Interview with City Council Member Eduardo Martinez

Interview with City Council Member Eduardo Martinez

This month, The Activist sat down with Eduardo Martinez, who started his second term as Richmond City Councilmember, to discuss some of his priorities for 2019.

TA: You are one of the environmental leaders on the City Council. What are some of your main concerns these days?

EM: I continue to be concerned about the climate and local health impacts of coal movement in Richmond. On Tuesday I will have a tour of Richmond Levin Terminal, along with city staff. The Levin terminal moves over a million tons of coal per year.

I recently submitted an agenda item to stop the storage and handling of coal in Richmond. Staff are now reviewing a proposed ordinance. For example, they are coming up with an amortization schedule to account for the possible economic loss from not being able to move coal. This will prevent the company from claiming a “taking.” Of course, Levin has lawyered up, and are trying to let the city know that they are not going to take this easily.

And then of course there is Pt. Molate. With the new City Council, it will be a more difficult battle to protect this as a public commons. At the last City Council meeting, I spoke to the issue of egress and accessibility, if the City allows hundreds of housing units to be built. Remember in the Paradise Fire, dozens of people died in part because they could not evacuate.

TA: And there is the issue of housing.

EM: Yes, we have made some progress in helping people stay in their homes. We have a good Rent Board and need to ensure that it stays that way.

But homelessness is a growing issue, and we need to develop regional solutions to homelessness. So the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond are trying to connect with Contra Costa County to deal with this on a regional basis We are going to have a conference in City Auditorium soon, akin to the environmental conference we recently had in Berkeley. We will be working with and reaching to groups like the Contra Costa County homeless Task Force, GRIP and other community groups to join us.