.

Four Fire Stations Are Up For Closure

The Board of Supervisors will consider a plan to shutter a Walnut Creek station and three others on Tuesday.

Fire and county officials will consider Tuesday closing four fire stations, including one in Walnut Creek, to close a budget gap that has been growing since the recession of 2008. The move is necessary, fire chief Daryl Louder said, due to the failure of a proposed parcel tax increase by two-thirds of voters in November.

In a report to the county Board of Supervisors, Louder said that the 2008 recession caused deep reductions in property tax revenue, which primarily funds the fire district. Service levels were maintained until now through the spending of reserves.

To make up for the loss of property tax money, the fire district proposed a $75 parcel tax in November. Despite major political endorsements and a big push from the fire district, Measure Q received a majority of votes, but not the two-thirds super majority it needed to pass.

And now “the reserve funds have been expended and the district can no longer afford to maintain current service levels,” Louder said in his report to the board.

Louder said the fire district is already falling short of meeting expected service levels and response times, and the closure of additional stations will only make matters worse. But the move will save the district $3 million, which he says it otherwise does not have.

The four stations proposed to be shuttered are:

  • Fire Station #4 – 700 Hawthorne Drive, Walnut Creek
  • Fire Station #11 – 6500 Center Avenue, Clayton
  • Fire Station #12 – 1240 Shell Avenue, Martinez
  • Fire Station #16 – 4007 Los Arabis Avenue, Lafayette

The four stations are slated to close in early January. Louder said he plans to take some actions, including using the reserve force to provide coverage for closed stations, increasing the number of emergency medical technicians during peak hours, and other efficiencies.

But Louder makes it clear that none of these steps will make up for the presence of the stations in these neighborhoods.

Louder will meet with the Board of Supervisors Tuesday at 1:30 in the board chambers, 651 Pine St.

What are your thoughts about this? Tell us in the comments. 

Jim December 01, 2012 at 03:28 PM
How much is the county paying in this and future years to makeup for the hundreds of millions in losses from unfair and unjust pension plans? Bad financial management is reducing essential services, resulting in personal harm and injury to the very citizens it is suppose to serve. I heard each household in Contra Costa County now owes over $13,000 to the pensioners. The last bond issue of a $75 tax would have made the difference for keeping 4 fire stations running -- wow, are we in trouble or what?
Nancy Dupont December 01, 2012 at 04:13 PM
We are already paying a surcharge for fire protection and still need to close? The fire station on Walnut Avenue is critical to keep open to protect our homes and open space.
Alan Cunningham December 01, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Alan Cunningham The two-thirds requirement is the legacy of the Jarvis-Gann political fiasco that gave us Prop. 13 and which is just as insane and absurd as Grover Norquist's silly no-taxes pledge that has the GOP in Congress tied up in knots. We'll never get out of this downward spiral in California until we get rid of the super-majority rule.
Switch December 01, 2012 at 07:28 PM
It is at least confusing to think that future payments (ones you haven't made) have caused the destitution you are presently in. The immediate concern is about the present value of your dollar NOW. Yes debt is looming, no question. Granted I don't live in Walnut Creek but it has struck me as strange. With all the money WC must be paying into the CCFPD why has the city never considered forming it's own FD? There is NO WAY WC is getting the value out of the money they are putting into a FPD with such tax sucks like Pittsburg and Antioch. (my suspition) you are in a service provider pool of non-payers.
Kris Hunt December 02, 2012 at 12:36 PM
The real problem is the cost of pensions and retiree health care. The reports from the fire chiefs over the years have cited the unsustainable cost of pensions and yet they are placing blame elsewhere. It has been documented for years in the annual budget presentations that the district had a problem and yet they waited to precipitate a crisis so they could threaten to close stations instead of looking at other delivery models. Over a year ago the board gave the firefighter union head a letter saying they would go for a ballot measure.
Kris Hunt December 02, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Are you aware of what precipitated Prop 13? It was the unsustainable growth of property taxes. People were losing their homes because they could not keep up with taxes that were growing uncontrollably. People were losing their homes. It should be up to 2/3rds of the voters when you are talking about spending people's hard earned money.
Quick Facts December 03, 2012 at 07:43 AM
The Real problem is your group Kris Hunt that duped the taxpayers into thinking that was actually a pension issue. The isssue is a funding issue, the District has lost almost 40 million is property tax money due to agressive reassessment by Gus Kramer and his group over the past several years. Tack on the tens of millions that RDA's have been stealing from the district for years. And please don't forget the years of the dot com boom when the market was sailing and the board of supervisors decided to let excess earnings make the employer contribution, and divert that money to a multi billion dollar hospital. Your arguement with that liar, Bill Pollacek is a joke! It was the firefighter that were screwed out of raises by having part of their contracted raise go to pay for their pension increase instead of money to actually take home. Most Fire Departments in the state cap the employee contribution at 9% not the 27% that Con Fire Firefighters are paying. Your Comments continue to be reckless, misleading, and you have yet to offer any meaningful input in the way of a plan. The saddest part is that business owners, the people you claim to protect will be hurt the most by these closures, because a 1 point drop in the ISO Rating of Con Fire will effect property insurance rates by hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Just ask the people in East County. You threw gasoline on their fire and then walked away. That more than anything speaks volumes about your character.
Quick Facts December 03, 2012 at 07:52 AM
Please don't take my word for it readers, please read this letter from Kramer to the Board of Supervisors. http://www.cccounty.us/DocumentView.aspx?DID=6247 I own a home and have had my property tax decreased with everyone else by $1400 +/- per year. 13% of that money was for Con Firem or $182 per year. The $75 bucks they were asking for was not even close to what they lost in property tax loss. I think the important thing to remember is that Kris Hunt and her 47.5% took down the majority of people that had enought sense to vote yes on Q. Measure Q won the majority, but in this case, the majority got screwed by the bitter and ill informed minority.
Alamo Resident December 03, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I live in Alamo on the Walnut Creek border which is the San Ramon Valley Fire District. When the south Walnut Creek fire station goes thousands of Walnut Creek residents will be waiting for firefighters and paramedics from the downtown station to respond to fires and medical emergencies. I plan on writing a letter to the San Ramon District to demand they not allow our Alamo fire crews to "cover" south Walnut Creek. You people listened to the short-sightedness of people like Kris Hunt and the Contra Costa Times editorial page. This mess is for you, your families and neighbors to deal with. Do try and take us with you. We realize the value of well trained responders located in the right places and are willing to pay to have it.
Kris Hunt December 05, 2012 at 02:45 AM
CoCoTAX is the one that wanted long term financial stability, the Fire District Board is the one that spent reserves instead of working on solutions. The fire tax would not have solved the District's problems nor will closing the four stations. Don't you find it ironic that just last week fhe firefighters went to court in order to preserve pension spiking the governor sought to eliminate? I do.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something