Antioch Council extends redistricting process one month, approves another cannabis business, $285K for 15 homeless at Pittsburg site

Outgoing City Manager Ron Bernal with his wife, Irma (center) was honored by city council members, city clerk and city treasurer during his final council meeting in the position, Tuesday night Dec. 14, 2021. Photo by Kathy Cabrera

Appoints Barbanica the next mayor pro tem; honors outgoing city manager Ron Bernal; spends $60,000 on Chinatown history exhibit at Antioch Historical Society Museum; approves $145,000 for Antioch’s Sesquicentennial Celebration; approves minutes for past five meetings

Torres-Walker again doesn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, keeps her back to the American flag; Thorpe says Con Johnson started as interim city manager on Monday without any announcement he’s passed the background check

By Allen Payton

Antioch District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker won’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during the city council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2021. Photo by Kathy Cabrera.

In response to the urging by members of the public and city council for more time for additional public comment and input, the Antioch City Council voted 3-0-1 to extend their redistricting process by one month until the end of February. During the very full agenda, for their final meeting of the year, the council also approved another cannabis business on W. 10th Street, spending about $285,000 to place 15 Antioch homeless residents in the soon to reopen Delta Landing site in Pittsburg, and $60,000 for a Chinatown exhibit inside the Antioch Historical Society Museum on W. 4th Street. In addition, the council voted to grant $145,000 to the Celebrate Antioch Foundation for next year’s Sesquicentennial celebration of Antioch’s 150th anniversary of cityhood.

In addition, the council honored outgoing City Manager Ron Bernal with a presentation for his five years in the position and 26 years total with the City of Antioch.

At the beginning of the meeting, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker again remained seated, with her back to the American flag during the Pledge of Allegiance.

Approve Minutes for Past Five Meetings

During the consent calendar, the council then approved the minutes from their regular and special meetings of Oct. 26, Nov. 2, Nov. 9, Nov. 16 and Nov. 23. At the meeting on Nov. 23 the council voted to postpone the approval of the minutes from the first four aforementioned meetings because they had not yet been prepared by the city clerk’s office. Minutes of the previous meeting are supposed to be prepared and included in the next meeting’s agenda. As of Wednesday evening, Dec. 15 the minutes for meetings since June 22 through Oct. 16 were finally on the council’s Agendas and Minutes page on the City’s website and the agenda for last night’s meeting is now on that page, although it wasn’t there as of yesterday, before the meeting began. The public was directed to the City’s calendar page to find them. (See related editorial)

Redistricting Presentation of 8 Alternative Maps, Process Extended

In response to a question by District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica about the redistricting deadline, Jane Hood of consultant Q2 Data and Research, who provided the presentation during the third of four scheduled public hearings, Tuesday night, the council has until April 17 to choose a final map of new district boundaries. The schedule was to conclude with a final vote on January 25 but both Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock agreed with those who spoke during public comments that residents and the council needed more time. Mayor Pro Tem Monica Wilson was absent for the presentation and District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker who made no comments during the discussion voted to abstain on the motion to extend the process, without explanation.

All eight maps were presented to the council, including the three created by Q2 staff and the five submitted by the public. (See related article)

Two members of the public urged the council to approve Map B. Ogorchock, who expressed her displeasure with that option, asked Hood to make some changes to Map C between Districts 3 and 4 on the east end of Antioch north of Lone Tree Way. But the modifications resulted in District 3 having too high of a population percentage deviation greater than 5% from average, which is the legal limit, and District 4 with too small of a population, also greater than the 5% deviation from average. So, Ogorchock abandoned the effort.

Thorpe said all eight maps would be brought back for consideration at the next public hearing on redistricting on January 11.

Unanimously Approve Cannabis Cultivation Facility

The council, on a 5-0 vote, approved the application by KWMA Collective, LLC to operate a cannabis cultivation facility at 2101 W. 10th Street in the same building that houses both the Delta Dispensary and the recently approved Delta Labs. (See related articleKWMA Collective cannabis biz ACC121421

Approve Funds for Transitional Housing for 15 Antioch Unhoused Residents

The council on a 5-0 vote also approved spending $284,700 to place 15 unhoused Antioch residents at the new Delta Landing Interim Housing site in Pittsburg, which is estimated to re-open its doors within 30 days. The action was in response to the recommendation by the Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Unhoused Residents made up of Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Councilman Barbanica, earlier this month. (See related article)

According to the City staff report the funds will be spent “for a duration of 12 months; to be drawn from the current General Fund budget balance of previously earmarked funds to address unhoused resident needs.”

In addition, the staff report explains, “As part of ongoing dialogue between the City and County, a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) has been developed that provides access to City initiated, CORE (the county’s Coordinated Outreach Referral, Engagement program) approved referrals for a maximum of 15 bed nights at any one time over a period of one year. The cost to the City is $52/night when City referrals are placed and beds are utilized. Wrap around support services include benefit assistance, medical services, behavioral health services, as well as case management, housing navigation and rapid rehousing assistance.”

“The timing for securing potential space through a formal agreement is immediate should the City wish to exercise bed options upon facility re-opening,” the staff report continues. “It is a rare and unique window to have access to a total of 15 new City referred, CORE approved placements at one time.”

Barbanica moved approval of the expenditure and MOU and it was approved on a 5-0 vote.

Approves $145,000 for Antioch’s Sesquicentennial Celebration

During the consent calendar, the council approved spending $145,000 for the Celebrate Antioch Foundation to put on events for next year’s Sesquicentennial celebration of Antioch’s 150th anniversary of cityhood. According to the City staff report, the Celebrate Antioch Foundation is also committing to raising $56,500 to be used toward Sesquicentennial Events. A variety of events and activities are planned throughout the community, beginning on Feb. 6 the day the City was incorporated in 1872.  Sesquicentennial CAF Budget ACC121421

Council Spends $60,000 on Chinatown Historical Exhibit

Earlier in the meeting, the council, on a 5-0 vote, agreed to spend $60,000 on a contract with the same San Francisco-based firm that developed the new City logo, ad campaign “Opportunity Lives Here” and the Rivertown Dining District logo, to create a new Chinatown exhibit inside the Antioch Historical Society Museum. Antioch’s Chinatown was burned down in 1876. In June, during the signing ceremony by the council of a resolution apologizing for that tragedy and the racism against Chinese immigrants in the late 1800’s, the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA) Foundation agreed to donate $10,000 for the exhibit. (See related article)

Appoints Barbanica City’s New Mayor Pro Tem

During the 15th and final agenda item of the council meeting, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith said, “According to the ordinance in our municipal code passed by city council, we have a rotation of the guard. It’s more of a formality because it’s already outlined in the municipal code.” (See related article)

Without discussion or public comment Ogorchock made the motion “to appoint Mike Barbanica as our next mayor pro tem”. Torre-Walker seconded the motion. It passed on a 5-0 vote.

“Are you ready for this? You may have to call a press conference from time to time, visit a crime scene,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe joked.

Barbanica replaces Wilson in the position who held it this year, having gained the highest percentage of votes of all four council members in last November’s election. The councilman garnered the second highest percentage of votes.

Bernal Offers Farewell

City Manager Ron Bernal will retire at the end of the month, briefly said at the end of his final meeting in the position, “I wanted to thank the council…for the past five years. It’s been a privilege and an honor.”

Thorpe Announces Interim City Manager Started Monday

“Welcome to our interim city manager who started on Monday, Mr. Con Johnson,” Thorpe added, then wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

No announcement had yet been offered by either the mayor or city staff that Johnson had successfully passed his background check. Questions were emailed Wednesday morning to the mayor, council members, and city staff asking about that. No response was received as of late Wednesday night.

The next regular Antioch City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.

the attachments to this post:

Sesquicentennial CAF Budget ACC121421

Walker won’t stand for Pledge 121421

Ron Bernal honored ACC121421

KWMA Collective cannabis biz ACC121421

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