Claycord – Talk About Local Politics

March 8, 2019 19:00 pm · 32 comments


This special post is “Talk About LOCAL Politics”.

Please use this post to talk about LOCAL politics, and keep state and national politics out of this thread.

Thank you, and be kind to each other.

Please Note: Users who use multiple names will be deleted. Please choose a name so others can easily chat with you. Users must provide a name in the ‘name field’, please do not use the ‘@’ symbol in the name field.

james hilton March 8, 2019 at 7:40 PM

when did it become optional to NOT STOP at a red light before making a right turn???

Jojo Potato March 9, 2019 at 11:46 AM

Haven’t you heard. That rule was changed at the same meeting where it was decided that stop signs should be ignored.

Just a local March 8, 2019 at 8:05 PM

Did you see the puff piece about the Mark Hall soccer complex promoted on SFGate? What paid nonsense.

Doh March 8, 2019 at 10:06 PM

“Once we made that decision, then it just became a quest,” explained Hall. –translation: He’s stubborn.

Hope Johnson March 9, 2019 at 3:30 AM

Hall is just another wealthy developer who wants to use public funds and publicly owned land to build a stadium that his private soccer team can play at and earn money at for Hall only. Publicly funded sports stadiums have been losing propositions everywhere they have been allowed, and Concord and its taxpayers are no different. Mayor Obringer admitted she hoped to find public money to build this stadium (at the same time Concord claims to be so cash poor that it cannot meet even the most basic goal of maintaining city infrastructure).

Lars Anderson March 9, 2019 at 1:39 PM

I was reading one of the owners of Concord Disposal is going to run the professional soccer team that will be housed in this proposed soccer stadium.
As I remember it, the people that own the garbage company have failed at several businesses in downtown Concord, a dress store, a car dealership in Concord (and a Dodge dealership in Brentwood), and a brew pub too. They also backed a failed brewpub in Walnut Creek. There may be more fail businesses they have been involved in that failed, but that’s the ones I can remember. Wait a minute, didn’t one of the owners of Concord Disposal run a grocery delivery company that failed? I think so.
The owners of Concord Disposal make great money owning the garbage company – but the garbage business is rigged so they can’t fail (they have no competitors, of course, they haven’t had any competitors in like 70 years). In fact, the garbage contract in Concord hasn’t been put out for “bid” ever that I can recall, the same family has held a no-bid contract for generations!
Given the track record of these people that own Concord Disposal – they have generally failed at all of the businesses they have invested in out side of their cash cow garbage companies they own – I am predicting the soccer stadium, the professional soccer team, and even the proposed hotels will fail too. Just look at the owners of Concord Disposals track record, they only can make money when things are rigged for them to make money

Gidduyp March 9, 2019 at 2:44 PM

Excellent points. If you want to know how well off garbage has made some of the locals, just take a drive around Oakmont Memorial Park in Lafayette and notice the name on the huge memorial mausoleums built to house multiple members of the family.

Originally, Oakmont Memorial Park was designed for all the grave markers to lie flat on the ground so that you could look up at the hills and not even know it was a burial site. Nothing obstructed the beautiful view. However, ostentatious and ornate above ground crypts for the burial of multiple family members, specifically ones designated Garaventa, changed all that. Everyone has their price I guess.

BagsFlyFree March 9, 2019 at 12:19 PM

Hall has property in 20 states and is building out the old CoCo Times property for a soccer training facility. Don’t budge or give this guy a dime to fulfill his dream of being a league owner. Squeeze, demand, and force a list of area improvements be fulfilled prior to shovels being dropped.

BFF Out!

THE BLACK KNIGHT March 9, 2019 at 9:26 PM

Did anyone else watch this weeks Concord City Council meeting, I have to admit that I was surprised that the Concord City Council didn’t approve the $120 million, 310 unit AvalonBay Communities apartment project on the old Masonic Hall/white picket fence property in downtown Concord. The project also included 5 affordable or low income units. It seems pretty obvious that the Concord City Council will more than likely approve this project when it comes before the council again in April, as the council gave the AvalonBay Communities executives direction to negotiate with 4 unions to improve the amount of union labor that is used on the project, as the developer had agreed to only use union labor for 15% of construction costs (somewhere between $45 million and $90 million total construction costs according to the AvalonBay executives).

This isn’t a project that residents of Concord should want as this isn’t an apartment development project being planned for Concord residents. The developer showed slides announcing this project would BRING 450 NEW RESIDENTS TO CONCORD!!!!!!! Several members of the public also spoke of their displeasure that this was a project the developer was marketing to a population that currently lives outside of Concord. The other 4 apartment projects currently planned for downtown Concord on the Blockbuster property, the old green house property, the two Grant Street properties, and the apartment project currently under construction, Renaissance Square, Phase II, have all been described as “LUXURY APARTMENTS.” AvalonBay Communities has several apartment building in neighboring Walnut Creek that currently rent for $1,900.00 a month for a studio to $3,800.00 for a 3 bedroom, but none of these are in a downtown setting, one is at the Pleasant Hill BART Station/Contra Costa Centre BART Station and the other two are both near that same BART Station. Do we want to make downtown Concord a mecca for LUXURY HOUSING???

Several members of the Concord City Council made their feelings known that this was a development that plans on bringing more affluent individuals to Concord. Longtime Councilmember Laura Hoffmeister said we have many “affordable housing units” within 5 minutes of downtown, within a mile radius of downtown and WE want to bring OTHER INCOME BRACKETS INTO DOWNTOWN that can support our downtown businesses. Concord Mayor Carlyn Obringer made it clear that Concord’s population will be increasing, that that’s the way it is, and that current Concord residents don’t have a choice or anything to say in the matter. Mayor Carlyn Obringer, Councilmember Laura Hoffmeister, and Councilmember Edi Birsan have often spoken of their need to get single people and couples out of their three and four bedroom homes and into apartments so that families with children can have those houses. If you live in a home that has an unused bedroom then the Concord City Council wants you out of your home! The Concord City Council isn’t representing the needs and desires of current Concord citizens and residents, but they are representing the needs and desires of the future population of Concord, and they are representing and pushing a policy of “GENTRIFICATION.” If you live in the City of Concord the Concord City Council doesn’t want you living here.

Less that 6 months have passed since the last election and the members of the Concord City Council have already forgotten who voted for them and who put them in office. The Concord City Council needs to stop looking at future property tax revenue and future sales tax revenue as a way to approve future development, because they don’t bother to look at the negative aspects of the type of development they want, they’re only looking at potential revenue dollars. It’s time that the Concord City Council start representing the citizens and residents of Concord and what we want, not what the 5 of them want, not what staff wants, not what they believe the future population of Concord wants, not what developers want, but again, WHAT WE WANT!!!!!!!!!

Lars Anderson March 10, 2019 at 11:09 AM

I myself am aghast that Tiim McGallian, who was elected to the council by nobody (he was appointed to the council by the Concord PD labor union, and ran unopposed) – is sitting on the council making decisions.
Actually, the Concord POA tells McGallian how to vote most of the time, but occasionally some small decision will come along that McGallian will get to weigh in on. While McGallian has a vote on the council not a single Concord resident has voted for him to be a council person – he has no mandate whatsoever!
I myself recall vividly the statement McGallian gave when he submitted his papers for the open city council seat. In his statement McGallian said Concord “greatness” as a city “begins” with our police department. That statement was so ludicrous.
Concord is a great city, McGallian believes, because we do such a great job arresting and jailing people! And, as I continually report, we are doing this in the most expensive possible way that we can, ludicrously overpaying the Concord PD officers,
Is it any wonder the bigwigs at the Concord PD rolls the council – and City Manager Barone – year after year come budget time – given that we have people on the council who believe we have a ‘great city” because we have got the most opulent PD station, the newest PD cars, the meanest police dogs, and more managers at the PD making way more money than managers in adjacent cities do?

Winston March 10, 2019 at 1:56 PM

The City Council doesn’t want nice apartments. They want Concord to be a ghetto. The reason they rejected Avalon Bay is the Avalon Bay project was an unsubsidized market rate project to be built by non-union labor. that they only want welfare housing built by union slugs so that they have a built in captive voter base.

THE BLACK KNIGHT March 10, 2019 at 9:27 PM

Lars Anderson,

I understand what you’re saying about Vice Mayor Tim McGallian effectively being “elected” to the Concord City Council by the other members of the council that APPOINTED him to that position. To be fair, although Tim McGallian did run unopposed for the Concord City Council – District 5 in the 2018 general election, he did receive 7,828 votes of 10,988 ballots returned or 71.24% of ballots. Unfortunately, any candidate for office that runs unopposed almost always receives a majority of the votes cast, simply because voters don’t like to return a ballot having not voted for an unopposed candidate or don’t want to take the time to write-in a candidate.

THE BLACK KNIGHT March 12, 2019 at 9:27 PM


The AvalonBay Communities project wasn’t accepted with the current terms, but is coming before the Concord City Council again next month. Councilmember Laura Hoffmeister was ready to vote for the project, Mayor Carlyn Obringer and Vice Mayor Tim McGallian were willing to support the project with better terms for 4 unions, while Councilmember Edi Birsan and Councilmember Dominic Aliano opposed the project. When this project again comes before the Concord City Council on April 9th it will likely be approved if the 4 unions are satisfied with what the AvalonBay Communities executives have offered in increased labor union participation in constructing the project. If the 4 labor unions aren’t satisfied then the Concord City Council will not approve this project. Increasing the number of affordable housing units to a number greater than the 5 affordable housing units offered by AvalonBay Communities is not part of the negotiation.

The other 4 apartment projects currently planned for downtown Concord on the Blockbuster property, the old green house property, the two Grant Street properties, and the apartment project currently under construction, Renaissance Square, Phase II, have all been described as “LUXURY APARTMENTS,” not welfare housing.

If you look at the projects approved for downtown Concord they aren’t “welfare housing” projects, they are “market rate luxury housing” projects. The members of the Concord City Council don’t need to create a “captive voter base,” they already have a voter base. The voting citizens of Concord haven’t defeated a sitting member of the Concord City Council since 1993, when voters voted Byron Campbell, Nancy Gore, and Lloyd Mashore out office and voted in Helen Allen, Mike Pastrick, and Lou Rosas. The 2018 defeat of Ron Leone doesn’t really count, because he had said he was wasn’t running for reelection as he was instead running for Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools, but when he lost that race during the primary he “changed his mind.” Had Ron Leone just said he was running for reelection, the Concord City Council would’ve gerrymandered him into a safe district, just as they voted themselves into safe gerrymandered districts. He only changed his mind because he couldn’t stand the thought of not holding elective office. Ron Leone’s antics are an excellent reason why the Concord City Council should have term limits.

Concord Mike March 10, 2019 at 10:46 AM

@TBK, Concord already has the lowest rate of home ownership in Central County. We should be building condos and townhomes, not more high density rental-only apartments with inadequate onsite parking.

As far as “gentrification” is concerned, we do need more upscale housing in the mix, but today’s “luxury apartments” are no guarantee of that. Unlike owner occupied units, rentals often quickly deteriorate as recessions cause landlords to lower maintenance expenses and lower tenant standards.

I do agree city council tends to focus more on care for new residents than on those of us who are already here. One example: 90% of current Concord residents don’t live close enough to walk or bike to Todos Santos Plaza. We require public parking when we visit. City council is approving massive new apartments in walking distance of Todos Santos for new residents, and are actually cutting back public parking for existing residents.

We are headed for three Concords:

1) Downtown Concord – accessible only to those who can walk there.
2) New Concord – the CNWS buildout with new shopping and good roads.
3) Old Concord – where most of us live – with decaying strip malls and bad roads.

Sassy March 11, 2019 at 4:01 PM

Concord Mike –
Not to mention that Old Concord is footing the bill for New Concord and the affordable housing in New Concord will not be interspersed into the neighborhoods – it will be like “the projects”. Additionally, Old Concord won’t ever get any money from the property taxes in New Concord (I think) and it will be about 6 or 7 years before ANY money from the sales of parcels in New Concord every reaches the coffer for Old Concord to use. Measure Q dollars went into the general fund so that Council could pay for the things happening in Lennar World. Who knows when that will be paid back – for now, it is tracked but there is NO word on when it will be seen.

Lars Anderson March 10, 2019 at 10:34 PM

Thanks Black Knight for pointing out Tim McGallian did get votes – 71% of the vote total in his district. For some reason I had it my mind McGallian wasn’t even on the ballot in the most recent city council campaign.
I guess the reason I thought this is because McGallian was appointed to his seat, and he then ran opposed in his district. I wrongly assumed that because nobody ran against him he would automatically be elected, so he would not be on the ballot, but I forgot about the possibility of a write-in candidates. I stand corrected.
At the same time I do believe the Concord POA appointed McGallian to his seat – not the city council. The Council, as I report regularly, is really a sort of a ceremonial body. The real “power” in Concord can be found at the police facility in Concord, and at the offices of Concord Disposal. If you want to get something done in Concord you don’t go to the council, or City Manager Barone – you go see the shot callers behind the scenes.
That’s the kind of stuff you see when a city has degenerated into a cesspool of corruption, which is the case in Concord ( an example of the corruption in concord are the huge salaries being paid to the PD officers – who police a city that his little serious crime – while there is no money to build a new library or fund decent recreation programs). When special interest groups run a town, like you see in Concord, you’ve got corruption.
This developer, Marc Hall that’s trying to build this soccer complex in downtown, I should mention, is well aware the Garaventa’s are the shot callers in Concord, which is a key reason he has brought one of them in to run his soccer team. You don’t get stuff done in Concord by talking to gasbags like Tim McGallian, or Carlyn Obringer, you’ve got to go see the real power brokers, which is what this developer is doing.

Lars Anderson March 10, 2019 at 11:49 PM

Concord Mike, With housing prices soaring like they are I think we need to build affordable housing for young families, and regular working people, rather than building upscale housing for rich yuppies. I think we also need to build housing for veterans, for the elderly, and even housing units for the homeless. We should be demanding this of our city officials.
I believe this is a moral thing – you have a whole cohort of people – our neighbors – being permanently priced out of housing, as a community we can do better than that. Others cities, like SF and Berkeley, are just doing unbelievable things in terms of building affordable housing. It an be done, but city leaders have to have a vision.
Concord, as I keep reporting, is a city steeped in corruption. That’s why city leaders are not focused on building affordable housing like you are seeing in other cities. City officials in Concord don’t spend on minute a day thinking about the people in Concord, they are continually focused on what’s good for them.
Take this Laura Hoffmiester. I recall reading that Laura Hoffmiester and other city leaders want to buy these empty Coast Guard homes on the Naval Weapons station – 300 of them – tear them down, and build another Veranda shopping center.
With the income from the new shopping center – which is replacing these old Coast guard houses – homes that can easily be fixed up, sold or even rented, – the city will be able to generate more tax dollars, which they can use to pay these massive salaries and pensions the city workers all get now, such as the 225,000 a year police Captain Gary Voerge makes at Concord PD.
This vision these city officials in Concord have – tearing down affordable housing, building housing most residents can’t afford , building more upscale shopping centers for the rich people they lure to live in Concord – is really sort of morally bankrupt – it’s really a 1980’s world view, the world view of a bunch of spoiled aging yuppies, which we have running our city, people like Laura Hoiffmiester, Guy Bejerke, and Valerie Barone. These people are stuck in the past, from what I can see – they are all old farts, and the think like old farts.
Concord would be way better off if we could broom all these old farts and get some young people running the city of Concord, some, people with innovative, cutting edge ideas, people that want to build a library, build a theater, build affordable housing etc.
The current leadership we have now in Concord is just so stale and musty, they all have cobwebs all over them – they all have been around so long – forever it seems – you never get innovation out of them on anything. And they will not do anything about the obvious corruption going on in Concord, they just put up with it, rather than trying to root it out.

Kirkwood March 11, 2019 at 11:45 AM

Lars – You have mentioned the “palatial” PD Headquarters many times. The old PD which was actually the original City Hall, on the corner of Parkside and Willow Pass had become too small and the building was about to fall down. I worked for the City when the new PD was built. It’s simply an ordinary office bldg. with some police oriented additions, sally port, jail, etc. I was intrigued by the cupola which is purely an architectural feature but there is no easy access to that area.
As for the military housing, it was built on government land and not subject to any local laws or codes, the structures are uninhabitable and the nonstandard infrastructure is mostly useless. Any construction will have to begin from bare dirt.

Natalie March 11, 2019 at 1:03 PM

Despite their faults, city council is committed to building 500-600 units of housing on the coast guard land, with 25% to be affordable. Quinault Village has asbestos and lead paint, and other safety violations. Victory Village isn’t as old, but still doesn’t meet contemporary safety codes, and nobody has been maintaining the apartments so they likely now have all sorts of problems like rain damage, wood rot, mildew, mold.

Berkeley doesn’t have a strong record on new affordable housing. To make Berkeley more attractive to tech companies, it was decided to focus on approving higher end market rate, and luxury apartments. There have been a scant amount of new affordable units in some complexes, but not enough. Instead of negotiating for affordable units, the city often has developers donate into the housing fund which hasn’t been adding up to much over the past decade. Berkeley just approved in January a low income rental project, but it will use up almost all of the accumulated housing fund, and then they have to start all over again.

Hope Johnson March 12, 2019 at 1:10 AM

Assemblymember Tim Grayson, the BFF of real estate developers everywhere, announced at his town hall this evening that he is working on legislation to prevent municipalities from charging impact fees to developers for new construction. Impact fees cover the costs of growth to infrastructure such as roads, water and sewers, schools, parks, and public safety. Cities started charging these fees as property taxes increasingly fell short in keeping up with the costs to existing communities associated with adding residential and commercial properties.

No matter what, new construction requires funds for impacts on infrastructure and city services. If the developer doesn’t help pay them, then the burden is shifted entirely to existing residents. Grayson says he will find other funds to replace the fees – just another way to say he wants you to pay with your taxes so the developer will have more money to pocket instead of contributing to the community and sharing in the cost/risks of their business. The only “funds” the state has is taxpayer money.

It wasn’t enough for him to give developers free reign over publicly owned land at Bart stations. Now he wants them to be able to build with complete disregard for what happens to existing communities, quality of life, and city services. Grayson took the time to speak at the Concord City Council during public comment in support of his friend Mark Hall’s soccer stadium that is in line for using publicly owned land. How would you like to fund that stadium with public money and pay for all the needed infrastructure, too?

Concord Mike March 12, 2019 at 6:55 AM

@Hope, excellent points. Assemblymember Grayson has shown no concern for the city of Concord and is the developers go-to guy.

His sponsorship of AB2923 which gave the incompitent BART Board massive control over local development was a slap in the face to all Concord residents.

Development projects are a zero-sum game. Developers need a certain amount of profit to make a project pencil out. Profits above that level, sometimes called “excess profits” are fought for by labor unions, affordable housing advocates, developers, and the city itself.

Our elected city council is the only one of these competing entities which has (or should have) the long term interests of current Concord residents in mind.

Hope Johnson March 12, 2019 at 10:06 AM

Another concern about Grayson replacing impact fee payments by developers with “other funds” to be distributed by the state is how these “other funds” (i.e., taxpayer dollars diverted from other needs) would be used by local government. Developer paid impact fees are currently required to be used for infrastructure directly related to impacts caused by the development. Would these “other funds” be subject to the same requirements or could local politicians use them for their own pet projects instead?

At the February 26 Concord City Council meeting, Mayor Obringer said they were urging the State to bring back redevelopment money or something like it and explained this money was sometimes used to build stadiums. Are these “other funds” Grayson is describing part of this? Does this mean that instead of using developer impact fees from the density projects downtown to mitigate the real impacts on infrastructure and city services, the Council could instead give these “other funds” to Mark Hall for his stadium project without the taxpayers even voting on it?

Forsythe March 13, 2019 at 8:03 AM


Thank you for continued to raise your concerns. We don’t seem to have much oversight, at a time when it is badly needed.

Regarding development, Concord has the opportunity to make the best of a challenging situation. Part of the challenge is that we have so many choices.

Can we find redevelopment money?

Can we create innovative parking and transit solutions? E-Scooters might make sense. Technology means smaller appliances can be installed in smaller kitchens. (E.g. microwave, oven combinations, washer/dryer combinations).

Rodger March 12, 2019 at 4:10 PM

@Hope Johnson

“prevent municipalities from charging impact fees to developers for new construction” This would please Labor Unions who need room for developers to make a better return on investment while using union workers. Make no mistake, this is being pushed by labor. Anyone know what developers now pay in those fees?

Winsotn March 12, 2019 at 5:08 PM

@Hope Johnson The whole reason Jerry Brown killed redevelopment agencies is that they were slush funds that took money from schools and redirected it to vanity projects. Stadiums, parking garage and more locally, Pleasant Hill’s fake “downtown,” the Renaissance apartments in Concord are all examples of redevelopment agency projects. Of course bringing them back would be a great way to give big handouts to developers like Hall Equities who wants to build the soccer stadium and to housing “nonprofits” like Bridge Housing who want to shove as much welfare housing into North Concord as possible.

Hope Johnson March 15, 2019 at 11:19 AM

Agreed – you are exactly correct.

Winston March 12, 2019 at 10:54 PM

TBK, last I saw the project on the Blockbuster site was dead unless the city agreed to cough up money to subsidize more BMR units (welfare housing) because the project doesn’t pencil out without subsidy. The project across the street was killed by a last minute union sponsored CEQA suit. The project that Swift properties has proposed is most likely approval banking rather than a real project. The Renaissance apartments are market rate at least, but it is unlikely that the Avalon Bay project will go forward with more union handouts.

THE BLACK KNIGHT March 13, 2019 at 9:27 PM


The developers for the Blockbuster property and the old green house property couldn’t even acquire the necessary financing to fund those projects, let alone the other issues they have to deal with concerning those 2 properties. The council made it clear that if the unions were satisfied they were likely to move forward with the AvalonBay Communities project, but I hope they don’t. The Renaissance Square is advertised as “luxury apartments” with 1 bedroom units starting between $2,499.00 – $2,903.00 and going as high as $6,674.00, and 2 bedroom units starting between $2,670.00 – $3,824.00 and going as high as $10,644.00. That’s above “market rate” for Concord.

Winston March 14, 2019 at 8:39 AM

The developer of the Blockbuster property couldn’t get a good enough return on the project to make it worthwhile which is why they recast the project as a subsidized housing project and were asking for the city to pay to build it. The other project was moving forward until a CEQA lawsuit was filed hours before it was to get final approval by the city.

As for the Renaissance Square project, it seems that the market is willing to pay more for apartments that are a bit nicer than for the 50+ year old, vermin infested units in the Monument.

Concord Mike March 13, 2019 at 6:19 PM

@Winston, People complain about rents going up and housing prices going up, and yet many of the same people continue to insist on expensive labor PLA’s and low income subsidies which are stifling housing development in Concord.

If Concord was a development gold mine, we would have developers lining up to build new projects and cater to these demands, but obviously that is not the case. I do see lots of building going on in walnut creek, where land is even more expensive. What is their secret?

Winston March 14, 2019 at 8:42 AM

Concord could have more development is the design review process were less intensive and if you could actually build what zoning allows instead of having to get conditional approval on every project. But doing this allows our fair city to control what gets built to insane levels of detail (down to specifying paint colors and varieties of plants used in landscaping). If Concord were better run, it is likely more folks would want to live here and be willing and able to pay to do it.

Hope Johnson March 15, 2019 at 11:18 AM

There’s a lot more to the differences between Walnut Creek and Concord than review of projects. For example, some of it is reputation – Walnut Creek has a better perceived reputation than Concord so investors are more likely to participate there. Another example, Walnut Creek has better schools than Concord (or at least its schools have better reputations than Concord’s) and that is a known big factor when people consider where to buy. Walnut Creek has made better use of its retail space by concentrating it in one general area while Concord continues to spread that out over an area double the size of Walnut Creek itself. And, Walnut Creek is not as far away from everything on Bart as Concord is. The difference may seem small on paper but when you are commuting long distances on an unreliable transit system, every minute counts; plus passengers don’t have to wait at the Bart yard just before the Concord station like Concord passengers do almost every commute train.

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