Richmond Voters Turn Out to Reject Local Measures N and O

Richmond voters turned out at polling places to vote on local measures N and O.  (Sukey Lewis/KQED)

Measure N

Richmond residents have rejected Measure N, which would have paved the way for a development of 59 single-family homes along the waterfront in Richmond’s Marina Bay, with more than 65 percent voting against it. Developer Richard Poe took his plan to voters after his project met resistance from the city’s planning commission because the development didn’t comply with Richmond's general plan.

The 5-acre plot of land where Poe sought to build single-family homes is seen by the city as a potential key economic and transit hub in the East Bay. It is right next to the Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center and the planned ferry terminal. It is also zoned for high-density housing, aimed at helping mitigate the Bay Area’s growing housing crisis.

In the run-up to the election, Poe touted his high-end housing project as a win-win for local residents and the city, saying it would bring in much-needed tax revenue and protect the shoreline from high-rise development.

Stanly Anderson, president of the Marina Bay Neighborhood Council, held a community forum about Measure N a few weeks ago. He said residents had mixed reactions to the proposal.

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“There are people that are very happy with a small community on that property,” Anderson said. “There are people who feel that a small community on that property is inappropriate because it’s basically in a commercial area and it’s removed from the rest of the development in Marina Bay.”

Anderson says many local residents, regardless of whether they like Poe’s development or not, are uncomfortable with the way the developer tried to circumvent the city planning commission.

“The planning department put a lot of time and effort into figuring out what the grand plan for the city is,” he said. “And the City Council looked at it and liked it and the planning department looked at it and liked it, and there are issues that go beyond a single development.”

Poe has said if Measure N fails, he might opt to build office buildings on the land.

Measure O

Richmond’s Measure O, which sought to limit the city manager’s pay, appears to have been narrowly defeated by just a few hundred votes, with 50.97 percent of voters rejecting it.

The measure would have limited the city manager’s pay to five times the median income in the city, or about $275,000. Currently, City Manager Bill Lindsay makes about $380,000, but he’s not the top-paid manager in the East Bay.

Local resident Claudia Madiro said the city needed Measure O to rein in city compensation packages that she says are out of control. "That’s part of my frustration. That government reasons its salaries ought to match private sector plus gov [sic] retirement perks,” Madiro said via text.

But, local resident Scott Littlehale says he voted against the measure because it would make it hard to attract top talent to the city.

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“It’s unreasonable to think that Richmond’s city manager’s salary should be capped at levels that would be equal to cities that are much,much smaller than Richmond’s, much less complex than Richmond, and it’s a flat-out harmful proposal,” Littlehale said.

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