Richmond (pronounced /ˈrɪtʃmənd/) is a city in western Contra Costa County, California, United States. The city was incorporated on August 7, 1905. It is located in the East Bay, part of the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a residential inner suburb of San Francisco, as well as the site of heavy industry, which has been undergoing a shift towards a service and commercial economy since the 1970s. Richmond almost completely surrounds the city of San Pablo and the unincorporated areas of North Richmond, El Sobrante and East Richmond Heights.
The city is headed by mayor Gayle McLaughlin, making Richmond the largest city in the country with a Green Party mayor. As of the July 1, 2005 U.S. Census estimate, the city has a population of 102,186, while the California Department of Finance estimates the city's population at 103,468, as of January 1, 2006. This makes Richmond the 56th largest city in the state.
The Ohlone Indians were the first inhabitants of the Richmond area, settling an estimated 5,000 years ago.
The name "Richmond" appears to predate actual incorporation by more than fifty years. Edmund Randolph, originally from Richmond, Virginia, represented the city of San Francisco when California's first legislature met in San Jose in December 1849, and he became state assemblyman from San Francisco. His loyalty to the town of his birth caused him to persuade a federal surveying party mapping the San Francisco Bay to place the names "Point Richmond" and "Richmond" on an 1854 geodetic coast map, which was the geodetic map at the terminal selected by the San Joaquin Valley Railroad; and by 1899 maps made by the railroad carried the name "Point Richmond Avenue," designating a county road that later became Barrett Avenue, a central street in Richmond.
The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad had its terminus at Richmond. The first post office opened in 1900.
Richmond was founded and incorporated in 1905, carved out of Rancho San Pablo, from which the nearby town of San Pablo inherited its name. Until 1919, the city had the largest winery in the world; the small abandoned village of Winehaven remains fenced off along Western Drive in the Point Molate Area. In the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan was active in the city. In 1930 the Ford Motor Company opened an assembly plant in the south side of town, which is now an abandoned industrial area (the plant moved to Milpitas in the 1970s). The city was a small town at that time, until the onset of World War II which brought on a rush of migrants and a boom in the industrial sector. Standard Oil set up operations here in 1901, including a what is now the Chevron Richmond Refinery and tank farm, which are still operated by Chevron. There is a pier into San Francisco Bay south of Point Molate for oil tankers. The western terminus of the Santa Fe Railroad was established in Richmond with ferry connections at Ferry Point in the Brickyard Cove area of Point Richmond to San Francisco.
At the outset of World War II, the four Richmond Shipyards were built along the Richmond waterfront, employing thousands of workers, many recruited from all over the United States, including many African-Americans and women entering the workforce for the first time. Many of these workers lived in specially-constructed houses scattered throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including Richmond, Berkeley and Albany. A specially-built rail line, the Shipyard Railway, transported workers to the shipyards. Kaiser's Richmond shipyards built 747 Victory and Liberty ships for the war effort, more than any other site in the U.S. The city broke many records and even built one Liberty ship in a record five days. On average the yards could build a ship in thirty days. The medical system established for the shipyard workers eventually became today's Kaiser Permanente HMO. One of Kaiser's medical centers is located in Richmond.
Point Richmond was originally the commercial hub of the city, but a new downtown arose in the center of the city. It was populated by many department stores such as Kress, J.C. Penney, Sears, Macy's, and Woolworth's. During the war the population increased dramatically and peaked at around 120,000 by the end of the war. Once the war ended the shipyard workers were no longer needed, beginning a decades-long population decline. The Census listed 99,545 residents in 1950. By 1960 much of the temporary housing built for the shipyard workers was torn down, and the population dropped to about 71,000. Many of the people who moved to Richmond were black and came from the Midwest and South. Most of the white men were overseas at war, and this opened up new opportunities for ethnic minorities and women. This era also brought with it the innovation of daycare for children, as a few women could care for several dozen women's children, while most of the mothers went off to work in the factories and shipyards.
In the 1970s the Hilltop area including a large shopping mall was developed in the northern suburbs of the city; this further depressed the downtown area as it drew away retail clients and tenants. In the late 1990s and early 2000s the Richmond Parkway was built along the western industrial and northwestern parkland of the city connecting Interstates 80 and 580.
In the early 1900s, the Santa Fe railroad established a major rail yard adjacent to Point Richmond. The railroad constructed a tunnel through the Potrero San Pablo ridge to run a track from their yard to a ferry landing from which freight cars could be transshipped to San Francisco. Where this track crosses the main street in Point Richmond, there remain two of the last operational wigwag grade crossing signals in the United States, and the only surviving examples of the "upside-down" type. The wigwag is an antiquated type of railroad crossing signal which was phased out in the 1970s and 80s across the country. There was controversy in 2005 when the State Transportation Authority ordered the BNSF railroad company to upgrade the railroad crossing signals. A compromise was achieved that included installing new modern crossing gates, red lights and bells while not removing, but simply shutting off the historic ones and preserving their functionality for special events.
The Pullman Company also established a major facility in Richmond in the early 20th century. The facility connected with both the Santa Fe and Southern Pacific and serviced their passenger coach equipment. The Pullman Company was a large employer of African American men, who worked mainly as porters on the Pullman cars. Many of them settled in the East Bay, from Richmond to Oakland, prior to World War II.
In 2006 the city celebrated its centennial. This coincided with the repaving and streetscaping project of Macdonald Avenue. The city's old rundown commercial district along Macdonald has been designated the city's "Main Street District" by the state of California. This has led to funding of improvements in the form of state grants.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 52.6 sq mi (136.2 km²). 30.0 sq mi (77.6 km²) of it is land and 22.6 sq mi (58.5 km²) of it (42.98%) is water. The city sits on 32 miles (51 km) of waterfront, more than any other city in the Bay Area. The city borders San Francisco Bay to the southwest and San Pablo Bay to the northwest, and includes Brooks Island and the Brother Islands entirely, and half of Red Rock Island.
There are several cities and unincorporated communities surrounding or bordering Richmond. To the south is the city of Albany which is in Alameda County and the city of El Cerrito. The cities and unincorporated areas of, East Richmond Heights, Rollingwood and, El Sobrante lie to the East. North Richmond to the west and San Pablo to the east are almost entirely surrounded by Richmond's city limits. To the north, Richmond borders the city of Pinole and the unincorporated areas of Bayview-Montalvin, and Tara Hills. Richmond borders Alameda, San Francisco, and Marin counties in the Bay and Red Rock Island.
|Annual rainfall and temperatures|
|Month||Rainfall in. (mm)||Mean high temp.||Mean low temp.|
|January||4.91 (124.7)||57 °F (14 °C)||43 °F (6 °C)|
|February||4.41 (112.0)||61 °F (16 °C)||45 °F (7 °C)|
|March||3.52 (89.4)||63 °F (17 °C)||47 °F (8 °C)|
|April||1.35 (34.3)||66 °F (17 °C)||48 °F (9 °C)|
|May||0.54 (13.7)||68 °F (20 °C)||51 °F (11 °C)|
|June||0.17 (4.3)||71 °F (22 °C)||54 °F (12 °C)|
|July||0.07 (1.8)||70 °F (21 °C)||55 °F (13 °C)|
|August||0.09 (2.3)||71 °F (22 °C)||56 °F (13 °C)|
|September||0.27 (6.9)||73 °F (23 °C)||56 °F (13 °C)|
|October||1.25 (31.8)||72 °F (22 °C)||56 °F (13 °C)|
|November||3.47 (88.1)||64 °F (18 °C)||48 °F (9 °C)|
|December||3.30 (83.8)||57 °F (14 °C)||43 °F (6 °C)|
Richmond, like much of the coastal East Bay, enjoys a very mild Mediterranean climate year round. The climate is slightly warmer than the coastal areas of San Francisco, the Peninsula, and Marin County; it is however more temperate than areas further inland. The average highs range from 57 °F (14 °C) to 73 °F (23 °C) and the lows between 43 °F (6 °C) to 56 °F (13 °C) year round. Richmond usually enjoys an "Indian summer", and September is, on average, the warmest month. January is on average the coldest month.
The rainy season begins in late October and ends in April with some showers in May. Most of the rain occurs during stronger storms which occur between November and March and drop 3.3 to 4.91 inches (125 mm) of rain per month. January and February are the rainiest months.
Like most of the Bay Area, Richmond is made up of several microclimates. Southern parts of the city and the ridges receive more fog than northern areas. Summer temperatures are higher in inland areas, where the moderating influence of San Francisco Bay is lessened. The average wind speed is 6 to 9 miles per hour with stronger winds from March through August; the strongest winds are in June. The city also enjoys more than 80% sunshine 7 months out of the year and 10 with 60% or more. December and January are the darkest months with about 45% average brightness. The city experiences virtually no snowfall, and brief hail annually. The city is very humid in the morning with the lowest humidity being in the high 70% range. This may be due to San Francisco Bay's notorious fog and also the fact that a majority of Richmond lies on a flat coastal plain predominantly consisting of reclaimed tidal marshes, inter-tidal flats, and seep. Morning humidity is 75% to 92% year round; afternoon humidity is more variable. This percentage is in the high 20s to mid 30s (%) May through October (the summer months) and climbs or descends through 40% to 70% during the winter.
Richmond is home to many species of animals. Canada Geese visit the city on their annual migrations. Harbor Seals live in the Castro Rocks and pigeons and gulls populate the sidewalks and parking lots. Tadpoles and frogs can be found in the local creeks and vernal pools. Field mice and lizards are also found. Herons and egrets nest in protected areas on Brooks Island. Deer, falcons, raccoons, ducks, foxes, owls, and mountain lions live in Wildcat Canyon and Point Pinole Regional Shoreline.
A license is needed for fishing on the waterfront or city waters but not on the piers, where in addition to crabs, sturgeon are plentiful and manta rays may also be found. Striped Bass, Bat Rays, Leopard Sharks, surf perch, jacksmelt, sturgeon, kingfish, and flounders are also found. Richmond is one of the few places where you can find the rare Olympia Oyster on the west coast, in the polluted waters along the refinery's shoreline. Rainbow Trout have recently returned to San Pablo and Wildcat creeks.
Red-tailed Hawks patrol the skies. Monarch Butterflies migrate through the city on their journey between Mexico and Canada. Wildcat Marsh has two ponds where Canada Geese often rest, and is also the home of the endangered Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse and California Clapper Rail. Another endangered species in the city is the Santa Cruz Tarweed which survives alongside Interstate 80. Wildcat Canyon also hosts falcons and vultures. Threatened Black Rails also live in the city's marshes.
After a baby Grey Whale was beached on the Point Richmond shore in May 2007, its rotting corpse became bothersome to neighbors. It took a while to remove it since various agencies argued over whom would have to pay for it.
In 2006 the city was sued by an environmental group for dumping raw sewage into the Bay. Councilmember Tom Butt was very vocal on the accusing the city council of turning a blind eye to the problem.
Richmond lies in the volatile California region that has a potential for devastating earthquakes. Many buildings were damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. There was also minor damage in the Richmond earthquake in 1995. The city has also had at least one minor tornado. The Chevron Richmond Refinery often releases gases and had many highly noted chemical leaks in the 1990s. The company has been fined thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. The chemicals most often released are chlorine and sulfur trioxide.
In 1993 industrial accident, a General Chemical company rail tanker car containing an oleum delivery to the Chevron Richmond Refinery was overheated and exploded. This resulted in a 17-mile (27 km) area contaminated with the poisonous gas, and led to 25,000 people landing in the hospital. The incident led to lawsuits, and has been referred to as a mini-bhopal.
The city's shoreline and wildlife were seriously affected by the 2007 San Francisco Bay oil spill. Beaches and shoreline were closed, but later reopened. Keller Beach was closed to public access for swimmers.
|†||Most recent estimate, 2006|
As of the census of 2000, there were 99,216 people, 34,625 households, and 23,025 families in the city. The population density was 3,309.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,277.8 /km2). There were 36,044 housing units at an average density of 1,202.3 per square mile (464.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 36.06% black or African American, 21.36% white, 0.64% Native American, 12.29% Asian, 0.50% Pacific Islander, 13.86% from other races, and 5.27% from two or more races. 26.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Of the 34,625 households, 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 20.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.5% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.44.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.7% under the age of 18, 9.9% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 94.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $44,210, and the median income for a family was $46,659. Males had a median income of $37,389 versus $34,204 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,788. About 13.4% of families and 16.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.1% of those under age 18 and 11.8% of those age 65 or over.
75.4% of inhabitants over the age of 25 were high school graduates, while 22.4% had bachelor's degrees, and 8.3% had a graduate or professional degree. 7.7% of the population was unemployed and those who were employed took, on average, 34.3 minutes to commute to their place of work.
During the day the population shrinks by 6.2% due to commuting while 23.3% of the population works within the city limits. 20.5% of the jobs in the city are in the educational, health, and social service fields, while 10.9% are professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste disposal, and 10.4% are in retail.
7.0% of Richmonders are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces compared with 10.9% nationally. 33.2% are foreign born while 12.4% are nationwide. 48.1% of men and 43.2% of women are married conversely 55.9 and 51% of Americans are respectively. Nearly half (46.7%) speak a language other than the English language at home. 65.3% are employed even with the national average. The average household income is US$52,794; $6,552 higher than the national average. The average family makes 57,931 dollars while the average American household makes 55,832 dollars. The per capita income is 22,326 compared with 25,035 federally.
Among Richmond residents, 64.56% residents speak English, 23.13% speak Spanish, 2.11% speak Tagalog, 1.75% speak Chinese, 1.20% speak Miao-Mien, 1.12% speak Laotian, 0.72% speak Punjabi, 0.54% speak Cantonese, 0.51% speak French, 0.5% speak Vietnamese, 3.49% speak other languages none of which represents more than half of one percent of the population.
|Largest employers in Richmond|
|4.||Costco Wholesale||Wholesale retail|
|6.||California Autism Foundation||Advocacy|
|9.||The Home Depot||Retail|
|10.||Dicon Fiberoptics, Inc||Manufacturing|
Many industries have been and are still sited in Richmond. It had a dynamite and gunpowder works (the Giant Powder Company, closed in 1960, now the site of Point Pinole Regional Shoreline), the last active whaling station in the country at Point Molate (closed in 1971), and one of the world's largest wineries (Winehaven), closed by Prohibition in 1919.
During World War II, Richmond developed rapidly as a heavy industrial town, chiefly devoted to shipbuilding. Its major activity now is as a seaport, with 26 million tons of goods shipped through Port Richmond in 1993, mostly oil and petroleum products. Chevron USA has a major oil refinery in the city, with a storage capacity of 15 million barrels (2,400 m³). The Social Security Administration employs over 1,000 at its regional office and program service center in Downtown Richmond. Kaiser Permanente's Richmond Medical Center hospital in the Downtown Richmond is one of the largest employers in the city. Galaxy Desserts is run and operated in the city. Vetrazzo, an award winning green business that manufactures Recycled Glass Countertops out of waste glass such as beer bottles and old traffic lights, is located in the refurbished Ford Assembly Plant. Treeskunk Productions a video game animation studio is based in the town. Bay View recording studios are located in the city, and have worked with artists such as Smash Mouth.
The Hilltop District includes Hilltop Mall that features Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy's, and Wal-Mart department stores as anchors. Furthermore the area is home to Hilltop Auto Mall, a 16 screen Century Theaters alongside, Hilltop Plaza Shopping Center.
The 23rd Street business district has evolved into a predominantly Latino neighborhood over the last twenty years as have the storefronts.
In the Downtown Richmond District the Richmond Shopping Center was built as part of the city's "main street" revitalization efforts. It is anchored by a Foods Co. supermarket and a Walgreen's pharmacy.
The Macdonald 80 Shopping Center is a commercial plot along the trunk route of Macdonald Avenue which has been designated the city's main street under the aforementioned program. It was once anchored by the now-defunct Montgomery Wards and a Toys"R"Us. Demolition of the former buildings and construction of a new shopping mall were completed in 2006 and the center is now anchored by a Target store.
"Big-box" stores already in the city include Costco in the Point Isabel area and a Home Depot which is partially in Richmond and partially in El Cerrito. A controversial Kohl's department store has been proposed for Point Isabel. (See Point Isabel)
Newly installed to the community is the new Mc.Donald shopping center (2008) a new Target super store. Along with many other food court services and consumer attractions under renovation for more popular business opportunities.
The former Richmond Shipyards were transformed starting in the late 1980s into a multiunit residential area, Marina Bay. Starting in the early 2000s, the city began an aggressive redevelopment effort spurring exurban tract housing, condominiums, townhomes, a transit village, and terraced hillside subdivisions. Since 1996, new homes have increased in price by 32%, and there has been a 65.6% increase in the total amount of new dwellings built annually.
Country Club vista is a development surrounding the Richmond Country Club to the south and north. It includes suburban style tract houses with cul-de-sac courts and small yards. Seacliff, at Point Richmond, is a development of luxury waterfront homes built on a terraced hillside. San Marcos is a series of about ten condominium multistory buildings between Hilltop Mall and Country Club Vista. Richmond Transit Village has been constructed in the former west parking lot and an adjacent empty lot of the combined Richmond BART and Amtrak station. The development is part of the city's downtown revitalization efforts.
Many casinos have been proposed for the West Contra Costa area. Point Molate would have a casino, resort, and a luxury shopping mall. Sugar Bowl Casino proposes a casino, steakhouse, and a buffet. Casino San Pablo has already been built in neighboring San Pablo, with 2,500 slots. The projects have been the subject of much civic debate supporters contend that the often cash-strapped government would get a major new source of revenue, while opponents air their concerns over the ramifications including an increase in already high crime rates, lowered property values, and worsening neighborhood quality of life.
Point Molate is currently slated to either become a housing and conference center or a casino resort shopping area, or even a large regional park.
|1||Gayle McLaughlin, (G) Mayor|
|2||María Viramontes, (D) Vice Mayor|
|3||Ludmyrna "Myrna" López, (D)|
|4||Nathanial Bates, (D)|
|5||Harpreet S. Sandhu, (D)|
|6||John E. Márquez, (D)|
|7||Tom Butt, (D)|
|8||Tony K. Thurmond, (D)|
|9||Jim Rogers, (D)|
Richmond city government operates under a council-manager system with 9 members (including mayor and vice mayor) elected to alternating 4-year terms.
Politically, the city is a Democratic stronghold. By the early 1990s, not a single Republican remained on the council. Most mayors have been African-American. George D. Carroll, who was voted by the City Council to become Mayor on July 6, 1964, was described at the time as "the first Negro mayor in California and first in America with the exception of small, scattered all-Negro communities in the Deep South," . Rosemary Corbin was the mayor throughout the 1990s and was an exception, as she is white. In the early 2000s Gayle McLaughlin was the first Green elected to the council, with the support of the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA), a coalition of liberal Democrats, progressive independents, and Greens. In November 2006, McLaughlin was elected mayor. The city council has four African Americans, four whites and two Latinos. Richmond has formerly been home to black culture and activist movements, most notably the Black Panther Party.
In 2006 the city implemented a computer program that it had ordered from a German firm that provides the city with statistical interactive maps. These maps cover such areas as signage locations, streets, crime hot-spots, and zoning information. In 2007 the city won a contest in which its previously substandard website was upgraded and improved to make it more modern and functional. The prize includes 2 years of free webmastering.
The city of Richmond has eight community centers which are located within city parks. Many of the city's community centers were closed in the early 2000s following budget miscalcuations and financial difficulties. In the 2006 city elections many candidates ran on platforms promising to reopen these community centers, most of which had been closed due to budget cuts. That election also featured a city sales tax increase, Measure Q, which failed.
There are 53 voting precincts in Richmond. During the regular election on November 7, 2006 21,575 of 37,605 (57.37%) registered voters cast their ballots.
During the Great American Boycott of 2006 the predominantly Latino storefronts of the 23rd Street business district were all closed for the general strike and the usually bustling district became a one-day ghost town. Many Latinos from the area participated in large rallies on Oakland and San Francisco. Others protested locally, along 23rd Street in Richmond. One lane on 23rd Street was left open to allow traffic to pass.
Richmond is served by the Richmond Police Department and Richmond Fire Department. Dozens of parks are run by the Richmond Parks & Recreation Department. The Richmond Civic Center is currently undergoing a seismic upgrade and renovations program. Some buildings are being refurbished while other will be replaced.
The city has in recent years suffered from a high crime rate, so serious that the city council at one point requested a declaration of a state of emergency and asked for the intervention of the Contra Costa County Sheriff and the California Highway Patrol in order to ameliorate crime waves. Murder, vehicle theft and larceny rates are all high, although they tend to be concentrated in certain areas such as the Iron Triangle and areas surrounding adjacent unincorporated North Richmond, which is outside the jurisdiction of the Richmond Police Department.
In 2004, Richmond was statistically the second most dangerous city in California and was named the 8th most dangerous city in the country. However, those rankings have changed and Richmond is now the third most dangerous in California behind Compton and Oakland and 11th most dangerous nationally according to the Morgan Quitno rankings. For every 100,000 people there were 38.3 murders, 50.4 rapes, 485.8 robberies, 512 assaults, 1110.7 burglaries, 3497.4 counts of larceny and 2471.4 thefts of vehicles. Richmond had 42 murders in 2006; and the city experienced a record of 62 homicides in 1991.
Current mayor Gayle McLaughlin is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino. The city is also participating in the California Cities Gang Prevention Network. Gangs are a serious problem for the police department as they cause violence and shootings. Many gangs graffiti their "tags" to mark their territory thus blighting the city with vandalism. A high ranking MS-13 (or mara salvatrucha) leader, José Santos Bonilla, was captured in the southwestern Annex neighborhood in 2006.
Richmond is also home to the West County Detention Center in the Point Pinole area. It is a male and female county jail.
The public schools in Richmond are administered by the West Contra Costa Unified School District, formerly the Richmond Unified School District. There are also many private schools, mostly Catholic schools under the authority of the Diocese of Oakland.