As we zoom right into to 2021 and reflect on the past year, I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve. I stand in awe of the resilience of the people of Yolo County. Your District 2 Supervisor team of Tara Thronson and Sara Simmons have worked hard with all our county and community friends and colleagues this past year to be accessible and responsive. I am grateful for their dedication.
I want to share some highlights of our shared work in 2020.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com to share your thoughts on these topics or other matters.
In shared service,
Acme Theatre Company Participants & Alumni at Soup's On 2020
It's amazing what a community can do when we do it together! In Yolo County, we celebrate and nurture the power of community. Throughout 2020 we continued to weave the fabric that holds us together. I believe we have grown stronger in 2020. Here are a few District 2 community highlights.
It seems so long ago now, but on January 30, 2020, we hosted our 16th annual Soup's On event. This year, we raised over $47,000 to support the youth development work of Acme Theatre Company, a youth-run, non-profit theatre company. Over the history of Soup's On, we’ve raised over $300,000 for local nonprofit organizations. This could not have been possible without the many business partners and community sponsors. Many of these benefactors have faced incredible challenges this year. Soup's On is going on the back burner for 2021, but I hope you will consider lending your support to our Soup's On family. Our local businesses and nonprofits continue to need our support in these challenging times. Click here to learn about our generous donors and here to learn about past Soup's On beneficiaries.
Launched in March 2020, the ApoYolo Project, in partnership with the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network, has provided rental assistance and wrap-around support to 65 Spanish-speaking immigrant families in Davis and Winters. These families are often left out from government funded relief.
The COVID-19 Yolo Community Response group was developed by community members in order to keep Yolo County residents informed of resources, services, government announcements, and facts regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The group works to connect individuals, organizations, and local businesses seeking assistance with community support during this pandemic.
The Yolo County Mask-Making for COVID-19 group is a collection of over 400 Yolo County residents who have organized mask-making for service providers and others in need of face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group has brought together those who can make masks, those who need masks, and those who can donate supplies.
On March 6, 2020, Yolo County had its first confirmed COVID-19 case. The first COVID-19 death followed close behind -- on March 23 we lost our first resident to the virus. The County moved quickly to enact our Emergency Operations Center, which eventually became the more long-lasting COVID-19 Response Operations Center (C-ROC). On March 31, the Board of Supervisors began meeting weekly to ensure frequent discussion and continued action pertaining to the crisis. The online Yolo County COVID-19 Dashboard was launched on March 31 and has been updated daily since then. On April 9, the C-ROC team began streaming live Daily Updates on Facebook; these moved to bi-weekly updates on August 17 and will continue into 2021.
The County's efforts have not slowed. We've been persistent in taking numerous actions to stop the spread, support our businesses, keep our residents healthy, and protect our frontline workers. Many of our efforts have been in partnership with local organizations and community groups.
CARES Act Funding:
This year, Yolo County received over $22 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. To help support navigation of the pandemic, funding was distributed within the following categories:
Emergency Response -- over $7.5 million (includes $1.5 million for testing)
Emergency Sheltering -- nearly $7 million (includes over $4.5 million for Project RoomKey)
Food Programs -- $640,428
Continuity of Operations -- over $1.9 million
Public Assistance -- over $2.8 million
Community Support -- over $2.6 million (includes over $600,000 in small business support and $250,000 to the Yolo Community Foundation’s Yolo COVID-19 Relief Fund)
Distance Learning -- $42,780
On March 13, at-home grocery delivery was launched through a collaboration with Yolo Food Bank and YoloBus.
On May 22, the FEMA-funded Great Plates Delivered program was launched in Yolo County, allowing local restaurants to deliver up to three hot, nutritious, prepared meals a day to eligible seniors throughout the County. The Great Plates Delivered eligibility requirements were so restrictive that only 52 of the 1300 applicants were deemed eligible, so Yolo County shifted to a homegrown version of the program that used slightly looser eligibility criteria. This modified program, known as Yolo Plates Delivered, served hot meals (one per day, seven days per week) to up to 150 food-insecure and disabled Yolo County seniors.
On April 21, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an Eviction Protection Ordinance that restricted residential and commercial evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though County COVID-19 testing began with very limited availability and strict guidelines for who should be tested, the County worked to provide free testing to residents in various locations.
To date, there have been zero cases reported among inmates in the Yolo County Jail.
Support for Agricultural Workers:
Yolo County deployed our Workforce Coordinator to do targeted outreach to agricultural workers and distribute strategies and resources for staying healthy while doing essential work during the pandemic.
The County developed a set of guidelines for COVID-related protocols, such as social distancing, in the agriculture industry (e.g., on farms and in food processing environments).
On April 1, Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) opened its bilingual business services line to assist workers and businesses affected by COVID-19.
Through a joint project with Yolo County Housing, Esparto Broadband, and Yolo County, broadband service at the Madison and Davis Migrant Centers was upgraded to support the children's distance learning needs.
Yolo County’s Project Roomkey (PRK), which began on March 16, has assisted approximately 533 homeless individuals with over 49,000 nights of shelter.
PRK has resulted in over 61 permanent housing transitions, with clients moving into both market rate and subsidized apartments, room and boards, and some reuniting permanently with family.
County staff have been working closely with city homeless coordinators to ensure security, to assist with medical coverage, and to secure food deliveries as well as access to refrigerators and microwaves for every hotel room.
The CommuniCare Health Center mobile medicine team, funded through Dignity Health, in partnership with Woodland Clinic Medical Group and Sutter Health funding, has provided over 1,300 unique visits to PRK clients and has conducted multiple COVID-19 onsite tests when clients appeared symptomatic.
Locally, PRK is a partnership between Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA); the cities of Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland; the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office; four service providers; and nine motels.
Yolo County has received shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines and is distributing batches to both Yolo County hospitals and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) for onsite administration. This will be the rollout model for the foreseeable future.
Yolo County is working with the State of California to ensure that the distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines are safe and equitable.
Yolo County's vaccination plan can be viewed here.
Collaborations with UC Davis
I am pleased that Yolo County and the City of Davis have enjoyed a robust partnership with UC Davis for many years. That spirit of collaboration and partnership framework served us well in 2020. Our joined efforts allowed us to manage the COVID-19 pandemic more effectively than other college towns. Leadership from UC Davis and Yolo County were in near-constant communication regarding the Healthy Davis Together partnership, the Campus Ready plan, and all things related to keeping our community safe and healthy during this crisis.
Race and Equity
The County continues to be committed to reexamining our policies and practices at every step, working to address the systemic racism in our community and beyond. On July 21, 2020 the Yolo County Board of Supervisors conducted a workshop on racial disparities in health, social services, and criminal justice. The Board affirmed their commitment to acknowledging and addressing racial disparities in Yolo County by adopting a resolution that recognizes racism as a public health crisis. During the workshop, several County departments, including Public Health, Child Welfare Services, Probation, Sheriff, District Attorney, and Health and Human Services, reported significant racial and ethnic disparities across the spectrum of County services. This workshop was effective in utilizing data to identify gaps and start an important conversation around racial equity in all areas.
On September 15, the Board of Supervisors conducted a Strategic Planning Session focused on alterations to the Strategic Plan particularly focused on the topic of health equity and racial disparities. On December 15, the Board approved three new strategies under the Strategic Plan's "health equity" outcome:
Develop internal and external policies solidifying the County's organizational commitment to inclusion and diversity by December 31, 2021.
Conduct an upward mobility assessment, partnering with community members and local organizations to identify key findings and recommendations, by December 31, 2021.
Develop an action plan in collaboration with criminal justice departments to implement changes to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system by June 30, 2021.
In addition, the Public Defender has established a goal for 2021 of creating a Racial Justice Committee tasked with identifying and confronting racial inequity and discrimination in the criminal and juvenile legal systems and working toward racial justice -- when race no longer determines an outcome.
Greater Winters Area Leaders Address Next Steps After LNU Fire
LNU Lightning Complex Fire Response
On August 18, 2020, the LNU Lightning Complex Fire entered Yolo County, threatening property and lives. My office, in partnership with Winters Mayor Cowan and Solano County Supervisor Vasquez, hosted a series of listening sessions to hear from residents in the Greater Winters Area who were impacted by the LNU Lightning Complex Fire. These sessions revealed challenges faced by residents, traumatic close calls, and new ideas to help us better prepare for the next wildfire season. We developed an initial action plan to address the many concerns we heard. Some are already underway, and some are long-term and will require partnerships across jurisdictions and with lawmakers, equipment vendors, and other agencies. Some of the actions that will help us better prepare for the next wildfire season include:
Develop a Yolo County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) -- Yolo County Resource Conservation District, in partnership with Yolo County OES, is leading an effort to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) with residents in Yolo County. The purpose of a CWPP is to "reduce wildfire risk to communities, municipal water supplies, and other at-risk land through a collaborative process of planning, prioritizing, and implementing hazardous fuels reduction projects."
Launch Fire Safe Councils in Yolo County -- Fire Safe Councils are grassroots, community-led organizations that mobilize residents to protect their homes, communities, and environments from catastrophic wildfire by educating homeowners about community wildfire preparedness activities while working with local fire officials to design and implement projects that increase the wildfire survivability of the community. Yolo County is launching a county-wide Fire Safe Council and two sub councils -- one in the Greater Winters Area and one in the Capay Valley.
Develop a Yolo-based Incident Command Team -- The LNU Lightning Complex Fires were managed by CalFire. This was during a time when resources were spread thin -- firefighters were battling multiple fires throughout the state and firefighting staff was reduced due to COVID-19. Yolo County is developing a Yolo-based incident command team to utilize as a risk mitigation if there are future under-resourced Cal-Fire managed events.
Increase Mass Notification Enrollment -- Many residents are not signed up for the Mass Notification Alerts. Outreach through established community partners and networks is needed to increase registration in the Yolo-Alert system. We are also advocating for solutions that allow for auto-enrollment rather than the current opt-in for cell phones.
Research Audible Siren Systems -- Research options for audible warning sirens in Wildland Urban Interface Areas as a non-technology-based alert system. Fire-impacted residents emphasized the need for non-technology based warning systems for times when lack of power hinders landlines, and in areas where cellular phone service is often unreliable. Audible sirens, similar to tsunami or tornado warning systems, can provide lifesaving alerts. Staff is currently researching available options and funding sources.
Valley Clean Energy
In the past two years since Valley Clean Energy (VCE) launched in the City of Davis, the City of Woodland, and in Yolo County, we have achieved remarkable successes. It's been an honor to serve as the VCE Chair in 2017 and 2020.
VCE has achieved financial stability and is debt-free, having repaid $1.5M in start-up loans to the founding member jurisdictions months ahead of schedule and submitting the final payment to SMUD for their assistance with operating services during our launch.
VCE exceeded the set goals for renewable, carbon-free power and is expanding the renewable energy portfolio with a focus on electricity from local producers.
In January 2021, VCE will welcome customers in the City of Winters.
VCE provided a financial donation to the Yolo Food Bank to support their pandemic response efforts in providing the most basic needs to members of our communities. VCE also supported the Greater Winters Fire Relief Fund to assist those impacted by the LNU Lightning Complex Fire.
Protecting Our Planet
Yolo County continues to be committed to protecting the planet. A hallmark of our work has been supportive partnerships among our cities, schools, UC Davis and our communities. It has been my pleasure to chair the Yolo Climate Compact since 2013. In 2020, we were able to further our work on environment through the following actions:
The Board of Supervisors approved a groundbreaking Energy Services Agreement to replace inefficient and obsolete infrastructure in county-owned buildings. It is anticipated the County will save $11.2 million through energy cost reductions over 15 years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,015 metric tons per year.
The Board adopted a resolution declaring a climate crisis requiring urgent action in Yolo County and approved funding to support development of a climate community advisory committee.
The County’s Sustainability Plan is near completion.
Two Climate Action and Resilience Strategic Plan Goals were met in 2020:
Conduct a critical review of the existing Climate Action Plan, to determine adequacy and feasibility of implementation.
Partner with the Yolo Resiliency Collaborative to complete a study with CivicSpark fellows evaluating increased wildfire events.
In 2021, the County will update the Climate Action Plan with a focus on equity and a just transition.
Criminal Justice Reform
This year, we've worked to increase awareness of potential reforms in our criminal justice system and budgeting practices to improve outcomes for the people of Yolo County. This will be a continued focus in the years to come.
Following a review of the District Attorney's special fund accounts, $50,000 was allocated for the Climate Community Advisory Committee and a policy framework was developed for future litigation settlement funds.
The reduced bail schedule, induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrated opportunities to reduce the number of people we hold in our detention facilities while awaiting trial.
We took steps to increase alignment and accountability of the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) budget with the goals in its Strategic Plan. We expect an update in early 2021 with progress to align the budget and activities to the original objective of using evidence-based practices to reduce recidivism.
The Board voted to continue planned construction of the Leinberger Detention Facility Replacement Project, despite my advocacy to repurpose underutilized existing jail capacity and focus on preventing engagement with the criminal justice system. Despite our difference in this policy priority, we all expressed support for expanded programming for inmates to better support their reintegration with our community.
Support for Residents Living with Mental Illness
Yolo County purchased the Pine Tree Gardens East Home, an adult residential facility in Davis, to ensure continued care for the vulnerable clients served in this home.
In October 2020, my office supported Mental Illness Awareness Week to increase awareness about mental illness and the work of Yolo-NAMI, and raised $55,000 to improve the landscaping at the Pine Tree Gardens homes.
In August 2020, the Board of Supervisors adopted the MHSA Three-Year Program and Expenditure Plan, which focuses on racial equity and cultural competency, school-based mental health services, a police co-responder model, and integrated physical and mental health services.
In 2021, I will serve as the chair for both the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA), our regional intercity passenger rail system, and the Yolo County Transportation District (YoloBus). Before we get there, transportation in 2020 deserves a look back (and a bit of a look ahead).
In partnership with Amtrak, Caltrans, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Union Pacific Railroad, and Caltrain, the CCJPA shares in the administration and management of the Capitol Corridor. The Capitol Corridor is an intercity passenger train system that started back in 1991 serving the area between San Jose and Auburn. In pre-COVID days, the Capitol Corridor ran 30 trains a day for an annual ridership of over 1.5 million, making it the third busiest passenger rail system in the U.S. This year, due to the COVID shutdown, things have looked different:
Ridership is down 90% from last year.
Revenue is down 85% compared to last year.