Big steps in fight against housing crisis, Earth Day in D2

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COMMUNITY RALLIES TO CLEAN UP SAN ANTONIO PARK

Thanks to the more than 40 neighborhood volunteers, Parks and Rec staff, and Mayor Schaaf for pitching in to clean up San Antonio Park as part of District 2’s Chávez Day of Service earlier this month. Park benches got a fresh coat of paint; graffiti was cleaned off; and about two-dozen bags of trash were collected. After all the hard work, we had a great community picnic to celebrate, with BBQ by Oakland Firefighters Local 55 and beverages by Safeway. Thanks to everybody for making the day a great success!

COUNCIL ADOPTS TEMPORARY MORATORIUM ON EVICTIONS, EXCESSIVE RENT INCREASES

Three of five Oakland residents are renters, and have seen average rents jump about 40% between summer 2014 and summer 2015. Facing these dire financial conditions, the Council earlier this month enacted a 90-day moratorium on no-cause evictions and a reduction in the allowable amount of rent increases (1.7%, the current CPI). The temporary freeze is effective immediately, and gives us some breathing room as a community to implement longer-term solutions that can minimize displacement of current residents and reduce the financial hardships on as many families as possible.

Among the actions we are working to put in place are:

  • Reduce the rent board backlog and providing more outreach and legal assistance to tenants.
  • Revise the Condo Conversion Ordinance to emphasize tenants’ rights and protections during the conversion process.
  • Regulate short-term rentals, such as Airbnb units that can take apartments off the market.
  • Adopt a public lands policy to establish clear standards and objectives for converting City-owned parcels to new uses, particularly the construction of affordable housing where it is feasible.
  • Prioritize the acquisition of buildings where affordability protections are about to expire.
  • Support the implementation of Oakland’s new secondary units policy.
  • Finalize impact fees for new developments.
  • Lay the groundwork for city and county bonds that can fund the acquisition of naturally occurring affordable housing and the construction of new affordable housing.
  • Pursue cap-and-trade funds from the state’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities program.
  • Work with our state representatives to initiate advocacy and legislative efforts to reform Costa Hawkins (the state law which limits the scope of local rent-stabilization options).

These actions are essential to addressing the breadth and urgency of the city’s housing crisis. I hope that during this pause, we will be able to make sure both tenants and landlords are aware of their rights and obligations under the existing Just Cause Ordinance approved by Oakland voters. We are taking this action to restrict the use of exorbitant, illegal rent increases to evict tenants. On the question of evictions, this moratorium simply reaffirms our existing law.

We’re all in this together, and we need to work together to sustain a bright future for Oakland. Read more

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STREET REPAIRS ON CHATHAM ROAD
Drivers exiting 580 onto Chatham Road may have noticed a welcome change recently – the potholes have been filled! Public Works recently opened a service request for this stretch of roadway, and Councilmembers Guillén and Gallo worked with City staff to prioritize the repairs. The potholes on Chatham Road (between the off-ramp of I-580 heading west and running to Park Blvd.) were very deep, and cars were continually swerving into other lanes to avoid them – and injury and serious damage to their cars. If you run into other potholes in your neighborhood, please report them on SeeClickFix or email pwacallcenter@oaklandnet.com, to be sure Public Works knows about them and can schedule repairs.

NEWS ON THE “HOME FRONT”


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Money for Energy-Efficiency Upgrades

Workshop: Tuesday, April 26, 10:00-11:30 am | StopWaste Building, 1537 Webster St.

Owners of multifamily properties in Oakland may be eligible for funding from the Bay Area Multifamily Building Enhancements program, provided by the Bay Area Regional Energy Network and administered by StopWaste, Alameda County’s recycling and waste-reduction agency. Eligible properties earn $750 per unit to help pay for upgrades to inefficient energy systems and water fixtures such as windows, insulation, furnaces, water heaters, lighting and appliances. Check your mailbox for information about the program and upcoming workshops. For more info:shirshfield-gold@oaklandnet.com

Looking to Buy Your First Home? Check Out the Library First
Saturday April 16, 3:00 pm | César Chávez Branch, 3301 East 12th St. (workshop in Spanish) 
Tuesday, April 19, 6:30 pm | Dimond Branch, 3565 Fruitvale Ave.
During Financial Literacy Month, the Oakland Public Library’s Financial Empowerment workshop series will address a variety of subjects such as identity theft, buying a home, financing higher education, credit, money management, and recovering from a financial crises. The first-time homebuyers workshop will cover topics such as budgeting, the down payment, credit reports, debt-to-income ratios and the mortgage-lending process. Check out oaklandlibrary.org for more info about these and other workshops.

Oakland Invests in More Affordable Housing
At its last meeting, the City Council approved $5 million in Affordable Housing Development loans to the Fruitvale Transit Village and Redwood Hill Townhomes projects, which when complete will result in 122 new housing units for Oakland.  

GET INVOLVED

Monday, April 18 |  Rezoning a Portion of MacArthur Blvd. for More Housing
6:00-8:00 pm | St. Vartan Church, 650 Spruce St.
The property at 601 MacArthur Blvd. is currently zoned RM-3, “Mixed Housing Type Residential,” a designation which allows for a variety of housing types such as single-family residential, duplexes and multi-unit buildings. Prior to 2011, this property was zoned for a higher density (R-70). Join Councilmember Guillén and neighbors to explore whether this portion of MacArthur Blvd. – from approximately Wesley to Hillgirt – could accommodate a slightly higher density, more than RM-3, but less than the previous zoning. Topics will include development standards such as setbacks and height that would be incorporated into the potential increase in housing density. City staff will present options, and address your questions and concerns. For more info Richard Raya, rraya@oaklandnet.com 

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Thursday, April 21 | Chinatown Bike-Share Workshop 
(in English and Cantonese)
6:00 pm | Oakland Asian Cultural Center, 388 9th St.
Join Councilmember Guillén, Bay Area Bike Share and the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce to provide feedback about new bike-share stations in Chinatown. If you’re unable to attend the workshop, you can still suggest a station: suggest.bayareabikeshare.com For more info:expansion@bayareabikeshare.com

Thursday, April 21 | An Evening Benefit for Healthy Aging

Support much-needed community services for healthy aging in our community. Join me at the DayBreak Adult Care Center’s annual event, featuring acclaimed actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith, performing excerpts from her hit show, “Let Me Down Easy.” Tickets are $25 off with promo code: guillen  Purchase tickets

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Saturday, April 23 | Oakland Earth Day
Join in the fun to clean and green Oakland’s parks, creeks and streets. During last year’s Earth Day, more than 3,400 volunteers pitched in more than 15,000 hours at 90 sites across Oakland, removing more than 170 cubic yards of trash and 500 cubic yards of weeds and green waste – enough to fill more than 4,000 household garbage cans. This year, volunteers will be working at approximately 100 sites across the city. For more info

A couple of special Earth-Day projects in District 2:

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Saturday, April 23 | East Lake Clean-up Day
9:30 am-12:00 pm | Clinton Park, corner of 7th Ave. and International Blvd.
Help make our neighborhood a more welcoming, safe community by joining us at Clinton Park to pick up trash and paint over graffiti. Afterward, share lunch with fellow volunteers. Cohosted by Councilmember Guillén, the East Lake Merchants, and Bentley 8th-graders Lily Pham and Kira Parrish-Penny.

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Saturday, April 23 | Earth Day at Bella Vista School
8:30 am-12:30 pm | Bella Vista Elementary School Garden, 1025 E. 28th St.
(Garden is in park behind the school, enter from 11th Ave, around 2600 11th Ave.)
Join neighbors and school kids to give Bella Vista Elementary to give the school garden a little Earth Day love. Help get the garden ready for students.

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Saturday, April 23 | Community Service Day at Bella Vista Park
9:00 am-12:00 pm | Bella Vista Park, 26 E. 19th St.
This 1.6-acre pocket of green provides recreational opportunities for more than 900 children and nearly 75,000 San Antonio neighborhood residents year-round. Join local youth, the Bella Vista Safety Patrol and neighbors to clean up and beautify the park and school garden. Also learn from youth presentations about how waste affects the Bay and our environment. Organized by Trybe with support from the Clean Water Program.

Wednesday, April 27 | National Awareness of LGBT Youth Homelessness
Approximately 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, yet LGBT young people make up less than 7% of the general youth population. While identity-based family rejection is the most commonly cited reason, there are many factors that contribute to this problem. Learn more about #40toNoneDay to raise public awareness about LGBT youth homelessness in Oakland and across the nation. Click here for what you can do to make a difference.

Thursday, April 28 | Community Meeting on Citywide Off-Street Parking 

6:00-8:00 pm | Lakeside Park Garden Center, Vista Room, 666 Bellevue Ave.
Oakland’s off-street parking regulations haven’t been updated since the 1960s. City staff will present their draft citywide off-street parking proposal. Join Councilmember Guillén to provide feedback on the proposal and learn more about the City’s plans to focus on a 21st-century transit-oriented approach to parking requirements. 

Saturday, April 30 | 11th Annual Citywide Disaster Exercise

9:00 am-12:00 pm | Oakland Fire Department Training Division, 250 Victory Court
Individuals will have a chance to participate in a simulated neighborhood exercise organized by the CORE (Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies) Program. This training is for anyone who is not already part of a CORE group or who is part of a CORE group that will not be participating in this year’s exercise. Read more

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Turning Vacant Lot into a Hot Spot?
The corner of 12th St. and Broadway in District 2 has been sitting vacant since 1989. It’s zoned for an office tower, but that probably won’t happen for at least three years. In the interim, working with the property owner and the community, I’d like to see this lot, adjacent to the old Key System building and the University of California system headquarters (roof garden in background), activated. Given that this is prominent downtown corner, what would you like to see as temporary daytime and evening uses (this does not encompass building permanent housing or homeless camp)?

So far, I’ve heard ideas such as projecting movies, a gathering place for community activities with landscaping, a school garden, an outdoor music stage, using it as a demonstration site for UC, City services and local nonprofits, pop-up historical exhibits and art installations, games and exercise (tai chi, bocce ball court), shipping-container retail, and a mobile food-truck corral for lunch and evening hours. What do you think?

Help the Hungry this Spring
One in six Alameda County residents face food insecurity, which means they missed at least one meal this past week. Learn more about how you can help the Community Food Bank and make a donation.

CITY SERVICES

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Get Ready For Oakland's Pothole Blitz

While the recent rains are helping replenish California’s water supply, they have also brought to surface the many problems with our failing infrastructure. I spent Wednesday morning with neighbors inspecting Crofton Ave. Crofton Ave, Boulevard Way and other District 2 streets in the streets east of Grand Ave. were laid in the 1920’s, and have not been replaced in over 80 years. Many of these streets were the result of Works Progress Administration infrastructure projects under President Roosevelt.  

Our country now faces trillions of dollars in needed infrastructure repairs and improvements, and federal leaders have not exercised the will to make a WPA-type investment necessary to rebuild our streets, roads, bridges and sewers. This June, Oakland, with limited resources, will start its annual pothole blitz. It’s important that you report potholes to make sure they get on the list to be filled in the coming months. Report potholes and other street problems: 510-615-5566opwcallcenter@oaklandnet.com or use the SeeClickFix app from your mobile device.

Saturday, April 30 | Oakland Job Fair

10:30 am-12:30 pm | Main Library, Bradley Walters Room, 125 14th St.
The Oakland Public Library’s “Oakland Has Jobs” online bulletin board, in conjunction with localwisejobs.com, is hosting a job fair for Oakland job-seekers to meet with employers and youth agencies who offer paid internships. In addition to prospective employers, there will also be tables for people to review your resume. Please dress professionally and bring an updated resume. Check out the jobs board.

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