August 27, 2003

Early Report, PRNC

There is just SO much to report from the August 27 Neighborhood Council meeting that it will take me at least a day to process through it all! In the meantime, let me whet your appetite with several documents:

Point Richmond Neighborhood Council Agenda and Minutes. Brickyard Realty posted these every month, once upon a time, but now they don't (the last link is April), so I scanned and uploaded the paper version.

Police Statistics from the Richmond PD.

Jay Betts' Proposed Commercial Building planned for 217 West Richmond. It has two parking spaces for a three-story commercial/residential building--that should be enough, don't you think? Hey, the Board loved it--why shouldn't you?

But I am getting ahead of myself. I have five pages of notes. More later!

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August 25, 2003

Paint Your Wagon

I'm with Ted. I can learn to live with the dark red paint on the bank building (as if I had a choice), but off the cuff, I think it's ugly in a lurid, raw-steak manner. So what if the color points to its "historic roots?" Sometimes you just gotta dye those roots, honey.

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August 18, 2003

PR Hot Spot?

Hey, by the way, go in and bug Taco Mike about adding a wireless hotspot to Rosamaria's. It would be fairly easy to do, particularly for a place that size, he could do cost-recovery with a little nickel and dime activity (say $1 for the WEP code for the day) , and it would blow StarBuck$ right out of the water in terms of services (if you have ever seen a T-Mobile service map you'll understand why our local Starbucks isn't going to become a wireless hotspot any time soon). Then Point Richmond's local wannabe bohemians (including me) could sit in Rosamaria's, blogging one another all morning (actually, I have a real, full-time, Web-based job--making the idea of a local hotspot extremely appealing) while quaffing those delightful cafe mochas that Mike serves up.

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So That's Who That Guy Is!

Ted Kuzillo (Talk of the Point) reported, "Now there's a different curiousity in town. It's Steve Spencer tearing down the pink posters taped up by David Vincent, who just puts them up again for Steve to tear down again. They've done this eight times this week."

Aside from proving that we're in such an economic slump that local writers are forced to blog one another (have we set up an infinite loop, where Karen and Ted will blog one another's entries until their fingers are bleeding stumps?), Ted also fills in a major gap in my education, because I wondered who that big guy was who shouted me down at the very first Neighborbood Council meeting I attended. He twisted around in his chair and shouted down everyone, come to think of it, save himself. (But then, I've been waiting for the day when just to be mischievous I'd do a quorum call at the Neighborhood Council meeting. I already caused anxious expressions just by casually asking where the bylaws were kept.)

Spencer spends his time tearing down posters? Well, I guess it beats Mr. Hat Trick, whoever he is, who last week ran the wig-wag lights and then parked illegally, all while talking on a cell phone (and yes, he drives an SUV--a red Jeep). As someone who quaffs lattes while driving and talking, I'm not really qualified to criticize, but my eyes did fly open very wide...

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August 10, 2003

So THAT'S Why...

Chevron leak prompts order to go indoors
Chronicle Staff Report

"Residents of Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo were instructed to stay in their homes and close all doors and windows Saturday night after a chemical release at the Chevron refinery in Richmond. ..."

Chevron said it was harmless; the papers reported that hydrogen sulfide gas can cause physical problems ranging from headaches to death.

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August 09, 2003

Why Did The Alarms Go Off?

At about 9:23 p.m. tonight, the emergency alarms went off. After three minutes (after dashing around the house shutting windows) I called 911 and asked why the alarms were going off. (You could hear them clearly in the background.) "I have no idea," replied the person on the other line, and then the phone went dead.

At 9:29, the last alarm blew. I don't know what happened. I don't see anything on SFGate saying we were attacked by the Taliban or that the earth had shook. So either it was a "mistake," as we have been reassured in the past, or some other "event" we're supposed to forget about. (If you're new to the point, welcome to our dirty little secret--environmental accidents caused by local factories.)

Anyone know what that was? Anyone know what to do next time to get a better answer?

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August 03, 2003

Neighborhood Council, 7-2003

The Point Richmond Neighborhood Council met last Wednesday, 7-30, and it took me this long to post this entry because I was busy doing research on some of the wilder comments made at the meeting.

The good news is that the wig-wags are safe, at least as historical monuments, thanks to a compromise agreement that will introduce small crossing gates but allow the wig-wags to remain in place and be activated for ceremonial occasions.

On other fronts, the police department again failed to report on crime in the Point, the fire department reported that staffing for its station has dropped one-third in the last few years, Chevron agreed that they would have air monitoring devices by the end of the year, and a representative from Eagle Rock Aggregates presented a proposal for a development at Paar Canal (at the Levin-Richmond Terminal) that would place a honking big monstrosity in the middle of Richmond.

Wig-Wag Wonders

Wig-Wag Bob (a guy with an orange cell phone clipped to his Dockers) announced that after negotation, the railroad agreed to allow the wig-wags to stay, and in turn the railroad would install a crossing-gate on East Richmond and cede control of the wig-wags (to whom, officially, is unclear). (Discussion ensued regarding how the Point would manage the wig-wags, with several people suggesting money raised for the wig-wags should be used for their maintenance.)

The railroad also announced it would be selling that small plot across from the Plunge directly to the city (causing several people in the room to actively salivate--watch my words: that plot will pass into private hands faster than you can say "jack rabbit").

No News is No News

Officer Lawson, presenting the monthly crime report, stood up to announce that he was unable to retrieve statistics because the person who runs them for his department wasn't in that day. He was roundly drubbed for failure to provide information, and many people present offered personal testimony regarding crime in the Point, but as Lawson pointed out, he won't be back next month anyway, as he has been moved to motorcyle patrol.

Light My Fire

The Fire Department reported that staffing for their services has dropped significantly. In 1971, Richmond had 150 people and 2 truck companies. In 2003, there are now 100 staff in fire suppression and prevention (I think that means the guys we see rushing down the street in their trucks when the alarms go off). Furthermore their area of responsibility is much wider (stretching to El Sobrante and the Parkway) and now includes EMT or paramedic responsibilities. Population in this area has increased, as well.

One person (Wig-wag Bob) challenged the conclusions of the Fire Department, saying that they had caused their own staffing reductions through union negotiations that had resulted in extremely high salaries and benefits (compared to what, he did not explain, nor did he provide specifics to support his comments). The Occupational Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has useful information about this occupational specialty. I invite comments from anyone with better information, and hope that Wig-wag Bob will return to the next meeting with data-driven justification for his statements.

On a Clear Day, I can Smell Chevron

The Public Affairs department for Chevron announced they were attending to the little problem of toxim emissions from refinery flares, and would have air monitoring devices in place by "the end of the year." Since these devices must be very, very sophisticated--why else would it take six months to install them?--perhaps these devices can also pin down the source for that awful "poopy smell" that pervades downtown Point Richmond on exactly those days when you are trying to show off the burg to friends or family. (If our sewer system can't handle our current population, what's going to happen when they finish building that whatever-it-is next to Brickyard?)

Code Warrior

He's big. He's bad. He's Officer Joe Silver: Code Enforcement Officer, and he's here to kick butt and take names!

If you hate that lurid orange banner on the storage facility to the right of the 580 off-ramp into the Point--neve fear, Officer Silver to the rescue! He's taken action, and if that banner doesn't come down pretty soon, the owner of that facility will be squealing like a pig over steep noncompliance fines.

Have you become sloppy about trimming overgrown growth? Beware: Officer Silver sees all. At the meeting, a neighbor complained about the mess at Bishop and Western, bringing a gleam to Officer Silver's eyes. Fire hazard! Warnings! Fines! Whimper before Officer Joe Silver!

He may be funny and tough, but he's there for a reason. We still have a lot of undeveloped area in Point Richmond (less by the day, of course), and dry weeds are to fire as free toots of Wild Turkey for the early crowd at the Spot--an unavoidable path of least resistance. Take care of the Point--trim and water, and report problem areas to the police department.

Colossus of Contra Costa

At the end of the meeting (and you're only getting some of the highlights here--you really should attend these meetings yourselves), we were treated to a presentation about a proposal to build an aggregate processing facility to Richmond at Paar Canal of the Levin-Richmond Terminal.

Disregarding the histrionic comments about the crying need for more aggregate in the Bay Area, the proposal deserves attention. Eagle Rock Aggregates would bring into Richmond a facility twice the length of a football field and 75 feet high--the tallest facility in Richmond, and dedicated to... um... er... aggregate (the stuff needed to build new buildings--no one is arguing this stuff is unimportant).

The artists' sketches made it look like the Kleenex Box from Hell--an endless, enormous grey structure visible from far too many perspectives. Trucks would chug down the road at 20 routes per hour (that's one per every three minutes). If you have found yourself landlocked in the Point due to train crossings as of late, imagine what that will be like with trucks backed up to the terminals. You may find yourself unable to get in or out of the Point during the business day.

The PRAM Report

PRAM reported they had received a grant to hold literacy workshops in September to help parents promote reading and writing for their children., and were pursuing "dual immersion" education so students could learn English adn Spanish simultaneously. Shirley Butt asked (quite insightfully, I thought) how many children in the Point are actually attending Washington School.

It's good to see more focus on Washington School beyond prinking the grounds, but the question still stands--promoting new programs is great, but are we actually using Washington School to educate our children? And for that matter, iin this funding crisis, how well are we doing supporting core educational programs?

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