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  The "Southside" is Found!
February 20, 2013

At last night’s City Council meeting, Corky Booze took the unprecedented opportunity to step down form the dais, sign up for Open Forum, and proceed to excoriate me for being a racist because I did not know where the “Southside” is.

Later, in the discussion of a resolution supporting the location of a call center in Richmond, specifically at 1401 Marina Way South, Booze offered a tantalizing clue. “Look for the streets with an “S” in front of them, and that’s where you will find the “Southside.” He also confirmed that Marina Bay is part of the “Southside.”

The City has a great GIS system, and I opened it with alacrity this morning to track down the elusive “Southside”

Some of the task was easy. Most numbered streets in Richmond become “south” at Ohio Avenue, so beginning with 1st Street and moving east to San Pablo Avenue along Ohio Street gave me a northern border, and San Pablo Avenue seemed to be a reasonable eastern border.

1st Street becomes the western border, so we have the neighborhoods of Santa Fe, Coronado, Pullman, Cortez-Stege, Laurel Park, Eastshore and the Panhandle Annex. Marina Bay has Harbour Way South, Marina Way South, South 17th Street, South 19th Street, South 27th Street, South 32nd Street and South 34th Street, so Marina Bay is part of the southside. Marina Bay also has Southwind Court. Even if Harbour Way and Marina Way have “South” following their names, they are in, according to Booze.

Then we have the area southeast of Marina Bay  that is largely commercial and industrial and includes the former Zeneca property and the Richmond Field Station.

According to Booze’s cognitive map, Point Richmond and Brickyard may not have made the cut, although there is a remote street called South Mallard Drive that leads from Canal Boulevard to the ridge in Miller-Knox Park that was once the site of a cold war Nike missile battery.

Southside Map

Now that we have found the “Southside,” we need to find out why it is so special and why it has been deprived of the projects and programs from which the rest of the City has benefitted. We also need to understand why a failure to grasp what are now clear boundaries is racist.

The “Southside” actually seems to be doing pretty well for itself. The two main thoroughfares bisecting the southside, Cutting Boulevard and Carlson Boulevard, have been repaved recently. The City of Richmond has subsidized two schools in the area to keep them open, and all schools in the “Southside” have either been replaced, modernized or will be with proceeds from the latest bond issue. In the boundary between Santa Fe and Coronado, MLK Park has been rebuilt with a new soccer field; the Maritime Center has been rehabilitated and Nystrom School is partially rebuilt with the rest under construction. It appears that street projects have been as well distributed in the “Southside” as anywhere else (Searching for the Elusive Southside, February 5, 2013). The area has two fire stations, a branch library, a swimming pool (Richmond Swim Center), lots of parks and a community center (Booker T Anderson Community Center). The City and WCCUSD are getting ready to spend $5.2 million upgrading the Richmond Swim Center. Marina Bay has multiple attractions, including the Bay Trail, several parks, the Craneway Pavilion, Rose the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park Visitor Center, and Richmond’s largest yacht harbor. Although technically a hundred feet north of the “Southside,” the Richmond Greenway runs along its northern border.

While the “Southside” suffers from crime, it doesn’t appear to be any ore affected than other central Richmond areas that are outside its boundaries (See https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=105617899923138742490.0004733b98ebfcc21122b&ll=37.953944,-122.346497&spn=0.086628,0.21286&z=12&source=embed).

With all that said, I am still trying to figure out why the “Southside” is so special that it deserves more attention than any other part of Richmond. I was elected to serve all of Richmond, as was Booze, but he seems to see himself as representing only the “Southside.” You might ask, however, what he has done lately for the “Southside” other than bash neighborhoods that are not part of the “Southside.” I don’t see much.