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 councilman denounces eminent domain plan, urges special meeting

From Councilman Nat Bates in an email sent to supporters:

April 2, 2013 City Council minutes of action taken.

The matter to approve an Advisory Services Agreement with Mortgage Resolution Partners, LLC to assist the City of Richmond in reducing the impact of the mortgage crisis, by advising on the acquisition of mortgage loans through the use of eminent domain, in order to restructure or refinance the loans and thereby preserving home ownership, restoring homeowner equity and stabilizing the communities’ housing market and economy by allowing many homeowners to remain in their homes was presented by City Manager Bill Lindsay. (At 11:00 p.m. on motion of Councilmember Myrick, seconded by Mayor McLaughlin extended the meeting to finish the current item with Councilmember Butt voting Noe). Councilmember Butt left the meeting at ll:15 p.m. Leland Chan and Melvin Willis gave comments.

A motion was made by Councilmember Beckles, seconded by Councilmember Myrick to approve an Advisory Services Agreement with Mortgage Resolution Partners, LLC. Councilmember Myrick requested a report back from staff regarding loan criteria and specifics. A substitute motion was made by Vice Mayor Booze, seconded by Councilmember Bates to hold the item over for 30 days to gather more information. Following discussion, Councilmember Bates withdrew his second. The original motion to approve an Advisory Services Agreement with Mortgage Resolution Partners, LLC passed by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Bates, Beckles, Myrick, Rogers, Vice Mayor Booze, and Mayor McLaughlin. Noes: None. Abstentions: None. Absent: Councilmember Butt.


As noted above, this action was to approve an Advisory Service Agreement with a follow-up of the criteria and specifics. How the mayor interpreted this as a mandate to go after the lending institutions is beyond me. The mayor has been misrepresenting the city council action by parading around  San Francisco and threatening Wells Fargo without the city council approval. In addition, this council has no idea the capacity of Mortgage Resolutions Partners LLC financial ability to pay damages should the court order such against the city. Also, there has not been any staff report regarding loan criteria and specifics as directed in the motion of April 2, 2013,some 4 months ago which suggest not one councilmember including the mayor understand the criteria and specifics.


In addition, this action has caused serious financial risk to the city, and each and every homeowner or potential home owners who wish to refinance, purchase or sell a home in this city. My recent communication with the Finance Director, Mr. Jim Goins indicate the city was circulating some 30 millions of dollars in revenue bonds. Although the city has a strong A bond rating, not one financial institution was willing to come forward to purchase these bonds because of the Eminent Domain issue and Wall Street’s reaction to the City of Richmond. Kindly take a look at the reactions from several news articles, etc listed below.


While most of us are sympathetic to the many citizen who are undergoing financial risk of losing their homes through the mortgage crisis and etc, as responsible elected officials, we must not comprise the integrity and financial ability of this city to operate efficiently.


It is important this council take leadership and do our job in representing our citizenry. Therefore, I am requesting my council members join me in calling for a special city council meeting within the next seven days to clarify and make the necessary corrections to offset this potential financial liability and embarrassment to this city. Should my fellow colleagues concur, kindly email your support to the city clerk as soon as possible.




Councilmember Nat Bates


Whole Foods Market® Richmond Distribution Center Bread Breaking Friday, May 17



Whole Foods Market® Richmond Distribution Center Bread Breaking Friday, May 17

Whole Foods Market Leadership, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and City Manager Bill Lindsay Will Officially Open Center at 11 a.m.



Whole Foods Market – Richmond Distribution Center



Whole Foods Market traditional bread breaking for its new distribution center located in Richmond. Whole Foods Market leadership, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and City Manager Bill

Lindsay will speak and then officially break bread to celebrate the opening of the center.

Whole Foods Market is transferring its Northern California Regional distribution center from San Francisco to Richmond to be more centrally located to its 38 stores. The center will be fully operational by month’s end.



Rob Twyman, President, Whole Foods Market Northern California and Reno Region:

“Whole Foods Market is thrilled to be opening this distribution center in Richmond.” “We are very thankful for the City of Richmond’s support on this project and look forward to fully incorporating ourselves into the local community.”

Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond Mayor

“We are thrilled that Whole Foods Market is opening their new distribution center in Richmond.” “We are thankful to Whole Foods Market for their investment in our business community and for providing new jobs for our residents.” 



Friday, May 17 at 11 a.m.



Whole Foods Market Distribution Center

Pinole Point Business Park

6035 Giant Road, Richmond, CA 94806


Directions: Note, if you GPS the address it will take you to Giant Highway not Road. If you use GPS, enter the UPS office address (1601 Atlas Road, Richmond) and then follow Atlas Road until you get to Giant Road – then take a right. http://goo.gl/maps/fcYPF  Call Jennifer Marples on cell for assistance, if needed.



Jennifer Marples, jennifer@koacommunications.com

Cell: 415.596.0463



Photography is available upon request.

Lunch will be provided for city officials and the media.




Press release: Richmond ACCE fundraiser at Nevin Center



Richmond, CA


Re: Community Empowerment Film


Fundraiser Plans


The Richmond chapter of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) is having a fundraiser at The Nevin Center,



598 Nevin Avenue in Richmond, California on May 15


from 6:30-8:30 PM.


ACCE works in California communities to support people as they fight to keep their homes from illegal bank practices and foreclosure. ACCE also works for Universal Health Care, an end to blight and abandoned property, stands up at the city council meetings and meets with city officials to discuss the needs and issues that face the largely underserved community of Richmond.


“For the past two years I have worked with ACCE and now I am the

State representative for the Richmond Chapter. I am so proud to protect the people I live and work with in Richmond and fight for justice,” explained Doug Gilbert, ACCE activist.


The two short documentary films, “Community Empowerment”, and

Wells Fargo Protest March” produced by Sharon Collins, Stephanie Slade and Gini Graham Scott of United Media Productions, reflect the story of ACCE, its mission, vision and actions.


In addition to the films, the first ACCE Community Empowerment Award will be presented to honor



Mayor Gayle McLaughlin for her outstanding leadership, producing innovative solutions with an open door to ACCE.


Meet and greet your community leaders. Support the people who work to make


Richmond a better place to live and work. Join the sponsors supporting this important


community event including Unlimited Property Services, Inc., EnviroViews Landscaping,


Collins Management, Slade Digital, Clear View Realty, Changemakers Publishing,


Discolandia, and USCW Union Local 5 and Roots Force Productions. Call Dave Sharples


of ACCE at



415-377-9037 or Sharon Collins at 510-693-7886

for tickets, community

partner tables and sponsorship opportunity.




Full text of Richmond Mayor McLaughlin’s State of City 2013

Below is the full speech delivered by Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin in city council chambers on Jan. 29, 2013.


City Councilmembers, City Staff and members of the community:  2012 was a quite a year!   It was of groundbreaking and historic accomplishments and it was also a year of deep controversy and difference of opinion.   It was eventful and unprecedented in so many ways.  Whether it was difficult controversies or groundbreaking accomplishments, we have risen to the occasion and I remain honored to represent the great diverse community that resides here in our great city.     In the midst of our ongoing challenges, it’s easy to lose sight of the ground we’ve gained.   This is a collective journey, and many, many people, businesses and organizations have made it possible…that is why I’m pleased to share this 2013 State of the City Address with all of you today.


Public Works, Engineering and Development Projects


I want to start off with sharing some of the many accomplishments in terms of Public Works, Parks, Engineering and development projects.


For starters, let’s acknowledge with pride that Richmond won the 2011 Pavement Management Award for “Most Improved Roads” from MTC.  We had an increase of 13 points from 2010.  While we still have a lot of work to do, this is a great achievement. 


In addition to paving many city blocks, Public Works did remodeling work at Fire Stations and painted various city buildings such as the Disabled People’s Recreation Center, the main Library and the interior of the Auditorium.


Our Parks and Landscaping Division were busy, as always, with great projects.  Thanks to our very committed and able Parks staff in collaboration with an engaged community, onAugust 11, 2012, we celebrated the Grand Opening of a beautifully renovated Solano Playlot.  We also celebrated the renovation of Burg Park as well as a new pedestrian bridge at Booker T. Anderson Park.  This in conjunction with ongoing maintenance, repairs, and landscaping work to beautify our city public spaces.


Engineering was extremely busy this year as well.


Projects including the Via Verdi Culvert Replacement Project, previously known as the Via Verdi “sink hole” problem.  El Portal Drive was opened in December and the pipe that ran under the road has been completely replaced.


Some other quick facts include:


100, 000 sq. yards of pavement were slurry sealed.

35 curb ramps were completed

28,589 sq ft of sidewalks were completed through the City program


Engineering should also be congratulated for its Railroad Crossing Improvements.  Richmond is now a national leader in Quiet Zones with a total of eight (8) zones established.  


Engineering also replaced lights on major streets throughout the City (such as Macdonald Ave, Barrett, 23rd, San Pablo, Cutting Blvd, portions of the Parkway, Castro St., Nevin, Bissell, Pennsylvania and various downtown streets.  1,100 antiquated series streetlights were replaced with LED lights.  Old lights use 80% more energy than the new LED lightsAND the LED lights are 4 times brighter than older lights. 


And one more engineering project I want to mention is the Stormwater Improvements at Garrity Creek.  The first large trash capture device was placed in a stormwater pipe at Hilltop Mall such that it captures trash dropped by shoppers preventing the trash from getting in the creek.


New development projects continue to move forward in Richmond:


Rosie the Riveter Visitor and Education Center 

  • The new visitor education center in the historic Oil House, part of the Ford Building Rehabilitation Project is located on the Richmond shoreline and is the new home of the Rosie the Riveter Visitor and Education Center.
  • Restoration improvements of the Oil House include: classrooms, exhibits, and an award winning theater.

Bart garage

  • The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) parking structure is nearing completion.
  • Related transit improvements such as repaving and striping of 16th Street have been completed.  Along with the BART garage construction other improvements with transit center include; pedestrian and bicycle upgrades as well as improvements to bus circulation.
  • The public art is now installed on the east and west parking structure elevations.
  • Once completed the garage will have six levels of parking, with a total of 762-spaces. The garage will include 9,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space fronting on Macdonald Avenue in downtown Richmond. 

Meade Street Bypass Road Project

  • The Meade Street Bypass Road now serves as the primary road in and out of the South Richmond Shoreline Area with no interruption from train activity. This is especially vital to emergency vehicles that need access to the South Richmond Shoreline area unimpeded.
  • Meade Street Bypass Road is great resource for the business community in the area and has potential for new businesses to call Richmond home.
  • This road will serve as a temporary road while the Bradley A. Moody Underpass Grade Separation is constructed

Green aspects of the bypass road project

  • The road consists of green components: State “Energy-Efficient” LED Street Lights will help provide safety to the area and to bicycle riders utilizing the Class II bike lanes
  •  2 acre site includes the largest Richmond Public Works Bio retention Basin that will filter storm water runoff

Rigger’s Loft


Rigger’s Loft, after some controversy, is well into its rehabilitation work and is already being marketed by the City.


Crime and Violence Prevention


Now, I ‘d like to focus a bit on the extraordinary accomplishments we have collectively made happen in the area of crime and violence prevention.


In recent years, we have seen a massive decrease in violent crime.  We ended 2012 with 18 homicides, while it was just a few years back in 2009, we had 45 homicides.  We are clearly moving in a very strong downward trend.  All this reflects a collective effort on the part of our community-involved police department, our Office of Neighborhood Safety, many community violence prevention groups and great programs, such as the Ceasefire Program.


As we all know, one homicide and one shooting is a tragedy beyond words.   Let us always remember that these statistics represent real human lives and people loved, and mourned, by many.


In addition, just recently a great crime prevention victory has been accomplished thanks to a grassroots community organizing effort that was successful in getting state realignment money dedicated to re-entry services as opposed to expanding the county jail.  I will be presenting this year’s MLK Award to those community groups that really helped shift the focus onto resources needed for re-entry service to decrease recidivism….rather than trying at arrest our way out of crime problems.   


My office is also working directly with the Richmond Project, a program in San Quentin, where Richmond residents in prison are transforming themselves and sharing their profound message with our youth encouraging them to focus on healthy lifestyles.


So in many ways we are addressing the roots of our crime and showcasing Richmond as a leader in crime prevention. 


Economic Development and Jobs


And along with moving to a more peaceful Richmond, we have moved to a moved our local economy forward as well.


Richmond saw 249 new businesses started in 2012 which generated 457 jobs.


An example of one of these new businesses is Nutiva. Nutiva the world’s leading brand of organic hemp foods, coconut oil, and chia seeds and moved its headquarters to Richmond this year.  It is in the process of hiring 100 workers and has reached out to our local residents for these jobs.  In addition, Nutiva, is doing great community work, including a commitment of planting fruit tree orchards in every Richmond school, which it has already begun!


Ekso Bionics is another great business that has moved to Richmond.  Ekso Bionics is pioneering the field of exoskeletons, designing and creating some of the most forward-thinking solutions in offering people with physical limitations new, innovative options for extending their physical abilities. Ekso Bionics was named by Time Magazine as “One of the 50 Best Innovations in 2010.”  And we are proud that they chose Richmond to be home to their exciting business.


ANDof course as we all know, The University of California Richmond Field Station was selected as the preferred site for the second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The development of the Richmond Bay Campus in Richmond’s Southern Gateway will serve as a center for innovation, catalyst for other research facilities, and will support broader economic revitalization locally and regionally. The start of the operation is expected between 2017-2020.  


We just recently passed a resolution calling on DTSC to move forward with a clean-up to unrestricted standards of the toxic Zeneca site (which is adjacent to the Richmond Field Station) so that we are not held back in our economic revitalization of the South Gateway, including the development of LBNL’s 2nd campus.


But in addition to traditional models of economic development, we are also promoting alternative models by way of encouraging Richmond worker-owned cooperatives.  In 2011 we saw our first Richmond worker-owned coop get started.  That was the Liberty Ship Café, a healthy catering service owned collectively by Richmond residents.  This year we have continued to promote coops and are seeing a restaurant coop, a bike coop, an urban agriculture coop, an entertainment coop, and a solar installation coop in the works.  This style of economic development has a three-pronged benefit.  Worker Coops are 1. a source of job creation, 2. a source of local wealth-building, and 3. a source of workplace democracy. 


We also saw a non-profit emerge this year, the Richmond Revolving Loan fund, that is helping provide start-up money for local co-ops.


Job training continues to be an extremely high priority for us all.


RichmondBUILD, of course, continues to be a star program in the City as we train and steer our residents toward jobs in the new green economy.


But we’ve also seen some new advancements as part of our YouthWORKS program.  A big plus is that at that at the end of 2012 YouthWORKS moved into their own building at 2705 Macdonald Ave. 


Our 2012 Summer Youth Employment Program employed about the same number of Richmond youth as last year.  We had 263 youth receiving up to 100 hours of meaningful, career path work experience. 


The after-school Academic Program “Straight Talk on Prison” has provided academic support and community service learning to over 70 youth participants. In collaboration with the National Park Service, we saw the emergence of the “Hometown Richmond’ team working in gardens, urban agriculture locations, and planting trees through the community.


Our stellar LEAP program with its excellent staff, instructors and volunteers continues to provide intense learning opportunities so that their graduates succeed educationally, thereby enhancing their earning power.


Health and Sustainability Initiatives


In terms of policies and initiatives, our greatest accomplishment this year was on April 24, when we passed our 2030 General Plan based on health, sustainability and equity.  We now have a great blueprint for a healthy and vital urban landscape meeting the needs of our community as a whole!


Another great initiative occurred on June 19 when we voted to participate in Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) by joining Marin Energy Authority to provide customers with a choice of purchasing electricity with higher renewable energy content.


We’re excited that our R3 – Richmond Recovery Rebate Program provided $377,691 in rebates to residents, generating in the process $3,166,191 in total economic activity and an estimated 35 new, local jobs. For every $1 of R3 funds awarded to a project, $7.1 dollars were invested back into the local economy.


We are making great progress in the field of health and were selected as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Roadmaps to Health Prize finalist for innovative Community Health and Wellness strategies! 


We also have a new partnership called the Richmond Health Equity Partnership (RHEP), where we are partnering  with Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) and others and are engaging in various strategies and projects to advance full-service community schools and to track and measure health outcomes.   


We’ve also made progress on brownfield assessments to facilitate the development of community gardens and have shared Richmond’s experience with other cities as part of the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities efforts.   Thank you to the community, to the Health Initiatives Team and everyone working to better the health or our community.


In the area of sustainable transportation, our “Easy Go Richmond” project just won a State Award from the Governor’s Office and is providing opportunities for car-sharing, bike sharing and electric and hybrid vehicle usage, as well as discounted public transportation passes.


Further sustainability efforts of course include the city’s various Compost and Tree Giveaways.  In partnership with Self Sustaining Communities and Richmond’s Cities of Service Program, 3,000 various fruit and olive trees were given away.  And Self-Sustaining Communities is continuing to outreach for more trees for our community from regional growers.


Community groups and non-profits, such as Urban Tilth, Groundwork Richmond and Richmond Trees have helped us beautify our neighborhoods and promote a healthier Richmond with the planting of new trees and growing of community gardens. 


And our Richmond Food Policy Council continues to explore ways of accessing healthier food for our community. 


We also participated in green tours for Richmond youth in conjunction with Lana Husser and Earth Team so that youth from various schools have an opportunity to see all the great sustainable initiatives we are engaged in. 


In addition, we’ve participated with the community in various healthy recreational activities and events such as the Walk to Nature led by Youth Enrichment Strategies and Bike to Work Day; and we celebrated the closing of a Bay Trail gap with the completion of the Wildcat Marsh Trail. 


Chevron Fire


Amid, all these wonderful things, let’s not forget the horrendous experience of the Chevron Refinery fire which sent 15,000 people to local hospital for treatment of respiratory issues and other health impacts of the fire.  We remain very concerned about the health and safety risk that this major refinery poses to our residents and to the greater Bay area.   I brought forward 2 resolutions in recent months, which the City Council approved, addressed the issue of Chevron’s rebuilding their Crude Unit where the fire occurred.  Concerns remain that they utilize the best technology available and that the highest safety precautions are put into place.  Some of us are watching very closely as more information unfolds.
We are also very concerned that Chevron be held totally accountable for the damage they have imparted on us which includes the health impact, the impact to land and property, and the impact to our City’s image.  Chevron has imparted great harm to our community by way of their pollution, their accidents, and frankly their impact on our elections and democracy for decades.  Many of us remain greatly concerned about all of this.


But while we are putting our nose to the grindstone and making sure that our health and safety isn’t put in jeopardy once again, we continue to develop and rise as a city with heart, mind and soul committed to transform ourselves and bring our dreams into fruition.


Arts/Culture/Festivals/Special events


One of the most profound ways we rise and transform ourselves is through arts, culture, festivals, and special city events.


Festivals and events are a reflection of our diversity and our outlook as a community and we had a flowering of such activities last year.  In addition to some of our now long-standing festivals such as Cinco de Mayo, Juneteenth, the Homefront Festival, National Night Out, and the North Shoreline festival, we had the joy of experiencing our 3rd Annual Native American Pow-Wow last summer….and the 2nd Annual Major Taylor Bike Fiesta organized by Building Blocks for Kids happened last year. 


Other new traditions, including the North Richmond Blues Festival and the North Richmond Green Festival, have continued to build community spirit and empowerment throughout North Richmond.  Our downtown Music on the Main concerts and Pt Richmond’s various music and arts festivals, have shown that we have no shortage of talent in the City of Richmond!


To add to that, we had a great Spirit and Soul Festival in downtown Richmond last summer where thousands of people filled out downtown to experience good food, entertainment and many wonderful vendors showcasing their wares.


In 2012, the 3th Annual Homelessness Conference also took place in Richmond, organized by Saffron Strand, a non-profit dedicated to helping homeless individuals find their way into healthy lifestyles with job opportunities.


Additionally, I am very proud of the continued success by my office and the community in organizing our International Women’s Day event.  Last year was our 5th Annual Sisters in Solidarity event which brought together more women than ever, who demonstrate by their solidarity the kind of Richmond that we can become and are becoming!  


The arts in Richmond continue to thrive with poetry and essay contests, as well as neighborhood arts projects.  This year the City Council established a Poet Laureate Program and we honored Dwayne Parish as our first Poet Laureate in Richmond! 


Creative groups of young people such as RAW Talent and the young people at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts continue to make us proud.


And….public arts murals took center stage in Richmond in 2012 as the Greenway has become transformed with beautiful murals alongside beautiful gardens.


New Volunteer Program


Impact volunteering program, managed and coordinated by Rochelle Monk, branded as “Excellence Serving our Community” with various initiatives already launched like the WriterCoach Connection at Richmond High School to address the writing achievement gap with one-on-one volunteers helping 120 students to improve literacy and writing skills. .  In December 2012, Youth Service America announced its selection of RichmondESCas a lead agency to engage and organize youth to lead projects that improve the Richmond community.


The official launch of theESCis on Feb 20 at 11:30 at Civic Center Plaza.


Youth empowerment


We have also seen that great organizing work around youth sports, activities, and education has taken a big step forward this year.  Our youth, with adult mentors, have shown that yes, they can advocate on their own behalf for more sports fields and more education and youth activities.  Richmond Pulse (a youth-run newspaper) continues to focus on positive happenings in Richmond with the determination of showcasing Richmond as a city with character and integrity. I’m thrilled that my office has worked with these groups to help them move their efforts forward and we will continue to do so.   We continue to work also with the RYSE Center and other youth-focused groups as we explore concrete ways to make sure the City sets the highest priority for youth needs in every decision made, including and especially funding decisions. 


The year ahead


There is much to be done in 2013.   While there will be many surprises, there are a few interesting projects on the near horizon:

  1. In the very near term, on February 4, we will consider filling the City Council seat vacancy.


  1. In the coming months, we will also see our Municipal ID implementation.  The contract should be signed in March and IDs are expected to be issued starting in June. 
  2. We also will see the unrolling of Community Choice Aggregation in Richmond, as we offer residents the option of being customers of MEA.


  1.  In addition to our annual Women’s Day event, my office will also be organizing a Youth Forum later this year that will bring together various youth groups to focus on how our Youth Can Help us build a Better Richmond.


  1. Another exciting effort underway is our Healthy Vendors Ordinance.  We hope to see this completed in 2013 to help stimulate our local economy by way of policies and incentives for healthy food vendors.


  1.  Other efforts underway for 2013 are the Plastic Bag Ordinance and the Climate Action Plan.


  1. Larger efforts, like review of LBNL’s plans and also Chevron Revised Renewal Project plans will of course continue as well.


  1. Efforts surrounding the clean-up of Pt Molate will continue as well, and hopefully the re-opening of Pt Molate Beach will be forthcoming soon, so we can all enjoy this beautiful area that we collectively own as a city and community!




In conclusion, these continue to be difficult, but also very interesting, times we live in.  As we all know, there is much controversy in the political climate of our city.  This controversy should not deter us at all, but only cause us all to look deep at what we want and need. 


I expect the City Council will continue to have different points of view.  I call on every member of the City Council to seek respectful ways to express these differences. 

The future of Richmond rests in many hands shaped by the participation of the community, its elected representatives and our City staff.   Social, environmental and economic justice must continue to be our compass.  We have much to be proud of, but what excites me, what inspires me, is the resiliency and spirit of our community.

So let’s dream big and work hard together in 2013.  We are in this together and together we will continue to open more doorways and overcome more and more challenges!


Thank you very much for your attention.


Mayor McLaughlin to host annual memorial for Richmond victims Friday night


We will be gathering at the Madeline F. Whittlesey room (adjoining the Civic Center library) tomorrow – Friday November 30th from 5:30pm -6:30pm. The program will allow time to hear from the mayor and other community members. We welcome your voice, your thoughts your camaraderie as we stand together honoring those whose lives were lost to homicide, and stand together to continue to work to reduce violence in our city.


Pastor Sydney Keys to take helm at North Richmond church

Pastor Sydney Keys is getting a fresh start.

The well-liked local religious leader will be welcomed at 3 p.m. Saturday as the new Senior Pastor at Greater New Bethel Apostolic Ministry on 101 Market Street in North Richmond.

“I am going to go forth with the vision,” Keys said Thursday.

The ceremony will be attended by Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez) and other political and neighborhood leaders, Keys said.

Keys made big news in 2011 when his Bible Way Community Church in Richmond joined was evicted at the behest of bank ownership after falling behind on payments.

Keys was supported in nonviolent protests of the eviction by Councilmember Corky Booze, Richmond Chief of Police Chris Magnus, County Supervisor John Gioia and representatives of Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner.

Keys was arrested by Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department deputies— along with his wife, mother and two activists — after a two day sit-in protesting the eviction. They were released the next day.