Author Archive

Voters to Decide in June Whether to Elect Mayor

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

By James Ott

This November Antioch voters may not have to bother with electing a new mayor. On Tuesday City Council voted 4 to 0 (Brian Kalinowski absent) to place a measure on the June 5 ballot that would replace the elected mayor’s position with a annual rotating mayoral seat among the council members.

Of the 482 incorporated California cities, only 149 still have a directly elected mayor. 14 cities in Contra Costa County have a rotating mayoral seat, with only Antioch, Brentwood, Richmond, Martinez, and San Ramon still directly electing their mayor. Antioch has had a directly elected mayor since 1972, but the position was rotated prior to that.

“Being the current mayor, you might think I would be against this, but I support it because it gives five different individuals the chance to share their ideas,” said Mayor Jim Davis, whose four-year-term ends this year.

The idea to switch to a rotating mayor was brought before the council at the previous council meeting by former council member Martha Parsons, who said that the change would benefit Antioch by “giving us a different vision” more often than every four years.

As far as power is concerned, the mayor has the same voting rights with other council members, is a member of the Delta Diablo Sanitation District board and represents Antioch at the annual county Mayor’s Conference. The mayor also helps the city manager prepare each council meeting agenda.

The mayor and all council members get a $450 monthly salary, but the mayor alone gets a $100 monthly travel stipend and $50 per month for communication expenses.

If a majority of Antioch voters pass the ballot measure in June, all candidates for Mayor will have to run for a council seat instead.

The council also voted to place another measure on the June ballot that would let the voters decide if the city clerk and city treasurer should become appointed by the council instead of elected. One ballot measure would have cost the city $105,000, so the council members said they felt it was a good cost savings to put both on the June ballot together as the two measures will cost an additional $10,000.

Also at the meeting:

* The city voted 4-0 to hire three full-time and up to five per diem officers to the city’s police force. According to Police Chief Allan Cantando, the per diem officers will be retired policemen who will be half the cost of community service officers for the positions because they will not receive benefits.

Cantando was quick to point out that the per diem hires will also only work about half the hours of community service officers, but he thinks they will be a big help to the police force until more money is secured for more permanent hires.

* The council voted to seek an alternate funding source for the $90,000 per year cost of watering the Lone Tree Golf Course. The course is seeing lean times due to the downturn in the economy and the building of newer golf courses in the area.

* The city reached an agreement with current computer gaming and internet access stores in town by voting to allow them to continue operations while the city implements an Urgency Zoning Ordinance to decide how to zone and manage such businesses in the future.

T’s Internet Cafe, who’s owner Tricia Simmons was present at the meeting, had previously caught the city’s attention when complaints of illegal activity were claimed against it. City staff claimed that police service calls to the area around T’s went from 137 calls from February to August 2008 to 240 calls in that same time in 2009.

The city will initiate a 45-day study to determine how to zone and regulate such businesses in the future. While the study is ongoing, no similar business will be allowed to open in Antioch.

The computer gaming and internet access stores asked for no changes to the current staff suggestions on how to move forward, except that they wish to remain open until 2 a.m. Simmons and a representative for another internet gaming store both said that they should be allowed to stay open till 2 a.m., just like other bars and restaurants in the city. The council approved the staff recommendations minus the 2 a.m. closing time.


Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Using Transportation Alternatives Can Help Cut Commute Costs

With gas prices continuing to rise in the Bay Area, 511 is reminding travelers about the numerous transportation options available to help cut their commute costs.

Recent surveys and news articles are reporting that Californians are paying almost $5 for a gallon of regular gas. To help alleviate the cost of driving alone, 511 encourages Bay Area commuters to consider the following:

• Join a carpool. Carpool with a co-worker or friend, or find a carpool partner using the 511 RideMatch Service and split driving costs among two or more people. This free service has helped thousands of Bay Area residents to find carpool partners.

• Start or join a vanpool. Share the cost of commuting with several others. Vanpools have 7 – 15 passengers and are ideal for those who commute more than 20 miles one way. The vanpool page at offers a list of vanpools with available seats. The 511 Team can also help you test ride a vanpool for free or start a new vanpool. For details, call 511 and say “rideshare” and request a rideshare operator who can provide more information or visit 511 Vanpool.

• Ride your bike to work. With spring approaching, consider leaving your car at home and riding your bike to work. 511’s Bicycling pages feature maps and information about bicycle parking, taking bikes on transit, finding a Bike Buddy, bicycle safety, and more.

• Ride the bus, ferry or train. You can qualify for pre-tax deductions and other incentives. Plus, the 511 Transit Trip Planner or the new 511 Transit App can help commuters find the fastest route home.

“511 offers many tools and tips to help commuters find the best travel options, including information on benefits and rewards for using alternatives to driving alone,” said Adrienne J. Tissier, chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). “Our 511 Rideshare site also features a Carpool Calculator so you can calculate your annual commute costs as a solo driver as well as the potential savings by adding riders.”

In addition to many travel-related tools and features, 511 services include carpool and vanpool formation assistance, employer consultations for the development of worksite transportation programs, and information to help commuters navigate the nine-county Bay Area. Operators are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., for assistance. For more information, call 511 or visit

511 Rideshare maintains an expanding database exceeding 45,000 San Francisco Bay Area commuters. The 511 RideMatch Service helps Bay Area residents find carpools and vanpools, and provides online tools for commuters to earn rewards while tracking their travel patterns and reducing their CO2 emissions.

511 Rideshare provides free assistance to Bay Area companies in planning and developing customized commute programs. Its mission is to reduce traffic congestion, clean the air, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

About 511
511 is a one-stop phone and web source for up-to-the-minute Bay Area traffic, transit, rideshare and bicycling information. It’s free of charge and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere in the nine-county Bay Area. Call 511 or visit 511 is managed by a partnership of public agencies led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the California Highway Patrol, and the California Department of Transportation.

About 511 Rideshare
511 Rideshare is a free web and phone service funded by the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. For more information, visit the Rideshare page at

Car-Jacked Vehicle Crashes Into House, Cars

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

The Antioch Police Department received multiple 911 calls on May 1 at 8 a.m. regarding a vehicle that struck a house on Linden lane. Officers discovered that an out-of-control Dodge Durango had crashed into multiple cars on Spanos Street and ultimately came to rest inside a residence on Linden Lane.

The Durango left the roadway on Spanos Street, crashed through a wooden fence, struck the rear of a house and came to rest inside a bedroom. The residents were home, but not in the bedroom at the time of the crash and were not injured.

One of the four vehicles that were struck on Spanos Street was occupied. The driver had to be extricated from that vehicle and was transported to an area hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

The driver of the Dodge Durango fled the scene prior to the arrival of the police. While investigating this incident, police received a call from the owner of the Durango, advising that he had been robbed at gunpoint on Contra Loma Boulevard. The victim of the robbery was not injured.

First-Class, Captivating Black History Celebration

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Divine Voices and Show Choir

By Walter Ruehlig

Truth be told, when the vision was first introduced, many people thought it was truly the impossible dream — to pull off a first class, both kid- and adult-captivating Black History Celebration at an elementary school. With scant resources and nagging constraints of time, given burdensome teacher loads to address the ever pressing No Child Left Behind test mandates, the task seemed formidable.

DVHS Dancers

If you were within hearing distance of the Jack London Elementary School multi-use room the evening of February 28th you quickly discovered, though, the doubters proven wrong. A packed and enthusiastic crowd witnessed a soul-soaring tribute that was themed as “A Taste of African American Influence Through the Eyes of the Future”.

Second grade students

PTA Treasurer Velma Wilson was the visionary of the event and the spirited Mistress of Ceremonies. Behind the scenes making the event look easy, which these events never are, were PTA Board Members Principal Debra Harrington, Teacher Liason Carin Pantell, President Tanossa Miller, Vice President Debra White, 2nd Vice President Amy Diaz, and Secretary Marcita Enis.

1st grade students

In attendance were A.U.S.D. Superintendent Donald Gill, Board President Diane Gibson-Gray, Joy Mott and Walter Ruehlig. We were honored by the attendance of Brijet Finister, Miss Black USA 2011 – California, who gracefully took photos until her smile must have hurt. We were also gifted by the presence of actress and singer Bre’ly Evans, who is currently starring with Whitney Houston in the soon-to-be released movie ‘Sparkle’.

2nd grade performers

Acknowledgments go to the California PTA, NAACP, Clap Yo’ Hands Audio Production, Sticky Chicken & Ribs and, most importantly, to the children from all grade levels who performed so awesomely.

Kudos as well to Tanossa Miller for the peach cobbler, which I could have died for.

The program started with the National Anthem and then Mrs. Pantrell led the third graders in singing “My Country Tis of Thee.” The Negro National Anthem was performed by 5th graders Claryssa Wilson, Mariah Thomas and Sianne Enis, accompanied on keyboard by Darrel Thomas.

Principal Deborah Harrington and PTA President Tanossa Miller gave a history of the PTA followed by the Kucheza Ngoma II Dance Company performing a stirring dance and a surprise call on Superintendent Gill to strut his stuff to audience hoots and hollers.

Interspersed in the program were student performances; Jesse Wilson and Ezra Enis shared selections from MLK’s ” I Have a Dream” speech. The first graders sang Michael Jackson’s “We are the World”; the 2nd graders reprised a folk song from Ghana; the third grade did Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World”: and the fourth-fifth graders recited from biography posters of famous African-Americans.

Deer Valley High School Divine Voices and the Show Choir, led by Michelle Stark, then mesmerized the audience with a variety of numbers, culminating in a heart-grabbing blend of the civil rights classic “We Shall Overcome” and “Lean on Me.”

The Deer Valley High Advanced Dancers, led by Sharlene Sabonis, further electrified the audience.

It was a joyous night to remember and the naysayers obligingly ate crow, in between bites of sticky ribs. I look forward to Act II next year; by then the goose bumps may have settled.

State Mandating More Low-Income Housing in Antioch

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

The Planning Commission of the City of Antioch will hold a public hearing at City Hall at 6:30 P.M. March 7th on Issues and Options for Antioch’s next 7 Year Housing Element Plan required by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). An excellent staff report on the subject can be downloaded from the City’s web site.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

AGAG calculated Antioch’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) to be 2,282 units, including 516 very low-income and 330 low-income units.

ABAG also concluded that since the previous 7-year planning period (1996-2006) did not identify enough sites to accommodate the entire allocation of low and very low-income units, the City’s adjusted RHNA be increased to 3,310 units.

As the City was unable to find enough land to meet its share of the regional need for lower income units, it will probably need to amend its existing ordinance to allow some residential projects to be approved WITHOUT A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT OR DEVELOPMENT APPROVAL.

Projects that include lower income units to be entitled to a density bonus under State law and thus would be entitled to provide reduced parking. Parking requirements could also be reduced by providing shuttle or van service to shopping, social services and transit stations or limiting the areas where parking reductions apply to neighhoods or districts closer to transit or shopping. (Rivertown projects, for instance, could offer the option of paying an in-lieu fee to be used to construct a future parking structure.)

The City has hired Dyett & Bhatia as consultant to assist in adjusting our Housing Element program to become in full compliance with State law and make regulations consistent with the State density bonus requirements and establish new zoning districts and programs to accommodate new dwelling units.

Two options are suggested to help the city rezone sufficient land to accommodate its allocation for lower income units at the so called ”default density” (30 units per acre for Antioch and other suburban cities with more than 100,000 population).

One is to rezone 106.5 acres to establish a zone where multi development is permitted at 20 units per acre and rezone sufficient land at a minimum density of 30 units per acre. (Six sites with more than 50 acres in the Rivertown/Urban Waterfront Focus Area could be rezoned from PBC to allow residential development of a minimum density of 20 units per acre.)

The other option is to rezone 59.47 acres at a density of 30 units per acre and continue to require a conditional use permit or planned development approval for some or all units.

The zoning ordinance also needs amending to establish fixed standards and requirements in regard to development features. Some of the changes to be considered include: Reducing the existing 25-30 foot setback from collector streets and establish front yard build to or set back zones that would allow homes about 10-15 feet closer to the street, requiring parking to be located to the rear instead of instead of in front of buildings, etc.

Because Antioch does not have sufficient facilities to accommodate the need for emergency shelters, it must identify a zone or zones where at least one year round shelter can be established. It is proposed to amend our current ordinance to allow such a shelter on City owned land near Delta Fair and Century Blvd., including a site that the Bay Area Rescue Mission had considered for a transitional housing facility.

Based on an estimated density of 200 shelter beds per acre, the sites could accommodate both the 124 emergency shelter beds the City needs to meet the State requirement as well as 100 units of transitional housing and associated services.

Among other options is amending our zoning ordinance to define Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units as a form of multi-family housing and allow SROs in the Rivertown High Density Residential and Transit-Oriented Residential Districts subject to specific limitations.

I don’t know about you folks, but I’m tired of government intervention, e.g., being told what light bulb I can use or having to bring an reusable bag to the grocery store. We all need to protest the proliferation of proposed parcel taxes on future parcel ballot measures and the imposition of zoning mandates on local communities by MTC and ABAG, the latest scheme which is entitled ONE BAY AREA PLAN, one of the many mandates touted to reduce greenhouse gasses but which in reality are just meant to overturn local control of zoning.

Please attend this planning meeting because as Abraham Lincoln once said “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

Chamber of Commerce Events

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

The Salvation Army’s ribbon cutting has been changed to between 4:00 and 4:30 pm followed by refreshments and tours. They won’t be walking from their old location to their new location as stated in our earlier email.

Sunday March 4th, 2012 from 4:00pm at their new location: 620 East Tregallas Road, Antioch Ca 94509

Antioch Chamber Inaugural Gala – March 9th

Date: Friday, March 9, 2012
Time: 6pm Social Hour, 7pm Dinner
Where: Lone Tree Golf Course and Event Center
4800 Golf Course Road
Antioch CA 94531
Register Online on the Antioch Chamber Gala Event Page on the Antioch Chamber website.

Delta Toastmasters Open House March 6th

Do you have a fear of public speaking? Would you like to become a better speaker? Toastmasters can help you! Attend the Delta Toastmasters upcoming open house and meet great people that strive to improve on their speaking skills. Food and refreshments will be provided.

When: Tuesday, March 6, 1012
Where: Mimi’s Café
5705 Lone Tree Way Antioch, CA 94531
Time: 7AM – 9AM
Meeting: 7:10am – 8:10am
Social time: 8:10am – 9:00am

Education Meeting at St. Ignatius

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Calling all parents and students!! Are you interested in furthering successful outcomes for the Antioch schools? Come and share concerns and suggestions for your children’s education; envision what equitable and quality education looks like; explore what you know and don’t know about the education system; identify possible solutions to improve the school district.

Meet at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church Social Hall Tuesday, February 28th at 3351 Contra Loma Blvd. from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information contact Sara Aceves of CCISCO Education Focus Group at (925) 322-9070.


Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

The St. Ignatius of Antioch Community Garden Project inaugural meeting has been rescheduled to Thursday, March 1st at 7:30 p.m. at 3351 Contra Loma Blvd. St. Ignatius of Antioch Church is considering establishing a garden on the parish grounds this summer with the primary purpose of producing fresh vegetables for distribution by St. Vincent de Paul to families in our area. It’s a heady challenge but many hands can lighten the load.

St.Ignatius is looking to expand upon an already vigorous social outreach program that includes projects targeted at foreclosure relief, educational equity, local jobs, immigrant opportunity, aiding the mentally challenged, feeding and housing the homeless, Habitat for Humanity, Mexican home builds, disaster relief, backpacks and school supplies for needy kids, Relay4Life, bloodmobiles, unwed mother assistance, street cleanup, etc.

For more information on the garden project contact Vicki or Brian at 778-4092 or e-mail