By John Crowder
The January 27, 2015 meeting of the Antioch City Council included a report by Chief of Police Allan Cantando detailing crime statistics for the year 2014, and a handful of residents speaking out about a proposal to create a downtown event center.
According to Cantando, the city experienced a reduced level of criminal activity in 2014 as compared to the previous year. Total reportable violent crime was down 9.7%, and total property crime was down 5.6%. Only one category of crime, rape, saw an increase. However, as Cantando explained, this increase was not due to an upsurge in the crime, but rather was a result of a new FBI definition as to what acts constitute the crime.
A highlight of the crime report was the amount of volunteer work being done. Antioch Police Department (APD) volunteers worked over 10,000 hours in 2014. Volunteers worked primarily in field services (over 8,000 hours) and records (over 1,500 hours), but also contributed time to investigations and work in professional standards. Cantando said the value of the work done by volunteers was estimated at approximately $235,000.
Discussing an area that has been somewhat contentious at council meetings over the last year, especially when it involved feral cats, Cantando said that Animal Control had received almost 2800 calls for service in 2014.
Cantando also noted that calls for service were relatively flat over the last year, with APD receiving 80,407calls in 2014, as compared to 79,939 in 2013. Response times also remained relatively flat, with response times for Priority One calls in 2014 averaging 10 minutes, 36 seconds compared to 10 minutes, 30 seconds in 2013.
With respect to the number of police officers employed by the city, Cantando said that there were currently 90 full-time positions filled, and that three recruits began the Academy on January 26, 2015. The full report can be viewed as part of the City Council Meeting Agenda, by clicking here. Annual year-to-year Antioch crime statistics and maps can be viewed by clicking here.
Downtown event center backers speak
Not on the agenda, but addressed by four members of the public, was an idea put forward repeatedly at council meetings over the past few months by a group of residents who want to create an event center by combining the downtown Senior Community Center with development of the approximately two-acre lot, known as the old Beede lumber yard property.
Joy Motts, a leader in the effort, read a letter to the council written by her brother, Kerry Motts, Vice Chair of Antioch’s Planning Commission. In the letter, Motts spoke of the historical significance of the Beede site, saying it was, “indispensable as the one site that incorporates all of Antioch’s finest assets,” referencing the views it affords of the Delta, and proximity to the water, downtown shops, and founding location of the city. Motts painted a vivid word picture of their vision for the project, calling it a great idea that meaningfully reflects, “the history and traditions of our town.” The letter concluded by saying that the idea has, “the power to bind people together and bring unity under a goal and a vision that is stronger and more lasting than any short-term gain from selling our citizens’ best asset.”
Lee Ballesteros, who, along with her husband, John, founded and operate the nonprofit Drama Factory in Antioch, also spoke in favor of the event center proposal. Ballesteros quoted mayors of two other cities recognizing the importance of open, recreational space to a community. She said that research shows that high-quality parks, “spur economic development by attracting home buyers and boosting residential property values.” Ballesteros also argued that the proposal for an event center, “written by the people and for the people,” would serve as a “green engine” to “help address nearly every critical urban need from health to housing, to education and environmental justice” and that it would also help to counter sprawl and combat crime.
Wayne Harrison, a 15-year resident of Antioch, and President of the Celebrate Antioch Foundation, also spoke in support of the event center proposal.
“These citizens deserve a chance,” he said.
Alluding to complaints that their proposal has been largely ignored by city staff, he said, “I urge you to give this group the respect that they deserve.”
Event center supporters had an artist rendering of the proposed project available for members of the public to view.
The next regular city council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 10. Meetings are held in the City Council Chambers, located at 200 H Street, next to City Hall, on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, beginning at 7:00 p.m. They can be viewed live on Comcast Channel 24 or on the city’s website via live streaming, at www.ci.antioch.ca.us/CityGov/citycouncilmeetings.htm. They are also archived, there, as well.