A monthly update by Michelle Blackwell, Chair, Richmond Chamber Government Relations Committee.
Government Relations took a break in July so we held two meetings in August. Jael Myrick was a guest at our regularly scheduled GA meeting on August 20th. He got an earful from a wide variety of businesses on a range of topics including ban the box, the eminent domain controversy and the formula restaurant ordinance. The committee encouraged Jael to pressure the City to be more inclusive of the business community when they are considering policies and ordinances that impact business and specifically to allow more time for outreach.
Jeffrey Wright brought the committee up to speed on the City’s eminent domain actions. As many of you have probably heard the City sent letters to several banks at the end of July offering to purchase underwater mortgages and threatening to use eminent domain if the banks did not cooperate. Of the 624 loans that are being targeted, 71% are performing – meaning the homeowners are up to date on their payments. Several of the banks have filed a lawsuit and the City has asked to have the suits thrown out because they have not actually taken action yet. Mr Wright explained that the banks don’t own the loans in question. They are trustees and so it just isn’t as simple as it might seem.
On August 28th, Government Relations held a lunch at Chevy’s with Supervisor Gioia. About 25 members participated. Supervisor Gioia brought us up to speed on Doctors hospital. The County is in negotiations with UCSF to partner with Doctors and the County Health System. Per Gioia the new relationship could help Doctors stay afloat. Medical reform is encouraging the cooperation between public hospitals. Shared resources will help to reduce costs and create financial stability for Doctors. Doctors is the only emergency room in West County designated for heart attack and stroke victims. If it were to close down, patients would have further to travel and that typically reduces their chance of survival. UCSF also recently agreed to partner with Children’s Hospital in Oakland. In addition to the UCSF talks, Doctors, San Pablo and the County are discussing a place to build a new seismically sound Doctors on property that belongs to the City of San Pablos’ redevelopment successor agency.
Supervisor Gioia briefly mentioned his new position on the State Resources Air Board and took a moment to bring us up to speed on changes to the County’s Industrial Safety Ordinance brought about by recommendations from the Federal Chemical Safety Board investigation into the Chevron fire. Gioia also talked about the funds that will be coming Richmond’s way from Cap and Trade. The funds are earmarked for programs that reduce emissions in the Richmond area and suggested Richmond could get their ferry to SF as early as 2015. West County could also be seeing an increase of education funds due to the Governor’s new school funding program.
That wraps up the summer. We meet again September 17th