Surfing at Richmond Starbucks

I wish I was the guy who invented Starbucks. I’d be rich.
The coffee houses with the little mermaid logo have become as common as service stations and are frequently found next to them on interstate highways.
There are so many in fact that most towns have more than one, often just a stone’s throw away from each other in shopping centers. They are there in case you have a caffeine craving after leaving the Starbucks at the end of the parking lot and walking through the front door of the supermarket.

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Return of the Three-Dot Items …

It’s been a busy week, so this week’s three-dot items for the blog are a little late. But here goes:

Hercules is the latest West County city to begin installing energy-efficient LED street light fixtures. Installation of the 161 street lights began a couple of weeks ago along Sycamore Avenue from Willow Avenue to Palm Avenue and Refugio Valley Road from Sycamore Avenue to the roundabout at Redwood Road.
The fixtures are more costly than the standard type, but use 40 percent less power and have a considerably longer life. The city believes the whiter light from the LEDs will be safer for drivers and pedestrians. Funding for the lights came from an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act energy efficiency block grant …

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Another try

The John Swett school district wants to give a parcel tax another try.

Voters turned down Measure J in November, but the school district is hoping that it will fare better if it asks taxpayers for less this time around.

The latest proposal: a May 3 mail election seeking approval of a $75 parcel tax on residential property for four years, and one cent per square foot on industrial and commercial property.

That’s less than what the district asked for in Measure J, when they sought $96 a year for four years on residential properties and 1.5 cents per square foot on commercial land.

Is that enough to make a difference at the ballot box? We may soon find out.

If you want to let the school board know what you think of the proposal, you can attend a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at 400 Parker Ave. in Rodeo. The school board will decide whether to call a special election after the hearing.

The John Swett school district covers Rodeo and Crockett.


Look here at this giant pile of guns

SID seizure picture

Richmond Police Department confiscated this giant pile of guns Wednesday from a house on San Joaquin Street, in the Richmond Annex. A giant pile of drugs came with it.

While this is a flashy bust, the department takes hundreds of guns off the street every year, without much fanfare.

Just another reminder of how many guns are out there, and how far we still need to go as a community.


Hercules: The sound of silence

Just reading about it feels uncomfortable.

Think what it would be like to feel the vibes firsthand at this week’s Hercules City Council meeting, where a new mayor and vice mayor were appointed.

It wasn’t a smooth process, reporter Tom Lochner writes. There were a few long, awkward silences and many nervous looks. Finally Joanne Ward was appointed to be mayor on a 2-0 vote (two members abstained) and Myrna de Vera as vice mayor on a 3-1 vote.


Pinole fire department on the ropes

Pinole leaders got the bad news about their fire department’s dire fiscal straits on Tuesday night, in excruciating detail.
Nobody pointed fingers during the public vetting of a consultant’s report that concluded the city can no longer support two fully staffed firehouses. In Pinole, a haven for hard times, folks seemed well past the finger-pointing stage on Tuesday night. There’s too much work ahead to waste the time.

Hard decisions face voters in coming months, not just elected officials or city staff. A remarkably synergistic approach to sharing resources among cash-strapped local departments helped for years to maintain a community standard for fire service. Continue Reading


Hercules council appoints former mayor Batara to finance panel

For those who missed it — it wasn’t posted on the city Website’s Meetings page, although it was on the Calendar page — the Hercules City Council held a special meeting last night.
By a 4-0 vote, the council appointed former Mayor Frank Batara to the newly-formed Citizens Finance Advisory Adhoc Committee.
Some say that Batara, whose tenure from March 2001 to December 2006 spanned some of the more controversial land-use and real estate issues of recent Hercules history, is part of the problem, not the solution.
But Councilwoman Myrna de Vera says Batara’s historical experience, combined with four fresh pairs of eyes, will provide balance to the five-member finance panel. And, she says, Batara’s fellow panelists can ask him why he came to some of his decisions during his stint on the council.
The other four panelists are William Wilkins, Hector Rubio, Virgilio dela Vega and Gabriel Naguit.


Train vs. truck in south Richmond

A tractor trailer turning left from Cutting Boulevard to Carlson Boulevard did not quite clear the rail crossing about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, with predictable results.

The Amtrak hit it. The engineer got some glass in the eye from a broken window, police say, but nobody was seriously hurt.