On the agenda: tobacco retailer moratorium, nepotism, and sideshow cameras

On the agenda: tobacco retailer moratorium, nepotism, and sideshow cameras
Many smoke shops have recently popped around Richmond.

Recently, Richmond officials have received numerous complaints regarding the number of smoke shops and tobacco retailers throughout the city. The Richmond City Council will consider an urgency ordinance to place a 45-day moratorium on new tobacco retailers.

“The City of Richmond has a significant interest in discouraging tobacco use by minors and discouraging the sale or distribution of tobacco products to minors, including vape pens and devices, e-cigarettes, and flavored tobacco products,” according to the proposed ordinance.

A city investigation showed that many retailers are operating without a required tobacco retailer license. Staff recommended adopting an interim urgency ordinance to establish a temporary moratorium on all new tobacco retailers and provide time for staff to study and engage the public in establishing a conditional use permit process for tobacco retailers to minimize any potential off-site impacts from these uses.  

At a Community Police Review Commission meeting on March 6, Richmond Police Chief Bisa French said the department had seen crime around smoke shops throughout the city.

According to French, the police frequently respond to calls involving altercations and a range of problems occurring at various smoke shops. Due to a lack of staff, the department no longer maintains a unit that regulates tobacco retailers within the city.

In October 2023, two people were shot to death in front of a 23rd Street smoke shop.

Richmond police detail crime trends and staffing vacancies
Richmond Police report increases in robberies and sexual assaults amid continued staffing concerns at the Community Police Review Commission meeting on March 6. Richmond Police Chief Bisa French said robberies often involve individuals targeted after using ATMs, particularly in downtown areas and around bank locations. Sexual assaults have seen a

The council could decide not to adopt a moratorium and direct staff to continue working on city code amendments while processing new tobacco retailer license applications and renewals. 

Point Potrero Marine Terminal Flock 

On the joint Surplus Property Authority/City Council meeting agenda is a $39,300 contract amendment with Flock Group, Inc. for six new automated license plate reader cameras at the Point Potrero Marine Terminal to prevent side shows, vandalism, and illicit activity. The amendment brings the Flock contract amount to $1,037,400.  

Staff says the port will pay for the contract amendment even though the original agreement and amendment were funded through the Police Department budget. 

Six new automated license plate reader cameras are proposed at the Point Potrero Marine Terminal to prevent side shows, vandalism, and illicit activity.

Working on relations and expectations

On the consent calendar is an item to cancel the April 23 council meeting and hold a special in-person meeting to discuss “Working Relations and Expectations.”

The meeting called by the mayor follows a special meeting in November facilitated by Henry Gardner. During the council goal and priority-setting sessions, council members expressed interest in a meeting to discuss city council rules of procedure and order and effective communication among council members.

The in-person meeting will be held on April 23, 2024, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Bermuda Room.

Race equity training

On the agenda is a $55,000 two-year contract with New York-based Race Forward to conduct race equity training for employees, public officials, and community partners.

Staff says the City of Richmond has been a member of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity since 2016. As part of the program, a training series will be conducted to broaden the knowledge and awareness of best practices related to increasing equitable outcomes for employees and residents. GARE is a joint project of Race Forward and The Othering and Belonging Institute.

Staff says the team developed a draft Race Equity Action Plan during the introductory year and has worked to promote equity work to improve racial outcomes within the City of Richmond through training and community outreach.  

Race Forward has reduced the fee for the sessions by $11,000. The courses are regularly priced at $15,000 each. The Advancing Race Equity course has been reduced to $10,000, and the other courses have been reduced to $12,000 each.  

Nepotism — Maybe

Will this be the day the city council finally discusses the nepotism item? Maybe — it has been bumped twice already.

This nepotism item would discuss a policy to prevent city council members from appointing family members to Richmond boards, commissions, committees, and task forces. 

In the most recent meeting, we learned three council members have significant others who hold positions on boards. Councilmembers Sohelia Bana and Doria Robinson have partners on the Human Rights and Human Relations Commission. In addition, Mayor Eduardo Martinez’s wife is a member of the Regla, Cuba Sister City Committee. The remaining four council members must all be in attendance to form a quorum and hear the item.

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.

The Richmond City Council meets at 440 Civic Center Plaza on Tuesday, April 2 at 6:30 p.m.

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