Efforts to help homeless people, expenditures for new law enforcement vehicles, and more money for illegal cannabis grow eradications were among the issues that came before the five elected members of the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday in San Andreas.

A presentation on the Calaveras County Homeless Task Force was the first update for the Board of Supervisors since the task force was formed in May this year, said Kristin Brinks, the county Health and Human Services director.

“We want to make sure we’re very transparent,” Brinks said during a break. “We’re not making randomly or emotionally developed responses.”

Hundreds in need

There were more than 800 unduplicated Homeless MediCal and CalWORKS recipients in Calaveras County in 2017-18, according to county Health and Human Services data. More than 500 of them were age 35 and younger.

The county Homeless Task Force was formed seven months ago to share existing resources and address gaps in services by developing and implementing more countywide solutions to serve Calaveras County residents who lack stable housing, county staff said.

Causes of homelessness in Calaveras County include loss of employment, lack of affordable housing, drug and alcohol abuse, and physical or mental illness, Brinks said in her presentation.

“Because of the complexities of this issue, solutions to homelessness need to cross many public policy areas from housing, land use, health, social services, mental health, criminal justice and beyond,” Brinks said.

Potential geographic reasons for homelessness in Calaveras County include that it’s part of California, the state with the largest homeless population nationwide, with housing costs 47 percent above the national average and income 18 percent above the national average; it’s close to the Bay Area, one of the most expensive areas to live nationwide; it has 32 percent of all housing units vacant and not available to rent or purchase, compared with the 7 percent statewide average; and the 2015 Butte Fire that burned 70,868 acres, destroyed 921 structures including 549 homes, 368 outbuildings and four commercial properties, damaged 44 structures and resulted in two civilian fatalities.

Stakeholders invited to take part in the county Homeless Task Force include the business community, city partners in Angels Camp, community-based organizations, the county administrative office, planning department, building department, environmental management agency, Office of Emergency Services, Sheriff’s Office and probation department, employment and training providers, faith-based organizations, the healthcare community, homeless community members and advocates, the county Office of Education, local tribal partners and the U.S. Forest Service.

The presentation by Brinks was an informational item.

More funding requested for law enforcement

In other business, the county administrative office asked the Board of Supervisors to authorize spending $137,200 for four brand new Ford F-150 Police Responder trucks for the Sheriff’s Office.

County staff noted the current final adopted budget for the Sheriff’s Office includes acquisition of four of the vehicles, complete with unspecified “necessary equipment and communications outfitting.”

The Ford F-150 Police Responder is described by county staff as a “police pursuit-rated” vehicle, new to the market in 2017. The Sheriff’s Office got informal quotes from three Ford Dealers in Sacramento, Stockton and Folsom, and Folsom Lake Ford of Folsom came back with the lowest price of $34,300 per truck, excluding sales tax, tire fees, and license/document fees.

The Board of Supervisors — Gary Tofanelli, Jack Garamendi, Mike Oliveira, Dennis Mills and Clyde Clapp — voted 5-0 to approve the spending.

The Sheriff’s Office also asked the Board of Supervisors to approve an amendment to a services agreement to pay an additional $75,000 to a Sutter Creek company called Dirty Werks for cannabis eradication and abatement services. The request also asked for approval of a budget transfer from county contingency funds to cover the costs for the sheriff’s Marijuana Enforcement Team.

Bill McManus, chairman of the Committee to Ban Commercial Cultivation of Marijuana in Calaveras County, asked for statistics that will show how many grows have been eradicated and abated, and by which agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office, county Code Enforcement, state and federal abatements, and self-abatements.

“I’d like to request more funding so we can get this cleaned up,” McManus said.

Marti Crane, a former candidate for District 5 supervisor, asked the current board members, “How are you going to pay for this? Now we know. You’re taking it out of contingency.”

Mike Falvey, a longtime Mountain Ranch resident who recently moved to Mokelumne Hill to get away from pot growers, told the board, “I’m not involved in the cannabis industry, but I am now because you’re affecting my pocketbook. I don’t want to keep giving you guys money for cleanups when you could have generated that money yourselves. Any way you look at it, it’s coming out of our pockets, all of us taxpayers.”

Falvey was talking about the current board’s split 3-2 vote in January this year to ban commercial cannabis activities in Calaveras County, a move that growers and advocates say wiped out $13 million in tax revenues and fees paid by 500 registered, legal pot farmers.

Capt. Jim Macedo with the Sheriff’s Office said his department has done 52 eradications since the ban took full effect in June. For other abatements and further statistics, including voluntary abatements, Macedo recommended the board request a future study session.

“What we’re asking for, $75,000, should take us to the end of this fiscal year, to July when people will start growing again,” Macedo said.

The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to approve the Sheriff’s Office request.

When the board split on the ban in January, Dennis Mills, District 4, Clyde Clapp, District 5, and Gary Tofanelli, District 1, voted for the ban. Jack Garamendi, District 2, and Mike Oliveira, District 3, opposed it.

Calaveras County government offices will be closed Wednesday in step with President Donald J. Trump’s declared national day of mourning, for the death of former President George H.W. Bush. County essential services will continue to operate, according to the county administrative office. Essential services to be staffed include the Sheriff’s Office, snow removal and emergency road workers, and county landfills and transfer stations.

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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