Antioch Council approves appeal of Auto Center owner, denies college in AAA building; allocates Measure C funds for public safety, code enforcement

By Nick Goodrich

On Tuesday night, following a public hearing, the Antioch City Council overturned the Planning Commission’s previous decision to approve a Use Permit for the Contra Costa Medical Career College to relocate to the AAA building on Auto Center Drive. The Council also approved allocating additional Measure C funds to the Antioch Police Department and Neighborhood Improvement Services for code enforcement.

On August 19th of this year, the Antioch Planning Commission, on a 6-1 vote, approved the permit for the college, but the decision was appealed less than a week later by Tom Nokes, the owner of the Antioch Auto Center car dealerships.

Speaking before the Council on Tuesday night, Nokes stated that he had been in negotiations for the property when he was informed it had been sold to the college. Neither party knew about the other’s intention to purchase the property. In his argument before City Council, Nokes cited the fact that the area was originally designed for retail, and reminded the Council of the city’s 2011 plan that called for the area to allow and encourage the sale of automobiles on Auto Center Drive.

The property where the AAA building is located is zoned for a business park, and while that does not prohibit the establishment of a college in the area, the city reaffirmed its original plan to keep Auto Center Drive focused on auto-related businesses. According to Antioch Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs, both the college and auto dealership require a Use Permit from the city to locate there.

Nokes cited his enormous sales tax contribution to the city in appealing the decision, as well as the amount of jobs his dealerships provide for the area. He plans to develop the AAA property and open another auto dealership that will extend to the two adjacent parcels, which he owns. Nokes estimates that upon completion, the new dealership will bring around one hundred additional jobs to Auto Center Drive. The establishment of the new dealership will bring even more in tax revenue to Antioch, as Nokes’ dealerships already rank number one in the city in terms of sales tax contributions.

Stacey Orozco, director and owner of the Contra Costa Medical Career College, also spoke before the Council at Tuesday night’s meeting. In negotiating for the AAA building, she cited the fact that 90 percent of her graduates go on to find higher-paying jobs in the area, with nearly one hundred and fifty students graduating last year alone. After speaking to residents and other business owners in the area, she claimed, “A lot of people around there seemed excited to get an influx of new business and students.”

Other properties she looked at, as possible relocation sites, either did not meet the number of required parking spots – one spot for every five students – or proved to be out of the college’s price range, Orozco said

In a 4-1 vote following the hearing, the City Council approved Nokes’ appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision, and formally denied a Use Permit to the college. Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock, Councilmembers Monica Wilson and Mary Rocha, and Mayor Wade Harper voted in favor of Nokes, citing the importance of Auto Center Drive to remain in the auto sales business, the city’s original plan for the area, and the generation of additional and much needed sales tax revenues the new dealership will bring.

Councilman Tony Tiscareno was the lone dissenter in the decision, stating the value of higher education, the creation of higher-paid workers to fill needed medical positions, and the fair outcome of a competitive bidding process as his reasons to support the college, which stated its desire to remain in Antioch provided they can find suitable accommodations. Ogorchock asked city staff to help the college find what it needs within Antioch’s city limits after the hearing was decided. City Manager Steve Duran agreed.

Approves Measure C funds for CSO’s, code enforcement

Following the hearing, a resolution to allocate over $1 million in Measure C revenues to the Antioch Police Department and Code Enforcement was brought before the Council. The Council voted unanimously to adopt the resolution and approved all four of its considerations, which included: the addition of three full-time budgeted Community Service Officers; two additional General Laborer positions to the Code Enforcement Budget; the addition of an Associate Development Services/Engineering Technician position in Code Enforcement; and a contract for a six month vehicle abatement pilot program, which would call for two full-time employees to perform vehicles and parking violation citations.

Measure C was adopted by the City of Antioch in November, 2013, in an effort to reduce crime and gang-related activities by bolstering police staffing and improving the emergency response times of the APD, through a half-cent sales tax increase in the city.

The next Antioch City Council meeting will be held Tuesday, October 27, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers in downtown. Meetings can be viewed live on Comcast Channel 24 or via livestreaming on the city’s website.

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One Comment to “Antioch Council approves appeal of Auto Center owner, denies college in AAA building; allocates Measure C funds for public safety, code enforcement”

  1. Loretta Sweatt says:

    Sounds good.

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