State of the City improving, Antioch violent crime down, mayor shares accomplishments, vision

Mayor Sean Wright gave an impassioned and at times emotional presentation about the accomplishments and his vision during the annual State of the City luncheon on Friday, May 10, 2019. Photo by Allen Payton

By Allen Payton

During the annual State of the City luncheon, on May 10th, Antioch Chief of Police Tammany Brooks shared good news about the continued decrease in violent crime, City Manager Ron Bernal spoke of all the accomplishments over the past year, and an impassioned Mayor Sean Wright offered his positive vision for the city, for now and the future.

The event, sponsored by the Antioch Chamber of Commerce, was well attended by a couple hundred business and community leaders, and held at the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Park.

First to speak was Chief Brooks who pointed out the decrease in violent crimes, known as Part I crimes by the FBI, from 2013 to 2018.

He shared the statistic from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice that Antioch has experienced a decrease in Part I crimes of 20.8% from early 2017 to early 2018, while 17 other cities in California saw an increase for the same time period.

Brooks talked about implementing “intelligence-led policing” stating, “A crime prevented is better than a crime solved.”

He also spoke about the Antioch Police Department’s new unmanned aerial vehicle program, using a drone with heat sensors.

Finally, Brooks shared his approach as chief.

“What I’ve tried to do is instill hope in people. Help them realize that Antioch is moving in the right direction and becoming a safer community,” he said. “That perception…is what I’m trying to get people to change…by improving relationships and the public safety of our community.”

Bernal followed with an overview and listing of a variety of accomplishments by the city during the past year and spent time praising his staff and the council.

“We have an amazing Chief,” he said. “He’s passionate and very smart. Mostly he cares about our community and his police force.”

“Antioch, we are on the move. Antioch opportunity lives here. Antioch. The best is yet to come.” Bernal stated, using some of the themes from the city’s new branding campaign. “Do you believe that?”

He spoke about some of the new ordinances adopted by the council in the past two years, saying “They’re mostly focused on making a better quality of life for our city.”

Bernal also spoke about some of the projects the city is working on including the $60 million brackish water desalination plant.

He touched on the city’s new Vision plan for the next 10 years and the new Downtown Specific Plan.

Bernal spoke about the new single- and multi-family housing projects approved, as well as new restaurants, businesses and the Rocketship charter school that have opened or been approved.

He also shared about the regional efforts the city participates in, including the Delta 6 and EC2 (squared), as well as community events and efforts.

The city manager briefly touched on litigation including suing the state over the WaterFix Delta tunnels project and how it would negatively impact our water supply.

Bernal spoke about the communication efforts of the city including the new websites, SeeClickFix and rebranding.

He also spoke about the council’s task forces and ad hoc committees including the Homeless Encampment committee, Youth Services Task Force and the Sesquicentennial committee being formed to plan the celebration of the city’s 150th anniversary in 2022

“We’re planning a year of events that the whole city can get involved in,” Bernal said. “The Council has committed some funds to that and they’re hoping to bring the (July 4th) fireworks back downtown to the waterfront.”

Finally, Bernal referred to the new Vision and Strategic Plan to help make Antioch “a greener community, to provide jobs, this is the blueprint for it” copies of which were provided to each guest at the luncheon.

Mayor Wright was the final speaker, enthusiastically sharing about Antioch, and his vision or the city’s future.

“We are now at 105 police officers. That’s phenomenal,” he said. “We have a council that is running a marathon at a sprinter’s pace. We are asking stuff for so much. Our citizens deserve it, for Antioch to be the place people want to move.”

“He thanked the community for voting for Measure U,” Wright continued. “We’re pushing to get us to one police officer per 1,000 (population). It’s where we need to be. But it will get us to 115 officers.”
He spoke about improving landscape maintenance and increased youth services.

“Right now we have the most youth in Contra Costa County,” he stated. “We’re in talks with the mall. Turning the old 24-Hour Fitness into a boys and girls club. Right here (at the community center), as a drop-in center. Then on the other side of town, with Templo Santo on E. 18th Street…with indoor soccer fields.”

“People ask me, ‘Mayor Wright what keeps you up at night? What makes you worry?’” he shared. “Jobs. How do we create the jobs that we need here, locally?”

“The second thing that I say is the homeless,” Wright said emotionally, choking up a bit. “We have a rising affordability crisis in the Bay Area. We have people in our community who are in need of help. What are we doing as a community…as a council?”

“The problem is…we have no infrastructure,” he explained. “Every dime we get (from the state) goes to build the infrastructure. Whereas other communities that have the infrastructure, the money they get goes to programs. So, we got to keep fighting. I’m not going to say $3 million is bad. It will help us build a 24-hour care center.”

“We have the Family Justice Center that will be locating next to Raley’s,” Wright shared. “As we keep fighting, we can help the one” referring to the story of the beach full of starfish and how, while someone can’t help all of them back into the ocean, they can at least help one.

Speaking about jobs he said, “We’ve hired an Economic Development Director…to go out and find businesses.”

“People say ‘you’re wasting money on marketing,’” Wright shared. “You either market your business and succeed or you don’t market and die. When you get on BART you now here ‘Antioch train.’”

“People say, ‘you can’t put lipstick on a pig,’” he said. “If that’s what you think about Antioch, we’re not going to change your mind. We have beautiful hills with walking trails. We have a beautiful waterfront.”

“What do people in other parts of the Bay Area think about Antioch?” Wright asked. “They don’t think about Antioch. So, there’s a wide-open vessel that we can brand and market to. Opportunity Lives Here. So, when they’re looking for a place to locate their business that’s affordable, they’ll think about Antioch.

“People ask how come you don’t fill your office space?” he said. “Why? Because it’s cheaper to locate in Walnut Creek. Their buildings are already paid off. We have to build. We have to change the economics and create the affordability in our office space, too. Why? Because we have the workers, here.”

“You have to show a developer there is money to be made and they will come,” Wright continued. “If we show them there is an opportunity and make it easier to get through city hall, they will come.”

The mayor spoke about the Nokes-Antioch Auto Center tax sharing agreement, the new Granite Expo, Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill and Guadalajara Taqueria, “which is open until 9:00 p.m. every night in downtown.”

“I want 10 restaurants downtown. We have Guadalajara Taqueria, Solid Rock Café,” he stated. “We need enough there, there.”

Wright mentioned a “potential public/private ferry service” coming to the Antioch waterfront.

He shared his vision of a river walk saying, “This is a 10-year, 20-year project. But if we don’t start planning it, now 10 year from now it won’t be done.”

He shared about the Somersville area.

“We just approved a $32 million apartment overhaul. The owner of the old FoodMaxx is looking at tearing down the building and putting in a new $100 million project,” Wright said. “We’re working with the mall about what they want to do there. The sky is the limit.”

He spoke about Opportunity Zones approved by the Trump administration. “Doing a 1031 exchange with properties…but, build and then hold for 10 years” in “the BART area, the Wilbur corridor, and the Somersville corridor.”

Wright mentioned the efforts of the county’s Northern Waterfront Development Initiative.

“The DuPont site in Oakley has 100 flat acres with a huge, big company coming to the area,” he said.

He spoke about the cannabis overlay district and that “Antioch is centrally located to Sacramento and the Central Valley. If you want to do manufacturing, distribution, this is the place.”

Wright spoke about the BART area and the Vierra Railroad overcrossing.

“It’s a $40 million project. Big developers are speaking with the property owner, right now,” he shared. “BART has put us on the map. It connects us to San Francisco like we’ve never been connected. We’re going to see 800 more parking spaces in two years.”

He spoke about the new senior, gated community in the Sand Creek Area, “the city’s first.”

Wright spoke about the new Deer Valley Park, where the former Roddy Ranch Golf Course was located.

“The East Bay Regional Park District manager said it would be about 10 years. We lobbied and we won. It will be open in two to three years,” he exclaimed. “That’s still too long for me. But we’ll have a park up there, with handicapped access trails.”

“We are driving forward to make this the place in the Bay Area people want to live,” Wright continued. “When I ran, I was frustrated that all my friends were selling their homes and moving. The reason I ran was because I wanted to make this the place where people want to live not get away from. Where we love each other. Where diversity lives and thrives. We all live together. I’m excited to be a part of that community.”

“Ron was saying we want to make it that place. I say it is that place,” Wright concluded. “Let’s just make it better.”

Chamber CEO Richard Pagano closed out the event thanking the attendees and speaker. He then stated, “the city’s branding effort is unprecedented. People want to be here.”


the attachments to this post:

Mayor Wright 2019 State of City

Part 1 Crime 2012-18

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