Supporters of initiative for downtown Antioch park and event center on lumber company lot submit signatures

By Allen Payton

According to Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen, the Save The Yard initiative proponents turned in 214 petitions with 5,139 signatures on Tuesday, July 6th.

The initiative, formally labeled the “Rivertown Town Square Ordinance,” would require the Antioch City Council to preserve as a park and event center, the former Antioch Lumber Company lot, between West Second, West Third and E Streets in downtown instead of a planned, mixed-use development with both townhomes and retail space.

There were 44,365 registered voters as of March 5th when the proponents submitted their paperwork to start the process. That means they need 4,437 valid signatures of registered Antioch voters for the initiative to be placed on the ballot.

“We tossed out the ones from people who live outside the city,” Simonsen said.

He submitted the petitions to the County Elections Office on Wednesday morning. According to County Clerk and Registrar of Voters, Joe Canciamilla his office has 30 business days to count and verify the signatures.

The deadline for placing items on the November ballot is August 12th so the verification process could take it beyond that date which would place the Antioch initiative on the November, 2017 ballot instead.

There are three other initiatives that have been received before and are in front of Antioch’s, two from Richmond and one from San Ramon. Plus, they have a large quantity of voter registration cards to process, some from Antioch but mostly from Richmond.

“We’re going to be bringing extra help on board to process those on a parallel track,” Canciamilla stated.

Asked if he believes his office will be able to count all the signatures and new voter registrations by the August 12th deadline, he responded “That’s our goal.”

Signature gatherers for the initiative petitions are required to be registered voters in the county. Asked if he knew about the signature gatherers who worked on the Antioch initiative, Canciamilla responded, “I would think the firm that hired them would know that. But, I haven’t seen the petitions and I haven’t talked to the staff about them, yet. So I don’t know what they look like.”

Then he spoke about the size of the November ballot.

“We have 17 statewide ballot measures confirmed, there are still two in the hopper,” Canciamilla shared. “Plus, we have two regional measures, from BART and CCTA.”

“The potential of the state voter handbook could be 200 plus pages,” he continued. “Our local handbook we expect to be 100 plus pages.”

Save The Yard initiative leader Joy Motts was not available for comment prior to publication time.

To read the language of the ballot initiative, click here: Final Initiative Ordinance

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3 Comments to “Supporters of initiative for downtown Antioch park and event center on lumber company lot submit signatures”

  1. Karl Dietzel says:

    Dear editor
    I sm kind of confused ny your article , please clarify .

    First of , my understand is that the ballot measure is
    To change the general plan from commercial to mixed use.
    If, how, when and what could be built at this lot is part of it.

    Secondly , if I understand the process right , all gathered signatures were
    Brought to the martinez election office, which is in charge and will do the signature verification .

    Please explain the city clerk comments, that he “tossed out”
    Invalid signatures . That’s not his job or tecponsibility.

    Thanks

    • Publisher says:

      Karl,
      Antioch City Clerk Arne Simonsen stated the proponents delivered the signature petitions to his office on Tuesday afternoon. Then, he and his staff reviewed them and tossed out the signatures from those people who don’t live in Antioch. I don’t know how he did that, other than marking through their names and signatures with a pen. Then, he took the petitions to the County Elections Office, for the staff there to verify the validity of the signatures of the rest of those who signed and provided Antioch addresses.

      The property is currently zoned mixed use which allows for the park and event center. The initiative would require the city preserve the lot as a “town square” as defined by the initiative, by amending the zoning.

      I’m attaching the final ballot initiative for you and the rest of our readers to see. Please see Section 3, subsection B for explanation.

      Hope that answers your questions and clears up any confusion.

      Allen Payton, Publisher

  2. Arne says:

    Only registered Antioch voters were eligible to sign these petitions. When we performed the prima facie signature count which took my Deputy and I 4-1/2 hours, we excluded (“tossed out”) all signatures signed by people whose address was other than Antioch (for example, we found signatures with addresses in Pittsburg, Oakley, Brentwood, Bay Point, Discovery Bay and Livermore). We also doubled checked each other work and totals.

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