Archive for the ‘Homeless’ Category

With two councilwomen absent $2 million in federal funds approved for additional homeless housing program

Tuesday, August 30th, 2022

Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson were absent during the August 9, 2022, meeting. Video screenshot.

Instead of $6 million and no General Fund money; Torres-Walker, Wilson won’t say why they didn’t attend

By Allen D. Payton

During their August 9, 2022, Antioch City Council meeting, the three council members in attendance approved spending $4 million in state and federal funds on a transitional housing program in addition to the one previously approved at the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street. The original proposal was to spend $12 million for the program at the motel previously approved by Mayor Lamar Thorpe and Districts 1 and 4 Councilwomen Tamisha Torres-Walker and Monica Wilson, who were absent. (See related article)

Both councilwomen were asked the next day why they missed the meeting but neither responded.

The plan included purchasing the motel, and according to the staff report, the council considered committing $6 million in city funds, yet to be budgeted, as matching funds for an application for funds from Round 3 of the California Department of Housing & Community Development Homekey Program.

On May 10, 2022, the City Council authorized staff to pursue a Homekey application for interim housing associated with 515 East 18th Street, the location of the Executive Inn. But because the City was unable to negotiate acceptable terms for a purchase, Council support was requested for a change in approach to the City’s pursuit of State funds.

The city will instead lease the motel and has moved forward on terms with the owner.

City Owned Parcels map. Source: City of Antioch

The staff report explained the new approach which included identifying “available city-owned parcels for interim and/or permanent supportive housing opportunities for Antioch’s unsheltered residents.” It “involves the City’s solicitation of a developer partner who, once selected, will jointly apply to the State of California for funding to accomplish interim and/or permanent supportive housing in alignment and coordination with Contra Costa County’s homelessness response system. It is noted that a key distinction of interim housing is a 15-year covenant versus a 55-year covenant associated with permanent supportive housing. In either or both arrangements, participation in the Contra Costa County Continuum of Care (CoC) and Coordinated Entry System are required.” Homeless Transitional Housing program ACC080922

The new approach “intends to inspire creativity in the development community,” Assistant City Manager Rosana Bayon Moore stated.”

“This is an incredible opportunity…it’s taken us awhile to get to this point,” said local homeless advocate Andrew Becker. “But Homekey is a grant opportunity that develops housing. We rely on developers to come in and provide opportunities for our community and we’ve seen its non-existence out here in East County.”

However, a 394-unit, low- to moderate-income housing apartment project was approved by the city council in 2019 and built by a developer off East 18th Street in Antioch. (See related article)

“The state has given us an opportunity to capitalize off their dollars,” he continued. “This is a different structure…and what we can create, here can be lasting beyond what the Executive Inn is or can be in the future. These are lasting covenants for housing.”

Three other residents spoke in favor of the additional program.

City Owned Parcels Table. Source: City of Antioch

Council Discussion and Decision

During the council discussion on the item, District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock asked, “can we use ARPA funds on Homekey projects?”

“We would have the ability to use ARPA funds in connection with this work, as long as the timeframe is within the eligibility period,” Bayon Moore responded.

“I’m hugely for this. I see all the properties listed. I’d like to add L Street to that list,” Ogorchock continued. “I think Homekey grant can help us build homes for vets and seniors, along with the homeless, and it can help those most vulnerable not to become homeless.”

“There is more money, and I gave that report at the last meeting, from the governor and the funds that were now available,” she stated. “So, I hope we go after more of those funds.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica then asked Bayon Moore, “On the $6 million, is that a one-time all in or is there going be more in the future?”

“The intention would be to identify a ceiling, a financial commitment that we would incorporate into the solicitation, so that when we signal to the development community that the city is supportive of the effort, that those dollars are available to support the project,” the assistant city manager responded. “Now depending upon the project…six million is the cap.”

“My stance on this is we’re spending a lot of money. This council is going through a lot of money,” Barbanica stated. “We’re opening new departments, where we just spent $2.5 million on the Executive Inn, we have a commitment to Motel 6 which is per use, and I understand it’s a more cost effective way to go. But we’re not funding things like the Emergency Operations Center. We’re not funding things like the pool at the water park which is a safety issue. We’re not doing that, but we can spend $2.5 million on the Executive Inn and we can commit to another $6 million but we don’t have an Emergency Operations Center that’s up to date. I do not support this.”

Ogorchock then said, “I know this council wasn’t here when Tabora Gardens was built. But we did the same thing with $1 million…that we had to pledge…and we did commit those funds.”

“And I understand what you’re saying, and I agree 110% with you,” she said to Barbanica. “And I believe those items that you brought up were on the ARPA funds to possibly be spent on those. But again, if I’m looking at ARPA funds and we can use ARPA funds with Homekey then I think this is a doable project.”

“The state is coming up with quite a bit more money…there’s a lot of money that’s coming forth,” Ogorchock continued. “So

“There’s further nuance, and we may not end up spending $6 million because a developer will say ‘I will eat up those costs’,” Thorpe said.

“Would there be possibility to lower this dollar amount and not commit to the six million?” Barbanica asked. “Andrew had mentioned two million to commit out of ARPA funds.”

“I don’t think today, we’re setting parameters for an RFQ,” Thorpe responded. “If a developer responds and says, ‘I can meet all of that,’ we’ll have another one of these and we’ll decide then. I think we’re saying we’re willing to commit up to $6 million.”

Bayon Moore then explained “one small dimension of that. The reason for the ceiling is for us to signal to the world of developers is the city is committed to bringing this online…not to exceed $6 million. If something comes below that, that’s fantastic.”

“What we did internally is work to establish a figure that we could defend,” she continued. “We looked at some…financial models and we came to the conclusion that $6 million was a safe figure to pledge. The market will ultimately speak to us whether or not that value is one that produces a partnership.”

“We just spent $2.5 million…and now we’re looking at committing to six,” Barbanica stated. “I cannot support a $6 million commitment even if it doesn’t come in at that.”

“If we are to lower the amount to maybe $2 million?” Ogorchock asked Barbanica. “It still leaves the ARPA funds on the table. I agree with you. I will fight for the EOC and the pool to get those items done because they’re safety issues.”

“If we were to at least reduce it to two million to start there would that be something that’s doable?” Ogorchock further asked.

“Specifically pulling it from ARPA funds and not the city’s general budget?” Barbanica asked in response.

“Yes,” the councilwoman responded.

“Yes,” he responded.

The council then took up all three matters associated with the agenda item, including the solicitation for the city-owned parcels, recognizing that the city land could be the location or privately owned, the pledge of the city’s financial commitment set at a ceiling of $2 million from ARPA funds and the council’s support of pursuing Homekey.

Ogorchock tried to get the city owned lots on L Street near the police department added to the list of parcels.

“That’s going to be Veterans Park,” Thorpe said.

“Not that I’m aware of,” Ogorchock responded.

“They came in and spoke to us and we gave direction,” Thorpe stated.

Ogorchock agreed to not including the L Street parcels.

Following one last effort by the city’s homeless consultant, Focus Strategies, to get the council to commit to $6 million, a motion was made by Ogorchock, seconded by Barbanica to approve the proposal with a $2 million cap and it passed on a 3-0 vote after Thorpe said, “No. Just kidding. Yes.”

“The funds can either be used for interim and permanent supportive housing,” Bayon Moore later explained. “The application will be jointly done by the city and a developer,”

The hope is to leverage the local funds and/or the value of the city-owned properties to obtain the state grant funds.

“They’re not necessarily dollar for dollar match,” she added.

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Antioch Council to consider leasing homeless motel, RV parking, hiring firm to design Rivertown event center, rent stabilization Tuesday night

Monday, July 25th, 2022

The council will consider leasing with the option to purchase the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street for transitional housing and support services for the homeless. Herald file photo.

Two-year motel lease agreement includes option to purchase

By Allen D. Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, July 26, 2022, the Antioch City Council will consider four major issues including approving a master lease with option to purchase of the Executive Inn for transitional housing for the homeless, a contract with a non-profit organization to operate the housing program at the motel, amending the ordinance on parking RV’s and boats on residential property, hiring a firm to design the proposed Rivertown park and event center on the former lumber company lot and rent stabilization. The latter will be dealt with during a study session before the regular meeting.

Another item of interest on the agenda is the approval of a new gas station, convenience store and car wash on Lone Tree Way at the corner of Vista Grande Drive across from the Cross Pointe Apartment complex.

See complete council meeting agenda by clicking here.

Rivertown Town Square rendering. Source: Save The Yard

Rivertown Park & Event Center

Consent Calendar – Item M. RIVERTOWN COMMUNITY SPACE (P.W. 514-7) Recommended Action: It is recommended that the City Council adopt a resolution: 1) Approving a Consulting Services Agreement with RHAA for the Rivertown Community Space Project in the amount of $350,000 for design of the former Antioch Lumber Company lot located between W. 2nd, W. 3rd and E Streets in historic downtown.

Homeless Motel Lease with Option to Purchase

Item 7. – UNHOUSED RESIDENT SERVICES – NON-CONGREGATE BRIDGE HOUSING SITE AT EXECUTIVE INN. The City Council will consider approving a master lease with Rudram LLC for the Executive Inn located at 515 East 18th Street with an option to purchase.

The two-year lease is estimated at $1,168,000 per year for a total not to exceed value of $2,336,000, to be paid from the allocation of $2.6M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA funds) specified for this purpose by the City Council on April 12, 2022.

Support Services at Homeless Motel

Item 8. – UNHOUSED RESIDENT SERVICES – SUPPORTIVE SERVICES FOR THE CITY OF ANTIOCH’S NON-CONGREGATE BRIDGE HOUSING PROGRAM LOCATED AT 515 EAST 18TH STREET. The City Council will consider authorizing the City to enter into an agreement with Bay Area Community Services (BACS) for supportive services associated with the City’s Non -Congregate Bridge Housing Program located at 515 East 18th Street.

The goals of the program are to 1) provide participants with a safe place to stay; 2) connect participants with community, mainstream, and personal resources based on individual need; and 3) assist participants in transitioning to more stable or permanent housing.

The total contract is not to exceed $2,563,990 over a two-year period to be paid from $3.1M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA funds) for support services allocated by the City Council on April 12, 2022.

Amendment to RV and Boat Parking Ordinance

Item 5. – PROPOSED ORDINANCE AMENDING THE ANTIOCH MUNICIPAL CODE REGARDING THE PARKING OF MOTOR VEHICLES, INCLUDING RECREATIONAL VEHICLES, ON RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY Recommended Action: It is recommended that the City Council introduce, waive the first reading, and read by title only the proposed amendment to the City’s Municipal Code regarding parking motor vehicles, including Recreational Vehicles, on residential property.

Rent Stabilization Study Session

Before the regular meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. the council will hold a Rent Stabilization Study Session at 5:30 p.m. The City Council will receive a presentation on rent stabilization and provide feedback and direction to staff.

According to the staff report, at the June 14 and June 28, 2022, City Council Study Sessions, extensive public comment was received in support for tenant protection policies including an anti-harassment ordinance, a just cause eviction ordinance and rent control policies. At the conclusion of public comment, the City Council expressed support to modify the “Tenant Protections” policy in the draft Housing Element.

The draft Housing Element proposes the following to address tenant protections: 5.1.9 Tenant Protections. Pursue the development of citywide tenant protection policies for consideration by the City Council. These policies would address, but not necessarily be limited to, anti-harassment, just cause eviction, Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) and rent stabilization. The process would include inclusive public outreach with tenants, community-based organizations, landlords and other interested community members. The goal of this effort is to prepare and present an implementing ordinance for City Council consideration.

New gas station Site Plan from council presentation.

New Gas Station, Convenience Store and Car Wash

Finally, under Item 6. the council will consider approving a Chevron Gas Station at 5200 Lone Tree Way on the corner of Vista Grande Drive across from the Cross Pointe Apartments. The location is currently the site of an old barn and buildings remaining from Antioch’s farming days, and a home which will be demolished as part of the construction.

According to the staff report, the project site is approximately two acres and approximately one-third of the site to the west will remain undeveloped at this time. Additionally, the proposed project would include the widening of Lone Tree Way to accommodate a 270-foot deceleration lane taper along eastbound Lone Tree Way to the proposed 30-foot driveway.

The site for the proposed new gas station on Lone Tree Way at Vista Grande Drive. Source: City of Antioch.

The project requires approval of a General Plan Amendment to change the land use designation for the project site from Commercial Office to Convenience Commercial.

Public Comments

The public has the opportunity to address the City Council on each agenda item. No one may speak more than once on an agenda item or during “Public Comments”. Members of the public wishing to provide public comments, may do so in one of the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar Platform):

  1. IN PERSON – Fill out a Speaker Request Form, available near the entrance doors, and place in the Speaker Card Tray near the City Clerk before the City Council Meeting begins.
  2. VIRTUAL – To provide oral public comments during the meeting, please click the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers

▪ You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

▪ When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: https://www.antiochca.gov/raise_hand.

When calling into the meeting using the Zoom Webinar telephone number, press *9 on your telephone keypad to “raise your hand”. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.

Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak. When you are called to speak, please limit your comments to the time allotted (350 words, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor). The City cannot guarantee that its network and/or the site will be uninterrupted.

  1. WRITTEN PUBLIC COMMENT – If you wish to provide a written public comment, you may do so in one of the following ways by 3:00 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting:

(1) Fill out an online speaker card, located at https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card, or

(2) Email the City Clerk’s Department at cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us.

Please note: Written public comments received by 3:00 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting will be shared with the City Council before the meeting, entered into the public record, retained on file by the City Clerk’s Office, and available to the public upon request. Written public comments will not be read during the City Council Meeting.

Viewing Meeting

Antioch City Council meetings are held inside the Council Chambers at City Hall at 200 H Street. They are televised live on Comcast channel 24, AT&T U-verse channel 99, or via live stream at www.antiochca.gov/government/city-council-meetings/live/.

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$12.3 million homeless motel program approved on 3-1-1 vote by Antioch City Council

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

The Executive Inn on E. 18th Street will be used for a transitional housing program for the city’s homeless residents. Herald file photo.

Will also look at other city- and privately-owned properties as part of Request for Proposal; forms Human Rights and Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee; agrees to form new city department

By Allen D. Payton

Following another round of public input and council discussion, during their meeting on Tuesday, May 10, 2022, the Antioch City Council, on a 3-1-1 vote approved spending $12.3 million to lease the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street for transitional housing for homeless residents. with Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica voted no and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, who had been opposed to the project at that location, was absent. The program is projected to cost $12.3 million over five years for the 30-room motel with a portion of funding will hopefully come from the state’s HomeKey program.

After postponing the decision for more information from city staff, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker gave her support to the project. (See related article)

“I have been clear, very transparent around this project,” she said. “Just when it costs taxpayers money. It costs us less to do preventative care. It costs us more to put people in jails and prisons than to give people opportunity with resources. We’re irresponsible with taxpayers’ dollars when we don’t get unhoused folks off the street…with no resources.”

“I want to see other opportunities, as well,” Torres-Walker continued. “I don’t think anybody’s stalling. I think there were other questions that needed to be answered and we got those answers.  Look at the cost of not doing anything. I hope we can do both, today. Move forward with this and look at other options.”

“It’s absolutely ridiculous…to make an issue of making an investment of $12 million over five years to house people, to move people through those rooms to permanent housing,” Mayor Lamar Thorpe said. “We’ve housed people at the executive Inn then transferred them to the Delta Landing in Pittsburg.”

“We’re literally wasting taxpayer money, right now moving people from corner to corner cleaning up encampments,” he continued. “Literally, the Abatement Team, today was formed to clean up encampments.”

“The $12 million is if we pay for this, ourselves and don’t pursue HomeKey,” Thorpe stated. “I’m tired of people trying to hold up…the executive Inn. We need to get this done, today.”

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson moved approval that the City of Antioch authorizes, 1. Pursuit of State of California’s HomeKey Program Funding; 2. City commitment of an initial five-year pledge of local resources that amount to a subsidy of $12.3M dollars in local funds; and 3. Staff initiation of a formal solicitation of a developer partner for the subject property located at 515 East 18th Street. Torres-Walker seconded the motion. It passed on a 3-1-1 vote.

During the following agenda ll four council members present were in support of pursuing other opportunities and properties for transitional housing for the city’s homeless residents

“I think we need to be very specific,” Thorpe said. “I would encourage council to be very specific about what properties council is talking about.”

“The Delta Fair site,” Torres-Walker said. “I don’t know of other sites. That is as specific as I can get.”

“I just didn’t want to give vague instructions to staff because we own a lot of property,” Thorpe stated.

Assistant City Manager Rosann Bayon Moore suggested including privately owned parcels…“with the intent of maximizing the quality and intent of the partner we bring to the city.”

“I’m open to looking at other options and talking with the Delta Veterans Group about helping veterans,” Barbanica said.

Wilson was also in support of pursuing other properties in general.

“General it is,” Thorpe stated.

Forms Human Rights and Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee 

On a 4-0-1 vote with Ogorchock absent, the council approved the formation of an Human Rights and Racial Equity Ad Hoc Committee for six months and appoint Thorpe and Torres-Walker as the members.

Agrees to Form New City Department

On a 3-1-1 vote, with Barbanica voting no and Ogorchock, absent the council gave direction to City Attorney Thomas L. Smith to return with an ordinance forming a new Public Safety and Community Resources Department, as previously discussed. (See related articles here and here)

 

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Antioch City Council hires Bay Bridge engineering firm to design new Bicycle Garden

Tuesday, April 26th, 2022

Bicycle Garden rendering. Source: City of Antioch

Will locate it at Prewett Park; postpones vote on homeless motel funding due to lack of information from city staff; formation of new department also postponed

By Allen D. Payton

During their meeting Tuesday night, April 26, 2022, the Antioch City Council voted to postpone a vote on spending $12.3 million over five years to lease a motel for transitional housing for the city’s homeless residents. Mayor Lamar Thorpe spoke of holding a special meeting on the matter, possibly this Friday. The council also unanimously voted to approve up to $550,000 on the proposed Bicycle Garden and locate it at Prewett Family Park. At the end of their meeting, the council on a 2-2-1 split with Thorpe stating he would be abstaining, the formation of the proposed Department of Public Safety and Community Resources was postponed until issues being discussed about the matter in closed session are worked out

The Executive Inn on E. 18th Street is proposed to be used for transitional housing for homeless. Herald file photo.

Homeless Motel Funding Vote Postponed

Following public comments and a history about the project by Thorpe, the council members offered their reasons for how they were going to vote on approving $12.3 million to lease the Executive Inn on E. 18th Street for five years.  Executive Inn Homekey Program staff report ACC042622      Executive Inn HomeKey Financing presentation ACC02622

“This is bridge housing for stability,” Thorpe said. “I don’t want people giving out misinformation about our decisions up here. People have told us that we couldn’t. But dammit, we’re doing it.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica said, “I’m in favor of getting people off the street. But I’m not in support of this location.”

“At $2.3 million that’s $82,000 per room per year. We’re only talking about 30 rooms,” he continued.

Barbanica then spoke of the impacts to the shopping center in Pittsburg where the  Walmart store  is located, since the Motel 6 on Loveridge Road was converted to the Delta Landing transitional housing facility for homeless in East County, and the need for more security there, as a result.

“We’re fooling ourselves if we think there won’t be other impacts in that neighborhood,” he said about the area around the Executive Inn.

District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker mentioned she lives in the neighborhood near the motel.

“I don’t think having the Executive Inn converted to transitional housing will cause any more problems in that neighborhood,” she said. “If it was good enough to put a school there for children then we can house people there living on the street.” She was speaking of the Rocketship Delta Prep charter school on Cavallo Road.

“I would like to see efforts for beautification and safety in this neighborhood,” Torres-Walker continued. “I do think we should move forward with leasing the Executive Inn. I really want to support the application for HomeKey for the Executive Inn and other potential sites. I do agree this one site is not the end all be all. We do have time. The application doesn’t have to be in until October.”

“It is a topic we’ve been working on for a very long time. I believe that we should have a presentation from Dignity Moves…on other properties,” District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock said. “I have heard from Focus Strategies that $12.3 million is conservative. So, our reserves will be depleted. The $12.3 doesn’t include services. I’m not in favor of this site. I want to look at other opportunities.”

“The figure $12.2 does include wrap-around services,” Thorpe stated, correcting Ogorchock. “Every budget assumption has us going in the red. Generally, our sales tax does better than we project. So, to look at this number as a fixed number is an assumption.”

District 4 Councilwoman Monica Wilson spoke next saying, “People have said ‘why don’t we have services for homeless?’ We’ve had migration in the Bay Area, east. Services haven’t followed.”

“I’m in agreement we do need to look at other opportunities. But the cutoff date is coming up pretty soon. We shouldn’t leave money on the table,” she continued. “We have a second date coming up. But I don’t want to keep going ‘this isn’t a good site’. Nobody’s going to be 100% happy with any site we choose. I’m saying we should move forward with something, so we don’t leave money on the table. I’m for voting for this tonight so we get the ball rolling and not keep kicking the can down the road.”

“We’re not applying for Round 2 on May 2nd. That would be an impossible effort. We are applying for Round 3 funding…in October,” Thorpe explained.

Assistant City Manager Rosann Bayon Moore spoke about research that she could make available to the council members showing “the Executive Inn is the only site that can compete with the aggressive timeline. As soon as they make their decision in December, we have to show we can bring the units online within eight months.”

“I would have preferred to see that before this and that didn’t happen,” Torres-Walker said, referring to the research by city staff. “I would also like to hear from Dignity Moves and from Home First so we can have a balanced presentation and not just Focus Strategies. Tonight, I cannot support this item without that.”

“So, we need to postpone this,” Thorpe said. “We can’t kick this can down the road. We have to move. We can meet on Friday.”

Torres-Walker then made a motion to postpone the item and Wilson seconded it. “Most votes on homeless have been 3-2 votes,” Thorpe stated. “I keep hearing it’s about this reason or that reason. It’s values. I’m sick and tired of hearing the reasons.”

The motion to postpone then passed 4-1 with Barbanica voting against.

Bicycle Garden concept video screenshot. Source: City of Antioch

Bicycle Garden Design Funding & Location Approved

Antioch Parks and Recreation Director Brad Helfenberger provided a presentation on the proposed Bicycle Garden and said the Contra Costa Transportation Authority would be the lead agency on the project.  Bicycle Garden staff report & presentation ACC042622

During discussion about the Bicycle Park, the council chose the location of Prewett Family Park for the Bicycle Garden and to spend up to $550,000 for planning and design by San Francisco-based T.Y. Lin International, the global civil and structural infrastructure engineering firm that designed the Eastern Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The funds are not currently in the budget but will be spent from the General Fund.

Council members were then asked their top two preferred locations. Torres-Walker and Barbanica supported Gentrytown Park as their first choice and Prewett Family Park as their second for the location. But Ogorchock, Wilson and Thorpe supported Prewett as their first choice and Gentrytown as their second choice.

“So, Prewett moves forward,” Thorpe said.

The council then approved the expenditure and location on a 5-0 vote.

Proposed organizational chart for new city department. Source: City of Antioch

Formation of New Department Also Postponed

The council then discussed the formation of the proposed Department of Public Safety and Community Resources.  (See related articles here and hereNew department formation staff report ACC042622

Ogorchock asked to change the name to Public Services.

“As one of the committee members, of course I’m in support of this,” Wilson said.

“I would like to see this come back and have staff develop a policy on the Department of Public Safety and Community Resources,” Torres-Walker said. She also wanted the director’s position included in the ordinance.

“Not including it doesn’t mean you can’t hire one,” City Attorney Thomas L. Smith stated.

“Do we normally include the positions in an ordinance?” Thorpe asked.

“Sometimes we include the top positions. You don’t have to. You can leave it out.” Smith responded.

“I don’t think it needs to be in the ordinance. Staff needs flexibility. I think that’s too much,” Thorpe stated.

“If it doesn’t have to come back in the ordinance and can come back another way, through the budget, I’m fine with that,” Torres-Walker said.

Proposed staffing chart for new city department. Source: City of Antioch

“I get what the mayor is saying. I’m happy to move this process forward,” Wilson said.

“So, everyone is in support of moving this forward?” Thorpe asked.

“I’ve been consistent ‘no’ on this,” Barbanica said.

“So, is that three in favor and two opposed?” Smith asked.

Thorpe said he was going to abstain.

“Should I bring the ordinance back?” Smith asked.

“We’ve been having these discussions in closed session. I’d prefer to get some of that worked out, first then bring it back,” Thorpe said.

So, the formation of the new department was postponed until an unspecified time in the future.

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Two years later five FEMA trailers intended for Antioch homeless gathering dust in city’s maintenance yard

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

The five FEMA trailers still in the City of Antioch’s maintenance yard seen from W. 4th Street on Wed, April 13, 2022, where they’ve been since March 2, 2020. Photo by Allen D. Payton

PIO refuses to answer questions; Public Works Director, other department heads including police chief not allowed to speak to media by interim city manager’s orders; no answers to two council members from interim city manager, staff; Public Records Act request submitted, goes unfulfilled

“I have knowledge that other cities could have used these trailers” – Councilwoman Ogorchock

By Allen D. Payton

Two years after five FEMA trailers arrived in Antioch to much fanfare, to serve as temporary housing for the city’s unhoused residents, they sit in the city’s maintenance yard gathering dust. What the plans are for them are a mystery as no one inside City Hall seems to know or is willing to say. (See related article)

Donated by the state and delivered on March 2, 2020, the city council had planned on using the trailers, which can sleep as many as six to eight people, as transitional housing for five families or groups of homeless individuals who have been living together in encampments or on the street. But the council and city staff couldn’t find a suitable location for them that didn’t have opposition from neighbors. (See related article)

Following up on a question from an Antioch resident, the Herald sent an email to Public Works Director John Samuelson on Feb. 28 asking, “What happened or is happening with the FEMA trailers for the unhoused the city received, please? Are they still in the maintenance yard?”

He responded that evening with, “I am forwarding your question to Rolando to respond.” That referred to the city’s Public Information Officer Rolando Bonilla.

The email was then forwarded to Bonilla that same evening with, “This is another question from a resident. So, please respond in order for the public in Antioch to be informed.” But no response was received as of March 4.

The email was then resent on Friday, March 4 to Bonilla, copying City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith, Interim City Manager Con Johnson, and department heads including Samuelson, Finance Director Dawn Merchant, Administrative Services Director Nickie Mastay, Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs, as well as all five council members with the additional following information: “I’m resending this email that I sent you on Monday because I haven’t heard back from you all week. What happened or is happening with the FEMA trailers for the unhoused the city received, please? If I don’t hear back from you by Monday, March 7, 2022 at noon, consider this a formal Public Records Act request for the information, including any and all communications between any Antioch city staff member and any others, anyone in state government and/or Antioch council members regarding the FEMA trailers and their dispensation.”

Barbanica, Ogorchock Say They Can’t Get Answers, Either

Only Mayor Pro Tem Mike Barbanica and District 3 Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock responded to the questions from the Antioch resident sent to them by the Herald. Barbanica said he had asked about the trailers, as well but was not provided an answer.

In an email response on Saturday, March 5 Ogorchock wrote, “Rolando has nothing to do with the trailers. That is an item that is/should be on the [6-] month list. I brought it up quite some time ago and so has Mike. We have them at the Public Works Dept., from my understanding.”

When informed that Samuelson had forwarded the question to Bonilla and directed the Herald to obtain the answer from him and reminding her that Rolando was there the day the trailers were delivered, Ogorchock responded on Sunday, March 6, “I just sent your email to Con to get answers. I have a feeling that since the question is coming from a news outlet, all have been told to direct their questions to Rolando. That’s my guess, let’s see what he says.”

Later that day, Ogorchock emailed an additional response to the Herald writing, “I’m looking at the 6-month list, which is way over, this issue was raised by me on 12-8-2020, and then by Mike on 1-5-2022.”

The city had 10 business days to respond to a PRA request.  As of Tuesday, April 12, the Public Records Act request had not been fulfilled.

One more attempt was made via email on Wednesday, April 13 to obtain the requested documents or answer to the question, “What happened or is happening with the FEMA trailers for the unhoused the city received?”

4/16/22 UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore responded, “The City is in the process of identifying a suitable arrangement for transfer of the trailers.  We have consulted with the State of California and at its direction, the City coordinated with the Contra Costa County’s Continuum of Care to solicit letters of interest.  Panel interviews were conducted last week with interested organizations and a staff recommendation will be presented to the City Council within 30 calendar days.”

4/16/22 UPDATE: “Nothing to date is happening with the FEMA trailers,” Ogorchock shared in an email on Saturday, April 16. “I had asked for this to be on the 6-month list since December 8, 2020. As you can see way past the 6-month deadline.  I have knowledge that other cities could have used these trailers in communities built for such trailers.”

“It’s been shared with me that there is a possibility that a church, Grace Bible (Fellowship) specifically, would like to have them.  There could be another nonprofit that could be interested. But I’m not sure,” she added.

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Antioch Council approves zoning change to allow for homeless hotel on split vote

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

The Executive Inn on E. 18th Street is proposed to be used for transitional housing for homeless. Herald file photo.

Torres-Walker supports in spite of pointing out “great concern” in her neighborhood

By Allen D. Payton

During their regular meeting on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, the Antioch City Council approved a transitional housing zoning overlay district on a 3-2 split vote for the Executive Inn on East 18th Street, moving forward a plan for the motel to be used for homeless residents. It allows the owner to apply for a use permit for the motel to be converted to a transitional housing facility. After first making a motion to approve the zoning change, Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock withdrew her motion and then along with Councilman Mike Barbanica, voted against it. Transitional Housing Zoning Overlay District ACC022222

Council Doesn’t Finalize Lease with Congressman McNerney

At the beginning of the meeting, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith reported out of closed session that the negotiations with Congressman Jerry McNerney regarding the lease of office space in the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Family Park, “price and terms of payment, there was no reportable action.” The negotiations occurred following the attempt by Interim City Manager Con Johnson to evict the congressman whose lease runs through Jan. 3, 2023.  (See related article)

The blue outlined and highlighted area of the map shows the location of the transitional housing zoning overlay district specifically for the Executive Inn at 515 E. 18th Street. Source: City of Antioch

Transitional Housing Zoning Overlay District

Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs provided a brief overview of the transitional housing zone overlay district for only the Executive Inn at 515 E. 18th Street, which was proposed to be used for Antioch’s homeless residents during a press conference by then-Councilman Lamar Thorpe and then-Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts in July 2020. (See related article)

“This is about a zoning overlay,” Mayor Thorpe said, attempting to narrow the focus of the public hearing. “There will be plenty of time to discuss the actual use at the planning commission.

Andrew Becker was the only member of the public to speak.

“I don’t think that the director dove into transitional housing and the requirements for transitional housing,” he said. “I sent him and the council…the state’s definition of transitional housing in 2007 the state of California and passed legislation, that mandated that cities allow for transitional housing…holding those developments to the same standards. That’s a permanent by-right transaction.”

“If you look at page A3 in your packet…you will see residential uses,” Becker continued. “You will see at the bottom this new transitional housing overlay. You will see all of these residential areas…in all of those columns it doesn’t show a permitted use for transitional housing. Instead, it shows one restrictive use for transitional housing for all the City of Antioch…that isn’t even residentially zoned. It’s zoned hospitality. You’ve said developers can come in and build a permitted development. It would allow the review and could be shot down by the planning commission. I equate that to redlining.”

“The housing element must have the same standards as other residential zoning,” he continued. Becker proposed zoning the entire city for transitional housing.

Council Discussion and Vote

Torres-Walker asked Ebbs to respond to what Becker said

“We have a new housing element coming forward that will…be fully compliant with all state laws,” Ebbs explained.

“Should we be waiting for the housing element before moving forward on this?” Torres-Walker asked.

“It wouldn’t affect this zoning change,” Ebbs responded.

“It would provide for commercial zone for just this property?” Torres-Walker then asked.

“We can always come back” for other changes, Ebbs said.

Ogorchock asked, “What about the neighborhood and Rocketship school?”

“We’ve met with them,” Thorpe said. “The city manager and assistant city manager met with them.”

“The parent group was notified of this meeting,” said Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore.

“There will be a use permit hearing before the planning commission,” Ebbs pointed out.

Ogorchock then moved approval of the creation of the transitional housing zoning overlay district. It was seconded by Monica Wilson.

Barbanica then said, “I know I’ve been at odds with several people on this. I believe, as I’ve stated all along…it is my belief that this is harmful to that area, to the businesses.”

“This is just an overlay on that property. It says we can do this if we choose,” Ogorchock pointed out.

“Without this that would be a dead issue, correct?” Barbanica asked Ebbs.

“That’s correct. They could not apply for a use permit at this location,” Ebbs said.

“We can’t keep kicking this can down the road. I believe this overlay is the right direction,” Wilson said. “This has been an issue for many years. It has to be addressed. We need to stop and pause. We listen to people online bully us. Let’s vote on this.”

“I’m going to support this, tonight,” Torres-Walker stated. “What makes me not want to vote for this is it should be citywide, not just one property. Spreading out the responsibility citywide just makes sense. Nobody up here lives in that community. But I do and there’s great concern.”

“I don’t believe the can has been kicked down the road,” Barbanica responded pointing out what the current council has done to assist the homeless, providing them motel vouchers and helping some get into the county’s Delta Landing facility at the former Motel 6 in Pittsburg.

“Mayor, I withdraw my motion,” Ogorchock then said.

Thorpe then asked Wilson if she withdrew her second, saying, “if you don’t withdraw your second then the motion stands.”

Wilson said she didn’t.

However, Attorney Smith corrected him saying, “She can withdraw her motion, but obviously someone else can make a new motion.”

Wilson then made the motion to approve the overlay district.

“I just want to say, for years we’ve said, ‘it’s the county’s responsibility’,” Thorpe said. “We took our time to do our homework. We recognized…the city is not an expert in social services. We also realized if we continue to rely on the county, we’re going to be going in circles.”

“The biggest concern is…when we move them from corner to corner this is no place for them to go,” he continued. “They aren’t randomly showing up. They have a connection to this community. Those are the challenges that we face.”

“We are committed to solve homelessness, not put a bandaid on it,” Thorpe continued. “It’s never been about limiting. It’s about doing something, and we have to start somewhere.”

The motion then passed 3-2 with Wilson, Torres-Walker and Thorpe in support.

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In memoriam: Antioch homeless resident Tyrone Marshall passes at 64

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

Vigil Thursday evening

Tyrone Marshall

Sunrise August 2, 1957 – Sunset December 20, 2021

Tyrone was born to the late Dorothy and Mayweather Marshall. In 1969 he earned his Scholarship of Fine Arts from UC Berkeley. Tyrone used to work for the shipyard, loved to exercise and studied martial arts from a Bruce Lee book. In 1981 he had his first and only child, April.

Tyrone will be remembered by his daughter; April, grandchildren; Eric and Cheyenne, sisters; Renee, Denise and Monica, brothers; Lamont, Spencer and Robert. His countless loving cousins, nieces, nephews and the community.

The viewing of the body is from 11am -12 and his funeral is from 12 to 2 pm at Dan Scales Funeral home at 107 W. 8th Street in Pittsburg, CA on Friday February 7, 2022. The burial will be at Oak View Memorial Park at 2500 East 18th Street in Antioch, CA.

“And now abide; faith, hope, love, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

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Homekey Program brings innovative interim housing for homeless at former Pittsburg motel

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

Jason Elliott, Senior Counselor to Gov. Gavin Newsom was joined by (L-R) Contra Costa Health Services Deputy Director Lavonna Martin, Pittsburg Mayor Merle Craft and Supervisor Federal Glover for the grand opening ceremony of Delta Landing. Photo by Karl Fischer.

State, local officials celebrate during grand opening; will open later this month after extensive renovation is completed; year-long program already serving about 40 Antioch homeless residents, has waitlist

The Contra Costa Health Services hosted a grand opening ceremony for Delta Landing, a 172-unit interim housing site in Pittsburg, on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. It will be among the first in California to open thanks to the state’s Homekey program to provide shelter and on-site services to help county residents experiencing homelessness to regain housing.

“We are going to ensure we will continue to serve as many as possible with this resource…as we open this site as a permanent fixture,” said Deputy Health Services Director Lavonna Martin. She is the former Director of Health, Housing, & Homeless Services for Contra Costa County Health Services.

Rendering of the Delta Landing transitional housing site. Source: CCHS

Delta Landing, recipient of a $21.5 million Homekey grant in 2020, will open later this month after extensive site renovation. In addition to new paint, roof, furnishings, laundry and fire sprinkler system, clients can make use of a new wellness center for physical and behavioral health needs and co-located services to help them regain permanent housing. (See related article)

“We are grateful to California and Gov. Gavin Newsom for the opportunity to add critically needed services in East County for residents without housing,” said Diane Burgis, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. “Historically there has been a severe lack of beds in this part of the county, and Delta Landing is a great first step toward addressing that need.”

The site at 2101 Loveridge Road was previously a Motel 6, used since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as a non-congregate emergency shelter for county residents with funding from the state’s Project Roomkey program.

The Homekey award allowed Contra Costa to negotiate the purchase of the motel and provide the necessary renovations to make a state-of-the-art interim housing facility with services such as basic healthcare, housing navigation and case management provided on site.

One of the rooms at Delta Landing viewed during a tour of the facility following the grand opening ceremony on Monday, Dec. 6. Photo by Karl Fischer

“This is a bit of a full circle moment. 524 days ago, the governor stood right there at the end of this walkway, right there and announced the new thing in the state called Homekey. It didn’t exist. Now, we’re here today,” said Jason Elliott, Senior Counselor to Gov. Gavin Newsom and one of the governor’s point-people on housing and homelessness. “What we did was we created a program and we provided funding. What the local governments did was make this happen…172 units of critically needed units.” (See related article)

Clients staying at the site were temporarily placed at other Project Roomkey locations in the county during renovations and will relocate back to Delta Landing this month.

“We know that the first service that people experiencing homelessness need is a stabilized living situation,” said Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover, whose district includes Pittsburg. “Delta Landing provides that stable place, so clients can make full use of the services and supports to transition into permanent housing.”

Previously, Glover said about 40 Antioch homeless residents are currently participating in the year-long program and there already a wait list. (See related article)

The county’s most recent homeless point-in-time count, in January 2020, showed that one-third of residents living outdoors in Contra Costa were in eastern Contra Costa – more than 500 people. But, before Delta Landing, there were only 20 available shelter beds in the county east of Concord.

Contra Costa’s Public Works Department led nearly $6 million renovation project. Homekey will also $4.196 million toward operation of this permanent facility, which is managed by Bay Area Community Services (BACS), a contractor of Contra Costa Health Services’ Division of Health, Housing and Homeless Services (H3).

Visit cchealth.org/h3 for information about services for people experiencing homelessness in Contra Costa County.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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