Richmond council deliberates: shore power mandate, staffing woes, and fireworks drones

Richmond council deliberates: shore power mandate, staffing woes, and fireworks drones
California Air Resources Board regulation requires all ships at berth to connect to shore-based electrical equipment. Photos/ Linda Hemmila

A $3 million shore power system at the port, more money for Point Molate litigation, a talk about city staffing, an idea to replace Third of July fireworks with drones, and new commission appointments are on the Richmond City Council agenda for Tuesday night.

Overtime use is the equivalent of 63 full-time employees

The city has been operating at 83 percent staffing for the past three years, and we are going to talk about it. A workforce analysis says the city is relying heavily on overtime to meet core services but doesn’t have enough staff to meet residents’ expectations.

The Richmond Fire Department at the Brick Yard Cove neighborhood drill last year.

The workforce analysis, conducted by management consulting company Raftelis, is required by the State Auditor Corrective Action Plan.

For the past three years, average overtime use is the equivalent of 63 full-time employees, primarily in the fire, police, and public works departments, according to a staff report.  

Last year, the council received a report from the Matrix Consulting Group, which analyzed the staffing needs of the police and fire departments based on call volume and interviews with community members.

The report called the current police staffing levels 'seriously deficient’ to meet the needs of the public and said officer turnover at the Richmond Police Department was an “unsustainable crisis.”

Average number of vacancies and average vacancy rate by department or division from 2022-24.

The Richmond Fire Department burned through 61,305 hours of overtime, or the equivalent of 29.4 employees. The Richmond Police Department was close behind 57,720 hours or 27.7 full-time equivalents. The Public Works Parks Division used 5,827 hours or 2.8 full-time equivalents.

While the city’s unassigned general fund reserves are increasing, resources remain limited. Raftelis wrote that some of the increase in reserves may result from salary savings and not “real” revenue growth.

Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez noted a $14.2 million surplus in a recent State of the City video.

Port Potrero plugs in for cleaner air 

The council will consider an item to approve a $3.32 million construction agreement with Rosendin Electric, Inc. to install a shore power system at the Point Potrero Marine Terminal to improve air quality for people living and working nearby.

A new California Air Resources Board regulation requires all ships at berth to connect to shore-based electrical equipment to power a vessel’s systems rather than operate onboard generators.

The port will work with Pacific Gas and Electric to expand the capacity of the terminal electrical system. The last time PG&E priced out the upgrade, the cost ranged from $1.8 million to $5.2 million. For budgeting purposes, the people at the port are thinking about $3.5 million. 

Also at the port is a $107,500 contract with Fresh Start Painting to repaint the Riggers Loft building at 1322 and 1325 Canal Blvd.

The end of traditional fireworks?

Councilmember Soheila Bana has put forth an item to replace traditional fireworks with drones at Richmond’s popular Third of July celebration. According to a staff report, the pretty lights and booms in the sky impact the environment and directly contribute to noise pollution. 

Richmond's Independence Day Eve fireworks display lights up Marina Bay on July 3.

Marina Bay Farmers' Market moves forward

City staff proposes a temporary land use agreement with the Richmond Certified Farmers’ Market Association. The association would use part of a city-owned parking lot near Marina Bay Park to operate a weekly farmers market on Sundays. 

Berkeley City Councilmember Sophie Hanh and the Berkeley Health Department will give a presentation on the regional impacts of a hospital closure.

Sutter Health has proposed to close the Alta Bates Campus in Berkeley, California, by 2030. Since the 2015 Doctors Medical Center closure, the Alta Bates emergency room has reportedly seen a sharp increase in patients from West Contra Costa County.

The mayor’s office has set forth two new planning commission appointments. Gay Timmons owns and operates Oh, Oh Organic, Inc., an organic and specialty ingredient distribution company. Alexander Golovets is an attorney whose goal is to foster sustainable, efficient, and responsible development in Richmond. 

On the consent calendar is another $100,000 contract amendment with Downey Brand to represent the city in pending appeals and any further proceedings in the Point Molate Alliance et al. v. City of Richmond litigation. The total contract has now reached $1.32 million.

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