California Needs a New Health Care System

by Al Miller

A report of the Health Care Committee, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club ( provided information for this two part series of articles. Part two will appear in a future issue.

California legislators decided not to re-introduce a follow on bill to SB 810 this year while they focus on introducing the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). While the reforms in the ACA are improvements to the pre-ACA system, they do not result in a sustainable health care system for all Americans.

The 2010 federal health care reform will help many people pay for health insurance and rein in some of the worse abuses of health insurance companies. But it leaves wasteful, profit-driven insurance corporations in charge of our health care. California needs a universal, single-payer health care system like the California Universal Health Care Act (SB 810)!

Here are some reasons why:
We need a health care system that includes everybody.
SB 810 includes everyone in the state, regardless of age, health, employment, economic, or immigration status.

The ACA requires everyone to buy health insurance starting in 2014. But it excludes undocumented immigrants and exempts people who can’t afford insurance or who pay a fine. An estimated 8% of the population still won’t have insurance—going without needed care, and relying on expensive emergency rooms.

We need a plan that covers all of our medically necessary care.
SB 810 provides the same comprehensive coverage to everyone, rich or poor, old or young—all medically necessary care including doctor and hospital costs, prescription drugs, dental, vision, and mental health care, medical equipment, physical therapy, acupuncture, and more.

The ACA lists benefits that insurance companies have to cover. But it doesn’t include adult dental and vision care or―alternative treatments like acupuncture. And insurance companies’ priority is profits, so they have a stake in denying claims. You will still have to fight with them over claims they deny.

We need a system that controls costs for individuals and families.
SB 810 charges an affordable premium to employees and employers, on a sliding scale based on earnings. It eliminates co-pays and deductibles, as well as the insurance companies’ wasteful bureaucracy, staff to deny your claims, sky-high CEO salaries, and profits.

The ACA does not control increases in insurance premiums (which doubled in the last 10 years). Your out-of-pocket costs (deductibles and co-pays) will go up as health care costs go up, despite some controls. As premiums rise, many employers will charge employees more for insurance.

We need a system that lets us choose our doctors.
SB 810 creates one fund for the whole state, so the fund will pay the fee of any doctor or licensed health care provider in the state. That means you can choose any doctor who’s available.

Under the ACA, you have to buy insurance from a private company, so you can only go to the doctors it covers. If you change jobs or lose your job, you may end up with different insurance and have to change doctors.

Go to these sites for information about how you can help bring comprehensive, affordable health care to all Californians:


Jewel of Kensington Park – The Community Center “Youth Hut”

by Bruce V. Marrow

Set on the hillside overlooking the SF Bay, Kensington Park is the major physical asset owned and operated by the Kensington Police Protection and Community Services District (KPPCSD). The construction of outdoor park activities is superb with children’s play areas, tennis courts, basketball, pathways, playing fields and most recently the addition of public rest rooms.

The Community Center, aka the Youth Hut, is the building we all share and attend for recreation programs and community sponsored activities and events. The Center should be the “jewel” and focus of the park. However, it is sadly in need of repair and does not ive up to the basic safety standards and civic expectations of most Kensington residents.

A Master Plan for Park Buildings was completed in March 2012. Based on community input from two workshops and an on-line survey, the architects recommended both repairing the basic health and safety problems, as well as making improvements that would better serve the entire community.

The focus of the design is to first provide a building that would be seismically and physically safer for our children who are the biggest users of the facility. Additionally, the design provides greater separation and flexibility in how the rooms are used, so that multiple programs or meetings could take place at the same time. The design includes human comfort improvements, such as temperature controls and better sound and lighting, while concurrently reducing ongoing costs through energy efficient systems.

The design also encourages more rental opportunities and festive celebrations at times when the facility is not currently being used. Lastly, the new Center would celebrate its beautiful park setting and the indoor/outdoor experience by providing more light along the west wall—a huge opportunity missed in the current

Funding is needed to build the Community Center as recommended in the Master Plan. The cost of renovation is estimated at $1.6 million dollars. Even with existing funding identified for this project (some of which are grants and donations) there is an estimated funding shortfall of $1.1 million dollars. To fund the recommended improvements will require either a voter approved bond or a tax at some point in our future.

The Committee is committed to making our park buildings and our shared civic spaces as safe and enduring as possible and an asset for our enjoyment today and for our families and friends for generations to come.

The Park Buildings Committee is reaching out to “K” groups and other interested neighborhood associations in March so we can educate the community about the Master Plan and the financing options and bring that information back to the KPPCSD Board. Please plan on attending your “K” group meeting or call General Manager Greg Harman at 510-526-4141 to schedule a discussion with your neighborhood group.
To review the full Kensington Park

Buildings Master Plan, please go to and open the tab marked “Parks and Recreation”.

City of El Cerrito Climate Action Plan

by Carla Hansen

The City of El Cerrito developed a Climate Action Plan (CAP) due to the concerns that global and local effects of climate change will have an impact on our community and its way of life. In 2011, the City Council passed a resolution that set greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets to 15% below 2005 levels by 2020 and 30% by 2035 for emissions created by various activities within the community and City operations. The CAP serves as a road map to how the community can achieve these targets. The goals of the CAP include:

  • Provide guidance for the City in pursuing reductions in GHG emissions
  • Provide a policy framework for incorporation for a climate or sustainability element into the City’s upcoming General Plan Update
  • Inspire residents, businesses and employees within the City to participate in reducing GHG emissions
  • Demonstrate El Cerrito’s commitment to helping the State and Bay Area reach their mandated GHG reduction goals

The CAP includes an inventory of the level greenhouse gas emissions being produced from transportation, energy consumption (electricity and natural gas), water use and waste generation throughout the community. This inventory becomes the baseline level of emissions that the City hopes to get below.

Our community emitted, 147,094 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e-a unit of measurement to describe how much global warming a given type of greenhouse gas may cause). To put this into perspective, the Chevron refinery in Richmond emitted 275,650 tons of CO2e in 2004 (according to carma. org). Most of the emissions came from automobiles (51%) and residential and business electricity and natural gas consumption (44%). According to the CAP, the community and the City could reach its emission reductions targets, “if all households took such actions as insulating the attic, converting to Energy Star appliances, driving 19 miles less per week per household member and actively participating in the City’s recycling and composting programs.”

Because El Cerrito is predominantly residential, there isn’t any one action the community or the City can take to greatly reduce emissions. It will take many little actions by all residents. The CAP outlines potential actions that residents and the City should take to reduce carbon emissions in the future. The City Council, with input from the public, can adopt the plan and embark on these actions to achieve its emission reduction targets.

Suggested Actions:

Sustainable Community

  • Encourage higher density Transit Oriented Development (TOD) and in fill development on transportation corridors
  • Diversify the City’s economy to increase the City’s job base and encourage more pedestrian-friendly economic activities
  • Invest in pedestrian, bicycle and transit-friendly infrastructure
  • Increase and enhance green and open space
  • Develop alternative transportation outreach and incentive programs

Energy and Water Use

  • Reduce energy and water use in existing buildings by 20%
  • Encourage new construction to build to a higher level of green building and energy efficiency than is required in CA code
  • Reduce reliance on fossil fuel-based energy by increasing renewable energy use in El Cerrito (Community Choice Aggregation)
  • Encourage water conservation and diversity the community’s supply for non-potable uses

Waste Reduction

  • Reduce waste going to landfill to 4,000 tons by 2020 and 2,000 tons by 2035
  • Increase participation in curbside waste reduction services in all sectors
  • Expand one-stop waste diversion at El Cerrito recycling center
  • Develop and implement a Zero-Waste Plan

For more detailed information on the how the CAP suggests the community reach these goals, please visit and search for the Climate Action Plan.

The Environmental Quality Committee is hearing public comment on the plan on March 12, at 7:00 p.m.

The Planning Commission is also available for public comment on March 20, 7:30 p.m. Both meetings are at El Cerrito City Hall. If you have new ideas or thoughts on the plan, submit them to the City of El Cerrito by:


Fax: 510-559-7682

Mail: Climate Action Plan, City of El Cerrito, 10890 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, CA 94530

Mayor Lyman answered a few questions regarding the Climate Action Plan when he addressed the Club in February. A formal presentation at an upcoming Club meeting could be made at Club members’ requests.