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City Manager's Weekly Report for the Week Ending November 3rd, 2006

Mayor and Councilmembers:

This is the (rather long, but information-packed [23 items!]) weekly report for the week ending November 3rd, 2006.

1.         Meeting Notes

The next regular City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 14th.  Note that the City Council previously moved its first meeting of November to November 14th due to the election being on November 7th.

2.         Richmond Enterprise Zone Gains Approval

The City of Richmond was awarded a conditional Enterprise Zone designation, along with San Francisco and San Jose in the Bay Area, as part of 23 Enterprise Zones identified today by Governor Schwarzenegger.  The new designations will take the place of the 23 zones established by statute which are expiring over the next several months. The California Enterprise Zone Program targets economically distressed areas using special state and local incentives to promote business investment and job creation.  By encouraging entrepreneurship and employer growth, the program strives to create and sustain economic expansion in California communities.  The next step in the designation process will be the issuance of a conditional designation letter to each of the new zones by the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD).  The letters will outline conditions which must be met to be granted final designation.   Examples of conditions include preparation of an Environmental Impact Report and a signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Department which includes performance measures and benchmarks.  This means that Richmond’s Enterprise Zone status will not be interrupted and, provided the City meets its requirements, Richmond’s Enterprise Zone will last another 15 years.

3.         Richmond Village "Formerly Easter Hill" Grand Opening

This last Thursday, the City celebrated the grand opening of the Richmond Village HOPE VI Development, replacing the former Easter Hill development. This was a major project of the Richmond Housing Authority, the Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency and the Easter Hill Development Associates, LLC.  Despite the pouring rain under a crowded tent, the celebration was very well attended by residents, HUD officials, development partners, City staff and the Mayor.  This was a great event befitting of the Richmond Village Project, which represents outstanding efforts of several City departments, community partners and the private sector.  Congratulations to all those who worked on this project.

4.         Richmond Greenway Receives Project Assistance Grant

As you know, the Richmond Greenway is the former railroad corridor that is being converted into a 3-mile trail and park spanning from Garrard Blvd. to San Pablo Ave. between Ohio Ave. and Chanslor Ave.  The Greenway Project was recently selected by the National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program to receive assistance in the form of a project staff person for Fiscal Year 2006-07 at no cost to the City of Richmond.  The application for the assistance grant was prepared and submitted by Redevelopment staff member Craig Murray.

Linda Stonier will serve as the Project’s staff person, and will bring her experience in conservation and recreation planning to work closely with City staff and the community-based Friends of the Richmond Greenway.  The goal is to learn how to effectively leverage resources to make sure the Greenway is a resource for all those who want to use it.  Ms. Stonier is already proving to be a valuable asset in helping to move this project forward.

5.         Surveillance Camera System Project Update

The Closed Circuit Television System Request for Proposal (RFP) was mailed to 27 prospective contractors, and posted on the City’s website, on November 2, 2006.  Notices of the RFP will also appear the West County Times on November 6, 13, and 15 in the legal notice section.  There is a mandatory bidders’ conference on November 17, 2006 at 1:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.  Proposals are due December 18, 2006 at 5:00 p.m.  Administrative Chief Janet Schneider did an excellent job coordinating this multi-department effort.

6.         Update on Community Based Prosecutor District Attorney

Representatives from the City Attorney’s office, the Human Resources Department, and the Police Department met with District Attorney Robert Kochly earlier this week to discuss the proposed Community Based Prosecutor position.  As you will recall, under this concept, a member of the District Attorney’s office would be stationed at the Police Department to assist in developing criminal prosecutions.  Mr. Kochly believes that the District Attorney’s office will be in a position to place a prosecutor in the Police Department by the beginning of next year.

7.         New City of Richmond Business Website

The Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency’s Office of Economic Development launched its business website, www.richmondca4business.com, on November 1st to rave reviews from the commercial brokerage community.  This event coincides with the availability of new marketing materials describing opportunities in the City, all of which help give the City of Richmond’s business attraction and retention efforts a new image of quality and professionalism.

To augment these efforts, staff will be bringing forward for Agency Board consideration a contract with the Buxton Company, which will help staff target and recruit retailers that will succeed in Richmond.  Staff has been in discussions with Buxton and other companies for several months and, after hearing positive recommendations from economic development professionals in San Jose and Hercules, staff believes that Buxton can help make a positive difference in bringing retail businesses to Richmond that are consistent with retail demands of the community.

8.         Civic Center Update

The Civic Center phase I plan and design is scheduled to be reviewed by the Planning Commission on November 16th.  The Design Review Board (DRB) has recommended approval of a mitigated negative declaration under CEQA, and the design team is working with an ad hoc committee of the DRB to fine tune some outstanding issues.  The design meeting this week was very productive and another meeting is scheduled for next week.

The Civic Center phase 1(a) contract negotiation for a $10 million scope of work is nearing completion.  This initial contract for the Civic Center Project will include design, architectural and engineering work done to date, as well as seismic work and some interior demolition.  This contract is on track for City Council consideration on November 14th.

9.         Bi-annual Disaster Drill Completed

The Richmond Emergency Action Community Team (REACT) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members held their bi-annual disaster preparedness drill on Saturday, October 28th. The drill was the culmination of the training program that included a total of 80 participants.  REACT is the City of Richmond disaster preparedness program that is taught by OES Manager Kathy Gerk and a group of volunteers; CERT is the City of El Cerrito program.  The purpose of these courses is to teach individuals how to assist one another in the aftermath of a disaster.  As part of the drill, firefighters from the Richmond and El Cerrito Fire Departments led the REACT and CERT students through realistic exercises that included fire suppression, medical triage, search and rescue, utility control, cribbing and lifting, and disaster psychology. The feedback from all participants was very positive.

One of the participants in the REACT program was Veronica deLatorre, who is Council Member John Marquez’s daughter.  She completed her REACT training this fall in the Point Richmond class and is planning to implement a similar program in San Pablo.

10.       Award for Kathryn Gerk, City of Richmond Office of Emergency Services (OES)

With respect to the successful REACT training, it should be noted that Kathryn Gerk recently received the California Emergency Services Association (C.E.S.A.), “John Fetz Service Award”.  This award was presented to Kathryn for her outstanding service and support to C.E.S.A. and the profession of Emergency Management. This is the highest award presented to a member of C.E.S.A.

11.       Port of Richmond Terminal 4 Activity Update

Jim Matzorkis has been working to try to clean up the Terminal 4 area on Point San Pablo.  As an update, he has reported the following list of pending actions:

·        A new security fence and gate will be installed at the facility entrance on Western Drive later this month.

·        An eviction notice to Scott Diamond has been extended to November 30.

·        The eviction of EAI (which is in bankruptcy) has been referred to the City Attorney.

·        Certified Coatings of California continues to lease one acre at the rear of the facility.

·        A new lease is near completion with Pio Trucking Inc. for caretaker services and trailer storage at the site.

·        A new lease with Manson Construction is under negotiation.  Manson plans to commence a short-term barge operation in early 2007 delivering large pipe to San Rafael.  They will remove the foliage overgrowth as part of their lease obligations.

·        The BCDC Grant Agreement for the removal of the old timber wharf is nearly complete.  This item will be presented to the City Council for approval no later than next month.

·        The short line railroad has been requested to remove old rail ties from site. 

12.       Meeting with BART Staff Regarding Construction of Parking Garage in the Transit Village Area

I attended a meeting this past week, along with Redevelopment Agency staff members Alan Wolken and Gary Hembree, with a number of BART staff members to discuss issues relating to the construction of the parking garage near the Transit Village.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss and seek BART cooperation in the design and construction of the garage, which is critical to the development success of the village.  Alan and Gary have been working for some time on securing funding for the project, and have been working with the Agency’s engineering consultant on obtaining a preliminary design and cost estimate.  BART staff members are concerned that the funding is still inadequate to complete the project, and are reluctant to devote staff resources, even those for which they will be reimbursed, on moving the project forward until they believe adequate funding has been secured.  By the conclusion of the meeting, the attendees had agreed on the amount of the perceived funding gap, and had agreed on a path, in incremental steps, for moving this project forward.  We will keep you informed.

13.       Street Improvements on Harbour Way South

Work has commenced on the south end of Harbour Way South to construct street improvements from the south terminus of the street to Hall Avenue.  Completion is scheduled for Spring 2007. 

14.       Update on Temporary Police Facility Lease

Lease negotiations for a temporary police station are well underway, and staff hopes to present a proposed lease to the City Council for consideration on November 14th or November 21st.

15.       Files at the Once and Future City Hall

Significant work is continuing on organizing records that have been stored at the City Hall on Barrett.  All departments with files stored at the old building have been informed that the absolute deadline to have documents stored offsite is November 30, 2006.  Department files have been largely moved out of the basement area, and are staged in second floor offices and in the auditorium for examination and categorization.  Of note, the Clerk’s Office completed its inventory and files were moved to the City’s offsite storage facility this past week.

16.       City Council Meeting Voting System

As you will undoubtedly recall with some degree of anguish, there were problems with the recently installed City Council voting system at the last City Council meeting.  Subsequent diagnosis indicated that the malfunction was caused by inadequate data storage capacity with the City’s server and the encoder.  A new server was ordered and delivered and is currently being installed by IT staff, and Granicus, the software vendor, is working to resolve the encoder issues.  The City Clerk has informed Granicus that she would like to have a test run during the week of November 6th to ensure that all system problems have been resolved with this system.

17.       Automated Agenda System

The AlphaCorp SIRE Imaging and Agenda Plus System, which will upgrade the City’s agenda process, public access, and records management capabilities, has been installed.  The agenda for November 14 will be prepared using the SIRE system.  We will keep you informed as we roll out new capabilities using this system.

18.       Enterprise Resources Planning System Upgrade Project

As you may recall, the City Council approved a contract with the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) to assist the City in preparing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a new/upgraded Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) system that will either upgrade or replace the existing SAP system.  The RFP for the ERP to upgrade SAP will be issued ASAP (actually, on December 1, 2006 – I simply could not resist the reverse alliteration), and responses to the RFP will be due on January 8, 2007.

19.       Capital Improvement Plan is Available on the Website

The Finance Department has made the “2006/07 – 2010/11 Capital Improvement Plan” available on the City’s website.  Interested community members can access the Plan by taking the following steps:

Step 1 – go to http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us

Step 2 – click on Departments

Step 3 – click on Administration

Step 4 – click on Finance

Step 5 – click on Capital Planning

Step 6 – click on Adopted Budget 2006/07 – 2010/11 Capital Improvement Projects

You will then see the Table of Contents from which you can click on any section tab to view the contents.

20.       General Plan Update

A General Plan Community meeting was held on Monday, October 30th in the City Council Chambers. This meeting was very well attended and it completes the supplemental meeting schedule for the “visioning” phase of Community outreach.  During the next several months, MIG will continue to meet with neighborhood Councils, Boards and Commissions.

21.       Planning Commission Activities

At its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, the Planning Commission listened to public comment on the proposed 36-unit Canyon Oaks II residential subdivision in the El Sobrante Valley.

22.       Richmond Plunge and The Maritime Child Care Center – Partners in Preservation

As reported previously, 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 had a different twist to it in that the public was allowed to vote to select the winners, with the winning projects dividing $1,000,000.  The public vote has now ended with the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkeley receiving the most votes.  American Express, the National Trust, and an Advisory Committee comprised of local Bay Area community leaders, are now reviewing all of the votes and the grant requests made by the 25 sites to determine which sites will share a total of $1 million in preservation grants with the First Church of Christ, Scientist.  According to the Partners in Preservation website, additional factors being considered for distribution of grant funds include the historic significance of the site, the quality of the preservation plan, the impact of the proposed project on the community, and the capacity of the project sponsor to carry out the plan.  Grant awards for other eligible projects are scheduled to be announced on the Partners in Preservation website (http://www.partnersinpreservation.com/index.php) on November 15th.

23.       Personnel Notes

Some noteworthy City of Richmond personnel activities for this week are as follows:

·        Patrick Seals has been hired to fill the vacancy for City Clerk Technician, effective November 1, 2006.  You may already know Mr. Seals, who has been working very hard and capably as a temporary employee in the Clerk’s office for the past year.  There is one remaining vacancy for the position of Deputy City Clerk.  The invitation for applications will remain open until the position is filled.

·        Lashonda Wilson, who has toiled skillfully as an intern in the City Manager’s office during the past several months, has been hired as a Management Analyst in the Manager’s office.

·        Antonio Banuelos is the Finance Department’s new Revenue Collections Manager effective Monday, October 30, 2006.

·        On Monday, October 30th at 7:12p.m., Finance Department staff member Rose Gibson became a new “Grandmother”.  Her daughter Stacie gave birth to a baby boy named Donovon, weighing 9 lbs and 2 ounces, at 21 inches long.  Both mother and baby have been released from the hospital and are home resting.  Congratulations to Rose and her family.

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.