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Demand Transparency and Accountability from Chevron, the County Health Department and the City of Richmond
The Richmond Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) denounces the damage done by the Chevron refinery fire in the strongest possible terms. Though smoke poisoned the atmosphere throughout the region, sent hundreds of people to the hospital, and stopped BART trains, once again the harm fell hardest on Richmond’s low-income community and people of color.
Members of REDI’s partner groups have deep roots in these communities, and we see this event as both a source of outrage and a call to action: We demand transparency and accountability so we can protect the health of our community.
It is unacceptable that people had to sit imprisoned behind duct-taped doors with headaches, burning eyes and lungs—or had symptoms bad enough to force them into the toxic air to seek medical help. To make matters worse, few people got warning robocalls from the Contra Costa County Health Department—they only heard the sirens, saw and smelled the smoke.
In a complex and dynamic world where scientific certainty is hard to come by and new technologies, chemicals and industrial processes are being introduced into the world, Richmond’s City Council decided that it is best to take a cautious approach to making policies and city planning. At least, that’s the aim of a resolution passed at last night’s city council meeting.
The idea behind the resolution is that the city should use the precautionary principle, which holds that if there is a possibility that a policy or plan will have potentially dangerous health or environmental impact—even if there is no scientific consensus—it is better to err on the side of caution. This resolution will put the burden of proof on companies proposing new developments and businesses within city limits to show that there is little chance that a local group will be negatively impacted. Although the resolution is symbolic, it is a statement that the council will consider health impacts for any decisions they make—like new buildings or industrial and manufacturing developments—and will ask the organization proposing a new action to prove that it is unlikely to cause harm.
When a city approves a General Plan, it makes a commitment to the kind of place it wants to be. This is our chance to prepare to speak out and calion the city's leaders to lift up our needs and dreams. The General Plan can help us make Richmond a safe, healthy and thriving place that has homes people can afford and sustainable jobs. A city that makes sure no neighborhoods bear more than their fair share of pollution, and polluters bear their fair share of cleaning up the air. The Richmond Planning Commission AND the City Council have to approve the plan. Get ready by attending the REDI Leadership Training- come strengthen your skills, speak up for your community!
After a citywide restoration project to revitalize the Nevin Community Center and the surrounding area, the center will celebrate with a much-anticipated grand re-opening celebration this Saturday.
“I think it’s part of the Iron Triangle cleaning itself up,” said nearby resident Richard Boyd, referring to the center’s new look from the inside out. For the last three months, the center’s doors have remained open as over 50 community members volunteered hundreds of hours to wax floors, paint walls, remove graffiti, refurbish classrooms, and collect trash surrounding the center.
“Teams would take shifts to renovate and clean the center. Those working would range from 14 years old to 77 years old and across all racial lines,” Boyd said. A resident of the Iron Triangle, Boyd also works with Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO), an interfaith organization comprised of 25 congregations and youth organizations representing 35,000 families throughout the county. He helped organize city officials’ visits to the park and generate interest from residents outside the Iron Triangle.
In response to a news submission from the Richmond Chamber of Commerce that was posted on this site in February the Mayor of Richmond has contributed the following information for the record. The Mayor reports that she responded to the Chamber with the following email sent 3 days after Mr Connolly's letter.
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The median household income in unincorporated North Richmond is $8,763, less than half the federal poverty level for a family of four. In Richmond proper—itself considered an economically disadvantaged town—it’s a little more than $50,000.
It’s this stark divide that reminds you that however economically bad things are in Richmond, where 17.5 percent of the city’s residents are unemployed, things just to the north are even worse.
Like many African American families, Mary “Peace” Head and her brood migrated to the Bay Area from Louisiana just before WWII in search of work and opportunity.
She would go on to work as a welder in the Richmond shipyards during the war. Head, who is now 83, later became one of the early residents of Parchester Village. She’s been a leader in this small housing development since the 1950s, playing an instrumental role in securing funding for a neighborhood community center and acting as a quasi-guardian to generations of local kids.
She is called “Mary Peace” by neighbors and others throughout the city, a name she earned by flashing her customary “peace sign” with her right index and middle fingers.
In 1950, Parchester Village, named for wealthy developer Fred Parr, opened on land beyond the border of northwest Richmond.
It was billed as a community for “All Americans,” but the idea was ahead of its time.
Chevron is trying to use Sacramento lobbying to bypass environmental protections for Richmond.Negotiations are still going on between environmental groups, the city of Richmond and Chevron about protections for restarting the Chevron expansion project. But Chevron is now lobbying the state legislature to sneak through a special exemption which allows the giant oil company to do its project without having to file an Environmental Impact Report and reach agreement with the city about environmental protections.