Antioch Council makes right decision, provides new, positive direction for business
After years of having the reputation of being unfriendly to business, it appears that Antioch, under the leadership of Mayor Harper and the rest of the Antioch City Council, as well as new City Manager Steve Duran, started in a new direction, this past Tuesday night, when they unanimously approved a third location for AutoZone, in town. And they did so in the face of a 4-1 vote by the Planning Commission and staff’s recommendation to deny approval.
The mayor was clear in giving his direction to city staff and the commission, that they need to work with businesses wanting to locate in Antioch.
AutoZone’s representatives pointed out that even after working with city staff for a year to address their concerns, including spending $70,000 on consultants and a traffic study, staff still recommended the Commission and Council deny their application.
Sure, it’s a unique piece of property, with limited space for both a building and parking. But staff had no alternative plans for what they wanted to see go there, and it’s been sitting vacant and fenced off, for years. Plus, the project was for a similar size store on a similar size lot that AutoZone was able to get approved in both San Jose and Concord, in the past few years. So, it shouldn’t have been a big deal to approve it in Antioch.
In America, there are laws and always exceptions to those laws. The same goes for city ordinances. That’s why the City’s General Plan, codes and ordinances allow for what are called variances, and such things as planned developments, and the Council to make changes to zoning on parcels of land. Some of those were required for this project.
Staff was doing their job to make sure the rules were followed, they just needed to be more flexible and positive. Once AutoZone had addressed all their concerns, staff should have recommended an approval, of course, with conditions. Fortunately, now they’ve been given direction to be more flexible in allowing for the exceptions to the city’s rules, when dealing with business.
As I wrote in my previous editorial on this issue (to read, click here), “It’s time our City Council and new City Manager sent a message to the staff on the second floor that it’s good to be flexible and to say ‘Yes’ to businesses that want to locate in Antioch, and to find ways to make things happen instead of finding reasons to oppose them.”
At a time Antioch needs more tax revenue, as well as local jobs, the city needs to do whatever it can to bring new businesses to or help an existing business expand in town.
That’s exactly what the Council did on Tuesday night and I applaud their action and the clear direction and message they gave.
The City could adopt the acronym BREAD, which I introduced back when I ran for and was elected to the council in 1994, to put bread on our tables, “bread” (using the 1970’s term for money) in our pockets and “bread” in our city’s coffers. It stands for Business Retention Expansion Attraction and Development, covering all aspects of economic development. It’s an upwards spiral if the city works to retain and help expand existing businesses, attract new ones to town and makes it easier for the development of other new businesses, by our own residents, through home-based businesses, etc.
One thing that needs to be included in the City’s efforts is marketing Antioch, including having at least one council member, the city manager and maybe a member of the Economic Development Commission attend the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual convention in Las Vegas, each year, if they’re not doing so, already. That’s where contacts are made and deals can be cut to bring retailers and others, to town. The next one is in May. (Here’s the link to their website – www.icsc.org)
So, kudos to Mayor Harper and the City Council for their vote and the clear direction to staff. Let’s hope this sets a new tone for those on the second floor at City Hall and is the beginning of a new, positive, business-friendly attitude that will send a message to the marketplace, that Antioch is open for business!