Antioch Council hears more complaints about Animal Services, The Yard, receives Mid-Year Police Report

By Nick Goodrich

At their regular meeting on Tuesday, July 26th, the Antioch City Council received its Mid-Year Police Report from Antioch Police Chief Allan Cantando, and heard from the public on the issues of Antioch’s Animal Services and the ongoing discussion of the city’s use of the former Antioch Lumber Company lot in downtown Antioch.

More Antioch Animal Services Complaints

During public comments, Antioch residents revisited several topics of concern over the past several months, including the state of Antioch’s Animal Services and the proposed development of the downtown, former Antioch Lumber Company lot known as “The Yard”, into town homes.

Antioch’s animal shelter, located at the Antioch Police Facility, is the only city-run shelter in Contra Costa County; all other cities rely on the county shelter. The uniqueness of Antioch’s shelter poses problems, however, such as staff shortages and the lack of properly trained veterinary technicians.

Suggestions to correct what many of the speakers saw as the mismanagement of the Antioch shelter were common, during the meeting. Many of them also spoke of recent shelter visits that highlighted the need for changes to be made.

Stephanie Peterson, an Antioch resident, broke down in front of the audience as she described seeing several dead or injured animals in their cages while looking for her lost cat. Lindsey Right, an Oakland resident and longtime animal advocacy activist, recounted a story of a dog that languished in the shelter for over two months with a broken neck, before finally being euthanized.

Magella Smith suggested forming an advisory committee in order to find solutions to the shelter’s current problems, and to better deal with any future issues.

“We can surely devote more time, more energy, more money” to the shelter, said Antioch resident Jeanine Silvas.

Tracy Kittel told Council, “What I witnessed there was appalling, and there definitely needs to be some changes there.”

Kittel suggested looking into finding an outside agency to run the shelter in order to better meet the animals’ needs, and was greeted with a round of applause from the audience.

Lumber Company Lot

The fight for the lumber company lot, formerly owned by Beede family members, in downtown Antioch also continued during the meeting, as nearly a dozen residents once again gathered to voice their disapproval of the city’s plan to develop the yard into town homes.

The “Save the Yard” movement has been advocating for months for the city to convert the parcel into a downtown park and event center. The current event center used by the City, Waldie Plaza, is not nearly big enough to accommodate a city of 112,000 people, they say.

A recent town square initiative, aimed at putting the issue on the next ballot in order for Antioch’s citizens to make the decision, failed by only a handful of the needed signatures. Antonio Hernandez, an Antioch resident since two years old and a member of Dozier Libbey Medical High School’s first graduating class, spoke passionately on the initiative’s failure and on the wishes of Antioch’s residents.

“We have plenty of places to build affordable housing, but only one place for a waterfront attraction,” said Hernandez. A Stanford University graduate, he cited several advantages the proposed park would bring, including increased property values and a revitalization for downtown Antioch.

While the recent town square initiative has failed, Save the Yard will continue its battle to bring a waterfront event center to downtown Antioch. Joette Bright, reading a statement by Antioch resident Joy Motts, told the Council, “What you need to know is we are not going away. We are going to continue to fight for a different plan for the historic Beede Lumber parcel.”

Mid-Year Police Report

Police Chief Allan Cantando presented Antioch’s Mid-Year Police Report to the Council at the meeting, noting both victories and areas in need of improvement, compared to previous years.

From January to June of this year, the Antioch Police Department recorded 7 total homicides in the city, a 250% increase from last year, when Antioch saw only 2 homicides in that period. In addition, Antioch has experienced a slight increase in robberies, to the tune of 30 more than it had by this time in 2015. However, other violent crimes, such as rape and aggravated assault, fell slightly.

Property crimes, like burglaries, thefts, and car thefts, have also seen a slight decrease in 2016. The APD has seen 175 less of these crimes than this time last year.

“Hopefully we’ll keep this number trending,” said Cantando.

He reported that the APD has seized 2,311 marijuana plants this year so far, a number slightly higher than Antioch has seen in the past. Marijuana growers in Antioch are experiencing the effects of a Council decision in January of this year that prohibited the growing of marijuana within city limits for any purpose, including medical ones.

“That is usually our biggest drug seizure, because marijuana is very prevalent,” he told the Council. “These are very latent in our community, but I assure you that all communities have these.”

Cantando also spoke on the issue of Antioch’s Animal Services, hoping to alleviate some of the concerns presented earlier in the meeting. He said that Council Member Monica Wilson has been working to help bring additional staffing to the Antioch shelter, which would result in a cleaner facility and more smoothly run day-to-day operations.

The next council meeting will be tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the Antioch City Council Chambers at City Hall, 3rd and H Streets in downtown. To review the agenda, click here.

2 Comments to “Antioch Council hears more complaints about Animal Services, The Yard, receives Mid-Year Police Report”

  1. Nancy Fernandez says:

    Allen, this really should be posted in a more timely manner. I appreciate everything you try to do and the uniqueness of your paper but maybe Mr.Goodrich needs more oversight.
    Thanks, Nancy

Leave a Reply