Thursday, April 26, 2018

Chevron officials say loud noise in Point was result of emergency steam release

   POINT RICHMOND - A team of Chevron officials confirmed again for the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council Wednesday night that the loud, screeching sound that alarmed hundreds of Point Richmond residents the night of March 29 was the result of only steam escaping from a pressure relief valve, not any refinery flaring.
     The escaping steam was under 500 pounds per square inch of pressure and had to go through a small diameter space, resulting in the screeching noise that prompted hundreds of phone calls to Chevron, police and Bay Area air quality officials.
     "We did not live up to our own expectations that night," Brian Hubinger, a Chevon representative told the PRNC. (For a KQED story about the incident published March 30, click here STEAM.)
(L-R) Claudia Graham, Winnie Kuo and Brian Hubinger of Chevron
     The technical details of what happened were outlined for the group by Winnie Kuo, a process engineer at the Richmond facility.
     Kuo said the steam is used in a turbine system that generates as much as 20 megawatts of electricity. Normal operating pressure is about 400 pounds per square inch. At 500 psi, Kuo said, the safety valve is designed to kick in, allowing the excess pressure to vent into the air.
     The piece of equipment blamed for the noise was installed in 2005 and is back in operation,  Claudia Graham, Chevron's utilities operations manager told the audience.
     "The manufacturer is investigating," she said.
     Local residents complained that the shrieking sound March 29 lasted as long as two hours, though Hubinger said he believe he actual incident time frame was shorter.
     Whatever the time frame, several residents clearly expressed their concerns over how the incident was handled.
     "You scared the crap out of a lot of people in the community," Point Richmond resident Bill Nadal said.
     The PRNC and the Chevron representatives also discussed the need for a better alert system to process more calls more quickly.
     In a normal week, Chevron dispatchers might receive just one or two complaint calls, Hubinger said.
     "That night we got about 100 in the first half-hour."

Michael J. Fitzgerald

The video below was taken the night of the incident by a local resident

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Chevron official to report on refinery flaring

   POINT RICHMOND - A representative from Chevron is scheduled to make a presentation Wednesday night - and answers questions - about a recent flaring and steam event at Chevron's Richmond facility.
     The presentation will be made by Brian Hubinger, a government relations specialist with the company.
     The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Point Richmond Community Center and is open to the public.
     Hubinger's report is near the end the agenda and is scheduled to begin at 8:40 p.m.
     The Chevron report will be preceded by the election of PRNC president, vice president, secretary and treasurer for the next year.
     Incumbent PRNC president David Schoenthal is leaving the post and running for Richmond City Council. The sole announced candidate to replace him is Peter Thelin.
     The meeting is also expected to feature reports from various other Point groups and agencies including Arts of Point Richmond, Richmond Tennis and the Masquers Playhouse.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Richmond officials promise to help mitigate parking and traffic issues in The Point

   POINT RICHMOND - A two-hour community meeting sponsored by the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council on parking and traffic issues Tuesday included a pledge from Lori Reese-Brown of the city transportation department that she would work collaboratively with Point residents and city departments to solve problems.
     "The city of Richmond has a lot of work to do," Reese-Brown said at the Community Center meeting.
     That work includes seeing how much city planners and others have considered the traffic and parking impacts of new residential developments - either constructed or in process.
Yellow and red striping near the closed El Tunel restaurant 
     Collectively nearly 600 residential units are expected to be built and occupied in the next few years: 27 units in the apartments already constructed adjacent to Mechanics Bank, 60 homes in the under-construction Shea Homes Shoreline development, 200 units at the city-approved Quarry Residential project, and more the 300 homes at Terminal One on Dornan Drive near the Richmond Yacht Club.
     Reese-Brown also pledged to talk with Richmond Police about a conspicuous lack of parking enforcement in The Point.
     In the last week, freshly painted yellow, blue and green curb striping - and a stop sign at on Park Place - appeared in the downtown business district. The restriping of existing parking spaces - which could include standardizing the size of each stall from the current mix of parking slot sizes - is also likely.
     Reese-Brown also suggested that the heads of various city departments - like planning - attend future community meetings to answer some of the many questions posed by the 25 or so persons who attended the meeting.
     The meeting was facilitated by Shawn Dunning who walked the audience through a series of exercises designed to elicit as many solutions to problems as gripes.
     Parking permits for residential, designated parking zones for merchants and spaces for additional parking on the perimeter of the downtown business district were all discussed.
     Reese-Brown and Denée Evans (also of the city transportation office) encouraged people to contact them directly with concerns.
    "If I hear one complaint, that sounds like 1,000 complaints to me," Reese-Brown said.
     PRNC President David Schoenthal indicated that in the wake of this meeting he would be setting up an online Google discussion group. He can be contacted about that here: Schoenthal email.

Lori Reese-Brown
Phone: 510-620-6869

Denée Evans
Phone: 510-620-6869

New stop sign on Park Place, heading north

Signage needs to catch up with new stripes in front of the Santa Fe Market

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Point parking & traffic meeting tonight

   POINT RICHMOND - A special two-hour meeting to discuss parking and traffic issues in The Point will be held tonight from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Point Richmond Community Center on Washington Avenue.
     The meeting is open to the public.
     The session will be facilitated by Shawn Dunning and run similarly to collaborative solutions workshops conducted earlier this year by outgoing Point Richmond Neighborhood Council President David Schoenthal.
   In an announcement for the meeting, Schoenthal said he wanted people to understand that the event tonight is to get community input into how to solve parking and traffic issues in The Point.
     This meeting will not be a campaign event," he said.
      In addition to the facilitator and members of the public, Lori Reese Brown and Denée Evans of the Richmond Transportation Department are expected to attend, Schoenthal said.
    Community members will likely be asking questions about parking enforcement, how to get additional parking for The Point area, and what plans the city has for dealing with the traffic expected from four new residential developments coming on line. 
     One is already constructed - the apartments adjacent to Mechanics Bank. Shea Homes is in the early phases of construction of homes off Seacliff Drive. Another project is expected to break ground this year, the 200-unit Quarry Residential project on Seacliff Drive near Canal Boulevard. Still in process is the 300+ unit Terminal One residential project at the end of Dornan Drive.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Greenpeace blimp hovers over Chevron

The Greenpeace blimp floated over Point Richmond - and the Chevron Refinery today -
with a message pointed at Governor Jerry Brown.
The other side of the blimp says "Climate Leaders Don't Drill."
(Photo and caption information by Spencer Allen)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Richmond Police offer list of suggestions how to protect against property theft

   POINT RICHMOND - The Richmond Police Department's Crime Prevention Manager has offered a series of tips for people to help protect against theft of property.
Michelle Milam
     The suggestions from Michelle Milam come after RPD Capt. Louis Tirona told residents Tuesday night that they need to take steps to "harden" their homes against thieves.
   "We can't arrest our way out of the problem," Tirona said, part of his comments during an hour-long question and answer session with about 75 residents at the Point Richmond Community Center.
     The meeting was set up by local resident and activist Jessie West so residents could query police about property crimes in Point Richmond. The meeting also was called to set up the newly created Downtown Point Richmond Neighborhood Watch.
The ideas for home protection from Milam include:

•  If you have an alarm system, set it every time you leave home. 
Periodically test your system to avoid false alarms.

•  Garage doors should always be closed and locked. Do not leave your garage door opener in your car.  If your car is stolen, thieves may have access to your home.

•  Lock your garage door from the inside when not in immediate use, or when on vacation.

•  Consider installing motion sensitive lighting. Make sure the perimeter of your home is well lit.

•  Install deadbolt locks with a 1" metal bar on all non-sliding exterior doors.

•  Beware of inviting solicitors into your home where they have access to viewing your floor plans, or learning more about your schedule and living arrangements. 

•  Don’t assume that your personal items have no value to thieves; while you may consider certain items of minimal value, thieves may think otherwise.

•  Keep all doors and windows closed and securely fastened.

•  Never hide a spare key under the doormat, flowerpot, or any obvious location.

•  Store tools and ladders out of sight and locked away.

•  Keep shrubbery trimmed away from doors and windows.

•  Consider using doorbell cameras or active monitoring devices.

•  Start a neighborhood watch on your block to report suspicious activity to police.


Michelle Milam  EMAIL  Phone: 510-620-6546

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Sail America boat show April 19-22 at Marina Bay and Craneway Pavillion

   RICHMOND - The Pacific Sail and Power Boat Show this year will run from Thursday, April 19 through Sunday, April 22 at the Marina Bay Yacht Harbor and the Craneway Pavilion.
     New boats - power and sail - will be on display both in and out of the water for show attendees to check out.

Marine products such as engines, solar panels, life jackets and electronics will be available at the show for review - and on sale - too.
     "We are pleased to welcome so many exceptional exhibitors this year, Katie Kelly, Sail America Associate Manager said.
     "They are showcasing the latest marine products, boats, technology and services."
     There will also be seminars on a variety of topics including how to prep for a cruising adventure and understanding the basics about tropical cyclones.
     This the third year of the boat show in Richmond. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Sunday the show also opens at 10 a.m. but closes at 5 p.m.
     For full information about tickets, events, social events and registering for seminars, check the Pacific Boat Show website here: BOAT SHOW.

RPD police captain says Pt. residents need to 'harden' homes to protect against theft

   POINT RICHMOND - A Richmond Police Captain Tuesday night told a Point Richmond audience that to protect against the property crimes that have seemingly been plaguing the community for months, residents will need to "harden" their homes and properties to make it more difficult for thieves to steal items.
     "We can't arrest our way out of the problem," Capt. Louis Tirona said.
     Tirona's comment came during an hour-long question and answer session with approximately 75 people gathered at the Point Richmond Community Center.
     The meeting with Tirona and RPD's Lt. Tim Gray was organized by Point Richmond resident and activist Jessie West to get answers from the police about a perceived uptick in property crimes as well as to put together a Downtown Point Richmond Neighborhood Watch.
     Tirona, who heads up the Southern District policing area of the city, said part of the problem is that it's likely the criminals now stealing items and breaking into homes are not local to Point Richmond or even necessarily Richmond itself, but coming in from other areas.
     "Criminals no longer stay in their own neighborhood," Tirona said. "They have gone regional."
     In response, Richmond Police are taking a regional approach to apprehending thieves, too, he added.
     But the exception to that might be the influx of homeless people, Lt. Gray said. In the last few weeks, the RPD cleared one homeless encampment adjacent to the Plunge.
Homeless encampment, since removed from The Plunge
     While the RPD hasn't officially concluded the increase in Point Richmond crime can be directly attributed to more homeless people in The Point area, Gray said there seems to be a "correlation."
     Several audience members cited instances in which they believed the RPD was not sufficiently responsive to calls to police for help - either in timeliness or in investigating and/or arresting suspects.
     Tirona urged community members to contact him or Gray directly with their concerns about any cases - an offer several residents took him up on during a break midway through the meeting.
     (Phone contact information and email links for Tirona and Gray follow this story.)
     Tirona also said part of the problem is that the "consequences are fairly light" even if a person is arrested and convicted for property-related crimes.
     Gray suggested that the group ask for a meeting with a representative of the Contra Costa County District Attorney's office to explain the process and court outcomes for persons arrested and convicted.
    Tirona said he would ensure that a DA's office representative would come to The Point for such a meeting. RPD Crime Prevention manager Michelle Milam made the same pledge after Tirona and Gray's session ended and the group met for another hour organizing a new Neighborhood Watch.


Captain Louis Tirona: EMAIL LINK
Tirona telephone: 510-620-6940

Gray telephone: 510-620-6926

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Uptick in local crime the subject of 7 p.m. meeting tonight at the Community Center

   POINT RICHMOND - A community meeting to talk about ways to combat the recent uptick in crime in Point Richmond will be held tonight in the Community Center on Washington Ave. beginning at 7 p.m.
     The event was organized by community resident/activist Jessie West.
West invited Captain Louie Tirona of the Richmond Police and Michelle Milam of the RPD Crime Prevention Department to attend and to hear concerns of residents.
     Tirona heads the Southern District (which includes Point Richmond) and allocates police resources.
     The meeting comes in the wake of numerous reports of crimes - many of which have been detailed on the social media site Nextdoor.
     The crimes have included an armed robbery, burglaries, auto thefts, bicycle thefts, computer thefts and other property crimes.
Michelle Milam
 Following the discussion with Tirona, residents are invited to stay and talk with Milam from crime prevention about organizing a Downtown Neighborhood Watch.
     West said she also hopes that existing Neighborhood Watch groups in the entire Point will send a representative to the meeting so the various units can determine how best to share information.