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The Renegade
April 19, 2003

In an April 8, 2003, story in the West County Times, reporter Rebecca Rosen Lum referred to me as "renegade Councilman Tom Butt." I've been called a lot of things, but I have to say I kind of like the title "renegade" best. It has a nice ring to it. For a year, I was "vice-mayor," and it was always flattering to be addressed as such, but everyone on the Council gets to be called "vice-mayor." sooner or later. Some people call me "councilman," but that's getting old, and it's not very exclusive.

I looked renegade up in the dictionary, and found that it means "a person who abandons a party, movement, etc., and goes over to the other side." I like that. I think we need more people in government who are not willing to go along with the crowd. I'm not sure what the "other side" is, though. I suppose it could be the "far side" or the "dark side," but I would like to think it is the "right side." I know that the city manager is "right-sizing" City staff, but I don't know whether there is any relationship there or not.

Regarding the story on historic preservation at the end of this email wherein I gained the title "renegade," I would like to provide some update. Following action by the Finance Committee on April 3, it is my understanding that a historic preservation consultant, presumably Nancy Stoltz, who previously served in that capacity, will be awarded a contract for $9,900 to run approximately through the end of this fiscal year (June, 2003). She has programmed 100 hours for four tasks:

·          Complete Final Local Register of Historic Resources

·          Complete GIS Mapping of Historic Resources

·          Complete Proposed Revisions to Historic Structures Code

·          Forward HPAC Recommendations for Landmark Designations to City Council

This is a positive step, and I commend and thank my colleagues for moving this direction. I also want to thank those citizens  who conveyed their concerns. The future of Richmond's historic preservation program, however, is still very much up in the air. Those who believe that this is an important part of our public policy should continue to communicate with City Council members, as well as the city manager (Isiah Turner), the planning manager (Barry Cromartie) and the assistant city manager for community and economic development (Jay Corey)

Although I can embrace being a renegade, I regret some of the inflammatory communications, in which I participated, that characterized the debate over historic preservation these last few weeks. Hopefully, hostilities are over. During the City Council retreat last week, we discussed this issue at some length, and I have committed to mellower and more objective advocacy in the future. My colleagues, on their part, did proceed with the basic funding of preservation activities described above for the next two and a half months. I am optimistic that open and receptive minds, along with professionalism, will resolve this eventually in Richmond's best interest.

Regarding the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee (HPAC), I have been researching my records and the City Council Minutes, I find that the members of the HPAC were appointed and confirmed on September 19, 2000. On April 10, 2001, Chapter 6.06 (The Historic Preservation Ordinance) was amended to provide for two-year terms and to add the attendance requirement resulting in automatic resignation for missing more than one-third of the meetings during a 12-month period.

I think this means that all members' terms expired on September 19, 2002. The HPAC is made up of ten members, eight of whom who are to represent the following organizations:

·          Arts & Culture Commission

·          Point Richmond History Association

·          Design Review Board

·          Rosie the Riveter Committee

·          Contra Costa County Historical Society

·          Chamber of Commerce

·          Richmond Museum

·          Planning Commission

The other two are members at large.

Some of the existing members will undoubtedly reapply, but there are several vacancies currently, including one at-large member, and the representatives of the Contra Costa County Historical Society and the Arts and Culture Commission. If you are interested in being appointed to the HPAC, obtain an application form from and return it completed to the City Clerk's Office (510/620-6513). Diversity reflecting Richmond's population is highly desirable.

Regarding the West County Times article that follows, I have the following comments:

·          Regarding the number of cities that have historic preservation programs: Richmond has more resources on the National Register of Historic Places than any city in Contra Costa County and more than most cities in California. Richmond is the only city in California, other than San Francisco, that has an urban National Park unit. California has only 23 National Park units, one of which is in Richmond, and Richmond's unit is one of only three National Historical Parks in the entire state.

·          Regarding commitments for funding historic preservation projects: Whether officially designated or not, Richmond's historic resources do not require funding by the City for rehabilitation. The Ford Building was not required to be funded; it was done pursuant to a vote of the majority of the City Council, and $20 million of it was from federal grants. The developer will reap another $5 million from federal tax credits. The City is under no requirement to fund rehabilitation of the Pullman Building or any other building. The Pullman District was placed on the Richmond Register by a majority vote of the City Council, following advocacy by dozens of Richmond's citizens, many of whom live in that neighborhood. The compelling thing about well-developed local programs is that they attract outside funding and qualify for a host of federal and state incentives, including a significant historic preservation tax credit.

·          Regarding the City's existing public policy commitment to historic preservation: This is not new. Richmond has had a Historic Structures Code since 1982. The Richmond General Plan, adopted by the City Council before I was elected, requires a number of basic historic preservation strategies, including:

·     OSC-E: Provide a legacy of the history, archaeology and culture of the area for present and future residents

·     CF-C.2.g: Rehabilitation of the Richmond Plunge Aquatic Facility.

·     CF-K.2: When financial resources permit, City will repair the Ford Assembly Plant Building, a historical and architecturally significant building, to bring it back to a seismically resistant shell for future development and use.


·     LU-A.4: Require new development adjacent to historical sites to incorporate design elements so as to complement the character of the surrounding historical structures (Same as Open Space and Conservation Element Policy OSC-E.4)

·     LU-A.5: Preserve and enhance existing cultural and artistic artifacts and resources in the City (Same as Community Facilities Element Policy CF-K.2).

·     CF-K.2: Preserve and enhance existing cultural and artistic artifacts and resources in the City (Same as Land Use Element Policy LU-A.5).

·     ED-C.3: Promote Richmond as a destination point for non-residents by building on the City’s unique shoreline and waterfront assets, scenic features, and historical and cultural resources.

·     OSC-E-1 Require archaeology reconnaissance surveys for all projects within an archaeological sensitivity area. When cultural resources are located, measures to deal with the historic resource shall be recommended by a qualified archaeologist (Archaeological Sensitivity areas are identified in the Archaeology map prepared by California Archaeological Consultant, 1981, and is on file in the Planning Department)

·     OSC-E.2 Protect notable historic, archaeological and cultural sites from destruction.

·     OSC-E.3 Support formulation of a plan for interpretive facilities on specific sites. Sites near local and regional recreation areas should be preferred. Sites should be included in parks, trails, and other facilities whenever possible.

·     OSC-E.4 Require new development adjacent to historical sites to incorporate design elements so as to complement the character of the surrounding historical structures (Same as Land Use Policy LU-A.4)

Area Specific Guidelines

·     West Shoreline - 3: Urge that additional commercial facilities at Point Richmond will be developed in a way that complements and preserves the historic “village-like” appearance and character of the district.

·     West Shoreline - 6: Encourage the acquisition of the historic buildings at Winehaven by the East Bay Regional park District or the City when the Naval Fuel Depot becomes surplus public land.


·     LU-A.3 City will incorporate historic preservation provisions into the Zoning Ordinance and indicate on the Zoning Maps the location of historic structures and districts.

Historical preservation at a head in Richmond Councilman Butt warns against recommendation to dump preservation office's consultant for architectural services By Rebecca Rosen Lum CONTRA COSTA TIMES April 8, 2003   

RICHMOND - Hostilities are mounting in a battle over historical preservation, with renegade Councilman Tom Butt accusing city officials of reneging on their duty to protect and preserve symbols of this waterfront town's rich past. At issue is Planning Director Barry Cromartie's recommendation that the City Council dump its contract with a consultant to provide historic preservation architectural services.

The council's finance committee retained consultant Nancy Stoltz but only through June, the end of fiscal year 2002-03. The City Council will vote on the recommendation tonight. "Richmond has built an enviable historic preservation program that has brought regional, and even national, recognition to the city, as well as millions of dollars in grants for treasures such as East Brother Light Station, The Plunge, the Red Oak Victory Ship, the Ford Assembly Building and the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park," said Butt, an architect involved in numerous preservation efforts. "Now, the administration wants to defund and dismantle what little support has been previously provided by city government."

But Cromartie said the costs outweigh the gains. The consultant is paid $70,000 to track historic sites, a job that comprises 3 percent of the department's workload. "We are in a tremendous crisis," Cromartie said. "Manpower is extremely tight. Given (recent staff) layoffs, we can't do everything." Topping the department's list of priorities are revisions to the fence ordinance, rules governing commercial signs, state environmental law updates and several other missions, he said. The city laid off 59 workers and froze 32 vacant public safety positions. There were no layoffs in the planning department, which has an annual budget of $1.1 million. Only 49 of 492 California cities have developed a historic preservation office. The majority haven't presumably because "they do not have the resources," Cromartie added.

Cromartie suggested eliminating the contract immediately, and offered a third option: to extend support into fiscal year 2003-2004, with the costs recovered with a planning fee increase of 4.2 percent.

Butt countered that historic designations can yield federal tax credits, deductions, grants and planning assistance. Millions of dollars of federal historic preservation tax credit subsidies have already been tapped to rehabilitate the Hotel Mac, the Hotel Carquinez -- formerly Hotel Don -- and Baltic Square. The Ford Assembly Building project has used roughly $5 million in historic preservation federal tax credits, and structures at Point Molate could also reap such credits.

The city has applied for grants available only to historic sites to fund rehabilitation projects that "cut across Richmond geographically, ethnically and demographically, and the opportunity exists to ensure that Richmond's list of historic resources fully reflects its diversity," Butt said.

"I understand Councilman Butt's passion for saving historic buildings, but the council itself has never had a discussion about this," Councilwoman Maria Viramontes said. "Now, there is talk about saving the Pullman (train car) Building (on Carlson and Pullman avenues). What am I going to do, pour money into that building when we're trying to put housing in that area? It cost $28 million to retrofit the Ford building, and there's all kinds of projects we could have put that money into." Last year, Viramontes abstained as the rest of the council placed the Pullman district, including three warehouses and the International Hotel, on the city's historic register.

Contact Rebecca Rosen Lum at 510-262-2713 or rrosenlum@cctimes.com <mailto:rrosenlum@cctimes.com>.