Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Meet Congressman McNerney in Antioch Monday

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Congressman Jerry McNerney will host an open house on Monday, July 21 from 4 to 5:30 pm at his Antioch District Office, located at 4703 Lone Tree Way, inside the Antioch Community Center.

The congressman and members of his staff will be on hand to provide information to residents of the Antioch area about the services and assistance his office can provide.

WHERE: Antioch Community Center, 4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch, 94531

WHEN: Mon., Jul. 21, 2014, 4-5:30 pm

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City Proposes New Antioch Downtown Development

Monday, July 7th, 2014

By John Crowder

At their June 24 meeting the Antioch City Council heard a presentation, and numerous citizen objections, on a proposed transit oriented residential development project for downtown Antioch.

City Manager Steve Duran provided the council with information supporting the authorization he was seeking to send out a “Request for Qualifications and Proposals to initiate the solicitation process for a development team to develop a residential transit oriented/infill project on sites owned by the City of Antioch.”

The sites are located on the east end of Antioch’s historic downtown and the development proposal is to include the construction of a new 10,000 square foot Senior Center on a city owned site to be determined,” Duran stated

The proposal calls for the solicitation of a “highly qualified development team” to essentially construct townhouses or similar “medium-density residential” properties on the east end of downtown, immediately adjacent to the Rivertown Business District.

According to Duran, this is an “opportune time to move forward aggressively with what will be a catalyst project for downtown revitalization” because the city controls the sites in question and there is currently an upturn in the housing market.

Duran indicated that the Planning Commission considered rezoning the area to higher density at 20 units per acre, but wanted to see a development proposal prior to making such a recommendation.

Duran called the area in question, “the one opportunity for a catalyst project that can move forward quickly.” He cited, as support for this contention, the location of the area, adjacent to the Rivertown Business District and with great river views, the fact that the city owned the sites and could move the project forward without assembling parcels, and the currently favorable economy.

If we want to get going on downtown revitalization, now is the time,” Duran added.

Members of the public speaking before the council on the matter, however, expressed opposition to the proposal. Fred Hoskins objected to the plan to tear down the current senior center in order to obtain more land for the project and to construct a new center elsewhere.

I don’t find our senior center inadequate,” he said. “The only thing that I find at the senior center that needs improvement is the kitchen.”

Kerry Motts, President of the Rivertown Preservation Society also opposed the project.

[It's| time to consider the views and desires of the community,” he stated “That is the opposite of what has happened.”

He characterizing the parcel at the corner of 3rd and E street, known as the old Antioch lumber company property, as, “arguably the most valuable piece of property in the city of Antioch.”

It has a singularly unique view, and access to the river delta, as well as being within a block of Antioch’s founding site. It sits at the heart of every event that has ever occurred in Rivertown. This property deserves to be a shared property of all the citizens of Antioch, not just the lucky few who would be residents,” he added.

Instead of housing, Motts wanted to see a park built there.

Joette Bright, a member of the Arts and Cultural Foundation of Antioch, echoed Motts’ concerns and request for a park. She quoted extensively from sections of the General Plan regarding development of the downtown area.

Housing is not a legacy anyone will remember you for,” she implored. “Set aside this parcel for posterity,”

Antioch School Board President Joy Motts, a lifelong resident of Antioch and Rivertown added her thoughts.

I’m extremely concerned about the City of Antioch’s proposal for the development of both the senior center parcel and the adjacent vacant parcel located at 2nd and E Street for the plans for high density housing,” she said.

She added that the RPS group had reached out to the city to talk abut downtown plans, but they were rebuffed.

Not one person from the City of Antioch has reached out to the Rivertown community for any discussion about this development,” Motts stated.

With reference to the vacant lot at 2nd and E Street, she noted the great view from the property.

It is surrounded by homes that also have that wonderful view. Many of these homes that surround that parcel have been there for over 80 years. It is the wish of these homeowners and the Rivertown community that this view be protected, not only for ourselves, but for the citizens of Antioch,” Motts continued. “A park on this property could host community events.”

She name several such possibilities, from summer concerts to farmer’s markets. She stated that a park on the site would provide a reason for people to purchase homes in Rivertown.

Chris Valenta, with the best reference to classic European literature we’ve seen in a while, stated that developing the vacant lot east of E Street would be, “like selling your soul to the devil.” He called the parcel, “Antioch’s heritage,” and stated that it should be developed in a way that would, “be a tribute to our veterans.”

John Reynolds also objected to further housing development, commenting that there is “nothing to do” in the downtown area.

Following the community input, council members asked further questions of Duran. Mayor Wade Harper asked about meetings with the Rivertown group, Duran responded that he had met with them once.

We can do all the outreach in the world, it’s not going to get the downtown revitalized,” he added.

Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha was particularly concerned that the community have input into any proposed development. In response to questions raised by Rocha, Duran conceded that something the neighborhood could use might be included in the project, but remained adamant that the area being discussed was the wrong location for a park.

Council Member Monica Wilson asked if it was cost prohibitive to continue operating the senior center. Duran told her that, while it was expensive to operate, old, and could use some upgrades, he shared the real reason for including a new senior center.

If the residential development came right up against the commercial space downtown, it would have more of an impact on the downtown in terms of people using the services downtown,” he said.

Rocha asked if the developer of the site would knock down the old senior center and build a new one.

That is an unanswered question,” responded Duran, “If it’s not financially feasible, then no. We think it’s feasible, but we can’t know until we test the water.”

Council Member Tony Tiscareno added his views.

I want us to work with the community,” he said. “But my biggest fear is we’re going to meet, and…there’s going to be no compromise.”

Duran responded that the council should seek more input rather than having just one group voicing their opinion.

You should have a wide outreach to the entire community, because everybody in town is a stakeholder to the revitalization of this downtown,” he said.

We want to make sure that all parties, and I’m not talking about the Rivertown community as a whole, but the entire community, has some input in what they want to see in their downtown community,” Tiscareno replied.

Harper moved the matter to conclusion, offering his thoughts.

We’re got to do something about the downtown area,” he stated. “A lot of community members want to know what we’re going to do about the downtown area…I don’t want another plan to be put on the shelf that doesn’t get done. I think the community that’s here is not the entire community. We need to listen to the entire community, but we do need to maintain the character of this community. Does a park do it? Maybe, maybe not. We can definitely look into it. Nothing is set in stone today. But I think we should keep the dialogue open as we move forward. I want to be a doing council.”

I don’t think that there’s any rush, but we do have to get things done,” he concluded.

Wilson then made a motion to approve Duran’s proposal, and with Rocha and Tiscareno assured that there would be community input, the council voted 4-0 in favor of moving forward in initiating the solicitation process.

With the cancellation of the July 8 council meeting, the next meeting is scheduled for July 22 at 7:00 p.m.

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Antioch School Board Adopts Annual Budget That Digs Into Reserves, Approves LCAP

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

By John Crowder

At their June 25th meeting the Antioch School Board adopted a budget with about $6.5 million in deficit spending for the 2014-2015 school year and also approved a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) that had been the subject of considerable discussion by local community groups at previous board meetings.

Prior to board approval Tim Forrester, Associate Superintendent-Business and Operations and Mia Cancio, Director, Fiscal Services, provided the board with a power point presentation regarding details of the budget. According to Forrester, the deficit spending in the budget was continuing, “for a very good reason…there are programs we wanted to support.” He emphasized that the amount of deficit spending in the current budget was less than that of the previous year, and that it would continue to decline, reaching slightly over $10,000 in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Forrester also noted several challenges involved with putting the budget together, including the fact that student enrollment in the district was continuing to decline, the unpredictability of special education costs, potential increases in CalPERS and CalSTRS contributions and uncertainty concerning the impact of costs associated with the Affordable Care Act.

Following Forrester’s presentation, Cancio discussed the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) which, along with the LCAP, had been the focus of so much recent concern in the community. Several community groups had been requesting that the Supplemental and Concentration Funds, generated by the number of high-needs students in the district, be used solely to increase services for these students, and not for the population as a whole. In explaining the rationale for district spending, Cancio quoted from a portion of the education code.

(A school district) may demonstrate it has increased or improved services for (high-needs students) by using funds to upgrade the entire educational program of…a school district…(when it has) an enrollment (of high-needs students) in excess of 55% of the district’s total enrollment,” she said.

The number of high-needs students in Antioch is over 67%. Cancio also presented a slide listing programs, including expenditures, that she said would benefit such students.

Board members, responding to community concerns, commented on the budget process, including the work involving the LCAP.

Board Member Barbara Cowan said that, although it was necessary to approve the LCAP because they were “on a deadline,” it was nonetheless a “living, breathing document.”

Board Member Claire Smith echoed her comments, noting, “the budget can always change.”

The reality is, the process is going to continue,” Board Vice President Gary Hack added.

In other news, the board informed the community that Scott Bergerhouse had been appointed principal of Dozier-Libbey Medical High School (DLMHS), effective immediately. He replaces Nancie Castro, who had been the principal of the school since its inception eight years ago.

Two members of the public protested the change in DLMHS leadership during the meeting. Mimi Metu, a recent graduate who had also been the student representative from DLMHS to the board for the last year, told the board that it was wrong for Castro to be demoted. Edgar Osorio, past president of the DLMHS Parent-Student-Teacher Association (PTSA) told the board that the move, “sounds like retaliation to me.” DLMHS teachers have been engaged in a fierce struggle for control of the school since 23 of the school’s teachers, 88%, filed a petition to make it an independent charter school in February.

Cheryl Cooper, board president for RAAMP Charter School, noted that Monday would be the last day for that school to be in operation. She expressed concern that the district was back pedaling on their commitment to “ensure the emotional well-being of our students.”

Two other members of the public also spoke up about concerns regarding their children’s education. One spoke about trying to establish an IEP for her son for over a year, but being met with continuing delays, while the other stated that she had been assaulted by the mother of a teacher on the Lone Tree Elementary School campus, and that she had found it necessary to bring the police into the matter. In response to the latter comment, Board Member Diane Gibson-Gray asked that she leave her contact information with staff so that, it can be passed on to the next level.

The adjournment of the meeting brought to a conclusion board meetings for the current school year. The next scheduled board meeting, beginning the 2015-2016 school year, is scheduled for August 13. Meetings are held at the district office at 510 G Street, typically beginning at 7:00 p.m.

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Antioch celebrates Independence Day with downtown parade and fireworks at the fairgrounds

Saturday, July 5th, 2014
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The Veterans color guard starts off Antioch’s 2014 Independence Day parade on 2nd Street in historic, downtown Rivertown on Friday, July 4th.

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Sons of Italy banner

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Romano Marchetti plays patriotic songs as part of the Sons of Italy entry.

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Sons of Italy float included grape stompers.

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Mayor Wade Harper

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Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha being driven by Tim Forrester.

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Councilwoman Monica Wilson

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Antioch Councilman Tony Tiscareno campaigns with candy.

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Councilman Tony Tiscareno’s car.

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Antioch City Council candidate Lori Ogorchock campaigns in a Corvette.

 

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Christ Embassy

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Antioch Lapidary Club

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East County Veterans

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East County Veterans float

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Asphalt Outlaws

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Aphalt Outlaws cars

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The crowd lines Second Street to watch the parade.

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Knights Paladin Motorcycle Club

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Dancers

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Dancers performing for the judges.

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Veterans color guard

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Veterans on motorcycles.

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The Commons at Dallas Ranch

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Keller Williams

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Antique car

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Paradise Skate

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Undead Bettys

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Dancers Elite

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Dancers Elite 2

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Mrs. Northern California Charlene Jones

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The Derita family waves from the Hugo’s Place float.

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Corvette Club

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Boy Scouts color guard.

 

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Candidate for Antioch School Board Debra Vinson

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Melody’s Dancers perform for the crowd.
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LOL Club

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Classic car entry

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Girl Scouts 2

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Girl Scouts 1

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Knights of Columbus from St. Ignatius Catholic church.

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St. Ignatius Catholic church banner.

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Super Friends made an appearance, thanks to Walter and Cynthia Ruehlig and family.

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Navy jeep.

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Candidate for Antioch City Council Lamar Thorpe.

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Antioch Council candidate Lamar Thorpe’s supporters.

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Kay Powers, Dave Massey and others from the Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch.

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Dr. Brandon Roberts and Candace Rowlett show their patriotism in the parade.

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Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch members, including Angel and Argentina Luevano in the cab.

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Kiwanis Club and Key Club banner carriers.

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Antioch High School cheerleaders made an appearance in the parade.

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Antioch High School Cheerleading banner.

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More Boy Scouts in the parade.

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Inland Marine boat

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Salvation Army

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Antioch School Board Trustee Joy Motts does some campaigning for her reelection.

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Councilwoman Monica Wilson

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Military jeep

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Cub Scouts

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Quail Lodge

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Antioch police arrest teen in Thursday shooting of Antioch boy

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

By Corporal J McMurry, Antioch Police Department

Our investigation into the shooting of an 11-year-old male on Thursday morning, July 3, 2014, has led to the identification and arrest of a 14-year-old male as the responsible party. The responsible was arrested Thursday night at approximately 11:45 PM. He was booked at the Antioch Police Department for the above listed charges and later transferred to Juvenile Hall.

The victim in this case remains hospitalized in stable condition, and it is unknown when he will be released.

We are continuing our investigation into this incident. If anyone has information related to this case, they can call the Antioch Police Department non-emergency line at (925) 778-2441. Tips can also be sent anonymously via text message to CRIMES (274637), with the keyword ANTIOCH.

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Two men shot in Antioch, Thursday night

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

By Acting Sergeant Wisecarver, Antioch Police Field Services Bureau

On Thursday, July 3, 2014 at 10:01 PM, Antioch Police Officers were driving through the area near the 1600 Block of Sycamore Drive, when they heard several gunshots coming from the alleyway. The Officers worked their way through a large crowd of people to find two gunshot victims on the ground. One victim is a 24 year old male. The second victim is a 30 year old male. Both victims suffered non-life threatening gunshot injuries. They were both transported to area hospitals for treatment.

This incident is still under investigation. Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to contact the Antioch Police Dept. at (925) 778-2441. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

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Boy shot in Antioch, Thursday morning

Friday, July 4th, 2014

By Corporal J McMurry, Antioch Police Field Services Bureau

On Thursday, July 3, 2014 at 11:15 AM, Antioch Police Officers responded to a 911 call reporting a person had been shot in the 800 Block of I Street. When Officers arrived on scene they located the victim suffering from a single gunshot wound to the lower chest area.

The victim was awake and alert when medical personnel arrived on scene. The victim was taken to a regional medical center for treatment. There were no other victims located at the scene. The suspect(s) was(were) not located.

Officers are following up on several leads that have been developed. The victim’s injuries are non-life threatening and he is expected to survive.

If anyone has information that is related to this case, they can call the Antioch Police Department’s non-emergency line at (925) 778-2441. You may also text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using key word ANTIOCH.

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Antioch City Council Sends Landlord Tax to Ballot

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

By John Crowder

At their June 24 meeting the Antioch City Council voted to place a measure on the November 24 ballot that would update the existing business license tax ordinance to include a residential landlord business license tax (Landlord Tax) and would raise the minimum business license tax to $100 from $25.

Prior to the vote, City Manager Steve Duran gave a brief history of the events leading up to the proposed ballot measure that had been prepared by city staff. This was followed by a long line of speakers, both pro and con, voicing their opinions on the matter and statements by the council detailing their positions on the issue.

Duran opened by stating that the idea for the Landlord Tax had begun, over a year ago, as a citizen-led initiative, promoted by the group known as the Friday Morning Breakfast Club (FMBC). He stated that the FMBC and the California Apartment Association, along with other owners of residential properties, had been attempting to negotiate such an initiative with city staff involvement for some time when he started in his role as City Manager. He became involved in the negotiations, partly to “get a feel for what the dynamics of the discussion were.”

We had a lot of discussions, and didn’t make a lot of headway,” Duran added, noting that the apartment owners were unwilling to agree to a per unit tax of any amount.

Unable to reach compromise, he brought forward a proposal that would place a tax of $250 per year on a single-family dwelling, and $150 per unit per year on a multi-unit property, $90 less than what the FMBC had proposed. With time running out, the council had directed staff to bring the proposal forward for a vote, and that proposal was now in front of the council.

Duran noted the necessity for the tax.

Antioch is the worst General Fund in the county per capita basis,” he shared.

He said that Antioch obtained about $440 per capita for the city’s General Fund, with Pittsburg being about 45% higher, Concord about 60% higher, and that Walnut Creek was over $1000 per capita and Richmond over $1,100.

That means that we just don’t have as much money to hire police and code enforcement and parks and rec, and public works and everybody else that has to run a city,” he stated. “We need the money.”

Duran then discussed briefly that the minimum business license tax would also be raised under the measure, but would exempt certain small, home-based businesses from the increase.

During the public comments, speakers representing landlords made several arguments in opposition to the measure. Marcus Thompson of FBI Management, managers of Twin Creek Communities, argued that the tax, if passed, would be passed on to renters who could least afford it, that Twin Creeks already paid $161,000 per year in property taxes, and that renovations that were being made which helped beautify Antioch would cease. Clifford Gatewood, property manager of Riverstone Apartments on Sycamore Avenue, also expressed concern with the tax being passed on to renters who were least able to afford it, and said that the operating costs for the complex he managed were barely covered by current rents.

Theresa Karr of the California Apartment Association (CAA) brought up the issue of equity, stating that the proposed tax would treat those in the business of owning rental property significantly different than other business owners, taxing them at a level “2000% higher than any other business in the city.”

Joshua Howard, the Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at the CAA stated “the proposed tax before you is unconstitutional. The most compelling argument…is that the tax does violate the Constitution’s commerce clause.”

John Canning, a Real Estate broker with WR Properties in Brentwood who was formerly involved in large scale property management, was the final speaker against the proposed tax measure, arguing that margins for property managers were too thin to support a tax increase.

Those supporting the tax included Mark Jordan, broker/owner of Re/Max Preferred Properties in Antioch.

I’ve lived here 50 years, and I do property management, and I own rentals here in town,” he said. “You have what’s called a structural deficit in your budget that cannot be filled with hope, it has to be filled with money. I have the ability to pay it, I want the city to look better, I don’t want you to go bankrupt, and no one has an alternative idea today that’s reasonable, and sound, and will produce enough money to fill the structural deficit. Let’s put it on the ballot, let’s let the people decide.”

Both Terry Ramus and Fred Hoskins made light of the unconstitutional argument. Ramus said he was a “little bit excited, because it may be unconstitutional for us to pay any of the taxes.”

I would encourage the city not to be intimidated by that type of thing,” he added.

Hoskins said that the unconstitutional argument, infuriated him. However,, while supporting the Landlord Tax, he objected to the amount of the minimum business license fee increase.

Following the public comments, the council discussed the matter, asking questions of both Duran and City Attorney Lynn Nerland. Council Member Monica Wilson led off by asking Duran about the negotiations with the CAA.

They did draw a line in the sand, and said absolutely no per unit fee,” Duran responded. “One side was willing to compromise, the other side wasn’t.”

In response to a question by Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha, Duran said, “The market sets the rents.” He also said, “(The landlords) are going to raise the rent as much as the market will bear, not more, not less.”

Nerland addressed the constitutionality argument.

There’s no case that says a city can’t charge a per unit business license tax on residential rentals, or even to have some sort of formula that charges different businesses in different ways,” she stated. “That is not prohibited under the Constitution.”

Mayor Wade Harper and Council Member Tony Tiscareno both expressed support for sending the measure to the November ballot.

We have about a three million dollar structural deficit that we’re projecting, and we have to do what is best for the city of Antioch,” Harper explained. “I believe it’s the right thing to do, I think we need to put it before the voters.”

Tiscareno concurred with his opinion, referencing an earlier statement by CAA representative Howard.

They said, give us a day, and we’ll come up with some kind of a compromise. But, we’ve been trying to do that for a year,” he said. “It’s time to take action. I don’t think it’s up to us anymore, I think it’s up to the voters.”

Wilson then made a motion to include the proposal on the November ballot, Rocha seconded it, and the council voted 4-0 in favor.

Whether or not Antioch will have a Landlord Tax on the books will now be decided by the voters of the city, in the November 4 election, based on a simple majority. If passed, it is expected to generate approximately $2.3 million in additional revenue, annually for the General Fund. The cost to put the measure on the ballot has been estimated at about $11,000.

The deadline for submitting arguments, either for or against the measure, is Wednesday, August 20, at 5:00 p.m. Arguments cannot exceed 300 words in length

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