Abel's eNews: Neighborhood protections for ballpark, shelter crisis ordinance, updates on new housing, street safety and arts funding

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Ballpark: Emergency Measures to Protect Neighborhood
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Oakland Athletics’ proposal to build a new ballpark at the Peralta Colleges headquarters site between Laney College and I-880. There is much to do before the City can make any decision about the proposed development (see my letter outlining community concerns). However, there are certain steps we need to take now to protect our neighborhoods from immediate impacts while that decision process takes its course.

I will introduce interim neighborhood protections for existing residents and small businesses to guard against market speculation and displacement pressures in the wake of the A’s announcement. I’ve asked the City Council to act swiftly to put these measures in place before the Peralta Community College District’s Board of Trustees makes its decision about providing the parcel to the team. I hope the Council will be able to consider specific legislation in October.

While the Peralta Trustees will have to decide whether or not to enter into an Exclusive Negotiation Agreement with the A’s about the land, the City is still the ultimate regulating entity over any proposed development and use changes at the site. The Oakland community, especially those living and working in the surrounding neighborhoods, will have many opportunities in the coming year or more to be active participants in the decision-making process. I encourage neighbors and stakeholders to be part of this important conversation. Start by taking my survey about the ballpark and its potential impacts.

I hope you will support these steps regardless of whether you support or oppose the proposed new ballpark.

The ballpark proposal may lead to heightened speculation in the residential and commercial markets in the surrounding neighborhoods and contribute to more evictions and exorbitant rent hikes, which might displace vulnerable residents and small businesses that embody the cultural character and economic diversity of our community.

We must make sure tenants know their rights and landlords aren’t doing things they shouldn’t be doing to take unfair advantage of the situation.

The interim controls would strictly limit the type and scale of development to occur during this specific time period until the City is able to work with the community to establish more permanent solutions. Among the potential legal tools to protect the existing neighborhood: strengthen the existing demolition ordinance; require conditional use permits and public hearings for changes to properties in the area; and enact historic/cultural preservation requirements and a no net loss of affordable housing policy. 

We might also help strengthen nearby commercial districts by implementing business-assistance strategies to help retain existing small businesses and cultural organizations. It might also help to restrict large, out-of-town chain stores in the affected business corridors for the time being.

Let me know what you think or if you have other practical ideas: aguillen@oaklandnet.com510-238-7002

I will be working with City staff and will also convene a committee of community organizations in District 2 to help review these options as well as potential longer-term mitigations and elements of any community-benefit agreements related to the proposed ballpark development should it be approved.

Homelessness: Shelter Crisis Ordinance Extended, Safe Haven Sites
This week, the City Council moved to re-enact its declaration of a “shelter crisis” in Oakland for two years. More than 2,000 residents in Oakland currently don’t have the ability to obtain shelter. The ordinance authorizes the City Administrator to suspend provisions of state and local statutes and regulations covering housing, health and safety standards that might hamper the ability of the City to provide additional shelter facilities. The item will come back to the Council for final approval on October 3rd

With new funding in the 2017-19 budget, the City can establish Safe Haven sites with 24-hour site management, portable toilets, wash stations and regular garbage pickup. At the Council’s Life Enrichment Committee next Tuesday, City staff will present an update on potential Safe Haven locations and anticipated onsite services. Read more

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Update on New Housing at Brooklyn Basin
The Oakland Planning Commission has approved the next phase of the Brooklyn Basin project (Parcel C), after reviewing the schematic design for an 8-story, 241-apartment building with 3,500 square feet of ground-floor retail. It was given preliminary approval earlier as part of the larger Brooklyn Basin development. The planning staff and the developer will continue to work on the building’s details as it goes through the permitting process.

Brooklyn Basin covers 64 acres along the Oakland Estuary south of Jack London Square and west of I-880. The project’s mix of residential (3,100 apartments), retail, and parks and open space is being built in phases. Approved before the City adopted its new development impact fee, the project will eventually provide 465 affordable new apartments. Shoreline Park and another 241-apartment building (Parcel B) are currently under construction.

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Paint the Town Purple
What’s with the purple paint on Oakland streets? You’ve probably become familiar with the green paint laid down to make bike lanes more visible. The new purple markings and wider crosswalks (photos: Lakeside project) are a new design element to call attention to safe zones for pedestrians crossing our busy streets.

How are Oakland’s road diets working in terms of pedestrian safety? Oakland’s Department of Transportation reports that 9 out of 10 drivers are now yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk upgrade and road diet at Harrison and 23rd Sts. Before the improvements, drivers were yielding only 1 in 10 times.

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Oakland Stands with Dreamers, State Enacts Protections for Immigrants
The City Council unanimously passed my resolution asking Congress to adopt the Dream Act of 2017 to provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. Even with DACA status intact, our young Dreamers – and their families – would still be subject to a future of uncertainty, and therefore urgently need permanent protections stronger than DACA that are beyond the reach of presidential whim and the political fervor of the moment. The Dream Act will help make that possible. Restoring DACA is not good enough – we need the Dream Act.

In related news from Sacramento: The Legislature adopted Senate Bill 54, the “state sanctuary” legislation that will prohibit local law-enforcement agencies from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on deportations except in cases in which immigrants had been convicted of certain crimes. The law would expand on policies already in place in Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and dozens of other jurisdictions in California.

It also passed Senate Bill 450 to prohibit employers from letting ICE conduct raids at their workplaces (unless they have a warrant) and Assembly Bill 699 that limits collection of citizenship information by schools to ensure a person’s immigration status is not compromised.

GET INVOLVED

Saturday, September 23 | Community Office Hours in Chinatown
10:00-11:30 am | outside Oakland Library Asian Branch, 388 9th St.
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 Chinatown neighborhood this weekend. Say hello and share your thoughts about the neighborhood, including concerns about merchant encroachments on public sidewalks. Bring the kids! “Walk-ins” are welcome, but you can reserve a time slot to avoid waiting: Jessica Chen, clchen@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7022

ThursdaySeptember 28 | Oakland Alameda Access Project EIR Meeting
4:30-7:00 pm | Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th St., Suite 290
Caltrans will host a community meeting to gather public input on the Environmental Impact Report for the Oakland Alameda Access Project, which seeks to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety, mobility and connectivity for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians on local streets between I-880, I-980 and the cities of Alameda and Oakland. It would redirect traffic out of Chinatown and potentially improve pedestrian safety. At the meeting, you can review displays, watch a brief presentation, and talk with the project team. Cantonese and Spanish interpreters will be available, with other language interpreters available upon request.

The period for public comment on the project scope will end October 13. There will be more ongoing opportunities for public participation and input throughout the development and review of the EIR. Read more

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Wednesday, October 4 | Cleveland Heights/Haddon Hill/China Hill Office Hours
5:30-7:30 pm | Leaning Tower of Pizza, 498 Wesley Ave.
Mark your calendar: Councilmember Guillén will be in the Cleveland Heights neighborhood next month for a mid-week conversation about local issues – and great pizza. “Walk-ins” are welcome, but you can reserve a time slot to avoid waiting: Richard Raya, 510-238-7023

What Do You Think about Permits for Special Events? 
The City of Oakland has convened a task force to redesign the permit process for special events. Give the group your feedback about the process and concerns associated with events, and help ensure we create an easier, more streamlined and effective process. Please forward the survey to anyone involved in planning and holding events in Oakland. Take the survey

CELEBRATE OAKLAND

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An Evening of Community | NCPC Block Party on Wakefield
The Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council for Beat 18/19 had a great block party on Wakefield Ave. this past Sunday. Thanks to NCPC Chair Chuck Ervin and Colette McPherson for organizing the wonderful event (photos above and below), and to Officer Micaela Malay and our team of 18/19 NCPC beat officers for joining in the fun, food and conversation. A great turnout by appreciative neighbors – and me too! Keep up the good work to build community. The first weeks of Fall, which starts tomorrow, are a good time for other NCPCs to celebrate outside with all of your neighbors – old and new! If you'd like to get involved in your Neighborhood Council contact, Jada Chiu, Neighborhood Service Coordinator, 238-2164 jachiu@oaklandnet.com.

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City Grants Awarded for Oakland Arts and Culture
The City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program will award a total of $1 million, including nearly $200,000 for art-in-the-schools projects, $100,000 to individual artists and more than 700,000 for non-profit projects and assistance for FY 2017-18. Grants will be provided to 57 Oakland-based arts organizations and individual artists who foster artistic excellence and cultural diversity by providing community services in dance, music, theater, media, digital, visual, literary and community arts. The grants will support more than 5,000 arts events and activities, the majority of them offered free or low-cost to the public, in the coming year.

Thursday, September 21 | Dinner Reception with New OUSD Superintendent
5:30-7:30 pm | Sakura Bistro, 388 9th Street
You’re invited to a reception and conversation with new Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Kyla Johnson, hosted by Organization of Chinese Americans-East Bay. Buffet dinner provided, $20 for non-members. Reserve your seat

SERVICES IN THE CITY

Council Authorizes Feasibility Study for a Regional Public Bank
Sometimes big banks make it hard for us to get the money we need to improve our lives or build our businesses. The City Council took a step this week to try to make it a little easier, by funding a study to explore the feasibility of creating a public bank for Oakland (and perhaps the East Bay).

The Council set aside $75,000 to help finance the study, and the City of Berkeley is pitching in another $25,000. Councilmember Guillén has urged other cities to join in the regional effort. The City has also received private donations to help support the study.

This public bank would provide a community-based option for residents in underserved neighborhoods to obtain mortgages and other loans – which large corporate banks have often been reluctant to provide to people of color in Oakland. A public bank can also provide a mechanism for Oakland’s up-to-now cash-based cannabis industry to access banking services, which the federal government has hampered because it still classifies cannabis-business activities as illegal.

The potential of a local public bank is not a cure-all for these obstacles, but it’s worth a relatively small investment to begin the conversation and identify ways to invest Oakland’s local dollars more strategically and keep local dollars working in the community. Extending these efforts to include other East Bay cities can help defray future start-up costs for a public bank – just as Bay Area jurisdictions have pooled renewable-energy purchases through Community Choice Aggregation programs.

Report Sex Buyers with Reportjohn.org
Use Reportjohn.org, an online and mobile tool for reporting sex buyers to the Oakland Police Department. ReportJohn.org has doubled reports to the police, and empowers residents to take a stand against the sexual exploitation of young people in our city. You can make a report in less than 2 minutes. Learn how to use this tool by clicking here.