Abel’s eNews: Council passes “Healthy Future” budget, Pothole Blitz is here, Bikeshare comes to town

BUDGET

Council approves City budget to help build a healthy future for our community

Last week, the City Council passed a progressive and balanced budget that dramatically ramps up our citywide efforts to stop the displacement of current residents, provide services and housing for the homeless, fight illegal dumping, and implement a public-health approach to preventing violence in our neighborhoods.

Focused around the principles of “Building a Healthy Future,” this budget makes substantial, strategic investments in our community’s core priorities and values – and underscores our steadfast commitment to build a stronger foundation for the things that most improve and enrich our quality of life. 

ADDRESSING COMMUNITY PRIORITIES: This two-year, $2.7 billion budget provides for the basic public services that all of our individual neighborhoods need while also addressing the citywide, crisis-level threats that can affect the long-term vitality of our local economy and the prosperity, security and quality of life that all of us deserve. We have to address both sets of challenges: A healthy future encompasses big issues like housing affordability and public safety as well as ongoing basic responsibilities like upgrading our public parks and filling potholes.

The funding for anti-displacement and homeless services includes improved safety and sanitation assistance for homeless encampments, Safe Haven sites for temporary housing, shelter beds for families, transitional housing and shelter facilities for families and children.

We also dedicated funding for youth summer jobs, job training, minimum-wage enforcement, arts and culture, and wildfire prevention.

HEALTHY STREETS: Clean, healthy streets are one of my top priorities. The Council’s budget will add two public-works crews to tackle illegal dumping and help us make progress on this critical health-and-safety issue. We are also restoring an additional street-tree crew. Our trees and sidewalks have long been neglected, and this action will help improve Oakland’s tree canopy while also reducing the problem of sidewalks damaged by tree roots.

SMART MANAGEMENT: In conjunction with these expanded services, we also identified new revenue sources and cost savings (with an assist from the independent budget analysis I pushed for), including reduction and better management of overtime expenditures, “right-sizing” a future police academy, and improved residential-permit parking enforcement.

The third police academy (to be held in the second year of this FY 2017-19 budget) accounts for recent completion/graduation rates, “right-sizes” it from 50 to 35 cadets, and moves it forward one month for additional savings. We’ve all heard of the many issues facing OPD. We want to make sure the right officers are serving the residents of Oakland, not just set up academies with large classes where we lose our investment in training and resources on the back-end as we lose officers to other cities. Reaching our goal of keeping up with the attrition of police officers to support our community safety remains a top priority.

The budget significantly reduces what we spend on avoidable historical overtime in the police department – as a first step toward correcting structural staffing and budgeting issues within OPD.

BALANCING THE BUDGET: Getting this complex budget passed wasn’t easy. It takes at least five votes to pass a budget, so individual Councilmembers had to reach a compromise about several proposed items to include in the final budget. With finite resources and a wide spectrum of community needs, everybody can’t get everything they want. However, I believe this balanced budget represents a responsible effort to meet the most pressing challenges facing our city, and embodies the aspirations we share for our community’s future. Hopefully, it will also be a springboard for us to do even more in the coming years.

As a matter of procedure to meet the June 30 deadline, we had to defer a couple one-time expenditures to pass a final budget with a five-vote majority (without those exclusions, six votes were legally required). I am hopeful that we can revisit those programs and add them back during our mid-cycle budget adjustments, including a future fire academy and more money to tackle illegal dumping.

FUTURE EFFICENCIES: During this budget process, I identified several worthwhile opportunities for improving City budgeting and management in the future. I’m looking forward as chair of the Council’s finance committee to continue working with our independent budget analyst (Harvey Rose) to create more clarity about salary savings, encumbrances and staff overtime. We should also examine the idea of implementing a zero-based budgeting process, rather than the current practice of simply rolling over the budget from prior years. This year, more than $38 million was rolled over from previous Council actions that may have been appropriated but not yet expended.

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT: Looking forward, we should also explore moving toward a more participatory-budgeting process, where residents can vote more directly on priorities about a wider range of City programs and services. The use of participatory budgeting to help establish community block grant priorities for District 2 were very helpful to me during the Council’s deliberations this year, and it’s worth testing out ways to expand that civic engagement to other aspects of the City budget. I’m interested in your ideas about how to make that happen. Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this process, from meeting with me, attending the budget town halls meeting and letting me know your priorities.

KEY HIGHLIGHTS of the final budget: 

Homeless Services

  • Create a second Navigation Center similar to the Henry Robinson Center.
  • Provide additional resources for on-site health and hygiene services, and to help unsheltered residents transition into permanent housing.
  • Funding for transitional housing and shelter-facilities grants to help sexually exploited children.

Affordable Housing

  • Use $55 million in Measure KK bond funds to preserve and acquire affordable housing.
  • Fund the Healthy Housing Code Enforcement / Proactive Rental Inspection program to reduce childhood lead poisoning and asthma. 

Street Repairs and Illegal Dumping

  • Triple the funding to speed up street repaving and repair (paving for more than 1,100 blocks); and double investments in bicycle, pedestrian and other complete-street infrastructure.
  • Add public-works crews and equipment to tackle illegal dumping and get trash off our streets. Provide funding to prosecute illegal dumpers.
  • Restore a tree crew, improving traffic safety and the quality of our streetscapes. 

Public Safety

  • Nearly triple the number of fire prevention inspectors from 8 to 20 over the next two years.
  • Add 20 more building inspectors and administrative support staff to make code-enforcement activities more effective.
  • Establish a violence prevention department.
  • Hire eight additional school crossing guards.
  • Fund inspectors and staffing to improve fire safety in the hills as WPAD funding is almost depleted.  Also support roadside parcel clearance and goat grazing on City property to help prevent wildfires.

Workforce Development and Jobs

  • Extend support services and protections for vulnerable day-laborer population with ongoing funding.
  • Provide $100,000 for youth workforce intervention.
  • Provide $400,00 for summer jobs for local youth, starting next summer.
  • Provide funds for West Oakland Career Center and Mandela Cypress Training Center. 
  • Fund enforcement of Oakland's minimum-wage law (Measure FF).

Arts and Culture

  • Provide $230,000 in cultural-arts grants and staff support for the revived Arts and Culture Commission.

Equity

  • Add the two new staff required to support Oakland’s new citizens’ police commission. 


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Pothole Blitz in July
Oakland’s annual Pothole Blitz will be coming to District 2 on July 17-22. Make sure to report potholes in your neighborhood now on the SeeClickFix mobile app or email pwacallcenter@oaklandnet.com.

Filling potholes is a short-term fix. Many Oakland roads need complete reconstruction or at least resurfacing. Thanks to the Measure KK infrastructure bond, passed overwhelming by voters last November, we now have $350 million for roadwork. Accelerating our current five-year paving plan, the City will repave 73 miles of roads (more than 1,100 blocks) by the end of 2019.

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Bikeshare Coming to Oakland

The first set of bikeshare stations in Oakland are being installed this week – around downtown, Broadway, Telegraph and Shattuck – with more to come in other parts of town. The bikes will be available for use next week, starting July 11. The first stations in District 2 will be at the intersections of Lakeside Dr. at 14th St. and Franklin St. at 9th St. When the system is completed, Oakland will have over 800 bikes in nearly 80 stations.

BIKESHARE LAUNCH CELEBRATION
Tuesday, July 11, 10:30 am | Latham Square, 1611 Telegraph Ave.
Join Councilmember Guillén to celebrate the launch of bikesharing in our city – and be the first in Oakland to ride the new bikes. Special guests and giveaways provided.

Over the past year and a half, Motivate (which operates the bikesharing program) held more than 300 meetings around the Bay Area, including a community planning workshop cosponsored by Councilmember Guillén, to discuss where stations should be placed in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area. They received more than 5,000 suggestions for station locations.

Bikesharing offers a fun, affordable and environmentally responsible way of connecting our neighborhoods. When completed, the regional bikeshare system will encompass 7,000 bikes and more than 500 stations, spanning Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Emeryville and San Jose.

Check the map or download the Ford GoBike app to see the East Bay station locations. Annual memberships, day passes and single-ride prices are available. Discounted memberships are also available for low-income residents. Learn more.

GET INVOLVED

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Plastic-Free July
The plastic bottles, bags and takeaway containers that we use just for a few minutes use a material that is designed to last forever. Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it. Join the challenge – and more than a million of your fellow Earthlings – to avoid single-use plastics this month. Sign up today!

Saturday, July 8 | Volunteer Work Day at the Rose Garden
9:00 am-1:00 pm | Morcom Rose Garden, 700 Jean St.
The Morcom Rose Garden is entering into its summer lull. Although there are still plenty of blooms to enjoy, the first flush is over, and we are preparing for another flush soon. In the meantime, deadheading and light pruning awaits for all those who dare, and weeding awaits for those who don’t. There’s also the summer feeding of the roses, blackspot abatement and some hand-watering to be done. Bring your hat, gloves, pruners, trowels, knee pads and water bottle. Long sleeves, long pants and closed-toe shoes are recommended. Parking is usually available on weekends on Oakland Ave. or Olive Ave. For map and directions

Host a National Night Out Event | Sign Up by July 14
FridayJuly 14, is the deadline for neighborhood and community groups to register to host a National Night Out event – set for Tuesday, August 1. Sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, National Night Out is America’s night out and a time for neighbors to get together and have a block party, ice cream social, potluck or other outdoor event to build neighborhood spirit and unity. These efforts are a first defense against crime. Block parties can be hosted anywhere including townhouse complexes, apartment buildings or even in a park near a condominium. Caution tape may be provided upon request and streets will be blocked off at no-cost for your event. For more info or to register: www.oaklandnet.com/nno or 510-238-3102

ThursdayJuly 20 | Conversation with the Police Chief and the Latino Community
Doors open 5:30 pm, Program runs 6:00-7:00 pm | St. Anthony School Gym, 1520 E. 15th St.
Join us for a conversation with Oakland Police Chief Kirkpatrick and Latino residents. The discussion will focus on clarifying OPD policies about the treatment of undocumented immigrants and Latino residents, OPD’s relationship with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and ICE in the handling of undocumented detainees. Please attend to share your ideas for improving the experience of Latino residents, youth and others in contacts with Oakland police officers.

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Saturday, July 29 | Abel’s Office Hours in San Antonio Neighborhood
9:00 am-12:00 pm | San Antonio Park
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: Councilmember Guillén holds monthly “office hours” out in the community along with “Walk and Talks” throughout the year. We’ve been in Bella Vista, Cleveland Heights, East Lake and Grand Lake the past few months, and will be in the San Antonio neighborhood this month. Say hello and share your thoughts about the neighborhood. Bring the kids! “Walk-ins” are welcome, but you can reserve a time slot to avoid waiting: Richard Raya, rraya@oaklandnet.com510-238-7023

CELEBRATE OAKLAND

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More Improvements at Lake Merritt
Councilmember Guillén worked with Public Works to get new pull-up bars installed at Eastshore Park last week. And it appears that people are already using them to keep fit. Check them out!


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Grand Opening of New 7-Eleven
Councilmember Guillén cut the ribbon last week to celebrate the grand opening of the new 7-Eleven at 5th Ave. and International Blvd. The business has “adopted” Franklin Elementary, and presented a check for $711 to the school during the celebration. They have also hired about a dozen residents from the neighborhood to work at the store. Stop by today and say hello to our new Eastlake neighbors! 

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First Fridays | Lincoln Summer Nights
5:00-9:00 pm | July 7Aug. 4Sep. 1, Oct. 6 | Lincoln Square Park, 10th St. and Harrison St.
Join your friends and neighbors for this community celebration. Activities for all ages – kids to seniors: Ping pong, badminton, music and dancing, food, basketball and arts activities. Sponsored by Friends of Lincoln Square Park, APEN, AYPAL, The Spot, EastSide Arts Alliance and Chinatown Merchants. Check out last year’s fun.

CITY SERVICES

Friday, July 21 | Food for Low-Income Families and Seniors
The City of Oakland’s Hunger Program, the Emergency Food Providers Advisory Committee and the Alameda County-Oakland Community Action Partnership are sponsoring a food distribution for low-income families and seniors at various locations throughout Oakland. To find a distribution location: www.oaklandhumanservices.org