Let’s take another look at the fire situation

Brian Enbom, The Brentwood Press, September 12, 2019

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Editor: I am a concerned citizen of East Contra Costa County.

We are a community just waiting for another tragedy to occur in our area because of the long response times of emergency service (fire and medical). Apparently, our new fire chief has published procedures in case of a house fire, to try to save the adjacent homes, but because of a lack of resources, allow the initial home to burn to the ground. I have never lived in a community before that had that as part of their standard operating procedure.

Yet in Brentwood and Oakley combined, the largest portion of East Contra Costa Fire Protection area, they are actively trying to foster additional home development for the increased tax revenue. Brentwood is even trying to increase the amount of land zoned for residential, development in lieu of its present agriculture zoning.

According to a paper developed by the East Contra Costa County Voters Association, California Government Code, Section 66499.34 states, “No local agency shall issue any permit or grant any approval necessary to develop any real property which has been divided, or which has resulted from a division, in violation of the provisions of this division or of the provisions of local ordinances enacted pursuant to this division if it finds that development of such real property is contrary to the public health or the public safety.”

Approving this project would add people and commercial structures to the service area of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD), a fire district that is underfunded, and now provides an inadequate level of service to the residents of Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Byron and Bethel Island. Increasing the fire district’s workload can have no other outcome than to degrade current response time and service levels, and as such, is “contrary to the public health or public safety.”

Consequently, the project cannot be approved in its current condition.

Assemblyman Jim Frazier’s office has told the Brentwood City Council that he “believes that ECCFPD is facing a fiscal emergency and that we have a public safety emergency.” ECCFPD has numerous initiatives underway that are aimed at addressing this underfunding. The district is actively communicating with Sacramento legislators and educating the public as to their critical public service activities. But the funding problem — the public safety emergency — persists.

Erecting a new fire station on Shady Willow Lane and funding a two-person rescue vehicle will have a positive impact on medical response times. But if examined closely, these actions are not likely to bring response time into agreement with general plan goals.

Approving new developments without addressing this emergency response situation (long term) is wrong and violates state law. Please do not approve this project in its current condition without first taking steps to assure the health and safety of the residents of Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Byron and Bethel Island.

Brian Enbom

Discovery Bay