General

Deadline quickly approaching for Richmond residents to fill out 2021 Community Survey

Richmond residents have until Monday to fill out the 2021 Community Survey, which gauges life, work and play in the city. The survey has been conducted every two years since 2007. It takes about 20 minutes to complete and asks residents to rate their satisfaction with education, infrastructure, safety, transportation, and the city’s overall economic health. It is offered in both English and Spanish and is available online through the city’s website. “I think it’s always important to fill out…

Big jury award could open door to another cannabis dispensary in Richmond

A court case last month possibly set the stage for a new cannabis dispensary in Richmond, the resurrection of an old fight to keep it out — or both.  Two Richmond dispensary owners were ordered to pay $5 million in damages for conspiring against a rival owner. On Sept. 23, a Contra Costa County jury found that William Koziol and Darrin Parle, who operate the Green Remedy Collective, had prevented a prospective dispensary, Richmond Compassionate Care Collective, from establishing a…

Racing to patch RV roofs ahead of the rain at Richmond encampment

Advocates worked Tuesday to weatherproof recreational vehicles at an encampment in Richmond in preparation for heavy rainfall this week.   Two Bay Area advocacy organizations — NeighborAid and Safe Organized Spaces! Richmond — spent the afternoon at Castro and Hensley streets, sealing cracks to protect as many of the nearly 30 parked vehicles there as they could.  Richmond City Council has debated how to better serve the many people living in vehicles. In January 2020, 1,750 people in Richmond were without…

What El Cerrito residents need to know about the mandatory compost program

A state law mandating organic waste recycling will go into effect in Contra Costa County on Jan. 1. El Cerrito is drawing up plans on how it will implement the law.  Organics like food scraps, yard trimmings, food-soiled paper and cardboard make up half of the trash in landfills and are the third-largest source of methane in California, according to California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. To reduce methane emissions, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law in 2016 establishing…

Richmond’s HelloFresh workers get community, city council support in union effort

Down the stark road along Factory Street stands the 100,000-square-foot HelloFresh distribution center, where big rigs come in and out.  More than 900 people work there, most of them on assembly lines, preparing and packing the food kits that will later be loaded onto rigs and arrive at the dinner tables of millions of HelloFresh subscribers. Last year, the largest single COVID-19 outbreak in Contra Costa County occurred at the plant, with 171 cases recorded and one death, according to…

‘We feel like a neglected child’: Residents in fire-hazardous hills say city too slow in clearing brush

Dying trees, withering leaves, flammable plants. They fill in spaces around and between homes on East Richmond’s hills, an ember away from fueling disaster.  On these slopes east of Interstate 80 lie dense neighborhoods such as May Valley, El Sobrante Hills, and Castro Heights. In 2009, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection assessment flagged the area  as a “very high fire hazard severity zone.”  ​​Every year, the Richmond Fire Department inspects vegetation in the area and urges homeowners…

Police Chief French put on administrative leave amid investigation

Richmond Police Chief Bisa French was put on leave Wednesday, after being accused in court documents of attacking a relative and threatening to kill a man. French’s husband, Oakland police Lt. Lee French, also was put on leave, pending an internal investigation. A family member requested restraining orders against Bisa and Lee French on Oct. 7, according to Contra Costa County court records. A hearing is set for Oct. 25. In court documents, an 18-year-old relative accused the Frenches of…

‘To a lot of us, Mayor Butt represents politics as usual’: Richmond reacts to Butt’s decision to leave public life

There was a time when most Richmond voters would have been disappointed by Mayor Tom Butt’s decision to make this term his last in public office. That was before they elected a slate of progressives whose majority on the City Council drowns out many of Butt’s opinions and initiatives.  “To a lot of us, Mayor Butt represents politics as usual: Connected to the big businesses, protecting big developers, and against progressive taxation and social policy,” said resident  Benjamin Mertz. “Richmond…

Applause and anger as Contra Costa board declares Covid misinformation a public health crisis

After nearly two hours of impassioned public comment, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday that declares COVID-19 misinformation a public health crisis.  Misinformation about the coronavirus has “significantly undermined public health efforts and the unmitigated proliferation of health misinformation has created a culture of mistrust and has prolonged the COVID-19 pandemic,” the resolution reads.  It goes on to say the county’s health department will continue to share scientific information about COVID-19 and correct misinformation…