Defending Sanctuary City, Park Blvd. update, Astro Build Day is here, more housing for D2

Dear Friends,

Today, December 1, marks World AIDS Day. It has been celebrated every year since 1988. This year’s theme is “Leadership. Commitment. Impact.”  As we pause to remember all those who have passed and the more than 35 million people living with HIV/AIDS, let’s continue to fight for treatment and prevention and renew our resolve to end HIV/AIDS by 2030. 


--Abel

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Oakland Stands with Undocumented Immigrants, Reaffirms Sanctuary City Status


The Oakland City Council reaffirmed its status this week as a sanctuary city and commitment to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants. While doing so, we also urged Governor Brown to declare the entire state a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

This is the first step of many we need to take to ensure the most vulnerable among us are protected. There will be much work in the coming months and years ahead that we must undertake to defend the rights of our fellow Oaklanders – and the essential values of our community and our nation.

One of more than 300 jurisdictions nationwide with sanctuary-city protections, Oakland bars its police department from conducting immigration raids and turning undocumented immigrants over to federal authorities unless criminal activity is involved.

I am proud that Congresswoman Barbara Lee will be fighting for us at the federal level: “Sanctuary cities, like Oakland, protect families and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. President-elect Trump and congressional Republicans will attempt to roll back the clock on progress, I will continue to fight against policies that tear families apart.”

GET INVOLVED

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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 next Tuesday to build the new Astro Park Tot Lot playground with KaBOOM!, the City of Oakland, Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation, Oakland Firefighters and Pacific Gas & Electric. We are also seeking volunteers for this Saturday (December 3) to help with prepping the site. No mechanical knowledge or construction skills necessary. We need 30 more volunteers – pitch in for a couple hours or the whole day. Please register

Please note: Although the new playground will be built on December 6, it 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: rraya@oaklandnet.com

Community Meetings Held on Safer-Streets Improvements for Park Blvd.
The City’s Public Works Department held two community meetings in mid-November to discuss a study of potential traffic-calming projects on Park Boulevard. Residents shared their concerns about speeding, safer crosswalks near schools, spillover traffic into surrounding neighborhoods such as Trestle Glen, safety for pedestrians and bicyclists and shared mobility along the corridor (from Highway 13 to East 18th St.). The corridor study will incorporate community feedback and ideas about improving pedestrian, bicycle and school safety in this heavily trafficked area.

There are many interconnected concerns and ideas about Park Blvd. improvements, and it is important for residents to distinguish between the three “sections” of this corridor as we work together on any future changes to the current street configuration:

  • “Upper Park Blvd.” runs from Leimert Blvd to Highway 13. City staff does NOT have a proposed road diet (reduced car lanes) on this stretch. There is a proposal to build a pedestrian/bicyclist path, which could be built by constructing some amount of retaining wall (which is expensive). Alternatively, a path could be built at lower cost by removing one or more travel lanes. These are possible options, but there is no recommended alternative at this time.
  •  “Middle Park Blvd.” encompasses the stretch from I-580 to Leimert Blvd. City staff does NOT have a proposed road diet on this stretch. Glenview residents have suggested a road diet as a possible solution for their concerns about speeding and pedestrian safety. At this time, City staff wants to hear what everyone thinks about the issues before working toward possible alternatives for the community to consider.
  • “Lower Park Blvd.” is the stretch from E 18th St to I-580. City staff DOES have a road-diet proposal for this stretch which is more than 5 years old. It is a priority project identified in the citywide Bicycle Master Plan. Many people live in this neighborhood that is near downtown Oakland, BART and Lake Merritt destinations. The City wants to make bicycling more accessible for this neighborhood. City staff are undertaking a feasibility study and community process to develop and seek input on this proposal.

The community process initiated with the recent meetings is an opportunity to work together on these issues and ideas. We will keep you posted about future meetings and progress on drafting a complete-streets plan for this busy corridor. I would like to thank everyone who has written me and  attended the community listening sessions last month. It was heartening to see so many neighbors in attendance and participating. For more info: rraya@oaklandnet.com

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Participatory Budgeting for Oakland | December Training Sessions
Mandatory facilitator trainings: December 6 and 14, 6:30-8:30 pm | location TBD
Oakland will launch its participatory budgeting process in December. As an alternative to conventional public budgeting conducted primarily by elected officials and government staff, participatory budgeting is a democratic process where community members directly decide how to allocate part of the City budget. In the upcoming Oakland process, residents will decide how to spend federal funds available to the City for our low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

There are more than 1,500 participatory budgets around the world. Most follow a similar basic process: residents brainstorm spending ideas, and then vote on proposals based on those ideas. The City will incorporate the top, preferred projects into its overall budget.

COMMUNITY MEETINGS: Beginning with a series of community meetings in December and January, District 2 residents will learn more about the City budget, talk about what kinds of programs, services and other improvements that would best serve low-income residents, and then vote on which should be funded. Watch this video to see how the process works.

FACILITATORS NEEDED: Before the series of community meetings begin, we are currently looking for residents to serve as paid facilitators for small group discussions. We’re especially seeking facilitators who are bilingual in English and either Spanish, Chinese or Vietnamese. Facilitators lead discussions about community needs and elicit ideas for projects, make sure everyone is heard and all ideas are considered, and support residents in developing proposals based on the ideas submitted.

For more info: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com

PLEASE NOTE: Facilitators will be asked to remain neutral and not advocate for ideas while they facilitate. If facilitators want to propose an idea for a project, they can bring it to another community meeting or submit it online.

HOUSING UPDATES

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More Housing Approved for District 2
Through several months of conversations, we were able to work with the developer and the community to reach agreement this week on much-needed housing on 12th Street; and this week the City Council gave its unanimous support to build this much-needed housing on two privately owned, underutilized lots in Chinatown. By building both market-rate and affordable housing, the project reflects the balanced approach Oakland needs to provide housing for households across the income spectrum.

The new housing will include 339 units at 301 12th St. The developer also expects to execute a contract with the housing nonprofit EBALDC to build an additional 60 units of affordable units at 285 12th St. on a quarter-block lot that is vacant.  

This development has wide support, and both projects are needed to meet our city’s housing needs. In addition to addressing our housing shortage, Oakland needs to expand its tax base so that we can continue to provide the quality of public services our residents need and deserve, like cleaning up illegal dumping, addressing alternatives for homeless encampments, maintaining our streets and sidewalks, and more.

The City Council has established development impact fees to directly fund community benefits such as affordable housing and infrastructure improvements. This developer has done what City policies specify and what community leaders have asked for – and more, including offering to sell one of the parcels to EBALDC to create affordable housing, below-market retail space, first right of refusal for a childcare provider, a $100,000 contribution to Lincoln Rec Center, $30,000 to Cypress Mandela and an effort to source 25% of jobs locally using low-income criteria, and streetscape improvements like benches for seniors, high-contrast crosswalks and dual-language wayfinding signage.  

There is more work to be done to protect our cultural districts, and ensure we build housing equitably in our community. Building housing for Oaklanders is a moral as well as economic imperative. My thanks to the community members for their advocacy, the development team for their collaboration, and my Council colleagues for their unanimous support of this project.

GET INVOLVED

Wednesday, December 7 | Proposed Food Vending Regulations
Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 1
The Planning Commission will consider a proposal to establish a new citywide food-vending permit program, which would expand, with certain restrictions, individual food vending on private property and from public streets and sidewalks in selected commercial and industrial areas, including at least one on-street parking space on Grand Ave. “Group site” or “food pod” vending would also be permitted. The proposed changes will be heard by the City Council in early 2017. Map and regulations. Of note, there are plans to include several neighborhoods in District 2 including Grand Ave.  Please attend the meeting and/or email your comments: dreiff@oaklandnet.com  

Interested in Serving on Citizens’ Police Commission or Selection Panel?
Passed by Oakland voters last month, 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 and reject changes to polices or procedures governing use of force, use-of-force review boards, profiling, public assemblies, or elements expressly listed in the federal order or settlements pertaining to the police department. For more info: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com

CELEBRATE OAKLAND

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A Community of Sharing | Annual Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway
This year, as part of sharing our good fortune, my staff and friends helped 500 low-income families in our neighborhoods have a brighter holiday with a Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway.

The process to identify families in need started with outreach to schools, working with principals and teachers at six District 2 schools – Bella Vista, Franklin, Garfield, La Escuelita, Lincoln and Crocker Highlands.

This year, we expanded our Basket Giveaway to a second pick-up location, at Franklin Elementary, where we handed out baskets to more than 40 families. Thanks to Principal Ingrid Seyer-Ochi and her staff.

Also new this year, we added a food truck from El Taco Zamorano and a popular ice cream station provisioned by Tara’s Organic Ice Cream (stop by their places during the year) on-site to feed families and volunteers during the afternoon, and add a little festive atmosphere – despite the steady rain that fell throughout the day.

We couldn’t have done it without our amazing volunteers, including Gamma Zeta Alpha, Beacon Communities, Asian Youth Services Committee, Boy Scouts Troop 11, the Wa Sung Community Services Club, the Cantonese-Speaking Citizens’ Academy Alumni, Chinese Independent Baptist Church, Asian Americans for Community Outreach, , students from UC Berkeley, the Goldman School of Public Policy, Laney College, and teachers and leaders from our District 2 schools.

CITY SERVICES

Free Holiday Parking on Saturdays in December
The City of Oakland is again offering free holiday parking on Saturdays during December. You can park for free – up to the posted time limits – at City meters and kiosks. Some City-owned lots and garages are also offering free parking. For more info: oaklandnet.com/parking

Participating City-owned lots and garages:

  • Grand Ave. Lot, 3200 block of Grand Ave.
  • LakePark Lot under I-580 between Grand and Lakeshore Ave.
  • Piedmont Ave. Lot on Howe St. between 40th and 41st St.
  • Parkway Lot on Wayne Ave. near Park Blvd. and E. 18th St.
  • Frank Mar Garage, 12th and Harrison St.
  • Franklin St. Garage, 19th and Franklin St.
  • Montclair Garage, 6235 LaSalle Ave.
  • Dalziel Garage, 16th St. between San Pablo Ave. and Clay St.

Oakland Opens Winter Shelters
The City of Oakland, in collaboration with Alameda County and Emeryville, Albany and Berkeley, will be helping unsheltered homeless people during the winter months through traditional winter shelter programs as well as new shelters established this year to serve specialized populations. All winter shelters will be open through April 17. Specialized populations will be served on a first-come, first-served basis at these locations:

  • Seniors: 25 shelter beds for seniors, 55+ years old; St. Mary’s Center, 925 Brockhurst St., 510-923-9600   
  • Youth: 5 additional beds for at-risk youth, ages 18 to 24; Covenant House, 200 Harrison St., 510-379-1010
  • East Oakland: 10 emergency beds; Crossroads Shelter, 7515 International Blvd., 510-532-3211

A traditional winter shelter will be available at the St. Vincent de Paul facility (675 23rd St.) to accommodate up to 75 single adults. Referral agencies should be contacted for information about vouchers for these beds.

Oakland’s Minimum Wage Goes Up January 1
The minimum wage in Oakland will rise from $12.55 to $12.86 beginning January 1. The increase is based on the local Consumer Price Index, as mandated under the voter-enacted Measure FF. The minimum-wage law covers employees who perform at least two hours of work in a particular workweek – including part-time, temporary and seasonal employees.

The law also requires that employers inform employees of the increase by December 15. Notification posters are available at oaklandnet.com/minimumwage. To assist employers, the City is hosting workshops in December to provide briefings:

  • Friday, December 2, 10:00-11:30 am | Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 1 
  • Wednesday, December 14, 10:00-11:30 am | Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 1  (Cantonese and Mandarin)
  • Monday, December 19, 10:00-11:30 am | Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 1  (Spanish)

Business owners who need a referral to a service provider for more assistance with employment law or general business technical assistance should contact the City’s Business Assistance Center: oaklandbusinesscenter.comoaklandbac@oaklandnet.com Free monthly business-law clinics are provided by Legal Services for Entrepreneurs, a program of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area.