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  West County Cities, County, to Merge
April 1, 2005

In an unprecedented early morning secret meeting today, the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, the San Pablo City Council and the Richmond City Council hammered out an agreement to combine the Cities of San Pablo, Richmond and the unincorporated area of North Richmond into a single City to be called San Richmond. The impetus for the move, which would create a city of nearly 150,000 making it the County’s largest, was to put a stop to competition among the three cities for Indian owned casinos.

Due to a loophole in Government Code Section 100096.A.(2)(3)(b), Richmond, as a Charter City, apparently can institute such a reorganization once every one hundred years without an election, so long as the elected officials of all participating jurisdictions vote for it unanimously.

Instead of letting the Indian tribes divide and conquer each city and the County looking for its own riches, the two cities and Contra Costa County will work as a team to extract the best imaginable deal. In other words, if gambling comes to West County at all, it will come only under terms dictated as one by the three jurisdictions. Supervisor John Gioia, who has previously opposed all casinos, estimated that the deal could be worth over a billion dollars and has said that he may reconsider his objections.

The new city will operate for the first year under a triumvirate consisting of the mayors of the two cities and the president of the Board of Supervisors. At the end of one year, a special election will be held to elect a new city council. A new city hall will be built on top of the soon to be closed Richmond landfill, which is the highest point in West County and can bee seen by all residents of the new city.

Richmond City Council Member Nat Bates was elected by the combined representatives to head up a newly-created casino committee because of his vast experience. Richard Griffin was elected as vice-chair. San Pablo officials were passed over because their recent unsuccessful experience with Casino San Pablo. Supervisors were also passed over because of their objections generally to casinos.