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Bringing the Richmond Greenway to Life


I joined Richmonders from many neighborhoods yesterday, including Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council President Otheree Christian, to walk the Richmond Greenway (See Saturday Strolls on the Greenway, October 30, 2007). I am happy to report that the Greenway looks really good. The portion we walked from 2nd Street to 23rd Street is about a mile – two miles round trip.


In general, the Greenway is well maintained. It feels safe, looks welcoming and appears to be a great success. There was absolutely no trash along the Greenway, except for two boxes of junk mail strewn at the eastern end, probably stolen form the adjacent McVittie Annex Post Office. We collected the mail and returned it to the Postal Service. Actually, there was one other piece, a discarded vacuum cleaner, but by the time we returned, it had been salvaged by another Greenway user and presumably was on its way to a second life.


There are, however, a few things that could be addressed:


  • The City has done a really good job staying after the graffiti. There are a few new areas that graffiti needs to be abated. Probably most difficult to remove is graffiti on the paved walkway.
  • Most properties along the greenway are well kept, but there is a handful that have yards full of trash, debris and inoperable trailers and vehicles. City staff needs to make a tour along the Greenway and take abatement and code violation action to clean up these remaining blights. The Greenway would be a good candidate for the type of code enforcement action described in yesterday’s West County Times. Click here, or see below:
  • Some benches have been removed by vandals, apparently in search of scrap metals.
  • Some signs have been removed.
  • The lighted crosswalk at Harbour Way is inoperable.
  • The most egregious vandalism is the theft of all the wiring serving the lights, making the entire lighting system inoperable.

We stopped at the “Berryland” project just east of 6th Street where volunteers were building planters and planting berry bushes. I delivered several dozen raspberry bushes that I had thinned from my own berry patch. For more information about Berryland, contact Park Guthrie at (510) 691-5051. Park is with Urban Tilth, which cultivates urban agriculture in West Contra Costa County to help our community build a more sustainable, healthy, and just food system. Urban Tilth works with schools, community-based organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals to develop the capacity to produce 5% of our own food supply. Click here to learn more.

Just west of 6th Street, another garden project in underway adjacent to Lincoln School, where planters, soil and much are being prepared.

Greenway strolls will continue every Saturday morning at 9:30 AM, beginning at the Greenway and 2nd Street.


Blight abaters saturate blocks, clean them up


RICHMOND: City tries new tactic in campaign to combat code violations and graffiti

By Karl Fischer


Article Launched: 11/10/2007 03:03:14 AM PST


Teresa Tingle stepped across the collapsed fence, through the urine-soaked yard to an electrical panel in the side yard.

"A boarded-up place like this, all kinds of things can go on here," said Tingle, a code enforcement officer working for the Richmond Police Department. "People are very intelligent. They can find all kinds of ways to turn the power on, things like that."

This vacant one-story house on the west edge of the Iron Triangle neighborhood held a collage of evidence suggesting frequent trespassing, from the empty Hennessy bottles in the yard to the tampered condition of the front-door security gate.

And on Friday, it and many like it got special attention from city workers tasked with abating blight in Richmond neighborhoods.

"All of our forces are marshaled on one spot," building inspector Coy Charles said as he peered into a yard where copper pipes from an unvented water heater led into the wall of a house. "It just seems like we can do more this way than when our efforts are fragmented throughout the city."

Richmond's seven code enforcement officers, several police officers and public works employees and building inspectors decorated several blocks with bright yellow and red handbills Friday, notifying property owners of all manner of municipal code violations.

Regulators rarely mass this way in Richmond. One or another agency might visit a problem house in the neighborhood when a neighbor complains, but whole city blocks typically do not get comprehensive checkups

"The purpose today is to educate," said police Sgt. Darren Monahan, who supervises the city's code enforcement efforts. "A lot of people don't know that they're violating the law, especially in older neighborhoods where things might get a little run down."

They began about 8 a.m. near the corner of Nevin Avenue and A Street, the westernmost road in the Iron Triangle before the soundwall that divides the neighborhood from Richmond Parkway. The violations were typical of those found elsewhere in the area: overgrown yards, peeling paint, parked cars that never move.

At one house inspectors find a man sleeping in a car parked in the driveway of a boarded-up apartment building. He said he was just watching it for the owner. Monahan told him to move on, and made a note to call the owner.

Inspectors hope property owners will fix the problems before they return in two weeks, then prepared to hand out citations that could lead to thousands of dollars in fines.

If it helps clean up this area, code enforcement will replicate the event in a different neighborhood each month, Monahan said.

"There's a certain gray paint that looks like cement," said Ed Paasch, who earns a living removing graffiti for Richmond's Public Works Department. "It's a continuous problem in the Iron Triangle. I'm out at this soundwall pretty regularly."

Bottles of bleach and other tools of the trade line the roof of Paasch's truck bed. He estimates that half the city's graffiti is gang-related, and ruminates over the trendy tags of the moment as he wipes one from a signpost on the western end of Nevin.

Everyone knows who soils the neighborhood, though witnesses don't always come forward to point them out. But Tingle says there's one on every block tired of living in someone else's filth.

"Him there, he likes to throw his trash in the street," said one woman, pointing out a house with a pickup parked in the driveway with high wooden walls.

On one street, a resident points out a church that hands out free food once a week to the needy. Thus fed, they tend to gather beyond the collapsed wooden fence, into the urine-soaked yard where Tingle investigated the electrical box.

"You can tell that someone has been here, there are a lot of objects lying around," Tingle said, pausing to listen to a barking dog somewhere toward the rear. "There's a lot of crime in here."

Reach Karl Fischer at 510-262-2728 or kfischer@bayareanewsgroup.com.