Antioch Council hears blight and homelessness report, gives go ahead for Sycamore area apartments rehab

By Nick Goodrich

On Tuesday, October 11th, the Antioch City Council heard a report on the city’s ongoing efforts to combat blight and homelessness, and also oversaw a public hearing concerning the proposed financing of the Delta Pines Apartments.

Public Comments

During public comments at the beginning of the meeting, and the Council once again heard from Save the Yard supporters, as well as a few Antioch business owners.

Joy Motts, a leader in the Save the Yard effort, read aloud from the city’s General Plan, which presented Antioch’s waterfront as a possible “major attraction.” She and several others expressed their frustration that the city had decided to build townhomes on the property, rather than a park and event center.

“The Beede Lumber Yard is a perfect place for a park,” Motts said. “Houses are not a legacy that anyone will remember you for. It’s time that you incorporate a public discussion into the decision of the Beede Lumber Yard.”

Two business owners in downtown Antioch also spoke before the Council on the state of the city.

Antioch resident Jim Lanter, a 12-year downtown business owner, listed several concerns, including the state of downtown at night, and blight affecting much of the surrounding area. He suggested installing better lighting to make people feel safer in downtown Antioch at night, and encourage businesses to stay open later.

Nicholas Olivier, owner of Urban Jumble in downtown Antioch, agreed with Lanter. He asked for increased police presence downtown, especially at night.

“Downtown is beginning to grow, but we definitely need help,” he said.

Efforts to Eradicate Blight & Homelessness

Ron Bernal, Assistant City Manager and Director of Public Works for the city, was on hand to give the report on blight and homelessness to the Council. He noted that the 2008 recession had contributed greatly to the blight problem by leaving behind a number of neglected residential properties and vacant buildings of businesses that were forced to close their doors.

The city was forced to shut down its Code Enforcement department and let go several park and street workers who had previously helped keep Antioch clean.

Since that time, the city has gradually built up the department, including the hiring of three new Code Enforcement Officers, one technician, and two laborers. The city has also reinstated the 40-hour work week, allowing Code Enforcement to do more each week.

In addition, Bernal reported that the Antioch Police Department’s hiring of an outside company – SP Plus Corp. – to ticket and tow vehicles, has seen great success. In the past six months, 528 unregistered, inoperable, or illegally parked vehicles were removed from Antioch’s streets.

The Council recently approved a three-year extension of the contract with SP Plus Corp. Bernal cited several other successes, such as the restriping of streets and curbs, and a new shopping cart ordinance slated to go into effect on November 1st, as signs that the city is making strides in combating blight.

“We’re trying to be very responsive to things that are offensive in our community, we’re making every effort to do that,” he told the audience at Tuesday’s meeting.

Bernal then addressed the homelessness problem in Antioch. In the last year, the city has seen a 33% increase in its homeless population, from 122 to 164. That increase paces East County’s 33% raise, while West County actually saw a 45% decrease.

The closure of the Don Brown Center earlier this year, which had provided services and resources for many of the East Bay’s homeless, and of Shelter Inc.’s transitional housing on Delta Fair Boulevard, created problems, Bernal said.

The city currently has budgeted $50,000 for the funding of homeless services, and the Antioch Shelter Project, which aims to replace the closed Don Brown Center, is in the process of finding a new location.

But Bernal emphasized the importance of the community in fighting the city’s homelessness problem, noting that faith-based institutions and individual citizens continue to do their part.

“Everybody needs to get involved,” he said. “We all need to try to work together.”

Delta Pines Apartments

Council also oversaw a public hearing on the proposed financing of the Delta Pines Apartments, on Sycamore Drive.

Delta Pines was constructed in the 1970’s and consists of 186 units on 7 acres, and is part of Antioch’s affordable housing stock. The Council voted 5-0 to approve a $35 million bond issued by the California Statewide Communities Development Authority for real estate investment firm Levy Affiliated to finance the complex.

The proposed financing will include its purchase and renovation by Levy Affiliated, which aims to provide energy upgrades, handicap accessibility, and new kitchens, energy-efficient appliances, and floors to the units.

No representatives of Levy Affiliated spoke on behalf of the project during the hearing, and no opponents spoke against it.

“I’m grateful that this is happening,” said Councilmember Monica Wilson, “That we have organizations coming in to rehab some of our older buildings, to make them handicap accessible, and for our low income and affordable housing. So hopefully we see some more of these come up.”

Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock agreed, citing recent rent increases.

“I’m just happy that they’re doing them, and that they’re making them ADA compliant,” she said. “We have several people with disabilities that were forced out of their rentals because their rents were increasing. So we need more of these.”

8 Comments to “Antioch Council hears blight and homelessness report, gives go ahead for Sycamore area apartments rehab”

  1. XXX says:

    Blight – it is disgusting what has happened to Antioch. I ventured downtown to enjoy a show at the Campanil. I parked in the lot in front of Waldie plaza. As I was about to get out, these two guys came out of an area where there is a stairwell and gate. Both looked as scary as could be. One pulling up his pants. Lord knows what they were doing. It was so disgusting. Where are the police, the security for the area. Something. These people run the town. I was exiting the freeway, some panhandler was blocking the crosswalk due to the NO TURN ON RED sign just newly installed. So he now has a captive audience. Where were the citations. This town is disgusting. I’m sorry.

  2. carleen says:

    Doesn’t matter negative comments aren’t solution every city has homeless drug addicts rehab is needed housing and helping people get to next level so crime will go down

    • R-J-B says:

      @carleen I think XXX is right about the amount of crime/blight/trash/safety issues we have and the fact that our current city leaders have done nothing to alleviate it. Please don’t dilute the situation by saying every city has crime. Of course every city has crime.. that’s as obvious as saying dogs have sharp teeth. The point is, crime has risen to ridiculous levels in Antioch and the main reason behind it isn’t too hard to figure out.

      Why is there less crime in Brentwood? and higher property values? The answer is very simple. All one needs to do is drive around and open their eyes to the people living in the city.

  3. carleen says:

    So what do u do with a city of degenorates rehab arrest kill or kick them out plan help and house them is all I’m suggesting because most of them seem happy and secure because they been living here all they’re life most r older people also

    • Rjb says:

      First I would tell them to go back to school so they can write a grammatically correct sentence, and without any spelling errors.

      U = you
      Degegnorates = degenerates
      R = are

      Also learn how to use commas.

  4. carleen says:

    Brentwood and concord Martinez all have very good shelter and housing programs lined up to help the need and detox centers r available don’t see or hear of any in Antioch that have stayed crime happens when people don’t see a way out of bad situation sticking them all on sycamore has back fired now back to drawing board right?? Instead of probation rehab and shelters might help everyone in this city where 80 percent or druggies 10yrs r more starting at early ages experiencing even with parents giving them their first drug oh yea if u ask them mist say their parents started them at 10 or twelve yrs old

  5. The 35 million dollars that is going to that real estate investor comes out to $188,000 per unit. The only thing he could do to justify that money is to pave the kitchen floors with gold. That is crazy. I wonder which city employees were able to set that up, and just how much in kick back cash they’re getting. What a crazy city council. Always has been. Always will be.

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