|City Manager's Weekly Report for the Week
Ending April 25th, 2008
April 27, 2008
Mayor and Councilmembers:
This is the weekly report for the week ending April 25th, 2008.
1. Meeting Notes
The next City Council meeting will be a joint meeting of the Richmond City Council and the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board of Trustees, which is scheduled for Thursday, May 1st, beginning at 6:30 PM.
2. Meeting with Port of Oakland Staff Regarding Central Rail Trade Corridor
Port Director Jim Matzorkis and I met this past week with Omar Benjamin, Oakland Port Director, Jon Amdur, the Oakland Port’s Manager of the Maritime Capital Improvement Programs, and Matt Davis of the Port of Oakland’s Government Affairs office, to hear about the Port of Oakland’s facility improvement plans, and how these plans are tied to proposed railroad improvements in the East Bay corridor. As I previously reported to you (in February), while the Port of Oakland has unused container handling capacity, both of the major rail companies serving the Port, the Union Pacific (UP) and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), are limited in transporting additional cargo by bottlenecks between Oakland and Martinez, as well as at other major corridors around California, such as Donner Pass. The railroads are contemplating improvements that are designed to increase the volume and efficiency of the intermodal container traffic that is currently bottlenecked around the Port of Oakland.
One possible rail improvement that potentially affects Richmond is a proposal to add a 4th track between Oakland and Stege junction at the southern city limit of Richmond, where the UP and the BNSF split, that could potentially double the number of rail cars travelling through Richmond on the existing UP and BNSF lines. Moreover, the UP is petitioning the federal government to prevent the BNSF from using their track through central Richmond so that more trains would need to travel on the BNSF corridor through Marina Bay and out adjacent to the Richmond Parkway. There seems to be no plan, however, to provide funding for grade separation projects that mitigate the impacts of this additional rail traffic, and this obviously has a severe impact on the City of Richmond, where at grade rail traffic is already a problem.
The Port of Oakland staff members with whom Mr. Matzorkis and I met are sympathetic to the City of Richmond concerning this issue, and seem to understand that it is in their best interest to make sure that their capital projects do not create unmitigated, downstream impacts. We agreed to keep the lines of communication open as project plans progress.
As I indicated to you previously, this is clearly an important issue, and it is not too early for the City of Richmond to begin a dialogue regarding appropriate mitigation measures for a Port of Oakland expansion and associated rail improvements. This dialogue needs to be, not simply with the Port of Oakland, but with federal agencies involved in oversight, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) among others.
I will continue to keep you informed.
3. Update on the Foreclosure Crisis
At their meeting this past week, the West County Mayors’ and Supervisors’ Association heard a presentation by the Community Housing and Development Corporation (CHDC) regarding the impact of the foreclosure crisis in Contra Costa County overall, West County regionally, and Richmond specifically. Among the interesting statistics:
· As of April 23, 2008, there were 14,600 Contra Costa County homes in either pre-foreclosure, auction, or bank ownership status. This can be compared to 9,900 homes in Alameda County and 6,700 in Solano County.
· Twenty-eight percent of those homes are in West County.
· Richmond homes (2,127) make up 52% of West County and 15% of Contra Costa County homes.
A detailed spreadsheet concerning these statistics is referenced below.
It should be noted that there were over 300 attendees at the March 29th West County Foreclosure Community Workshop held here in Richmond. There are plans for another such workshop this summer.
4. Richmond Housing Authority Receives Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) Score
The Richmond Housing Authority receives an annual “grade” from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regarding its operations. In particular, the Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) is HUD’s method of measuring the performance of Public Housing Agencies (PHA’s) nationwide. HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) electronically collects individual subsystem indicator scores from all PHAs. They then produce a composite PHAS score that represents a PHA’s management performance. This is basically HUD’s Housing Authority report card. All jurisdictions strive for the highest rating, which is greater than 90 on a 100 point scale (“High Performer” category), although few are able to achieve this distinction.
The Richmond Housing Authority recently received its PHAS for the 2006-07 fiscal year, which is detailed below along with the Authority’s PHAS scores for the past four fiscal years.
The Richmond Housing Authority’s current designation for FY2006-2007 is “Standard Performer” with a final score of 82. This is an improvement of 32% over the last 4 fiscal years, reflects a significant jump from the 2005-06 fiscal year, and, in particular, reflects significant gains in the “financial” and “management” categories. There is still significant work to be done, however, under both the physical and financial indicators. The Housing Authority’s goal is to achieve a “High Performer” rating, which is a score of 90 or better, and we are taking the necessary steps to improve our operations in order to reach this goal.
5. Richmond Greenway Receives TRANNY Nomination
The Public Works Department recently submitted the Richmond Greenway for recognition under the very prestigious 19th annual TRANNY Awards given by the California Transportation Foundation (CTF) in recognition of excellence in transportation. The project was submitted under the “Alternative Modes of Transportation” category, and has been nominated as a finalist for the TRANNY award in this category. The final selection will be announced at a luncheon and award presentation at the Sacramento Convention Center on June 4, 2008, from 11:30 AM-1:30 PM.
6. City Requests Review of Credit Ratings
As reported last week, the 2006 Wastewater Revenue bonds recently received a four notch upgrade to its credit rating. With this recent success in hand, the City’s bond finance team will be meeting with Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services to present financial results of the City’s fiscal year 2006-2007 comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). With cash and fund balances at historically high levels, as well as better-than-projected increment growth, the team will be requesting an upgrade of both the City’s and Redevelopment Agency’s credit rating. We will keep you informed.
7. Office of Neighborhood Safety Update
Among the activities of the Office of Neighborhood Safety are:
· The Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) recently met with and provided consultation to representatives from the Richmond Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Orton Development Company. The discussion and consultation is with respect to youth development and engagement activities being created and proposed by the Orton Development Company and its partners. Future consultation is pending and will include both the Richmond Police Department and the Richmond Recreation Department.
· ONS participated in the California Cities Gang Prevention Networks Advisory Committee Meeting held in Sacramento this week. The Committee guides the 13 City California Gang Network in its operational practice, assists in identifying and shaping the policy implications of its work and advises on the project’s potential for replication and permanent inclusion in municipal governmental structures. Issues discussed were:
o The California Gang Reduction and Intervention Program funding, and its implications on current grantees,
o Gun tracing policy,
o Federal and state proposed gang legislation and implications, and
o Finalizing the Network’s policy principals and other legislative suggestions.
8. Neighborhood Change Agents Update
The ONS’s Neighborhood Change Agents (NCA’s) continue to canvass identified “hot spots” in the Central District. NCA’s are making connections and engaging very high risk disconnected youth and young adult stakeholders. In particular:
· NCA’s have identified and are in communication (violence reduction insights) with several older generational (OG’s) stakeholder street influencers;
· One particular NCA case manages and assists a 30 year old post- incarcerated male who had just been released from a California State Prison after 12 years of incarceration. This individual is taking classes at Contra Costa College, and is involved with job placement on the Campus with the assistance of the EOPS Outreach Specialist.
· The ONS was alerted to the possibility of “high tension” in one of the Central District Areas. NCA’s responded to the call along with a community based outreach team – the Bay Area Peacekeepers. The teams were deployed to the identified locations and engaged with the community youth and recreation center employees. NCA’s and Peacekeepers stayed at location for several hours.
· NCA’s continue their bi-weekly participation in the Parole and Community Team meetings (PACT) supporting a “Welcome Home” approach to the parolees returning home to Richmond.
· NCA’s continued their efforts and contributions to the updating and revising of the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) Community Resource Handbook that is distributed to parolees upon their arrival at the mandatory PACT meeting.
· An NCA continues weekly participation with partner agency Neighborhood House of North Richmond and its Ambassadors Program. The Ambassador program is a community based street outreach effort that coordinates efforts with the ONS through the Richmond Community Wellness Collaborative (RCWC).
· An NCA is meeting with a faith-based community group weekly assisting with the organizing of a “Violence Prevention Caravan” scheduled for May 31, 2008.
· NCA’s facilitate a focus group with high school students at Richmond High School on violence reduction strategies.
· An NCA meets with a community leader of the North Richmond Senior Center to discuss strategies towards increasing adult senior citizen involvement in neighborhood-based violence prevention efforts.
· ONS staff continues its work with the San Quentin Prison based “Richmond Project”. This is a program created, implemented and managed by inmates who are serving life sentences. The program serves prisoners who will return to the Richmond Community.
· ONS staff continues to work with Richmond Employment and Training staff in efforts to identify and provide job resources for those returning from confinement and the city’s high risk youth and young adult population.
9. EBMUD to Consider Mandatory Water Rationing
As you may have heard, on May 13th, the EBMUD Directors will decide whether to implement mandatory water rationing due to the current water shortage in the Mokelumne watershed. This would impact residents first with the issuance of water-use restrictions such as operating water fountains, washing cars, or watering lawns. If more severe measures are needed, the Board could increase water rates and work with the large water users to restrict use.
10. Recreation Department Highlights for the Month of April
Recreation Department highlights for the month of April include the following:
· Richmond Little League Baseball Season Kick off – The Recreation Department’s Youth Sports division is an active participant in bringing Little League Baseball back to Richmond. Department representatives are on the Board of Directors, and the Department has taken the lead on field procurement, which includes supervising and scheduling umpires. Standings and information can be found on the Richmond Recreation Youth Sports Webpage at: www.eteamz.active.com/richmondyouthsports
· Pitch, Hit and Run Competition – The annual Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run competition was held April 9, 2008 at Nicholl Park. Forty youth competed for a chance to move on to the finals at the Oakland Coliseum. Staff from Youth Activities, Youth Sports and coaches from Little League made the event possible.
· Summer 2008 Sports Camp – Preparation and planning is in progress for the first (hopefully) annual Recreation Complex Summer Sports Camp. Children ages 6-14 will be taught the fundamentals of basketball, flag football, soccer, volleyball, golf and baseball in 2 week sessions beginning June 16, 2008.
· Martin Luther King Community Center special event – Michael Morgan, with the Oakland Symphony Quintet, was the special guest of the Martin Luther King Community Center on April 4, 2008. Over 250 youth, parents, teachers and other special guests were in attendance at this event.
11. Richmond Annex Neighborhood Council Community Budget Presentation
This past Thursday, at the Richmond Annex Senior Center, Councilmember Ludmyrna Lopez, Finance Director Jim Goins, Fire Chief Michael Banks, City Engineer Rich Davidson, Public Works Director Yader Bermudez, and Police Officer Eric Smith were among the staff present at a neighborhood budget presentation. The purpose of this, and similar neighborhood budget meetings completed last year, is to provide information and answer questions raised by those in attendance regarding City services and priorities. Some of the questions and comments from community members included:
· How is determined which streets are to be included in the annual pavement management program?
· How is the street sweeping schedule information disseminated to the residents so that cars can be moved?
· Where will the Police Department permanent facilities be located?
· Can more money be allocated to parks?
· What is the impact to the Bayview residents when the Bayview station responds to a fire in the Hilltop area?
· What are the budgetary impacts of increasing the height limits proposed in the General Plan?
· What types of revenue streams is the City examining in order to manage the downturn in the economy?
12. Repaving Completed at Hilltop
During the week of April 14th, the Public Works Department, working in partnership with contractors, completed a one-week project to resurface Hilltop Mall Road, including new striping. Perhaps the well-paved roads will encourage mall visitors to spend wisely and well at the nearby stores, thus boosting the City’s economy.
13. Planning and Building Department Systems Update
City staff and consultants are continuing to monitor the recent implementation of the new computer software supporting Planning and Building Department applications. This work involves staff members from the Information Technology (IT), Planning and Building, Fire, and Engineering Departments. At some point, the Council may wish to receive a formal presentation regarding this system.
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