At the Richmond City Council meeting Tuesday 4/23, Mayor Butt put a proposal on the Consent Calendar to prohibit new coal and petcoke facilities and prevent expansion of existing facilities, e.g the Levin-Richmond Terminal. Despite the short notice, we were able to do good outreach and some important behind-the-scenes maneuvering. As a result, the item, which might otherwise have slipped by under the radar and allowed the mayor to take control of the dialogue, was pulled to allow for comment, discussion, and a separate vote.
There were 15 speakers, including Aaron Isherwood, a lawyer with Sierra Club, and Supervisor John Gioia’s Community Liaison, who read a letter from Gioia recommending the following:
As part of approving Mayor Butt’s proposal tonight, the Council should also: (1) direct that the City continue to move forward with its previous direction to develop an ordinance to phase out existing operations, and (2) clarify that even after the zoning change, there needs to be further review of the City’s permit records before making a final determination that the existing coal/coke facility is a “legal non-conforming use.”
Mayor Butt’s proposal passed with the inclusion of the above paragraph, also “with the understanding it complements the other ordinance changes that we’re working on.” (Eduardo Martinez)
The city has yet to produce a permit for the terminal’s coal and petcoke operations. One of the speakers who served on the Planning Commission during the period when the terminal was increasing its coal and petcoke operations, mentioned that the issue of expanding their operation never came before the commission. He asked Councilmember Ben Choi, who also served on the PC, and Choi indicated he’d never seen such a request either.
So now the permit issue should officially be under more scrutiny from the city; however, this isn’t going to happen unless we put pressure on the Planning Department.