Community benefits secured, meetings on Park Blvd safety, get ready for Astro build

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Community Benefits Secured from 13th St. Development 
After months of talks with a coalition of community advocates, Wood Partners, the developer of the proposed 262-unit, mixed-use project in District 2 (226 13th St.), has reached a substantial Community Benefits package totaling nearly $2 million. These types of community benefits on a private development are rare, and a testament to the hard work everybody put into the negotiations. The Planning Commission approved the proposed development this summer, and the appeal of that decision was dropped in the wake of the binding settlement that I facilitated earlier this week.

Although this project predates the adoption of impact fees in Oakland, the developer will make a $675,000 contribution to EBALDC, the locally based nonprofit housing developer, to help close the funding gap necessary to build 60 units of affordable housing in the neighborhood.

The Community Benefits Agreement also includes affordable retail space for use by small businesses and artists as part of the new Black Arts Movement Business District (valued at $725,000); $25,000 for a BAMBD start-up fund; $25,000 for parking mitigation; $100,000 to the Cypress Mandela job center for pre-apprenticeship workforce development with a 20% local hire goal, air-quality mitigation, and inclusion of local trade unions in the bidding process; $250,000 to support equitable development and anti-displacement programs for the neighborhood; sufficient street lighting and trees; and a 1% art fee dedicated to the Malonga Center, BAMBD or Chinatown-related artists and programs either on-site or at the Malonga Center. Wood Partners will also partner with BAMBD on joint marketing efforts.

This project will replace an underutilized surface parking lot with much-needed housing. In addition to addressing its housing shortage, Oakland needs to expand its tax base to continue to provide a wide range of important public services to residents citywide.

I will also be working with the various parties involved to access and direct funds from the newly passed Measure KK bond funds to anti-displacement efforts in the neighborhood.

Chinatown must be protected as a cultural asset for the whole city, and these benefits are one step in that direction. Another long-term measure that I’m working on with the City Planning Department is to designate the area as an “historic overlay” district.

Oakland will also gain some additional community benefits that don’t cost any money. Once the building is completed and people move in and the storefronts are filled, the project will also create more pedestrian traffic on the street, foster a safer environment, and generate more customers for all the businesses in the area.

The development is also transit-oriented: That means more workers can live closer to their jobs, drive less, and do their part to get cars off the road and slow global warming. And that creates benefits for people who don’t live in the new building or in Chinatown.

Construction is slated to begin in mid-2017.

Local Election Wrap-up
Oakland voters approved the school funding (G1), infrastructure bond (KK) and police commission (LL) measures with over 80% of the vote. Measure JJ, which strengthens eviction and rent protections for Oakland tenants, was also supported by a large margin (75%). Oakland joined the growing list of cities enacting soda taxes to help curb obesity and diabetes. The countywide housing bond measure (A1) was passed by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.

CELEBRATE OAKLAND

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Saturday, November 19 | Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway
Councilmember Guillén’s annual Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway is Saturday. Our generous donors have contributed more than $20,000 – exceeding our goal. We’re so grateful to all of the businesses, organizations and neighbors who opened their hearts to this effort. We also have more than 100 volunteers ready to help stuff the food baskets (photos from last year) and hand them out to 500 needy families at Lincoln Square Recreation Center.

GET INVOLVED 

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Thursday, November 17 | Community Meeting about Park Blvd. Corridor
6:30-8:00 pm | FM Smith Recreation Center, 1969 Park Blvd.
Don’t miss tonight’s meeting to discuss traffic and safety concerns on Park Boulevard. Share your concerns and provide your feedback about speeding, spillover traffic, pedestrian safety and mobility along the corridor (from Highway 13 to East 18th St.). Public Works staff will also provide a brief presentation and you will be asked to provide your input on the various ongoing efforts on different sections of Park Blvd.  For more info: rraya@oaklandnet.com

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Sign up and Save the Date: Tuesday, December 6 | Astro Park Tot Lot Build Day
Sign in at 8:00, Celebration at 2:30 pm | 550 El Embarcadero Ave. (at Lakeshore Ave.)
Help make our community’s vision for the new playground a reality! Join Councilmember Guillén and your neighbors to build the new Astro Park Tot Lot playground with KaBOOM!, the City of Oakland, Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation, and Pacific Gas & Electric. We need 200 volunteers – pitch in for a couple hours or the whole day. To help us organize and get enough supplies, registration is required: https://www.tfaforms.com/420953. Please note: the playground will close during the last week of November for demolition and removal of the old structure. Although the new playground will be built on December 6, the playground will be closed through February to allow for the installation of a new play surface, a water bottle filling station, and ADA accessible walkways and parking. For more info: Councilmember Abel Guillén’s office, rraya@oaklandnet.com

Interested in Serving on Citizens’ Police Commission or Selection Panel?
Passed by Oakland voters last week, Measure LL establishes a citizen’s police oversight commission. Councilmember Guillén is now looking for District 2 residents who are interested in serving on the panel to select commissioners and on the commission itself. Police commissioners will review and comment on department policies and procedures, as well as propose, amend or reject changes to polices or procedures governing use of force, use of force review boards, profiling based on any protected characteristics, First Amendment assemblies or elements expressly listed in the federal order or settlements pertaining to the Oakland Police Department. For more info: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com

CITY SERVICES

Equity Amendments to the Cannabis Ordinance
The City Council voted this week to direct City staff to draft proposed new legislation on cannabis business operations in Oakland and revise an equity permit program that would set aside some of Oakland’s cannabis business permits for ex-convicts and a small number of East Oakland residents (in six designated police beats). The Council also requested a comprehensive analysis from the Department of Race and Equity before the laws come back for a vote in January. The new ordinances would incorporate the proposal cosponsored earlier this year by Councilmember Guillén. For more info: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com

At the state level, voters approved Proposition 64, which will set up an elaborate regulatory system for recreational cannabis, with a 15% excise tax on retails sales. It allows stores to be licensed as a medical dispensary, a nonmedical retailer or a hybrid of the two. All customers will pay the 15% excise tax, with only recreational customers required to pay sales taxes. Opponents are expected to continue efforts to limit advertising, ban home delivery, and develop standards for impaired driving. The Legislature will now need to draft details of the regulations in the coming weeks.

Update on Search for New Police Chief
The formal period to submit an application closed last Friday. The City will begin conducting interviews with select candidates next month. Two community members will serve on the advisory hiring panel. The initial findings of the community survey are available here. Click here to watch a brief video from the Youth Forums at Castlemont and McClymonds high schools.

STATEMENT ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

Like millions of Americans here and around the country, the election results make me angry, sad and a little fearful. As a volunteer and elected official, I've won elections and lost elections. Losing elections can be very painful.

While it is easy to turn against one another, now is the time for us to turn towards one another. We must now, lead with love and compassion. Some want us to turn against each other and destroy our cities, like a few bad actors tried to do last week on our streets. Ordinary citizens can do extraordinary things to foster the society we need to build.  This past Sunday, fellow Oaklander Allison White and friends organized a beautiful, peaceful protest around Lake Merritt.  The “Hands Around the Lake Protest” was a truly inspiring demonstration of what I love about our City.  So much so, that even Seattle will be holding their own “Hands Around Green Lake” event this weekend. Here are a few pictures in case you missed it.  

Now is the time to translate frustration into concrete action. I urge you to do something constructive, get involved, especially to protect the vulnerable amongst us targeted in this divisive campaign. If you want to get involved in my district, you can start by volunteering to help feed hungry families at our Thanksgiving Basket drive this Saturday or help us build the new playground at Astro Park next month. Or you can volunteer at St. Vincent DePaul’s which provides meals to our homeless residents each and everyday in West Oakland.  

As a Councilmember who represents several needy communities, now is the time for us to come together, be smart about our response, and take actions that promote the society and the city we want to live in.

We must face this uncertain future as "one Oakland" rather than as a "divided Oakland."