Efren Carillo: AB 885, 2-1-1, Roundabouts, Unemployment
Efren Carillo - Sonoma County 5th District Supervisor, brings readers up to date on Sonoma County regulations and issues that impact our communities. This column was published in the March 16th issue of the Gazette and is updated here with current information.
On February 24th, following public meetings held by the State Water Control Board to thousands of concerned local residents, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in opposition to the proposed AB885 septic tank regulations. While the County lauds the intent of this legislation to maintain groundwater quality, the proposed regulations place some unreasonable and costly requirements on septic system owners. Unfortunately, a one-size fits-all approach to regulating systems is impractical with potential to be extremely burdensome to rural property owners and our local agencies that will be mandated to enforce the rules.
During the coming months, the State Board will be working on the proposed regulations, and has pledged to consider comments from the public during this process.
Breaking news on the AB885 issue…
FACT SHEET ON PROPOSED SEPTIC SYSTEM REGULATIONS
On February 23, the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) closed the public comment period for draft regulations regarding onsite wastewater treatment systems (septic systems). During the comment period (Nov. 7, 2008 to Feb. 23, 2009), the Water Board received more than 2,500 e-mail comments and hundreds of comment letters, and recorded many hours of oral comments from 12 public workshops held throughout the state.
Following is an update on what happens now in terms of the Water Board developing regulations for septic systems:
Is it likely that the next version of proposed regulations will be different from the current version?
Yes. Water Board Staff will be recommending substantial changes based on all of the input from the public.
What happens next, now that the current comment period is over and workshops are concluded?
The Water Board is compiling all of the many comments (transcribing all oral testimony and electronically scanning all comment letters) received from the public. Water Board staff expects to have this information available to the public in April.
How will the Water Board proceed from here?
Water Board staff will draft revised regulations based on the public comments received, will work with the agencies and groups identified in the enabling legislation (AB 885), and when a new set of draft regulations is written, will notice another public comment period so that all stakeholders have a chance to provide input.
Depending on the extent of the recommended revisions to the proposed regulations, staff will also need to modify or redraft the environmental impact report.
What is the anticipated new timeline and when will the public be notified of the revised proposal?
Redrafting these regulations to respond to the substantial comments received is a high priority for the Board. Board staff will be working with the agencies and groups identified in the enabling legislation (AB 885) to develop a new conceptual regulatory proposal within the next 3-5 months. The extent of revisions to the new regulatory proposal will be an important factor in how long it takes to modify or redraft the environmental impact report. Staff is hopeful that this work can be accomplished within 12 months.
How will changes be communicated?
After Water Board staff has prepared a response to public comments and completed changes to the draft regulations, waiver, and EIR, a new public comment period will be scheduled and posted on this web site. Interested parties, including all those who commented on the previous draft and provided staff with contact information, will be notified by U.S. mail and e-mail.
Will there be more opportunities to comment?
Yes. Significant changes will be made to the regulations and a new public comment period will be necessary to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the revised proposed regulations. The time and date for public comments will be posted on the Water Board web site and publicized statewide
As mentioned in Vesta’s article, many of you turned out for a public meeting about the roundabout proposed for Highway 116 and Mirabel Road. It was my privilege to be part of the mostly positive commentary on the design presented. This is a work in process, but it does seem to be the most effective solution for both the community and the intersection. I look forward to working with Forestville on this roundabout on making this option a reality.
Here’s the 2-1-1…
On February 11th, Sonoma County partnered with the United Way, Community Foundation, and Volunteer Center to launch 2-1-1. This wonderful new, free, confidential, 24-hour information and referral service is available to anyone in Sonoma County. Calls are handled by trained specialists with resources for community services ranging from child and elder care, health and mental health services, alcohol and drug abuse treatment, food, shelter, counseling, and immigration assistance.
Calling 2-1-1 is the best way to connect with volunteer opportunities. Whether there is a natural disaster, such as a flood or earthquake, or your interest is finding the best way to use your skills to help your community as a volunteer, 2-1-1 can help you to make a difference.
Other helpful *-1-1 numbers: 4-1-1 directory assistance, 5-1-1 traffic and transit, 6-1-1 AT&T repair, 7-1-1 California relay for hearing impaired, 8-1-1 “call before you dig” (underground utility lines) and of course, 9-1-1 life-threatening emergencies…
Help for the unemployed…
How does the economic stimulus help you?
This is a frequent question, often asked with a certain amount of despair. Many of us in Sonoma County have been personally affected by the recent economic travails…from record home value decline, to business closures or reductions in force brought about by the recession.
Unemployment numbers are increasing locally, and if you are one of those affected, there is help for you in the new stimulus bill.
If you are eligible for COBRA continuation of your health insurance, but think that you can’t afford to keep your health insurance…reconsider. One direct result of the stimulus bill is that the Federal government will pay 65% of your COBRA health insurance premiums for 9 months beginning February 17, 2009.
Sound too good to be true?
That’s why it is so important to spread the word about this. Employers are still finding out the details, so information may not get to all of those who are eligible for this help. If you or someone you know was laid off after September 1, 2008 (if the employer has a group of 20 or more) they can elect to enroll in Cobra health insurance through their employer and pay 35% of the premium. Different provisions apply to small group employees, who are covered under Cal Cobra, and are eligible for the assistance, but only if the layoff takes place after February 17th, 2009 through the end of the year.
Here are some FAQ’s…
1. Who is eligible?
Anyone who was involuntarily terminated between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009 who worked for an employer with a health insurance group of 20 or more.
Anyone who was involuntarily terminated between February 17th, 2009 and December 31, 2009 who worked for an employer with a small group policy.
2. How does the premium payment work?
Employers can contact the IRS at http://www.irs.gov/ Premiums are taken as a credit against federal payroll taxes on the quarterly report 941, which has been revised. The 35% premium co-pay is paid to the employer.
Another helpful link:
3. What about the premiums that I paid before February 17th?
Unfortunately, there is no “look back” or payment for insurance prior to February 17, 2009.
Additional assistance for those seeking work or improving their job skills can be found at Sonoma County Job Link's web site. (http://www.socojoblink.org/) This site is a full service link to job search assistance, business services, training & labor market information. The free services available to job seekers and the services for employers are described at this website. Job Link's