Thursday, February 22, 2018

Two March events set at Temple Beth Hillel

   HILLTOP District, Richmond - Temple Beth Hillel in Richmond has announced two events open to the community in March - a Sunday, March 4 Purim Carnival and Raffle and a congregational Seder Saturday, March 31.
     At the carnival, people are invited to wear costumes and bring noisemakers to a celebration of freedom from religious freedom.
    The event begins at 12:30 p.m. and goes until 3 p.m.
    Admission is free. Home-baked goods and a lunch will be available.
    The March 31 Seder begins at 6:30 p.m. and will include a retelling of the Passover story by Rabbi Dean Kertesz and Cantor Fran Burgess as well as sharing a delicious meal. A vegan option is available.
    The dinner is $35 for adult non-members, $20 for children 7-12 and $8 for children 3-6.
    Reservations are encouraged as seating is limited.
    They can be made by calling 510-223-2560.
    Temple Beth Hillel is located at 801 Park Central in Hilltop.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Citizen recommendations for Seacliff Drive traffic rejected in Quarry EIR final draft

   RICHMOND - Three citizen suggestions to improve traffic safety on Seacliff Drive - presented at the Nov. 16 city planning commission meeting discussing the proposed 200-unit Quarry Residential project - should not be implemented, a traffic consultant to the city has recommended.
     Instead, the consulting firm of W-Trans of Oakland says the recommendations included in the draft EIR "should sufficiently improve safety on Seacliff Drive..."
     Those recommendations include narrowing Seacliff Drive to 11-foot travel lanes and installing speed limit and other signs. The development will add 1,400 vehicle trips per day to the road, according to the original traffic study.
      W-Trans drew its conclusions by doing a 'peer review' of the data provided from the original traffic study presented Nov. 16.
Left-turn lane recommendation 
     The W-Trans recommendations are  included in the final EIR slated for a public hearing Thursday, Feb. 1 at the Richmond Planning Commission meeting.
     The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be held the city council chambers, 440 Civic Center Plaza.
     The presentation of the final EIR comes two months after the planning commission's public hearing on the draft EIR.
     At that meeting, members of the public strongly urged the planning commission to consider three alternatives: a left-turn lane, a small 'roundabout' at the entrance - or requiring the developer New West of Las Vegas to create a driveway entrance off Canal Boulevard to avoid Seacliff Drive entirely for ingress and egress.
     In rejecting the public-generated suggestions, W-Trans said:
     • A left-turn pocket into the subdivision is not needed because few project trips are expected to turn left into the project driveway.
     • A single lane mini-roundabout is not recommended as there are concerns due to speed, topography and required right of way.
Mini-roundabout recommendation 
     • Relocation of the project driveway may be feasible but would need approval from the city and the East Bay Regional Park District as it is adjacent to the Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline Park. Additionally, the project site plan would need to be altered. Issues such as speeding and safety on Seacliff Drive would not change with the relocated driveway.
     Planning commissioners at the Nov. 16 meeting also voiced concerns about potential traffic safety issues on Seacliff Drive if the project is approved.
    "I think we're all cognizant this is a serious issue and one that neighbors really want to get right," planning commissioner Andrew Butt said. "And I personally want to get it right as well."
     Proponents of the three alternatives to improve traffic safety at the entrance of the development are expected to urge the planning commission to require the developer - New West of Las Vegas - to implement one of the three traffic measures, despite the W-Trans' peer review of data.
     The full EIR - including a transcript of comments made by the planning commission regarding the need for more study of traffic safety on Seacliff Drive - can be found here:

Quarry project access from Canal Drive recommendation

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Richmond Design Review Board resets Terminal One project hearing to Feb. 14

   RICHMOND - The Richmond Design Review Board has reset its until Feb. 14 its deliberations on the 316-unit Terminal One project proposed for a 14-acre bayside site on Dornan Drive.
     The Terminal One project had been scheduled to come up for DRB discussion Jan. 24.
     The DRB at its Dec. 13 meeting had two-hours of back-and-forth dialog about a variety of issues, most centered around discrepancies between colors on drawings provided by Terminal One to the DRB and samples of building materials.
     "The renderings and labelings are out of sync," DRB member Michael Hannah said at that meeting. "This is causing more confusion than necessary."
     The design presented at that meeting for Shoreline Drive indicates there will be no public parking across the street from the single family homes, the site of a proposed public park and public pier. (See photo below.)
     DRB members also questioned Terminal One developers and their architect about the durability of various products, including proposed paint as well as exterior lights.
     Prior to the DRB December hearing several area residents offered comments about the project's design.
     Brian Lewis of Brickyard Cove told board members area residents had met Nov. 4 at the Richmond Yacht Club to outline concerns about Terminal One, including the need for more environmental cleanup as well as the lack of public parking on Shoreline Drive.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pt. Molate & medical marijuana facility on Richmond planners' agenda for Thursday

   RICHMOND - A study session on Point Molate land uses - and a public hearing on a conditional use permit for a medical marijuana manufacturing facility - are scheduled for the Richmond Planning Commission Thursday.
     The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Richmond City Council Chambers, 440 Civic Center Plaza.
     The Pt. Molate study session will be at the end of a six-item agenda.
     The medical marijuana manufacturing public hearing will be to take testimony about a proposal for a building at 953 Hensley Street.
     The Pt. Molate study session "is to provide and receive comments on the preparation of a budget and proposals for receiving stakeholder and community input..."
     Here is a link to the full agenda: Richmond Planners.
     Below is the agenda item for Pt. Molate.

Point Molate

Thursday, January 4, 2018

WriterCoach Connection seeks volunteers

   RICHMOND - The WriterCoach Connection - a program that helps develop critical writing skills for students to succeed in school and beyond - is looking for volunteers.
     Volunteers work with middle and high school students at Lovonya DeJean Middle School and Richmond and Kennedy High Schools. WCC officials says help is also needed in neighboring El Sobrante's Crespi Middle School.
     Volunteers commit to helping 2 to 4 times per month with 1-2 hours of helping during the school day, meeting with students.
     "Our volunteer coaches show middle and high school age youth with whom they work that they care," says WriterCoach Connection Site Coordinatior Rita Dhesi. "After students write draft essays, for example, coaches help students understand how to improve those essays."
     Orientations are set for Jan. 12 in Berkeley and Jan. 16 in Richmond. To register - or for more information about becoming a coach, call 510-858-7108 or check out the WriterCoach Connection website: WRITERCOACH CONNECTION. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

City DRB OKs Quarry Residential project - declines comment on Seacliff Drive traffic

   RICHMOND - The City of Richmond Design Review Board Wednesday night sent forward its recommendation for approval - from the design standpoint - of the proposed Quarry Residential project, a 193-unit housing development on Seacliff Drive.
     That approval recommendation now goes to the City of Richmond Planning Commission with a variety of caveats about colors, landscaping, retaining walls, windows, parking and general aesthetics.
     But in its approval the DRB did not address matters relating to traffic safety, a key issue among concerned Point Richmond residents since the project by a Las Vegas developer was first proposed last February.
     At the outset of a two-hour public hearing on the project, City planner Lina Velasco advised the board against considering traffic safety on Seacliff Drive in its deliberations.
     "It's not within the purview of the Design Review Board," Velasco said.
     A number of Point Richmond residents attended the meeting hoping the DRB would consider traffic safety, particularly because the design of the project shows Seacliff Drive as its main entry and exit.
     "It's common knowledge that the road is unsafe," said Jeff Vines, a member of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development. "To me, it's part of the design, how the entrance is set up."
    Vines outlined traffic safety alternatives that BCARD and other residents have suggested at several meetings of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council, the city planning commission and the DRB at a study session in September.
   At a city planning commission hearing, commissioners indicated they were supportive of having the city hire an outside traffic engineer study the safety issues of Seacliff Drive.
     Vines urged the DRB Wednesday to include one of three safety suggestions as a condition of approval of the project.
Computer illustration of 'roundabout' on Seacliff Drive
     • The first would be to have all ingress and egress to the project come from the north, directly off Canal Boulevard crossing a small stretch of city-owned property. Residents and visitors to the Quarry project would avoid Seacliff Drive entirely.
     • The second would be to have a mini-traffic circle - a roundabout - at the project entrance instead of a simple intersection.
     • The third would be to install a left turn lane for traffic heading north on Seacliff Drive.
     Vines recommendations were supported by several speakers, including Gail Borque and Leslie Hicks.
     "It's very dangerous unless you implement one of Jeff Vine's recommendations," Hicks testified.
     Just how dangerous the former dirt road is was echoed by Borque.
     "That road historically was a dirt road. I don't know how much engineering was done when it was paved. But it's not safe," she said.
     Although the DRB declined to consider traffic safety, chair Jonathan Livingston said if the planning commission recommended any changes to the entrance, that part of the project would have to come back to the DRB for another review.
     The DRB Wednesday also held a two-plus hour public hearing on the Terminal One project.
     A story about that hearing can be found here:

Monday, December 11, 2017

'Roundabout' proposed to slow traffic in front of Quarry Residential development

   RICHMOND - A proposed new traffic-safety wrinkle has been added to the Quarry Residential project proposal up for discussion Wednesday night when the City of Richmond Design Review Board holds a public hearing on the 200-unit project.
     The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the multipurpose room of city hall at 440 Civic Center Plaza.
     The traffic-safety wrinkle - a roundabout traffic circle - is being proposed by the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development as an answer to repeated citizen concerns about the safety of Seacliff Drive.
Concept illustration of a roundabout on Seacliff Drive
     The proposed Quarry project has a single entrance and exit onto Seacliff Drive, a street numerous area residents have described as being manifestly unsafe.
     The roundabout idea is contained in a memo sent to the city planning department and members of the Design Review Board.
     "This solution would force all cars to slow down ... and would provide safe access to and from the property in all directions as well as a safe continuation route for thru traffic in both directions," the BCARD memo states.
     The issue of traffic on Seacliff was discussed at length at the Nov. 16 meeting of the planning commission. Planning commissioners indicated they favor hiring an outside consultant to study the traffic issue and various alternatives to make the road safer.
     The planners also said they wanted a more thorough analysis of the proposed rezoning - from Parks and Recreation to residential - reflected in the final Environmental Impact Report.
Proposed alternative entrance
     Another traffic safety alternative was also suggested by BCARD. It would be to have the entrance and exit from the project directly off Canal Boulevard (see photo at left), crossing city-owned land to get to the development proposed by New West Communities of Las Vegas.
     The Design Review Board will also be discussing the 316-unit Terminal One project on Dornan Drive.
      It will take up Terminal One prior to discussions of the Quarry Residential Project.
      For an earlier story about the two projects under review, follow this link: