The Weekly Roundup, June 26, 2020
Friday, June 26, 2020 | What’s Doing in Lafayette?
Publication Note: In observance of the Independence Day holiday, the Weekly Roundup will not be published next week. Have a great 4th of July!
Lafayette City Council Task Force on Racial Equality Formed
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, the Lafayette City Council took several steps to begin addressing issues related to racial equality. On Monday, the Council adopted a proclamation condemning the murder of Mr. Floyd and resolved to make the work of restoring residents’ confidence in their government and law enforcement an enduring priority and to significantly measure its competence and effectiveness. The Council’s Public Safety Committee met to address questions on police policies and procedures and it plans to hold a Town Hall meeting soon to further discuss policing in Lafayette. However, on Wednesday, July 1, at 6:00 p.m., a newly created Council task force will discuss ways to effect change and action in the area of racial equality in Lafayette. You can join the meeting and provide your comment on Zoom by following this link. You can also connect by telephone at +1 253 215 8782 or +1 301 715 8592, followed by entering Webinar ID 874 0196 8792 and the # sign. If needed, the password is 911212. You can also watch the meeting on the City’s YouTube Channel. Read the Agenda here.
Contra Costa County Reevaluating Covid-19 Reopening Timeline
Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) today, Friday, June 26, announced that it was evaluating whether the county should continue its current reopening timeline, due to recent data showing Covid-19 activity is increasing in the community. CCHS is closely monitoring key data indicators that show how the virus is spreading in the county and will announce a decision about the timeline Monday. During the past seven days, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals in the county has increased 42%.
The seven-day average number of newly identified Covid-19 cases has increased from 39 a day to 68 a day. The positivity rate of test results – the percentage of Covid-19 tests that came back positive – has also increased. This suggests the change is not simply due to more testing, but indicates a true increase in community spread. There is a shift with more young people testing positive. In June, 55% of cases were 40 years and under compared to 38% for that group in April. This is a sign that younger people are playing a major role in driving the increase in new cases and potentially infecting vulnerable individuals. This highlights why it is important for everyone to avoid social gatherings, observe physical distancing and wear masks or face coverings when around others.
CCHS encourages all residents to get tested. Increased testing for Covid-19 is a critical part of the community effort to slow local spread of the virus, and necessary to continue reopening in the future. Contra Costa’s data are consistent with increases in Covid-19 activity now being experienced in communities across the state and the nation. There is concern that these increases may lead to a surge in very ill people that could overwhelm the local healthcare system. We realize many people are eager to resume normal activities. However, if we adjust the reopening timeline, it will be because we have a chance to prevent the pandemic from getting out of control in the county.
Any change to the timeline would immediately affect businesses and activities that are currently scheduled to resume July 1, including indoor dining, bars, gyms, hotels, and some personal care services, including nail salons and tattoo parlors. CCHS released this information today to provide businesses and residents as much time as possible to prepare for a potential change to the timeline.
With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, CCHS also reminds everyone that it’s a healthy choice to observe physical distancing when outside the home – maintain six feet of space whenever possible – and to wear face coverings. Anyone who feels sick should stay home. People should also wash their hands frequently.
Terraces of Lafayette Update: 5pm Planning Commission Meeting on Tuesday
The Planning Commission and Transportation & Circulation Commission held a joint session public hearing on January 21, 2020. You can find the agenda, staff report, minutes, and meeting audio on the City's Public Meetings web page here. The City had anticipated a second Planning Commission meeting on the Terraces of Lafayette application on April 27, 2020. This meeting would provide the Commission with the Addendum to the certified Environmental Impact Report and a staff report on the project. To allow the City’s consultant and staff time to complete the Addendum and staff report, the matter was rescheduled to May 18, 2020. The Addendum and staff report were published on the City’s web site on May 4, 2020, here. Links to the Addendum, plans, and related documents can be found at the end of the staff report.
On May 18, 2020, the Planning Commission held a nearly seven-hour public hearing which concluded with the Commission voting to continue the matter to June 15, 2020, and directing staff to provide additional information regarding traffic impact analysis and potential impacts on emergency evacuations. Staff and the City’s consultants worked diligently to prepare the requested information and additional time was required to complete the task. Therefore, the Terraces of Lafayette was not discussed by the Planning Commission on June 15, 2020; the matter was continued to a special Planning Commission meeting on Monday, June 29, 2020.
At the direction of the Mayor, the hearing date was continued to a special meeting the following day, Tuesday, June 30 at 5:00 p.m., see details below. The early start time will ensure the Commission has adequate time to receive all public comments, deliberate, and render a decision. Consistent with the Brown Act, the City’s past practice has provided the opportunity for members of the public to comment on any item on the agenda. While the Planning Commission closed the public hearing on May 18, 2020, it did not take action on the application at that time. Therefore, members of the public will be able to provide additional comments to the Planning Commission on June 30 by using the link published in the meeting agenda
The materials for the June 30, 2020 meeting can be found here. If you would like to receive notification of meetings on the Terraces of Lafayette project before any of the City’s hearing bodies, please visit the City's e-notification page and check off “Project – Terraces of Lafayette.” If you have any questions, please contact Lafayette’s Planning and Building Director, Greg Wolff, at (925) 299-3204.
FCC Grants Lafayette an Emergency AM Radio Station License
1670 kHz. Remember that frequency. It could save your life. With wildfire season approaching, the City of Lafayette is establishing an emergency AM radio station to broadcast public information – and in times of emergency, evacuation, and other life-saving instructions to the community. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission granted Lafayette a radio station license to operate an emergency AM radio station on a frequency of 1670 kHz. The station, which has a call sign of WRHU776, will provide a range of information for residents, travelers, and the Lamorinda community, the most important of which will be emergency information in times of disaster, wildfire outbreaks, or PG&E power outages.
The idea for the City’s emergency AM radio station grew out of a discussion of how best to communicate vital information during power outages when cell phones and the internet may not be working. Virtually every resident in Lafayette has access to an AM radio receiver (typically in a vehicle) which has battery power that can last for weeks. The City’s emergency AM station will cover an area of three to five miles, including highway 24, and will be promoted via road signs, social media, and general public information efforts so that the frequency is known to residents in advance of an emergency.
During non-emergencies, the station will carry general City of Lafayette information, including road closures, meeting announcements, details on events and programs, and general visitor information about Lafayette. Should the National Weather Service issue a weather-related or other emergency warning, it will be broadcast automatically on the station. We are hoping that the station will be on the air in August. Watch this space for updates. Don’t forget: 1670 kHz.
Childcare Offerings at the Lafayette Community Center
The City of Lafayette safely and successfully launched the Community Center Care program in June, and now they are applying those procedures to popular offerings such as Camp Awesome, Skyhawks Sports, Carpentry, and Tiny Tots Preschool. Camps are no longer limited to essential workers, so anyone can participate in the summer offerings at the Community Center and Buckeye Fields. From parking to pick-up, this video will help you and your camper learn more about what a typical day of summer camp might look like. https://youtu.be/Xw5ahF02D7g
Contra Costa County Office of Education and Contra Costa Television Team Up to Support Distance Learning with Televised Elementary Math Lessons
To support distance learning instruction in mathematics and address learning loss during the shelter-in-place and summer months, the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and Contra Costa Television (CCTV), are teaming up to provide grade-specific math lessons Monday – Friday, beginning June 29 on the county’s public access education channel (edTV). edTV can be seen throughout most of Contra Costa County on Comcast Cable Ch. 32 and AT&T U-Verse Ch. 99.
Video math lessons for grades Kindergarten through Five open with a “Number Talk” followed by a lesson and practice provided courtesy of Khan Academy. The lessons range in duration from 10 minutes to 15 minutes depending on the grade level, and are offered in English and Spanish. The balance of each half-hour time block will be filled with local programming provided by Contra Costa Library Services and East Bay Regional Parks.
Each morning’s programming will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a brief introduction by Contra Costa County Superintendent, Lynn Mackey, followed by CCCOE’s own Betty McPeak (Turner School Special Education Program, Antioch) providing a 15-20 minute “morning circle time” designed for pre-k through third-grade students with special needs. In addition, there will be early afternoon educational programming for older students, including STEM in 30, National Arts Gallery, and Food Kids. The math programming schedule begins Monday, June 29, as follows:
- 8:30 a.m. / Introduction by Lynn Mackey, Circle Time with Betty McPeak
- 9:00 a.m. / Kindergarten (English/Spanish)
- 9:30 a.m. / Grade 1 (English/Spanish)
- 10:00 a.m. / Grade 2 (English/Spanish)
- 10:30 a.m. / Grade 3 (English/Spanish)
- 11:00 a.m. / Grade 4 (English/Spanish)
- 11:30 a.m. / Grade 5 (English/Spanish)
Better still, lessons will repeat each afternoon starting at 2:00 p.m., and will also be available on CCCOE’s YouTube channel.
From the Superintendent: The Schools Report
Are you interested in becoming a School Board Member? The Lafayette School District has two Governing Board seats up for election November 3, 2020. These seats are each a four-year term. To learn more about the role of a governing board member, please contact the School District’s Sharon Carman at (925) 927-3502 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and find out how you can attend a virtual workshop about the School Board on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, at 5:30 p.m.
Lafayette Partners in Education Executive Director Retires After 21 Years
For 40 years, the public schools in Lafayette have benefitted from the financial support of Lafayette Partners in Education, formally Lafayette Arts & Science Foundation. One of the key pillars of the foundation over the past 21 years has been Myrna Kimmelman, the outgoing Executive Director, who is retiring at the end of this month. Myrna is the only fulltime employee and part of a small staff that is under the direction of the volunteer LPIE Board. But, it really has been Myrna, leading the way, who has been the driving force responsible for much of the growth of the organization. This past year, LPIE raised $4.2 million for the six public schools in town. That amount of money dramatically changes the landscape for our classrooms and enables our schools to remain top-performing year after year. In fact, under her leadership, the foundation has raised a total of $36 million, which is truly remarkable!
When Myrna was first hired in 1999, it was a part-time job with the title of Program Director. In those first years, she spent most of her time organizing the delivered programs in the classroom, defining board roles, and setting up procedures for the foundation. Nevertheless, the evolution of LPIE also meant an evolution in job responsibilities for Myrna. Ten years into her tenure, there was a major shift in the fundraising model amongst the schools and the foundation. This was an exciting time because money could be raised more efficiently and those funds could be directed to where they were needed the most when LPIE became the main fundraising vehicle for the schools. Through this change, as well as through other challenges, Myrna worked tirelessly to improve the non-profit in order to meet the ever-growing needs of the schools. All of us in Lafayette are truly are grateful for all that Myrna has done for this community.
Read All About It: Events at the Library
Learning to be anti-racism starts at home and your Lafayette Library can help with a selection of books for families to start the discussion on race and activism with young children. June has been Pride Month, and you will find a selection of books at the Library that celebrate diversity. Visit www.ccclib.org to learn more. Remember: "Support your Library...Shop (when it reopens) at Friends Corner Book Shop!"
White Pony Express Distributes Thousands of Food Boxes in Our Community
Just weeks ago, hundreds of tons of fresh produce were rotting in farmers’ fields due to Covid-19’s impact on the restaurant and hotel industries. Meanwhile millions of people without jobs were struggling to find food. White Pony Express, among the largest food rescue non-profit organizations in northern California, experienced this disruption in the food chain firsthand. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quickly set up an emergency program called “Farmers to Families Food Box” to help farmers, food distributors, and hungry families. Now, two food distributors are shipping thousands of these food boxes to White Pony Express (WPE) for day-of distribution to homeless shelters, senior centers, churches, and schools serving low-income children and their families.
Two food distributors, Vesta Foodservice of Hayward and CDS Distributing, located in South San Francisco, named White Pony Express as a nonprofit who would receive their food boxes. The Vesta food boxes include fruit, vegetables, butter, cheese, yogurt, and milk. The CDS boxes contain fresh carrots, romaine hearts, apples, oranges, potatoes, and onions. Since Covid-19 hit, and due to partnerships like these, WPE has been able to distribute three times as much food per day to feed the growing number of hungry people. Each week, White Pony Express is receiving about 36,000 lb. of food in the food boxes from Vesta and CDS combined.
In almost 7 years, WPE has rescued and delivered more than 11.3 million pounds of fresh, nutritious food, free of charge that would otherwise have gone to waste. This is equivalent to 9,400,000 meals prepared. For more information on WPE, visit www.whiteponyexpress.org.
Assistance League of Diablo Valley Awards $134,750 in Scholarships
Since 1999, the Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s Scholarships Program, co-chaired by Lesley Salo and Cindi Segale, has provided financial and emotional support to high school, community college, university students, and returnees to the academic community. Each applicant has expressed a desire to advance through education by maintaining a designated grade point average, volunteering in campus and community projects, and charting an academic timeline. As in previous years, worthy candidates documented both their academic and community achievements with transcripts and letters of recommendation. However, the interview phase, which gives the Scholarships Committee members invaluable insights as to how these aspiring anthropologists, engineers, nurses, performing artists, and physicians have defied overwhelming challenges to realize their dreams, was absent due to the Covid-19 virus.
The 2020 Scholarships recipients from Contra Costa County high schools include Arine Kim, Jeana Lee, Kristen Ly, Kayla Munguia, Ngoc Nguyen, Abigail Rickli, Avery Rickli and Nanthaya Verweij. Foster Youth Scholarships are awarded to Christiana Aranda, Taylor Bazile, Miah Cole, Severine Crouse, Dwayna Dixon and Kimberly Lechuga. Scholarships awardees who are graduating from Contra Costa County Community Colleges and transferring to 4-year universities are Isabella Davis, Yijing Hu, Gerberth Lopez Mendez, and Socoro Tamayo-Perez. To learn more about the Scholarships program, as well as Assistance League of Diablo Valley’s other philanthropic programs, please visit this website: assistanceleague.org/diablo-valley.
- Con Fire Reminds You to Be Safe & Sane This Independence Day: Remember that with this prolonged warm, dry and windy weather fireworks and extremely dangerous. Not only that, all fireworks – repeat, all fireworks – are illegal in Lafayette and all of Contra Costa County. Con Fire urges residents to avoid the use of any fireworks during this period of high fire danger. Report any fireworks use to local law enforcement agency. Be safe this 4th!
- Who Wants to Run For Office? Candidate filing for November elections begins July 13 for school (see also above), community college, and special districts in Contra Costa County, and runs to August 7, 2020. If you want your name to appear on the November 2020 ballot, now is the time to file! Find out more here.
- Census Progress: Due to the work of community partners, Contra Costa County has the second-highest self-response rate (SRR) in CA as of 6.24.20! And, the following cities and neighborhoods have surpassed their 2010 SRR results. Let’s continue to push the response rates higher and higher! The top five cities are Clayton, Danville, Lafayette, Martinez, and Oakley. You can find the entire Contra Costa County SRR report here.
- Town Hall Live on the Town Hall Theatre Facebook Page Every Thursday at 7:00 p.m.: This Thursday, July 2, it’s James Funk, the current lead vocalist for the local classic pop band "The Dawdlers," the former “Paul guy” in the Beatles tribute band, "The Sun Kings." Jim is a clear tenor singer of great (and often British) pop songs, from The Beatles to Crowded House to Keane. Tune in on Thursday.
- Lafayette’s Business Assistance Program: The City of Lafayette has collaborated with the Chamber of Commerce and Townsend Public Affairs to launch the Lafayette Business Assistance Program, a way for Lafayette businesses and non-profits to get help on Small Business Administration (SBA) loan and grant applications. The City designed the program to make it as easy as possible for our businesses to get the support they need during the Covid-19 crisis. Find out more about the Lafayette Business Assistance program and how you can benefit on the City's webpage here.
- Contacting the City: During the Covid-19 emergency, City offices are being staffed virtually weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and staff is monitoring telephone lines, email, and social media. Here is a list of how to reach City departments: https://bit.ly/LafayetteCovid-19Contact. Get the latest Covid-19 Information & Resources.
Repaving Projects Coming to Town in August
Beginning in August, the City of Lafayette will be repaving portions of Acalanes Road, St. Mary's Road, Beechwood Drive, and Reliez Valley Road. The work will take place from Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and conclude at the end of October. Due to the ongoing public gathering restrictions, our usual open house meeting has been replaced by an informational video presentation. This presentation is an opportunity for residents to learn how the construction project may affect existing frontage improvements, as well as street access and traffic flow during construction. Please email City Engineer Matt Luttropp at email@example.com if you have any questions regarding this project.
In keeping with the County Public Health Order, Lafayette’s public meetings are held via Zoom teleconference. We will notify you of meetings and provide agendas and instructions on how to contribute public comment and participate in the meetings. You can sign up for meeting notices here. To view all of next week’s public meetings please visit our full calendar. This Tuesday:
- Planning Commission-Special Meeting, Tuesday, June 30, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Location: Remote meeting via Zoom Webinar and the City of Lafayette’s YouTube Channel. For instructions on how to participate in the meeting and submit public comment, please click here. Read the Agenda and Staff Reports.
Photo for the Week
Artichoke Thistles are in flower along the Lafayette-Moraga Trail, as you can see in this lovely photograph sent to us by Ann Burns.
Poem for the Week
once was two words
divided by a gentle gap
the “a” and the “f.”
Though now one word,
can still be found
in a woodsy nook
of open space.
There, a plank of knotted pine,
is strung with mossy rope
from an ancient oak,
whose weathered branch
the long arm of time.
This swing has swung
rocking in tempo
to the woes or giggles
of its riders.
The children grow,
the town changes,
but the swing hangs
with its timeless offer
of a resting space
in bucolic LaFayette.
-Chrissa Ventrelle, inspired by the swing in the open space behind the Community Center. Chrissa is a writer/poet who has lived in Lafayette since 2005. Her family is moving to Las Vegas next month and she says she will miss the community a lot. Find more of her poetry on Instagram @whatnatureknows.
The Roundup is prepared each week for the Lafayette Community, City Council, and Staff. If you have thoughts about this week’s Roundup or a contribution for next week’s edition, please email the City of Lafayette's Communications Analyst, Jeff Heyman. Subscribe to the Weekly Roundup and learn more about Lafayette’s publications and social media sites here.