Board of Supervisors - District 1

Nevada County District I Quarterly

ISSUE 1                                                                                          APRIL  2018




Homeless individual asking for work

Homeless Strategy 

The issue of getting assistance and housing to our homeless population continues to be a challenge for the County, as it is across California.  I am pleased that we continued to make it a high priority for the County for 2018.  Much of last year involved hiring a Housing/Homeless Coordinator, applying for additional grants to fund specific projects, working to clarify and align our work with other agencies and non-profits with regard to roles and responsibilities, researching and expanding temporary housing options, and simply trying to keep up with critical clients who need repeat services. We have been able to better our partnership with Hospitality House for additional case management and secure funding for winter beds.  We have and continue to expand and better connect our services through continued collaboration and expansion with community partners, including remodeling BOST House that has 19 additional beds available to the homeless.

We were unable to resolve some of the most critical cases involving people with multiple needs and complications.  We also had additional glitches with regard to a warming center for the coldest and wettest winter days, but our goal is to have a clear agreement and services available for next season. We will continue to work on resolving these issues.  County staff are also analyzing the data that was collected during the Point In-time Count in late January to assess the homeless population in the County and to identify broad trends. 


"I am committed to continuing to work with County staff and my colleagues to do more, and better, to serve our homeless."


The challenge of meeting the needs of our homeless population will continue to stretch our abilities and resources.  However, we now have a solid Housing and Homeless Plan Draft with Goals, Objectives and a Timeframe.  This is something I have been advocating for since I came on the Board, so that we would have a clear and complete picture of the needs, even if we couldn’t meet them all with County services.  This will help us partner with others, which is essential, as no single agency has all the resources or capacity to meet this challenge.  It will also make it easier for us to apply for grants and other potential funding sources without needing to do multiple needs assessments. The Plan will address 1. Coordination of Services, 2. Expanding and Strengthening Emergency Shelter Options, 3. Implementing a Comprehensive Navigation Center Program, 4. Expanding our Housing Inventory and 5. Secure Additional Funding. The goals include implementing a coordinated multi-disciplinary homeless outreach and housing case management approach, a navigation center for day-services, implementing a housing first pilot program for the most vulnerable individuals, fully implementing a coordinated entry system, and including medical respite in our services. 

Many of us feel passionate about this issue, and it truly feels unconscionable that so many people in the country are surviving without homes or even temporary shelters.  The ultimate goal, to have everyone properly housed and with a full complement of needed services, is beyond the ability of any one city, county or non-profit.  Solutions are neither quick nor easy, but I am committed to continuing to work with County staff and my colleagues to do more, and better, to serve our homeless.


South Yuba River Public Safety Cohort 

South Yuba River Photo

Before taking office, my predecessor Nate Beason and District IV Supervisor Hank Weston convened an annual meeting just before the summer river season with a variety of public agencies and community stakeholders to discuss and strategize a coordinated effort for public safety enforcement and emergency response at Purdon Crossing. In the late spring of 2017, we again held several meetings to discuss how the County could coordinate its efforts with the various stakeholders in the Purdon Crossing area that included California State Parks, the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Sheriff’s Department, Cal FIRE, Nevada County Consolidated Fire District (NCCFD), South Yuba River Citizen’s League (SYRCL), the Lake Vera/Round Mountain Neighborhood Association and Friends of Purdon Crossing.

In strategizing ahead of this year’s river season, it became clear to me and Supervisor Weston that we were going to need to take a more aggressive approach to build a successful inter-agency coordinated strategy and that the public safety issues are not just isolated to the Purdon Crossing area but rather exist across the basin. Therefore, at the beginning of the year, well ahead of river season, we began holding a monthly meeting on the third Tuesday of the month identifying specific action items and deliverables.


"We...need to take a more aggressive approach to build a successful inter-agency coordinated strategy..."


The key challenges the group has identified that threaten public safety or impede emergency responders’ ability to quickly respond to an emergency include the following: lack of communication connectivity within the basin (no or limited cell phone coverage); illegal camping and campfires; illegal parking that can block emergency vehicles (fire trucks); barriers to cross agency enforcement (county code enforcement versus state law enforcement versus federal law enforcement); limited financial resources; and lack of public awareness and education on public safety.   As we have been meeting, we have invited new folks along the way that include the County’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), County Executive Office, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Public Works, County Superior Court, and Yuba Bus. The group, whom we now refer to as the Yuba River Public Safety Cohort, is working on several very important initiatives. While I am not able to report-out on everything the group is doing, here is a quick list of some of the most exciting initiatives:

  • Cross-Agency Enforcement Taskforce that will lead several strategic raids in various parts of the river throughout the season for increased ticketing of illegal activity.

  • Cross-Agency Memorandum of Understanding to allow for cross-agency ticketing and enforcement of local, state and federal laws.

  • Reviewing and researching how to increase parking fines for illegal parking in the river basin.

  • Researching both temporary and permanent solutions to increase telecommunication connectivity for both emergency responders and the public that may include mobile repeaters, installing emergency call boxes, and using satellite and other communication solutions.

  • Exploring and actively pursuing funding opportunities through state and federal agencies and grant opportunities.

  • Coordinating and developing a cross-agency public outreach campaign to better educate the public, including local residents and non-local residents on best practices to prevent, mitigate and respond to emergencies such as wildfire.

  • Mailing out informational notices to local property owners outlining their responsibilities to prevent wildfire. 

  • Exploring and furthering public and private partnerships to promote public safety at the river. 

Highway 174 sign

Highway 174 Caltrans Safety Improvement Project 

In the fall of last year, the Board heard presentations from Caltrans and the Save Highway 174 Community group on the proposed safety improvement project on Highway 174 that would cost taxpayers approximately $28.4 million. The purpose of the project was to improve safety conditions along the highway. The justification for the project arose out of a study Caltrans did that determined the fatal accident rate on Highway 174 was 5.6 times higher than the statewide average in comparison to similar stretches of road, and the total accident rate was 2.7 times the statewide average. However, the Save Highway 174 community group, consisting of about 150 affected property owners, residents and citizens of Nevada County, outlined many concerns over the project that would have a negative impact on the community.  They also focused on the lack of public involvement, transparency and responsiveness to the community’s concerns. The group suggested that Caltrans 1) reassess and revise the project by re-examining the safety data and verifying its safety statistics; 2) actively engage with the community over options on how to make the road safer; 3) consider scenic and historic resources as important values in the project’s design; 4) utilize and evaluate all options offered by FHWA Safety Countermeasures; and 5) conduct a phased or interim approach to the project. In response, the Board adopted Resolution 17-552 outlining the concerns over the project and requesting Caltrans to re-evaluate the project in coordination with the community.

Subsequently, the community group met with Caltrans several times to outline various technical solutions and recommendations that could address the safety issues on the road but have minimal impact on the surrounding area. On January 30, Caltrans presented to the community group proposed changes to the project that included: steepening fill slopes from 3:1 to 2:1; setting the Right of Way lines at the toe of the fill slopes instead of ten to fifteen feet away from the toe; steepening cut slopes from 2:1 to 1:1; using retaining walls in areas where 1:1 cut slopes would require more than ten feet vertical; and setting Right of Way lines at the top of the cut slope instead of ten to fifteen feet beyond. Upon close review of Caltrans’ proposed changes, the community group provided Caltrans with a detailed technical memorandum with their comments and suggestions for further design change recommendations; however, the group found that the proposed changes did address many of the community’s concerns. 

Highway 174 trees marked for cutting


This brings us to where we are today.

Caltrans is currently reviewing the community’s recommendations and has indicated that they have been able to implement many but not all of the group’s suggestions. They have explained that while they do not see eye to eye with all of the community’s requests, they do feel that they have conceded to some major compromises and are preparing a detailed letter outlining what can be implemented and what cannot. Joe Heckel of the Save Highway 174 community group recently met with me and explained that the closer Caltrans comes to incorporating the community’s recommendations into their revised design, the closer we can be to achieving a design that is acceptable to the community and a positive outcome for everyone. 

Nevada County Cannabis Conversation Logo

Cannabis

Last year was the year of public input in anticipation of implementing a sound and common sense cannabis ordinance that would meet the new State regulations legalizing cannabis, and would be adapted to meet the needs of Nevada County’s land use preferences. I have been following the data and listening to the voices of my constituents.  I believe that this County would be best served by a revised ordinance that allows for small scale legal cannabis cultivation, with reasonable regulations for those willing to enter the legal marketplace, tough penalties for large illegal grows, and taxation and reinvestment into the community by the cannabis industry. 

"The community has worked hard to put aside old ideas, collaborate, and agree to significant changes in how they do business..."

The road to get here has been rocky, and much is yet still to be decided and clarified.  I am heartened by the seriousness with which the Community Advisory Group (CAG) took its charge to educate themselves and collaborate to come up with majority recommendations.  It was the intent for this process to bring the community together and provide solid guidance to the Board for the direction it should be taking.  The roll-out of the issues for the Board to decide has been more complicated than I anticipated, and it has been difficult to align with some of the CAG recommendations.  While County Counsel is now working fast to create a draft ordinance for the Board to review in early May, there are still critical issues to decide, such as refining the details on the zones where growing would be allowed, and how to address the conflict between a full CEQA review with the needs of today’s farmers to get a local permit to meet the State law.  I am committed to trying to address these issues, and make adjustments or re-visit decisions, while continuing to see the ordinance draft move forward.

The community has worked hard to put aside old ideas, collaborate, and agree to significant changes in how they do business, and the  County needs to continue to provide leadership to move us forward. Creating a new law, with regulations to implement it, is a very heavy lift for any County.  We have set a good State-wide standard for how to include the community in decision-making, and my hope is that we will continue to be leaders in listening and working productively with an engaged community.  My goal, always, is to make Nevada County the best in what it is agreeing to do.  This means having the best cannabis ordinance, learning from the mistakes of others, being creative and forward-thinking in our approach, and being willing to review and revise what we might get wrong.

Please stay productively engaged with me in helping the County move forward.


ANNOUNCEMENTS


California State Association of Counties: Nevada County is a member of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) whose primary purpose is to represent County Governments before the California legislature, administrative agencies and Federal government to promote, protect and defend the interests of counties throughout the state. The organization was first formed in 1856 and formally established on May 15, 1911. The County leans on input from CSAC to identify legislation that can positively or negatively impact the County and lobbies on behalf of the County’s interest thereof. Our current Board Chair, Supervisor Ed Scofield sits on the CSAC Executive Committee as one of the two representatives for rural counties.

Additionally, Nevada County is a strong supporter for its senior and technology executive staff to enroll in the CSAC Institute of Excellence in County Government Credential Program which offers a variety of classes that provide county leadership with the tools and knowledge to meet the ever-changing demands of the communities, the ever-growing complexity of county business and economic and resource challenges for effective local services provided by local governments. CSAC also offers a credential program for California County Supervisors, which I am currently working on.

Most recently, I attended a CSAC seminar through the Institute’s “Emerging Issues” series on Homelessness in California Counties where I was presented on the various facets and different approaches to addressing homelessness, from decriminalization to treatment of root causes to prevention.  I was pleased to see that a number of Nevada County Executive leaders were in attendance as this is one of the core issues at stake in our own community.  


Dialogue with State: As your District Supervisor, my job is not only to help guide county policies but also to act as a watchdog to the State Legislature for issues that can impact the County. This means working with our CEO’s office and members of the community and professional associations to keep a close eye on legislative activities as they relate to our County and other rural counties alike. As such, in the past several months I have met with both California Senator Ted Gaines and Assemblyman Brian Dahle. Out of the many issues of importance to the County I have raised homelessness and affordable housing, fire prevention and emergency response, rural broadband, State grant funding challenges for rural counties, Caltrans Highway 174 project, cannabis regulation, and the need for increased funding for our local State Parks offices, amongst other topics.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with issues that you feel need to be raised at the State level. 


Committees and Commissions: Every year, each Nevada County District Supervisor is assigned by the Board Chair to sit on various committees and commissions. Currently, I sit on the Area 4 Agency on Aging Governing Board (A4AAGB), the Nevada County Mental Health Advisory Board (MHAB), the Solid & Hazardous Waste Commission (S&HWC) and the Yuba-Bear Watershed Council. I also sit as the alternate for District IV Supervisor on the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County and the Multi-Agency Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council.  

Most recently at the Nevada County Mental Health Advisory Board, on Friday April 6th, Caroline Hart was presented a Certificate of Recognition for her dedicated service to serving Nevada County’s Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) and our behavioral health community. Caroline was instrumental in the design and development of Nevada County’s CSU that opened in August 2016. As a team member of the Sierra Mental Health Wellness Group, she analyzed the initial plans and made helpful suggestions on its design and operation. Through her leadership, it is clear that Caroline generated a team atmosphere of mutual respect through her commitment to giving all of her clients the best possible services to promote and ensure their long term mental health sustainability. I thank her for her dedicated service and wish her the best in her future endeavors.




COUNTY SPOTLIGHT



Magnify Glass Photo


With every newsletter that I release, I am going to be highlighting a major initiative or project that is being undertaken at the County. The initiatives that I highlight may not be District I specific but will always be projects that are anticipated to have a sizable and lasting impact on the County as a whole.

 
This issue, I want to share with you the County’s budgeting process. Nevada County undergoes an extensive budgeting procedure where two members of the Board, the Chair and Vice Chair, sit on County’s Budget Subcommittee to individually meet with every County department to review their proposed budget, identify unmet needs and understand the major accomplishments of the previous year. This process is led the by County Executive Office (CEO) who oversees every service budget unit, line item by line item, to ensure fiscal transparency, sustainability, responsibility and that funding aligns with the Board’s annual priority objectives.
 



THE BOARD'S AGENDA & REQUESTS FOR ACTION


Board Chambers

How to submit an Item on the Board’s Agenda

Routinely, the Board receives public comments at our regular meetings requesting that the Board take up an item on its agenda for discussion and potential action. And while the Board Chair does consider every request, there is an established procedure that the public can follow to get an item considered for the agenda. First, it is strongly recommended that you first contact me, as your District Supervisor, to see if I am willing to carry the item before the Board. This will also help uncover any issues, questions or activities that need to be addressed beforehand. It is best to submit your request in writing, either by email or letter, stating the issue of concern and what you would like the Board to do.  More than likely, I will request to meet or discuss with you the matter and will at that time indicate how I am willing to move forward. If I am willing to carry the item forward, then the item will need to be approved by the Chair before it can be placed on the agenda.

However, if the item is not jurisdictional to my Supervisory District, you may need to send your request to the Chair or the Clerk of the Board. Please note that these types of requests should have support of some type or from the applicable County Department Head before it is considered for the agenda. For additional information, please contact the Clerk of the Board by calling 530-265-1480 or emailing
clerkofboard@co.nevada.ca.us

Shaking hands
Heidi Hall

Request for Action

District I Town Hall Meeting Survey 


As your District I Supervisor, I would like to invite you to reach out to me on the issues that are important to you and the community. I am also in the process of considering holding a Town Hall meeting and would like to know what topics and issues you would like to be addressed that relate to District I and the County as a whole. Please use the link above to complete a brief survey so that I can understand what is important to you for a Town Hall meeting.    Please feel free to also contact me by emailing heidi.hall@co.nevada.ca.us or calling me at 530-265-1480.  Moreover, please let me know if there are any events or community meetings that you think I should attend or be aware of.

I am pleased to continue to serve you for a second year and am eager to hear from you.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
 
Heidi Hall
Supervisor, District I  




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CONTACT:

Supervisor Heidi Hall
Nevada County, District I 
950 Maidu  Avenue,Suite 200
Nevada City, CA 95959
Heidi.Hall@co.nevada.ca.us

(p) 530-265-1480
(f) 530 - 265-9836

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