Saturday, July 27, 2019

PRNC to hear report Wednesday about BNSF plans for trains in Miller Knox park

   POINT RICHMOND - The Point Richmond Neighborhood Council will hear an update and report about Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad's plans to reactivate and use railroad tracks in Miller Knox Park.
     The report will be made by Carol Johnson of the East Bay Regional Park District. The district filed a lawsuit in October of 2017 to resolve the issue.
     Earlier this year, EBRPD offered this statement to clarify the situation:
     “The property containing the remnant rail road tracks was purchased from Burlington Northern Santa Fe in 1991," EBRPD officials wrote. 
     "As part of the purchases, Burlington Northern Santa Fe was granted an easement back for the limited purpose of continuing to serve two adjacent industrial properties, the Bray Oil property and the Terminal One (formerly Petromark) property, only for so long as those industrial sites remained in operation. The Bray Oil property was purchased by the Park District in 1999 and designated open space. The Terminal One property stopped all industrial activity in the 1990s and is now owned by the City of Richmond and is designated for residential uses.”
     The PRNC meeting begins at 7:15 p.m. at the Point Richmond Community Center. Johnson's reported is slated to begin at about 7:20 p.m.
     The PRNC meeting is starting 15 minutes earlier than normal to accommodate an unusually long agenda.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

'Wig-Wag' festival in The Point Sunday

   POINT RICHMOND - The just-completed restoration project of the historic railroad crossing "wig wag" signals in The Point will be celebrated Sunday.
     The public celebration is to commemorate the reactivation of the signals after 18 years of being dormant.
     According to festival organizers, Point Richmond is the only place in the nation where the wig wags are allowed to remain in place.
     The festival will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Mechanics Bank. It will include a dedication ceremony and a ceremonial reactivation of the wig wags.
     There will be entertainment, including singing and performances of the Wig Wag Rag (1911) and the Richmond Rag (1908).
     In addition, the work of local, national and international artists will be exhibited depicting railroads crossings. Local artists include Elizabeth Tarr, Jim DeWitt and Linda Lee.
     Thematic posters by Tarr will be available for purchase.

Monday, July 1, 2019

City delays consideration of funding proposal for Terminal One until Sept.

 EDITOR'S NOTE and Update to story below:
    Richmond city officials Monday said the proposals described below will not be considered Tuesday, July 2 - or July 16 - after all. 
    Instead - at the request of the developer - the issues raised in the story are now expected to be taken up in September.
    This story will be updated with links to city documents later this week.

RICHMOND - The Richmond City Council was set to consider a proposal this week to use funds from several city sources - including funds collected from other developers - to help with increased costs at the Terminal One residential project.
     But city officials said the discussion and decision has been delayed and will likely take place in September.
     The council had received a written request to delay a vote on the proposal. And several Point residents were expected to ask the council at the meeting to delay also, citing a short notice of the item being considered.
     The city-collected funds are proposed by the city to help the developer cover increased costs to handle seismic hazards, development of the promised waterfront park and improvements to the Ferry Point Lift Station.
     The details of the fund allocations being considered include:
The Terminal One project site is on the left

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Filming in Point Richmond Monday and Tuesday - here are maps of the impacts

   POINT RICHMOND - Two different companies will be filming in The Point Monday and Tuesday impacting traffic and parking.
     An earlier story about the filming was published Thursday. "PRNC votes to support filming"
     Today the Richmond Police Department released the statement below as well as diagrams of when streets will be closed off and how parking will be affected.
     The RPD says that all businesses will remain open. But Tuesday Kaleidoscope Coffee will be closed because the film crew will be using the facility to film. It will reopen Wednesday.

From the Richmond PD:
"Monday, April 29: Honda USA has hired a production company to film a commercial in Pt. Richmond. The production crew will be in the downtown area from 7 AM - 7 PM. The streets will remain open with intermittent closure for filming. All businesses will remain open, but parking will be impacted. Please refer to the attached map titled “Honda Downtown Pt Richmond...” regarding limited parking and time frames. There will be three RPD officers onsite to assist with traffic and parking.
Tuesday, April 30: Skycar Creative Inc. has been hired to produce a company video by a private firm. They will also be filming in the downtown Pt. Richmond area on April 30. The production crew will be onsite from 8 AM - 6 PM. All streets will remain open with intermittent closure for short periods of time when they film. All businesses will remain open, but parking will be impacted. Please refer to the attached map regarding parking time frames. There will be four RPD officers onsite to assist with traffic flow and parking concerns. Both production companies have been working with the Pt. Richmond Business Association and the Pt. Richmond Neighborhood Council to help minimize the inconvenience placed on stakeholders and local residents. Thank you for your patience and understanding."

Tuesday April 30 2019

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

PRNC votes to support Monday & Tuesday filming in The Point business district

     POINT RICHMOND - The Point Richmond Neighborhood Council gave a nod of approval Wednesday night to two film projects planned for Monday and Tuesday that will impact traffic flow in the business district.
     Both contributed $1,000 to the PRNC for cleanup and restoration work in The Point, including spiffing up the statue near the Community Center. The donations were in addition to fees paid to the City of Richmond to obtain city filming permits.
     The project with the likely much-lighter traffic impact is being done by Skycar Creative, a Point Richmond Company.
     Jane Selle Morgan of Skycar told the PRNC that her company was filming a software commercial Tuesday. When completed the film would be seen on the web only.
     "We are not going to shut down traffic completely, just very intermittently off Park Place," Morgan said. "And a little bit on Washington."
     A bigger community impact will be that Skycar will be filming in Kaleidoscope Coffee all day, necessitating closing the popular coffee shop to the public.
     But Kaleidoscope owner Cassie Cushing said Wednesday night that as a show of gratitude to the community and Kaleidoscope's many loyal customers her coffee shop will be offering a 30 percent discount when it reopens Wednesday May 1, the day after the filming.
     The Honda automotive commercial filming Monday will cause traffic interruptions and parking restrictions from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The commercial is being shot to be shown in Northern California only.
     A description of the Honda shooting schedule is below. A detailed diagram - indicative of when and where shooting and parking restrictions will be happening - was handed out to the public by the PRNC at the meeting but is not available for publication here.
     Richmond Police are expected to be on scene for both film projects.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Traffic and parking likely impacted by filming in The Point Monday & Tuesday

   POINT RICHMOND - The Point Richmond Neighborhood Council will hear reports - and likely discuss - two upcoming film shoots in The Point.
     The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Point Richmond Community Center and is open to the public. The full agenda is printed below.
     The film discussions are listed on the agenda to begin at about 7:45 p.m.
     The first filming is Monday, April 29 - a commercial shoot between 7 a.m. at 8 p.m. for Honda.
     The morning filming will be around the business triangle. A descriptive flyer about exactly where the shooting will be going on and other details about parking is below.
     The second filming is Tuesday, April 30 by Medallia Commercial. The agenda lists Andrea Bloom of Skycar Creative as the contact person. Further details about how much that filming might impact The Point are expected to be discussed at the meeting.
     Parking and traffic flow are expected to be impacted by the Monday event with "no parking" signs posted close to the filming. Richmond Police will be on scene to assist, according to Felix Gehm of Waypoint Films, location manager for the filming.
     "All streets will remain open to the public but we will be temporary stopping traffic during our driving scenes," he said.
     Pedestrian traffic on sidewalks is not expected to be impacted, he said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The PRNC agenda below erroneously lists the Medallia Commercial filming as occurring on Sunday, April 28.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Pacific Boat Show all weekend in Richmond

   RICHMOND - The Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show continues today and Sunday at the Craneway Pavilion (1440 Harbour Way South) and Marina Bay Yacht Harbor (1340 Marina Way South).
     The show celebrates sailing, boating and all types of marine sporting lifestyle.
     In the Craneway, vendors ranging from diesel engines to autopilots to clothing to publications to solar panels have items on display and for sale.
     Seminars on all manner of concern to boaters - and those wishing to become boaters - run each day.
     At nearby Marina Bay Yacht Harbor, new power and sailboats are on display also.
     "We are thrilled to have so many exhibitors, new boats, products and interactive events to involve the community this year," Katie Kelly, Sail America's Association Manager said.
     "Attendees will find the latest boat communications technology, boats, and solar panels."
     In addition, there are a number of younger participants and activities this year including special events put on by Groundwork Richmond's environmentalists and the West Contra County Sea Scouts. Groundwork Richmond will be teaching kayaking. The West Contra County Sea Scouts will be instructing in rope knotting.
     Today free standup-paddle board lessons are being offered by 510 Waterline until 1 p.m.
     Also today, at 6 p.m. Cruising Outpost will hold a party and raffle to raise funds for Call of the Sea, an organization that works with the Educational Tall Ships Foundation Project in Sausalito.
     For more information about the boat show scheduling and tickets, follow this link: Pacific Sail & Power.

Monday, April 1, 2019

BNSF railroad tracks along shore in Miller-Knox Park sporting orange paint markings

   POINT RICHMOND - A Point Richmond resident this morning reported on Nextdoor that it appeared the abandoned Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad tracks in Miller-Knox Park were being surveyed.
     "I can see tracks being inspected," she said. "Looks like surveyors and railroad officials."
     By noon, any inspection activity was apparently over. There were no surveyors or other BNSF staff on site.
     The tracks show clear orange paint markings beginning 100 yards north of the southern end of the lagoon. The marks are on the tracks going north towards the tunnel.
     BNSF officials have been contacted for comment.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

PRNC to hear reports on BNSF diesels-in-Miller Knox and officer elections Weds.

POINT RICHMOND - A report about last Tuesday's East Bay Regional Park District meeting on Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad's plans to expand use of diesel engines and trains in Miller Knox Park will be part of Wednesday's regular meeting of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council.
     The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Point Richmond Community Center and is open to the public.
     The report on the EBRPD meeting will be given by the PRNC's Buzz Baylis who attended the meeting and was one of about dozen people who offered testimony opposing diesels in the park.
     Baylis is scheduled to give his report at about 8:50.
     The PRNC will also be discussing election of officers, a report from the Richmond Police Dept. and the newly opened Point Richmond Social Club.

Interior of the newly opened Point Richmond Social Club on S. Garrard

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Meeting next Thursday to discuss potential Interstate 80 traffic corridor improvements

   PINOLE - A town hall meeting to discuss opportunities to improve traffic along the Interstate 80 corridor will be held Thursday, March 28.
Assemblywoman Wicks
     The open-to-the-public meeting will include a panel discussion featuring  newly elected State Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, BART Director (District 7) Lateefah Simon, WestCAT Board Chair Chris Kelly, Pinole Councilman Roy Swearingen and WCCTAC Executive Director John Nemeth.
     The meeting will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Pinole Council Chambers, 2131 Pear Street, Pinole.
     In addition to the panel discussion, the representatives of the various agencies will be available to answer questions about local and regional transportation issues.
     For questions about the meeting, contact Uche Uwahemu in Assemblywoman Wick's office by telephone at 510-286-1400 or via email at:
     The event will be televised locally, Uwahemu said.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

EBRPD okays Miller Knox land use plan, vows to fight diesel trains in the park

     OAKLAND - The East Bay Regional Park District board of directors unanimously approved a land-use plan amendment for Miller Knox Park Tuesday.
     The board also vowed to fight Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad's stated intention of running diesel engines and railcars along the shoreline in the park from Point Richmond out to Ferry Point.
     At a standing-room only meeting at EBRPD headquarters, more than a dozen members of the public spoke in favor of the land use plan - and against BNSF.
     "They have not been good neighbors to Richmond," Jordan DeStaebler said of BNSF.
     In late February, the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council voted unanimously to oppose the railroad's plans. PRNC OPPOSES.
     Speaker after speaker spoke passionately about how important the park is to the community and that having diesel engines and railcars blocking public access to the water was simply unacceptable.    
     Several also spoke in favor of the section of the plan that calls for removal of abandoned tracks within the district's jurisdiction to allow for development of a section of the San Francisco Bay Trail between Keller Beach and Ferry Point.
     While no representatives of BNSF spoke at the meeting, EBRPD District Counsel Carol Victor said the district had just received a 17-page letter from the railroad's attorney's objecting to adoption of the plan.
     District Board member Colin Coffey - a practicing attorney in Walnut Creek - said he thought the letter was "at best fantasy, at worst dishonest."
     In an earlier letter to the board, BNSF's attorney L. John Nelson IV said expanding business operations required use of the tracks in Miller Knox Park.
BNSF's tracks along the shore at Miller Knox Park
     "BNSF has not recently operated trains within the easement area, but it has notified the Park District of its expanding business at Richmond Terminal, necessitating the reactivation of its rail use within the easement in the near future," Nelson said.
     Nelson is with the legal firm of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith.
     BSNF's historic easement along the shore was contingent on the railroad having industrial customers to serve, several district officials commented during the meeting.
     But with no more industrial activity in that area - or any projected - the easement is not needed, they said.
     Audience member DeStaebler also testified that he believes if BNSF is simply looking for more space to shuttle freight cars, it could easily add track in its existing yards.
     The tracks BNSF said it wants to reactivate have been out of use for several decades.
     EBRPD Chair Ayn Wieskamp thanked the meeting participants and the public before declaring a recess.
     "We are doing the right thing," she said. "And we are going to need doers and supporters in this."

- Michael J. Fitzgerald

Sunday, March 17, 2019

East Bay Regional Park District to discuss BNSF plans to run diesels in Miller Knox

   OAKLAND - The East Bay Regional Park District board Tuesday is expected to discuss plans announced by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to run diesel trains along the shoreline in Miller Knox Park.
     The discussion is expected to be part of the board's adoption of a new land use plan for Miller Knox.
     The railroad corporation's plans for trains in the park have already received a unanimous thumbs down from the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council at its Wednesday, Feb. 27 meeting. LINK: PRNC votes to oppose.
     KCBS radio ran a report on train proposal Saturday March 9: LINK to KCBS story.
Railcars being pulled into the tunnel to Miller Knox Park
     The EBRPD's Tuesday meeting is open to the public and begins at 1 p.m. at the district's headquarters, 2950 Peralta Oaks Court in Oakland.
     "It would be good for residents to show up to support the (land use) plan and oppose BNSF,"  Eric Zell of Point Richmond said. Zell is assisting the district in efforts to keep BNSF from running diesels through the park.
     BNSF is expected to show up to oppose the board's adoption of the new land use plan.
     The district's plan for improving the 295-acre park includes a major sprucing up of the lagoon, construction of more parking and picnic facilities and adding a path from Ferry Point to the lagoon trail.
     But BNSF says the railroad needs to use the shore for a rail line in an area where company  representatives say they hold rights to do so.
     "BNSF has not recently operated trains within the easement area, but it has notified the Park District of its expanding business at Richmond Terminals," attorney L. John Nelson said in a letter to the EBRPD. He said that expansion is "necessitating the reactivation of its rail use within the easement in the near future."
     "Near future" has not been defined specifically by BNSF and is likely to be part of questions the board will bring up.
     This Sunday (March 17) traffic was backed up on West Richmond Avenue for 20 minutes when BNSF used the tracks that run through the tunnel to the park.
     Board members are also expected to ask questions about details of how many trains, railcars and hours of operation BNSF is considering.

Cars were backed up for 20 minutes Sunday, March 17 on West Richmond

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Purim carnival & festival Sunday March 17

   RICHMOND - Temple Beth Hillel will hold an open-to-the-public Purim carnival Sunday, March 17 from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
     Carnival attendees are encouraged to wear costumes and masks - and bring noisemakers for a fun-filled afternoon celebrating freedom from religious prosecution, carnival organizers say.
    There will be a reading of the Megillah - the biblical story of Esther - along with activities such as crafts and games.
    There will be home-baked goods and lunch available.
    Temple Beth Hillel is located in the Hilltop district at 801 Park Central.
    For more information, call 510-223-2560.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

PRNC votes to oppose BNSF plan to run diesel trains in Miller Knox Regional Park

   POINT RICHMOND - The Point Richmond Neighborhood Council unanimously approved a motion Wednesday night opposing a plan by Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad (BNSF) to run diesel engines and railcars through Miller Knox Regional Park along the shoreline to Ferry Point.
     The details of the Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad's plans were revealed in a presentation by Carol Johnson of the East Bay Regional Park District and Eric Zell of Point Richmond. Zell is working with the district opposing BNSF's plans.

The tracks - and trains - would run along the shoreline to the right
     Johnson told the PRNC that the park district is moving ahead with a land use plan amendment (LUPA) for improving the heavily-used, 295-acre park.
     The improvements planned include a major sprucing up of the lagoon (including dredging), construction of more parking and picnic areas as well as adding a promenade-path from Ferry Point to the lagoon trail.
     But the district's plans are bumping into claims by BNSF that the corporation owns the rights along the shore to use it for a rail line - and the company plans to do so soon.
     "BNSF has not recently operated trains within the easement area, but it has notified the Park District of its expanding business at Richmond Terminal, necessitating the reactivation of its rail use within the easement in the near future," attorney L. John Nelson IV said in a letter to the district dated Oct. 9, 2018.
     Nelson is with the legal firm of Lewis, Brisbois, Bisgaard & Smith representing BNSF.
     The detailed letter - laced with legal citations - attacks the assumptions and conclusions of a draft environmental impact report on the Miller Knox regional shoreline plan amendment.
     East Bay's Johnson said the park district is contesting BNSF's contention that it still owns the tracks all the way to ferry point - and the corporation's stated intention of reopening and reusing the rail line.
     She said the district is already battling with the railroad corporation on the legal front, but needs public help and support.
     The multi-clause motion approved Wednesday by the PRNC includes language opposing BSNF's track renovation plans, supports the park district's land use plan amendment, asks the City of Richmond to investigate ongoing problems with BNSF trains on tracks at West Richmond Avenue and directs the PRNC board to send a delegate to the March 19 East Bay Regional Park board meeting to support the proposed improvements to Miller Knox.

The proposed BNSF railroad and tracks would run along the bay shoreline on the right

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Update tonight on railcars in Miller Knox

   POINT RICHMOND - The Point Richmond Neighborhood Council will hear an update from Carol Johnson of the East Bay Regional Park District about plans by BNSF railroad to move railcars through Miller Knox Park.
     The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Point Richmond Community Center and is open to the public.
     Johnson's report on BNSF's plans is scheduled to be given at approximately 7:45.
     At an earlier meeting of the PRNC, Johnson informed the group of BNSF's plans. Tonight's report is an update and expected to have more details.
   The full agenda for tonight's meeting is below.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Terminal One shoreline parking at issue

   POINT RICHMOND - The Bay Conservation and Development Commission's public hearing on the proposed 316-unit Terminal One housing project adjacent to the Richmond Yacht Club and Miller Knox Regional Park has been delayed until April.
     The BCDC has requested additional information about public parking from the developers of the project (Laconia) - and the City of Richmond.
Terminal One site, adjacent to the Richmond Yacht Club
     BCDC "asked the applicants to provide further information regarding the use of on-street parking as well as parking at nearly public access areas," Rebecca Coates-Muldoon of the BCDC said.
     Additionally, the BCDC wants to know of any measures being taken by the developers to "encourage public use for shoreline access and discourage use by residents and their guests."
     The delay in holding a public hearing to April may be partly an outgrowth of concerns raised by the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development (BCARD) in addition to BCDC's analyses.
     In a letter to BCDC, BCARD member Brian Lewis outlined a series of the group's concerns about the proposed parking plan and existing parking issues. He included a video exhibit for BCDC to consider: BCARD video of traffic.
     "It will only be worse with the residents at Terminal One," he wrote,
     Of major concern is the planned lack of public parking along the proposed Shoreline Drive.
     "I suspect Terminal One is wanting to preserve the views from the homes and condos without cars," Lewis wrote, He noted that if it is allowed, it is a major change along the Point Richmond waterfront.
     "Every HOA in this area has on-street parking next to the water. Even San Francisco has street parking along the Embarcadero."
     Because the Terminal One project still needs finish up obtaining permits and is unlikely to receive them until fall of 2019, construction is now predicted to begin in 2021.

This map shows Shoreline Drive and the public park and pier. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Weekend ferry service to SF this summer

Ferry arriving at new Richmond Terminal
     POINT RICHMOND - Weekend ferry service between Richmond and San Francisco will likely begin this summer, Thomas Hall of San Francisco Bay Ferry told the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council Wednesday night.
     "Hopefully by this summer," Hall said. "Hopefully in May."
     Hall came to the PRNC to give an update about the ferry service that began January 10 going from the newly constructed Richmond terminal to the San Francisco Ferry Building.
     The Richmond terminal is adjacent to the Craneway Pavilion on Harbor Way South.
     He said ridership has exceeded projections. "Overall, ridership of all the SF Bay Ferry service vessels has nearly doubled since 2012," he said.
     In his presentation, Hall also talked about about new ferries coming into service in the next year.
Schedule - click to enlarge
     The current weekday service runs ferries in the morning and in the afternoon, aimed at commuters.
     The trip takes about 35 minutes dock to dock.
    With the exception of a few dips in service (on rainy days), the ferries have been running with plenty of passengers, Hall said.
     He also noted that the new service is popular with bicyclists.
     "People like to bring bikes on the ferry and take them into the city to use."
     Bike lockers are available at the Richmond Ferry Terminal in the 352-space parking lot.
     Parking for motor vehicles is free there, for now.
     Hall can be contacted via email at

Traffic and road report

     The PRNC also heard a report from Dave Rodgers, a City of Richmond Traffic Engineer about a variety of traffic and road issues around The Point.
      In addition answering questions at the meeting, Rodgers gave PRNC attendees copies of questions and answers about traffic based on a list generated by the PRNC prior to Wednesday's meeting.
     Those questions and the City of Richmond's responses are below. Click on the documents to enlarge for easier reading.