Point Richmond hosting free concert Sept. 13

The Dornan Drive Tunnel is scheduled to reopen today and Point Richmond Music serendipitously has a concert from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m. as part of its summer series.

Orquesta Dharma and Viento y Marea will perform Latin jazz and salsa on the stage at Park Place and Washington Avenue, not far from the repaired tunnel.
The concert series finale will feature world music by Empress Meditations and jazz by Nicolas Bearde on Sept. 27.


Richmond’s south shoreline was still largely undeveloped in 1931


Above is an aerial view of the Port of Richmond in 1931, marked by the buildings at lower center extending into the newly dredged shipping channel.

Behind the port, the privately managed Parr Terminal, are two of the primary reasons the shipping facility was built:

The Ford Motor Plant (1931, the plant may still be under construction in this photo)

and the Felice and Perrelli Canning Company (1930).

The two buildings today are still standing and have been renovated, but at the time this photo was taken they were still new and an early industrial development on this portion of the city’s waterfront. There are no buildings around or behind them on the shoreline. The undeveloped shoreline behind the two factories and guarded by a breakwater would become Kaiser Shipyard No. 2 just a decade later. Today it is the Marina Bay residential development and boat harbor.

The wooded area visible south of what is now Marina Bay was the site known as Stege, a former estate and settlement that once had aspirations of officially becoming its own town.

Looking to the south (the top third of the picture), you can see how sparsely populated the land is north of Berkeley. Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito is visible, as are Albany Hill and Point Isabel (the point is connected to the shore by a thin dirt strip here, but in those days it became an island at high tide. It was also a popular spot for duck hunting). The Campanile on the UC Berkeley campus is at the far right. Also, Mount Diablo is visible in the background here.


El Cerrito: Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records are subject of new documentary to be screened at Mill Valley Festival

Above is a trailer for “This Ain’t No Mouse Music! The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records,” a new 92-documentary by Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling that will be screening twice next month as part of the 36th Mill Valley Film Festival.

Strachwitz founded Arhoolie Records just over 50 years ago and for the past 40 or so years it has been headquartered with his retail store Down Home Music on San Pablo in El Cerrito (the official street address, even though the building is actually within the Richmond city limits).

Here is the description of the documentary from the film festival website:

In English, Spanish and French with English subtitles. American folk in all its ragtag glory—from New Orleans Dixieland, hipslapping country and front-porch blues to Tex-Mex, Cajun and Deep-South R&B—provides the rollicking soundtrack to Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon’s downhome documentary about an unlikely yet endearing champion of regional music. Born a German count, Chris Strachwitz fled the advent of World War II as a teenager and immersed himself in his adopted country’s musical roots. With ever-alert ears and rudimentary recording equipment, Strachwitz has traversed the back roads and juke joints of the heartland for more than 50 years, tracking down homespun musical talent for his Arhoolie Records label—eschewer of the corporate pop Strachwitz gleefully dismisses as “mouse music.” “If not for people like Chris, this music would have fallen out of cultural history,” says Richard Thompson in this revelatory film, as musicians and fans of all stripes (including Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal) rejoice in his sonic obsessions.

Screenings are scheduled for Oct. 8 at the Sequoia 2 and Oct. 11 at the Rafael 1. There will also be a concert in conjunction with the Oct. 8 screening at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. “San Francisco Chronicle music journalist and author Joel Selvin will host a rollicking performance by Southern roots music masters Eric and Suzy Thompson, Mexican roots music revival pioneers Los Cenzontles and Cajun/Creole dance band Creole Belles, with more special guests to be announced.”


Fair housing groups ask courts to squelch investor lawsuit against Richmond

For Immediate Release                                                                                             Contact: See Below      

Monday, Sept 9, 2013                                                                                             


Fair Housing Groups Ask Court to Deny Banks’ Effort to

Stop Richmond’s Mortgage Rescue Plan

Industry threats constitute illegal, discriminatory lending practice, and would lead to redlining in Richmond


A coalition of fair housing and civil right groups filed an amicus brief in federal court today, supporting the City of Richmond’s opposition to a motion for preliminary injunction filed by trustees Wells Fargo Bank and Deutsche Bank. The trustees (Wells and Deutsche Bank) seek to block the City’s plan to help homeowners by restructuring underwater mortgages.


The brief, filed by the law firm Relman, Dane, & Colfax PLLC, on behalf of the National Housing Law Project, Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, Bay Area Legal Aid, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, and the California Reinvestment Coalition, argues that the actions the securitization industry has threatened to take to block the program, known as Richmond CARES, would amount to illegal redlining and would violate federal and state fair housing and fair lending laws, including the federal Fair Housing Act.


Richmond is 40% Hispanic and 25% African-American, and the fair housing and civil rights groups argue that the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association’s (SIFMA) plan would therefore have a disparate impact on minority borrowers.


Kevin Stein, Associate Director at the California Reinvestment Coalition, explained: “Banks continue to fail at keeping Richmond families in their homes, without any real consequences from their regulators.  Instead of fighting the city and threatening to redline Richmond, the banks should refocus their efforts on helping homeowners, especially since more than half (51%) of them are underwater in Richmond.” 


Last summer, the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) announced that in response to Richmond’s plan to help homeowners, SIFMA would block any future mortgages made in Richmond from being accepted in the most desirable part of the secondary market for mortgage-backed securities (MBS).  By restricting access, the cost of credit would likely rise dramatically for Richmond borrowers.


Marcia Rosen, Executive Director of the National Housing Law Project, explained: “The Banks’ attempt to prevent Richmond from responding to its foreclosure crisis is especially egregious given their role in the predatory lending underlying the crisis.   And the assertion that the injunction is necessary to protect the public interest from their own threatened redlining of the city must be seen for what it is — discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act that would further harm this beleaguered city and its residents.”


“What the securitization industry says it will do to the people of Richmond if it loses in the city council and the federal courthouse is racially discriminatory redlining, and it is illegal under federal and state law.  We fully expect that if the industry ever tries to go forward with its redlining plan, a court will step in and stop it,” said Glenn Schlactus of Relman, Dane & Colfax, a civil rights law firm based in Washington, D.C.


Maeve Elise Brown, Executive Director at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates, explained, “The mortgage servicing industry has lost money for investors for years by failing to work with homeowners on foreclosure avoidance options, particularly principal reduction.  The industry knows that principal reduction is the wise financial choice for investors and homeowners alike.  But now, disingenuously, the industry claims that a plan with principal reduction will hurt investors.  The fact is, the eminent domain proposal is likely to save investors money over the years to come, as well as maintaining communities and saving the city from tremendous losses.”


Hearing: A hearing on the trustees’ motion for a preliminary injunction and the City of Richmond’s motion to dismiss the case will be held on September 12, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Honorable Charles R. Breyer, presiding.


San Francisco Resolution supporting Richmond introduced: A resolution supporting the City of Richmond’s program was introduced today by San Francisco County Supervisor David Campos, recognizing the damage done to local communities by the foreclosure crisis, and supporting Richmond’s efforts to confront the problem head on.


Additional background:

The City of Richmond’s local principal reduction program Richmond CARES, launched with a vote by City Council in April, will acquire certain underwater mortgages, through regular purchase or eminent domain if necessary, in order to restructure the troubled mortgages and help the homeowners modify or refinance, getting them mortgages with reduced principal in-line with current home values.  Community, labor and faith groupssupporting the program say it will allow the City to preserve wealth in local hands, especially in communities of color and low-income communities that have been decimated by the foreclosure crisis and see no end in sight. In Richmond, 51% of all residential mortgage holders are still underwater.


In August, more than 50 fair housing, labor and community groups sent a letter to Congress, declaring that federal agencies should respect the right of cities like to pursue local principal reduction programs without facing redlining or illegal discrimination by the big banks or federal agencies.     




San Francisco supervisor proposes support for Richmond eminent domain plan


Media Alert:  EVENT Monday, September 9, 2013

For More Information: 

John Eller, ACCE   415-725-9869(cell) jeller@calorganize.org

Hillary Ronen Legislative Aide to Supervisor David Campos   415-425-9785 Hillary.ronen@sfgov.org

Nick Sifuentes, 310-866-1692nick@berlinrosen.com

San Francisco Supervisor Campos Announces Support for Program to Buy Mortgages, Fix Underwater Crisis
Will introduce resolution supporting Richmond’s Local Principal Reduction plan and have San Francisco investigate use of eminent domain to save underwater borrowers


San Francisco:  On Monday, September 9, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. (Pacific) San Francisco Supervisor David Campos will announce his intention to introduce a resolution before the County Board of Supervisors expressing support for the City of Richmond’s innovative effort to save hundreds of underwater borrowers (Richmond CARES), and instructing staff to explore opportunities in San Francisco to adopt a similar program.


“For the last few years, we have seen Wall Street Banks challenge every effort to rebuild our hardest hit communities from the foreclosure and economic crisis,” stated Supervisor Campos “today we need to show solidarity with bold leaders of Richmond in their effort to break the status quo as defined by Wall Street and rebuild their communities.”


WHAT:                        Press Conference to announce a City Resolution that would:

1.     Have San Francisco stand with the Mayor and City Councilmembers of Richmond to use similar lawful methods at their disposal as they work to save homes and save neighborhoods; 

2.     Calls on Wells Fargo – whose home is in San Francisco, SIFMA, and FHFA to stop threatening communities with reprisals and litigation and instead work with them to negotiate principal reduction for underwater mortgages as a way to strengthen local economies and help keep families in their homes; and

3.     Explore how a Local Principal Reduction program similar to the one being implemented by the City of Richmond could work here in San Francisco.


WHERE:            East Steps of San Francisco City Hall (Polk Street)


WHEN:                        Monday, September 9, 2013 10:00 a.m.


WHO:                         City supervisors and leaders from labor, faith, and community; underwater San

Francisco borrowers that received principle reduction and San Francisco borrowers who want the same opportunity.


On July 30, 2013, the City of Richmond became the first municipality in the nation to step boldly in where the federal government and the banks have failed, offering to purchase more than  600 city mortgages from major Wall Street banks and other servicers to achieve local principle reduction for distressed homeowners. Richmond has been hard-hit by the ongoing foreclosure crisis; as of 2013, 46% of all residential mortgage holders in the city are still underwater.


Wrongful foreclosures have caused a catastrophic loss of wealth.  Often targeted by predatory lending, communities of color have been particularly hard-hit with African Americans losing 53% of their median wealth from 2005 to 2009 and Latinos 66%. 


The Richmond program is an innovative program that enables cities to preserve wealth in local hands, especially in communities of color and low-income communities, which have been decimated by the foreclosure crisis and see no end in sight.


After an unprecedented push by local residents in Richmond to find ways to help struggling homeowners, the Richmond City Council approved the plan in April and sent letters to the banks in late July to offer to purchase underwater mortgages and, if needed, use the city’s eminent domain authority if necessary help struggling homeowners restructure their loans to be in line with the current value of their homes.  The City of Richmond  is working in partnership with Mortgage Resolution Partners, an advisory firm that has lined up the funding and technical support needed to carry out this program.


“Residents here in Richmond have been suffering for years thanks to the housing crisis Wall Street created and which Wall Street refuses to fix,” said Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. “We’ve seen too many houses go dark, too many lawns dry up and die, too many families left with nothing after years of hard work. When my constituents started showing up, calling on us to help them save our homes, I knew that this was the right thing for the Mayor and City Council to do.”


Though the City of Richmond is leading the way nationwide on local principle reduction, other California cities such as El Monte and La Puente are advancing this as well. 


Supervisor Campos is District 9 Supervisor for the Mission and Bernal Heights Neighborhoods of San Francisco, two neighborhoods impacted by the Foreclosure Crisis.  Occupy Bernal was formed last year and has already saved dozens of homeowners from foreclosure through principal reduction by banks and servicers.  Occupy Bernal has proven that servicers and borrowers can work together to achieve what Richmond is proposing and Banks like Wells Fargo is opposing.


The Home Defenders League is a national organization fighting against foreclosures, and for a just resolution to the mortgage crisis including the mass principal reduction for underwater homeowners. The League includes 26 community-based affiliates such as the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), national organizing networks the Alliance for a Just Society and Right to the City Alliance, Occupy Homes groups, and thousands of member families across the country. In a few short months, a coalition of more than 50 groups, including some of the nation’s largest labor unions and leading fair housing groups, issued an open letter asking members of Congress to rebuff repeated efforts to unfairly bar local municipalities that enact local principle reduction from receiving federally backed home mortgage loans. For more information, please visit:  www.saverichmondhomes.org


Richmond: Fire department training held at historic Pullman building


The academy for Richmond Fire Department trainees held a nighttime drill recently at the Tradeway Carpet warehouse on Carlson Boulevard.
The warehouse is significant as one of the last buildings standing from the former Pullman Shops that opened in November 1910 and serviced train cars until it closed in 1959. (Click here to learn more about the Pullman history.)
The postcard below from around 1913 shows workers leaving the facility, which had only become part of Richmond in 1912. Before that it was its own community and there were numerous suggestions about incorporating on its own, or with the neighboring and unincorporated Stege community, or with those two and the tiny community known as Rust, now El Cerrito.
Richmond put the question of adding Pullman and Stege to voters in 1912. Richmond voters strongly favored the idea of adding 2,000 residents and more than two square miles down to the waterfront. It was a little closer in the areas being annexed (see bottom, from the May 29, 1912 San Francisco Call).




See Rita Hayworth on the big screen in El Cerrito

Few actresses sizzled on the big screen like Rita Hayworth, and if you doubt that, go see “Gilda” (1946) the next Cerrito Classic, showing at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Rialto Cinemas Cerrito, 10070 San Pablo Ave. in El Cerrito. All seats are $8.
For an appetizer, check out the scene above, then hear Rita sing her big number below.

Linda Moss, of Friends of the Cerrito Theater, which hosts the classics series, calls the film “a really entertaining, noirish creation” and we can’t argue.

Here’s the announcement from the friends:

Like “Casablanca,” “Gilda” draws from a shadowy World War II-era of menace and intrigue. “Gilda” is set in Buenos Aires, in a city where covert German fascists exercise considerable power.

Also like “Casablanca,” “Gilda’s” central plot deals with a triangle, but the affairs in “Gilda” are both twisted and extremely powerful.

A down-and-out gambler, played by Glenn Ford, is taken on as an assistant to George Macready’s character: the ruthless boss of an international cartel, who runs an illegal casino.

The shocker is that Ford discovers that Macready’s new wife is the torrid Gilda, with whom he had a recent and incendiary affair.

You’ll never forget Rita Hayworth as Gilda, who burns up the screen with her silken sexiness, especially when she performs “Put the Blame on Mame.”

“Gilda” defined Rita Hayworth as the reigning screen siren for her era.

The movie shows once only, on Thursday, September 12 at 7 p.m. Cerrito Classics are popular: it’s always a good idea to buy your tickets in advance, at the box office oronline. Plan to arrive early, to select your seats and to order beer or wine and delicious, freshly-made food.

Have you checked out The Scene? It’s a stylish place to meet before or after the show, or any evening at all. Opens daily at 5:00 and has its own special menu of appetizers, sandwiches, salads and desserts, plus a great wine list.

Details: 510-273-9102 or www.rialtocinemas.com.


El Sobrante church holding free Musical Montage concert Friday

The community is invited to attend Music Montage, an evening concert by 14 local musicians performing a mix of styles, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Hope Lutheran Church, 2830 May Road in El Sobrante.
The concert will feature instrumental and vocal ensembles that will include a flute and cello duet, an organ solo, a vocalist accompanied by piano, a flute sextet, and a trombone quartet.
Admission is free and any donations will go toward the purchase of mosquito nets for families in malaria-prone areas.
The performers will be Antonia David (flute), Ellen DeCarlo (flute), Megan Delvanthal (flute), Lisa Dwiggins (cello), Jean Fisk (organ), Michele Friedman (flute), Debbie Grisso (piano), David Hemphill (trombone), Toni Link (flute), Carolyne Melson (voice), Justin Mar (bass trombone), Curtiss Mays (trombone), Pat Mullan (trombone), and Rosanna Stephens (flute).
The members are also planning a concert in December and welcomes interested musicians to audition. For more detail email Ellen DeCarlo at hope.concerts@yahoo.com.


Richmond closes section of Marina Bay Parkway for underpass construction


Marina Bay Parkway between Meeker Avenue and Regatta Boulevard closed at 7 a.m. Tuesday for an extended period to construct an underpass. The project will improve long-term access to and from the residential and business areas on that part of the waterfront, but will mean decreased access and roundabout detours during the estimated 18 months to build the underpass.

The project and logisitics are explained in this entry from last week’s city manager’s report:

Officer Bradley A. Moody Memorial Underpass Project – Closure of Marina Bay
Parkway to Traffic on September 3rd

The Bradley A. Moody Memorial Underpass Project involves the construction of a
roadway underpass on Marina Bay Parkway between Meeker Avenue and Regatta
Boulevard, and is intended to resolve long-standing access limitations to the Marina
Bay Area caused by frequent train crossings.
This week, work on median modifications on Regatta Boulevard in front of the police
station commenced, while utility relocation work continued.
For the week of September 3rd, the most noticeable event at the project will be the
closure of Marina Bay Parkway to traffic at approximately 7:00 AM. Immediately after
road closure, crews will begin demolition of the existing roadway. During this time,
utility relocation work will continue at the Department of Public Health campus and
near Pierson Avenue. AT&T will also be performing utility relocation work in the
area under a separate contract. Final striping of the Regatta Boulevard median
modifications will also be installed.
Marina Bay Parkway is scheduled to remain closed for approximately 18
months. Please see the graphic below showing alternate detour routes. Please
contact the project’s public outreach consultant, Jacqueline Majors, through the
project website at www.moodyup.com if you would like a hard copy of the “know
your route” card.
For additional information and to be added to the project update contact list, please
see the project website at www.moodyup.com. You can also now follow the project
on twitter: @moodyunderpass.



Albany Bulb protest planned for Tuesday


The message is out among the population living at the Albany Bulb, and not just by word-of-mouth. It’s even on a makeshift billboard at the intersection of two paths: Be at the meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting is the first Albany City Council session after a summer break. The council is expected to hear a presentation on outreach efforts by Berkeley Food and Housing Project and Solano Community Church on their outreach efforts at the bulb.
As Damin Esper wrote this week, “The city has been working to turn the Bulb over to the East Bay Regional Park District as a park. In the past, the park district maintained that the city must address the homeless problem on the Bulb before it will take over the property. It is assumed that a further delay in enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance would further delay negotiations on the park project, which has been in the works for several years.

“The council voted earlier this year to begin enforcement on the Bulb of the city’s anti-camping ordinance. However, the city at the same time entered into a contract with BFHP and Solano Community Church to attempt to transition people living on the Bulb into housing.”
Local lore has it that similar waterfront encampments in Albany date back to at least the Great Depression
The Bulb, a former Bay landfill garbage dump just north of Golden Gate Fields, is now a breezy/windy area of wonderful vistas and campsites that, while all makeshift of salvaged materials, can be quite elaborate. One has what looks like a second story — facing the Golden Gate. None of it is up to any code except that of the residents.


What the city sees as outreach and assistance is viewed quite differently by the residents of the Bulb and their supporters, who plan to be heard at the City Council meeting and have announced a march from the shoreline site to City Hall on Tuesday.

The following news release was issued Friday:


Over a hundred Albany residents will march from the Bulb to City Hall in protest of a mass eviction of homeless people from the City planned this October.

Albany, CA – For many years, the City has allowed fifty to seventy homeless people to live on the tip of a landfill, known as the “Bulb.” This May, the City Council abruptly voted to evict these residents, effectively driving them out of town. The City has no homeless shelters or affordable housing, nor a plan for developing them, in violation of state law. This Tuesday, Albany’s housed and homeless residents will collectively march to City Hall to demand that the City halt its plan to evict Bulb residents.

WHAT: Albany residents will march from the Albany “Bulb,” a waterfront landfill, to the City Council in protest of the City’s plan to evict approximately 70 homeless residents of the Bulb

WHERE: The march will begin at the entrance to the Albany Bulb (1 Buchanan Street Extension, Albany, CA) and continue along Buchanan Street to the Albany City Hall (1000 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA).

WHEN: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 at 6:00pm. The march to the City Hall will begin at 6:30pm, and the City Council Meeting will begin at 7:30pm.