|City Manager's Weekly Report for the Two Weeks Ending December 23rd, 2011
December 23, 2011
Mayor and Councilmembers:
This is the weekly report for the two weeks ending December 23rd, 2011.
(Editor’s [City Manager’s] note: This is the final weekly report for 2011. Since it is rather lengthy, although information-filled, many of you may not read it in its entirety. Thus, I want to open with a message wishing you a wonderful holiday season, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.)
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 beginning with a Closed Session at 5:00 PM, followed by the regular agenda at 6:30 PM.
As a reminder, the City offices will be closed beginning December 26th, 2011 and will reopen on January 3rd, 2012, with most non-public safety employees using accrued discretionary leave time during this period. This was a cost savings initiative that was first implemented in 2010. Public safety personnel will be working their regular assigned schedules, and some facilities that are well-utilized by the public during this holiday period will still be open (see next item). The Public Works Department will have skeleton crews in place next week, addressing emergency maintenance of parks, facilities maintenance, potholes, street sweeping and equipment services. If there is an emergency, please direct phone calls to (510) 621-1610.
Thanks to the creative and cooperative efforts of library management and staff, the Richmond Public Library is pleased to announce that all three library locations will be open for limited hours this holiday season. The bookmobile will not be running during the Christmas break. Please refer to the schedule below and plan to stop by to check out books, movies, and music, or just use our Internet computers. Free Wi-Fi is also available here.
Branch Libraries -- West Side and Bayview
Named by San Francisco Business Times as number 24 of the “Fastest Growing Bay Area Private Companies of 2011,” and by Time Magazine as “One of the 50 Best Innovations in 2010” (for their eLEGS), Ekso Bionics recently signed a lease to move their operations to Richmond (the Ford Point Building) in early April 2012.
Ekso Bionics, founded in Berkeley in 2005, creates exoskeletons that augment strength and endurance for people with lower extremity mobility issues, including people with spinal cord injuries. By forging partnerships with world-class institutions like UC Berkeley, the Department of Defense, and the Lockheed Martin Corporation - as well as ten of the nation’s leading rehabilitation centers - Ekso Bionics has developed intelligent, bionic exoskeletons that actually allow wheelchair users to stand and walk!
Ekso Bionics will initially occupy 34,000 square feet at Ford Point. With a staff of 63 at present, they are projecting an increase to more than 80 employees by the end of 2012. The principals of the company feel that Richmond is the ideal place to expand and further enhance the exceptional quality of their products.
The City of Richmond’s Office of Economic Development, with excellent work by Thomas Mills, and the Employment & Training Department helped provide information to Ekso Bionics in support of their location decision.
As you may recall, the City of Richmond employees have an annual campaign that allows employees to voluntarily contribute to charitable non-profit organizations on a one-time basis or through payroll deductions. This year’s campaign effort at the City of Richmond was once again an outstanding success, raising a total of $43,705.00 for the following organizations:
This amount was an increase of $10,450.00 from last year’s total contributions of $33,255.00. Thank you City of Richmond staff for your generosity!
A special thank you, also, to Theresa Austin, who coordinates this city-wide effort, and to all of the departmental representatives who work with Theresa to make this program successful.
Last week, with activities spanning from late Thursday, December 15th through Saturday, December 17th, Councilmembers Nat Bates and Corky Boozé led a small but spirited delegation to Shimada, Japan to participate in the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sister City relationship between Shimada and Richmond. The celebration was highlighted by a formal anniversary commemoration ceremony that was attended by local dignitaries and elected officials. Two of the highlights of this commemoration were speeches by former Shimada Mayor Mori and Councilmember Nat Bates.
Mayor Mori, who was the Mayor of Shimada in 1961 when the Sister City relationship with Richmond was formally established, is now 101 years of age. (One of the highlights of our visit to Shimada was visiting Mayor Mori at his home; he is still very sharp and reminisced with great fondness of the many relationships that he formed with the Richmond community.) While he was not able to personally attend the formal commemoration event, he prepared a letter which was read to the audience of several hundred people by his grandson, Yoshinori Mori, that included the following remarks:
World War II was the most senseless act that mankind has committed with the power of the state. I believe that the souls of millions and millions of people that had to sacrifice their invaluable lives because of the War were seeking "World Peace" from the bottom of their heart. When the War was over, Dwight Eisenhower, who was the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Europe at that time, made a magnificent proposal. He lamented the devastations of the War and said "It is the states that cause war, not the cities" and proposed the affiliations of sister cities throughout the world. The importance of the friendship of the sister city program that was established in 1961 between the City of Richmond and the City of Shimada is based on this fundamental concept, and the spirit of the citizens of both cities has nurtured the concept and made it flourish as magnificently as the statement made by Eisenhower… It is wonderful, indeed, that former Richmond Mayor Nathaniel Bates and Richmond city officials are here to visit Shimada today as "friendship envoys". I have just turned one hundred and one years old now, and … I take a great pride to have served this wonderful sister city relationship with deep appreciation of the activities and support from the members of the Friendship Association... I hope and pray for your peace of mind and for the success of all the upcoming events.
Councilmember Bates represented the Richmond community, with a speech that said, in part:
… Fifty years is a tremendous milestone to have achieved together, and I am so pleased that Mayor Mori, who in 1962 established this relationship along with the late Richmond Mayor “Hap´ Bradley, is present to observe this anniversary. I wonder if Mayor Mori believed fifty years ago that our Sister City relationship would endure so long. Knowing Mayor Mori now for so many years, and knowing the optimism within his heart, I have to believe that he did. Mayor Mori, the Richmond community, together with your own Shimada community, thank you for your lifetime of dedication, commitment, leadership and friendship.
Certainly, much has changed during the past 50 years. There are those that observe that the world has become smaller than ever before, with nations and cultures travelling and communicating with one another on a daily basis in our global economy.
Most of us would agree that technology is important and has simplified our ability to keep in touch with one another since Mayor Mori and I were elected to public office many years ago. Yet, we have always observed that the world is, in fact, a very small place. And, it was this Sister City relationship that emphasized that fact to both of us and to others.
We have found, no matter how far apart in miles our cities are, no matter how long the plane ride is from the United States to Japan, and no matter how different our languages may be, that when we are able to speak directly to one another, share a meal, a smile, and a laugh, the bridge across the Pacific seems like a footbridge that only takes a very few steps to cross. And, when we can reach our hands across the vast space of the Pacific Ocean and, with profound friendship, shake the hands of our colleagues here in Shimada, it is clear to me that the world is a very small and wonderful place…
In closing, I offer congratulations to both the City of Shimada and the City of Richmond for these 50 years of friendship and commitment to one another. And I also offer a challenge to the members of our respective communities – and especially to our next generation – to continue to nurture this friendship. Always keep in mind, the work – and hearts – of the founders of this relationship and do honor to that spirit. The world will undoubtedly continue to change over the next many years, but it is my hope, and my sincere belief, that, 50 years from now, the leaders of Richmond and Shimada will gather together again in celebration of our 100th anniversary. And during that celebration, do not be surprised if Mayor Mori, Mayor Sakurai and I are there to greet you.
Thank you for your continued kindness and friendship.
Former Shimada Mayor Mori at 101 Years of Age
Current Shimada Mayor Sakurai and Councilmember Bates
Councilmember Boozé making tea in traditional fashion.
Councilmembers Bates and Boozé with members of the Shimada Friendship Association
The City’s R3 (Richmond Recovery Rebates) is beginning to produce results across Richmond by improving energy efficiency and making solar energy attainable for all residents. Making these upgrades to homes improves residents’ comfort and saves them money on energy costs, all while reducing GHG emissions and helping the environment. R3 is supporting the local economy by requiring that at least one third of all work is completed by RichmondBUILD graduates. R3 also provides income qualifying solar, any income solar and energy upgrade rebates.
R3 Solar for Income Qualifying Households
R3 Solar for Any Income Households
The income qualifying program has already reached capacity, but there are still spaces available for any income residents to receive generous solar rebates. Funding for the program is limited, so do not miss your chance to make your home more energy efficient or solar powered. More information can be obtained by visiting www.richmondenvironment.org or by calling the City’s Environmental Initiatives Division at (510) 620-5537.
R3 Energy Upgrade California for Any Income Households
Iron Triangle Neighborhood: The Corral family is excited to save money and help the environment,
It should not go unnoticed in this report that, after 21 years of dedicated service, Contra Costa College is saying farewell to a man that has not only touched the lives of students but touched the lives of faculty and staff members. On December 31st, Contra Costa College President McKinley Williams will be retiring.
President Williams, better known as “Mack” around the college, began working at Contra Costa College in 1990 as the Dean of Instruction; being appointed President in 2006. It was during Williams’ presidency that the college was branded as “the premier community college right in your back yard,” and it was his determination and leadership brought about many successes. Whether it was recommending Contra Costa College to teens and adults at community events or walking with students on their way to class, Williams’ dedication to Contra Costa College could be seen everywhere he went. Congratulations to President Williams on his well-earned retirement!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever: As of December 14th, there were 114 requests at the Richmond Public Library for Jeff Kinney’s newest book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Cabin Fever. This is in addition to the 49 copies currently checked out! Kinney’s books are funny and poignant, with lots of black and white illustrations, perfect for 3rd graders and up. Children’s librarians are available to help children find enjoyable books to read for fun, as well as books and other materials to help with school reports. Children’s Room staff may be reached at (510) 620-6557, or visit our catalog online at http://rosie.ci.richmond.ca.us/.
GED Test Success Stories: This past quarter, Richmond’s Literacy for Every Adult Program (LEAP) enrolled 65 new students for basic literacy and GED preparation. Our first GED Spanish intensive program, in partnership with the multicultural Institute of Berkeley, resulted in three graduates. The program will resume in January. The LEAP fast track program in the afternoon, suited for learners willing to work long hours of study at LEAP and at home, enrolled 30 students last quarter. Of these students, 13 were given GED scholarships to take the GED test, and 100% of them passed. This reaffirms the old adage that hard work and consistency does have a positive effect. A graduation ceremony will be held on January 26th for all learners who passed their GED since July of 2011. Congratulations to all the graduates!
Poetry Takes Center Stage: “Richmond Writes!” the poetry writing contest, now in its second year, is sponsored and produced by the Arts & Culture Commission. The awards presentation took place at the City Council meeting on October 25th, and was part of the annual celebration of National Arts & Humanities Month. Richmond Writes! drew an outpouring of haiku from Richmond elementary and high school students, as well as the adult literacy program LEAP.
Students were asked to write poetry (including haiku) on themes related to the Iron Triangle Legacy Program that the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts is running. Each student's work was published in a poetry book, along with the list of winners and participating schools and teachers. Every student got a copy, as did the schools, City Council members, and the Richmond Library. First, second and third place winners also received cash awards.
Over 200 entries were judged by an eight-member panel consisting of journalists, poets, editors, a public artist, and a haiku teacher through California Poets in the Schools program. Award winners were as follows: 4 first place, 4 second place, 4 third place, and 11 honorable mentions. Two additional awards were given by the Haiku Society of America, and by California Poets in the Schools.
On September 19, 2011, the project design team, Nichols Consulting Engineers (NCE) met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, San Francisco District (Corps) regarding a permit for the Via Verdi culvert replacement project. Cameron Johnson, Chief of the SF District, stated that, because of the scale of the project, an Individual Permit (IP) would be required. Previously the City and NCE had been informed that a Nationwide 3 Permit (NWP) was applicable, which is a more streamlined permitting process for maintenance and repair projects.
The IP is a more time intensive permit and requires a very detailed alternatives analysis to evaluate the practicability of each alternative based on Corps guidelines. This analysis required writing a detailed alternatives analysis report with detailed costing and evaluation of 7 alternatives, an examination of legal precedents for Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, consultations with the adjacent cemetery property, and an estimate of land acquisition costs for various improvements. This additional unanticipated analysis was a significant effort as it was completed in parallel to completing the 90% design documents for the project and had impacted the design schedule.
NCE and the City of Richmond have submitted the alternatives analysis to the Corps and met with them on December 21, 2011. The second meeting was received well with a preliminary agreement from the Corps to move forward with the preferred alternative to replace a portion of the collapsed culvert under Via Verdi and replace the remaining original portion of the culvert under El Portal Drive with a new modern reinforced concrete box culvert while daylighting 30 feet of San Pablo Creek. The project is now consistent with project scope-of-work approved by City Council on March 15, 2011.
In addition, the Corps has required a formal consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on the potential for impacts to the California red-legged frog (CRLF) under Section 7 of the federal Endangered Species Act. The Corps has initiated the Section 7 process with the USFWS and the timeline is unknown. However, the Corps has agreed to assist in expediting the review by USFWS, to the extent possible. Along with the required 401 Water Quality Certification, these permitting processes are open-ended and the timelines are unpredictable. City staff and NCE are working to acquire these permits as quickly as possible, and have set an internal deadline of January 31, 2012 for reaching a decision as to whether or not permits will be acquired in time to allow construction starting in March of 2012.
On Saturday, December 10th, staff from the City Manager’s Office, Planning Department, Code Enforcement and Abatement Division, Police Department, Contra Costa County’s Sheriff Department, Public Works Department, Neighborhood House of North Richmond, Community Housing Development Corporation, Richmond Sanitary Service, Sims Metal Management, and Hi-Tech E-Waste Recycling collaborated to bring a monumental clean up day to the North Richmond community. The success of the event was attributed to the outstanding, committed volunteers from the North Richmond neighborhood, Social Progress, Inc., and Men and Women of Purpose.
Volunteers staffed dumpsters, distributed information regarding environmental initiatives, and worked closely with City staff assisting residents during the clean up. This collaborative effort resulted in:
The Recreation Department hosted the 59th Annual Snow Ball on Saturday, December 10th, at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium. Over 1,000 students from various West Contra Costa Unified High Schools were in attendance and had a very enjoyable evening with dancing, light refreshments and a photographer to capture the memories. The highlight of the evening was the coronation ceremony where the Snow Ball King and Queen, from Richmond High School and El Cerrito High School, were crowned.
The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) invite the public to attend a Plan Bay Areaworkshop. ABAG and MTC have prepared several scenarios for what the Bay Area could look like in 2040 and are now asking for community input in selecting desired features among the alternative planning choices, and prioritizing transportation investments. The workshop will be held on Monday, January 23rd, at 5:45 PM at the Richmond Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza. Space at each workshop is limited to 100 people; early registration is strongly encouraged. You can register at http://www.onebayarea.org/workshops/. Walk-ins at the meeting will be accommodated as space allows. Refreshments will be provided. Let’s plan together for a future that enhances the economy, environment and social equity, and our communities’ livability.
Richmond Ohlone/Greenway Gap Closure: The design phase of the project to provide a safe crossing at San Pablo Avenue between the Richmond Greenway and El Cerrito Ohlone bike and pedestrian trail has been completed. Staff received notification from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that Safe Routes to Transit will fund $501,000 towards construction. Staff is still waiting for a response from the California Rivers Parkway and Strategic Growth Council for an additional $883,000 that is required to fully fund this project.
May Valley and Park View Series Street Light Conversion: The antiquated series street lighting system in the May Valley and Park View neighborhoods will be converted to a parallel system using LED lights which will decrease energy consumption, reduce maintenance efforts, and increase average lighting levels 4 times greater than the existing system. The project went out to bid Friday, December 2nd, with Bid Opening scheduled for Tuesday, January 10th.
LED Street Light Conversion (Various Locations): San Pablo Avenue, Cutting Boulevard, 23rd Street, and the Richmond Parkway will be converting its existing streetlight fixtures to brighter and lower energy consuming LEDs. The project went out to bid Friday, December 9th, with Bid Opening scheduled for Thursday, January 12th.
Annual Sewer Pipeline Repair and Rehabilitation Projects: The Engineering Services Department and Veolia continued work on the 2011/2012 annual sewer pipeline repair and rehabilitation project. A summary of work in progress is listed below:
There is no work scheduled next week due to the Holidays.
Any questions related to the ongoing 2011/2012 annual sewer pipeline repair and rehabilitation project may be directed to Mr. Fadi Alabbas at (925) 323-8937. Those interested may also follow our daily Twitter updates at www.twitter.com/CoR_Engineering.
The Public Works Department will have skeleton crews in place next week, December 26th through December 30th, addressing emergency maintenance of parks, facilities maintenance, potholes, street sweeping and equipment services. If there is an emergency, please direct phone calls to (510) 621-1610.
Parks and Landscaping Division: Two weeks ago, crews completed landscape improvements and irrigation repairs at Fire Station 68; completed vegetation maintenance on the Richmond Parkway; installed mulch in the medians on Cutting Boulevard from South 37th to South 42nd Streets; began the median landscape work on Carlson Boulevard from I-80 to Van Fleet Avenue; seeded and dressed the turf area at promontory point on the Bay Trail; and landscaped the Hilltop Landscape Maintenance District office. The tree crew cut trees on Sacramento Avenue, Panama Avenue, and South 59th Street, and trimmed trees on Chanslor Avenue and at the entrance to Crescent Park.
During the past week, crews completed work on the retaining wall at the Richmond Plunge tennis courts; completed the mulch installation of the Carlson Boulevard medians from South 42nd Street to Interstate 80; completed the fence extension fabrication for Baxter Creek; restored the bleachers at Nicholl Park tennis courts; cleaned up the landscape at Bay Vista Park; and completed the Fire Station 68 landscape improvements. The tree crew performed tree maintenance along Nicholl Avenue, 2nd Street, and Florida Avenue.
Facilities Maintenance Division: Two weeks ago, the carpenters installed 1,200 linear feet of additional railing in the catwalk area of the Auditorium; removed and replaced the locksets on the restroom doors. The stationary engineers rebuilt the boiler feed pump at 440 Civic Center Plaza and repaired the boiler at the Richmond Swim Center.
Utility workers also replaced broken toilet seats at the Booker T. Anderson Community Center and completed pest control within the KCRT office area. Painters began painting the interior of the Point Richmond Community Center and painted sections of 440 Civic Center Plaza.
This past week, the carpenters secured the storage area of the Disable People’s Recreation Center (DPRC). The stationary engineers fabricated and installed equipment guards in the mechanical room of the Auditorium; repaired the hot water recirculation pump at Booker T. Anderson Center; and replaced the valve in the steam boiler.
Utility workers addressed safety issues at the May Valley Community Center; replaced mats within 440 Civic Center Plaza; and cleaned the carpet at the Westside Library. Painters began painting the interior of the Point Richmond Community Center, and painted areas of Fire Station 66.
Electricians built and installed a wire theft alarm for Shimada Park; repaired the tunnel lighting in the Auditorium; and re-lamped the intersection of the Richmond Parkway and Gertrude Avenue.
Streets Division: Two weeks ago, crews completed the resurfacing of Chanslor Avenue from Espee Avenue to Marina Way, and 20th and 21st Streets between Espee and Chanslor Avenues. Staff also prepared and paved Crescent Park’s driveway and parking area, and repaired potholes throughout the city.
This past week, crews worked on the various potholes throughout the city.
A reminder, that there will be limited street sweeping over the next two weeks. On Monday, December 26th, there will be no street sweeping in the remainder of the Santa Fe, Point Richmond, Marina Bay and Coronado areas.
Equipment Services Division: During the past two weeks, staff completed training on the new stencil and cone truck; decommissioned nine vehicles; and completed state smog tests for the Richmond fleet.
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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, a great holiday season, and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!!
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