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:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

City DRB to consider Terminal One & Quarry housing projects Wednesday

   RICHMOND - The City of Richmond Design Review Board will be discussing two proposed housing projects in Point Richmond Wednesday night - Terminal One and Bottoms Quarry, also known as the Quarry Residential Project.
      The open-to-the-public meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of city hall at 440 Civic Center Plaza.
     The 316-unit, Terminal One project  on Dornan Drive - which includes condominiums as well as single family homes - will be the subject of a DRB public hearing.
     The proposed project was the subject of a lengthy community meeting Nov. 4 at the Richmond Yacht Club at which a attendees expressed concerns about a number of environmental issues.
     A number of people also objected to the lack of parking along a public shoreline road which, if approved, will border a public park and pier.
LINK: RYC community meeting on Terminal One.

   The DRB will also hold a public hearing on the proposed Quarry Residential project off Seacliff Drive.
     The 200-unit proposal will require a rezoning from Parks and Recreation to a residential designation, a process that the City of Richmond is running in tandem with consideration of the actual project.
     Area residents have repeatedly asked that the developers or the City of Richmond to consider modifications to Seacliff Drive because of unsafe road conditions.
     At a city planning commission meeting Thursday, Nov. 16
traffic engineer Sam Tabibnia told planners the project will add about 1,400 vehicles to the existing 2,000 that travel daily on Seacliff Drive, most at 42-45 mph through the 25 mph zone.
    Much of the resident testimony that night - and at several other meetings about Seacliff traffic problems - centered on the need for a left turn lane into the proposed project.
    Support was also voiced for not having any ingress or egress directly off Seacliff. Requiring the project to use an alternative entrance from Canal Boulevard was suggested.
     Planning commission chair Marilyn Langlois that evening said she was concerned about considering a general plan amendment change while also reviewing the project, noting that there is property in other parts of the city properly zoned for residential construction with no need for a general plan alteration.
     "I am concerned that we are putting these two things together," Langlois said, adding that doing so might put the developers - New West Communities of Las Vegas - at an "unfair advantage" to other potential builders.
     Here is a link to the report on the Nov. 16 planning commission meeting:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Chevron wharf, new Point restaurants on agenda for PRNC meeting Wednesday

   POINT RICHMOND - An update on the Chevron Long Wharf Project and a look at proposals for two new restaurants in The Point, highlight the agenda for Wednesday's Point Richmond Neighborhood Council meeting.
     The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Community Center in Point Richmond on Washington Ave. It is open to the public.
     The Chevron project is scheduled to begin in early 2018 with improvements to lighting, seismic retrofitting and fire suppression installation on a loading platform.
     The project also will include pile driving while construction/reconstruction is underway.
     Many Point residents received a letter from Chevron in early November alerting them about the project and potential issues.
     Discussion of the wharf project at Wednesday's meeting begins at about 7:15 p.m.
     The wharf project was outlined at a May 2016 PRNC meeting. It is described in the minutes under Item 9 at the following link:

Chevron's Long Wharf
   The two restaurants are proposed by Nathan Trivers and will be discussed beginning at about 8:30 p.m. in a report by the Land Use/Design Review Committee.
     The LUDRC meets during the hour prior to the meeting of the full PRNC.
     Also on the agenda is a report (beginning at 8:15) by Sallie DeWitt, chair of the Citizen's Bond Oversight Committee for the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Here is the full agenda:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Festival of Lights set for this Sunday

    HILLTOP DISTRICT, Richmond - Temple Beth Hillel has invited the community to join its annual Hanukkah party Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. at 801 Park Central.
     There will be a traditional latke luncheon and celebratory candle lighting.
     The luncheon will begin at 12:30 p.m.
    Original arts and crafts created by Temple members and students will be for sale, including menorahs, holiday candles and presents from the gift shop.
     The family-oriented event will also include games, crafts and activities for children.
     For more information about the event, call 510-223-2560.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nov. Richmond Pulse story highlights holiday shopping spots in The Point

   POINT RICHMOND - The Richmond Pulse newspaper published a feature story Nov. 21 highlighting some of the businesses - and holiday events - in the Point Richmond Business District.
     The story focuses at what's being called 'Holiday in the Point' and emphasizes how buying local this holiday season supports the entire community.
     To read the article, follow this link:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Point Richmond's 2017 'Turkey Shoot' event was a hoot for everyone - as usual

   POINT RICHMOND - The annual Point Richmond Turkey Shoot - a parade, music, some short speeches and a reading of a historic (and growing) poem, was a big hit again Thursday.
     And, of course, there was the imbibing of either Wild Turkey whiskey or non-alcoholic beverages.
     Mayor Tom Butt brought his goats, ukuleles were out in force and several hundred townsfolk turned out to march around the town.
     This year's Turkey Shoot also included a 5K walk-run-stroll in the hour or so before things got underway with the parade.
     Here a link to a short video of the events.

Friday, November 17, 2017

5 pm deadline for comments on draft EIR for proposed Quarry residential project

   RICHMOND - A 90-minute Richmond Planning Commission public hearing Thursday on the draft environmental impact report for the proposed 200-unit Bottoms Quarry residential project focused on two elements: a proposed general plan amendment and citizen concerns about unsafe road conditions on Seacliff Drive.
     And today (Monday, Nov. 20) is the deadline for public comments is 5 p.m. They can be submitted via email to Lina Velasco.
     The general plan amendment - being considered in tandem with review of the proposal - would change the designation from Parks and Recreation to medium density Residential.

Seacliff Drive Traffic Safety
   Traffic engineer Sam Tabibnia told planners the project will add about 1,400 vehicles to the existing 2,000 that now traverse Seacliff Drive daily. He said most of that traffic travels at speeds between 42-45 mph.
     Among recommendations for slowing vehicles down to the legal speed of 25 mph, the draft EIR suggests additional signs and narrowing the traffic lanes to 11-feet with three-foot shoulders.
     That lane-shrinking recommendation was uniformly opposed by members of the public who gave testimony.
     Jeff Vines, a member of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development testified that at a minimum a left-turn lane should be installed in front of the proposed entrance of the 200-unit development.
     "We (BCARD) strongly recommend putting in a left-turn lane," Vines said.
     Another speaker said the project entrance and exit should not be on Seacliff Drive at all, but off Canal Boulevard, crossing a small stretch of city-owned property yards from the Canal-Seacliff intersection.
     "It's the only solution that makes sense," Gail Bourque said.
     In comments after the public hearing closed, several members of the planning commission said they favor getting an outside traffic engineer to evaluate the dangers - and possible solutions - for Seacliff Drive.
     "We are cognizant this is a serious issue," commission member Andrew Butt said.

General Plan Amendment 

   The proposed change from Parks and Recreation to Residential was opposed by several speakers, most of whom pointed to an existing lack of recreational facilities and objected to removing any more potential recreation sites.
     "This is a perfect spot for a lighted baseball or soccer field," Kathryn Dienst testified.
     Dienst previously submitted detailed written objections to the rezoning to the city planning staff after the project was considered by the city Design Review Board. She recommended Thursday that the public get a chance to vote on the general plan amendment.
     "This is spot zoning and you should not approve it," she said.
     Another speaker - heavily involved in area youth sports - echoed the notion that recreational opportunities are in short supply.
     "Removing Parks and Recreation land is not a good idea," Dave Price said.
     Planning commission chair Marilyn Langlois said she was concerned about considering a general plan amendment change at the same time as reviewing the project.
     She noted there is property in other sections of the city already properly zoned for residential construction, with no need for a general plan alteration.
     "I am concerned that we are putting these two things together," Langlois said, adding that doing so might put the developers - New West Development of Las Vegas - at an "unfair advantage" to other potential builders.
     She recommended that city planning staff - and/or the developer - obtain a letter from the East Bay Regional Park District indicating that the park has no interest in developing the property for recreational uses.
     Commissioner Andrew Butt suggested that the draft EIR for the Quarry project should contain a review of the impacts of recreational use on the land as well as the proposed residential.
     "We need to look at some solid evidence, he said.

Comment deadline - Monday, Nov. 20

   Written comments on the draft EIR for the Quarry residential project will be accepted until 5 p.m. Monday by the city staff. The full EIR - which will incorporate comments from the public hearing, written comments and city staff comments - should be completed in early 2018. Following that, there will be more public hearings on the full EIR.
     A copy of the draft Environmental Impact Report for the project can be accessed here: QUARRY PROJECT EIR.
     Comments and questions can be directed to city planning staff member Lina Velasco via email here: LINA VELASCO.

Richmond Planning Commission

 - Michael J. Fitzgerald 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

An 'evening of wine and music' benefit Saturday at Temple Beth Hillel in Hilltop

   HILLTOP DISTRICT - Proceeds from a performance by singer-songwriter Steve Seskin Saturday, Nov. 18 at Temple Beth Hillel will go to help North Bay fire victims.
     Plus, organizers say it will be a great show.

Steve Seskin
     The concert begins at 7 p.m. Admission is $18. Reservations are recommended by calling 510-223-2560 or sending an email to Seskin Reservations.
     Proceeds will go to the North Bay Wildfire Emergency Relief Fund.
     Seskin's music and performances have been praised by music critics in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee and many other publications.
     He is "really an exceptional talent," Alan News of the SF Bay Guardian says.
     Temple Beth Hillel is located at 801 Park Central, Richmond.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Seacliff Dr. safety issues expected to top concerns at planning commission meeting

   RICHMOND - A months-old debate over what needs to be done to make Seacliff Drive less dangerous is expected to be a major part of Thursday's Richmond City Planning Commission meeting.
     The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 440 Civic Center Plaza.
     The planning commission will be holding a public hearing - and taking public comments - on the draft environmental impact report for the Bottoms Quarry residential project. The 200-unit development is proposed by the Las Vegas firm of New West Development and has been scaled down from the original design of 270 units.
     Since the project was first reviewed by the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council, citizen concerns about Seacliff Drive's safety and traffic issues have been voiced at every meeting.
     The road was originally a fire road, then an emergency vehicle access, members of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development have said at PRNC and city meetings.
     "Seacliff Drive is categorically unsafe in its current configuration," BCARD's Jeff Vines told the Richmond Design Review Board Sept. 13.
     Although citizen testimony at that DRB meeting strongly urged that the city consider major repairs and/or re-engineering of the curving road, the draft EIR only recommends better signage, new striping on the road and shrinking the traffic lanes to 11 feet with three-foot shoulders.
     City planning staff have indicated they believe narrower lanes would help slow traffic.
     Another citizen recommendation - putting in a left-turn lane for vehicles entering the development - is not among the safety recommendations (See Seacliff Drive Safety Improvements below).
     But the issue is still expected to be a big part of discussions at the planning commission meeting after Richmond city officials and Point Richmond residents did an on-site review of Seacliff Drive last Thursday.
Todd Floyd of New West Development
The group agreed that an engineering plan should be drafted for a left turn lane, to ensure safer passage for through traffic.
     But New West Development's Todd Floyd indicated New West is not supportive of the idea of a left turn lane.
     "Although I understand your reasoning, I'm going to follow the EIR's Traffic Analysis which does not recommend installing a Left Turn Pocket," Floyd said in an email to BCARD.
     "We're not shutting the door to your suggestions ... the EIR is the process by which the City's traffic expert analyzes a project's impacts and determines the appropriate improvements that a project should undertake.
     We therefore are abiding by the process and at this time are following the guidance of the City's Draft EIR Traffic Study."
     The final word on that guidance - and whether a left turn lane should be required as a safety measure - is up to members of the planning commission and/or the Richmond City Council as the project winds its way through the city approval process. A list of city planning commission members (from the City of Richmond website) is below.
     The full draft Environmental Impact Report on the project can be found here: DRAFT EIR FOR QUARRY PROJECT.
     Questions about the EIR can be directed to city planner Lina Velasco via email LINA VELASCO or by calling the planning department at 510-620-6841.
     Below are the Seacliff Drive safety improvements as currently listed in the draft EIR for the Quarry project.
RICHMOND planning commission

 --- Michael J. Fitzgerald

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Milo Foundation leads Tuesday night to win $20,000 grant, voting ends Wednesday

   POINT RICHMOND - The Milo Foundation in Point Richmond was in the lead Tuesday night in an online contest to win as much as $20,000 in a grant from the Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation.
     The online voting ends Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 11:59 p.m.
     As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the Milo Foundation was in first place with 50,451 votes. The organization in second place had 48,337.
     The voting will help the organization decide how much funding each of six animal-help outfits receives.
     All six organizations are guaranteed at least $5,000 to help fund their life-saving work. The top vote getter will be awarded $20,000, second place $10,000. Third through sixth all receive $5,000 each.
     To vote, click on this HELP MILO link and follow the directions:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Bottoms Quarry project EIR proposes narrowing Seacliff Drive lanes to 11 feet

   POINT RICHMOND - A public hearing Thursday on the proposed Bottoms Quarry residential project on Seacliff Drive is expected to include testimony from a number of citizens concerned about traffic issues - the same traffic issues that have come up in nearly every review of the proposal.
     Thursday's hearing will be conducted by the Richmond Planning Commission beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 440 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond.
     The public hearing is to take comments about a draft environmental impact report completed in early October. LINK: DRAFT EIR FOR QUARRY PROJECT.
    The 200-unit project, proposed by New West Development of Las Vegas, has been under discussion since last spring. Originally the developer sought to build 270-units.
     At meetings of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council and the Richmond Design Review Board, the strongest comments focused around citizens' concerns about the safety of Seacliff Drive.
     "It was originally a fire road, then an EVA access road and then - without further engineering to accommodate community traffic - it morphed into a full service access road to the Cove Community,"  Jeff Vines, a member of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development told the Richmond DRB Sept. 13.
     "Seacliff Drive is categorically unsafe in its current configuration," he testified.
Bottoms Quarry condo project off Seacliff Drive in Point Richmond
     BCARD and a number of other members of the public testified at the DRB that the road needs major repairs - and quite likely a complete re-engineering - whether the Bottoms Quarry project moves ahead or not.
     But in the draft EIR up for discussion Thursday, the report recommends shrinking the existing traffic lanes in an effort slow traffic.  The EIR says the lanes will be 11 feet wide with three-foot shoulders on either side of the road. (See "Seacliff Drive Safety Improvements" below.)
     BCARD has labeled that particular recommendation as "preposterous."
     Other citizen safety recommendations - including one to install a left turn lane into the proposed project's only entrance - are not among the draft EIR recommendations.
   The EIR says that signs - including a warning of curves ahead and indicating a 25-mph speed limit - are adequate.
     BCARD is urging residents to attend the public hearing and voice their opinions about what the draft EIR recommends.
     "BCARD is requesting that there be a large group of residents in attendance and willing to speak," the group said in a public notice. "The City and the developer need to understand that without appropriate changes to Seacliff Drive, the community will continue to strongly oppose the plan as proposed."
     The full draft Environmental Impact Report for the 6.3 acre project can be read here: QUARRY EIR. The transportation section begins on page 404. BCARD representatives suggested in their announcement of the public hearing that residents be sure to read pages 436-440.
     Questions about the project or the draft EIR can also be directed to city planner Lina Velasco via email at this address: LINA VELASCO or by telephone at 510-620-6841.

Proposed Safety Improvements (in the draft EIR)

From the DRAFT EIR - Page 2-20

By Michael J. Fitzgerald

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pt. Richmond Terminal One project on agenda for Weds. Richmond DRB meeting

   UPDATE: The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and will be held in the city council chambers.

RICHMOND - A public hearing on the proposed 316-unit Terminal One residential project on Dornan Drive in Point Richmond will be held Wednesday when the City of Richmond Design Review Board meets.
     The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and will be held in the city council chambers at the Richmond Civic Center Plaza, not the multi-purpose room as previously announced..
Existing site of Terminal One
     The public will have the opportunity to comment on the nearly 14-acre project, but comments need to be limited to the appearance of the proposed buildings and site, architecture, construction materials and color, according to the chair of the DRB, Jonathan Livingston.
     Other issues with the proposal - which was approved by the Richmond City Council in July 2016 - need to be addressed directly to council members, Livingston said.
     The Wednesday evening session follows a one and a half-hour informational meeting Saturday at the Richmond Yacht Club. LINK: Saturday's Terminal One Meeting.
     Design issues were discussed. But many of the 100 people attending were interested in a series of serious ongoing environmental issues identified at the site, the nearly complete lack of parking along a new shoreside road and financial responsibility for a planned new public park and pier.
     The environmental issues were raised by members of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Growth (BCARD) which has been attempting to follow the developer's attempts at monitoring and cleanup.
     A city document outlining the Terminal One project in detail can be found here: TERMINAL ONE.
     Questions about the project or comments can also be directed to city planner Lina Velasco by telephone (510-620-6841) or through email: LINA VELASCO.
     Ms. Velasco is expected to be part of the DRB meeting Wednesday night as staff.

Developer provided artist sketch of plan

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Environmental problems, design issues & parking dominate Terminal One meeting

   POINT RICHMOND - Progress on a badly needed environmental cleanup, parking along a proposed new public shoreline road and significant changes to the design of the proposed Terminal One project on Dornan Drive were the focus of a sometimes boisterous informational meeting at the Richmond Yacht Club Saturday morning.
Brian Lewis of BCARD
     About 100 people filled the dining room of the RYC to hear from Brian Lewis of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development (BCARD) and Jonathan Livingston, chair of the City of Richmond's Design Review Board.
     The audience was also there to ask questions - which they did for a good part of the one and a half-hour meeting.
     The architecture, construction materials and colors of the proposed 316-unit development are all up for official city consideration Wednesday evening when the Richmond Design Review Board will hold a public hearing on the shoreside project.
     The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at the Richmond Civic Center Plaza and is open to the public.
     But chair Livingston made it plain that issues still of concern to many people - like how many stories the buildings will be or the number of required parking places - have already been decided by the Richmond City Council when it gave its approval in July of 2016.
     That approval included dropping the proposed height on two of the buildings from five stories to four.
     The meeting began with an explanation of BCARD's continuing role in monitoring the environmental cleanup of the nearly 14-acre site.
From BCARD's presentation on environmental cleanup
     BCARD's Lewis walked the audience through a series of explanatory slides showing various testing sites on the large parcel, lists of known contaminants and other environmental issues.
     "The cleanup is critical," Lewis said.
     He added that BCARD has not been getting promised regular reports from the developer making it very difficult to assess where the project is environmentally. "It's hard to say how much of it has been cleaned up. We are not seeing the data."
     The second presentation - by Livingston of the city Design Review Board - showed the changes submitted by the developer since the project was initially approved.
     Among those were exterior changes to colors and materials. The developer also wants to substitute a cantilevered deck design for decks supported by steel uprights.
    "The committee is really interested in hearing what the public's opinions are about what the project will look like," Livingston said.
      One issue of concern was who would be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of a proposed city park on the site of the development - and the public pier.
      Livingston said the legal documents approved by the city appear to make the development's homeowner's association responsible for those two features.
     A number of questions were also raised about parking for individuals wanting to use the proposed public park and/or the yet-to-be reconstructed pier. A proposed new perimeter road that will run along the edge of the bay - called Shoreline Drive on drawings - shows no parking spaces.
     On site, the project is required by the city to provide 1.6 parking spaces per residential unit, with the spaces allocated for use by Terminal One residents.
     Several members of the audience voiced concern that people wanting to use the new park and renovated pier would be forced to park in a nearby existing Miller-Knox parking lot (which frequently fills to overflowing) or along adjacent streets which also fill quickly, particularly on weekends.
     The City of Richmond's report and documents about Terminal One can be accessed by clicking on this link: TERMINAL ONE
     Questions or comments about the project can also be directed to city planner Lina Velasco either by telephone at 510-620-6841 or email at: LINA VELASCO.
Saturday's meeting at the Richmond Yacht Club about the Terminal One project
Developer provided design of Terminal One project

by Michael J. Fitzgerald

Friday, November 3, 2017

Terminal One meeting Saturday at the RYC

   POINT RICHMOND - The first of two public meetings on the proposed 14-acre Terminal One waterfront project on Dornan Drive will be held Saturday at the Richmond Yacht Club.
     The meeting is expected to be an informational session about some significant design changes developers have made to the proposal.
     The meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. and is open to the public.
     The RYC is located at 351 Brickyard Cove Road and is adjacent to the property of the proposed Terminal One project.
   Wednesday, Nov. 8), there will be another Terminal One meeting, a public hearing conducted by the City of Richmond's Design Review Board.
     That meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room in the basement of the Richmond Civic Center Plaza.
     The DRB will be listening to public (and developer) testimony as it considers a design review permit for the project.
     The 316-unit, mostly residential project includes plans for condos as well as single family homes, a waterfront park, a small commercial component and improvements to the the San Francisco Bay Trail and neighboring streets.
   A city project description of the project is available here: TERMINAL ONE.
     Questions can be directed to Richmond city planner Lina Velasco at 510-620-6841 or via email: LINA VELASCO.

'Flames covered a football field-sized area in three seconds' - Richmond OES manager

   POINT RICHMOND - Richmond's manager of the Office of Emergency Services offered some hair-raising observations Thursday evening about the fires that devastated much of the City of Santa Rosa and the Sonoma and Napa Valleys last month.
     "One American Red Cross person said she saw that the flames covered a football-field-sized area in three seconds," Genevieve Pastor-Cohen told a meeting of the Point Richmond Neighborhood CERT at the Point Richmond Community Center.
     CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team.
Genevieve Pastor-Cohen, Richmond OES manager
     Pastor-Cohen joined the Richmond City staff in April and is in the process of organizing emergency responses - including meeting with local CERT teams and coordinating efforts with emergency agencies such as those offered by Contra Costa County.
     (LINK: Richmond OES office)
    When she worked with the City of Oakland, Pastor-Cohen assisted with the emergency operations center set up to deal with the Ghost Ship fire.
     Much of her one-hour talk centered on the recent Northern California fires which, she said, "Will be the subject of discussions for many, many months among emergency services managers" across the state.
     CERT members also queried Pastor-Cohen about existing Richmond procedures for emergencies and what items should be kept in emergency "go bags" for residents.
     A "go bag" is a satchel kept handy in case a house needs to be evacuated quickly.
     In the Santa Rosa fires, some evacuees fled burning buildings without even time to put on shoes.
     Pastor-Cohen said a good friend of hers lost her home in the Santa Rosa blaze. The friend returned the street where she lived as soon as fire crews said it was safe.
     The house was gone, burned completely to the ground.
     The only thing still standing was her mailbox at the curb.
     When she opened the mailbox, it had one item inside - a bill from PG&E.

 Michael J. Fitzgerald

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Terminal One meetings Sat. and Weds.

   POINT RICHMOND - The proposed 14-acre Terminal One waterfront project on Dornan Drive will be the focus of two meetings in the next week.
     The first meeting is this Saturday (Nov. 4), an informational session about reportedly significant design changes. That meeting will be held at the Richmond Yacht Club from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The meeting is open to the public.
     The RYC is located at 351 Brickyard Cove Road and borders the property that will hold the development - provided it wins all necessary city approvals.
     The second meeting will be a public hearing before the City of Richmond Design Review Board Wednesday (Nov. 8) beginning at 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room, basement level of the Richmond Civic Center Plaza.
     The DRB meeting is to take public testimony and consider a design review permit for the project. The mostly residential, 316-unit project proposal includes plans for a waterfront park, commercial space and infrastructure improvements for roads and the San Francisco Bay Trail.
     A city project description is available here: TERMINAL ONE.
     Questions about the project can be directed to Richmond staff planner, Lina Velasco at 510-620-6841 or by email: LINA VELASCO.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Thursday CERT meeting features talk by Richmond Emergency Services Manager

   POINT RICHMOND - The Thursday evening meeting of Point Richmond CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) will feature a talk by Genevieve Pastor-Cohen, the City of Richmond's Emergency Services Manager.
     Pastor-Cohen was involved in the city's response in helping with the devastating fires in Santa Rosa. She will be speaking about overall disaster responses, the need and challenges faced by volunteers, the need for CERT training and how the Santa Rosa fire victims were helped.
     She and CERT members will also likely be discussing what local measures need to be taken to avoid wildfires in the areas in and around Richmond.
     The meeting runs from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Point Richmond Community Center on Washington Avenue.
     The meeting is open to the public. But because of the limited seating CERT officials ask that people who want to attend RSVP via this website: CERT MEETING.

Santa Rosa house fully engulfed in flames  (Photo by Associated Press)

Monday, October 30, 2017

Groundbreaking Weds. for new Richmond ferry terminal; service to begin Sept. 2018

   POINT RICHMOND - A public groundbreaking ceremony for the new Richmond Ferry Terminal project will be held Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. until noon.
     The new ferry terminal will be constructed at the southern point of the Ford Peninsula in Richmond, adjacent to the Ford Assembly Plant building.
     The ferry terminal project includes a new ADA-compliant gangway, ramp system, float and piles.  There will also be construction of a shelter for passengers as well as development and reconfiguration of the parking lot to create 362 spaces.
     Plans also call for installation of an ADA-compliant kayak launch ramp.
     The full project cost is expected to be about $20 million, funded through Regional Measure 2, State Proposition 1B, U.S. Dept. of Transportation funds, Contra Costa County and fare revenue.
     The Richmond-to-SF ferry service is slated to begin in September 2018 and initially will only run Monday through Friday - according to current plans.
     Speakers at the groundbreaking ceremony will include:

     • Jim Wunderman, vice chair of the WETA Board of Directors
     • Richmond Mayor Tom Butt
     • State Senator Nancy Skinner
     • Assemblyman Tony Thurmond
     • Federal D. Glover, commissioner with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and a Contra Costa County Supervisor
     • John Giola, Chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors

Friday, October 27, 2017

Pt. Richmond paid-parking pilot will be limited to Park Place with Jan. 1 startup

    POINT RICHMOND - The planned paid-parking pilot for the Point Richmond Business District will be limited to Park Place, DenĂ©e Evans of Richmond Transportation Services said Friday.
     And the program will likely start sometime after Jan. 1 and run for 90 days.
     "If the pilot goes as expected, additional pay stations may be installed throughout the Point Richmond Business triangle," Evans said.
     That would include Park Place, Washington Avenue and Richmond Avenue, she added.
Evans' comments came in the wake of Wednesday's meeting of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council meeting.
Traffic engineer Ian Barnes
At that meeting traffic engineer Ian Barnes presented the city's latest suggested traffic plan for The Point. It included having Park Place and Washington Avenue changed to one-way streets. The plan also would have changed the parking pattern from parallel parking on both sides of the street to diagonal parking on just one side, resulting in a net loss of 20 parking spaces.
     PRNC members gave the plan a solid thumbs down.
     The paid-parking pilot will have a two-or-three-hour time limit along Park Place with the normal city parking rate of $1 per hour.
     "It is important to understand that with or without increased parking stalls, paid parking is a tool used to encourage turnover which is much needed in the Point," Evans said. "And eventually other areas of Richmond."
     Outside of the business triangle streets, parking would remain free, but still restricted as to how long vehicles could park legally.
     Evans suggested that residents who live adjacent to the business district triangle look into the Neighborhood Permit Program to limit parking on their streets.
     "The idea is to change parking behavior for several reasons," Evans said. "To allow patrons access to the businesses within the triangle while encouraging longer term parking (away from the triangle) onto other streets such as Cutting Blvd... and encouraging alternate modes of transportation to the Point (i.e. carpooling, bicycling and walking)."
     The city is also suggesting there should be permit parking on Railroad Avenue near the fence to provide designated merchant parking during business hours.
     The Richmond Transportation Division will make the determination whether the paid-parking pilot program is a success, Evans said.
     "During the pilot, staff will be collecting parking data from the machines as well as feedback via an online survey that will be provided to the public (during the pilot) to determine the effectiveness," she said.
     "We are still working through the process which will also include sufficient notification prior to implementation as well as direction on how to use the pay stations."
     Answers to many questions about the Pt. Richmond paid-parking pilot, the Neighborhood Permit Program or other parking issues can be found at this link: PARKING.
     Questions can also be directed to City of Richmond parking officials via email here: PARKING QUESTIONS?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A pilot, paid-parking program planned for The Point; Diagonal parking turned down

   Editor's note: for an update to this story, 
follow this link: PARKING PILOT limited to Park Place
POINT RICHMOND - A pilot program to test paid-parking in the Point Richmond Business District will be implemented sometime in coming months, Richmond City officials said Wednesday evening.
     At the same meeting of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council, a much-anticipated plan for diagonal parking - and turning Park Place and Washington Avenue into one-way streets - was turned down by the approximately 25 PRNC members who attended.
Denee Evans
     The parking plan would have resulted in 20 fewer parking spaces around the business area triangle.
     Traffic engineer Ian Barnes explained that earlier concepts that included diagonal parking on one side of the streets and parallel parking on the other side would not allow for adequate fire department access.
     "The streets are just too narrow," Barnes said.
     The news came as a surprise to PRNC members who expected the latest iteration of a parking design to increase parking substantially.
     "We seem to be going backward," Graham Perrett said.
     The group did approve a motion asking city staff to look into the option of having angled parking on Railroad Avenue.
     Concerns were also voiced about how the business district would be able to accommodate the anticipated additional influx of vehicles from planned developments.
     At the end of the meeting, Richmond transportation official Denee Evans said the city would be repainting parking spaces in the downtown business district in coming months.
     Sometime after that, a paid-parking pilot project would be instituted, she said.

This plan would result in 20 fewer parking spaces in the Business District

Monday, October 23, 2017

Meeting tonight on extension of parcel tax for East Bay Regional Park District

   POINT RICHMOND - A public meeting to discuss a potential extension a $12 per year parcel tax to benefit the East Bay Regional Park District will be held tonight beginning at 7 p.m. in the Point Richmond Community Center on Washington Avenue.
    The $12 per year tax is for the zone of East Bay cities between Richmond/San Pablo and Oakland/Alameda.
     The potential extension would be of Measure CC enacted in 2004.
     Attendees will be able to ask questions about the accomplishments already achieved  using the monies and provide recommendations for priorities to include if the tax is extended.
     More details about the meeting and Measure CC - as well as to rsvp - can be obtained by clicking this link: MEASURE CC.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Last chance to buy Plunge-project pavers

   POINT RICHMOND - This is the final week for businesses or individuals to order an etched paver for the new walkway for the Plunge, Maryn Hurlbut, chair of the city Recreation and Parks Commission announced Sunday.
     "Instructions for making a donation are on the posters published with this story," she said.
     "To expedite a logo or wording on a paver, send a PDF vector file directly to me at Richmond Tennis."
     Hurlbut also said that etching is being completed next week with the project expected to be done in the next month.
    "If anyone ordered their paver and has not received a receipt, they should email or call me at 510-237-6880 or 510-596-8880," she said.

(For additional stories published on The Point click this link: THE POINT)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Parking plan for Pt. Richmond, artist lofts top agenda for Wednesday PRNC meeting

   POINT RICHMOND - Reports on a City of Richmond proposal to improve parking in the Point Richmond Business District - along with discussion of a plan to build artists lofts and commercial space at the corner of Tewksbury & Washington - will be taken up Wednesday Oc. 25 at the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council meeting.
     The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Point Richmond Community Center - not the usual 7:30 p.m. - to allow for extra time for presentations as well as questions and answers from the public.
     The PRNC meeting is open to the public.
Washington Avenue view
     The Tewksbury Artists Loft's will be discussed by the Land Use & Design Review Committee during the hour prior to the full PRNC meeting. A report of that session will be presented at the full PRNC meeting at approximately 7:15 p.m.
     The LUDRC meeting is open to the public, also.
     The combination housing, work space and commercial 4-story development is a project of Anthony Murphy of Monday Morning Development of Point Richmond.
     At 7:45 p.m., Denee Evans of the Richmond Department of Transportation will update the PRNC about city proposals to make Park Place and Washington Avenue one-way streets. The two streets would also be restriped for diagonal parking to add parking spaces.
     A city parking study of Point Richmond has been in the works since last fall. As late as Friday the city engineering staff was working on the draft plans, incorporating recent input from the fire department.
     Last month outgoing PRNC President David Schoenthal told the PRNC that the report contains a recommendation that paid parking in the business district should be implemented at some future date.
     The recommendation to implement paid parking is not specifically listed on Wednesday's PRNC agenda for consideration, but is expected to be part of Point residents' questions.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pt. Richmond's Milo Foundation begins returning animals to Sanctuary near Willits

   POINT RICHMOND - The Milo Foundation began taking animals back to its Willits-area Sanctuary Tuesday after having to evacuate the facility early last week because of wildfires.
     "We have good news," John Fonseca, Milo Outreach Coordinator said.
     "Staff have started taking most of the animals back to the Sanctuary. And some of the Sanctuary animals were even adopted while they were here."

     The Milo staff had to move the animals the day the wildfires began burning across Northern California. Some animals went to local shelters near Willits, well away from fire danger.
Sanctuary crates
     But many were brought to the Point Richmond facility.
     "People came out of the woodwork to foster, to help in so many ways," Fonseca said. "We received monetary donations,  donations of food and other items.        "We were overrun with help, and it was amazing."
     The shelter had to make space for the incoming animals, many of which - because of behavioral quirks - are often not adoptable.
     But Fonseca said a number of the Sanctuary animals found homes in this area.

     The evacuation of the Willits facility came just as the Point Richmond Milo facility was digging out from under dealing with animal refugees from the hurricanes that battered the Gulf Coast.
     But things are slowly going back to normal now, Fonseca said. Even so, the facility has a continuing need for food and other donations.
     For information about the Milo Foundation - and to donate - follow this link: MILO FOUNDATION.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Richmond City Council to consider paid parking, one-way streets in The Point

   POINT RICHMOND - A City of Richmond traffic survey & study of the Point Richmond Business District has just been completed, Point Richmond Neighborhood Council President David Schoenthal announced Wednesday night.
     The survey & study indicate that making Park Place a one-way street heading north and Washington Avenue a one-way thoroughfare going south around the triangle - along with instituting a diagonal parking scheme on both streets - is viable and should be pursued.
     "The city also recommends that we do paid parking," Schoenthal said.

     The news about the results of the survey reached Schoenthal just prior to the regular meeting of the PRNC held in the Community Center on Washington Avenue.
      He said he believes the next step in the process is for the results to be presented to the full Richmond City Council for action - possibly within the next month. The paid-parking recommendations are likely to be considered separately from the traffic pattern alterations.
     "Got some changes coming," Schoenthal said.
     Discussions about parking in The Point have been ongoing for months. In March, two city staff members outlined several proposals for re-striping the business district parking, instituting diagonal parking to increase parking capacity as well the idea of having paid parking.

     The PRNC also heard a report that the group's design review committee agreed in concept with a proposal from AC Transit to construct a restroom facility for bus drivers at the AC Transit bus stop at the turnaround of Castro and Tewksbury, adjacent to I-580.
     In addition to the locked restroom for AC employees, the proposal also calls for construction of bicycle lockers.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

PRNC to welcome two new board members Weds.; search underway for new president

   POINT RICHMOND - Two new board members will take their positions with the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council Wednesday night - Buzz Bayliss as first vice president and David Bleckinger as treasurer.
David Schoenthal
     The new members will take their spots at the PRNC meeting that begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Point Richmond Community Center on Washington Street in the Point Richmond Business District.
     The meeting is open to the public and scheduled to run until 9 p.m.
     At this month's PRNC meeting, the group is also expected to discuss the search for a new president.
     PRNC President David Schoenthal has announced he will be leaving the president's post and running for Richmond City Council.
     One person has already expressed interest in taking on the position.
     In addition to the shuffling of officers, the PRNC will hear a presentation about the impacts of sale of single containers of alcohol in communities. The presentation - set for 8 p.m. - will be made by Ryan Orihood, program coordinator for Discovering the Reality of Our Community.
     Also as part of the meeting, the PRNC Land Use/Design Review Committee will be reviewing a proposal from AC transit to construct a permanent operator restroom facility at the AC Transit bus stop at the turnaround of Castro and Tewksbury, adjacent to I-580.
     The restroom would replace a blue porta-potty currently on site.