By Nick Goodrich
During its regular meeting on Tuesday, January 26th, the Antioch City Council voted 5-0 to approve a letter of intent to lease the Humphrey’s restaurant location. Taking Humphrey’s place will be an Everett & Jones restaurant, the family owned barbeque place that has been a favorite in Oakland since its founding in 1973.
If the lease is approved by the Council, the former Humphrey’s site in Antioch will become Everett & Jones’ fourth location, with other restaurants in Berkeley and Hayward in addition to the original in Oakland. Dorothy King, daughter of the original founder Dorothy Everett, and Len Turner of Turner Construction Group were on hand to accept the resolution from City Council.
“It is such an honor to even have the opportunity to accept this offer,” said King, who went on to give an account of the original restaurant’s founding and the hardships it entailed.
“We think it’s a diamond in the rough. We think it’s beautiful,” Turner said.
City Manager Steve Duran was excited to announce Antioch’s intent to lease the building to Everett and Jones.
“We wanted someone that was a regional draw, with a background in the restaurant business, and a proven track record of success,” he said.
Mayor Wade Harper stated that Antioch has searched for an anchor location to draw more business and enthusiasm to the downtown area, which many residents have been less than impressed with in recent years. He believes that Everett & Jones is a great fit, and later revealed that he is a huge fan of their acclaimed barbeque sauce.
“I buy it at the store, the hot, medium, and mild, all of it,” he said with a laugh.
While the letter of intent is not an official lease to the restaurant chain, it states that the city intends to do so, and the formal lease will be presented at the next Council meeting on February 9th.
Annual Police Chief Report: Violent Crime Down
Earlier in the meeting, Police Chief Allan Cantando made another appearance before Council to present the Police Statistics for 2015. Cantando noted that from the years 2014 to 2015, Antioch experienced an increase of arrests but a 9.2% decrease in violent crime, a trend that has been observed in Antioch for the past several years.
Cantando attributed the increased effectiveness of the APD to both assistance from nearby law enforcement agencies and a surge in Antioch police staffing, and both he and the City Council commended the continued dedication and hard work of the Antioch police officers in making the city a safer place to live.
He also brought attention to the 33 hires the APD has made since November of last year, a number he was certain that not many other police agencies had been able to meet – due to retirements, terminations, and other factors, the net change in staffing resulted in nine additional sworn officers.
Council Addresses Noisy Rooster Complaints
In 2014, the City of Antioch annexed land from Contra Costa County in a bid to incorporate the industrial park on its northeast border. However, the County mandated that such an annexation would have to include the residential area around Vine Lane, Viera Avenue, Walnut Avenue, and Bown Lane—the same area in which Jaycee Lee Dugard was held captive for 18 years.
Since even before the annexation, residents in the area have been dealing with an over-population of wild roosters and hens, and complaints about the birds have been ongoing for several years. But, the County didn’t resolve the issue.
At the meeting on Tuesday, one resident said that an aggressive rooster that entered his backyard could have seriously hurt his infant grandson. Other residents are complaining about the noise and inconvenience the animals present.
Chief Cantando estimates that upwards of 60 or 70 hens and roosters are currently loose in the area, and stated that if nothing is done, they will continue to multiply.
However, no one in the area has yet taken responsibility for the birds, according to city staff. Police officers’ attempts to contact several of the residents about the situation have been met with varying degrees of frustration and hostility, many have told the police that they would not allow officers onto their properties to trap the birds. And Animal Services can’t help get rid of them, as the birds are non-vicious animals and thus don’t fall under their jurisdiction. So, while the city has allotted more than $7,000 to help trap the birds and clean up the area, the city’s hands are tied until residents cooperate with the Police Department.
“When we’ve had animal issues in the past, the community has come together to solve the problem,” said Council Member Mary Rocha, referring to Antioch’s longstanding feral cat population. “But this doesn’t seem like it’s pulling together.”
Council Member Tony Tiscareno and Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock both volunteered to speak with the homeowners and try to reach a resolution. Harper, noting that many of the area’s residents were against annexation by the City of Antioch in the first place, stated the importance of providing leadership in the community and reaching an understanding that satisfies both the city and the area’s residents.
Follow-Up List of Requested Agenda Items
At the request of Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock, the City Council reviewed its “Follow-Up List” of items that council members have requested to be placed on a council meeting agenda in the past, but either have not been agendized yet or have not been fully resolved. City policy requires that once items have been requested, the mayor and city manager have six months to include them on an agenda. Yet, several items have remained on the Follow-Up list for six months or more.
Ogorchock, who requested the inclusion of the list on Tuesday’s agenda, stated “We are listening to citizens, and we’re trying to work on these items.”
Mayor Harper noted that while many Antioch residents feel that their concerns are being ignored, the Follow-Up List includes those concerns and helps the Council and city staff, continue to work toward resolving the issues.
One of the items on the list for more than six months was a request for an ordinance to limit the number of smoke shops in the city, requested last February and another is on the donation bins and illegal dumping, requested last April.
Another item, regarding shopping carts, requested last August is expected to be on one of the Council meeting agendas in February.
The Council also voted to appoint three Antioch residents to the Planning Commission and Economic Development Commission. Reappointed to the Planning Commission for a second term was Kerry Motts, a lifelong resident of Antioch and Chairman of the commission at the time his application and new member Sedar Husary. The Council also appointed to the Economic Development Commission Robert Kilbourne, who previously served on the Antioch Police Activities League as a member and founder.
Council weighs in on trade treaty
Toward the end of the meeting, the Council discussed a resolution to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement among twelve Pacific Rim countries, including the United States. Harper added the resolution to the agenda, at the request of local unions, stating that the agreement means a loss of jobs in America and could affect Antioch as well.
“I don’t support outsourcing jobs from the community,” he said.
He was joined in his dissent by several steel mill workers and other job-holders in Antioch, who stated that the deal had far-reaching consequences regarding the loss of jobs, from the area.
The Council voted to approve the resolution in a 4-0-1 vote, with Ogorchock abstaining. While she was reluctant to oppose such a resolution, Ogorchock wanted more information on the deal and its meaning for Antioch before proceeding with an affirmative vote. Tiscareno, who worked in the steel business for more than 20 years, felt strongly about the resolution and strongly opposed the TPP trade agreement and voted in favor of the motion.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.