Planning Commission Unanimously Recommends Renaming L Street to Marina Parkway

Cost will be closer to $25,000 and avoid $90,000 in future expenditures. Council to decide Tuesday.

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Following much discussion among commissioners, the Antioch Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend to the City Council the renaming of L Street to Marina Parkway, at their May 16, 2012 meeting.

Commissioners stated that this will help promote the marina and downtown to anyone driving down the freeway. Commissioner Mark Langford pointed out that although it’s not a parkway, yet, that’s something the city should pursue in the future.

Only three members of the public gave input, including two residents of L Street who spoke against the change. I spoke, as well, providing additional historical background on the issue and in favor of the change.

The renaming idea originated with Antioch’s 1996 Economic Development Plan, that was developed with the help of 100 community leaders, and adopted by the City Council, later that year. It also included changing the name of A Street to Rivertown Drive.

The idea was brought up again, when Don Freitas was Mayor. He stated he liked the idea but thought it best to wait until the improvements to L Street between 4th and 10th Streets were complete, and Highway 4 was widened.

While driving down the freeway a few months ago, I realized the state was in the process of putting up the new off ramp signs. I then sent an email to the Mayor, Councilmembers and City Manager reminding them of the idea of changing the names of L and A Streets and suggested it be done, now before the new signs went up.

Mayor Pro Tem Wade Harper asked staff to pursue the change to just L Street, for now.

City staff explained to the commissioners that this will be the most cost-effective time to make the change and informed them that the cost to change Somersville Road to Auto Center Drive was $90,000 and only included the state’s portion. If the change was made later, the city would have to pay those extra costs, as well as the projected city costs. Director of Public Works Ron Bernal stated that the cost will be closer to $25,000 than the original $40,000 estimate.

While one proposed source of funds to pay for the change is the city’s gas tax funds, there are other potential sources, such as the remaining funds in the Residential Development Allocation program. The council in the past spent $200,000 of those funds to pay for the bluish-grey and silver “City of Antioch” signs seen throughout town.

One attempt by the Council to change the name of A Street to Rivertown Drive, failed on a 2-3 vote, in 1997, since there were three businesses on A Street with “A Street” in their name. Those businesses are now gone or have changed owners and names. Now that A Street is connected to 2nd Street, the suggestion is to rename both to Rivertown Drive. The City Council could decide that at a later meeting, since the freeway widening hasn’t yet reached A Street, giving businesses and residents more time to adapt to the renaming.

The City Council will make their decision on the name change of L Street at their meeting on Tuesday, May 22.

8 Comments to “Planning Commission Unanimously Recommends Renaming L Street to Marina Parkway”

  1. Skip says:

    With more pressing issues facing the city, I don’t understand how you could support such a change, let alone lead the charge. The marina isn’t a tourist destination, it’s someplace people with boats go. If you have a boat, you know that it exists, it doesn’t need any more help. Maybe if there were actually facilities to entertain the general public I could see an argument for the change, but this will only benefit the “public” marina that costs consumers and residents a great deal of money over the free marinas that already exist today. $90,000 may not sound like a lot, but we’ll never make that money back in taxes, extra revenue or services for the city. It’s really too bad that they didn’t listen to the people who live on L st, instead of someone who won’t be impacted by the changes.

  2. Lisa says:

    This a ridiculous expenditure of funds, especially with all the issues & challenges that face Antioch at this time. How about spending that money on police, neighborhood cleanup,, road repair, or actually investing in downtown Antioch do that L Street will lead to something worth going to?? I live on A St. & I will fight any attempt to change the name of my street, especially at the cost of the city/residents of Antioch.

  3. Publisher says:

    Skip, it won’t cost $90,000. The staff estimates it will cost about $25,000. That’s not enough to pay for the ongoing costs of a police officer or any other staff member. The council can use one-time money from the Residential Development Allocation program or gas tax funds or Measure J 1/2 cent sales tax funds for transportation. If they don’t make the change now it will cost an additional $90,000 to change the freeway signs, later.

    Lisa, I’m sorry you feel that there’s nothing worth going to in Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown district. I completely disagree and can think of the marina, boat launch, Humphrey’s, the El Campanil Theater, Rick’s on 2nd, the Riverview Lodge, the fishing pier, the promenade walkway from G Street to L Street and the Lynn House Gallery, just to name a few.

    It’s not about promoting the marina as much as promoting Antioch’s waterfront and the city can’t spend gas tax or Measure J money on police.

    This is a good, one-time investment for permanent promotion of our downtown.

    Allen Payton, Publisher

  4. Tim Wan says:

    Allen, I often agree with your views on various issues but not on this one. How can you justify spending $25,000 just because it’s “cheaper” to do it now than later. Aren’t you ASSUMING that it is a correct decision to rename “L” Street in the first place? Aren’t you ASSUMING that Antioch’s 1996 Economic Development Plan that recommended the name change is still a relevant recommendation SIXTEEN years later in 2012? Much has changed in Antioch since 1996. I’d rather see that the $25,000 be allocated to supplement the Antioch Police Department budget. The APD is way under funded and renaming “L” Street is not going to provide much needed police protection for this extremely UNSAFE city of ours. Until Antioch can regain its reputation as a SAFE gateway to the Delta, renaming “L” Street will not help and thus will be a gross misuse of public funds.

  5. Allen Payton says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    I believe it’s more relevant today than ever, now that the new boat launch has opened near the marina and the fact that the freeway is being widened and the City won’t have to pay CalTrans $90,000 to change the freeway signs.
    That’s how much it cost the city when they changed the name of the north side of Somersville Road to Auto Center Drive.
    When a city adopts plans, it may take years to fulfill them. Take the Highway 4 Bypass for example. That effort started back in the 1980’s and still isn’t complete. But you don’t stop moving forward until you fulfill the plan. And if you run out of money, you find another way to fund it, which fortunately has been done.
    With the widening of the freeway, now is the opportunity to change the name of L Street to Marina Parkway to permanently promote the downtown for the least amount of money possible.
    Besides, no other council since 1996 has adopted a new or revised Economic Development Plan for the City.
    I believe the Waterfront Plan from the 1980’s still has good ideas in it that could and should be pursued.
    As for spending the money, if the council can find $105,000 in their budget for two ballot measures that may or may not pass and may or may not save money in future budgets, they can find $10,000 more to make this permanent, positive change to promote downtown.
    The Council spent $200,000 of the Residential Development Allocation funds for the six “City of Antioch” signs around town – that’s over $33,000 each! Those funds were designated for community benefit. The good news is one council member told me there’s $15,000 left in that fund which the council could use for this.
    Past councils spent $200,000 to help bring Costco to town, $1.3 million to bring the first Lowe’s to town, $2 million on the Somersville Towne Center and $3 million on Slatten Ranch (some of which is being paid back over time from sales tax revenues). This is a drop in the bucket to help the older, downtown part of our city.
    Plus, you don’t use one-time money for on-going expenses and $25,000 or $10,000 isn’t near enough to fund even one police officer’s salary and benefits for one year, much less multiple years. And you don’t hire a cop or any employee a month or a year at a time.
    Also, if the council uses either gas tax or Measure J 1/2-cent sales tax for transportation money, those are funds that CAN’T be spent on police.
    The fact is the city budget has different funds that have to be used for certain purposes and can’t be used for others.
    If I didn’t think it would be beneficial for the community and specifically downtown, I wouldn’t support it.
    If the council chooses not to, then so be it.
    But, if we don’t keep moving forward and making improvements as we can afford to make them and when the timing is right, then we’ll never get anywhere as a community.
    Now’s the time to take this action.
    We’ll have an opportunity to fund additional officers with the proposed parcel tax ballot measure in November.
    Allen Payton, Publisher

  6. Skip says:

    Just because we have access to the money doesn’t make it right to spend it. This type of mentality is how our city ended up bankrupt to begin with. Changing the name of Sommersville as a political favor was a mistake. Spending the money to bring in Costco and changing it’s name to benefit a single business was a mistake. It blows my mind that we’re willing to cut all kinds of deals to get Costco or Lowes here, but then the city council won’t let Walmart expand when it costs us nothing except lower food prices for their residents. Let not compound our past mistakes by changing making another unnecessary change to our city. When did our streets become fair game for advertisements. Maybe next the city council members will name the streets after themselves so that tax payers can fund their re-election ads. Wouldn’t that $25k be better off filling up the potholes on L st, so that it doesn’t look like a ghetto when you’re driving to the marina or towards getting the prostitutes off of the street who hang out there? If they really want to revitalize downtown how’s this for an idea. Instead of charging a $10 parking fee for boats to dock at our fancy pants new marina, why not let people stay there overnight on their boats or for the day for free? This way we can take the whole $50 a year that we’ll make by charging boat parking and turn it into tax revenues by siphoning off the river traffic and giving people a reason to sail from Sacramento to Antioch without having to foot the expense for a hotel. Seems like this would be a better win for the bait shop downtown and the restaurants because someone could stop in, spend their money here and generate taxes all without having to change the name of anything. You wouldn’t even need to advertise because people who own boats have such limited options that they know where the marina is.

    There are lots of things that we could do to promote downtown that wouldn’t cost anything, but to spend $25,000 or $90,000 or even just $1000, so that we can erect what amounts to a billboard isn’t an appropriate expenditure no matter how you cut it. The fact that the people who live on A street and on L street are so opposed to this idea should give our city leaders pause before moving forward. Every election we’re asked to give more money to the schools, more money to the cops, more money to the water department, but none of these agencies are behaving responsibly. $25,000 maybe peanuts for you, but for a lot of our residents it represents a year’s salary.

  7. Allen Payton says:

    I’d be interested in hearing what you think can be done to promote downtown for free. The downtown merchants would be interested, as well, I’m sure.
    I never said $25,000 was peanuts. I said it was a drop in the bucket compared to the millions of dollars the City has spent on other areas of town for economic development – and those areas are in direct competition with the downtown. It’s also a fairness issue for me.
    And it would be multiple billboards with the name Marina Parkway on them.
    How do you know many people on L and A Streets don’t like the idea? Are they property owners or tenants? I’m sure property owners will appreciate a nice name like Marina Parkway or Rivertown Drive instead as they will probably improve property values over time.
    Obviously we’re going to have to agree to disagree.
    Some people like me, like the idea. Others, including you, don’t.
    It’s up to the council to decide.
    We’ll see what they do, tonight.
    Allen Payton, Publisher.

  8. Skip says:

    I can speak for residents on A street because I live there and have talked with my neighbors about it and every single person I’ve mentioned it to has objected to the name change.

    Not sure about L street, except you pointed out in your article that the opposition came from people who lived there.

    The people on A street that I’ve spoken to are property owners, but that really shouldn’t make a difference since we’re all residents of Antioch and someone’s financial status shouldn’t affect how the city is run. Getting rid of the squatter issue would do far more for improving our (my) property value than changing the name or putting up an expensive welcome to Antioch sign in front of my house. Why isn’t the Council addressing this issue instead of dealing with a trivial matter like street signs?

    Look at areas where the Welcome to Antioch signs did go up and tell me if prices are higher or lower since our last “billboard” debacle.

    As far as downtown goes, how about we start by allowing the internet cafe to open up and rent out one of the empty store fronts? City council allows McDonalds to offer free wifi and there are all kinds of sketchy people that hang out in front of there. I even saw a guy wearing a suit made out of newspapers in front of MickyD’s the other day. Not sure if he was making a statement or just struggling, but it sure was a sight to behold. Meanwhile, the internet cafe was booming because our residents are too poor to afford net access and yet even though what they were doing didn’t violate any laws, the council rejected their permit because of ??? Turning business away seems like an anti-downtown policy to me and preventing the poorest of our poor from having access to a modern commodity seems misguided. If city council has a problem with the “gambling” that goes on there, why don’t they object to our poker parlor? The other day, I mentioned Netflix to a neighbor and he had never even heard of it. How sad is that, an entire cultural phenomenon being missed by a large chunk of our population because poverty is so high that they can’t afford $60 a month for access.

    Here’s another idea, lets start renting out the community center at cost instead of charging excessive prices so that El Campinal can have a monopoly on entertainment downtown. By hosting more plays, concerts and other events it would attract visitors to the areas and businesses to serve them.

    Here’s another idea, let’s change the law that requires unanimous city council approval, in order to operate more than 4 arcades in any one location. How long has the fun center been sitting empty and how much of a role does our bureaucracy play in keeping it from reopening? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that the city of Pittsburg just scored an awesome arcade instead of us.

    And how about this idea even if it’s is controversial, instead of letting the mobile dispensaries operate with impunity within our city, we sell dispensary licenses only in downtown and regulate the medical marijuana industry. Just take a look at the difference in Oakland between pre and post Oaksterdam and it’s clear that these businesses had a huge impact on improving Oakland’s downtown. Right now there are at least two drug houses on my street and one of them has been broken into 3 times in the last 2 years. Maybe this wouldn’t eliminate these issues, but if there was legal competition in the Far East Bay it would attract traffic downtown, create a windfall in licensing fees and taxes and provide real competition to the criminals who are able to operate in broad daylight on our streets because the residents are too afraid of retaliation to stop them. Maybe all of these ideas wouldn’t be accepted by our community, but at least they wouldn’t cost us money or require the city to keep authorizing (spending money on) new taxes to vote on when it’s clear that the citizens aren’t willing to give any more.

    Whether or not $25k is a drop in the bucket, it’s still wasteful spending and it’s wasteful spending that has buried our city in mountains of debt. If every time city council meets they spend another $25k, it adds up real quick and whether they pick our pockets locally or use Federal taxes, it’s the community that is forced to spend the money on something that we don’t really know if it will pay off. How long ago was it that we had to spend money to renovate a park because of a few complaints about how it was built? Even with opposition to the changes at the park, they still wasted our precious resources because the money “was available” from a bucket that wasn’t attached to the general fund.

    I think I’d feel better if we were at least selling the naming rights to our to a business downtown that wanted to be promoted instead of spending taxpayer money to support something that only the wealthy boat owners really get to utilize. As much as I respect what your doing with this site to promote change and improvement in Antioch, I think you missed the boat on this one. Maybe we will have to agree to disagree, but until we get leaders that are willing to exercise fiscal restraint, the threat of higher taxes will continue to scare off businesses from relocating anywhere near Antioch.

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