and improves access to services,” said Hopkins in a statement. “In alignment with Sonoma County’s five-year strategic plan for resilient infrastructure, this program funds large-scale paving and sealing projects, drainage improvements, vegetation removal, as well as upgrades to street signs and striping, with a focus on heavily traveled roads that are vital to local economic development, agriculture, recreation and tourism.”
The 2022 and 2023 approved projects were developed using the Road Evaluation Framework, which combines real-world observations with modeling software to help determine the most critical infrastructure needs and most efficient use of funds across an equitable distribution of repair work throughout the county. Candidate roads are identified based on roadway attributes including average daily traffic, pavement condition, relevance to bike and bus modes of travel and location relevant to access public safety facilities.
In December of 2020, the supervisors adopted the Infrastructure Resiliency Investment Plan and allocated $59.1 million in PG&E settlement funds to finance plan project costs. The plan is based on three tiers of projects to include fire-damaged roads, fire suppression and safety improvements and disaster preparedness and mitigation opportunity investments. The Sonoma Complex Fires of October 2017, including the Tubbs, Nuns and Pocket Fires, collectively burned 110,000 acres, destroyed 5,300 homes and took the lives of 24 Sonoma County residents, while damaging or destroying public infrastructure including roads, signs, retaining walls, guardrails, trees, and culverts.
Authorized Tier 2 repair projects using $20 million in PG&E settlement funds meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Ensure a useful life that exceeds 15 years.
- Stabilize, rehabilitate or enhance existing infrastructure in areas with physical constraints, such as one-way in/one-way out, narrow, and one-lane roads in high fire and flood-risk areas.
- Reduce or mitigate risks from disasters.
- Promote preparedness for disasters county-wide.
- Contribute to leveraging additional funding towards a bigger resilient generational project.
- Promote safety and welfare of the public.
County of Sonoma Department of Transportation and Public Works officials will provide an update to the supervisors on July 13 regarding the status of the reimbursement claim appeal submitted to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Tier 1 disaster-related road repairs. Department officials intend to request board authority to include these projects in the 2022 and 2023 Pavement Preservation Program.
The list and map of Pavement Preservation Program projects for 2022 and 2023, and the list and map of projects designated for completion through the use of PG&E settlement funds, are available here:
Date for district attorney recall election
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted to hold a countywide election on Sept. 14, 2021, to determine whether District Attorney Jill Ravitch should be recalled and who should replace her if a majority votes in favor of the recall.
The Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters Deva Marie Proto announced that declarations of candidacy forms for eligible candidates desiring to replace Ravitch may be obtained from and filed at the Registrar of Voters Office, 435 Fiscal Dr., Santa Rosa, CA, beginning at 8 a.m. on May 26, and no later than 5 p.m., July 1. Candidates interested in collecting signatures in lieu of the filing fee may pick up and file such papers beginning at 8 a.m. on May 26, and no later than 5 p.m., June 22.
The effort to recall Ravitch formally began on Oct. 22, 2020, when recall proponents filed a notice of intention to recall with the Registrar of Voters Office. On Nov. 10, 2020, the Registrar of Voters Office approved the recall petition for circulation and informed proponents they would need to gather 30,056 valid signatures by April 19 to qualify the recall for the ballot. On April 1, proponents filed the recall petition with the Registrar of Voters Office. It consisted of 43,316 face-value signatures.
Pursuant to California Elections Code §11225, the Registrar of Voters Office first checked a random sample of the submitted signatures. Based on the results of that sample, Registrar of Voters staff estimated that a full check would find 32,497 valid signatures, 108 percent of the minimum number needed. Since this percentage fell between 90 and 110, the Registrar of Voters Office was legally required to perform a full signature check of the petition, which it completed on May 11, 2021.
Ultimately, the Registrar of Voters Office found 32,128 of the signatures to be valid, more than 2,000 over the required threshold of 30,056. Therefore, Proto certified the recall petition as sufficient and on May 18, 2021, the Board of Supervisors formally approved the certificate of sufficiency.
The supervisors passed a resolution ordering that a recall election take place on Sept. 14. Proto had recommended the Sept. 14 date based on the anticipated workload of county elections staff, the crossover of election deadlines with those of other potential elections, predicted costs of holding the election on different dates and various other factors.
Due to the timing constraints of Elections Code §11242, it was not possible to reduce costs by consolidating the recall election with any other election, such as the Nov. 2 Consolidated District Election or the Gubernatorial Recall Election anticipated for later this fall.
The estimated cost to hold the upcoming election, based on current county registration numbers, is $2 to $3 per voter, or approximately $606,192 to $909,228. Some of the costs that go into the estimate include:
- Creating and printing ballots and voter information guides
- Increased payroll costs due to the hiring of polling place workers, temporary election workers and overtime hours
- Precinct supplies and transportation of those supplies
- Envelopes, labels, and letters printed for voters, districts, candidates and others
- Envelopes and labels for ballots
- Postage for outgoing ballots, return ballots, voter information guides and correspondence
- Information technology setup assistance and legal assistance
Costs are highly variable and depend on many factors, including the number of registered voters, the number of replacement ballots required, the number of ballots printed for each polling place, the number of signature cure letters needing to be sent, as well as the voter turnout and when and how ballots are returned.
Any questions about the Sept. 14 Special Recall Election should be directed to the Registrar of Voters Office by calling (707) 565-6800, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or visiting the Registrar of Voters Office in person at 435 Fiscal Dr., Santa Rosa. The office is open regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays) but has extended hours (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) on Sept. 14 (Election Day).
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, anyone visiting the office should plan to undergo a temperature reading, wear a face mask and practice social distancing.
This article was produced by SoCoNews. See more news at soconews.org