Weekly Report for
the Week Ending September 1st, 2006
September 03, 2006
Mayor and Councilmembers:
This is the weekly report for the week ending September 1st, 2006.
1. Meeting Notes
There are no City Council meetings scheduled until Tuesday, September 12, 2006.
2. Attendance at the Police Executive Research Forum Meeting
At the suggestion of Chief Magnus, I accompanied the Chief to a meeting of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) this last Wednesday in Washington, which concerned approaches and strategies for reducing violent crime. The meeting was attended by approximately 160 law enforcement professionals, including the chiefs of police of many of the largest U.S. cities. The meeting included a statistical overview of national trends in violent crime (violent crime rates are significantly higher across the country – not just in Richmond), and a noted criminologist’s view on these trends. Also addressing the group was a Deputy Attorney General (a former U.S. Attorney in Virginia), who, during a question and answer session, heard a great deal of criticism from meeting attendees regarding the current administration’s perceived myopic focus on homeland security at the expense of funding local law enforcement. The meeting attendees indicated that, during the 1990’s when the federal government helped to directly fund local law enforcement, violent crime rates went down significantly, and that this extra funding played a significant role in this effort. Police executives also discussed strategies and approaches for reducing violent crime. Although no “magic wand” was revealed, the discussion did indicate that Richmond’s approaches to addressing this problem are consistent with those being utilized by other cities.
3. Chevron Utility User’s Tax Payment
The Finance Department reports that they received Chevron’s July utility user tax payment this past week in the amount of $778, 845. This is $389,556 less than last year’s monthly “CAP” payment of $1,168, 401. If this is representative of payments to be received over the course of the coming fiscal year, the City’s annual utility users’ tax revenue would be approximately $4.6 million below the prior year. I have asked Jim Goins to provide me with additional information regarding this payment, including what accompanying documentation was submitted. I will pass along to you additional information when it is available.
4. Enterprise Zone Bill Passes in California State Legislature
The City’s state lobbyist, Sacramento Advocates, reported that the Enterprise Zone bills (AB 1550 [Arambula] and SB 686) were passed by the legislature this past week, and they now go to the Governor for action. Since bills both have an urgency clause, if the Governor signs one or both bills, they become effective immediately. Both bills have the wording that the City sought, which prevents a hiatus between the current Richmond Enterprise Zone and a new zone, if an application for a new zone is in the process of being approved or disapproved.
5. Rail Tank Car Parking
City staff received several inquiries this past week concerning parking of rail tank cars near westbound Interstate 580, Carlson Boulevard and Marina Bay Parkway. In response, Fire Chief Michael Banks and his staff contacted John Cockle of the Richmond Pacific Railroad to understand this situation. Mr. Cockle stated that the railcars are parked on interchange tracks. The cars near I-580 and Carlson Boulevard are in transit between two railroads, Union Pacific and Richmond Pacific, and are usually on the tracks anywhere between twelve and forty-eight hours. The railcars in the yard near Marina Bay Parkway are used in a transfer process with various Richmond Inner Harbor Industries. The cars in this yard sometimes carry hazardous materials, but, by law, are only allowed to park there for no more than thirty days and must be appropriately placarded. If this time period is exceeded, then a Hazardous Materials Business Plan must be filed with the Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials office. Mr. Cockle indicated that any railcar parked for a long period of time is non-hazardous.
The Fire Department has been working closely with Randall Sawyer, the Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Program Director, to ensure that all appropriate laws and regulations are being followed. We will keep you informed of any additional developments regarding this issue.
6. Meeting with Kevin Finn of Republic Services Regarding Relocation of Sludge Ponds
City staff continues to make progress regarding the relocation of the sludge ponds off of property owned by the West County Sanitary District (WCSD) adjacent to Richmond Parkway. This past week, Janet Schneider and I met with Kevin Finn, of Republic Services (the landfill owner) to discuss issues regarding the sludge pond relocation that may affect Republic. We reviewed with Republic some of the options that are being evaluated and the potential effects of these options on Republic’s operations. One of the next steps in this process is to schedule a follow-up meeting regarding these issues that will also include WCSD staff. We will continue to keep the City Council informed regarding progress on this project.
7. Attendance at the League of California Cities Conference
I will be out of the office beginning on Wednesday afternoon (September 6th) through the remainder of the week, attending the League of California Cities Conference. Leslie Knight will be the Acting City Manager during my absence.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments about these or any other items of interest to you.
Have a great week.