What Does a County Supervisor Do?
I am often asked, “What does a County Supervisor do?” It’s a great question. Most people aren’t familiar with the full scope of services provided by Contra Costa County and the role of County Supervisor. Our County has approximately 1.1 million residents, includes 19 incorporated cities, and spans across 804 square miles. The 5-Member Board of Supervisors I serve on meets most Tuesday mornings at 9:00 a.m. in our County Administration Building at 651 Pine Street. Our meetings are open to the public and can be viewed online or on TV at Contra Costa Television (CCTV). We oversee a budget of $3.5 billion.
Our County is divided into 5 districts. Every 10 years following the census the County is redistricted by population. I represent District 2, which includes the cities of San Ramon, Danville, Walnut Creek (partial), Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda. Some of the larger unincorporated communities in District 2 include Alamo, Parkmead, Saranap and Canyon. Blackhawk, Diablo and the Tassajara Valley are also unincorporated communities but are part of District 3, represented by Supervisor Diane Burgis. After the 2020 census we will be redistricting again.
The City and Town Councils in District 2 do an outstanding job running their communities. They make decisions about planning, housing, economic development, parks, recreation, community events, infrastructure, roads, transportation, and police services. The County Board of Supervisors makes these same decisions for unincorporated communities. In Alamo I’m fortunate to have a Municipal Advisory Council (MAC), made up of Alamo residents who make recommendations to me about all issues affecting Alamo. The Alamo MAC meets each month on the first Tuesday of the month at the Alamo Women’s Club at 6:00 p.m. Their meetings are also open to the public.
The County provides many services that cities do not. These include: Airports, Agriculture, Animal Services, Assessor, Child Support Services, Clerk-Recorder, Coroner, County Hospital and Health Clinics, District Attorney, Elections, Environmental Health, Emergency Medical services, Hazardous Materials, Iron Horse Trail Management, Jails, Library System, Mental Health, Probation, Public Defender, Public Health, Sheriff, Tax Collection, Veterans Services and Weights & Measures.
The County is also the “safety net” for individuals and families in crisis. Services assisting people include areas such as Adult Protective Services, Child Protective Services, Cal Fresh (Food Stamps), Cal Works, Head Start Pre-School Programs, Homeless Services, Medi-Cal Health Services, Foster Care and Adoption.
Each Member of the Board of Supervisors serves on several standing committees. I currently serve on our Internal Operations; Family and Human Services; Transportation, Water and Infrastructure; and Hiring and Outreach committees. Other committees include Airport, Finance, Legislation and Public Protection. We rotate these sub-committee assignments each year. All of us serve on the County’s Housing Authority. These meetings are also open to the public and agendas can be found on the County’s website www.cccounty.us.
Ensuring fiscal responsibility is something everyone on the Board of Supervisors takes very seriously. We continue to have a structurally balanced budget and keep a prudent reserve. I serve on our Contra Costa County Employee’s Retirement Association (CCCERA) and work with that board to ensure that there are no pension abuses and that we are appropriately funded. When I took office it 2012 our pensions were only 69% funded. We are currently 86% funded and are planning for further stability in the future.
The County works cooperatively with cities on traffic and transportation issues. We have a Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) where representatives from our cities and the County make decisions about how to address traffic and infrastructure issues as we allocate Federal, State, and local dollars. The Southwest Area Transportation Committee (SWAT) takes a deeper dive in identifying and prioritizing our local transportation needs. I serve on SWAT with council members from San Ramon, Danville, Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda.
The Tri-Valley Transportation Council decides how to allocate developer traffic impact fees. I serve on this with City Council members from Danville, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore, along my counterpart from Alameda County.
Improving transit is another priority. I serve on the County Connection (Bus) Board of Directors with City representatives from San Ramon, Danville, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Walnut Creek, Concord, Clayton, Pleasant Hill and Martinez. In the San Ramon Valley we have Traffix, a program that reduces traffic congestion around our schools by providing school busses to those areas most impacted. I serve on this board with members of the Danville and San Ramon City Councils, along with members from the San Ramon Unified School District Board of Education.
Planning and land use decisions are made both locally and regionally. I serve on the Contra Costa County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) with city and citizen representatives. It is responsible for overseeing most forms of local government boundary change, including incorporation, annexations and special district formations.
In the San Ramon Valley we also have a Dougherty Valley Oversight Committee, made up of myself, Supervisor Burgis, and representatives from Danville and San Ramon to ensure that the Dougherty Valley/Windemere is developed as was agreed to by our agencies in the Dougherty Valley Settlement Agreement.
The County also works regionally with cities and other Counties to look at planning and transportation for the entire Bay Area. County Supervisor Karen Mitchoff and I serve on the Executive Board of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), and Supervisor Federal Glover serves on the Metropolitan Transportation Council (MTC).
Keeping our communities safe is a paramount concern for all of us. In the San Ramon Valley we have a Citizens Corps Council that meets quarterly to plan for disasters and expand our citizens’ emergency preparedness. Our next Emergency Preparedness Fair will be on September 29 at San Ramon’s Central Park. I serve on this with members from the Danville and San Ramon City Councils, board members from the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, and members of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District Board.
The East Bay Regional Communications Systems Authority was formed in 2007 to help our first responders communicate in a disaster. Forty-three agencies now have radios that are state of the art and can communicate with one another. I serve on this board along with other city and county representatives from Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
With the exception of San Ramon, our garbage and recycling in District 2 is overseen through “Recycle Smart,” the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority. I serve on this Joint Powers Authority with members of city councils from Danville, Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda. We set rates and make decisions about our haulers, recyclers, and programs to reduce the amount of garbage being dumped into our landfills.
Fire Services are provided by independent special districts. San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District (SRVFPD) has its own elected Board of Directors and they provide both fire and emergency medical services to the residents of San Ramon, Danville and most of Alamo. The Moraga-Orinda Fire District, with its own directly elected board provides the same for Moraga and Orinda. Contra Costa Fire Protection District provides fire and emergency medical services for Lafayette, Walnut Creek, and other cities in Central Contra Costa. Even though it’s also an independent special district, my Board of Supervisors serves as its directors. Other Fire Districts in the County that are not part of District 2 include East Contra Costa Fire Protection District, Rodeo-Hercules Fire District, and the City of Pinole Fire Department.
Water and sewer services are also provided by independent special districts with their own directly elected boards of directors. Most of the water in District 2 is provided by East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). Zone 7 provides the water to parts of the Dougherty Valley in San Ramon. Sewer services are provided by Central Contra Costa Sanitary District (Central San) to most of District 2, and by Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) to southern San Ramon.
Schools are also separately run districts, with their own elected Boards of Education. While the County works cooperatively with them and the County Office of Education on many issues, they are autonomous. The school districts in District 2 include: San Ramon Valley Unified, Orinda Union, Lafayette, Accalanes Union High School, and Walnut Creek Elementary School Districts.
As you can see, our great quality of life in Contra Costa County doesn’t “just happen,” but it’s through the efforts of the County, Cities and other agencies all working together cooperatively. If you would like to get more involved, both the County and our Cities have opportunities to serve on commissions and boards. We post these openings on our websites and are always looking for dedicated volunteers who want to give back.