Tom Butt
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  Hypocrisy Won the Safe Park Battle
February 24, 2021

The Hilltop NIMBYs were triumphant last night, with Fairmede-Hilltop Neighborhood Council President Arto Rinteela gloating on Everybody’s Richmond California Facebook page, “Thank you ALL: Its Over: Safe PARK WLL NOT be at the Hilltop Mall area. Civic Center is a better location!”

Cesar Zepeda, Hilltop District Neighborhood Council president and a member of the GRIP (Greater Richmond Interfaith Program) Board of Directors threw his own GRIP organization under the bus, promoting it as a foil for the Hilltop site, knowing full well that it would not work and that the votes weren’t there to support it. All he cared about was saving Hilltop from the scourge of a safe park.

Hilltop people speaking out and emailing against the Hilltop Mall location chorused that it is too close to residences and too close to schools and would lower their property values. They insisted that they were offended because they were not consulted before the City Council voted for Hilltop on February 2.

The City Council was suitably intimidated by this show of force and caved in to a person.

Then four City Council members turned around and chose a site where the neighborhood had not been consulted at all and was even closer than Hilltop to everything, including a church and a temple, a 140-unit senior public housing complex, a COVID-19 testing site, the Richmond Farmers Market, the Richmond Memorial Auditorium and the Richmond Art Center. No one seemed concerned about where Richmond employees or attendees at Auditorium events would park when Covid-19 abates. Presumably, the neighborhood will generously give up street parking and maybe even their driveways.

Hilltop had dodged a bullet and was relieved to see the project go to somebody else’s neighborhood.

Not all Hilltoppers jumped on the NIMBY bandwagon, however. Helen Burks posted a comment to Rinteela’s victory lap, “As a hilltop resident, I am disgusted at the behavior of my neighbors and community.”


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Figure 1 - The site selected by the Richmond City Council for a Safe Park