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Stege Sanitary District

The Stege Sanitary District was incorporated in 1913 and in 1923 was reorganized under the 1923 Act. The area of the district consisted of 2,320 acres in El Cerrito, which was incorporated in 1917, Richmond Annex with 320 acres and a portion of Albany with 330 acres, Kensington Park, Berkeley Woods, and No Man's Land, which was the unincorporated area consisting of 1,460 acres.

The population in 1913 of the Stege District was 1,800 and in 1920 it had 3,500. In 1930 the population was 8,000, in 1940 it had grown to 20,000, and in 1950 it was 40,000. The assessed valuation grew from $2,359,760 in 1923 to $8,732,325 in 1940, and to $20,292,675 in 1950.

The first sewer permit issued on July 22, 1915, was to Mr. A. Renkwitz in the Schmidt Village Tract. The sixth permit issued was to the Seven Mile House on San Pablo and Fairmount in 1915 and the owner was William F. Huber, who purchased the business from John H. Davis.

Permit #140 was issued in 1919 to the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad for sewer extension to serve the section house at the north end of San Pablo at Ohio Street for the Mexican railroad workers. These buildings have long since been demolished.

The permit #171 was issued to the premises of V.E. Belfils on March 12, 1920. Mr. Belfils later started to work for the Sanitary District as maintenance man and held that position until shortly before he passed away in 1945. His son, Mervin Belfils, started working on a part time basis for the District in 1929 and retired from the District in March of 1973 as a full time sanitary inspector.

In 1947, the State Department of Public Health issued an order making it unlawful to dump raw sewage into the bay. This District then took steps to purchase a site from the Santa Fe Railroad at Point Isabel to build a treatment plant. The plant has been completed as the first plant built on a pay-as-you-go basis with no bonded indebtedness to the taxpayer

This plant was situated on property formerly used by the du Pont Powder Works and is southeast of the K.L.X. towers near the former San Pablo Sportsmen's Club, and at the tip of Point Isabel.

Stege Sanitary is growing as it has annexed new areas into the District over the past years. It had close to 300 miles of sewer to maintain and handles various types of sanitation.

Prior to March 1914, the District Board devoted much of its time to issuance of liquor licenses. It also passed regulations prohibiting dogs from running loose without muzzles.

Judge Huber was Chairman of the Board, George Barber was Secretary, and other members were Ernest Navellier, H. F. Davis and W. H. Best. The first meeting was held at the Office of Justice of the Peace at San Pablo and Potrero. Haviland, Dazier, and Tebitts, were appointed as engineers for the District and George Scott was appointed as Assessor. W. H. Best resigned in 1914 as a board member to become the first inspector at $4.00 per day. William Rust was appointed to replace Best.

Assessed valuation in July 1913 was Real and Secured Property, $1,932,605, Unsecured $12,124, with a total of $1,944,730. The first tax rate was set at fifteen cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The first bond election in September 1913, was for $75,000 to cover the installation of sewers with 211 cast votes in favor and 9 opposed with 3 ballots being illegally marked.

An Assessment District was created in 1925 for sewers in Kensington Park, Berkeley Park, Berkeley Highlands Terrace, and Arlington Acres.

Ross Calfee was appointed in May 6, 1926 as engineer for the District. He passed away in October, 1953. Engineer Calfee had estimated that in 1975 the population of the District would be in the neighborhood of 110,000 people. The present engineer, Carl Yoder, was appointed on January l, 1954.

In 1913, when the main north and south outfalls were constructed, the outlets were l.4 feet above ordinary low tide. The outlets had no obstructions and sewage had free flow. Since that time, because of the prevailing westerly winds and tide action, there has been deposited on the tide flats a great deal or silt and debris. This report was made by engineer Calfee in 1929. To remedy this action the sewer was extended out to Point Isabel to deep water at the present treatment plant site.

The present District Board is composed of U.S. Barbachano, Robert Copeland, Austin Smith, Marion Snodgrass, and Charles Mahan. The District Manager and Secretary is Alfred Baxter, who resigned as a Board Member a number of years ago to take the position. The Stege Sanitary District office is situated at 7500 Schmidt Lane the old site of the Hutchinson quarry.

Copyright Mervin Belfils, October 1975
Copyright El Cerrito Historical Society, June 2006