Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

County hosts drive-thru drop offs for vote-by-mail ballots

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

Contra Costa voters will have one more quick and easy way to return their vote-by-mail ballots on Election Day.

The Contra Costa Elections Division is hosting a drive-thru ballot drop off site outside of its office, located at 555 Escobar Street in Martinez. The drive-thru will be located along northbound Alhambra Avenue, just north of Escobar.

The drive-thru will be open 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Monday, and 7:00 am to 8:00 pm on Tuesday.

The goal of the drive-thru is that drivers won’t have to get out of their car or find a parking spot.

Contra Costa Elections also offers a drive-thru from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm on Election Day in the Rossmoor area of Walnut Creek. The drive-thru is located at 1001 Golden Rain Drive.

Additionally, vote-by-mail voters can continue to drop off their ballots at County drop-off boxes at all 19 city hall buildings, select branches of the Contra Costa Library and outside the County Administration building on 651 Pine Street, Martinez.

For more information, visit www.cocovote.us.

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Editorial: Graves is the clear choice for Contra Costa District Attorney

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

Paul Graves

By Allen Payton, Publisher & Editor

In the race for District Attorney there is one candidate who has the experience to be the top prosecutor we need in Contra Costa County. That’s Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves.

Unlike his current boss, Interim D.A. Diana Becton, who was appointed on a 3-2 vote of the Board of Supervisors, last year, Graves has 22 years of experience prosecuting crime in our county. She has never prosecuted a single case. Yes, Becton served for 30 years as a judge, but that’s not the same thing.

Also, Graves was the first candidate to declare and was willing to run against his former boss, Mark Peterson, who had not yet resigned following a controversy regarding lack of disclosure of loans to himself from his campaign funds.

Becton only entered the appointment process after Peterson’s resignation, which doesn’t show me a serious interest or commitment to the position.

Although accused of being part of the problem, Graves was not part of Peterson’s inner circle. He’s running to restore integrity to the office. Becton on the other hand, admitted to plagiarizing large portions of her application for the position. Yet, three supervisors still voted to appoint her.

The third candidate in the race, businessman and attorney Lawrence Strauss, is opposed to the death penalty – even for cop killers. That to me is an immediate disqualification. If you’re going to be the top prosecutor in the county, you need to be willing to follow and enforce all laws in our state, whether you agree with them or not.

Another thing to look at is who is backing the candidates. Graves has the support of all the Deputy District Attorneys, as well as all of the police officer associations, in the county. Those who enforce the law know Graves is the one candidate who will do the same.

Becton’s backers include the ultraliberal, former San Francisco D.A. and now U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and worse, the soft-on-crime billionaire George Soros. Why are they interfering in our county’s law enforcement? Do we really want to model our D.A.’s office after San Francisco’s? Of course not.

Worst of all, Becton is missing too many days from the office for a job that pays her more than $250,000 per year.

We need a prosecutor who will restore leadership and integrity to the Contra Costa D.A.’s office. Voting for Paul Graves will accomplish that.

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OPINION: Latest vile anti-Semite running for Congress is from Contra Costa County

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

By Ron Nehring

Originally published on Flash Report. Republished with permission

It’s happened before: Some vile racist or anti-Semite runs for an office they have no chance of winning in the hopes of drawing attention to themselves, or their cause. This is exactly what happened earlier this year when Holocaust denier Arthur Jones ran for Congress as a Republican in the heavily Democratic 3rd Congressional District of Illinois. He has been denounced by the Republican Party but will still appear on the November ballot as a result of winning the uncontested GOP primary in the district.

Well, now we have another one of these guys. This time it’s here in California. Today’s vile anti-Semite is John Fitzgerald, who is running for Congress in the heavily Democratic 11th Congressional District in Contra Costa County. The district, in which Hillary Clinton won 71.% of the vote in 2016, is currently represented by Democrat Mark DeSaulnier.

John Fitzgerald is using is campaign website to peddle anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and falsehoods. Image source: Facebook. Below are Screen shots from John Fitzgerald’s campaign website, taken May 26, 2018 at 3:24 PM PT. 

Fitzgerald has zero chance of winning this seat, yet he currently has the official endorsement of the California Republican Party by virtue of being the only Republican running for the office. Under rules adopted by the party following the passage of California’s deeply flawed top-two primary system, the party endorsement goes to any Republican running for state legislature or Congress when they are the only party member running. The Board of Directors may take an affirmative step to reverse the endorsement, which of course should happen immediately.

In a post on his campaign website that went up on May 23rd, Fitzgerald peddles numerous anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. He asserts as “truth” that Jews “played a prominent role in the African slave trade,” linking to an article that further peddles this conspiracy theory. He goes on at length peddling numerous other anti-Semitic claims and theories. I won’t link to his website or post because I have no interest in driving up his search results, but you can Google this guy yourself.

So, what should be done about this?

First and foremost, absolutely no one should vote for this guy. Unfortunately, the state party website lists Fitzgerald as the endorsed party candidate, and since many Republicans rely on the site for guidance when voting, combined with his being the only Republican candidate, he will get an unfortunate number of votes. But certainly all that should come to a screeching halt now.

Second, the state party Board of Directors, which is entirely composed of good people I know personally, needs to reverse Fitzgerald’s default endorsement.

And third, Republicans should speak out against Fitzgerald and candidacy for his blatant anti-Semitism. Let’s not wait and see if this gets traction and only then condemn this vile individual who has soiled the good name of our party – we should affirmatively reject both his candidacy and his ideas because they offend our principles.

The Republican Party was founded on the most noble of causes – the abolition of slavery. Just over 100 years later, people of both parties came together in support of the civil rights movement and the abolition of segregation. Racism and anti-Semitism have no place in our country, and good people of both parties have the responsibility to condemn it regardless of the source.

Editor’s Note: The 11th Congressional District includes portions of Antioch.

Nehring is the former Chairman of the California Republican Party.

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Billionaire Soros backs plagiarist in Contra Costa DA’s race: candidate of ‘integrity’

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

By Randy DeSotoWestern JournalRepublished with permission

Originally published May 24, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Soros. Photo from ff.org

Billionaire George Soros is backing an admitted plagiarist in a district attorney’s race in northern California, funding campaign literature that describes her as a candidate of “integrity.” Hers is just one of multiple DA races in which Soros is trying influence the election’s outcome.

The Los Angeles Times reported Soros has dropped over $2.7 million in California DA races this election cycle, and since 2014 has spent more than $16 million in 17 county races in other states. His chosen candidates have won 13 of them.

“Wealthy donors are spending millions of dollars to back would-be prosecutors who want to reduce incarceration, crack down on police misconduct and revamp a bail system they contend unfairly imprisons poor people before trial,” according to The Times.

Soros has waded into the Contra Costa County DA’s race to the tune of $275,000 backing interim Democrat DA Diana Becton.

In addition to supporting Becton, the self-described philanthropist has intervened in the DA contests in San Diego County spending $1.5 million, according to San Diego Tribune, and Sacramento County with another $375,000, The Sacramento Bee is reporting.

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Becton, 66, was chosen as Contra Costa County’s interim DA last September among five applicants to the position, in a narrow 3-2 vote by the county’s board of supervisors.

The choice by the board of supervisors came despite the revelation that the former judge plagiarized significant portions of her application and unlike other candidates, including Contra Costa County District Attorneys’ Association endorsed Paul Graves, has no prosecutorial experience.

Becton is the county’s first female and African American district attorney, which Soros made a top selling point in a recent mailer sent to voters throughout the county ahead of the June 5 election to decide who will take up the seat for a full term.

The piece describes Becton as someone with “experience, integrity, and progressive values.”

The East Bay Times reported in Becton’s plagiarized application to become interim DA that she “took more than 100 words from a widely publicized letter written by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, regarding criminal justice reform.”

She also cut and pasted portions from neighboring Alameda County’s District Attorney’s website regarding the issue of community development.

Do you think Soros is seeking to undermine traditional American values?

Other text came word-for-word from a March 1994 issue of Harvard Business Review. Even a direct quote from Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” Speech made it into her application, which read, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was an heir.”

In all, at least seven portions of her application were plagiarized from others’ words, which were chronicled in an anonymous letter sent to multiple media outlets.

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Last September, Becton described her actions to the board of supervisors as a “mistake,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“I drew liberally from all kinds of sources because I wanted to lift certain issues up,” she said. “I recognize that I should have used quotation marks when I used words of other people, and I didn’t do that. I own the mistake.”

“That is the same kind of leadership and transparency and accountability that I will bring to the district attorney’s office,” Becton added.

The editorial board for the East Bay Times backed Graves over Becton earlier this month, citing her plagiarism, in part.

“It’s the sort of plagiarism that’s unacceptable from a high school student, much less the county’s most powerful law enforcement official. But, to this day, Becton still doesn’t fully comprehend what she did wrong,” the editors wrote.

Her “mistake” is surprising, given her experience as a judge, and being a law school and college gradate. The proper citation of sources is central to the legal craft.

Aron DeFerrari — president of Contra Costa County District Attorneys’ Association — told The Western Journal he thought Becton would no longer be under consideration for the position after admitting to plagiarism.

“There is no way they can appoint somebody who plagiarized her application,” he recalled thinking at the time.

His group had endorsed Graves for the appointment and is supporting his candidacy in the election.

Graves, a Republican, is a current Contra Costa County prosecutor, who oversaw the Homicide Unit and now oversees the Family Violence Unit.

“The biggest compliment you can pay a prosecutor is to call him a grinder,” said Deferrari, who serves with Graves in the DA’s office. “Paul is a straight up grinder. There is a reason for that. This job is important. This job takes a lot of time and effort. You don’t do this job well between 8:30 to five, four or five days a week.”

“Paul Graves has demonstrated that commitment to victims of crime and he’s done so for the last 22 years,” DeFerrari added. “He is the only candidate in this election that has done that. It’s how he has earned the respect and support of every law enforcement agency in this County.”

According to his website, Graves is endorsed by over a dozen police officers’ organizations, as well as a plethora of local officials, from city council members to multiple judges.

Paul Graves Speaks Out Against George Soros Trying to Buy Contra Costa District Attorney’s Race http://eastcountytoday.net/paul-graves-speaks-out-against-george-soros-trying-to-buy-contra-costa-district-attorneys-race/ …

eastcountytoday.net (@eastcountytoday) 11:22 AM – May 9, 2018

Becton puts Sen. Harris at the top of her endorsements list followed by various Democratic members of Congress, mayors, government and non-government labor unions, and city council members, but support from the law enforcement community is all but absent.

DeFerrari told The Journal there is a reason law enforcement groups are backing Graves over Becton.

“Her actions and her lack of commitment to this job, from the moment she submitted her application to the place we are standing today, have not earned our respect as criminal prosecutors,” said DeFarrari. “This job requires absolute commitment to fighting for victims of crime each and every day and not just Monday through Friday.”

A review of Becton’s calendar obtained by a public records request by a Graves supporter shows the interim DA spent a substantial amount of time away from the office during her first six months in office, particularly for someone with no prosecutorial experience.

Just weeks after being sworn in as DA in late September, Becton traveled to Atlanta for a National Association of Women Judges convention, missing three work days.

She then traveled from there to Virginia for the Women in Power and Politics event the following week. In late October, the former judge went to an event at Stanford University. In November, Becton was out of the office for two days to participate in a “Fair and Just Prosecution” event focused on rolling back the “tough on crime” approach to law enforcement.

In a statement endorsing Becton, the Soros aligned Real Justice PAC indicated this will be top priority of the candidate.

“If elected she will make history as the prosecutor who took on mass incarceration by pushing through much needed bail reform, restorative justice programs, and an end to racial disparities in charging and sentencing,” said the group’s co-founder Shaun King.

The DA took vacation from Nov. 23 – 30, as well as Dec. 26 and Dec. 29 to Jan. 2, 2018, missing another six work days.

A review of the key card access to the Contra Costa Country DA office, also obtained through a public records request, showed that Becton did not come to her office a single weekend during her first six months in office from Oct. 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.

However, Graves was in the office over a dozen weekend days. Paul Thompson, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County, noted it is common for prosecutors to work weekends in the lead up to a trial.

“If we’re in trial, which happens for the typical trial attorney 6-15 weeks out of the year…weekly work hours double, meaning that we’re working nights and weekends,” he said.

Scott Alonso, the Public Information Officer for the Contra Costa County DA’s office told The Western Journal just because Becton is not physically in the office, it does not mean she is not working.

“She works long hours inside the office and outside the office,” he said. “With this type of work, she’s on call 24-7. She’s in constant daily communication with her attorneys and with members of her leadership team.”

DeFerrari fears Becton is more interested in the position than the work it entails.

“You want somebody who wants to do the job,” he said, “not just somebody who wants to have the job.”

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Contra Costa District Attorney Candidates Forum May 29 in Pittsburg

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Candidates for the Contra Costa County District Attorney will speak from 6:00-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29 at Los Medanos College.  The Candidates Forum, sponsored by the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley, will be held in the college’s Recital Hall, 2700 East Leland Road in Pittsburg.

Candidates Diana Becton, Paul Graves and Lawrence Strauss will give a brief opening statement followed by prepared questions from the Chamber and screened questions from the audience. Questions will focus on current issues, such as the management of the District Attorney’s Office, public safety, and concerns of the business community. Gail Murray, longtime League member and former Walnut Creek mayor and BART Board member, will be the moderator.

The meeting is open to the public, but reservations are requested at mypittsburgchamber.org.

The League of Women Voters and the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce are jointly sponsoring the event to inform and educate voters. Neither the nonpartisan League nor the Pittsburg Chamber is endorsing any candidate. 

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Monday is deadline to register to vote in June Primary Election

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

The Contra Costa Elections Division reminds all residents that the deadline to register or re-register to vote in the June 5th Statewide Direct Primary Election is this Monday, May 21st.

To be eligible to register, a person must be a United States citizen, be at least 18 years old by Election Day, and not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction.

You must re-register if you have moved or changed your name (married, divorced, etc.).

To register, go online to http://registertovote.ca.gov, or pick up a paper card at any City Hall, post office, library or the Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder-Elections Office located at 555 Escobar Street in Martinez.

You can check your voter registration status online at www.cocovote.us by clicking on the “My Voting Information” button.

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Divided Antioch Council votes 3-2 for map using Highway 4 to divide city into four election districts

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Working Draft 1 council district elections map with new district numbers adopted at the Antioch Council meeting on Tuesday, May 8, 2018.

Tiscareno votes with “mi gente”, chooses the “diamond encrusted” choice

By Allen Payton

In a surprise move, Antioch Council Member Tony Tiscareno changed his expected direction from supporting the Quadrats C map for dividing the City into district elections and went with the Working Draft 1 map, pleasing what he referred to as “mi gente” meaning, my people. He was joined on the split vote by Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe and Council Member Monica Wilson in approving the map. Mayor Sean Wright and Council Member Lori Ogorchock wanting the other map, voted no.

The council then voted 4-1 with Ogorchock voting no, to finalize their previous approval of changing to district elections, on the second reading.

Most people who spoke on the matter were in favor of the Working Draft 1 map, again and most were also Hispanic, one speaking in Spanish and using an interpreter. They argued for having one representative for the north side of the freeway who lived there. They stated there hasn’t been an elected council member from their area since the 1980’s.

The attorney who started it all by threatening the City with a lawsuit said, “This isn’t about racism. It is about race. There is a significantly different group of people north of the Four. There are blacks and Latinos in other parts of the city. But, this is about under representation of minorities.”

Orgorchock asked for a stay until 2022, saying “The Census is going to be held in 2021. So, we’re going to have to redistrict at that time. Some of these maps won’t mean anything at that time.”

But, Tiscareno responded with “I’m not going to support a stay at this particular point, because we have to move on with the process. I’m not happy with the way this process came about. Whatever map we choose…it doesn’t represent the 2018 (population) numbers.”

Interim City Attorney Derek Cole told the council “Districts 1 and 4 have two-year terms, initially and 2 and 3 have four-year terms.”

Thorpe spoke next, saying “Alright, let’s convince Councilman Tiscareno…Working Draft,” to applause from the audience.  “The fact of the matter is, this is where we’re at, so we just got to finish the job.” He then asked Cole his views on the public sentiment on the maps.

Cole spoke of Working Draft 1. “The testimony the Council has received is overwhelming that that is a community of interest. I think both maps are Constitutionally valid and meet all legal requirements. If you had the diamond encrusted version…legally speaking that’s Working Draft 1. There has been testimony supporting Quadrants C. Legally speaking we’re only dealing with ensuring there is no racially polarized voting. We’re not obligated to geographic regions that might be underrepresented. Do you want a road dividing a community? A side of the tracks? Both maps meet legal standards. But, if there is a Lexus or Porsche version…that’s Working Draft 1.”

Thorpe then asked City Manager Ron Bernal about results of a recent City survey.

Bernal responded, saying “the survey results were broken up between north Antioch, southeast Antioch, and…west Antioch. Their viewpoints are distinctly different…whether they feel they are being represented well by the council.”

Thorpe then said, “so, the people north of the freeway feel they’re being represented differently than people on the south side.

Bernal – working Draft 1 is set up to more closely represent those views.

Thorpe – Whether there was a freeway or not that wouldn’t affect those opinions. The Quadrants are the ones that drive the division through these communities. When you dig down…through the Census Tracts you see that. Working Draft 1 has a representative for each of the regions of the City. If we do go with Quadrants, I will continue to do my darned good job to represent the people of north Antioch.

No one has been up here trying to figure out where someone lives. We have worked to keep that out of the process. We’ll let the voters decide what happens with two of us.”

Wilson spoke next, saying, “I keep coming back to…two speakers said it, today. If you go with Quadrants C…there will be a great possibility that your representative won’t live north of the freeway. I think it’s very important we look at the representatives within those quadrants. I just want to make sure we have equitable representation. Yes, we’re working of 2010 statistics, and we’ll have to go through this again in 2021. No lines are etched in stone. We can always move those. I’m still very much in favor of Working Draft 1.

Thorpe – So, the 2010 Census is…just over 100,000. Will we see drastic changes in where the lines will be, he asked the consultant?

Consultant Karin MacDonald of Q2 that drew the maps for the council, responded by saying, “I think that depends on what you wanted to do. There is no law…that says you must start with the districts drawn in the last process.”

Thorpe then stated, “So, we can start with a completely new…or go with what we have and try to adjust the lines accordingly.

Ogorchock – From what I’ve heard there is equal views on both sides. I can’t accept the freeway to divide the city, again. It’s been there. But it’s very divisive. As for representation, I always feel two heads are better than one. It will be better to have two represent downtown Antioch. I am in support of Quadrants C. The…council needs to go with their heart and what’s best for the City.

Thorpe – when I asked for the feedback we’ve gotten…

Cole – What I recall was that a large amount, the majority of the comments we received online was what was then Working Draft 1. Quadrants C emerged. There was a Change.org petition. I think there was support for Quadrants C. The majority of comments online and here have been in favor of Working Draft 1.

Wright spoke next, stating “When it comes to representation…in a city of 114,000 you have less than 200 people who have weighed in, and less than that. I could be wrong, there’s more than 100. It’s hard to base a decision on 114,000 people. That being said, I want this done, tonight. I want to get our staff back focused on benefiting our community. Whatever is decided, I’d like to see it chosen tonight and moved forward.”

“I’m not for districting. I don’t think it’s a good thing,” he reiterated. “What people are saying is we want someone who will fight for us. We’ve spent more money on north of Antioch than anywhere else. We are focusing our attention on the parks north of Antioch. We’ve spent more money on the roads in downtown Antioch. So, the concept that there’s underrepresentation… I know that we don’t necessary live there. When I’m deciding who to vote for, I don’t look up their address. Someone who is elected from Lake Alhambra won’t know what it’s like to live in Sycamore. They’re just not.”

“So, how do we create districts that create less division in our community,” Wright continued. Referring to the Quadrants C map he said, “there are solid lines You have A Street and Lone Tree and Putnam that are solid lines that put people in different areas. There are pockets of poverty north of the freeway and south, as well. Moving toward districts we are accomplishing much of what is asked for.”

“Quadrants give southeast two representatives, north two representatives,” he concluded.

Tiscareno, who asked to speak last, said “I have to do this for the betterment of what Antioch looks like at this particular point. First, it was about race. Now it’s about numbers and how we can represent the entire city equally. Neither map does that as far as I’m concerned. It’s going to be a boondoggle out there. After…the 2020 Census you’re going to have to change the maps. We’re doing new developments in southeast Antioch, so the 2020 maps will have to look like what Quadrants C looks like anyway. The majority of the folks in favor of Working Draft 1, they’re “mi gente” they’re my people. I feel like I’m doing contrary when I’m talking about the other map. But, that’s not what I’m doing. First, we are Latinos, but we are Antioch citizens.”

“I’m going to make a conscious decision,” he said. “This will be a temporary map. Any map we go with we’re going to have to have a couple council members run against each other. I respect the other council members up here. But, when it comes to elections we’re opponents. It doesn’t matter who’s sitting next to me during election time. They’re my opponent.”

Another thing that frustrates me, we have a community of 114,000 people here, but nobody comes to the council,” Tiscareno continued. “But, you guys are speaking out and I respect you for that…people fighting for their cause. It’s something I used to do.”

He then made a motion, “I’m not doing it to please anybody. This is going to change in 2020. I probably won’t be part of that process, but that’s OK.”

“I move that we approve Working Draft 1,” Tiscareno said, to cheers from the audience. Thorpe offered the second and it passed on a 3-2 vote.

“Si se puede,” was the chant from some of those in the audience.

Numbering the Districts, Chooses Which Will Run for Two-Year Terms in 2020

The council then had to assign numbers to the districts to determine which ones were up for election in 2020 for two-year terms, initially and which would be for four-year terms. Then, in 2022 the two with two-year terms in 2020 will then be up for election again, for four-year terms.

Ogorchock suggested having one in the north and one in the south for two-year terms. She made that motion which was followed by Thorpe’s second.

The map has letters delineating the districts. The council’s decision made the district north of the freeway, labeled B as District 1; district C is now District 2, district D is now District 3 and district A is now District 4. So, the districts that will be up for election for two-year terms in 2020 will be the very north and very south districts, numbers 1 and 4.

Tiscareno lives in District 2, Wilson in District 4 and both Thorpe and Ogorchock live in District 3. No current council member lives in District 1 and the Mayor will continue to run and be elected citywide.

There was no discussion by the council on the matter and the motion passed unanimously.

 

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Neighboring Zeka Ranch owner responds to developer, environmental group-backed Sand Creek initiatives in Antioch

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Land Use Plan for the proposed Zeka Ranch new home project on the west end of the Sand Creek Focus Area. Courtesy of The Zeka Group.

Calls it an abuse of the process; their plan protects environment, saves trees and open space

This past Friday, April 27, Richland Communities submitted an initiative to compete with one currently being circulated for signatures by the environmental community, both of which seek to stop the Zeka Ranch project from being developed on the western end of the Sand Creek area. Richland is the developer of “The Ranch” project with the planned 1,307 homes on 500 acres and is now proposing to reduce that by 130 homes. It will require the neighboring Zeka Ranch to become permanent open space. (See related article, here).

The Zeka Group, owners of the 640-acre Zeka Ranch property on which they plan to build a 400-upscale home community, responded to the latest attack against their property, their plans and their rights with the following statement:

The Zeka Group has been part of the ongoing growth and development plans for the City of Antioch since 1992.  The Zeka Group participated in the development and implementation of the 2003 General Plan and has been an integral participant and contributor to the development of Future Urban Area (FUA) #1 and the subsequent Sand Creek Specific Plan Study area, now known as the Sand Creek Focus Area, as well.

Rendering of proposed homes at the Zeka Ranch project in the Sand Creek area.

As a responsible developer and contributor to the Antioch Community the Zeka Ranch project was the first and only development which developed a footprint that was 1) sensitive to the preservation of trees, 2) maintained habitat zones for the Alameda Whip Snake, migration corridors and setbacks to Sand Creek and 3) focused on the preservation of predominate ridgeline elements.

The Zeka Group accomplished this desired planning technique by engaging H.T. Harvey and Associates Ecological Consultants, a well-known and respected firm, specializing in biological resource assessment and determination. H.T. Harvey prepared a full biological assessment (BA) for the entire Zeka Ranch project. The assessment was utilized as a planning tool to judiciously place the final development footprint to minimize and avoid biological assets identified within the final BA. The BA was generated at great cost to the Zeka Group, but their management team spearheaded by Louisa Kao felt that the unique setting and geography of the site warranted such consideration.

In addition, plans for the Zeka Ranch were created by the same architect and land planner that laid out the map for Blackhawk, Doug Dahlin of the Dahlin Group. The Zeka Group hired his firm to ensure the highest quality of new home development in Antioch, and which will contribute to the long-term success of the city. The plans have been reduced from 1,100 homes on the 640 acres.

“We are committed to Antioch’s success and environmental protection and have been since we first purchased the property from the Higgins family,” said Louisa Zee Kao, President of The Zeka Group. But, this must be a win-win situation. Instead, Richland wants a win-lose situation, where they win, and we lose.”

Rendering of a proposed floor and lot plan at Zeka Ranch.

The Zeka Group has invested over $20 million into Antioch by purchasing the property, paying property taxes, developing plans, and paying city fees, all while following the guidelines as set down by the voters of the county, the voters of Antioch, city staff, the East Bay Regional Parks District, planning commissioners and city council members.

“This initiative by Richland is unfair, self-serving, mainly benefiting only one land owner, and at our expense,” Kao continued. “This is an abuse of the initiative process, and will result in the devaluation of our property, and all the surrounding properties, eliminating their voter-approved right to build the kind of homes Antioch needs for its future success and prosperity.”

Regarding the other initiative backed by the environmental groups, entitled “Let Antioch Voters Decide: The Sand Creek Area Protection Initiative,” it is mislabeled. (See related article, here). The voters of the county and of Antioch have already decided, twice and both times their vote has allowed for new home building in the Sand Creek area. Furthermore, Sand Creek will not be saved if the homes aren’t built, because it will remain on private property, inaccessible to the public. With the development plans, the City of Antioch is requiring setbacks to the creek, and an adjacent trail system that will connect to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve to the west of the Sand Creek Focus Area. The plans will allow public access to the Sand Creek watershed.

“Most importantly, these initiatives will not help fulfill the long-term economic plans the City of Antioch has had for over 20 years. The public should not be misled by either of them,” Kao concluded.

The Zeka Group looks forward to continuing its responsible development in the Antioch community as it continues to grow and flourish, with the development of Zeka Ranch.

 

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