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Jeffries Journal

Kevin’s Corner                                                March 2020 - Volume 8, Issue 3

Please excuse this long-winded story.

How To Kill A Garage.  I had the recent pleasure of sitting down with a long time resident (in his 80’s), who had decided to purchase and have installed an 1,100 square foot garage. It appeared to be a simple job on flat ground next to his home in the Mockingbird Canyon area (non-city). Unfortunately, the story he and his wife shared would make old-school Soviet Politburo Bureaucrats blush with envy. The horrific maze of delays, fees, new delays and new fees was so extremely sad that it would make your blood boil. 

The short (?) version is, he paid for a stamped set of engineered plans for his future metal garage in order to pull his building permit, and brought them down to the County building. But he was then told he also needed an additional “structural” engineered set of plans. 

Go Home - come back again! Then, even though it was just a metal garage with NO bathroom, he was told he needed a permit to have his house septic system inspected and re-permitted.

Go to Environmental Health - come back again!  The backside of the property and garage had a gate and access to a paved road with a fire hydrant, but he was told that he needed to pay the water district for a special flow test to verify that the fire hydrant could flow enough to serve his garage.  Never mind that the fire hydrant was previously tested and approved to serve nearby new homes.  

Go to the Fire Dept.

Go to the Water District. Get the hydrant test done. Come back to the county again! The house and garage pad area was reportedly level, but then he was told to hire a firm to produce a topographical map of the property to prove it.

Go Home, Call engineering firms. Come back again! Fortunately, he was able to drive to the Flood Control District and purchase a map they already had.

Go back and submit. After many months of delays and fees, all finally looked good, but when he arrived to get his permit, he was told it was being “held” for Transportation to approve. 

Go to the Transportation offices! Nobody there could figure the reason for a hold, so that box was checked off! Victory!  

With light at the end of the tunnel, on what he planned to be his final trip to get his permit, he was then told that he should have obtained a grading permit at the very beginning – so he would now have to start over! 

Game over. Done. Finished. No More. He cancelled his metal garage order, forfeited a very LARGE non-refundable deposit to the garage company and flat-out gave up. He then contacted my office to share his walk through hell.

Why didn’t you call us for help, we asked? We help people all the time with the bureaucratic maze.  And that’s the next part of this sad conversation. The first part (of what he went through) is sad enough. The second sad part is that ANYONE should have to go to an elected official to get help dealing with his/her government. In my opinion, you should not HAVE to know and go to an elected official for help. If the process is so bad that you literally have to “know someone”, then the process is broken and must be fixed!  The process should be so customer friendly, so accommodating, and so helpful, that the officials should only hear from the resident as to how helpful and how polite and professional everyone was. The broken process - the “who you know” process, only empowers those in power (elected or appointed) and their connected friends to become more even powerful for the wrong reasons! 

If you have a story, or need help in the First District, please do not hesitate to contact my office for help. You don’t have to be “connected” to contact my office and ask for help, and I encourage people to do so long before you are ready to give up, like this poor gentleman did. If you have friends in other Supervisorial Districts who have similar stories from their part of the county, they absolutely need to contact their own Supervisor. It take three votes to make changes by the Board, and we can’t fix what we don’t know about!

As always, please feel free to email me. I do read each and every one of them (except the really nasty vulgar ones that get sent to the round file).

Respectfully, Kevin Jeffries

Local District #1 Events

During the January Temescal Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting, residents and local elected officials joined the Waste Management El Sobrante Landfill to congratulate the winners of the 7th Annual Temescal Valley America Recycles Day Calendar Art Contest.

Sponsored by a Waste Management Think Green Grant, the contest challenged children who live in the Temescal Valley area to depict the positive effects recycling has on the community.

During the contest awards ceremony, Supervisor Kevin Jeffries presented personalized certificates to the  winners and congratulated them for their environmental stewardship. Waste Management also gave the children prize bags and awarded a combined total of $2,000 in school donations to the top winners.

1st place and winner of $800 school donation: Amanda Long, El Cerrito Middle School

2nd place and winner of $600 school donation: Isabella Esquivel, Temescal Valley Elementary School

3rd place and winner of $400 school donation: Ashley Mosley, Todd Elementary School

4th place and winner of $200 school donation: Adeliz Lopez, Todd Elementary School