Concord has a huge housing crisis -- the lack of has kept 800 residents unhoused turning the City of Concord into a tent city with Concord residents in need of urgent help. The Homelessness Action Team has been advocating for a tiny home village, and safe tent and parking spaces with access to bathrooms, showers, waste management, and coordinated support services to get unhoused individuals into permanent housing. The shortage of affordable housing has made the city council’s task almost impossible. This is why we’re asking for temporary and long-term solutions that keep our unhousing neighbors from costly police and public works sweeps, which push individuals from one corner of Concord to another neighborhood. This is no solution!
The Defund Concord PD action team has been busy over the last few months defending Concord residents’ civil liberties and rights to privacy. We are continually asking the City Council to re-imagine community safety and reinvest in its residents.
With the support of ACLU Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Co-founder Ady Olvera led our community’s efforts fighting the introduction of a police drone program in Concord. Concord PD and Concord City Council insisted on implementing a drone program without considering a surveillance ordinance that would have provided guidance on how license plate readers, drones, and other devices are used by police in Concord. Drones have the potential to infringe on civil rights and undermine public trust and effective policing. Per the ACLU, “Various types of surveillance technology are capable of capturing and storing vast amounts of information about community members and visitors: the political rallies and religious services they attend, the health services they use, the romantic partners they have, and more.”
This concerned us, so we took action!
On October 26, 2021, the Concord City Council directed staff to enter negotiations with Concord First Partnership to develop a specific plan for the Concord Naval Weapons Station redevelopment. They did this even though they received a petition signed by almost 1800 interested individuals, 1000 of those confirmed Concord registered voters. Signatures were collected by Concord Communities Alliance with the help of community organizations Save Mount Diablo, Climate Reality Bay Area, and Sunflower Alliance. Concord First Partnership is made up of three partners, Discovery Companies, a division of the Seeno, Lewis Planned Communities, and California Capital and Investment Group.
And what should be done if they do?
On August 25, the Concord Communities Alliance (CCA) invited Concord residents to sign a petition requesting that the City Council reverse their August 21 decision selecting the Seeno group as a master developer candidate for the Concord Naval Weapons Station. More than 1,775 people agreed and signed. A clear majority of public comments on August 21st was against Seeno. And a wide majority of the signers of that petition are clearly identifiable as Concord voters, and many more are likely to be Concord residents. We have the data, just keep reading. Will some City Council members ignore their voters? At CCA, we think public sentiment data is relevant and important, because we think residents' opinions matter. And we know many Concord residents don't just agree with us. They also vote.
Email the City Council - Click the link for complete instructions.
Kathy Gleason is a founding member of the CNWS Neighborhood Alliance, a group which was founded to give community members a voice in the development decision making process, and which grew to 1,800 families. Her experience with the Reuse Project process is invaluable, and CCA shares these observations - written last month - as both a record of successes and failures in the process, but also to preserve a terrific example of community engagement.
CCA requests, with all due respect, that Concord City Council
- designate the Seeno group's submission to the CNWS RFQ as non-responsive,
- terminate further consideration of their participation and any negotiations with them, and
- start talking to one of the other candidates.
- At CCA, many of our members favor opening discussions with Brookfield Properties. But first, end consideration of the Seeno group's non-responsive submission
Is Concord ready for police drones?
Here are CCA, we don't think so. And we'll explain further below. But first, we encourage you to contact your city council member (click here) and let them know you oppose rushing through the process of implementing drones for police use in Concord. Because that's exactly what's happening. And then there are the questions about the source of grant funds, whose private interests may not be aligned with the public interests of Concord residents.
Drones can have a positive impact on some parts of police work. But even police industry support groups recommend implementing them in a way which invites key stakeholders - especially residents - into a process which develops policies, puts in place important control procedures and oversight, and is fully transparent. That hasn't happened between the first mention of a police drones program earlier this year and the proposal to implement a program which is on the city council agenda on Tuesday, Oct 12.
CCA strongly opposes the recent decision by 3 city council members - Tim McGallian, Edi Birsan, and Dominic Aliano - to pursue negotiations with a Seeno led development group regarding the CNWS project. Articulate and informed public comments shared publicly available information which typically should disqualify any development candidate.
Public comment also noted that the qualifications of the group as presented did not compare favorably to the other two proposals. Participants in the Seeno development group have a record of suing government entities who get in their way.
Birsan led arguments in favor of Seeno using criteria which would have disqualified Lennar, an anti-labor developer whom he supported in 2016. This has led many Concord residents to speculate angrily on social media that political influence drove the decision, since qualifications, character and credibility apparently did not.
At CCA, we oppose decision making on the City Council which ignores credible and relevant information, most especially when that information is the basis for broad public sentiment that is clearly against the decision. We know of no other way to describe the vote by the 3 council members than as a violation of public trust.
For more information on CCA, Click Here
This summer, CCA rolled out a whole new website.
It is part of the NationBuilder platform, which supports a variety of tools of great value to community groups who want to Inform - Organize - Mobilize (which just happens to be a core part of CCA’s mission).
Concord is our home, and like most homes Concord is both a place of wonderful community and a place that needs some fixing up. CCA’s mission is to bring people together to make Concord a better place to live, starting with those for whom life in Concord may not be so wonderful. But in this digital age, that takes a whole variety of tools, and a website is just the beginning.
In addition to a website, our new platform offers a number of capabilities:
- Contact database
- Emailing tool - and text messaging as well!
- Sign-up forms of various types - for our newsletter, to volunteer
- News articles and blog posts
- Events listing
- Petitions and surveys
- Donations support
- Social media tools
- And a special suite of tools for on the ground organizing
These tools are purpose built to help us share information, to invite people to get involved, and most especially to come together at those critical moments when expressing a shared vision is important.
We invite comments, questions, and discussion, and we hope this website prompts a lot of that. That’s one way of building community. Just so you know, we do require that you create an account with at least your name and email address before you comment - at CCA, we think being open and transparent is the best way to enter into healthy dialogue, so we don’t support anonymous commenting. You can also sign in with your social media account if you prefer!
We invite you to sign up for our newsletter (there’s a form to the right), read a little more about us, and watch for our posts on social media. If what we are doing resonates with you, look at the events page to see when our next meeting is. Or just go ahead and join CCA (click the link on the lower right).
There’s a lot of good things that can be accomplished in Concord when we come together to tackle them. We hope this new website helps to make that happen.