City council delays North Richmond annexation decision after divided views and questions about logistics, costs

Councilmember Jovanka Beckles asks a county official about the logistics of policing North Richmond during last week’s meeting, which was supposed to see a vote on the annexation process. (Photo by Josh Slowiczek)

Councilmember Jovanka Beckles asks a county official about the logistics of policing North Richmond during last week’s meeting, which was supposed to see a vote on the annexation process. (Photo by Josh Slowiczek)

Last week, city council pushed back a decision to take the next step in annexing North Richmond after councilmembers expressed concern over logistics and public opinion. The vote will now occur on October 17, extending the already long and contentious debate.

According to Councilmember Jovanka Beckles, the city council needed more input from the public in order to make an informed decision. “It seems to me that we are putting the cart before the horse,” she said at the meeting.

Her concern seemed to drive the discussion last Tuesday, September 26, with councilmembers Jael Myrick and Melvin Willis expressing similar sentiments.

The mayor, however, argued that there would be plenty of time for both the residents of North Richmond and also the city of Richmond to back out if the situation was not agreeable.

“The residents and businesses in unincorporated North Richmond will have a full opportunity to vote on this proposition,” he said. “No matter what we do, if a majority of the community does not want to do it, then they can stop it.”

Lou Ann Texeira, a representative from Contra Costa’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), explained that all it would take is a single statement of protest from a registered voter or homeowner to throw the decision into public forum.

At that point, if written protests were received from more than 25 percent of the qualified population, the matter would be decided in a vote by North Richmond residents.

Beckles appeared concerned with the logistics of that process, claiming that requiring a written statement places an extra burden on communities of color. She said there were merits to other options, though, such as voting.

City Manager Bill Lindsay pointed out that, as an alternative to Richmond initiating the process, residents of North Richmond could bring annexation to a vote by submitting an application to LAFCO by petition, which would require the support of 25 percent of registered voters and homeowners. Alternatively, Contra Costa County could put forth an advisory measure to gauge public support.

Butt said that the county has shown no interest in spending additional costs and resources for such an option.

As for public opinion, only three speakers addressed the council on the matter. And they were equally as divided.

Mike Parker, a member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance claimed that North Richmond was a part of the city in every sense, “except in the way that somebody drew the lines.” He added that the community should begin the annexation process as a gesture of goodwill.

Henry Clark, a North Richmond resident and member of the municipal advisory council, said that annexation was an attempt at gentrification, and North Richmond did not need any help from the city.

“We’re taking care of ourselves,” he said.

Robert Rogers, a district coordinator in Supervisor John Gioia’s office, also spoke at the meeting. He explained that current North Richmond residents represent less than a third of a percent of eligible voters in the county. As a part of Richmond, they would represent 3 percent.

At this point in the process, there appear more questions than answers—a fact compounded by an inquiry raised by another public speaker, Don Gosney.

“Do the people of Richmond want this to happen,” he asked.

“How exactly will we benefit from this?”

3 Comments

  1. Jarmon Kelly

    It feels like buying a neighbors car that’s always been broke that we feel we can fix. It has value in the land and rights but the air is bad, crime is unchecked and we take on all the assumed risk. If we’re helping as a reason then by all means forge through make it happen but if the money, taxes and land is a driving force… It’ll bite you in the end. You don’t go into foster care for the money you’ll mess up a lot of kids. You don’t slow or speed up annexing North Richmond for the same reason.

  2. Don Gosney

    There were three speakers with one supporting it, one strongly against it and then myself, who asked questions that did not suggest support. So how was this evenly split as the article suggests?

  3. Don Gosney

    Just thought I’d share the comments I made at that meeting:

    The annexation of any community into another is a serious consideration and demands careful scrutiny before action is taken. Let it be known that I, unlike many members of this Council, haven’t made up my mind yet because I don’t have enough facts. Comments made at previous Council meetings, online blogs and newsletters suggest that some of you were ready to vote before you arrived.

    We have a long history here in Richmond of rushing to take half baked action embracing the policy that we can always fix it later—yet we never seem to come back for those repairs. As I’ve mentioned previously, I like the motto of my own union which says that ‘WE GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME’.

    There is still so much information that we haven’t heard and we won’t be allowed to discuss. This process has flaws in that we had several hundred pages of information thrown at us over the past four days that can be difficult to sift through and digest. How can we be expected to let you—our elected representatives know our thoughts when it can be so difficult to get a hold of you?

    Between work schedules, weekend events and public meetings, finding time for you to hear from us can be a tough one. Then we have some Councilmembers who seem to have their minds already made up, at least one of you has publicly stated that you refuse to listen to anyone that disagrees with you and one of you still has not made her contact information public. So how are you supposed to know the viewpoints of your constituents if we aren’t provided an opportunity to speak with you?

    I know that there have been numerous public meetings held in North Richmond but I can’t see where a single meeting was held here in Richmond to ask this all important question: Do the people of Richmond want this to happen? Exactly how will WE benefit from this?

    Some of the questions that have not been addressed include:
    • Which City services will we have to curtail to cover the more than $500 per person cost of the new residents above and beyond what they will pay?
    • Have any deals actually been negotiated between the County and the City about revenue sharing?
    • What developers have stepped forward with legitimate plans for new businesses, residential units or even weed farms?
    • How many pie-in-the-sky projects have we seen come and go? For instance, when can we expect the Berkeley Global Village to open their doors?
    • The report says that this proposal will break even only with significant residential development. Wouldn’t this require the gentrification of North Richmond?

    What concerns me is how this Council is spending so much effort to fix the so called problems of North Richmond—at no small expense—but seem to have lost sight of the very real problems they were elected to solve right here in Richmond.

    Have your discussion but hold off on making a decision until more info can be reviewed and discussed. Since we will essentially be silenced in a few minutes, give us a chance to weigh in AFTER we’ve heard everything.

Post a comment

Richmond Confidential welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Richmond Confidential assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content. For concerns about comments posted to this site, please contact us at news@richmondconfidential.org

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook

*
*