Antioch Council agrees to contract out homeless encampment cleanup on split vote

Photo by

Will cost $2.3 million over five years, but keeping it in-house will cost $1.9 million; will free up 2,200 hours of staff time for other work including street repairs and maintenance

By Allen D. Payton

During their meeting on Tuesday, July 25, 2023, the Antioch City Council voted 4-0-1 to contract out the cleanup of homeless encampments on City-owned property and rights-of-way. Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker, without comment, voted to abstain. While it will cost the City budget approximately $400,000 more over five years, it will save staff time allowing them to do other priority work in the city. The outside contractor will be hired at a later date.

According to the staff report on the item, “The Public Works Department currently handles all the homeless cleanup abatement throughout the City of Antioch on City owned property and rights-of-way. Cleanup work is accomplished by work crews from the Streets Maintenance division and NPDES division. All abatement cleanups on City owned property and streets are handled by a streets crew. An NPDES work crew handles all cleanups within the City’s creeks and retention basins.

In calendar year 2022, City staff spent 2,197 labor hours performing homeless encampment cleanups. The time and resources dedicated to these cleanups prevents both Streets and NPDES work crews from completing their regularly scheduled and State mandated maintenance work. For example, the Streets Crew must defer signs and striping work as well as pothole and in house road repairs. NPDES crews must sometimes defer County mandated fire break maintenance work within the City’s creeks and State regulated storm drain and creek maintenance.

Additionally high priority sewer repairs get put on hold which could increase the City’s liability if sewers overflow in addition to potential fines from the State.”

Multiple city workers spoke in favor of the contract due to them being robbed while cleaning up, having to sort through needles, being spit on and afraid for themselves and their families to shop at the Target in Antioch and go to the store in Pittsburg, instead.

“Our experience is in sewer…in storm. We shouldn’t have to calm down the person who we’re taking their home away,” one employee said.

“We have to have PD on every site we go to. PD can’t always stay. The guys are literally getting yelled at, cursed at,” said Jeff Cook. “This contract would allow the actual professionals do the job they’re trained to do. One of the officers passed out from fentanyl exposure.”

“We can agree this is not the right department to handle the solution,” resident and homeless advocate Andrew Becker said. “These men and women shouldn’t be put in this position. But I’m wondering why other departments that deal with homeless are not here for this presentation.”

According to Acting Public Works Director Scott Buenting, the estimated cost to keep the work in-house within the department over the next five years is $1,913,443. The estimated first-year cost is $455,000 with annual increases, for a total five-year cost of $2,316,360.

Council Discussion & Approval

District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock asked about the contract. “My concerns are almost 2,200 labor hours taken away from what they were hired to do,” she said. “I would like to move forward on the outside contract as soon as possible.

She then moved approval, seconded by District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica and it passed on 4-0-1 with Torres-Walker voting to abstain.

“We were in negotiations on this last year. Just for clarification this is something we agreed to,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said.

the attachments to this post:

Antioch homeless encampment by

No Comments so far.

Leave a Reply