Antioch Council again adopts tenant anti-retaliation, harassment ordinance, spends $1.2 million for charging stations

Electric vehicle charging station examples. Source: City of Antioch

Approves contract for homeless encampment cleanup

“Gentrification only happens when filthy rich people push out people who rent,” Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker

By Allen D. Payton

During their Tuesday, August 22, 2023 meeting, for the third time, the Antioch City Council, on a 3-1-1 vote, approved the residential tenant anti-retaliation and harassment ordinance and unanimously voted to approve spending $1.2 million more for electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city for use by both the City vehicle fleet and the public. The council also voted to give a one-year extension to the multi-family housing project on Wild Horse Road and approved the contract for Homeless Encampment Cleanup.

Council Again Adopts Residential Tenant Anti-Retaliation, Harassment Ordinance

After approving it twice previously, the council again approved the anti-retaliation, harassment ordinance on a 3-1 vote with District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock voting no and District 2 Councilman Mike Barbanica abstaining because he owns a property management company. The council had previously adopted the measure, but with District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson absent for the second reading, it passed on a 2-1 vote with changes. That required the item be brought back a second time for a first reading. (See related articles here and here)

“This legislation…is not the exact one we voted on weeks ago,” Thorpe stated. “No one is going to jail under this legislation. There is no provision for jail time. It doesn’t exist. There is no presumption of guilt in this legislation. Absolutely not. We have fixed that, and I think most parties are happy with that.”

“This is about the landlord’s intent if it’s in bad faith and it is, by the way, on the tenant to prove,” he added.

During another session of public comments – limited to just one minute each – on both sides of the matter, Mayor Lamar Thorpe warned members of the audience that the council meeting would end at 11 p.m. and if the council did not vote by then the item would be continued until the second meeting in September due to notification requirements for public hearings.

“Gentrification only happens when filthy rich people push out people who rent,” Mayor Pro Tem Tamisha Torres-Walker said during council discussion.

“As I’ve said before, I agree with the ordinance but there needs to be some changes,” Ogorchock said referring to a section on single-family residences. “There was something that was talked about seniors. The seniors are safe. We added that in here. Health facilities…are in, here. They’re safe.”

She asked for a few changes.

“We can remove that language and add ‘as determined by the court’ because the court can imprison you,” Thorpe said with a laugh. He asked about language in the ordinance regarding landlords towing tenant vehicles being considered harassment.

“If you remove it in bad faith, I get that,” he said. “You are the second lawyer. The first lawyer told us something different. A landlord has a right to say, ‘this car is in violation…and I have to get it towed’. It can’t be harassment.”

“All this section is saying if you remove the vehicle…if you’re not supposed to tow the car but you do it anyway, you’re in violation of the law,” City Attorney Thomas L. Smith responded. “So, why don’t we add something to that to give you some clarification.”

“If you have a parking stall, your lease requires your vehicle to be registered…to be on the property,” Torres-Walker said. “If it’s not registered then they will tow your car. When you have a single-family home…you’re also renting the driveway. So, if my car is in the driveway how can you tow it?”

“Antioch steals cars every day,” she continued. “My car almost got towed. Is that harassment?”

“What this is saying is describing something that constitutes harassment,” Smith interjected and offered additional language. “If applicable law allows for towing the vehicle, then it’s not harassment.”

“That’s all we’re looking for,” Thorpe responded. “So, we will add that.”

“I had 10 other changes,” he continued to laughter by Torres-Walker. “I’m lying. I had a few other changes.”

“This doesn’t give ACCE or any organization to just walk onto a property,” Thorpe said about another section.

“This is more complicated,” Smith responded. “What we’re saying is the landlord shall allow the to enter and organize.”

“I just want to be clear that ACCE, if they have not been invited by a resident, they have a right to go onto an apartment complex and start organizing residents,” Thorpe shared. “This will be the last thing for me.”

“This is an important one,” Smith stated. “Here it says, ‘you won’t prohibit a tenant from organizing activities…or other political activities.’ It is a question of access. This is saying, you have to allow access, but you can provide the time and location. A right to access is a property right. But there is a question there of what is the government intent? Are we granting an accesss right?  We should clarify tenants can invite you but we aren’t requiring they allow.

“Do we have to take a vote to extend the meeting,” Torres-Walker then asked.

“Yes,” Smith responded.

The council then passed a motion to extend the meeting by seven minutes on a 4-0 vote.

“Why don’t we say when hosted by a tenant?” Smith asked.

“Perfect language,” Thorpe responded who then made the motion to adopt the ordinance with the revised language.

But more wordsmithing continued to clarify the changes requested by Ogorchock and Thorpe.

Thorpe then said about the section on protecting senior residential homecare facilities, “I supported that change because I thought my colleague would support the ordinance. So, we’re striking that language.”

“That is my motion,” he stated.

The council then voted 3-1 to cheers from the audience, with Ogorchock voting against and Barbanica recusing himself. Audience members left the council chambers chanting, “this is what democracy looks like.”

Council Approves $1.2M More for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

The council voted 5-0 to adopt a resolution approving an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2023/24 Operating Budget to increase the funding from the General Fund for the Zero Emission Vehicle Transition Project by $1,226,760 for a total amount of $1,361,814.

According to the staff presentation during the meeting, the state now requires 50% of all new cars purchased by local governments to be fully electric. If local governments are going to purchase two new vehicles, one of them has to be battery electric or fuel cell electric by state mandate, Thomas Paddon explained. “The City must act beginning next year.”

The charging stations will be available to both City vehicles and the public.

“It’s a good idea. But if 20 people have those kind of cars, then it’s not wise. I can’t afford it,” said resident Julia Emegokwae. “Elon Musk and the electric car companies should pay, not the City, not the taxpayers.”

“We’re just catering to two companies, Ford and Chevy. I just went and looked at Kias. Kia has EV cars,” another speaker said. “Other companies have EV cars and crossovers. So, I don’t know why they just want to stay on Chevy and Ford. When it’s time to buy that battery…it’s expensive every five years.”

Council Discussion & Vote

District 3 Councilman Mike Barbanica said, “you mentioned buy one regular car and buy one electric.”

“It’s a 50% procurement requirement. This is coming from CARB (California Air Resources Board,” Paddon said during the presentation. “It’s going to be an ongoing thing. All of your purchases cumulatively over the next 15 years have to be electric. Then it’s 100% after 2027. This is specifically for municipal fleets. This only applies to vehicles to heavy vehicles.”

This doesn’t apply to police Interceptors.

“If we’re only looking at F-250’s and above how many vehicles are we looking at?” Barbanica asked.

“66,” Paddon responded. “The electric vehicles will be more affordable, anyway. There are vehicles like Kia that we recommend in the light duty space.”

“The funds will come from CDC grant. It will be 25 percent cost share the city will have to come up,” he stated in response to a question by Barbanica.

“This $1.3 million is 25% of taxpayer money,” Barbanica stated.

“This is like a down payment on the infrastructure to power the entire fleet,” Paddon responded.

“The money is recommended coming out of the General Fund,” Acting Public Works Director Scott Buenting added.

“We always want to make sure we budget the money in a responsible way. So, we have to front the money. Whether we have the money or not we have to move in this direction,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe stated.

The motion to approve the additional funds for the program passed 5-0.

Gives Extension to Multi-Family Project, Approves Homeless Encampment Cleanup Contract

After passing a motion to adjourn, the council voted to reopen the meeting 4-1 with Barbanica voting against. They then passed a motion adopting the Consent Calendar except Items H and O.

On a separate vote on Item H, regarding a one-year extension of the vesting tentative map for the multi-family housing project on Wild Horse Road, Thorpe recused himself, again because his home is too close to the project.

“The motion to go union, since it’s a private project, the city doesn’t have any power to force a private landowner to go union,” Attorney Smith explained in response to a question by Barbanica.

“This was supposed to be commercial on the front of this site,” Ogorchock explained.

“All they’re asking for, here, city attorney, is an extension?” Barbanica asked.

The motion then passed 4-0-1.

The council then approved Item O awarding a Maintenance Services Agreement for On-Call Homeless Encampment Cleanup Services throughout the City to Sharjo LLC dba ServiceMaster Restoration Management for a three (3) year term from July 25, 2023, to June 30, 2026, in the amount of $1,365,000 with an option to extend two (2) additional years from July 1, 2026, to June 30, 2028, in an amount of $951,360 for a total contract amount not to exceed $2,316,360 over the five (5) year period.

The council had previously approved the budget item during their July 25th meeting on a split vote of 4-0-1 with Torres-Walker voting to abstain.

“I do agree we need to support our city workers,” she stated. “We should have worked with Safe Streets that could help homeless folks. We could have spent this million and some change in a better way…a way that is a lot more sustainable that could have got people off the streets.”

The motion to approve passed 4-1 with the mayor pro tem voting against.

The council then voted again to adjourn the meeting at 11:20 p.m.

Because the discussion and vote on the anti-retaliation and harassment ordinance item ran past 11 p.m., the council continued the remaining item regarding discussion of potentially hiring retired police officers to help the department until their next meeting.

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EV Charging Station examples

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