March 9, 2003
Honorable Beth Labson Freeman
Judge of the Superior Court
Hall of Justice
400 County Center, 2nd Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063-1655
RE: Review of Mosquito Control Measures
Dear Judge Labson Freeman:
The Grand Jury has appropriately identified the issue regarding the potential annexation of areas within the county by the San Mateo County Mosquito Abatement District (MAD) as follows: “Have …… individual cities adequately responded to the threat of West Nile virus”. Unfortunately, we were not provided an opportunity for input to the Grand Jury and find we must disagree with many “facts” presented in the report and its conclusions. In order to make such determinations one must assess the threat of West Nile virus to the residents as opposed to other threats and needs that the requested annual funding of over $200,000 would address within the community.
The National Center for Disease Control reports on cases of West Nile virus. As of January 8, 2003, they reported only three non-fatal cases of West Nile virus in the western United States, including one in Montana, one in Wyoming and one in Southern California. As these are the only cases reported, it is suggestive that the contracting of this disease may have occurred during travel to another portion of the United States. Further, nationally since 1999, there have been 252 deaths as a result of the virus, less than the homicide rate in the Bay Area for the last year or deaths due to vehicle accidents or any number of other diseases for a similar period.
Your report indicated, “there have been several cases of West Nile virus among county residents.” That is incorrect based upon the latest information provided to us (see attached letter). There have been no cases among county residents or in northern California. Thus, Daly City has made the independent assessment of its ability to adequately respond to the threat of the West Nile virus in relationship to its ability to respond to other threats and needs of the community.
In terms of Daly City’s need for abatement services within the community, the report and information provided to the Grand Jury appears to be substantially overstated. Needed mosquito abatement has been infrequent and in very limited areas. Daly City has contracted with the District for an average amount of about $6,000 per year in the last three years to deal with specific problems, as in contrast to the over $200,000 the District has requested as part of the annexation. In a meeting with Mr. Robert Gay the Manager of the district, a statement was made that they had received numerous calls from Daly City residents and others to provide treatment services and that the District kept records of such calls. We requested a copy of those records be forwarded to us and the only information we received
services that were provided in the 1960’s
in the Bayshore area prior to substantial drainage improvements taking place
In fact, most of that area actually lies within the City of Brisbane. No other records or confirmation of any calls for service outside
of Daly City’s small service contract were provided to support his contentions.
It is misstated in the report that Daly City has contracted with the district for “services including responding to resident’s complaints, mosquito surveillance and prevention and control measures in catch basins, vaults, wastewater facilities, fresh water and salt marshes and residences, as well as overall monitoring and disease control….”. Such contracting for services has not occurred.
Further, the typical services described by the Mosquito Abatement District are related to standing water in back yards, storm sewer lines, catch basins, marshy areas and other such locations. Daly City is constructed almost entirely on sloping ground and, therefore, such flat areas are very rare. The storm system drains very effectively and there is little opportunity in Daly City for standing water except in very isolated locations, such as Mussel Rock. Therefore, the services that would be routinely provided to communities with large flat areas would generally not be needed within this community. We have no record of any request for services from residents related to problems from mosquito presence.
The report also alludes to the Lake Merced area, which falls under the responsibility and authority of the City and County of San Francisco. The adjacent golf course, the Olympic Club falls within unincorporated San Mateo County as well as the City and County of San Francisco, not within Daly City. We have contacted San Francisco Health Department to determine their plans and assessment of the West Nile issue. They have indicated that they do not currently have, or plan to have, a specific program to address this issue based upon their assessment of the situation.
Unfortunately, the manager of the Mosquito Abatement District has indicated that Daly City would not be provided (on a cost reimbursement basis) any additional services if we are unwilling to provide the district over $200,000 through the annexation process. He has implied that no other similar services are available. However, in our research, we have identified other sources of mosquito abatement services that can be used to meet Daly City’s limited needs and we will use such services, if necessary.
In summary, Daly City, like many communities, is currently facing reductions in its public safety staff, as well as other areas of services to the community. The diversion of over $90,000 of property taxes that help provide public safety must be evaluated in light of the potential significance of any one threat contrasted with a wide range of public safety issues within the community and where resources can best be allocated to meet those most significant issues. Further, we are concerned regarding an additional assessment on our residents, many of whom are struggling financially, without a clear indication of benefits that they would receive.
Finally, the mosquito abatement district has not attempted to discuss Daly City’s position in an attempt to arrive at an approach that might be mutually agreeable and beneficial to both agencies. Unless that occurs, Daly City does not intend to agree to the proposed annexation.
We are pleased to provide this additional information.
Adrienne J. Tissier