Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2022  
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  Opportunity Lost to Hold Caltrans Accountable
February 9, 2022

Less than eight months ago, the City Council unanimously adopted a direction to staff to take steps to encourage Caltrans to be a better steward of its rights-of-way. It was originally introduced by Bates on June 29, 2021,  as “J-1.  DIRECT staff to research into filing a lawsuit against Caltrans regarding the condition of our highways – Councilmember Nathaniel Bates (510-620-6518).”

Although the City Council majority has no qualms about spending nearly half a million dollars investigating and litigating against me, they apparently were reluctant to litigate against Caltrans and instead adopted the following:

J-1. The matter to direct staff to research into filing a lawsuit against Caltrans regarding the condition of our highways was introduced by Councilmember Bates. Discussion ensued. Mark Wassberg gave comments. On motion of Councilmember Martinez, seconded by Councilmember Bates, directed staff to coordinate with Contra Costa County and other west county cities with the aid of the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee and Association of Bay Area Governments to petition the State of California for solutions in the cleaning of the freeways, by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Bates, Jimenez, Martinez, McLaughlin, Vice Mayor Johnson III, and Mayor Butt. Noes: None. Abstained: None. Absent: Councilmember Willis.
Since then, there has been little change to I-80 and I-580 in Richmond. Trash and litter abound, and the homeless camps typically reappear even larger shortly after Caltrans rousts the occupants. For Caltrans, dealing with the homeless is a Richmond problem, not a Caltrans problem. There is no evidence that City staff has made any progress in carrying out the direction provided on June 29, 2021.