By Nick Goodrich
During its meeting on Tuesday, September 27th, the Antioch City Council heard a report from Assemblyman Jim Frazier, discussed housing for the city’s homeless, and voted to bring in Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) to provide help for its struggling animal shelter.
To open the meeting, Council hosted Assemblyman Jim Frazier, who provided an update on his recent legislative activities in the California State Assembly and sought support for his transportation funding proposal.
Frazier was pleased to note the completion of the Highway 4 corridor widening project, which he has worked for since his time on Transplan, the East County division of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.
The project, which amounted to $1.3 billion through the county’s half-cent sales tax measure and state funds, created over 12,000 jobs and employed more than 40 local businesses.
“We have infrastructure in poor shape. It’s horrible, it’s crumbling,” he said. As the chairman of the Transportation Committee in California, Frazier said he has made it his mission to create and support various transportation projects in the state.
He reported that he has been working with his colleagues, local communities, and industry experts to develop an all-inclusive plan that would help make major improvements to California’s transportation and infrastructure.
“By strengthening trade corridors and improving the movement of goods, this proposal keeps businesses in California,” he told the Council.
In addition, Frazier’s plan calls for an additional $7.4 billion annually to be designated for transportation in the state. It includes increases to the tax on gas and diesel, as well as to the vehicle license registration fee.
He called on Antioch residents and citizens throughout California to show their enthusiasm for his plan by writing letters of support to their local newspapers and representatives.
“Let’s make transportation funding a priority this year,” he said.
Public Hearing: Priorities for Housing and Homeless
Council also oversaw a public hearing on priorities for Antioch’s homeless population. The city’s plan, which began with a study session in August of this year, includes providing a grant program for mobile home owners and seeking County funds to support homeless outreach.
Outreach to Antioch’s homeless will soon see an increase, as at least one County-funded outreach team will begin operating mostly in the East Bay—namely, Pittsburg, Antioch, etc. All homeless outreach in Contra Costa will be funded by the County, but Antioch has still managed to allocate $38,000 for the fiscal year in order to resolve the issue of homelessness in the city.
The Council is expected to allocate extra money toward increased outreach as needed—for example, if a second outreach team is deemed necessary, the city will contribute to the County’s funding to help make that happen. Or, an outreach team that operates in the evening will be given the funding to allow it to operate for more hours during the week.
An East County care center, designed to replace the resource center that used to work with the Don Brown shelter on 4th Street, was tentatively approved for County funding to the tune of over $660,000.
East County is currently the only County location that does not have a multi-resource center. A suitable location is still in the works, however, and funding for the center won’t be available for the next 8-10 months.
Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock made sure to clarify that, if the city needs to, it can always designate more than its current $38,000 to help out.
“I just want to make sure our hands aren’t tied,” she said.
Animal Rescue Foundation Steps In
The Council then discussed a Memorandum of Understanding for a partnership with Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF).
ARF has agreed to provide the Antioch Animal Shelter with services and expertise in key areas for a one-year period, at no cost to the City. The partnership comes on the heels of months of complaints about the state of Antioch’s Animal Shelter, by many residents.
During the Council’s last meeting, Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando presented a list of options for the city to consider to begin addressing some of the issues the shelter faces, such as funding shortages and a lack of trained professionals. Seeking outside help was among them.
Several residents from the surrounding area stated their satisfaction with the ARF partnership, including Louise McGuire, a resident of Concord, where ARF has run a successful shelter for years.
“I applaud the Memorandum of Understanding,” McGuire told the Council. “I hope that this resolution will benefit the lives of the animals in the shelter, and also the people the people that care for them.”
Karen Kopps, President of HARP, the Homeless Animals Response Program, was happy with the news.
“I’m also delighted that this update is being done now, and not in early 2017,” she stated. “So, thank you.”
An initial meeting and walk through of the shelter will be conducted with ARF soon, the council reported. That will allow ARF to determine the number of staff and number of hours they will provide.
Harper was happy to give the community a concrete course of action after continued complaints about the shelter.
“TherResolution is not yet a detailed plan,” he said. “But it looks like we’re attempting to take steps move forward. We’re listening. We still have a responsibility to make improvements…Now it’s time for us to start making those improvements.”
The resolution to approve the understanding with ARF was approved by Council in a unanimous 5-0 vote.