Contra Costa Times Readers' Forum: Jeff Ritterman: Must show Richmond in on the rise
jeff ritterman | From the community
By Jeff Ritterman
Posted: 07/14/2011 04:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 07/15/2011 03:59:41 PM PDT
IT WAS the summer of 1981. I was 32 years old and had just finished my cardiology fellowship at the University of Washington in Seattle. With my former wife, my 3-year-old daughter and my 1-year-old son, I drove our VW Rabbit and we moved to the Bay Area.
I was hired as the new chief of cardiology for the Kaiser Richmond Medical Center. It didn't take long to see that those who suffered from disadvantaged life circumstances in Richmond were the same folks who developed premature heart disease and a shortened life expectancy.
It became clear to me then, and it is even more apparent today, that providing well-paying jobs for all of Richmond's residents would do more to improve the health of the community than everything we could do as health care providers.
Fast-forward 30 years and the economic challenges have gotten worse. Thanks to a 30-year war waged on poor and working people, income and wealth have been redistributed to those at the very top of the financial pyramid.
As a result, the U.S., once the envy of the world, is now the most unequal of the wealthy countries on Earth and our economic woes and resulting social and health problems are largely a result of this maldistribution.
The results in Richmond are well-publicized. Unemployment levels run 15 percent to 18 percent. Violent crime has been a chronic problem, but that is changing rapidly.
Supported by more than 35 active neighborhood associations, successful Police Activities League programs and organizations such as the RichmondBUILD Academy, Richmond residents are working together with great pride and a range of resources to create new opportunities, consistently reducing crime throughout the city and making the city a safe, appealing, healthy place to live, and work.
In addition to these communitywide efforts, we have a chance, a real chance, to set ourselves on a new economic trajectory.
I have been part of a citywide team working to attract the second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL) to Richmond. The Richmond Field Station (RFS) has been chosen as one of six sites in the final competition for the second LBNL campus.
The RFS is a Bayside oasis with inspiring views, and access to the Bay Trail that is well integrated into the urban fabric. Richmond itself, boasts 32 miles of shoreline, more than any other East Bay city. We are the proud home of the Rosie the Riveter National Homefront Park and equally proud of our globally recognized green tech and clean tech companies. The winners of The Economist Magazine's Innovation Award for 2009 and 2010 were both Richmond companies; Sun Power and MBA Polymer.
Unlike the Lawrence Livermore Lab, which focuses on security issues, the Berkeley Lab does not do research on weaponry.
You have likely already benefitted from research done at LBNL. The Berkeley Lab has been a worldwide pioneer in the development of radiation therapy for treating cancer, revealed secrets of the human genome and revolutionized the field of medical imaging.
It helped explain the difference between the healthy and unhealthy cholesterol (HDL and LDL) and how they affect your health.
The benefits of attracting the second campus to Richmond are many. Given our area's economic slowdown, the construction jobs alone would be a major economic boost to our local economy. In addition, LBNL has a reputation for incubating spinoff companies. One of Richmond's most promising green tech companies, Alion, was created based on research done at LBNL. In addition, Richmond would become a center of world-class research in genetics, cancer and biofuels.
Companies interested in these areas may well decide to locate offices and labs in Richmond.
The selection team choosing the site of the second LBNL campus has made it clear that a welcoming community is a prerequisite.
On July 21 the residents of Richmond will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the selection committee our unanimous and enthusiastic community support for the RFS as the site of the second LBNL campus.
Let's pack the Richmond Auditorium and demonstrate our unequivocal communitywide support for this effort.
Let's celebrate our emerging unity. And let's have some fun!
Desserts will be provided by Galaxy Desserts. Entertainment by The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and the Richmond Police Activities League Band.
We need you, your family, neighbors and friends to join us on July 21 from 6-9 p.m. at the Richmond Auditorium.
Jeff Ritterman, M.D., is a member of the Richmond City Council.
Berkeley bids for second Lab campus fly under the radar
July 15, 2011 9:30 am by Tracey Taylor
Richmond City illustration of a possible LBNL second campus site
Richmond is pulling out all the stops in its bid to persuade the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to build its second campus there. A full-blown, city-sponsored advertising campaign includes a billboard on I-80, lawn signs for residents’ front yards and “Richmond (Heart) LBNL” buttons available for all to wear.
Alameda, another bidder for the site, has put $20,000 behind a “Let’s put the (Alameda) Point to work” campaign.
Three Berkeley sites are also on the Lab’s shortlist of six — but if there’s a Berkeley welcoming committee, it’s certainly not making its efforts very visible.
The main reason for that is that the three Berkeley-related bids were submitted by private companies, unlike in Richmond and Alameda where the cities signed off on the bids.
Berkeley did not take an official position, partly because it did not want to muddy discussion about the Lab with debate over the West Berkeley Plan – wanting to avoid the impression that the city was making changes in West Berkeley expressly for the Lab — and partly because support for the Lab was not unanimous on the City Council.
So, if the campaigning and lobbying is happening — and you can be sure it is — it’s just more under the radar in Berkeley than elsewhere.
Earlier this week, for example, council member Laurie Capitelli met with the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce to encourage its members to urge the Lab to choose Berkeley.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “Berkeley has so much more to offer than Richmond… except that Richmond is free.” (The Richmond Field Station — one of the the proposed sites — is owned by UC Berkeley.)
Pro-LBNL sign in Alameda
Capitelli said the benefits to Berkeley of the Lab choosing the city were clear: a shot in the arm for the local economy, with good paying jobs, skills training and opportunities for youth. He also cited the “history and tradition” of the relationship between Berkeley and the Lab since its founding in 1931.
Although the Lab does not pay property taxes, the income to the city from its primary Berkeley hills campus is estimated to be at least $120 million. Its overall economic impact on the nine Bay Area counties is $700 million, according to the Lab.
Capitelli also stressed the Lab’s requirements, outlined in its RFQ, for a “welcoming community”, preferably in walking distance to a diverse group of restaurants, cafés, stores and other amenities.
“There are more places where you can buy a latte in Berkeley than anywhere else in the East Bay,” he said.
The first opportunity most Berkeley residents will have to hear about having a second Lab campus within city boundaries, and to see details of the bids, comes with a series of public meetings organized by the Lab.
The meetings, which include presentations from the bidders for the six locations in play, kicked off at Alameda Point on July 13. Richmond Field Station will be discussed on July 21, Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin on July 27, Golden Gate Fields, which is a joint Berkeley-Albany bid, on August 3, Berkeley’s Aquatic Park West on August 4, and Berkeley-Emeryville’s Emery Station on August 8. (See full details on the Lab’s website.)
The second campus is intended to consolidate Lab programs and employees. The Lab has a total of 4,200 employees, 20% of whom are in leased spaces throughout the East Bay. The new campus, which needs to accommodate up to 2 million square feet of lab, office and research and development space, will also provide room for growth.
Michael Goldin, who is part of Berkeley’s Aquatic Park West bid, said he thinks it’s very important that any one of the Berkeley sites win.
“We need this as a community,” he said. “The Lab will deliver a huge boost to our local economy whichever site it chooses.”
LBNL's primary campus in the Berkeley hills
Goldin also points to the work undertaken by the Lab — such as alternative energy technologies and cancer research — which, he believes, are in keeping with Berkeley as a city.
“It’s a rare time when a project is aligned with where our city is morally,” he said.
The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce as an organization is behind the Berkeley bids. “All the players here are Chamber members, including LBNL,” said co-CEO Polly Armstrong. “The Chamber wants to see the second campus in Berkeley.”
Capitelli suggested to Chamber members that they send personal and professional ”from the heart” statements to LBNL — and turn up at the Lab’s public meetings. “We need to go on record that the welcome mat is out,” he said.
Whether the Berkeley meetings will live up to the Richmond one in terms of bells and whistles remains to be seen. According to the Contra Costa Times, the Richmond gathering on July 21 will be “a combination informational meeting and pep rally”. It starts with entertainment provided by the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and includes free refreshments from locally based Galaxy Desserts.
Three Berkeley sites being considered for Lawrence Berkeley Lab second campus [05.09.11]
Fourth Berkeley site proposed for LBL second campus [03.18.11]
Three Berkeley sites proposed for new LBL campus [03.04.11]
Lawrence Berkeley Lab issues wish list for new campus [01.04.11]