The plan to bring ferry service from the San Francisco Bay to Antioch is gathering steam, according to a report presented to the Antioch City Council by consultant Victor Carniglia.
In approving a final short-range transit plan in early January, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) addressed several of the city’s concerns from a draft of the document, including when the project would be completed and how much money would be allocated to the project, Carniglia said.
The final plan allocates $25 million to be shared by the cities of Antioch, Martinez and Hercules, which means the city will receive more than the $700,000 estimated in a draft of the plan. The final plan also calls for the project to be completed by 2021 instead of later.
“This is exciting because now we can dream,” said City Councilmember Mary Rocha.
Carniglia cautioned that although the city’s concerns were addressed in the final plan, several hurdles must still be cleared before the project can move forward. “This is a step,” he said. “But it’s a bit of a long road.”
The city must still create a sustainable funding plan to ensure WETA will receive sufficient operational funding and adequate returns from riders.
Reports highlighting possible ferry locations, design alternatives and cost projections for the project are scheduled to be presented at the next meeting Feb. 12.
The council also passed an ordinance prohibiting nearly all medical marijuana facilities in the city. The ordinance, which allows specialized facilities such as licensed clinics or care centers, passed 3-2. It was opposed by councilmembers Rocha and Tony Tiscareno. Councilmembers Gary Agopian, Monica Wilson and Mayor Wade Harper voted in favor of the ban.
City staff recommended the ban when it was first discussed last month, citing significant concerns about increased crime and the sale of drugs to minors in areas surrounding dispensaries in other cities.
“I supported it before; I support it now,” Agopian said.
Rocha said she’d like to look into the potential benefits of marijuana for people who use it for medical reasons in forms other than smoking it, while Tiscareno cited the need for the city to explore creative ways to generate revenue.
Ed Breslin, the United Food and Commercial Workers union’s national coordinator for cannabis and hemp, spoke against the ban. He said an estimated 200 Antioch residents must travel to Hercules to purchase medical marijuana, and a facility in Antioch would create 10 union jobs.
Harper believes the risk of locating the faculties in the community outweigh the potential reward. “We all want jobs,” he said. “But I’m still against these dispensaries.”
Oakley City Council
Oakley Vice Mayor Carol Rios announced Tuesday that she would vacate her position to allow councilmember Randy Pope to serve as vice mayor and then rotate into the mayor’s position in 2014.
Oakley has operated under a rotational mayor system since incorporation in 1999. Each mayor serves a one-year term, and the vice mayor graduates to the mayor’s seat the following year.
In December, when the rotation typically occurs, Rios, who served as vice mayor in 2012, declined the mayor’s seat due to her husband’s impending surgery. She feared she would not have the time to dedicate to the mayor’s position. Rios nominated Kevin Romick to serve a second term as mayor, and the council supported the decision. However, when newly elected councilmember Diane Burgis suggested Rios remain as vice mayor so she could end her service on the council in the mayor’s seat in 2014, Pope was skipped in the vice mayoral rotation.
Pope asked for a reconsideration of the vote at the Jan. 8 meeting and the item was placed on Tuesday’s agenda. Pope said that since he’s up for re-election in 2014 – and therefore unable to rotate into the mayor’s position – he felt blocked by the December decision. As the council discussed the language of an ordinance to better define the rules of the rotation system so that no one is skipped in future rotations, Rios decided to make the decision easier for her peers and volunteered to step aside.
“I’ve been on council for a long time, since the beginning, and I’ve got to tell you, the only reason we’re having this discussion is because my husband has a bad knee and he has to have surgery soon,” Rios said. “So I will help you guys out. I will step down as vice mayor and I will nominate Mr. Pope for vice mayor.”
The council supported Rios’ decision with a 5-0 vote. The council directed staff to refine the language for a proposed ordinance to codify the procedure for the rotation system. The ordinance is expected to go before the council for a vote at the Feb. 12 meeting.