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Revitalizing Antioch w/ Mayor Thorpe - A Conversation on Growth & Unity

In this edition of "Capstone Conversation," host Jared Asch engages with Mayor Lamar Thorpe to explore the transformative changes sweeping through Antioch, California. As the city's leader, Mayor Thorpe is steering Antioch toward a future marked by inclusivity and vigorous growth.


Before becoming mayor, Thorpe was deeply involved in education and served in the United States Navy. His extensive background in public service has shaped his approach to leading Antioch, emphasizing community development and service.


Antioch, one of California's oldest cities, has a complex history, including early discriminatory practices against Chinese immigrants. Today, Mayor Thorpe is focused on confronting these historical injustices to foster a community that values diversity and equality.


Once a predominantly white community, Antioch has evolved into the second most racially diverse city in the San Francisco Bay Area. This shift reflects Thorpe’s efforts to create an environment that welcomes all residents. He discusses the city’s growth, which he compares to managing two distinct cities due to socio-economic disparities across different zip codes.


Thorpe highlights several initiatives aimed at making growth equitable, such as rent stabilization and tenant protections. These measures are part of a broader strategy to ensure that all residents benefit from Antioch's development.


Infrastructure is another area of proactive effort, with projects like the new desalination plant to address the challenges of climate change while keeping utility rates low. This project is crucial for sustainable development and economic stability.


In response to past challenges with the police department, Antioch has implemented significant reforms. These include changes in hiring practices and the establishment of a police oversight board. The city has also introduced community response strategies to enhance safety and rebuild trust between the police and the community.


Looking ahead, Mayor Thorpe is dedicated to further unifying Antioch, starting with symbolic gestures like renaming key streets to reflect unity. He is also focused on leveraging economic opportunities such as the deep-water port to stimulate growth while ensuring environmental sustainability.


Thorpe envisions a well-connected Antioch, with improved transportation links like the glideways program, making the city more accessible. His leadership is characterized by a commitment to turning Antioch into a model of urban renewal, driven by policies that embrace diversity and promote inclusive growth.


This conversation with Mayor Thorpe offers insight into the challenges and opportunities of leading a city through significant transformation. His strategic approach provides a blueprint for other cities facing similar issues, demonstrating the power of inclusive governance and progressive leadership in shaping the future of urban communities. Join us next time on "Capstone Conversation" as we continue to explore effective city governance and transformational leadership.






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Jared Asch: alright welcome to today's episode of the capstone conversation. I am your host, Jared Asch, and today we are joined by the great Mayor of Antioch in Contra Costa County.


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Mayor Thorpe, thank you for joining us today.


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Lamar Thorpe: Well, thank you for having me, and delighted to be here.


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Jared Asch: So tell us a little bit about your background. What did you do before you were Mayor?  Where do you come from? What's your history? Share your story with us.


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Lamar Thorpe: Well, before I was the mayor, I was the council member, and so I was an at large city council member before we went into districts. And you know, my professional career is in higher education administration. That's where I've spent most of my time.


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Lamar Thorpe: prior to that, II


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Lamar Thorpe: did do some. I was a third grade teacher and an eighth grade teacher in Washington, DC.


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Lamar Thorpe: And and of course I served in the United States Navy for 8 years, 5 active in 3 M. In the reserves, and so on.


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Lamar Thorpe: So you know, that's kinda that's kinda who I am. I and then I one day ran for mayor, and here I am as the mayor of the greatest city God ever created, and that's the city of Antioch, and if you don't believe me, it's in the Bible.


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Lamar Thorpe: let me just flip to that page, and


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Jared Asch: so tell us more about the city of Antioch, its history, its background.


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Jared Asch: It's geography. What makes it unique? What makes it the greatest city?


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Lamar Thorpe: Well, Antioch is actually one of California's oldest cities. And so and it's Contra Costa's very first city.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so so we're special a in that regard. Obviously, given the history just like California's history Antiox early history is just. It's you know, it's ugly particularly as it relates to you know, Asian Americans. We were one of the first cities who had Sundown town laws, where we made it impossible for for Chinese people Chinese immigrants to live here.


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Lamar Thorpe: And and later on in our history we we literally ran the Chinese out by burning by burning their communities to the ground. And so and it wasn't a secret. It was, you know, headline news in the in the in the Sacramento being, you know, San Francisco Chronicle. All these different newspapers reported on it not in a way that will look. This horrible thing happened. It was like the Caucasian torch


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Lamar Thorpe: came and expelled the Chinese


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Lamar Thorpe: Chinese who were bringing all these problems. So it was. You know it was a pretty ugly time for certain people.


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Lamar Thorpe:  But it doesn't mean that it wasn't, you know. It was good times for some people and so we, we have a and we have a hundred 50 year plus plus history in our city. And so a lot of culture, a lot of a lot of European diversity. And so up until the 19 nineties, Antioch was exclusively white. Today we are the second most racially diversity in the San Francisco Bay area, one of the fastest growing in Northern California.


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Lamar Thorpe: And of course, now the second largest city comes across the county. So we've come a long way in terms of building a a city that's inclusive and welcoming of all people has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination.


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Lamar Thorpe: And while they've been all, there's always been tensions in terms of of particularly racial tensions. It feels like it's all come ahead in my last 3 years as mayor. So it's been. It's been fascinating to watch all this and have a front row seat, but not just have a front row seat


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Lamar Thorpe: in many ways. I'm also kind of the bus driver of all this, and and trying to get people to to a location that that makes them feel safe in their community makes them feel welcome in their community. And it's not easy. It's a it's a rambunctious bunch of people, and I say that in a good way, because


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Lamar Thorpe: it it speaks to our maturation process. There's just different ideas now, and the way business was done in the past.


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Lamar Thorpe: Isn't the way forward it. It's gotta be in a way that includes everybody.


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Jared Asch: So great statement at first. I gotta ask to build on that. Who's first?


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Jared Asch: What's the most diversity in the Bay area, you know, we don't need to talk about Richmond, California, today. Okay, I you know I was just became curious. I was fascinated to learn you were second. I wanted to know who was first.


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Lamar Thorpe: Ii should probably start saying we're one of the top racially diverse cities at the Bay area.


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Jared Asch: Hey? You're in the top 3 right? That's you. Get a medal right? We. So let's let's hit on some of the development in Antioch. You guys have a


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Jared Asch: ton of new housing coming up. If you drive. II live in Walnut Creek, and I've come to Antioch one of the most beautiful ways you can around through Clayton around Mount Diablo, and through the middle of nowhere and and farm country, and you come up Deer Hill Road to the backside, where the first thing you hit is a Kaiser, beautiful new Kaiser facility in Antioch, and then you see


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Jared Asch: from farms and open space you see housing development after housing development, new housing.


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Jared Asch: If you go to an and then you have nice single family homes in that area, and you go to another part of Antioch, and it looks like there's 2 very diverse Antiox


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Jared Asch: talk about the growth the city is experiencing and how you're taking that in.


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Lamar Thorpe: Why, I always tell people being Mayor of Antioch is like being mayor of 2 cities, as you know, we have 2 zip codes. One is one of the one of the one of the wealthiest zip codes in Eastern Contra Costa County, a second to Discovery Bay. Many people think it's Brentwood, but it's not actually in Antioch, and that's the 9, 4, 5, 3, one Zip code. And then we have another Zip code


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Lamar Thorpe: that is, that is, in Antiox. More historical and in older parts. And while at 1 point it was one of the the poor one of the poor zip codes in in the county. It has, interestingly enough, the medium household income has gone up.


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Lamar Thorpe: To my surprise.


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Lamar Thorpe: It it was, it was like in the fifties, or it's not up to like close to $80,000 in terms of medium household income, which for the Bay area is is relative to everything, is still is still moderate.


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Lamar Thorpe: But so it's like being mayor of to 2 cities the the the Zip code that I talked about earlier. The 9, 4, 5, 3. One is where you have a lot of diversity. You have a lot of new folks who come into the to the city.


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Lamar Thorpe: I have a you know it. It it it's this side of town that now decides the elections. In Antioch. It's where the majority of African Americans live in that part of Antioch. And and interesting enough that Zip code is also home to the largest concentration of black people in the Bay Area with advanced degrees.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so I always tell people when you look at my resume. And you look at who I am. Please don't take that to be an exception of every anything, because that is the norm for for any on


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Lamar Thorpe: and so it's it's a it's a privilege to live in in a in a community like that. But at the same time


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Lamar Thorpe: there's an imbalance. Obviously. When it comes to like, you know, income and wealth and equality. It's it's here. There are people who have lived here for generations, who for generations grew up in a working class community where you can go work at a at a factory. You can go work at the steel mill and today, you know, those jobs are relatively done, particularly after the 19 eighties.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so there are a lot of folks here who have waited, who have been waiting for change for a long, long time. And so it's it's just interesting. It's interesting to see all that. Yeah. Obviously, infrastructure issues are gonna be different in each side of town. We probably invest more in the northern part of town than we do in the southern part of town, because because the infrastructure is much older.


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Lamar Thorpe: So we we do our best to ensure that that that we're being equitable in the community. There's there's a lot of work to do to you know. Kind of


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Lamar Thorpe: bring some level of of of continuity within Antioch. As an example.


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Lamar Thorpe: there's a street which is the one street that goes that traverses throughout Antioch. It. It's at one in southeast Antioch. It's called Lone Tree.


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Lamar Thorpe: You get to the northern part of Antioch. It's called a street, and then you get to the downtown historic district and it's called Second Street.


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Lamar Thorpe: And at some point I think we're gonna in order to bring people together in this idea that we just want Anya we're gonna have to rename that street, and whether it's Long Tree ace 3 s Street. It's gotta be one name that traverses throughout our entire city.


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Lamar Thorpe: That city. That street connects our police department city Hall.


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Lamar Thorpe: It connects our Parks and Recreation Department.


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Lamar Thorpe: It connects our community center up in the southern part. And so it's it can't be a street that's divided, because I think it's symbolic of of kind of the different generations that existed here.


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Jared Asch: That's fascinating. I mean, you see that in in other areas where a road will div will cut through multiple cities. I think Ignacio Valley becomes Kirker Pass becomes, I think, rail. Maybe. Does it come become railroad or intersects with railroad down in Pittsburgh.


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Jared Asch: But within one city it's interesting how you describe.


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Lamar Thorpe:  just the history of the town, and you could see the evolution on that one road you absolutely can. People who live on who live around Second Street and downtown, which we call the historic river town district have a completely different


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Lamar Thorpe: existence and life experience than someone who lives off of a street.


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Lamar Thorpe: And then, obviously, once you get up to loan tree, you know the the, the the, the.


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Lamar Thorpe: the the the the experiences of people are much, much drastically different than someone who we live off of a street


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Lamar Thorpe: and so it. So it's, you know, it's important to note those things. But it's important to also have an understanding. It's important to contextualize those experiences, particularly as policymakers, so that you know how to deal with these issues. But it's also important to create unity among the different socioeconomic backgrounds that we have here in the community


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Jared Asch: so easier said than done. What are some policies, social events.


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Jared Asch: things that you're doing to create that


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Jared Asch: that atmosphere you're sort of talking about.


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Lamar Thorpe: Well, you know, I would like to say that. I wish you know, we could just do everything under the sun. But, as you know, government, you know we have a certain set of parameters and it's largely built around the budget. And what you have the money to do.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so, in terms of the question that you just just asked. I think we have been laser focus on the idea of equity


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Lamar Thorpe: particularly in our older parts of the community. We recognize, as an example that you know. while we would love the county to fix all of our problems. For whatever reason. You know, we still don't have a homeless shelter in Eastern Contra Costa County. There is no care center in Eastern Contra Costa County. So we decided. You know what.


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Lamar Thorpe: We can't just let people languish on our streets. So we decided to open Master Lisa Hotel, use our own money and start housing people.


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Lamar Thorpe: In addition to that, we recognize that. It's one thing to put people in homes. But as we're putting people in in housing and trying to transition them into permanent housing. We also recognize that, you know there's another leak on the other side, which is, people are losing housing


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Lamar Thorpe: and so we decided to do something pretty historic, particularly for Eastern Contra Costa County, and that was to do rent stabilization and then anti harassment, anti-tenant harassment policy. And we're working on just cause. Yeah, eviction. And so I think, you know, we try to look at things from from an equitable lens to ensure that people are are able to maintain housing because it's it's it's different. Depending on what part of town you're in.


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Lamar Thorpe: So you know your question is, is is brilliant in terms of contextualizing and understanding these challenges.


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Jared Asch: Yeah. And I appreciate you sharing. I wanna dive into 2 things you just said rent stabilization and just cause eviction other cities are looking at it. Throughout the Bay Area and throughout California. What did you ultimately adopt in any of


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Lamar Thorpe: well, some people might argue, depending on what side of the issue you're on, that we we adopted one of the most progressive policies in California, and then some other people would probably say we adopted a radical anti landlord policy. Yes, depending on who you have, you can get a different answer.


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Lamar Thorpe: I think we passed a policy that was just for people. Listen. You and I both know that Bay area cost of living continues to go up, and the largest chunk that people pay in in in cost


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Lamar Thorpe: after they've worked a hard week to put food on. The table is housing. There's just no bones about it, whether you own a home, or whether you're renting a home, or whether you're renting a studio or or whatever. Maybe you're renting a a room


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Lamar Thorpe: the rel, you know, relative to your to your overall income housing is taking a large chunk, and it continues to go up. It is absolutely ridiculous. I bought my home for $359,000, 3,000 square foot plus home, which I love and and proud of.


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Lamar Thorpe: But it went from 3 59 to when I put it on the market, it was going for like a million plus. I've only lived in any of 11 years. and in those 11 years the house has astronomically skyrocketed


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Lamar Thorpe: to my to my advantage. Right? I'm not complaining by any straight imagination. But


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Lamar Thorpe: where would I be today if I didn't have a house, or if I was renting, or you know I would be able to afford. That's just ridiculous.


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Lamar Thorpe: It's absolutely ridiculous. And so, you know, the economic downturn for some folks was bad for other people like myself. We were able to take advantage of the opportunity that existed.


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Lamar Thorpe: Which is a housing. Prices had had it rock bottom, and so I was able to afford a home. But outside of that, how would I ever be able to afford a home in the Bay Area. And, by the way, I live, you know, in the in the in the sub, in the in Bay Area suburbs. I don't live in the inner core. The bears. Can you imagine what the cost are in, you know?


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Lamar Thorpe: In the in communities that are closer to the to the job centers.


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Jared Asch: Yeah, we I just recorded an episode with the Realtors Association of Contra Costa and Solano counties, and they said, an interesting stat that through


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Jared Asch: out the Bay area only one in 4 people, 25% can afford a home.


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Jared Asch: And that. And they defined it as not just a single family resident, but any any resident. And they said, That's a staggering low number. But we said that you're still getting multiple offers on most places, especially when interest rates


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Jared Asch: come back down, you'll get even more, which will actually drive prices up further. And they just said, It's a housing supply issue. There's just not enough here.


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Jared Asch: but it's not good for the overall economy. If one out of 4 people could afford a home.


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Lamar Thorpe: yeah.


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Lamar Thorpe: I don't know how else to put it. I mean, it's it's just a bad situation in my and in for renters, you know. They're always stuck between a rock and a hard place, because


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Lamar Thorpe: they have to provide housing for their families. And then we have examples of of landlords not being too kind. And so our our role was to get all landlords to a level where respectable landlords are, and that is to treat their their tenants with with some level of fairness, as it relates to rent hikes.


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Lamar Thorpe: and and some level of dignity when it comes to settling or figuring out disputes


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Lamar Thorpe: and so, most landlords tend to tend to tend to. He were already abiding by that standard. We just elevated those who were not, who weren't, and for decades here in the city of Antioch, and I've gone to these apartment complexes. I visited them, and I was just blown away at the absolute neglect


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Lamar Thorpe: by some of these landlords, as it relates to these huge corporate corporate apartment complexes. It was disgusting from mole to just dilapidated parking structures to to a host of other things. So a II saw a an unfair situation that a lot of people were fine with, and I just personally, myself and other council members were not.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so that's how that's how it goes.


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Jared Asch: And and can you you recall any of the specifics that were in there. What did it touch on like? Did it? Cap rent growth at X we capped, we capped rent increases at 3 or 60 60% of Cpi, whichever is lower


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Lamar Thorpe: and and so that was that was basically, I mean at the heart of the matter. That was it.


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Jared Asch: Sure. Okay, that's helpful to understand. want to pivot and talk about desalinization.


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Jared Asch: I, you guys have a new plant going in there in Antioch. Is it now? Operational.


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Lamar Thorpe: It will be later this year.


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Jared Asch: Okay, talk. Talk to us about what are you trying to achieve? What's your goal? Educate people about the plan.


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Lamar Thorpe: the the water. Desalination plant, I think, is well at the, you know. Hey?


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Lamar Thorpe: Global warming is real. Climate change is real. The ice caps are melting as the ice caps melt, it sends more water down, and it it creates more ocean water coming up the bay area coming into the delta, and so that makes it ex if that makes it difficult for us as a city to pump water. As you know, Antioch is one, because we are one of the oldest cities in California. We have what we call a pre 14 water rights. That means we have superior water rights to most cities in California.


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Lamar Thorpe: And that means we are the really the only city who gets to pump directly from the Delta. No other city gets to pump from the Delta.


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Lamar Thorpe: We have our own water distribution collection and distribution plant most cities buy, especially in our area by their water from the Contra Costa water district. And so they have their own process in terms of how they get the water. But


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Lamar Thorpe: there's more salt in the water, and we need to pump water, and so the water desalination plant or the brackish water desalination plant is, is has been, is a solution to the challenge of to the real challenge of climate change that's taking place right before our eyes.


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Lamar Thorpe: And but the the desalination plan also allows us to keep water rates low, lower than Contra Costa water district. And so we're one of the few cities that that if you compare, our water rates are much lower than most folks in the Bay area so that's a plus. And so the the desalination plant will allow us to keep doing that, because if we ever had to switch over to Contra Costa Water district. Our our rates are gonna go immediately up.


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Jared Asch: That's great. So you guys were able to make a significant financial investment in new infrastructure and yet. Keep your rates lower than some of the bigger entities. So congratulations on that.


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A


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Jared Asch: that's a good plus. So let's talk about Antioch on the water. You have access to a deep water port.


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Jared Asch: How does that


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Jared Asch: help and hurt the economy of Antioch? And what's the potential future that that can be taken advantage of there. Well, the potential is already happening right before your eyes. We have amports here now they're gonna be shipping in cars. And so we're they're gonna be building a huge facility for for for the for the offloading of all these vehicles that become going to be coming from foreign countries


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Lamar Thorpe: and so so so the port is is currently working and it should be later this year or next year, where they'll they'll be getting construction on the facility, but they already have ships coming in, so anybody is welcome to take advantage of that. Does it hurt the economy it does certainly doesn't hurt the economy. Does it bring jobs? Absolutely. We're talking about longshoremen jobs, those are, you know, those are high paying jobs


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Lamar Thorpe: and so anything we can do to spur economic growth in that in that realm, you know, I'm excited about. So I was excited to vote for that project. Does it come with environmental challenges? Absolutely. And I don't wanna sit here and pretend that you know, ships don't pollute they do. And so but you know we're all marching towards towards a new reality of how we how we you know, reduce these emissions in our air. We're regulated in terms of how many ships can come in


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Lamar Thorpe: to ensure that the air quality is is good so the air Quality board has has, you know, regulated that. And so it's not like it's gonna be an endless amount of ships coming into to our port. I think we're limited to about 6 a year so we're doing our best to ensure that residents. That we take residents you know, or the environment into perspective. As we're making these decisions.


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Jared Asch: That's great. I didn't realize it was limited to only 6 ships a year. That's one every other month. That so that's not a significant


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Lamar Thorpe: amount that can come. Well, it's a significant amount when the port hasn't been working


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Lamar Thorpe: or hasn't been utilized the way it should be so whether it's one or 6 it's significant to us. And let's not forget that the economic impact starts when those when those cars are are off the ship and into this facility and then being moved off to different locations. So that means they're using our roads and whatnot. So the the economic impact is significant. For a port that has been idle for for decades.


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Jared Asch: I have been doing a little bit of research and something to keep in mind is apparently there's a lot of food, raw food materials that goes past Antioch and Pittsburgh and on out and like you could have grain and product for granola, but it goes out elsewhere to be processed.


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Jared Asch: and so might be opportunity. I don't know what the economics are, and processing it in this country. But if you could do, if you could look at food processing and capturing chips, leaving


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Jared Asch: that


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Jared Asch: that are passing by might be something to take. Look at, and I can put you in touch with a couple of people that know more than than I do. If you ever want to talk further about it.


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Lamar Thorpe: Sure, yeah, you know, Antioch is not immune to food manufacturing. We used to have lots of canneries here in the in Antioch, which is where a lot of our contamination comes from.


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Lamar Thorpe: But but who would have thought you know, tomato peels would have contaminated the environment, but they do


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Lamar Thorpe: so so there's, you know, Antioch has had a history of manufacturing, and and particularly in in the food products, so that that wouldn't be unusual for our area, and certainly something worth exploring.


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Jared Asch: Okay, I wanna pivot to transportation. You sit on the Ccta contracts the Transit Authority board and the that authority along with the city of Antioch, and I think Oakley and and maybe


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Jared Asch: Pittsburgh have it, have created a contract for a rail line.


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Jared Asch:  using smart technology and glide ways is is where I'm talking about. Can you talk a little bit about the glideways program? What it will be offering. And what should people know?


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Lamar Thorpe: So yes, so that's so it's in partnership with not the cities, but in part. Well, kind of with the cities. Yes, cause you know, it's our right of way, but really it's being led through.


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Lamar Thorpe: try Delta, transit our regional transportation authority here, which I happen to be the chair of


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Lamar Thorpe: and so so that's so, that's a that's something we're currently exploring. It should be interesting. It's a you know it's it would be a line dedicated, not line like a railroad, but a a glide way where small vehicles traverse where you would have, you know, up to like 4 occupants that will literally take you to certain locations throughout the region to get you to bark faster and much more efficiently


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Lamar Thorpe: than the current process, which is either drive or take uber live to try my ride. So we're always exploring new ways to to make accessibility to transit much more efficient. So that's this is one of those ideas.


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Jared Asch: Great. I appreciate it. II want to talk next about city government


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Jared Asch: and some of the changes that are going on there. You have an interim city manager. At the time we're recording this at least an interim. Deputy city manager. What is the process to find the right fit?


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For the city and move into full


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Jared Asch: positions?


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Lamar Thorpe: Well, we have acting city manager and acting as city manager. So you know, this speaks to what I was talking about earlier, and that's the maturation process in the city. You know, Antioch was once a quiet city off the Delta. No one really talked about it.


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Lamar Thorpe: Again. It's one of the fastest growing cities in the Bay Area and in and in Northern California who is coming here, you know, is going to shape the politics of what's happening. And you know we have a lot of folks who now come from cities like San Francisco, Oakland, where the role the mayor is much different than what it is here.


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Lamar Thorpe: and so the expectations of what people think I can and can't do, you know, can be somewhat unreasonable. And and even in cities where, like San Francisco or Oakland, where


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Lamar Thorpe: where you have like strong mayor positions, there's still a professional at the helm, in the form of a city manager or city administrator who are taking care of these. Some of these issues. So


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Lamar Thorpe:  so where was I going with this? I first. So now we're in the process of trying to find the right City manager


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Lamar Thorpe: who makes good sense for for our city, who kind of recognizes the changes that are taking place, not resisting the changes. Who has a who has a


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Lamar Thorpe: who has kind of a better feel for the different demographics of our city


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Lamar Thorpe: and and has a better understanding, particularly around what public safety means, and that public safety doesn't just mean, you know.


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Lamar Thorpe: police on every corner. It means investing in in sheltering people means investing in youth programming. It means investing in gun violence intervention programs that work in the community. And and so that is, that's something that we're that we're looking for. And have we been able to find that in recent years it's been. It's been challenging. Because


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Lamar Thorpe: again, any apps going through a maturation process. It's like watching a teenage kid in middle school. Look at themselves in the mirror with a bunch of pimples. And they're now smelling like Bo and it they're coming to grips with some new emotions and whatnot. And that's Antioch. At the end of the day we're we're we're growing city. We're maturing into something. Do we know what that is? Yet?


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Lamar Thorpe: I'm not precisely sure, but we are in the maturation process, and that's going to come with a little with some heartache and and and


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Lamar Thorpe: and some turnover in terms of getting folks to understand what's happening.


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Jared Asch: That was a very descriptive analogy.


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Jared Asch: probably of your own high school image in the mirror. There, right there you go. He just came from a a roast the other day, so we were just continuing to give him a hard time here.


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Jared Asch: Talk so we can't


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Jared Asch: talk about Antioch and not talk about the police issues there. I


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Jared Asch: just what I want to talk about today is frame the issue. But let's talk about how you're moving forward in the city versus talking about the past. But if you could frame the issue, and then let's talk about what are some of the ways to solve that that would be great.


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Lamar Thorpe: Frame the issue. Well, I mean, I'm not gonna frame anything. I'm just gonna give you the facts. The facts are like 11 officers that were that were indicted by Federal government. Several other set, several others. By the by, we're charged with with State crimes by the da's office.


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Lamar Thorpe: and then over 40 were implicated in in a racist text messaging scandal so as a result of that we now have. 2 State investigations of the Antioch police department. We have an unbelievable amount of lawsuits that we're in the middle of


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Lamar Thorpe: trying to, you know, sort through and so as a result of that, we you know, we're authorized 115 police officers. Currently, we have about 40 something working on our streets right now for a city of a hundred 20 plus 1,000 people.


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Lamar Thorpe: So that is, those are the facts.


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Lamar Thorpe: Yep, those are the facts the indictments. A lot of them have to do with civil rights violations.  and then other types of crimes. And then the Attorney General's investigation. Attorney General Bundes. Investigation has to do with patterns and practices, obviously around racial bias.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so there's there's a lot that we're looking at. And then the city Council approved my 3 audits, related to hiring practices internal affairs


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Lamar Thorpe: and and and also patterns and practices of of like a a racial equity audit within the police department.


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Lamar Thorpe: So there's a lot there's a lot going on so as a result that we have started rebuilding. Let me tell you that before all this happened we had already


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Lamar Thorpe: propose for police reform. We had done some critical work around police reform. particularly given the backdrop of George Floyd in 2020


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Lamar Thorpe: so one of my first initiatives was to stop the hiring practice of individuals who are under investigation and coming to the Annihil Police Department. So that no longer happens. That's done and over with.


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Lamar Thorpe: we stop the use of certain techniques that can cause positional asphyxiation


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Lamar Thorpe: we instituted a a. A a police oversight accountability board, which I'll be inaugurating next. Oh, this beginning this month in February. So soon we'll have a celebration for that. And I can go on and rattle off all the reforms that we did early on that, I think, helped us, and navigating the challenges that we're navigating today.


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Lamar Thorpe: So how are we rebuilding? And we're in the process of of doing that? Some people will yell and scream at the top of their lungs. We need to rebuild. We need to re. We're in the process of it. Relax


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Lamar Thorpe: the the. Since


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Lamar Thorpe: since the announcement of the FBI investigation. I early on said, we need to do a hiring incentive I had asked for 40,000


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Lamar Thorpe: bonus for for new officers. The Council approved $30,000 bonuses. Since those bonuses were approved. We've hired 14 new officers straight out of the Academy, and, by the way. We're hiring straight out of the Academy because of our policy that we pass before all of this happened.


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Lamar Thorpe: So you know, some laterals come, come, can come. But you can't be under investigation period.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so, as a result, all of our new candidates have been from the Academy.


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Lamar Thorpe: That is great news, because it's been no secret what's been happening. So that means the people that we're getting. I don't think they're coming here because of the incentive. I think the incentive created a pool.


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Lamar Thorpe: I think the people who chose to come here have been folks who have seen what's happening, said, you know what I'm willing to take a chance with any on, because there's good changes taking place there. And I wanna be part of that policing.


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Lamar Thorpe: So I'm excited about that


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Lamar Thorpe: we also gotta hire a new chief of police. So we're in the process of doing that. I have called for the direct appointment being from the city Council, because my frustration over city managers over the years and their inability to oversee the police department and have and and hold the chief accountable.


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Lamar Thorpe: It was very frustrating, but but so that didn't happen. So now we're when we hire a new city manager. They will be able to appoint a new chief of police. So there's a host of things. We also have the public private.


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Lamar Thorpe: the public safety partnership with the Federal Government that that we're in the process of continuing to navigate. So that brings us additional resources.


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One of the good things that we had done.


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Lamar Thorpe: and I mean good things that we had done is are. And we didn't know this was gonna happen. But it all happened at the right time.


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Lamar Thorpe: So the office of neighborhood safety in Richmond is something we tried to model here in Anion


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Lamar Thorpe: ours is a little more. It goes beyond just the gun violence, interruption stuff but it gets into ha! You know, homelessness. And it gets into youth programming. So we had just developed the Department of Public Safety and community resources. And under that department we have the new community response team which no one in Contra Costa County has.


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Lamar Thorpe:  and it's 24, 7. It's a team of 11 or 12. Excuse me. And then we had also just cut the ribbon for our transitional housing hotel where we're housing individuals who are experiencing homelessness. All those things combined have those things not happened?


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Lamar Thorpe: We would be in a much different situation, public safety wise than we are today.


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Lamar Thorpe: The fact of the matter is is that it the work of the community crisis response team has been invaluable, particularly particularly as we've had this shortage of police officers, because now they take on calls that the police department no longer was responds to.


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Lamar Thorpe: So I'll give you an example. A domestic dispute is now something. The community crisis response team responds to someone talking to themselves on the street is something the community response team responds to versus the police, and so it has offloaded some work on them so that they can focus on the other more dangerous calls


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Lamar Thorpe: and so it's been extremely helpful the hotel before we we we started doing vouchers, and master leasing it had close to 300 calls per service a year.


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Lamar Thorpe: That one hotel.


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Lamar Thorpe: that one hotel, which was a which was a safe haven for prostitution drugs and a host of other things, weapons, shootings, everything else that everything you can think of


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Lamar Thorpe: today. That hotel averages about


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Lamar Thorpe: 50 calls, 50 calls, 50 calls a year to the police department.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so A and some of those calls again are being now directed to the community crisis response team.


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So


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Lamar Thorpe: it is. I'm sometimes blown away that all these things fell into place at the right time, even though it wasn't a good situation. But all these things fell at the right time


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Lamar Thorpe: in order to keep supporting the police department and doing their work, and that we weren't at a place where, oh, my God, we couldn't. I still believe we need support from Chp. Particularly around traffic and controlling these sideshows, and we still need support in relation to investigations. Because those 2 departments are those 2 divisions within the police department. We're decimated as a result of the Racist text messaging scandal.


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Lamar Thorpe: And that's how we're rebuilding. So we're rebuilding


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Lamar Thorpe: Public safety, not from the perspective of just police, but from the perspective of the Department of Public Safety and Community Resources.


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Jared Asch: I like the community.


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Jared Asch: the community resource. Is that a volunteer group. or are they paid?


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Lamar Thorpe: No, these are no, these are all employees. Yeah, it's a it's, you know, it's modeled after we modeled it after cahoots over in in Oregon.


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Lamar Thorpe: and they call theirs the meant the they call it the Yeah cahoots, which is a mental health crisis response team but we decided that


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Lamar Thorpe: what we didn't want to do is just focus on the mental health. We wanted to focus on a larger scale on some other quality of life issues.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so that really frees up our officers from doing things that you know that just shouldn't be. They are not nurses and doctors. They're not mental health specialists. They're not teachers. They're law enforcement


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Lamar Thorpe: B word in fourth mint


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Lamar Thorpe: and so enforcement can mean I'm going to yell to get compliant. So I'm going to use my baton. I can use my weapon.


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Lamar Thorpe: That's enforcement.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so these other areas are key in that we don't get to a point where we need to use enforcement.


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Jared Asch: Yeah, no, that's a great program, and I'll link to that in the show notes. So we'll make sure we could provide more information to people about that.


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Jared Asch: sounds like you guys are gonna lead in police reform. And I'm sure as you have a new chief, you'll invest in new technology as well


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and hopefully. New officers


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Jared Asch: will come in


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Lamar Thorpe: right? Yeah. Oh, that leads.


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Jared Asch: Let's what else should people know about Antioch? I think we've covered a lot of topics here. But what haven't I asked you yet before we head out?


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Lamar Thorpe: You ask? I just answer, I think, Antioch, I think there are some misconceptions about Antioch


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Lamar Thorpe: which are fascinating to me. I think there's a misconception about


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Lamar Thorpe: section 8. I've lived in many places in our country. Ii don't even think I'd ever heard of section 8 until I moved to Antioch, and there was such. There was such


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Lamar Thorpe: vitriol towards this idea of section 8. Now I'm like, well, what is section 8.


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Lamar Thorpe: And you know it's a voucher that you get to use to, you know. Subsidize your ranking


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Lamar Thorpe: and so but it it's fascinating to me how a lot of folks, and not just in any up but throughout the Bay Area. have blamed challenges with Antioch on Section 8,


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Lamar Thorpe: and particularly those residents who come here. It. It's fascinating to me because we it's a county run program, and I don't know who section I wouldn't know who is on Section 8 voucher.


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Lamar Thorpe: Yet people find it so easy to blame. Section 8 on on all these problems. So II find that fascinating, I think the economic downturn and the devastation, and had on cities like Set the Stockton.


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Lamar Thorpe: Anya and Valeo


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Lamar Thorpe: brought a lot of this, you know a lot of this misunderstanding  because it, you know, when things like this happen, and then your neighborhood starts to deteriorate because of the economic collapse.


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Lamar Thorpe: You know you wanna blame somebody. And so it's easy to blame certain people and part of it. And then, at the same time, you had this large wave of of people of color coming to Antioch. And so then, section 8, the face of Section 8 became really black people.


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Lamar Thorpe: And so it's been fascinating to me, and the so that when I throw those statistics up, like the majority of black people, live in South East Antioch. Oh, and, by the way, we're the largest concentration of folks with advanced degrees in the Bay area, and most of us are homeowners.


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Lamar Thorpe: It's been that cause you hear people say these things go. When you know when the black people start moving to Antioch, or when those sex when they, when Antiox started to allow Section 8, Antioch doesn't control anything related to housing in Section 8. So


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it's been, I share that because I just think that there's a lot of


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Lamar Thorpe: misunderstanding about about Antioch.


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The crime in Antioch is concentrated in certain pockets, and I can take you exactly to where those pockets are.


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Lamar Thorpe: Yeah. And it's generally in in some of the older parts of Antioch


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Lamar Thorpe: and so, but most the majority of people who live in Antioch, which is south of the highway.


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Lamar Thorpe:  live in very quiet suburban communities.  the housing market is fine. People continue to move here, and it's a desirable place.


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Lamar Thorpe: but some of the chatter that you hear, I think, is, is just very hysterical sometimes.


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I could take you to our beautiful golf course I could, which is the only public golf course in East County. I can take you to our Water Park, which is the only Water Park Municipal Water Park, I think, in all the Bay Area


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Lamar Thorpe: I could take you to. You know, slant ranch shopping plaza. Pretty great place I can take you to a host of a host of places. I can take you to the Delta, and you can have a great dinner


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Lamar Thorpe: over at Smith Landing or at Monica's. I could take you. I have several friends who, on boats who want to go out voting will take you boating. By the way, Antioch is also is the only place in the Bay area where residents have an astronomical amount of access to public brought to public plan. Don't forget we have 2,


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Lamar Thorpe: 2, no, no. 3. Now 3 regional parts.


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Lamar Thorpe: 3 regional parks, and Antioch has a vast park system that's connected to trails.


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So if folks want to come to Antioch more than happy to take you to all those great places that that we have to offer.


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Lamar Thorpe: II love I wanna say, is it Black Diamond Regional Park diamond mines we have, and then we're now, gonna you know, the old Rottie ranch is now going to be the State Park. So


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Lamar Thorpe: You know, we have a lot to be proud of here in the city of Antioch and and I. You know people come here to ride their bikes on our trails. People don't know that people come here to ride our trails on their bikes. So it's there's a there's a lot going on in Antioch.


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Lamar Thorpe: You were not Walnut Creek.


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Lamar Thorpe: if you want, you know, to have, like an you know, a fancy glamorous night out. Go to Walnut Creek. If you enjoy the outdoors. If you enjoy biking, if you enjoy boating, if you enjoy hiking, we have all that for you here.


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Lamar Thorpe: and some great restaurants.


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Jared Asch: That's a that's a great passion for your city and and telling people


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Jared Asch: really what's there. And I think most people probably don't even know that. And I've been fortunate. I've been to both those parks and done hiking around. And one has a beautiful pool, and there's a ton of open space in and around the the parks. And you guys even have some trails that run through some of the neighborhoods as well. That, I've I've gotten to walk through. So


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Jared Asch: really, there is some beautiful areas of the city up there, and I've I've enjoyed visiting them and learning about some of the different neighborhoods


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Jared Asch: so I really appreciate that. Thank you for being here today, and I appreciate all your time and telling us a little bit more about what's happening out there in East County.


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Lamar Thorpe: Indeed.



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