Mayor and Councilmembers:
This is the weekly report for the week ending September 29th, 2006.
1. Meeting Notes
The City Council meeting on Tuesday, October 3rd will convene at 5:30 PM for a Study Session, and at 7:00 PM for the regular City Council meeting. Note that there is no morning session on Tuesday.
2. Another Bond Rating Upgrade for the City of Richmond
The City was informed this past week that Moody’s Investors Services has assigned a rating of Baa2 to the City’s 2006 Wastewater Refunding Bonds, Series A. This represents an upgrade from the previous Baa3 (negative outlook) rating, and is in sync with Standard & Poor’s rating of BBB on the same bonds. The Moody’s analyst indicated that the rating committee was a little concerned about the City’s decision to undertake its first long-dated swap and its first variable rate issuance, but that they believed the risks are not overly significant.
Moody’s is not assigning an “outlook” on the rating, but assures the City that this is not unusual; outlooks are usually assigned for very large, frequent issuers or for a specific issuer that Moody’s is watching carefully for a potential upgrade or downgrade. The Moody’s analyst indicated that “no outlook” means Moody’s is comfortable that the rating is not expected to change one way or the other for the next 18-24 months; however, she also indicated that the rating could be upgraded at the time of the next series of wastewater bonds in 2008, should the Sewer Enterprise’s performance continue to improve. The analyst also indicated that her view is that both the sewer enterprise and the City itself are on the path to improvement in terms of credit performance.
The Finance Department staff, Rich Davidson, Everett Jenkins, and the financial consulting team of Jean Buckley, Sohail Bengali (Stone & Youngberg), and John Knox, all deserve credit for their outstanding work on this project.
3. Violence Prevention Community Meeting
The City’s Office of Violence Prevention consultants, The Mentoring Center, facilitated a community meeting this past Thursday at the Bermuda Room of the Auditorium. The meeting was attended by approximately 40 – 50 people who listened to The Mentoring Center talk about their approach to help launch a sustainable, long-term effort to reduce violent crime in Richmond. The meeting also included presentations by representatives from community projects that are currently underway toward this end. The consultants did an excellent job at this meeting, and are planning three additional community workshops at various locations in the City over the next several months.
4. West County Transportation Advisory Committee (WCCTAC) Meeting
I attended the WCCTAC meeting this past Friday at the suggestion of WCCTAC staff to provide a brief comment concerning the City of Richmond’s interest in participating in the “goods mobility” portion of the infrastructure bond issue that is on the ballot this November. Initially, the Northern California project list for this funding category focused primarily on the Port of Oakland. It was pointed out at the meeting by WCCTAC members Maria Viramontes and Tom Butt that goods moved out from the Port of Oakland, as well as the Port of Richmond, has a significant impact on rail traffic in Richmond, and results in the need for grade separation projects in the community. The WCCTAC Board concurred with the proposal to make Richmond’s needs in this area well known and I will follow up with WCCTAC staff.
5. Copper Wire Theft on the Richmond Parkway
Public Works staff members Ralph Lloyd and Cornell Hughes recently prepared a report concerning copper wire theft on the Richmond Parkway, which is a local problem that is consistent with a nationwide trend. Theft of the copper wire affects operation of both lighting and irrigation systems, which, in turn, impacts the safety and aesthetics of the Parkway.
When the Parkway project was completed some years ago, City staff observed the consistent problem of theft of electrical conductors from the project (Castro Street and Richmond Parkway). In one instance, in the mid-1990’s, the City needed to contract for the restoration of damaged electrical systems on the Parkway at a cost in excess of $100,000. The relative remoteness of the Parkway (undeveloped properties, etc.), persistent homeless habitation on or near the Parkway, and the variety of local recyclers with whom the thieves have been able to sell wire have all contributed to what is a common problem for local governments in an age of high market prices for copper wire.
During the past year, the number of wire thefts from the City of Richmond has risen consistently, with the Richmond Parkway being, by far, the principal recipient of attention by wire thieves. Activity has also been noted on lower Cutting Boulevard (near the Parkway) as recently as this past week. By working with the Police Department and the alarm company (SSD), there has been some recent success in stopping these thefts, but not yet enough. The current backlog of work on the Parkway represents a cost of nearly $50,000.
Staff is pursing strategies that make the theft of wire less attractive for the thieves who are targeting our systems, including working with local recyclers that are purchasing the material. It is also hoped that, as the level of development along the Parkway increases, the problem of wire theft will decrease.
6. Prospects for Recreational Ferry Service in Richmond
Planning Director Richard Mitchell and I, along with Councilmember Tom Butt, met this past week with representatives of the Bay Area Water Transit Authority, the National Park Service, Blue Water Network and the Golden Gate Recreation Area to discuss the prospect of including Richmond as a destination for future recreational ferry service. This initiative would complement plans to establish eventual commuter service to San Francisco.
7. General Plan Update
Announcements are being sent out for three additional community meetings in October concerning the General Plan:
· Thursday, October 5 – St. Mark’s Church (in Spanish)
· Tuesday, October 17th – Hilltop Mall Community Room
· Monday, October 30, City Council Chambers
Planning staff also met this past week with representatives of the University of California to invite their participation in the General Plan update.
8. Canal Street Quarry (Bottoms Property)
Representatives of the Bottoms Family Trust presented a comprehensive reclamation plan for the Quarry site, which is now being reviewed by Planning Department staff. Remediation work could begin before the end of the year, assuming all conditions for approval can be met.
9. Solar Project at Berlex Biosciences
Berlex Biosciences has submitted plans to construct a solar demonstration project on their site at Hilltop.
10. Richmond Plunge and The Maritime Child Care Center
As reported last week, the renovation of the Richmond Plunge and the Maritime Child Care Center are two of 25 projects that qualified for a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This grant has a different twist to it in that the public can vote to select the winners, with the winning projects dividing $1,000,000. The public can vote for a project on line by logging onto http://www.partnersinpreservation.com/index.php and following the directions. Please remember that you may cast one vote per day for these projects until the end of October. As of today, the Plunge was in 8th place in the voting, the Maritime Child Care Center in 20th place.
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.
City of Richmond
1401 Marina Way South
Richmond, CA 94804