Richmond City Council battles nepotism

Richmond City Council battles nepotism

Soccer fields, farmer’s market, more money for SOS, a public land disposition policy, plus two council members battle nepotism on the March 19 Richmond City Council agenda.

A draft Soccer Field and Park Amenities Assessment presentation is back on the agenda. The item was continued from the last meeting. Richmond’s soccer clubs united last year to advocate for new soccer fields in the city.

Richmond Soccer clubs seek council support for new sports fields
Richmond’s three soccer clubs came together for a joint rally at city hall Tuesday evening just before the city council meeting, where the clubs sought support for a proposal for new soccer fields in Richmond. The rally, hosted by Samantha Torres and Richmond United Soccer Club, brought together the city’s

In October 2023, the city's consultant evaluated city parks' potential to accommodate additional soccer fields. This evaluation was based on a directive by the council, which sought to identify suitable parks for soccer field development. The presentation included an initial assessment of soccer field opportunities and other parks' facilities.

In December, the council allocated $4.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for soccer fields, parks, trails, and public restrooms.

Jan Mignone, President of the North & East Neighborhood Council, wrote in support of using Wendell Park as a part of the pilot soccer field program.

“I was born and raised around the corner from Wendell Park and have fond memories of the park. My older brother played little league there, we played on the swings, slide and merry-go-round, until they broke and the city removed them,” Mignone wrote. “Completing the grass area would bring the Wendell back to how it was when it was built back in the early 50’s.”

All in the family

On the consent calendar is an item from Councilmembers Cesar Zepeda and Claudia Jimenez to direct the city attorney to create a city policy preventing council members from appointing family members to Richmond boards, commissions, committees, and task forces.

Staff says that while most cities prohibit nepotism regarding city staff, few have ordinances dealing with appointments to commissions and similar bodies. In past administrations, elected officials have appointed family relatives to serve on various Richmond boards, commissions, and committees. 

This is “extremely problematic” for the Richmond City Charter, as it seats all nominating authority for appointments to these bodies with the mayor, according to a staff report.

It is suggested the new ordinance should allow currently seated appointees to complete their current terms and prevent unexpected disruption to the composition of city bodies. 

Staff says there are currently seated appointees whose appointments would be prohibited by the ordinance.

One example we can think of is Councilmember Doria Robinson’s partner, Najari Smith, who serves on the Human Rights and Human Relations Commission.

A fair and just distribution of public lands

Also back on the March 19 agenda is the Equitable Public Land Disposition Policy. Staff says Equitable Public Land Disposition policies can maximize public good by selling or leasing the land at below market prices to reduce development costs and improve the financial feasibility of public good investments, such as the affordability of housing. List of surplus property.

$1,463,415.23 more for Safe Organized Spaces

The contract with Safe Organized Spaces is proposed to be amended to extend the contract term through June 30, 2025. The contract amount will also be increased by $1,463,415.23, resulting in a total contract amount of up to $2,202,108.82.

This amendment will allow Safe Organized Spaces to continue providing encampment support services, including outreach, showers, laundry services, and job opportunities for unhoused residents. SOS members spoke about the organization at several recent city council meetings.

Richmond’s SOS program champions success stories, seeks $2.7M expansion funding
During last week’s city council meeting, members of Richmond’s Safe Organized Spaces shared their personal accounts of how the organization has transformed their lives. SOS staff members like Mernard Washington spoke about how the nonprofit organization’s programs have enabled them to turn their lives around. Washington, a former

Friday Farmers Market coming home

The Friday Farmers Market looks like it is moving back to its original location across from the Richmond Main Library. In 2007, the city requested that RFCMA move the market to the northern section of a city-owned parking lot located on Barrett Avenue between 24th Street and 25th Street due to construction at the Civic Center. 

The market will need to move again when renovations at the library begin in two years.

Grant me the money

The $130 million transit-oriented housing project Metrowalk Phase 2 is plugging along. The California Department of Housing and Community Development is requesting Richmond adopt a resolution before distributing the $43 million in grant funding awarded for the project.

Community Development staff and joint applicant, Pacific West Communities, were awarded $42,908,528 for the project across from the Richmond BART station, which also includes new BART cars and next-generation fare gates, as well as improvements to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

$130 million transit-oriented housing project to add 150 affordable apartments at BART
Richmond’s $130 million transit-oriented housing project will add 150 affordable housing units at the Richmond BART station, purchase three new BART cars, install new fare gates, and improve bikeway and pedestrian access. The City of Richmond, BART, and affordable housing developer Pacific West Communities are working together to build

Community Police Review Commission appointment

The mayor has put forth Carmen Martinez to serve on the Community Police Review Commission. In her application, Carmen lists membership in Reimagine Richmond, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, and the Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition.

In a post for Reimagine Richmond Martinez said she was deeply concerned about the conduct and practices of members of the police. 

“Transparency on police abuse of power needs to be brought to light and accountability needs to be enforced to help prevent future incidents of use-of-force, racial discrimination and sexual harassment,” Martinez said. 

Reimagine Reports: Stronger Police Accountability Needed in Richmond — Reimagine Richmond
Community oversight bodies like Richmond’s Community Police Review Commission (“CPRC”) should play a vital role in achieving police accountability by increasing transparency, enhancing public confidence, and deterring misconduct among police officers. However, the CPRC holds limited powers, highligh

The Richmond City Council meets on Tuesday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. at 440 Civic Center Plaza.

Help keep our content free for all!

Click to become a Grandview Supporter here. Grandview is an independent, journalist-run publication exclusively covering Richmond, CA. Copyright © 2024 Grandview Independent, all rights reserved.

Read more