Payton Perspective: Let’s look toward a brighter future and offer constructive input for Antioch’s rebranding effort

Aspire, Achieve and Acquire in Antioch to reach your goals and fulfill your dreams.

By Allen Payton, Publisher

If you haven’t heard already, the City of Antioch hired a consulting firm to help rebrand the city, in an effort to overcome the negative views and stereotypes that others outside and even some of our own residents inside Antioch have of our community.

For full disclosure, I formed an advertising, marketing and branding agency, last year, and brought on a team of five other local business owners who are professionals in branding, graphic design, websites and social media, and event planning. We put in a bid, but it was not accepted.

While I was critical of one of the five “Big Ideas” by the consultant mentioned in their proposal to the city, I’ve been willing to give them a chance and spent two hours with them, a week ago Friday, sharing my concerns and ideas, and an overview of the assets we have in the community, as well as some of Antioch’s rich history, upon which I believe they can build a new brand.

Rich History

First, I told them that a bit about our rich history. Antioch is the oldest city in the county, having been established as Smith’s Landing in 1849, renamed Antioch in 1851 at the July 4th picnic, and then incorporated in 1872. The number one reason the city was formed was for public safety. I have a copy of the incorporation papers in my office declaring that.

Clean & Safe

Second, I shared that the city needs to focus on two things, initially – clean and safe. That’s the same thing I learned that cities focused on, specifically with their downtowns, back when I was on the council from 1994-998. So, this is nothing new. It just needs to happen and quicker.

I pointed out the obvious, that we must get our crime under control – which according to Chief Brooks’ latest reports is happening – we won’t be able to attract the kind of businesses and employers to our city, nor will the upscale homes be built in the Sand Creek area, which are needed for Antioch’s long-term economic and financial success. In order to accomplish that the City Council must regain faith with the public and get us the 22 more sworn police officers we were promised if we passed Measure C and be honest with us by using the correct base figure of 89 officers, which were in the budget and on the force, before the measure was passed, for a total of 111 officers, not the 82 officers we had after it passed for a total of 104.

We need the council to direct City Manager Ron Bernal and Chief Brooks to “hire more cops, faster” and “a cop a week is all we ask.”

The city council and staff also need to crack down on the litter, including the shopping centers and require them to keep it picked up. People, please put your trash in the trash can and remind others to do the same. Also, keep your yard clean and maintained and show some pride of place, please.

Finally, the city council and staff must work with the county and local churches and charities to solve the homeless problem. We need them to get Supervisors Glover and Burgis who represent portions of our city, to bring more services out here to Antioch and East County where the need has grown over the past several years, instead of continuing to focus so much of the resources on West County.

City’s Assets

Third, I pointed out that we have a lot of assets that other cities don’t have. We have the river and waterfront, with access to the deep-water channel that serves the Port of Stockton. That port is currently doing $2 billion in annual business. According to the late, former Pittsburg Economic Development Director, Brad Nail, Antioch has a greater potential for a deep-water port than Pittsburg has. We need to build one in the Wilbur Avenue corridor to create the well-paying, industrial jobs for our residents.

That also allows for recreation, with boating on the river, with the marina and two boat launches. I shared that we need to develop a big boat berth marina either at G Street or at the old Tommy’s Harbor near Rodgers Point and The Red Caboose on Fulton Shipyard Road, on the east end of downtown, to attract boaters with money who will stop and enjoy lunch and shopping during a day on the Delta.

We also have our historic, downtown Rivertown which has so much potential. I suggested to them the idea of creating a Pier 39-type boardwalk on the water, running along the waterfront from the fishing pier next to the Riverview Lodge all the way to E Street, near the Old Lumber Company Building, to help attract more people to downtown. Plus, the renaming of L Street to Marina Way and A and West Second Streets to Rivertown Drive and West Rivertown Drive for permanent marketing of Antioch’s historic, downtown Rivertown (as has been in the city’s plans since the 1996 Economic Development Plan was adopted), especially now that Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill is getting ready to open at the former Humphrey’s location. That’s the best location on the Delta for dining.

We also have the rail line running through the north side of our city, bringing goods and people in and out of our city from the Port of Oakland, across the country. We need to take greater advantage of that.

We have Highway 4 widened to Antioch, and the section between Sand Creek Road and Balfour Road (of what used to be referred to as the Bypass) about to be completed.

Of course, we also now have the BART extension and station in Antioch. That opens up all kinds of economic development opportunity, surrounding and near the station.

We have empty commercial buildings for businesses to locate in and we have land, specifically the 200 acres that were set aside 20 years ago, this year, in the Laurel Road/Highway 4 interchange area for commercial development and employment. Slatten Ranch Road will bisect the property and connect Slatten Ranch Shopping Center and the Antioch BART Station to Laurel Road. That will begin construction once the homes on the other side of the freeway begin being built and paying the developer fee for the new road.

Another asset Antioch has is our immediate access to the adjacent, permanent, publicly owned open space of the East Bay Regional Park District with the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and soon the 900 acres of the Deer Valley open space where the Roddy Ranch Golf Course was located, and the surrounding new home development was planned.

Location & Transportation – The Jobs Highway

I also told the consultants that if you look at the map, Antioch is at the center of Northern California commerce. The only problem is we really can’t get there from here.

What we need is the connection out the back door to East County, which is the long-planned, four-lane Route 239 freeway between Brentwood and Tracy. Mayor Sean Wright refers to it as the “Jobs Highway” as it will connect us to Interstate 5, the lifeblood economic artery of the state. The total project, which has been referred to as the TriLink, also includes two lines of transit down the center, which will help connect the Antioch BART Station and the proposed Brentwood BART Station near Sand Creek Road, to Discovery Bay, Byron, Byron Airport, Mountain House, Tracy and back to Livermore and ultimately to the Pleasanton BART Station. The price for the TriLink is pegged at $1 billion.

But at the recent East County Transportation Summit two lower cost alternatives were discussed, including adding two lanes to the current Byron Highway/J-4 at a cost of just $200 million.

Branding –Aspire, Achieve, Acquire

Finally, I shared with the consultants some of my ideas for branding Antioch, that my team was going to pitch the city. First, I shared with them the acronym I used for my five-part economic development strategy, when running for city council in 1994 – B.R.E.A.D. for Business Retention, Expansion, Attraction & Development. The city needs to do what’s necessary to retain current businesses, allow them to expand, attract businesses to our city, and allow for the development of new businesses in our city. That puts bread on our tables, “bread” (the old slang word for money) in our pockets and “bread” in the city’s coffers with more sales and property tax revenue, to pay for more services.

I suggested we get away from the old city slogan, “Gateway to the Delta” because we want to be a place to come to, not somewhere to drive through or stop by on your way to somewhere else. I suggested we be known as the Jewel or Diamond of the Delta, and to become the Sausalito of the Delta.

I like alliteration, so I suggested using inspiring, uplifting, positive words to describe us beginning with the letter “A” of “Antioch Aspires” and “Antioch Achieves”. Or, Aspire in Antioch, Achieve in Antioch, Aquire in Antioch, as messages we can send to businesses we can attract to locate here. Antioch aspires for and desires to achieve greatness. If you want to locate a business here, you can acquire land or an existing building, aspire to and achieve greatness for your company.

I also thought of another word that begins with “A” that made me laugh, as it reminded me of that movie, The Big Lebowski, in which Jeff Bridges’ character is known as “The Dude” and had the saying “The Dude Abides”. That would be “Antioch Abides” or “Abide in Antioch”. Or maybe not. LOL

Actually, it’s because we can no longer abide the negative views of Antioch and the problems we face, that we must improve our city and rebrand it.

So, we need to let our people, the Bay Area and the rest of the world know that “you can aspire, acquire and achieve in Antioch to reach your goals and fulfill your dreams.”

That’s my input in an attempt to edify our community, focus on the positive and offer a future vision that I believe most of us want.

My encouragement to you is rather than be negative and point out all the things you don’t like about Antioch – while not being pollyannish and ignoring reality – please, focus on the kind of city you want Antioch to become and offer your constructive input to the consultants.

Residents are invited either to fill out a brief survey at https://tinyurl.com/antioch-brand or to email brandingantioch@ci.antioch.ca.us.

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2 Comments to “Payton Perspective: Let’s look toward a brighter future and offer constructive input for Antioch’s rebranding effort”

  1. David Kippen says:

    Editor:

    I lead the agency doing this important work. Thank you for this excellent, balanced editorial, for the recap of the suggestions you offered when we met–and in particular, for asking Antioch residents to contribute to the brand survey or to email us. We will carefully review every comment and contribution.

    David Kippen

  2. Wayne Harrison says:

    Thanks Allen.

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