2021 Year in Review


When we reached the end of a very challenging 2020, many of us were optimistically looking ahead to 2021, excited to see what the fresh year would bring. The hope that many of our challenges would soon be history carried us through another 12 months of the pandemic, keeping us belted in for the wild ride that has become the COVID-19 rollercoaster. We've experienced some big wins -- we have vaccines and our kids are back in school -- but we are still fighting some tough battles. Our connectedness continues to sustain our resilience, perseverance, and strength. As the Yolo Way has proven again and again, we are still in this together!


While I celebrate all that we accomplished in 2021 and how far we’ve come, I will forever mourn the loss of the 264 Yolo County residents who fell victim to the COVID-19 virus. My heart continues to break.


Below, I've shared some highlights from 2021. I am grateful for the partnerships, innovation, and tenacity exhibited over the past year. Highlights like these are possible because of the unending dedication of the amazing people in our county and region.


A personal milestone in 2021 was my decision to not seek reelection to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in 2022. This was not an easy decision. After more than 27 years of local elected office, the time is right for my family and me to find a new focus. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with you and our shared community throughout the remainder of my current term representing District 2 until December 31, 2022.


Stay safe and healthy, friends. Please feel free to email me at don.saylor@yolocounty.org to share your thoughts.


In shared service,

Don



COVID-19 Response It may be hard to remember, but at the beginning of the year vaccine supplies were extremely limited and in high demand. Yolo County followed the State guidelines and implemented a phased rollout of vaccines, beginning with healthcare workers and seniors, followed by those working in education, emergency services, and food and agriculture. Yolo County has used a variety of outreach channels to communicate with our community how to stay safe from COVID-19 both prior to the availability of vaccines and throughout 2021 as vaccines became available. Current Vaccination Rates –

  • 64.1% of all Yolo County residents are fully vaccinated, and 67.5% of eligible residents are vaccinated.

  • Farmworkers – Yolo County vaccinated over 80% of our farmworker community when they became eligible for vaccines in early 2021. High vaccination rates among farmworkers was not an accidental outcome – it was the result of an intentional outreach strategy that included working with farmers to host vaccination clinics at farms, community vaccination clinics with slots reserved for farmworkers, and a door-to-door outreach campaign to register eligible individuals for upcoming vaccine clinics. Here is an article from the The Palladium Group from May 2021 that captures our farmworker outreach program very well.

  • Migrant Farmworkers – Yolo County coordinated with Yolo County Housing when migrant farm workers arrived at the migrant camps in early April. Upon arrival everyone was tested, and in the following days vaccination clinics were hosted at the sites for those who were eligible. Some of the findings from this experience were: 1) a few positive cases were identified, and the families were supported through quarantine to reduce the spread of the virus and a potential outbreak; 2) more of the migrant farmworkers were already vaccinated than we expected; and 3) the decision to prioritize vaccinations for Yolo County farmworkers as soon as they were eligible put the County in a really good position to support the migrant farmworker community when they arrived.

Addressing vaccine hesitancy –

  • As we moved beyond the initial high demand for vaccines, Yolo County focused more on using culturally relevant, trusted messengers to connect with vaccine-hesitant and vaccine-resistant individuals. The County worked with physicians and health care providers, as well as trusted community-based organizations (CBOs), to convey important messaging and communicate facts. The priority populations for this effort included: LatinX, Russian-speaking, rural communities, and the 95605 zip code (West Sacramento).

  • This included outreach at ethnic grocery stores, markets, religious events, food distributions, and door-to-door outreach in communities with very low vaccination rates.

  • We also found an uptick in reaching vaccine-hesitant individuals with our “call-to-order” vaccine delivery program. Not only has this service been convenient for busy or home-bound individuals, but we also discovered that some residents prefer to be more private about getting their vaccine, especially if they are within a community that is vocally anti-vaccine.

  • The ApoYolo group hosted a Spanish-speaking doctor to answer questions from the immigrant populations, which helped many families overcome their vaccine hesitancy. My office worked closely with ApoYolo to coordinate a vaccine clinic that was conveniently located and helped these families sign up, ultimately vaccinating 68 families over two days.

  • Our vaccination success builds on past efforts, such as investing in a farmworker outreach coordinator, who played a substantial role in not only reaching our farmworker community, but also serving as a trusted messenger. We also leveraged the months of work with CBOs leading up to the census outreach to again work with those organizations for vaccine outreach.

COVID-19 Testing –

  • Healthy Davis Together (HDT) expanded to Healthy Yolo Together (HYT), which was a key component of a safe return to in-person learning for our K-12 youth. HYT served as a valued partner, joining Yolo County on site at migrant centers to test returning migrant farmworkers to proactively identify positive cases and prevent outbreaks.

Project Roomkey –

  • Funded by FEMA, Project Roomkey housed unsheltered individuals throughout the pandemic in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. From March 2020 through October 2021, the program served a total of 805 homeless individuals, connected over 430 individuals to health services, and permanently housed more than 100 individuals.

COVID-19 Business Support –

  • In 2021, Yolo County launched a Restaurant Fee Waiver Program to assist local businesses impacted by COVID-19. Through this program, the County was able to waive or refund 2020-21 permit fees to 119 businesses, totaling $74,451.

 

American Rescue Plan Investments Following an extensive public outreach process, the Board of Supervisors appropriated $43 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) federal COVID-19 relief funds as such:

  • Priority Projects ($9,250,000) - including the Capay Valley Community & Health Center, Yolo Regional Food Hub, Crisis Now, and Welcome Baby.

  • Priority Categories ($19,500,000) - including the categories of Housing/Homeless, Food Security, Child, Youth, and Family, Mental Health, and Community Parks & Facilities.

  • Strategic Plan Implementation ($3,600,000) - including the categories of Climate Action Implementation, Economic Development Plan/Activities, Aging Needs, Broadband Strategic Plan Implementation, and Water/Wastewater Infrastructure.

  • Other Funding Uses ($10,450,000) - including the categories of Revenue Reimbursement, COVID-19 Response, ARP Staffing, and Reserves.

Within these funds is $50,000 per Supervisor District to distribute through the ARP Community Benefits Program. This program will designate a portion of the County's ARP funding through “mini-grants” to be allocated to provide flexibly-sized ($1,000-$10,000 each), localized responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff is developing the application and review process for this program. More details regarding ARP funding can be found here.

 

New Supervisor Districts

Every ten years, following the nationwide census of the United States population, the County adjusts district lines to assure that nearly equal populations are included in each of the five Supervisor Districts. In April 2021, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors created an Advisory Redistricting Commission (ARC) to draft and submit preliminary district maps for the Board's consideration. After several months of meetings and soliciting input, the ARC presented the Board with three draft maps, which were drawn with a consulting group in accordance with the federal Voting Rights Act, the Fair Maps Act, and previous Board guidance. The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing regarding adopting the Yolo County Supervisorial District map that will be used for the next ten years. After review, discussion, and consideration of the draft maps and revisions based on Board feedback, on November 23, the Board voted unanimously to adopt this map. One of the significant changes for District 2 is that all of the Greater Winters area is included within one supervisor's district. The changes brought about with the new map will take effect in 2022 for Districts 2 and 3, which are up for reelection in 2022. For the other districts, the changes will take effect in 2024 when those reelections happen. The process of drawing new district lines is complicated and extremely important. I appreciate the dedicated and thoughtful service of the members of the Advisory Redistricting Commission (ARC) as well as the contribution of draft maps and public comments from the residents of Yolo County who invested in this process.

 

Adopted the Cannabis Land Use Ordinance

After more than five years of work developing local cannabis regulations, in September 2021 the Board adopted the Cannabis Land Use Ordinance (CLUO). One of the most significant changes with our cannabis program is that it will move from a License application process to a Use Permit application process. A Use Permit is a discretionary process that includes public noticing, community input, and Planning Commission approval. The Cannabis Use Permit process will assure that plans are in place to address odor, lighting, security, and other items. While the CLUO that was unanimously adopted doesn’t include all of my preferences, it represents a sensible cannabis regulatory framework that balances the interests of the community and those of the cannabis industry. The Cannabis Land Use Ordinance allows new categories of licenses, including: nursery, processing, manufacturing, distribution, delivery, and retail storefront (applications delayed for 2 years). In addition to new license categories, the CLUO establishes new buffer requirements, over-concentration thresholds, and requires a clean and permanent energy source. While our implementation of the CLUO may be delayed due to litigation, my hope is that we will emerge with a cannabis industry that can thrive, is compatible with existing land uses, continues to provide jobs in a legal industry, and continues to financially support enforcement to eradicate the illegal cannabis industry.

 

Soup's On

While we paused our in-person event in 2021 due to COVID, we celebrated the positive outcomes this community event has had over the years. Since its inception in 2004, the Don Saylor’s Soup’s On benefit event has raised over $300,000 and increased community awareness for worthy causes in Yolo County. Check out this video for a quick walk down Soup's On memory lane. I’m delighted to share that we’ll host our final Soup’s On event on April 21, 2022, benefiting Davis Media Access. Save the Date and be on the lookout for more details soon!

 

Yolo Poverty Reduction Pilot Program

In February 2021, Yolo County Health and Human Services staff presented the initial concept of this program to the Board of Supervisors – a targeted guaranteed income program to support formerly homeless Yolo County families with a child under the age of six who are living in deep poverty. The Board supported the proposal and challenged staff to expand the pilot from one year to two full years. The existing tools to fight poverty are not working – they help families survive, however they keep formerly homeless families in functional poverty. This project is a transformational opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and end generational reliance on taxpayer funded social services programs. This project will provide early childhood intervention and combat generational poverty. By bringing family income up to the California Poverty Measure for two years, families will have the time and resources to achieve educational goals, stably house their families and secure more financially sustainable employment. When a family is economically healthy, there is increased emotional capacity to support children with their educational development. This is a cost-effective project that layers cash assistance on top of existing support programs provided to these families by the CalWorks HSP program. My office has partnered with HHSA to fundraise and build awareness and financial support for this pilot program, raising nearly $300,000 of private funds, with additional commitments pending. I’m excited for this program to launch in 2022 and see the positive impacts it will have on the lives of the families who participate.

 

Wildfire Preparedness

For well over a year, in response to the devastating LNU Complex Fire, we have worked to secure funds from state sources to address the ongoing fire prevention, mitigation, and suppression challenges in the areas most prone to wildfires in Yolo County. The effort included extensive community outreach with residents of western Yolo County and Solano County. We identified about $2 million in immediate needs for this purpose. As a direct result of those efforts and our collective outreach to our state representatives, Senator Dodd successfully advocated to include $1.5 million in the 2021-22 State Budget for Yolo County for fuel reduction, alert warning systems, and fire preparedness and mitigation. In addition, Yolo County launched its first ever Fire Safe Council, a community-led organization that focuses on mobilizing residents to protect their homes, communities, and environments from wildfires. The Fire Safe Council has applied for grants to support fuel reduction projects in fire-prone areas of Yolo County, is compiling a list of fire prevention projects, and will seek funding solutions.

 

Funding Support for Construction of a Winters Pharmacy

In late 2020, Eagle Drug on Main Street in Winters closed after 32 years as a central business in the community, leaving Winters and the entire west side of I-505 in Yolo County without a pharmacy. In January 2019, Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) adopted a new policy that allows for some portion of Intergovernmental Transfer (IGT) funds to be allocated towards emerging health and human service needs each year. In February 2021, the Board of Supervisors authorized the allocation of $215,000 in IGT emerging needs funding for the construction of a new pharmacy on site at Winters Healthcare. Ongoing operations of the pharmacy will be overseen by Winters Healthcare and the pharmacy will serve all in the community, including individuals outside of the Winters Healthcare system. Construction is currently underway.

 

Repurposing the Juvenile Detention Facility

For several years, Yolo County has grappled with the high cost of operating the Juvenile Detention Facility (JDF) given the declining youth population requiring detention. This challenge is not unique to Yolo County as it follows a statewide trend attributed to evolving juvenile justice philosophy and best practices over the last 20 years. Over this time period, the state has seen a 76.3% decline in detained youth. In 2021, the average daily population of youth in the Yolo County JDF has been below five. Over the past two years, the Yolo County Probation Department has embarked on a gap analysis, needs assessment, and exploration of options for potential future uses of the JDF and the adjacent gymnasium for justice-involved youth. In July 2021, two community listening sessions were held to gather input regarding potential uses of the JDF. In September the Board unanimously voted to move forward in initiating a long-term, continual out-of-county contract for Juvenile Detention services to better meet the needs of our justice-involved youth population. Solano and Sacramento Counties, which are both being considered as options, offer more programming than Yolo County has been able to offer due to our small JDF population. The Board is expected to explore options for repurposing the JDF and a contract with a neighboring county for housing and serving Yolo County detained youth in 2022. This is an exciting opportunity for us to more effectively serve our justice-involved youth, more deeply invest in the futures of all Yolo County youth, better utilize our facilities, and more wisely spend our money.

 

Yolo County Youth Commission

As part of the 2021-22 Adopted Budget, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors allocated cannabis tax revenue funds to create a Yolo County Youth Commission in partnership with the Yolo County Office of Education. Currently in its initial development stages, the Commission will build upon current efforts while creating a permanent pathway for young people to shape their futures and build community in the County. The Commission will advise the Board of Supervisors on policies, programs, and budgets concerning Yolo County youth, and will be responsible for evaluating and recommending grant proposals for youth-led efforts and organizations in Yolo County.


The Commission will be composed of 15 Yolo County youth between the ages of 13 and 18. Each supervisorial district will be represented by three commissioners who will be appointed by their representative Supervisor.

 

Protecting Our Environment

The Board of Supervisors approved the Yolo County Sustainability Plan in April. The Sustainability Plan provides a comprehensive view of sustainability as the intersection of social, economic, and environmental factors and seeks to support progress in each of these areas. The Board also formed the Yolo County Climate Action Commission to help guide the work of a new Climate Action Plan that is focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions such that Yolo County achieves a carbon negative footprint by 2030.

 

Community Corrections Partnership Budget Realignment


In response to guidance from the Board of Supervisors during the 2020 budget adoption process, staff from the Community Corrections Partnership (CCP) actively engaged in assessing and enhancing the existing structure of the CCP budget. The culmination of this effort was the CCP Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 which reflects major shifts in how the CCP will operate moving forward and signals a shift toward major investment in treatment and innovation.

 

Yolo I-80 Corridor Improvement Project

Years of project development and advocacy resulted in securing $85,900,000 in federal funds for the Yolo I-80 Corridor Improvement Project. Securing these funds is an important step towards reducing congestion and addressing the current unacceptable gridlock on Interstate 80. When complete, this project will restripe the existing causeway resulting in an additional lane each direction. The additional lane capacity will offer the opportunity to implement new tools to reduce congestion, such as making it an HOV lane, or a managed lane with pricing during peak hours, or other options. This project will reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, improve goods movement and transit operations, and enable smoother travel across the Yolo Bypass. I have worked tirelessly behind the scenes with partner agencies to make the case as to how this improvement in our transportation infrastructure supports environmental justice, economic prosperity, and goods movement goals. I’m grateful to the many organizations and staff who helped us achieve this significant funding award for our region.

 

Yolo County Housing Update

In September 2021, the Board of Supervisors approved the 6th Cycle Housing Element, which is the County’s plan for addressing State housing law requirements. The County will meet and exceed its assigned Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of 57 housing units in the unincorporated area, 40% of which is dedicated to very low-income or low-income households. The Board expressed interest in finding creative solutions and partnering with the cities to expand affordable housing and increase the number of units.