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Richmond In The News This Week
February 16, 2003


Richmond was prominently featured in the regional press this week, first on February 11 in the Chronicle in an article "Asthma epidemic sickens thousands of Bay Area kids - An ill wind blows across industrial neighborhoods," in which local industries were blamed by North Richmond residents for causing an asthma epidemic. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/02/11/MN147858.DTL.


Next was another Chronicle story, dated February 15,  "Refinery pollution report a shock Bay Area plants belching 30% more gases than realized" http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/02/15/MN58562.DTL. This is a rehash of previous stories highlighting refinery flares. See E-Forum January 5 http://www.tombutt.com/forum/030105.htm and January 9 http://www.tombutt.com/forum/030109a.htm. The BAAQMD draft report, dated December 2 and revised December 20, 2002, is now available on the Internet at http://www.baaqmd.gov/enf/refineryfsm/Flares/FlaresTAD.pdf.

Data from Chevron was not included in the report because, as the report states "Chevron does not have adequate monitoring to make an assessment. Chevron does not have monitors that directly measure flow to the flare. Historical data was received on 12/2/02 and is currently being analyzed." However, Tom Mann of Chevron responded, "·The [Contra Costa] Times article [of January 5, 2003] also stated that Chevron’s flare monitoring data could not be included in the estimate because we do not adequately monitor our flares. Our flare monitoring information is accurate and was submitted, but the District chose not to include our data in the initial draft of their report, yet in the current version attached our data is included. Mann went on to say that Chevron's emissions were about 2 tons per day.


Meanwhile, ChevronTexaco posted a $904 million profit for the quarter http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/02/01/BU129412.DTL after, according to a letter writer to the Contra Costa Times, out-sourcing its entire credit card department to Manila, Philippines. "Chevron announced to former employees that it's not the first to send jobs overseas; it's the trend, and most credit card banks have already done this." http://www.bayarea.com/mld/cctimes/news/editorial/letters/5151239.htm. However, in a new program, partnering with RichmondWorks, to employ Richmond residents at the refinery, Chevron announced that 6 of 18 new refinery operator positions had been awarded to Richmond residents. This is a positive trend in an operation where Richmond residents have historically made up about 5% of the workforce.


Finally, Richmond's casino prospects (along with those of San Pablo, Vallejo and West Sacramento) caught the interest of the Sacramento Bee, with quotes from Butt and Bates. http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/story/6127160p-7082806c.html.


KCBS  and the Contra Costa Times reported that Richmond "has handed its waste removal provider a 22-year contract extension with automatic raises and no rate review, locking residents and businesses into fees far above most Bay Area cities." http://www.kcbs.com/pages/kcbs/news/news_story.nsp?story_id=36654467&ID=kcbs&scategory=Computers and http://www.bayarea.com/mld/cctimes/5171231.htm.


The Richmond Housing Authority's plan to speculate in aging apartment complexes was covered by the Contra Costa Times on February 11: "The city's public housing authority is drawing fire for its decision to sink $36 million into a Hilltop apartment complex that opponents say will not add to the city's affordable housing stock, and could jeopardize more promising projects, including the downtown transit village." http://www.bayarea.com/mld/cctimes/5154028.htm.


Remember the December 15, 2002, E-FORUM http://www.tombutt.com/forum/021215a.htm, in which local filmmaker Pete Livingston took major film studios to Federal court? According to Livingston, Sony Pictures and Columbia Pictures have thrown in the towel and want out of the Federal litigation. Additional media coverage can be found at www.NotTheEnemy.com .


Although it didn't make the papers, I thought I would share this week's progress report on the Ford Assembly Plant:

Date:                February 16, 2003

Subject:            Weekly Status Report for Ford Assembly Building (FAB) “Richmond Assembly Plant - Ford Point”

Rehab/Redevelopment- Week of February 10, 2003

The work is progressing at the site with window replacement, seismic improvements to the structural columns and roofing. The new roof is complete on the west wall.  Corrugated roof repairs have started. The south elevator reinforcing action is underway. Masonry work for repairs has started with lintel and other stabilizing actions for installation of replacement brick or stabilization of internal brick walls underway.  Woodwork repairs in the historic office are underway. Labor makeup is in the range of net 27% Richmond and 37% total local based on data reviewed and processed. 

On January 31, 2003 a deadline for a loan commitment passed and the identified lender has submitted more information as of February 10, 2003 indicating the loan process was continuing for values as was in the financing plan. 

The rolling total for project expenses that are reimbursed is now $10.4 million of which $7.2million has been dispersed.  Another $2 million will be disbursed next week, we have received $3.3million in state reimbursements and just over $6 million reimbursement from FEMA arrived early this week.  Based on this, we should just meet the March 31 deadline for expending FEMA funds.  

There was a Broker’s open house on Tuesday that was well received and about 50 business agents attended the luncheon and tour.  The developer committed to tenant availability in November of this year.

A presentation to the Marina Bay Neighborhood Council is scheduled for March 12.   The Office of the Inspector General will be visiting the City of Richmond staff on February 27 to conduct a self-audit of FEMA on this project.

Key critical path items are:

·     Satisfactory information needs to be delivered to meet the requirements of the amendment to the DDA.

·     Tenant Improvements will need to go in quickly to prepare for early partial use of the property.

·     Historical Tax Credit Application is in preparation.  This needs to be applied for and accepted before March 31, 2003.

·     State Lands issues are finalizing to clear title issues and provide equitable exchange.  Follow-up actions by various staff and elected representatives are in consideration.

For additional information contact Rod Satre- Project Manager, Redevelopment Agency at(510) 620-6539