Richmond Citizens Want In on LBNL Expansion Project

Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) in partnership with the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) hosted a town hall meeting allowing Richmond residents weighed in on plans for the forthcoming Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Richmond Bay Campus.

The meeting, which took place Thursday May 8. at Miracle Temple Apostolic Church was held in anticipation of the University of California (UC) Regents’ upcoming vote on the RBC’s Longterm Development Plan this week.

Prior to their vote, more than 200 community members seized the opportunity to speak candidly with U.C. representatives and share a “community-authored proposal” complete with imperatives they wish to see folded into the plan.

The imperatives included: improved educational opportunities, targeted hiring/training for local disadvantaged workers, small business and commercial development and support for low-income renters to prevent displacement.

The event included a number of speakers, primarily natives and longtime residents of Richmond. While they see the expansion project as promising, they want to ensure it will add value to the Richmond community.

“We want to get our proposal across to make sure all concerns presented and all of our messages get to the Regents and inform their decision-making,” said Melvin Willis, Organizing Activist and Richmond native.

“We want access and inclusion,” said Tamisha Walker of the Safe Return Project—a community organization that supports individuals returning from incarceration.

“We want to be at the table for all discussions that impact our people here,” she added.

CCISCO took lead in helping Richmond residents craft this community proposal, with hopes of entering a legally binding partnership with U.C. Berkeley and LBNL.

The Richmond field station was selected as the site for the campus expansion last year and is estimated to be roughly three-fourths the size of the Cal Berkeley campus. The project has the potential to bring hundreds of jobs and millions of investment dollars into Richmond, according to the presentations by ACCE and CCISCO.

Both U.C. Berkeley and LBNL expressed a mutual interest in supporting Richmond citizens in realizing improved educational goals, workforce development and employment opportunities.

“We want to look at local hire and local procurement. We are partners with the community and we don’t have to wait until one building gets built. The partnership commitment will continue to evolve,” said Julie Sinai, Director, Local Government and Community Relations at U.C. Berkeley.

Sinai says U.C. Berkeley and LBNL have created a community partnership fund and have jointly contributed $50,000.

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