find us on facebook

Below the Fold:

Line One

Line Two

Line Three

Don't Miss:

Info on Rent Control and Just Cause

Get the
RPA Activist Info
email newsletter.


Eduardo Martinez
Eduardo Martinez
Eduardo Martinez
Gayle McLaughlin
Jovanka Beckles

Newsletter Archives

Fit For Life

Renter Protection Needed

Community Protests Salute Eviction

See SF Gate article: Richmond leaders rally for beloved restaurateur facing eviction

The Richmond community has given strong support to Salute e Vita Ristorante  and its owner, Menbere Aklilu (Membe) resisting eviction from its current home on the Marina. The restaurant is known as much for Menbe's generous community efforts as for its food and ambience. On Thanksgiving its doors are open to the homeless.  Mayor Tom Butt and the Marina Neighborhood Council are promoting a petition campaign and letter writing drive to try to get the landlord to reverse the eviction. See Tom's latest update. With so many coming to Menbe's aid, there is a good chance that she will be successful. But in addition to supporting Menbe, we also need to remember others, not so well known, who face similar circumstances.  Here are one RPA member's observations of the Salute rally.

Retaliatory Eviction or Business as Usual?

With an audience that could be considered who's who in Richmond the Office of the Mayor held a press conference on the front steps of Salute's Restaurant in Marina Bay.

At issue was an eviction notice given to Salute's Restaurant, a special Richmond institution.  It is especially known for its  outreach to homeless for first-class meals at the restaurant on Thanksgiving. Salute's Restaurant is well-loved in the community.  It's a local business that hires local cooks, bartenders, servers and support staff.

Mayor Butt opened the press conference with a dozen or more reporters, some with TV cameras, making a semi-circle in front of the podium.

Speakers from the Family Justice Center, Richmond Community Foundation, Channel Lumber, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, Former Mayor Irma Anderson,  Kathleen Sullivan, Betty Reid Soskin and representatives from Supervisor John Gioia, Assembly member Tony Thurmond and State Senator Loni Hancock's office spoke to the crowd pointing out the injustice in the eviction and denouncing the landlord, Richard Poe.

Menbere Aklilu (Menbe), proprietor of Salute's Restaurant  then explained that she received an eviction notice four days ago.  She spoke a little about her background and why she opens her restaurant for special events and meals. 

There is an irony in many of this group protesting an eviction and denouncing certain landlords.    It's like many residential rental evictions faced by carpenters, college students and families with school age children.  Yet some  of the who's who at the press conference would never be at a rally for an unjust residential eviction.  In fact some of the same people are leaders in the opposition to a measure on the ballot this Novembers that would help renters  address is unjust evictions.

Salute's Restaurant, which has 26 days left before it will be evicted, sits on prime real estate.  The owner of the real estate, Richard Poe, the initiator and funder of Measures N and O defeated by the voters in June, wants Menbe and her staff to hit the road.  Does Richard Poe have a scheme to get hold of the property, purchase a vacant dirt parcel next door and build a Poe Tower?  Or is it, as many think, a retaliation for Menbe's public stance against Measures N and O?

The landlord's actions were unfair and not in the interests of our community.   Menbe  deserves our full support. I would hope that the press, community, and the Mayors Office showed such support for the hundreds of residential renters in our community that get evicted unjustly -- because they've complained too much about mold or  unattended needs that make their place unlivable. 

Maybe now  the Mayor and others at the press conference could get behind the Measure this November and prevent unjust evictions of residential renters. 

It's important we do what we can to help Menbe and keep Salute's in its Richmond home, and it's just as important to help renters stay in their homes. 
--Paul Kilkenny

We depend on people power -- not corporate contributions."

Choi-Willis Campaign needs YOUR help


Houseparty graphicTeam Richmond does not accept corporate donations to fund our election campaigns. Instead we rely on the financial contributions and hard work of our supporters. House parties are an invaluable opportunity for Richmond residents to get to know the candidates in a small setting. In addition to raising money for the campaign we are able to recruit more volunteers to work on the campaign in a number of roles including canvassing, telephoning, providing office support, and hosting another house party. We are asking you to invite some friends and neighbors to meet Ben Choi and Melvin Willis, our two excellent candidates for City Council. If you can hold a House Party e-mail or call 313-575-6565. Margaret Jordan

What else can you do

Endorse Ben and Melvin
You are a big name to your neighbors

Talk to your Friends
It is the best political communication

Make a $ Contribution
We rely on volunteers but mailings and printing costs

Canvas with us in evenings and weekends.
Learn your neighborhood

Phonebank or work in the office

Call the RPA office  at 510-412-2270 (leave a message) or email

Saturday 8/20   10 am   2540 Macdonald (across from Civic Center)

L Yes

Rent Control / Just Cause Kick-off:  Yes on L

We got the letter designation for ballot measure yesterday. It's time to campaign for a Fair and Affordable Richmond. Come join tenants and tenant allies for a rally on 8/20, 10am at 2540 Macdonald Ave. We will have food, hear speeches, and launch into canvassing and phone banking across the city. Wrap up around 1pm. If you wish to phone bank, please bring a laptop and a cell phone, if possible. Call Zak at (510) 621-7566 for questions. Together we will secure Richmond families from the intense wave of evictions they face with fair housing policy.
Richmond takes back lead in competition
More than 2700 Rosies

On a great day for a celebration of the National Park system and the Homefront Festival  more than 2700 "Rosies" suited up.  This year men were invited to participate and support the effort to remember the strides toward equality made by women during the Second World War. Ben Melvin and friends Rosies come in all sizes
Sunday, August 28,  4pm - 7pm, 747 Lobos (corner of Western) in Pt. Richmond 
Melvin WillisFUNd Raiser Party for Melvin Willis
Steve Early and Suzanne Gordon held  a party to help turbocharge Ben Choi's campaign at this location.  Now they  are hosting another one featuring Melvin. Food, drink, live music, and a good time by all is guaranteed! Please RSVP to Lsupport@aol.comor 510-260-0636

Melvin is one of thousands of young activists around the country who have been inspired by Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. Now, at Bernie's urging, these labor, community, and environmental activists are stepping up and running for public office themselves. Born and raised in Richmond, Melvin was the city's youngest-ever city planning commissioner. He has knocked on doors to fight home foreclosures, increase the local minimum wage, seek stronger refinery safety rules and fair taxation of Chevron. He has mentored other young people as a leader of Black Mobilization Organization Education Richmond (BMOER). Three years ago, his service to the community won him national recognition as a recipient of the 17th annual Mario Savio Activist Award.

Melvin has been endorsed by the Richmond Progressive Alliance. If you are unable to attend on August 28, please consider sending a check made out to:"Melvin Willis for Richmond City Council 2016" to Box 1573 Richmond, CA. 94802.

Canvassing starting this weekend!
Three things to fight for: Ben and Melvin for City Council and rent control!

1st_2016_meet_5_BEN_MELVIN_cropped_(1).jpgThe RPA is excited about the potential to really make a difference this November for the future of our city and all its residents.

First up: the chance to pass meaningful protections to prevent local families from being forced out of Richmond by sky-high rent hikes and unjust evictions. The Fair and Affordable Richmond Coalition, comprised of the RPA, Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment, Tenants Together and others worked hard earlier this year to collect enough signatures to put rent control on the ballot, and now it's time to get out the vote.

Next, we have two strong, experienced, progressive City Council candidates who are running – Ben Choi and Melvin Willis. As RPA-endorsed candidates, they take no corporate contributions and are committed to continuing the progress we have seen in our city for the last ten years.

As always, the RPA has relied on people power to bring about the political transformation that has made this city shine. And as always, mobilizing volunteers – and starting our work early – is the name of the game. Please join us as we forge together, for the first time, three awesome campaigns: Fair and Affordable Richmond, Ben Choi for City Council and Melvin Willis for City Council! Meet at the new RPA office (2540 MacDonald, across from Civic Center, 510-412-2260) on Saturdays starting at 10am and Sundays starting at noon.

A little inspiration from Co-chair Marcos
A new home for the RPA, a renewed commitment to the movement

marcos_words_7-9-16_by_sharron_K_Williams_xx.jpgOn July 9, the RPA held a party to celebrate its new office, located right across from Civic Center. The new space was made possible thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers who searched tirelessly for this perfect location, and put in hundreds of hours of labor to prepare the new space. An especially big thank you goes out to Tim Laidman who led the work, often toiling solo.

RPA Co-chair Marcos Banales gave a rousing talk to open the space, which was so moving, it's worth reprinting some of it here. A copy of the full speech is on the RPA website.

Please enjoy!

Today, as members and supporters of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, we open the doors of this office with the understanding that this is our home and the home of the progressive movement in Richmond…

Twelve years ago, just across the street next to the library, the RPA was launched at the Madeline Whittlesey Community Room as a new, independent local political organization. The RPA came into the corrupt political life of Richmond as a wave of fresh air, hope, and decency. We said then: "Corporate money out of our democracy." We said: "People over profits." We said: "Clean air and no Chevron pollution." We said: "We want economic, social, and environmental justice," and we invited all Richmond to participate to make our lives better, healthier, and happier…

Today, I ask each of you to do what several RPA members already do: Show up at least once a month to the City Council meetings and speak during the Public Forum segment at the beginning of each meeting. In the few minutes that you have to bring an issue, take a moment to acknowledge publicly the good work of our progressive council members. They will really appreciate it, and the public will be educated more about their progressive work, votes, and stances.

They, the council members, are a key part of the RPA, but they are only one part of the RPA. On the contrary, the RPA is all of its members and supporters working in many grassroots campaigns and efforts throughout Richmond and beyond. The idea that council members "are" the RPA imposes on them all the weight of expectations for progressive change. This is not true, and it is not fair to put that weight on their shoulders. Moreover, this idea demobilizes the rest of us who have ownership in this process of local transformation through the many struggles in which we are involved…

So here we are in 2016. The RPA has reorganized and has a new and more diverse Steering Committee. We have moved to this new site at the heart of Richmond's political life. We have a campaign supporting a ballot measure to defend the renters of Richmond from the greed of unfair landlords. We have a great candidate for the Richmond City Council, Ben Choi, and his campaign is up and running. We are in a good place and in a favorable time.*

As always, our hands are full and our time is limited… but we must empower ourselves with our own RPA history and make ours all the battles fought over the last twelve years, whether we were involved in them directly or not. We have a record to proclaim…

On behalf of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, I am asking each of us today to invest more time and commitment in the current RPA struggles, learning from the ones of the past, and dreaming the new reality we need.

*Editor's note: This talk was given before Melvin Willis candidacy was endorsed by the RPA

Weigh in with Council on your vision.

Pt. Molate: Getting Closer to a Deal?

In 2010, Richmond voters, with the backing of the RPA and many other community groups, voted down a proposal to build a Vegas-style casino at Point Molate. In response, Jim Levine, the casino proponent, sued Richmond; the City prevailed but Levine has appealed the ruling.
The City has since been debating alternate futures for Point Molate. Despite housing a Navy fuel yard for 50 years, Pt. Molate still has outstanding natural values, including significant native plant populations; it is also historically significant as the site of former Chinese shrimping camps, as well as the country's largest pre-Prohibition era winery.
Environmental advocates would like to have the site owned and managed by a public/private (non profit) trust, which could then develop a hotel, conference center, camping sites, and a park. An alternate proposal has come from Levine, who has proposed 1100 senior housing units. A recent statement issued by City Manager Bill Lindsay states that Levine has approached the City with a settlement proposal; the statement did not describe the offer (except to say that it does not include a casino) but reiterated that the Council is "at the earliest stages of any possible process" and that any settlement agreement would be subject to the "required public process for land use approvals." Stay tuned.

--Michelle Chan

Important Rent Control /Just Cause Documents

Want to learn more about the RPA?