2/25, 3pm - Bobby
Bowens Progressive Center
Vote for the new RPA Steering Committee!
We hope to see you at the upcoming RPA
General Membership Meeting on Saturday, Feb. 25, 3:00-5:30 pm at the
Bobby Bowens Progressive Center (2540 Macdonald). At the meeting, we
will be conducting important business, including electing a new
Steering Committee. All members in good standing should have already
received two email announcements with candidate information, as well
as an agenda.
If you have not yet received these emails, it may be because
your membership has expired or you are not on our official membership
roster. But never fear! You can email Michelle for meeting/
election materials, and show up a few minutes early on Saturday the
25th to refresh your membership at the door. Please bring a
check or cash to cover membership dues, which are $12/year
We thank you for your ongoing involvement!
[Photo: 2016 Steering Committee, courtesy of Juan Reardon]
2/25, 9am - Nevin
Join CCISCO in building unity and resistance
There are no shortage of excellent opportunities in Richmond to
build unity and grassroots resistance against the Trump agenda! Please
join the Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization for
a community summit on Saturday, February 25, 9am - 1pm (lunch
provided) at the Nevin Community Center, 598 Nevin Ave.
more info, contact Nancy Ybarra: 510-334-8821, email@example.com
3/4, 10am - City
Hall and Lavonya Dejean
Sisters in Solidarity event
Commemorating International Women's Day,
we invite women of all ages and male allies to
#beboldforchange by participating in the 2017 Sisters
in Solidarity celebration to affirm our shared values of peace,
justice, equity, inclusion, caring for future generations and the
The day will begin with a rally on the steps of
City Hall at 10am, followed by a march to LaVonya Dejean where we will
enjoy entertainment, lunch, roundtable discussions and inspirational
speakers. Community Violence Solutions Executive Director Cynthia
Peterson will be our keynote speaker. Ms. Peterson is a tireless West
County advocate for eliminating all forms of violence against women.
Don't miss this wonderful event and opportunity to Be Bold for Change!
For more information, contact Trina Jackson at 510 620 6581 or Trina_Jackson@ci.richmond.ca.us
Apartment Association takes Richmond to court
Measure L still needs your support!
From our friends at Fair and Affordable
In November, 65% of Richmond voters voted yes
on Measure L to establish rent control and just cause eviction
protection in the City of Richmond. Now, these protections are under
attack from the California Apartment Association (CAA).
A Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge will decide whether to
pause the implementation of rent control and just cause eviction
protections after the CAA sued the City of Richmond claiming Measure L
violates federal and state laws.
This is not the only assault on rent control; several opponents for
Measure L are being considered to serve on the rent board. This body
is crucial to the implementation of Measure L and opponents of rent
control on the board could hurt efforts to create a fair and
As Measure L continues to come under attack, we need your
support. Like our Facebook
page to stay up to date on the CAA vs. City of Richmond court
case, and how you can make your voice heard on rent control.
Learn more about the battle over Measure L in The East Bay Times.
[Photo: Fair and
2/16, 6pm -
RYSE Love and Rage series
In response to incidents of hatred in our community, and to defend
strengthen our rights and resources,
the RYSE Center, in collaboration with Catholic Charities of the East
Bay, the RPA and other organizations, are presenting the latest in the
Love and Rage in Action series!
This series is aimed at creating community spaces focused on unity,
safety, and empowerment to help continue the tradition of our youth
and adult residents cultivating beautiful things in Richmond.
Thursday, February 16th, 6-8:30pm
Catholic Charities of the
217 Harbour Way, Richmond CA 94801
David Brazil, EBASE - Bay Resistance, Rapid Response
Jess Heaney, Critical Resistance - Oakland Power
Fei-Fei Chang, Girl Army
Soo Hyun Han, Self-Defense
Instructor & Advocate
In addition to the panelists, two
of our partners will share information on local efforts:
Jimenez, Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition
Catholic Charities of the East Bay
For more information
please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alliance of Californians for Community
As the RPA membership heads into Steering Committee elections,
we wrap up a series featuring organizational representatives on the
current RPA Steering Committee. We encourage all those who are
interested in the work of these organizations to get involved and join
Alliance of Californians
for Community Empowerment
The Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
Action is a grassroots, member-led, statewide community organization
working with more than 10,000 members across California. ACCE is
dedicated to raising the voices of everyday Californians, neighborhood
by neighborhood, to fight for the policies and programs we need to
improve our communities and create a brighter future.
ACCE runs several campaigns around issues such as worker justice
and sustainable communities. In Richmond, they are known for their
housing justice work, most recently through their leadership in Fair
and Affordable Richmond and the campaign to pass Measure L (rent
control and just cause for eviction).
ACCE also leads ReFund California, a coalition of more than
thirty organizations working to advance corporate accountability
campaigns that raise needed revenue, preserve and expand affordable
housing and raise the floor on wages and benefits. As part of this
campaign, they are advocating for commercial property tax reform,
which can raise an additional $6-8 billion in revenue to support a
strong and healthy California; and working to raise the minimum wage
in multiple cities across the state. They also helped passed laws in
three cities to fine banks $1,000 per day for vacant, blighted
properties. In Oakland this led to a massive clean-up of blight and
has generated more than $2 million so far, which has funded the new
Housing Assistance Center to help struggling homeowners and
Dave Sharples represents ACCE on the RPA Steering
not more jails!
Board of Supervisors votes for jail expansion
Earlier this month, the Contra
Costa Board of Supervisors voted
to expand jail services at the West County Detention Facility.
This decision was made despite the strenuous objection of many
Supervisor John Gioia was the lone
dissenting vote on the five-member panel. He explained his decision in
a recent Opinion-Editorial, penned with Jane Fischberg of Rubicon
Programs and Claudia Jimenez of Contra Costa Racial Justice Coalition.
An excerpt of the Op-Ed follows:
Contra Costa County needs
greater investment in mental health treatment, job training,
affordable housing, and youth services to help keep people from
becoming incarcerated, not a larger West County
Approving expensive new jail construction runs
counter to the more fiscally responsible and humane strategy of
investing greater resources in prevention and rehabilitation services.
These cost-effective measures help keep people out of jail, reduce
reoffending and improve public safety.
The recent 4-1 vote by the Board of
Supervisors to spend $25 million in county funds and apply for $70
million from the state to add 416 high-security beds at the West
County Detention Facility in Richmond comes at a time of budgetary
uncertainty, with the county facing possible federal funding cutbacks
from the new presidential administration.
The Prison Law Office, a
well-respected nonprofit public interest law firm specializing in jail
system reform, wrote to the Board of Supervisors that "The county
would better serve its population by expanding efforts to reduce the
jail population instead of expanding the capacity of its
We could not agree more.
For the full OpEd, see the East
6:30pm - Bobby Bowens Progressive Center
Free Screening: The Healthcare Movie
With the future of the Affordable
Care Act in serious doubt, millions may lose their health insurance.
Medicare and Medi-Cal are under attack.
Please join the RPA and Healthcare for All - Contra Costa
for a free screening of "The Healthcare Movie" at the Bobby Bowens
Progressive Center (2540 Macdonald Ave.) on Wednesday, March 8 from
6:30 - 8:30pm. This documentary explains what single-payer healthcare
is and how it saves money. It shows what behind-the-scenes heroes are
doing to clear the fog of misconceptions that has kept us from moving
Rent Control and Just Cause ordinance
On December 30, 2016 the Rent
Control/Just Cause law we worked so hard to win went into effect.
Even though the Rent Board is not set up and some of the rules and
regulations are not yet established, certain parts of the law are
active now. Most importantly:
- Starting January 1, rents in covered units (multi-family, built
before 1995) must be rolled back to what it was on July 21, 2015 or
whenever you first started paying rent (whichever date is later). A
landlord may notify you of an increase of up to 3%.
- You cannot be evicted except for one of the reasons listed in the
law. If a landlord has recently notified you of an eviction, it may
Mayor Tom Butt is expected to make nominations for the Rent Board
soon and this Rent Board will get to work setting up the permanent
structures and procedures for making rent control and just cause work
in Richmond. In the meantime the city staff is taking care of interim
activities. They have set up a website and
a city office where you can get more information:
440 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, CA 94804
9:00 am -12:00 pm
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
You can read the ordinance here.
The first city sponsored workshop will be on January 18 , 2017 6:00
pm at City Council chambers, 440 Civic Center Plaza. If you need legal
consultation, you can call Tenants Together's hotline: (888) 495-8020
or visit Bay Area Legal Aid at 1025 Macdonald Ave. If you are 62 or
older, Contra Costa County Senior Legal Services at (925) 609-7900 is
also a great resource.
New ordinance protects renters' right to organize
One feature of the new rent control law is that it protects the
right of tenants to organize together. The law provides that:
- Tenants have the right to organize. It is illegal for landlords to
- Landlords must recognize and deal with an organization designated
by the tenant as the representative of the tenant;
- Tenants organizations have standing before the Rent Board.
These provisions apply to building-based tenants organizations,
landlord-based tenants organizations (that may include tenants from
multiple buildings owned by a single landlord), or to long-standing
tenants organizations like Tenants Together.
Why is this so important? Even though the new law protects tenants
and gives them new rights, landlords typically still have much more
power than individual tenants. Landlords usually have an edge in
knowledge, legal support, and resources to engage in prolonged legal
disputes. It is easier for a landlord to win in court even when the
facts point the other way. Often the only way to successfully take on
a bad landlord is by organizing together, pooling resources for legal
help, and bringing public and political pressure on landlords to
settle. Rights are fine, but you have to organize and take action to
make them real.
- Mike Parker
Fair and Affordable Richmond]
Report from Sister
Progressive Alliances Action Team
South Bay Progressive Alliance launches!
As reported previously, the RPA has created an Action Team to help
progressives in other cities create similar grassroots advocacy and
Last month, Action Team member Gayle McLaughlin made a presentation
in San Jose, where activists agreed to start a South Bay Progressive
Alliance. By 2018, the group hopes to launch several local city-based
alliances in the area. The group is borrowing some tips from the RPA,
including staying party neutral and supporting corporate-free
progressive candidates running for local office. Gayle McLaughlin will
also be making presentations in San Diego, CA; Vallejo, CA; El
Cerrito, CA; and Oakland, CA. If you have friends and allies in those
cities who may be interested in attending these presentations (or who
may want to schedule one in their city), please email Juan at JuanReardon@sbcglobal.net .
The Action Team will accommodate speaking requests as much as
possible given time and money constraints.
Finally, the Sister Progressive Alliance Action Team is looking for
volunteers to help present the story and the ideas that made the RPA
successful. While the speakers in the Speakers Bureau are carefully
selected, there are other important tasks that need to be covered – in
particular, a volunteer videographer is specially needed at this time.
Please contact Juan Reardon for more information: JuanReardon@sbcglobal.net
thanks to Juan Reardon for this report]
Action Teams are where the action is
In the wake of the national elections, many people
are interested in getting more involved at the local level. Although
monthly Steering Committee meetings and quarterly membership meetings
are a good place to start, the real place to get involved is through
Action Teams. The leadership of some of the Action Teams are in flux
right now, but please contact the following people to get
- Communications: The CAT is responsible for various RPA
communications, including the newsletter, keylist, social and
traditional media, etc. This team needs to be jump-started again with
fresh leadership and new blood. If you are interested, please contact
Michelle Chan at email@example.com
- Membership: This committee helps develop the RPA membership and
provide outreach to constituencies across the city. This is a powerful
committee with a lot of potential to increase the capacity of the RPA
to work with, serve and support allied groups and causes across
Richmond. Contact Zak Wear, zakwear@gmail.
- Office: The RPA strives to be the heartbeat of the grassroots
progressive movement in Richmond; part of that is providing a
hospitable and functional hub for grassroots organizations in the
area. Volunteers staff the office every weekday, help with events, and
keep the office running. Contact Tarnel Abbot at
Treasurer: Have a head for
numbers, or have a knack for fundraising? We know how important these
functions are to keeping our organization healthy and accountable.
Contact current RPA Treasurer Shoji at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Housing Action Team: Ensuring that Richmond has quality and
affordable housing is a key priority for the RPA. This team not only
will be making sure that Measure L is successfully implemented, but it
also is developing creative proposals for creating new low income/
affordable housing stock in the city. Contact Melvin Willis at
- Arts and Culture: We know that music, poetry, art, and community
help nourish our spirit, strengthen our bonds and inspire our hearts.
The Arts and Culture committee plans events, organizes parties, adds
creative element to our advocacy and political work. Contact Tarnel
Abbot at email@example.com
- Schools Action Team: This Action Team works to strengthen and
improve neighborhood public schools in Richmond. Contact Peter Chau at
- Sister Progressive Alliances Action Team: This new team supports
activists and groups around the country establish progressive advocacy
and political organizations in their communities. Contact Juan Reardon
- Immigration Action Team: This new Action Team that has been formed
to address the needs of immigrants in our city, especially in the wake
of the national election. Among its early activities: hosting a
meeting on responding to hate crimes in our area, and cosponsoring an
know-you-rights immigration workshop with JINA Immigration Legal
Services. Contact Claudia Jimenez at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Photo: Community forum on responding to hate
crimes in Richmond, organized by Immigration Action Team. Photo
credit: Michelle Chan.]
Four lessons for
City responses in the wake of the Ghost Ship fire
In the following article, Mike Parker
offers four observations for the City as it contemplates how to
respond in the wake of Oakland's Ghost Ship fire.
1. When there is not a sufficient supply
of cheap housing or when wages are not sufficient to support what
housing is available, it is predictable that many will become homeless
and others will look for inexpensive ways to live -- often in
buildings not really suitable or safe for housing. The campaigns we
have had in Richmond to develop more affordable housing and protect
the affordability of the housing we have through rent control are
critical first steps -- but we need much more.
2. Young people need and will find venues
to engage in social and artistic activities. Ghost Ship provided
something more than just cheap places for living -- a supportive
community culture. We must develop more inexpensive venues for
holding events and exhibitions.
3. We need better, more effective, and
fairer enforcement of local safety requirements. A flurry of
"cover-your-ass" activities after disasters like Ghost Ship are not a
substitute for a regular enforcement program that helps people meet
safety requirements. Simply closing a place and making people homeless
transfers a problem without solving it. And we must develop ways to
help people stay in their places or continue their work while
improvements are made.
A knee-jerk reaction to greatly increase
the number of inspectors is not the answer. First, it is expensive
and will take funds away from other needed city services. Second, when
tenants fear retaliation from a landlord or fear that they will lose
their housing if an inspector finds code violations, their refusal to
open doors, cooperate, or report violations makes inspection programs
4. The key to tenant safety is most of
all tenant involvement: tenants knowing and demanding removal of
dangerous living conditions; tenants reporting landlords who maintain
unsafe housing conditions. One of the important features of the
recently adopted rent control ballot measure helps make this
possible. The new law prohibits landlords from evicting or otherwise
penalizing any tenant who reports safety problems or demands that
landlords correct dangerous conditions. It also protects tenants who
are forced to leave because a landlord has not complied with building
codes. Whether or not the landlord is operating legally, the landlord
is still subject to providing relocation assistance in these
- Mike Parker
chambers during a recent discussion of city responses to the Ghost
Ship fire in Oakland. Credit: Mike Parker.]