County staff had proposed increasing the medical marijuana card fees to ensure program costs are covered, as required by state law. The fees have not been adjusted since 2005, a year after the ID card program was established to help law enforcement and qualified patients by creating a uniform form of identification throughout the state.
The Board considered a request to increase fees from $23.50 to $32.50 for Medi-Cal beneficiaries and from $47 to $65 for all others. Deciding that the increase for Medi-Cal beneficiaries may be too burdensome, the Board asked for additional options from staff to be taken up again at a later date. The state portion of the fee ($33 and $66, respectively) would remain unchanged.
In other actions, San Quentin – the peninsular neighborhood, not the federal prison – escaped “priority development area” designation in the Bay Area Sustainable Communities Strategy. Some 1,500 homes are in the peninsula neighborhood, but the supervisors rejected the designation for future incentive-based planning grants and local transportation funding.
Several reasons were given: opposition from environmental groups concerned about an end-run around community planning, a lack of stakeholders’ input on the issue, and the fact that the County’s Vision Plan for the San Quentin area, finalized in 2003, needs revisiting. The possibility remains open for reapplying for PDA status once a more thorough community consensus has been conducted.
In budget matters, the board took several steps to allocate $14.8 million in funds that were left over from the County’s last fiscal year, largely due to reimbursements from other agencies. Acting on staff recommendation, the board allocated $2 million for road and storm damage repairs; $5 million to further address the County’s unfunded liability toward retiree health care; and $611,000 to the County’s vehicle replacement reserve. An additional $7.2M would be reserved for future uncertainties and high priority one-time projects.
Staff also recommended, and the board accepted, that the previously adopted 5-year road and bridge repair plan be accelerated to a 3-year time line, which would increase the County’s annual contribution from $5 million per year to approximately $8.5 million per year.
Other needs, such as assistance to local child care centers which have been cut by the State, homelessness, and housing will be addressed during the Board of Supervisors’ budget hearings in April.
Other board action included the expected dissolution of the county Redevelopment Agency, as required by State Supreme Court; the reduction of certain property-owner fees resulting from streamlined permitting process; and the appointment of Charles Higgins, Executive Director of Slide Ranch in Muir Beach, and Larry Kennings of Mill Valley are the new Commissioners County Parks and Open Space Commission. One additional at-large vacancy remains to be filled.
Next Board of Supervisors meeting will be February 28; there is no meeting next week.