Transportation authority awarded $755,000 to plan future transit between Antioch and Brentwood

Posted in: News, Transportation | Comments (0)

CalTrans Sustainable Communities Planning Grant

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) won a Caltrans SB1 Sustainable Communities Planning Grant valued at $755,000 to support a study that will evaluate new transit options between the cities of Antioch and Brentwood in East Contra Costa County.

The East County Integrated Transit Study will guide the development of a plan for providing fast, frequent, high-capacity transit connections between Antioch and Brentwood that will directly integrate with existing local and regional services such as the Antioch BART station and Tri Delta Transit local bus service. The study will also look at improving connections to Capitol Corridor and ACE rail services, as well as proposed future ferry service between Antioch and Martinez. As part of its commitment to sustainable communities, CCTA will focus on new, zero-emission public transit options for potential outcomes of the study.

“Now that Highway 4 has been modernized to improve access to Eastern Contra Costa, I am pleased that we were successful in obtaining these funds to plan for a future that provides more transportation options to support economic growth and mobility for our residents,” says California Assemblymember Jim Frazier.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to harness new transit technology that can integrate with existing systems to create a smart, efficient network that easily connects people to their desired destinations,” explains CCTA Executive Director Randell Iwasaki. “This grant will enable us to expedite a much-needed study that will guide valuable transit improvements for Eastern Contra Costa County.”

“CCTA is a forward-looking organization,” states Bob Taylor, Mayor of Brentwood and Contra Costa Transportation Authority Board Chair. “I’ve always predicted a bright future for Eastern Contra Costa County and this grant win lays the foundation for the communities along Highway 4 to connect, grow, and prosper.”

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Publisher @ July 16, 2019

California State Fair in Sacramento now open through July 28

Posted in: News, Arts & Entertainment, Food, Recreation | Comments (0)

The 2019 California State Fair & Food Festival officially opened its gates Friday morning July 12 with big crowds, eagerly awaiting to get into Cal Expo in Sacramento.

“We’re so thrilled Opening Day was such a great success; it’s fun seeing so many people and families out having a good time, and of course, eating at our 100 food booths.” said Rick Pickering, Cal Expo General Manager and CEO. “We’ve worked hard to make this year’s State Fair the best yet – a fair for all Californians up and down the state. The food festival is just part of what we have in store for the next two and a half weeks.”

The California State Fair & Food Festival runs through July 28th.

For the schedule of daily events and concerts, as well as the list of food vendors, fairgoers are encouraged to visit the website at CaStateFair.org or download the Ca State Fair app where they can map out all of their adventures.

About the California State Fair 

The California State Fair is an international award-winning fair, receiving top honors at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions out of more than 1,100 fairs world-wide. The California State Fair is dedicated as a place to celebrate the best the state has to offer in agriculture, technology and the diversity of its people, traditions and trends that shape the Golden State’s future. We invite you to join us for the 166th California State Fair, July 12-28, 2019.

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Publisher @ July 15, 2019

Judge tosses out Antioch Council’s adoption of environmental group’s Sand Creek initiative and The Ranch development agreement

Posted in: News, Growth & Development, Legal | Comments (2)

Herald file graphic.

Let Antioch Voters Decide initiative must go to Nov. 2020 ballot; Richland must produce new Environmental Impact Report

By Allen Payton

On May 31, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Edward Weil tossed out the Antioch City Council’s adoption of the initiative sponsored by environmental groups to limit growth in the Sand Creek Focus Area, as well as the development agreement for The Ranch project, contained in the competing initiative sponsored by Richland Communities. That agreement approved 1,177 homes on their property. (See related articles, here and here.) See judge’s ruling, here: Judge’s Order on initiatives lawsuits 05-31-19

As a result of the adoption by the Antioch Council of the two initiatives, last year, four lawsuits were filed against the City of Antioch, two each by The Zeka Group and Oak Hill Park Company, challenging both initiatives. The Zeka Group owns the 640-acre Zeka Ranch property on Old Empire Mine Road at the west end of the Sand Creek Focus Area, and according to the court documents, “which Zeka Group purchased in 1989. Prior to purchase, the City’s planning development manager, Raymond Vignola, assured Zeka Group that the property was and would continue to be designated for residential development of 1000+ units. The City’s 2003 General Plan called for 4,000+ units in the Sand Creek Focus Area, and Zeka Ranch was to develop the executive housing stock.” That resulted in a reduction of the number of housing units on the property that can be built. Zeka’s plans are to build 340 homes on their property.

Oak Hill “owns roughly 419 acres in three parcels” directly south of The Ranch project, “designated for a golf course and senior housing in the 2003 General Plan.”

The city council adopted both initiatives instead of placing either on the ballot, as the council had the option of doing. First, they adopted the one sponsored by Richland on July 11, 2018, which also resulted in the adoption of the development agreement 30 days later. The other initiative, entitled Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative (LAVD) sponsored by Save Mount Diablo and other environmental groups in the county, was adopted by the council on August 28, after the council had sent it back for more study and a report by city staff, which was also one of the options the council had.

Both initiatives downgraded the development potential on the Zeka Ranch, Oak Hill and other properties in the Sand Creek area west of Deer Valley Road to just one home per 80 acres, the same level as land outside the city’s and county’s Urban Limit Lines. The entire Sand Creek area is inside the city’s voter approved ULL. That would allow only eight homes on Zeka’s property and only five homes on the Oak Hill property.

The Ranch Development Agreement Unlawfully Included In Initiative, Requires EIR

In the decision, “the Court finds that the Richland Initiative unlawfully includes the Development Agreement between Richland and the City…but it may be severed from the remainder of the Richland Initiative.” The court also found that “The Development Agreement cannot be approved by initiative and requires compliance with CEQA” (the California Environmental Quality Act).

The decision means the development agreement is invalid and Richland must go through CEQA’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process in order to obtain approval of their development agreement. Whether or not the development agreement can be separated from the initiative has yet to be determined. If the judge finds that it can’t be, that will result in the entire initiative being invalidated.

Voids Let Antioch Voters Decide Initiative

In addition, the court found, “The LAVD Initiative is void as an improperly-adopted amendment to the Richland Initiative. The…question is whether the LAVD Initiative improperly amended the Richland Initiative. The Court concludes that it did. Under Elections Code section 9217, the City could not adopt the LAVD Initiative on its own. A vote of the people was required. This renders the LAVD Initiative void.”

The Council Must Place the LAVD Initiative On The Ballot

The court further finds, “Since the LAVD Initiative amends the Richland Initiative, the City had no choice but to put the LAVD Initiative before the voters. It would be manifestly unfair to the supporters of the LAVD Initiative to start the process over because the City instead adopted it. So, the Court is inclined to order the LAVD Initiative to a vote. The Court is unconvinced that the Richland Initiative is somehow immune from challenge by initiative amendment.”

The court prohibits “the City from enforcing the LAVD Initiative.” The judge then ordered the city council to place the environmental groups’ initiative on the November 2020 ballot. City Clerk Arne Simonsen said he has sufficient funds to include the ballot measure on the November 2020 election ballot.

Zoning For Zeka Ranch’s Property Couldn’t Be Changed By Initiative

In an additional decision, the judge ruled that the city council couldn’t change the designation of executive housing for the Zeka Ranch property.

“A city may not adopt ordinances and regulations which conflict with the state Planning and Zoning Law,” the ruling quoted from a previous court case. The judge further wrote, “Government Code section 65913.1 provides that a city ‘shall designate and zone sufficient vacant land for residential use with appropriate standards, in relation to zoning for nonresidential use, and in relation to growth projections of the general plan to meet housing needs for all income categories as identified in the housing element of the general plan.’

Zeka Ranch claims…that the Richland Initiative violated the code by restricting development in a manner that makes it impossible to meet the City’s housing needs allocation, particularly for the kind of executive housing Zeka Ranch was to build.

In fact, Zeka Ranch pleads that the General Plan called for allocation of one-to-two units per developable acre and contained a housing element specifically calling for residential development appropriate for executives of businesses seeking relocation to the City. Accepting this as true, Zeka Ranch properly pleads this claim.”

Legal Process Continues

The legal process continues over the two initiatives. To conclude his ruling the judge wrote, “The remaining challenges to the Richland Initiative will be resolved in a further phase.” Furthermore, the judge wrote, “Parties shall appear to discuss the proper remedy as to the LAVD Initiative and any further orders that may be necessary, as well as a schedule for briefing the remaining matters related to the Richland Initiative.”

In addition, the judge gave the parties in the lawsuits until June 24 to file amended pleadings. Both Zeka and Oak Hill submitted them by the deadline.

The case numbers are MSN-18-2228, 2229, 2231 and 2232.

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Publisher @ July 15, 2019

Pittsburg woman arrested in Hercules in getaway car from Antioch armed robbery

Posted in: News, Police & Crime | Comments (0)

Shaneta Brown. Photo by Hercules Police.

By Hercules Police Department

On July 10, 2019, at 5:12 A.M., the Hercules Police Traffic Officer was conducting traffic enforcement in the area of John Muir Parkway. He noticed a Honda Civic that was described as a felony vehicle and trailed it to westbound I-80 at the Appian Way off ramp. Dispatch confirmed the felony vehicle and he initiated a felony stop. The Honda was used as a getaway vehicle in an armed robbery that occurred in Antioch on July 9, 2019. The driver, 26-year-old Shaneta Brown, of Pittsburg was detained.

She had an unrelated warrant for theft out of Antioch. Antioch P.D. arrived to take custody of the Honda and Brown was transported to Martinez Detention Facility.

During the felony stop, a traffic break was initiated and lasted approximately five minutes.

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Publisher @ July 14, 2019

Celebrate Antioch Foundation announces July 4th Parade winners

Posted in: Community | Comments (0)

The Sons of Italy entry was judged the Best Float. Herald file photo.

Thank you to all the 4th of July parade participants this year. The results are as follows:
See photos of all the entries by clicking, here.

Most Patriotic

1st – Delta Veterans Group

2nd – Antioch Historical Society

3rd – First Missionary Baptist Church

Floats

1st – Sons of Italy

2nd – Paradise Skate

3rd – Rocketship

Dance Groups

1st – Melody’s Dance

2nd – Elite Dance

3rd – Golden State Soul

Dance Groups

1st – Exceptional Special Needs

Cheer/Sports

1st – CCC Cheer Spartans

2nd – Wolf Pack Cheer

3rd – Antioch Little League

Scouts

1st – Color Guard

2nd – Troop 159

3rd – Troop 458

Clubs

1st – American Legion

2nd – Antioch Lapidary Club

3rd – Markstein 100 Year Anniversary

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Publisher @ July 14, 2019

Bay Area Classics cars show at TreVista Antioch July 20th

Posted in: Community | Comments (0)

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Publisher @ July 12, 2019

Supervisors give green light to Habitat for Humanity Bay Point Affordable Housing Project

Posted in: News, Contra Costa County, Supervisors | Comments (0)

In recognition of the East Bay Regional Park District’s 85th anniversary, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a resolution acknowledging how the park district has served the residents of Contra Costa and Alameda counties since the district’s founding in 1934. At the presentation were from left, District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, East Bay Region Park District Ward 7 Board Member Colin Coffey, EBRPD Legislative Assistant Lisa Baldinger, District 3 Supervisor Diane Burgis, EBRPD Governmental Affairs Manager Erich Pfuehler and Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen. Contra Costa voters approved a annexation to the EBRPD in 1964. Soon thereafter, Kennedy Grove and Briones were developed and opened as the first regional parks within Contra Costa County. In total, the park district consists of 122,278 acres, including more than 1,330 miles of trails, 235 family campsites, 40 fishing docks and 10 interpretative and education centers. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

SSI applications overwhelm county’s Employment & Human Services Department, hires 24 more employees

By Daniel Borsuk

A 29-unit affordable residential development planned for a Bay Point site donated to the Habitat for Humanity of the East Bay Silicon Valley got the green light from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to proceed with construction.

On a 4-0 vote supervisors approved Habitat for Humanity’s Pacifica Landing Project on a 2.42-acre site that was willed to the nonprofit organization with the intent to build affordable housing on the vacant Pacifica Avenue property next to the Rio Vista Elementary School. Board Chair John Gioia of Richmond was absent.

There was no public opposition aired at the Supervisors meeting, but at the County Planning Commission meeting there were concerns about the lack of off-street parking and the loss of 13 trees that the developer, Habitat for Humanity, has since addressed and mitigated.

The Bay Point affordable housing project will be the second Habitat for Humanity of the East Bay/Silicon Valley development in Contra Costa County. The nonprofit organization spearheaded the construction of a 45-unit affordable townhouse development at the Contra Costa Centre/Pleasant Hill BART Station.

Mike Keller of Habitat for Humanity of the East Bay/Silicon Valley expects construction of the Pacifica Avenue project to get underway by October or November.

“This is a good project,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover, whose district includes the development site. “Habitat for Humanity does good work. I’m in favor of it.”

The project will include a mix of two-bedroom, three-bedroom, and four-bedroom residences ranging in living area from 992 to 1,442 square feet. The townhomes will be two-story, single family residential units and will be developed in tri-plex and five-plex clusters throughout the property.

The proposed subdivision will provide 51 uncovered surface parking spaces for the residences and seven additional guest parking spaces.

Elevation of one of the Pacifica Landing Project housing units.

Board Issues Bonds for Other Housing In Bay Point, Pittsburg

In related affordable housing board action, supervisors voted to approve as consent agenda items two resolutions authorizing the issuance of revenue bonds – one of not more than $19.2 million to finance the acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of an 88-unit, multi-family housing rental development called Hidden Cove Apartments located at 2921-2931 Mary Ann Lane, also in Bay Point. A second bond issuance of $42.4 million will be for offering mortgage loans or otherwise providing funds to finance the acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of multifamily rental housing, including units for lower income households and very low income households for a borrower of 200 units of multifamily rental housing units known as Marina Heights Apartments located at 2 Marina Blvd. in Pittsburg.

In the event the two bonds are issued, the county will be reimbursed for costs incurred in the issuance process. No county funds are pledged to secure the bonds. The Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department oversees the program.

SSI Applications Overwhelms County Department

Supervisors learned expansion of the CalFresh program on June 1, has squeezed the county Employment & Human Services Department to hire 24 additional staff since July 7 because the department has received 3,562 Food Stamp applications, Kathy Gallagher, Employment and Human Services Director, reported.

Effective June 1, persons receiving Supplemental Security Income/Supplementary Payments through the Social Security Administration are eligible for CalFresh or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This development has triggered a surge of CalFresh applications that has partially hobbled the Employment and Human Services Department’s ability to promptly process applications.

Initially, the county department expected to receive 2,512 applications for CalFresh, but the rising number of submissions is forcing department officials to reconfigure personnel needs. “We can handle this,” Gallagher assured supervisors.

“I’m glad that the SSI Cal Fresh benefit for each recipient to live on is now $900 a month,” remarked Larry Sly of the Contra Costa Food Bank.

Environmental Health Chief Underwood Leaving

The Contra Costa Herald has learned that Contra Costa County Environmental Health Department Director Dr. Marilyn Underwood will be leaving her post. It was announced during the Board of Supervisors meeting, but supervisors were unavailable to comment about Dr. Underwood’s announcement.

Dr. Underwood has led the county environmental health department since March 2011.

The Herald has learned from one source that the environmental health chief, who has overseen or been involved in the Keller Canyon Landfill/Hunters Point Naval Shipyard radiation case, the countywide anti-litter program along with other environmental health duties, has decided to retire.

Neither Dr. Underwood nor her press contact were available for comment at before the Herald’s deadline.

Supervisors Approve New Ammunition Distributor for Sheriff

Supervisors approved Sheriff David O. Livingston’s request to change its new Winchester Ammunition Distributor from Adamson Police Products to Dooley Enterprises. Winchester has informed the Sheriff’s Office that they had to change distributors in Northern California from Adamson to Dooley. The supervisors’ consent action will permit a new purchase order with Dooley Enterprises as the new Winchester Ammunition Distributor for the Office of the Sheriff. The new purchase order with Dooley Enterprises, Inc. is in the amount of $450,000 for the purchase of ammunition for the period of July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021.

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Publisher @ July 11, 2019

Park District to celebrate gift of former Concord Naval Weapons Station land Saturday

Posted in: News, Parks | Comments (0)

Map of planned Concord Hills Regional Park. By EBRPD

Park District Ward 6 Board Member Beverly Lane, who represents Concord, Principal Planner Neoma Lavalle and Chief of Planning/GIS Brian Holt at park overlook, with the map of the future, regional park. Photo by EBRPD.

Ceremony at planned Concord Hills Regional Park will also include 75th Anniversary of Port Chicago explosion

After more than 20 years of community support and involvement, the East Bay Regional Park District has accepted 2,216 acres of former Concord Naval Weapons Station land from the U.S. Navy for a future regional park currently known as the Concord Hills Regional Park. An additional 327 acres are set to transfer to the Park District at a later date.

“Conveyance of the property to the Park District is the culmination of a decades-long community effort,” said Beverly Lane, who has represented Concord on the East Bay Regional Park District board since 1994. “This is a proud moment for the Park District and shows the great power of persistence and working together with the community.

“The U.S. Navy, National Park Service, City of Concord, and Save Mount Diablo have been tremendous partners in this effort,” added Lane.

On July 2, 2019, the East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors unanimously approved accepting the land from the U.S. Navy. The board action authorizes the Park District to accept conveyance of the property and fee title ownership. Transfer of ownership to the Park District is expected to take six months.

“This is a great day for the Park District and East Bay residents,” said East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert Doyle. “The public will have access to great future park amenities, including a visitor center, staging areas, access points, and miles of recreational trails for hiking, biking, and nature viewing.”

“Park development is expected to take several years and will require significant financial resources. There is no timetable on development,” added Doyle. “With this new land, we will have a regional park that is larger than Tilden Park, that is protected for future generations forever.”

A public celebration is scheduled for Saturday, July 13th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. The event will also commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Port Chicago Explosion. Click here for the Concord Hills Regional Park event details.

The celebration will include a panel discussion hosted by the Friends of Port Chicago National Memorial and National Park Service, a conveyance ceremony, presentations, exhibit booths, lunch, and a music performance by the Acalanes High School Jazz Quartet. The event will also include walking and vehicle tours of the property, giving attendees a first look at the future regional park.

RSVP to Yulie Padmore at ypadmore@ebparks.org or call (510) 544-2002.

For more information about the July 13 event, visit www.ebparks.org/about/planning/cnws.htm.

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Publisher @ July 10, 2019