|City Manager's Weekly Report for the Week
Ending June 13, 2008
June 14, 2008
Mayor and Councilmembers:
This is the weekly report for the week ending June 13th, 2008.
1. Meeting Notes
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 17th, beginning with a Closed Session at 5:00 PM, followed by Housing Authority and Redevelopment meetings prior to the regular City Council meeting at 7:00 PM.
2. Update on Train Traffic and United States Surface Transportation Board Actions – The “Other Side of the Story” from Union Pacific
As you will recall, the City Council received information at its last meeting regarding a recent action of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) that may result in a substantial increase in long train traffic through south Richmond. The STB action relates to an agreement giving Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) trackage rights over the Union Pacific's (UP’s) facilities, which agreement effectively limits the number of long intermodal trains otherwise moving through the middle of Richmond. In short, the STB ruled that BNSF has no explicit authority from the STB to run trains on the Union Pacific track at this time. As you will also recall, I sent a letter a week ago to the STB that was drafted by the City Attorney’s office requesting that the Board consider the impact that this decision will have on the Richmond community.
Last week, I was contacted by representatives from Union Pacific requesting a meeting to tell “their side of the story.” On Friday, Scott Dickey and Shannon Waggoner, from the City Attorney’s office, and I met with three representatives of UP’s Corporate Relations Department, and one of their attorneys, to discuss the STB action. In sum, they stated that BNSF currently has the ability to limit the number of long trains through Richmond by constructing a crossover from the UP tracks to the BNSF tracks north of the City, and that this project is already included in the agreement between BNSF and UP (i.e., no additional agreement needs to be negotiated).
To illustrate this further, I have attached a map provided by UP representatives. The UP representatives indicated that, under the pre-June 1, 2008 arrangement, BNSF would utilize UP tracks from the Stege junction (milepost 9) all the way to Sacramento from where they would go south to Stockton to access their southbound line. UP explained that they would continue to allow BNSF to use the UP track between milepost 9 and milepost 11, through central Richmond, but assert that BNSF should construct a crossover from the UP tracks to the BNSF tracks north of Richmond in the vicinity of milepost 11, and utilize their own tracks directly to Stockton.
Following the meeting with UP, I spoke with Juan Acosta of BNSF, who acknowledged the accuracy of the information regarding the trackage agreement (but not necessarily the conclusions) from UP.
The City Attorneys and I pointed out both to UP and BNSF representatives that their competitive squabble puts the Richmond community squarely in the middle in the form of traffic delays and potential public safety impacts. We suggested that, perhaps, the UP and BNSF should continue the pre-June 1 status quo to a date certain in the future, allowing BNSF the time to construct the crossover from UP to BNSF tracks, and allowing UP to reclaim their trackage rights without negatively impacting Richmond. This would, of course, require a commitment from BNSF to construct the crossover in the very near future. One way or another, we hope to present the “community” argument to the Surface Transportation Board.
We will continue to work on this issue, and will continue to keep you informed.
3. Richmond Code Enforcement – “One Block at a Time” Program Launch
As I write this report, the City of Richmond Code Enforcement team is implementing a pilot, comprehensive code enforcement clean up on a block in the Parchester neighborhood. Participants in this code enforcement clean up include the Police Department Code Enforcement staff, the Public Works Department, Engineering Department, City Attorney’s office, Fire Department, the RichmondWorks “Helping Hands” program, and other community groups and volunteers. The initial phase of this project began last week with door-to-door contact and notices to property owners that are violating the Richmond Municipal Code, and that, as a result, are contributing to blight and crime. City staff members indicated that there was a good deal of compliance that resulted from these notices, and from the focused attention that began last week. Clean up activities involving use of volunteers will continue all day Saturday, with additional work by the Code Enforcement team continuing through next week.
The plan is to duplicate this focused “one block at a time” effort at several other locations during the summer, with the hope that this can transition to a neighborhood ”self-help” activity, with lesser involvement of City resources. The next “one block at time” project will be in the Historic Triangle neighborhood. Several volunteers from this neighborhood were in the Parchester area on Saturday morning both helping in and observing the effort.
4. Point Molate Update
This week the Navy released its draft Finding of Suitability for Early Transfer (FOSET) for the remaining Naval Fuel Depot property at Point Molate. The Navy will be accepting public comments on the draft FOSET until July 11, 2008. The draft FOSET has been provided to the Council under separate cover.
This draft FOSET contains the Navy’s assessment of the environmental conditions of the 41 acres remaining to be transferred to the City, including the nature of the remaining contamination, analysis of future land use, and requirements for remedial and corrective action. Once completed, the final FOSET will contain 1) the response to public comments, 2) notices, covenants, and restrictions to be included in the deed, and 3) the Early Transfer Cooperative Agreement (ETCA). The ETCA is an agreement between the Navy and the City that outlines the responsibilities, tasks, and budget necessary to complete the remaining environmental response actions.
The draft FOSET is available for review at the Richmond Public Library, in the City Manager’s office, and on-line at www.bracpmo.navy.mil. (Once accessing the site, click on the "Prior Bases" link, then "Naval Fuel Depot Pt. Molate" link, then "Select Documents", then "Environmental" link, and finally "Draft Finding of Suitability for Early Transfer (FOSET) Point Molate June 11, 2008" link.)
Both the draft FOSET and draft ETCA will be the subject of a June 24, 2008 City Council study session. The presentation will also include the proposed timeline for the transfer process.
5. Fire Service in the City of San Pablo
The City of San Pablo has been exploring options to improve the effectiveness of fire and emergency medical services in their community. One option that San Pablo is now exploring with the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (Con Fire), the current service provider, is to have Con Fire contract with the City of Richmond to provide these services. According to a City of San Pablo staff report on this subject, this option “would place four paramedic engine companies in close proximity to San Pablo, thereby increasing readily available assets, potentially reducing response times and eliminating transferring 911 calls through the Richmond dispatch center into the County Dispatch Center.” The report also cites the advantage of a single agency working emergency scenes.
We have had no detailed discussions yet with either City of San Pablo or Con Fire representatives about this concept. However, Chief Michael Banks will be attending the City of San Pablo City Council meeting this coming Monday to hear a study session discussion of this topic.
6. Richmond Sends Strike Team to Humboldt Fire in Butte County
Friday at 1:00 PM, the City sent Engine 68 out on Strike Team 2025A to assist on the Humboldt Fire in Butte County. They will be joined by three engines from the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, one engine from the Rodeo-Hercules Fire Protection District and Strike Team Leader Jim Parrott. They are headed to the City of Paradise, just east of Chico, to await their first assignment. Chief Michael Banks will provide updates as he receives them.
7. Rising Sun Energy Center
The City Manager’s Office and Department of Employment and Training have contracted with Rising Sun Energy Center, a Berkeley based non-profit, to expand its California Youth Energy Services (CYES) program to the City of Richmond. CYES is a community-based youth employment training and energy efficiency program that strives to educate the public about sustainable behaviors and technologies, provide residential audits and services that lower energy and water usage, and help local youth gain marketable job skills. This summer, CYES will hire and train 10-12 Richmond youth from June to August to provide energy audits, education and energy and water-saving hardware installation to approximately 200-300 local residents.
8. Target Store Hiring
Target Corporation has interviewed over 1,300 people so far, and has hired 100 Richmond residents for jobs at the new Richmond store. There remain 99 unfilled positions at this time for the new store that is scheduled to open in July.
9. First Deposit with OPEB Trustee
On Friday, the City transferred $3.7 million to its designated Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) Trust Administrator. P.A.R.S. (Public Agency Retirement Systems) will administer the program through Union Bank of California. The trustee will be able to invest the funds to achieve higher yields. In so doing, the City will be able to reduce its long-term costs to fund the unfunded accrued actuarial liability (uaal) contributions to its retirees’ health premiums.
Unfunded OPEB liability is being realized by governmental entities across the country, with virtually all jurisdictions previously on a pay-as-you go basis for funding these benefits. However, new accounting standards require recognition of the long-term obligation going forward. The City’s contribution conforms to these recently implemented accounting standards, fully meets the City’s ARC (annual required contribution), and places the City of Richmond in the forefront for meeting its ARC commitments in the first year.
10. Crescent Park Apartments Photovoltaic Installation
This past Tuesday, EAH Housing’s Crescent Park Apartments “flipped the switch” on the largest affordable housing photovoltaic installation in the United States, producing 908 KW of energy. This installation was part of a $68 million rehabilitation of Crescent Park, and represents a significant achievement for the Richmond community in its commitment to alternative energy.
11. Recreation Department Highlights
The following are current and future activities of the Richmond Recreation Department:
o The Summer Program officially commences on Monday, June 16th at a variety of locations throughout the City. There are options for all ages to participate in the many programs and events offered in the areas of sports, youth activities, senior activities, aquatics, excursions and fitness. All participants can expect to have a fun-filled summer.
o The Summer Program will culminate with a carnival. Food, games, prizes and other carnival style activities will be provided at Nicholl Park on August 14th -18th.
o The Recreation Department is sponsoring the children’s activities at the city-wide Juneteenth Festival. A carnival slide and carnival style games, face painting and interactive inflatable games will be just some of the activities provided. An information table will also be set-up to distribute information regarding the Summer Program.
o The Recreation Department is continuing with the final preparations for the Red, White, and Boom July 3rd Fireworks Spectacular. Music, food, fun and a great show can be enjoyed by the entire family. The event is free and vendors will be providing food and activities at minimal fees.
12. Web Stats
The following are some web statistics for May 2008:
The following chart reflects the percent difference from last year, and the continued growth in the number of individuals accessing the City’s website:
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