At Tuesday night's council meeting, the Richmond City Council voted to install new no-parking signs, signaling a restart of the street sweep program– which will eventually include parking fines for those failing to move their vehicles.
Utilizing $550,000 from the General Fund, the council approved the installation of signs "equitably" throughout all Richmond neighborhoods.
In the nearly 20 years since Richmond's street sweeping program was launched, some of the program's no parking signs are broken and illegible, and some aren't there at all. Some residents don't move their cars because they can't read the signs, others because there hasn't been any parking enforcement.
Temporarily paused during the COVID pandemic, Richmond's street sweeping program aims to keep neighborhoods clean and helps to prevent pollutants from entering creeks and the bay. Residents are asked to move parked vehicles off the street once per month on street-sweeping days so that the mechanical sweeper can effectively remove debris from gutters.
In the Richmond Annex neighborhood, residents have long fought against the signs, which some say are too large, imposing, and unsightly.
Richmond resident Tarnell Abbot, the item's lone speaker, called to oppose signage in her area.
"A lot of people have objected to the enforcement of these signs, and one of the objections to these signs is the size. They're really unsightly; neighbors have worked really hard to put out handmade signs. People are asking for other types of notification other than these very unsightly signs," Abbott said.
Councilmember Soheila Bana, who is also president of West Contra Costa Fire Safe, queried the council about having no parking signs in certain areas on red-flag days when fire danger is high.
"Severity zone residents have been asking for no parking signs on red flag days when there's a danger of fire, and fire trucks couldn't get there, and people couldn't evacuate," Bana said. "My suggestion is before you print the street sweeping signs, work with the fire marshall, and if some streets need to say "no parking on red flag days," please add them to the signs."
Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin indicated other forms of notification besides signs could be possible in the future.
"It would be helpful to have an email system to remind people to move their cars, so consider that for the future," McLaughlin said.
Councilmember Doria Robinson said the street sweep program would be equitable and residents would receive warnings before enforcement began.
"We have had a number of meetings on how best to bring this forward and how best to bring this back. Those meetings include talks with Chief French on how to roll this out so people aren't caught off guard," Robinson said. "There has been a lot of consideration on how to roll this out so that it is equitable in all neighborhoods, and there's no feeling of differential treatment."
According to the city's website, street sweeping provides weekly mechanical street sweeping to commercial areas and some arterial streets, as well as monthly sweeping to residential areas and thoroughfares. Some neighborhoods have street-sweeping signage, and others do not.
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