Last week, we looked at the shameful and embarrassing failure of the City of Richmond to maintain its park infrastructure and to enforce the conditions of a development agreement (Baxter Creek Park An Example of City Priorities, July 31, 2021). This week, we look at the Richmond Greenway, a linear park that runs across Richmond from the Bay Trail on the west to the Ohlone Greenway on the east. The Richmond Greenway was supposed to be a repurposing of a former railroad right of way – a classic rails to trails project that knits together multiple neighborhoods and connects with the Ohlone Greenway that runs through El Cerrito, Albany and part of Berkeley.
Despite tens of millions of dollars in grants for capital projects to improve the Richmond Greenway, it is all but neglected by the City of Richmond when it comes to maintenance and law enforcement. The adjoining and well-used Ohlone Greenway in El Cerrito, Albany and Berkeley is a source of community pride for those cities, but when the Greenway reaches Richmond, it becomes a linear garbage dump rather than an urban trail.
Sadly, the Richmond Greenway is characterized by dumping, graffiti, weeds, and homeless camps. Although access is barred for vehicles, cars and motorcycles come and go like it was intended to be a parking lot.
Here is some drone footage of the area south of Target.
It was just four years ago, I joined in cutting the ribbon to open the Gap Closure Project joining the Richmond and Ohlone Greenways (photo below). That location is now a weed infested dump.
How did this happen? This is the result of a City Manager, Laura Snideman, who does not value Richmond’s appearance and infrastructure and of the City Council majority Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) members who are not willing to fund parks and infrastructure. Instead, City funds are being spent on frivolous investigations and lawsuits. The RPA City Council members are obsessed with dismantling economic development projects that could increase our tax base. Instead of maintaining the parks we have, Eduardo Martinez (shown in the ribbon cutting photo below) wants to build a sideshow park where people can do donuts!
We used to have “rangers” who patrolled the Greenway, but they were cut out of the police budget. With the RPA-driven cuts to the police budget, they no longer have the resources to enforce traffic laws, including driving cars on the Richmond Greenway.
We have $28 million in ARPA funds, some of which could be used to maintain our parks, but the city manager did not want to spend it.
Wake up, Richmond!
Figure 1 – Cutting the ribbon at the Gap Closure Project, April 2018
Figure 2 - Car parked illegally on Richmond Greenway
Figure 3 - Weeds, car and trash along Richmond Greenway behind Target
Figure 4 - Weeds bordering Richmond Greenway at tunnel under I-80
Figure 5 - Car illegally parked on Richmond Greenway, lots of trash
Figure 6 - Motorcycle and homeless camp on Richmond Greenway
Figure 7 - Dumping and homeless camp on Richmond Greenway
Figure 8 - Grafitti on Richmond Greenway
Figure 9 - Grafitti along Richmond Greenway
Figure 10 - Grafitti at stairs accessing Richmond Greenway
Figure 11 - Dumping along Richmond Greenway