SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—During a busy but spirited Tuesday morning session, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved several items that could change the county’s transitional occupancy tax and rules regarding the sale of flavored tobacco.
The board also heard the first reading of a new ordinance that governs how the county sheriff’s office procures and uses military equipment, as well as a first reading of a plan to remodel the Department of Front Services. county trial.
Transitional occupancy tax
Collected from hotels and vacation rentals, this tax is an important source of revenue for the county, which funds, among other things, forest fire prevention and intervention, street repairs and public health services.
The new changes, which supervisors will consider for approval on April 12, would allow the county to place a lien on properties whose owners have not made tax payments within three years of an audit, and collect the fees lawyers associated with the actions.
In 2019, the county aligned with state law that bans the sale of flavored tobacco products, to counter efforts by companies to market their products to young people.
But the state continues to see increased use of tobacco products, especially e-cigarettes, by young people who manage to circumvent the laws.
The proposed order would prohibit the spouse, domestic partner or business partner of an offender whose tobacco sales license has been suspended from applying for a new one. It also specifies the causes of license suspensions and revocations and removes the deadline for setting hearings.
The rules would also increase penalties for violations from a one-day suspension and a $1,000 fine to a five-day suspension and a $5,000 fine for a first offense.
Second offenses would increase from $5,000 to $10,000 with a 10-day suspension.
The ordinance will return on April 12 for a second reading and approval.
Use of military equipment
Under Assembly Bill 481, which became law on January 1, law enforcement agencies must obtain approval from their governing bodies before acquiring military equipment.
Police departments should also create policies for the use of military equipment that will be approved by local leaders and posted on their website. To view the policy, click here and scroll to page 512.
Supervisors heard the first reading of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Policy on Tuesday, which outlines the military equipment the department has available and outlines when deputies are allowed to use it. For a full report, visit bit.ly/3iu3uJQ.
The policy will return to council for a second reading and approval on April 12.
New preliminary services department
Supervisors approved a plan to form a new pretrial services division within the probation department — which will work hand-in-hand with the Santa Cruz County Superior Court — and fund two full-time assistant probation officers. time and a full-time division manager.
The change will include expanded hours and days.
Probation chief Fernando Geraldo said the move would streamline pretrial services and help keep nonviolent offenders out of jail while awaiting trial. This is important because lawmakers increasingly favor policies that reduce prison populations.
Those county efforts have been successful, Gerardo said, reducing the number of people held in jail from 10,000 in 2016 to 7,200 last year.
But that, combined with the increase in the number of people kept apart thanks to the Covid-19 crisis, has led to a drastic increase in the number of people who come under the supervision of the pre-trial services.
According to Gerardo, cases have risen from 37 in 2013 to 193 in 2021.
“They have a great responsibility and do a lot of work to keep our community safe,” he said of his staff.
The expansion is made possible by an injection of $494,797 from Senate Bill 129, also known as the Budget Bill of 2021, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in July 2021. Among other things, this law provides funding for extensive precondition services in all 58 counties.