El Cerrito wants input on its plans for San Pablo Avenue, active transportation, urban greening


Does your vision of an ideal San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito resemble the rendering above? Do you have something completely different in mind? Your chance to sound off about this and related topics comes at a city-hosted workshop on Saturday.

El Cerrito encourages the community to attend an open house from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 19 to learn about and give input on four major planning efforts. The event at the Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane, will discuss the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan, the Complete Streets Plan, the Urban Greening Plan and the Active Transportation Plan.

A presentation on the initiatives will be given at 9 a.m. and again at 11 a.m.

The San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan includes regulations for private development in the area, including new building size, density, parking, sustainability and open space requirements.

The Complete Streets Plan includes policies and facilities to better accommodate bus, bicycle and pedestrian travel along San Pablo.

The Active Transportation Plan addresses bicycle and pedestrian facilities and programs citywide.

The Urban Greening Plan includes “projects and policies to increase and enhance the city’s open space.”

For more details on the open house, visit www.el-cerrito.org/commdev or contact Emily Alter at ealter@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us or (510) 215-4385.


Arbor Day tree planting event open to all set for Sunday in Richmond



Arbor Day, October 19, 2013: Greening Our Community


Richmond, CA (October, 2013) Something exciting is happening in Richmond. The citizens are coming together to enrich the urban forest and make the city a better place.


Tree-planting at an Arbor Day event is an annual occurrence in Richmond, a “Tree City.” The City of Richmond has been renovating Lucas Park, and this year’s Arbor Day tree-planting will occur there. Groundwork Richmond and the Watershed Project are providing the trees and workers to get them in the ground. Richmond Rotary is sponsoring the event. Richmond Trees is supporting the effort and there will also be volunteers from the Explorers and Pogo Park.


Arbor Day at Lucas Park

10th St and Lucas Ave

Richmond, CA


8:00 am Check-in/Registration & Breakfast

8:30 am Tree planting workshop with ISA-certified Arborist, Molly Batchelder

9:00 am Tree Planting begins

12:00 pm Lunch (for volunteers) & Speakers

All morning family activities


Volunteers will arrive for registration and breakfast from 8:00 to 8:30 am. At 8:30 there will be an orientation and demonstration of how to plant the trees. Then the groups will disperse and plant 35 trees (Redwoods, Cork Oaks, Liquidambars and Crape Myrtles) inside the park. Bay Area Rescue Mission is providing lunch for the volunteers.


The event is open to the community. There will be a bouncer, music, refreshments and activities for children. At around 12:00, Chris Chamberlain, City of Richmond’s Parks and Landscape Superintendent, will speak to the volunteers and guests.


As evident by the collaboration required to create this event, several groups are interested in planting trees in Richmond, and the reasons are clear. The benefits of a thriving urban canopy include:

  • Removing carbon dioxide from the air and replacing it with oxygen, slowing global warming
  • Reducing air pollution by absorbing harmful chemicals
  • Replenishing our groundwater supply by reducing storm-water runoff and allowing water to soak into the surrounding soil
  • Providing an urban habitat for wildlife
  • Softening neighborhood noise
  • Reducing speeding traffic
  • Improving public safety
  • Increasing property values by 15% or more


More trees are sorely needed in Richmond, a city with plenty of challenges. However, these events are about much more than just planting trees. They are about building community as people come together to do something positive for the city.

For more information about Arbor Day or planting trees in your own Richmond neighborhood, contact Chris Chamberlain, City of Richmond’s Parks & Landscape Superintendent at 510-231-3004 or visit  http://www.ci.richmond.ca.us/


Leaders intervene to save North Richmond senior center

N E W S  RELEASE from office of John Gioia:

Contra Costa County
JOHN GIOIA (joy-a)
District One
Board of Supervisors

For more information contact:
Luz Gomez – Deputy Chief of Staff
Office 510-231-8689
Cell 925-785-2439

October 17, 2013

North Richmond Senior Center Saved from Closure

North Richmond, Calif.,
North Richmond seniors can now breathe a sigh of relief.  For months, residents in this tight-knit community feared that a pending foreclosure would shut-down their beloved senior center. Now, thanks to efforts by Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia and key community leaders, the North Richmond Multicultural and Family Center (aka the Senior Center) will remain open after a last-minute short-sale averted foreclosure.

The transaction, which closed on October 15, ensures the continuation of services and transfers ownership of the building to the non-profit Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC). Earlier this month, Supervisor Gioia obtained approval by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to use $156,830 in Park Dedication funds to enable CHDC to purchase the building and save the senior center.  Lloyd Madden, Neighborhood House President and CEO, negotiated the short sale price on behalf of their new Board of Directors.

Neighborhood House of North Richmond (“Neighborhood House”) has operated the senior center for nearly 30 years providing residents a safe place to gather for social, recreational, family, and civic events. The center is the hub and heart of the community.

In recent years, Neighborhood House experienced a severe financial crisis leading the building’s mortgage holder to begin foreclosure proceedings due to missed payments. “We came together and brought resources to the table to keep this important community center open” Supervisor Gioia said.

The Park Dedication funds can be used to meet local park and recreation needs, including senior and community centers. According to the County Assessor’s records, the current assessed value of the property is in excess of $325,000.

Through the efforts of Supervisor John Gioia’s Office, Congressman George Miller’s Office, Community Housing Development Corporation, and Neighborhood House of North Richmond, the current mortgage holder agreed to the short sale enabling the transaction. A plan is in place for continued services to seniors and other residents of North Richmond.

“Losing the senior center would have been like losing a beloved family member,” said Corrine Sain, the Center’s Director for the past 29 years. “The entire community depends on us to be here to serve them. I thank Supervisor Gioia, the County, and everyone who helped us to stay open.”



Throwback Thursday: Bay Bridge under construction in 1935

The project that would change the Bay Area forever still had a long way to go when this aerial photo of Bay Bridge construction was published in 1935. The photo includes an East Bay panorama with undeveloped hills in Berkeley and Oakland and Mt. Diablo looming in the background.

A closer look shows the cantilever section on the east side, the comparatively easy part of the project, is progressing nicely. No decks have been built on the western section, but the towers and anchorage are in place.

Zooming in again gives a better look at the ferry boat passing between the tower and the anchorage. There is no Treasure Island off of Yerba Buena Island, no Eastshore Highway along the eastern shoreline and no prehistoric version of the MacArthur Maze yet.

As for work on the cantilever section, this is what it looked like with no roadway in another photo from February 1935.


El Cerrito participates in Great California Shakeout


Employees at City Hall in El Cerrito took shelter under conference tables and desks at 10:17 a.m. Thursday during the Great California ShakeOut, a statewide earthquake drill held on the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that caused major damage around the Bay Area.

The Earthquake Country Alliance called participation in sixth annual event the largest yet:

The 2013 6th annual Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill on October 17 exceeded all expectations. More than 9.6 million Californians – many following specific drill broadcast instructions on more than 70 California radio and television stations – simultaneously practiced the “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” drill recommended by experts as essential for avoiding injury and even death in the event of a major earthquake.

Battalion Chief Michael Bond of the El Cerrito Fire Department said that during an earthquake all residents should be ready to “stop, drop and cover” under a sturdy place or piece of furniture, rather than trying to run outside. “Don’t try to get out, that’s about the time when stuff starts collapsing and debris starts falling.”
Also, “When you do go out, look for hazards” such as fallen electrical lines, he added.
As for advance preparation, “We encourage everbody in the city to participate in the CERT (community emergency response team) training,” Bond said.
Families should also designate a place to meet after an event.
At El Cerrito’s new City Hall, the city council chambers are equipped to be used as an emergency command center, with satellite phones and a power generator, said City Manager Scott Hanin.



Free North Richmond Green festival set for Saturday


You are invited to attend the “4th Annual North Richmond Green Festival,” which will take place this Saturday, October 19, 2013 from 10:00am to 4:00pm at the Shields Reid Park and Community Center located on 1410 Kelsey Street in Richmond, California. This will be a free, family friendly, outdoor event, to celebrate efforts that are being made to improve the environment and the health of the community.


The festival will follow a beautification project where volunteers will plant flowers in target locations at the Shields Reid Community Center and at the North Richmond Missionary Baptist Church.

Once the festival begins at 10:00am, the highlights of this community event will include giveaways such as free food, free blueberry bushes, pomegranate trees, olive trees, t-shirts, and reusable water bottles, along with live entertainment, arts and crafts, wild animal tours, jumpers, informational booths and more…


Click here for flyer: 2013-GreenFestival-Flyer-N To register as a volunteer, or for more information, please contact, Carla Orozco, at 510-776-7568, or at carlaorozco@live.com.


Please come join us for a healthy day filled with family fun and community enjoyment!!



Richmond: Officer Bradley A. Moody Memorial Underpass project update includes 24-hour construction work next weekend

Work on the underpass being built to circumvent the train tracks crossing Marina Bay Parkway intensifies next weekend, according to the latest update from the Richmond city manager:

Officer Bradley A. Moody Memorial Underpass Project Update – Night Work Scheduled for October 18 – 20

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. In early September, Marina Bay Parkway was closed to traffic. This closure will remain in place for approximately 18 months.

This week, while utility relocation work continued, the second of three shipments of steel piles for the Deep Soil Mix (“DSM”) walls arrived at the site and DSM construction continued. This work is one of the most time-critical operations for the project, and the community can expect DSM work to take place on most weekends during this phase of the project.

Of note, during excavation work conducted this week, the contractor successfully avoided two undocumented live utility facilities. As noted in prior reports, unknown utilities are a problematic but unavoidable risk, and the contractor’s expertise and standard of care avoided potential utility outages in these cases.

For the week of October 14th, crews will continue utility relocation work and DSM production. As noted in prior reports, certain segments of the DSM and bridge construction work will necessarily require closure of the railroad to train traffic. The first of these closure windows are proposed for next week: On October 16th, 17th and 18th, train traffic will not be permitted to use the crossing during the workday hours. These work windows may result in increased train activity in the nighttime hours.

On October 19th, 20th and 21st, the first of up to six weekend, 24-hour a day closure windows are scheduled. Community members can expect work on the project to continue for 24 hours a day on these days. While disruptive, these weekend work shifts are necessary to complete the project, and the project team appreciates the community’s patience.

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 follow the project on twitter: @moodyunderpass.


Early birds: Richmond is reopening Point Molate Beach Park at sunrise Monday

If you’re an early riser you can get up in a few hours (7:16 a.m., according to Google) and attend the reopening of Point Molate Beach Park, an addition to the shoreline amenities available in Richmond. The park was closed in 2001 due to city budget issues.
The Trails for Richmond Action Committee issued the following reminder today to its members:

Richmond Bay Trail Network,

Very good news — the City of Richmond’s Point Molate Beach Park reopens at sunrise this Monday, October 14! Take the Western Drive exit from I-580 just before the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge toll plaza to check it out this restored, beautiful beach park’s amazing vistas of San Francisco Bay with Mount Tamalpais rising behind the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge. Park hours will be sunrise to sunset daily.

The improvements made by the City’s Public Works Department include new picnic tables with BBQ’s on decomposed granite pads, an ADA pathway & picnic pad, and a newly paved entrance and striped parking lot. The park also includes an ADA portable restroom pending funding for a permanent installation.

Click Here if you’d like to email the City Council and City management letting them know about your visit to Point Molate Beach. You also might enjoy reading the Point Molate Beach Recreational History to learn about amazing ups and downs of recreational use from the 1930s to WWII and to date.

Unfortunately, there is no pedestrian or safe bicycle access to Point Molate. You must get in a motor vehicle and drive. Click Here to learn about progress being made by the City of Richmond and East Bay Regional Park District to complete the planned Bay Trail linkage with Point Molate and the rest of the Point San Pablo Peninsula.



Richmond: Caltrans update on Interstate 580 Scofield Avenue and Western Drive construction

Caltrans has issued an update on its Scofield Avenue and Western Drive bridge replacement project on Interstate 580 leading to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge that has created heavy traffic and some confusion for motorists:

Contra Costa County – Eastbound lane and ramp closures continue for the Interstate 580 construction project east of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

· Tonight, Friday, October 11th, Caltrans will close one eastbound lane from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
· The eastbound on-ramp from Western Drive to Interstate 580 will also be closed from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Eastbound traffic is in a split traffic configuration, with one left lane, one right lane, and construction taking place in an island between the lanes. Due to this lane configuration, during construction, the left eastbound lane and eastbound Western Drive on-ramp will be closed to allow for staging of equipment, materials, and workers. Those closures are essential for the safety of construction workers and the travelling public.

Closures for one eastbound lane and the eastbound Western Drive on-ramp will continue next week according to the following schedule:

· Eastbound I-580 lane: Monday through Thursday night, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
· Eastbound Western Drive on-ramp: Monday through Thursday, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Caltrans has observed that during the day, some drivers are confused about the eastbound lane configuration. Please be aware that when both lanes are open, either lane will take motorists through the construction zone. They will remain on eastbound I-580. Due to narrower lanes and concrete barriers on both sides of the lane, drivers are slowing down in the construction site. Please allow at least 20 additional minutes for the eastbound afternoon commute.

This current lane configuration will continue until the end of October. Then Caltrans will shift lanes to the left to allow the contractor to work on the right side of the eastbound bridge deck. The project is scheduled to be completed in December.

This is an active construction site and the 45 MPH speed zone will be enforced by the California Highway Patrol. Drive cautiously through the construction zone and leave a safe traveling distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Please remember to “Slow for the Cone Zone.”

For more information about the project, call the message line at (510) 286-5820 or visit the Caltrans webpage at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/580scofieldave/


Bringing on tenants at the new El Cerrito shopping center, 1957-58

Here are the original Oakland Tribune stories as Woolworth comes aboard as a tenant and Capwell’s celebrates opening the largest department store in Contra Costa County in 1957-58.

October 1957.

Announcement of the opening of Capwell’s new $6 million, 232,000-square-foot store in July 1958.

More than 5,000 people attended the ribbon-cutting and opening of the Capwell’s store, the Tribune reported.