Amid a Contra Costa County election season with a number of hotly contested races, at least one item on the ballot in the upcoming primary election presents as a matter of relatively routine business that hasn't spurred local controversy.
Measure G comes to county voters as part of a 10-year renewal process for the statewide vehicle abatement program, first instituted in 1981, which is implemented by the Cities and County of Contra Costa Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Service Authority as of 1991, when the agency was established by the county and entered into by its cities.
"All of our Contra Costa cities are participants in this Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Service Authority," District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen said. "So it's a separate authority that was set up, so we every 10 years need to renew the authority and the program."
If Measure G isn't passed by at least two-thirds of county voters on the June 7 ballot, the authority "will cease to operate and will be discontinued," according to authority staff.
The renewal question came before the countywide agency at their July 22 meeting last year, and came to the Board of Supervisors, then local governing bodies, later that fall, following its approval for the ballot. Classified as a special tax, the vehicle abatement fee requires voter approval.
"The purpose of creating the Authority was to collect revenue from the State to remove abandoned vehicles from the community," according to a sample staff report prepared for local councils. "All cities within the County participate in the Authority and are represented by city staff. The County is represented by the County Department of Conservation and Development, which also provides administrative support to the Authority."
Last July's discussion on the topic was ahead of what was initially planned, with officials first being told that they would need to pass a resolution on the matter by last month, only to have the Department of Motor Vehicles later request that this be done by last August.
The local Vehicle Abatement Services Authority is funded by a fee of $1 per registered vehicle in the county, with fees for some commercial vehicles set at $2. Over the course of 30 full years, the program has generated millions in revenue, including $1.1 million in 2020, which was used to remove 1,228 abandoned vehicles within the county.
"Essentially it's out there picking up abandoned vehicles along the side of the road," Andersen said. "It reduces blight, it reduces pollution."
Board members of the authority, which meets annually or as needed, are elected to two year terms. The board consists of one countywide representative, Jason Crapo, and two representatives each for west, central, and eastern portions of the county. The San Ramon Valley is represented by the two central county board members, Brian South of Moraga and Theresa Sanchez of San Ramon.
When asked if Measure G has garnered controversy or pushback since its appearance on the ballot for next month's primary, Andersen said "not at all."
"I think most people are happy to pay a dollar per year," Andersen said.
The renewal came to county and city officials, then to voters, following the passage of Proposition 26 by California voters in 2010. Under that measure, the vehicle abatement fee is classified as a "special tax," meaning it requires a passage by two-thirds of voters in an election.
As of last July, seven counties in the state had proposed similar tax measures, with five -- Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Humboldt and Mendocino counties -- passing the measures, which failed in Fresno and San Benito counties, leading to those vehicle abatement programs to be terminated.
At least another five counties (Orange, Napa, San Mateo, Shasta and San Diego) had also voluntarily terminated similar programs as of last July.
Contra Costa is among a number of other counties that considered ballot measures in the course of the program's current renewal cycle.
In addition to the independent authority's vote to renew the program, the matter was approved by the county Board of Supervisors, then local jurisdictions throughout the county.
The Danville Town Council passed the measure in their Sept. 21 meeting last year, as a routine item of business on the consent agenda. The San Ramon City Council took it on and passed it in their Oct. 26 meeting.
Following the approval of county and local officials, the county's Vehicle Abatement Authority was able to begin the process of getting Measure G on the June 7 ballot countywide.