The Antioch City Council had a full plate Tuesday night tackling a variety of issues from cannabis, to homeless, re-locating a veterans memorial to councilmember travel.
Here is an overview of what occurred Tuesday night.
City Council Salary Increase
This was the final reading of a salary 70% salary increase the City Council will see after the November 2020 election that will pay councilmembers $1,604 per month. Currently they make $941.20 per month as they have not seen an increase since 2006.
This was approved in a 4-1 vote with Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock being the dissenting vote.
Approves $75k to move Veterans Memorial
On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council voted 5-0 to spend $75k to relocate the Veterans Memorial currently located at the Antioch Marina. See Full Story
Approves Contra Costa Farms Cannabis Business
In a 4-1 vote with Councilwoman Ogorchock objecting, the council approved a 9.2-acre site for commercial cannabis business with Contra Costa Farms LLC. This would include cultivation, manufacturing, dispensary and delivery at 3400 Wilbur Avenue.
According to the application, the city of Antioch will see an estimated $6 million in new tax revenue and they will continue about another $1 million combined to both the school district and police department.
In total, the project will consist of a combined 211,800 square foot facility which will be completed in two phases. As part of the dispensary, the applicant proposed selling both vaping items as well as cannabis concentrates. It will also feature a 22,000 square foot indoor cultivation under grow lights. IN total, the project anticipates a total of 269 employees to run the facility.
Council Punts Decision on Immediate Recommended Actions by Homeless Encampment Task Force
This was nearly an hour long discussion on a series of recommendations by the Homeless Task Force Committee which came from their work sessions which Thorpe said they were only recommendations and just an overview.
Thorpe explained he used to think the county should be dealing with social programs and was a huge task to ask the City, but now believes the cities should step up since the Federal Government has reduced funding over the past 4-decades.
“We have a responsibility, if there is human feces, we are responsible for that. We have to deal with it. If there are encampments on the streets, we have to deal with that. To do nothing, would be the most irresponsible thing to do. The recommendations are in phases, but the comments are sometimes absent of the context of the discussions we have had,” said Thorpe.
Ogorchock explained that when she hears that the City has done nothing, that is not accurate.
“The city has been doing some things, they have Terri House, she works with the county, so we can’t say nothing has been done,” said Ogorchock.
Mayor Wright explained he had a conversation with Lavonna Martin at the County about the recommendations and said she was not involved in the list formation and had not seen them.
Thorpe interrupt Wright.
“I don’t know what kind of conversation you had with her, but I am floored by that comment,” Thorpe responded. “We had four follow up meetings with Lavonna Martin. The county is not going to give us anything for people on the street. There is no capacity at any shelter. Call 2-1-1 and see if you can get housing. It’s not about what Lavonna Martin says.”
Wright replied again saying Martin told him she was not heavily involved in the recommendations which surprised him. He then asked Teri House to speak (CBDG grants).
She explained that should the City authorize $120k to $1 million, she has a laundry list of things should could do with that money to help the homeless as that is what she does all day in her job with the city.
“I not only sit on the council for the homeless. I already have all the relationships with all the homeless agencies. I would be thrilled to provide you the laundry list of things you can spend funds on in the next two weeks, rather than wait months,” explained House.
Wright then highlighted how under this proposal, they were duplicating work of the county noting that nothing is ever temporary and Martin confirmed that when it comes to homeless services. It will become an annual cost.
“The Concept of temporary, none of these things are temporary, if we move into any of these things we are taking on items in perpetuity. Once you take them on, they become a part of the city,” said Wright.
House agreed saying if they set up a 100-person camp, it becomes 300-person camp and they needed to work on homeless prevention.
Ogorchock said she would prefer the money go to Teri because she had all the connections already and did not want to reinvent the wheel and things could move quickly.
Motts highlighted how the Care Center is 2-3 years away from any shelter being provided which they already know will not provide sufficient beds. Motts assured the council that their proposals would work within the Continuum of Care so they are not operating outside the system.
House explained the council needed to be careful on how they set up services because that would dictate if they are operating within the existing Continuum of Care system or outside of it.
Motts replied saying their recommendations are working with the county and within the continuum of care.
Thorpe interjected saying they were not looking to duplicate anything and they were actually focused on items that were outside of housing such as shower, toilets and laundry.
Wright then explained how in speaking with Lavonna Martin, a consultant would duplicate what Thorpe and Motts were proposing because the consultant would come up with ideas that are already on the list.
“It’s a matter of how much money into it,” said Wright who explained a 100 cot program is an estimated $1.5 million annually. Wright asked if that was what was being proposed.
“A cot? No,” said Thorpe. “A transitional shelter then permanent housing. The entry points to go through services is to get you to permanent housing. If the county isn’t going to provide them housing, then we have to provide the housing.”
He added that if the county was not going to provide housing, someone else had to.
“I want numbers, I can’t blindly say yes to these recommendations,” said Wright who wanted a laundry list of how much items would cost and where they could place money.
House explained said she could have numbers in a few weeks while Ogorchock said on some of the items, they should be permanent.
Thorpe stated this was Lavonna Martin’s model and it didn’t address people on the streets an what they were talking about tonight was engaging people on the streets and put them somewhere until they get into houses.
Wright replied saying that if the recommendation is to look forward down the road, what items they would look at would need more information and costs because he wasn’t going to accept all the recommendations under the blanket format they were in on the staff report.
Ogorchock asked Teri House to come back with the cost in a few weeks.
Bernal urged the council to take up the items at the end of October when a full staff report with costs could be prepared.
Ogorchock – I am asking Teri to bring back costs on the next few weeks. If we can get as many things off this and the balances off
The city attorney stated the way the agenda was written, no action could be taken but that they could provide direction.
Bernal said they could work to get costs and let the council decide on items with them coming back at different timelines based on information gathering because there is a lot of research that needed to be done.
Thorpe wanted the council to adopt these principals and then deal with the position as separate items.
Legal asked Thorpe if he could identify items that he wanted to move forward with and get cost identifications.
Bernal then interjected saying staff would work on getting the council more information on items on the list.
Motts then suggested they look into other programs cities are doing and the cost, such as the Tuff Shed programs, identify locations, mobile showers and portable restrooms.
“For them to take action, they need to know how much money they are spending,” said Wright.
Bernal said he would like to bring it back at end of October with real report and not something slammed together in 2-weeks.
Motts said her concern was headed into winter and the longer people are on the streets.
Wright said the soonest this is going to come back is October. Bernal wanted a full council should hear this because at the next meeting, only 3 council members would be in attendance.
Legal said with the direction, it would include cost and a full discussion for the council to decide. Parking lot approvals, locations included.
Councilwoman Monica Wilson said she had concerns that these principals and thought they would be over analyzed. If we need to move forward. Wilson wanted this expedited and if two councilmembers were absent, they should still move forward.
City Staff will come back with times at the first meeting of October with just 3 council members.
Council Agrees to spend up to $100k on “Unhoused Resident Consultant”
The City Council approved a minor change to this proposal by changing the title from a “Unhoused Resident Coordinator” to an “Unhoused Resident Consultant”.
According got the Staff Report, the coordinator position would cost the City $120k per year with an hourly rate of $50 to $60 per hour.
The suggested came as Councilmember Thorpe wanted a person hired quickly instead of going through the HR Process which could take months. Thorpe wanted to give the City Manager authority to go out and find someone to look at the Council’s recommendations.
Mayor Wright challenged Thorpe saying the Lavonna Martin (Director at Contra Costa Health, Housing and Homeless Services already has reports on many of the suggested recommendations presented earlier in the evening. He then urged the council to wait and see what Teri House brings back before acting because he wanted to spend less on a consultant and more money on homeless services.
Wright continued saying he wanted to see a full on plan an costs before moving forward.
“I am not saying never, just not now,” said Wright.
Motts said she saw this position as a 30-hour per-week job where the person.
Thorpe attempted to make a motion to move the recommendation forward for a Unhouse Resident Coordinator with no salary range included. That action prompted more discussion and it then went from a coordinator position to a consultant.
Thorpe adjusted his motion to include a salary cap of up to $100k for the consultant which the council voted 3-2 in favor with Wright and Ogorchock dissenting.
701 Wilbur Avenue Code Enforcement Violations
The City Council gave City Manager Ron Bernal direction to investigate and recommend relocation opportunities (option 1) as well as simultaneously research rezoning the property to bring it into compliance with the current uses (Option 2).
This comes after owner Joe Boseman had been renting parts of his property to RV’s for 10-years and currently makes $625 per RV each month. The City found him to be in violation of codes because the property is not a licensed RV Park—something he said was never meant to be, but rather a solution to homeless veterans. A 60-day Notice to Vacate has been issued and will go into effect on October 1.
Mayor Wright said “I don’t want to see these people moved out on October 1, I would go with recommendation to investigate helping them find another place or research and return feasibility of rezoning to bring it into compliance.”
Councilman Thorpe said he was for the recommendations but didn’t want them to go elsewhere.
“I am convinced after visiting the location, Boseman is doing them a favor by not letting them pay outrageous non-market rate pricing,” said Thorpe. “We do have rules and ordinances, I am committed to that but we have to balance it with reality. We have to keep people where they are asking to be”.
Councilwoman Ogorchock was also for the recommendations but said they needed to work on this so it doesn’t open the door for others to do the same thing.
Mayor Pro Tem Motts said she agreed with Thorpe and called it ridiculous to think they would find another option that is feasible.
“What if we do find a place and they cant afford it, are we going to subsidize it? The most reasonable thing to do is bring the property into compliance and make it a safe place following the codes,” said Motts who suggested they work on the rezone and give an extension.
The council and city legal hinted that should the October 1 deadline come, the City manager has authority to use discretion around this item but did not elaborate further.
Mayor Wright stated “We are not moving these people out before Christmas.” which received applause from the audience.
- Standing School Committee – Motts & Ogorchock
- Sexual Violence Prevention Ad-hoc committee – Wilson & Motts
Travel to Virginia for National Strategy Meeting on Ending Human Trafficking in the Illicit Massage Industry Approved
The council approved in a 4-1 vote with Councilwoman Ogorchock dissenting spending $1,869 for Councilwoman Monica Wilson to attend the meeting in Virginia.
Wilson explained that she and police chief Tammany Brooks were invited based off the ordinance created on illicit massage parlors noting how law enforcement and policy worked together.
Ogorchock stated she appreciated Wilson’s work on this and her passion, but didn’t know what benefit it brought to the city
“It is a draft agenta, there is no agenda for this. It’s two small paragraphs and its not a conference, it is a meeting,” said Ogorchock. “I am having a difficult time with this.”
Wilson shot back saying “You can let the victims know you have a hard time with that.”
Mayor Sean Wright highlighted how they have a strategic plan with 12-items on it and this item was not on the list.
“I’ve been invited to a lot of conferences and I’ve always turned them down due to cost,” stated Wright who then asked if they had a policy in place.
City Manager Ron Bernal said they did not have a policy in place for what conferences city council may or may not attend.
Wright stated they needed a policy because council members could find a conference every month to attend if they wanted to again reiterating he has turned them down for the past 2 ½ years due to cost on the city.
Thorpe agreed saying they needed a policy to be created.