Updates on new housing projects, plans for street improvements and community resilience announced

Safety and Equity Goals for Improving Oakland Streets Announced
Our streets are more than networks for getting from one place to another – they can be avenues for social justice and economic prosperity. Launched earlier this month, the strategic plan for Oakland’s new Department of Transportation sets out a long-term vision for Oakland’s streets combined with detailed one- and three-year goals to repair and upgrade our streets that will increase pedestrian space and biking infrastructure, provide more equitable access to jobs, schools and services, prioritize spending to ensure resources are spent in the communities that need them most, and expand transportation options for everybody. The plan also endorses a Vision Zero policy, similar to those in San Francisco and San Jose, and focused efforts to eliminate traffic injuries. Read more about the plan.

The plan is the latest in a series of significant actions to improve Oakland’s transportation policies, including revisions to the city’s 50-year-old parking requirements, which can help accelerate the construction of affordable housing, new guidelines to allow transportation planners to consider pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders on a more equal basis with people who drive, and the proposed Measure KK that could provide $350 million to accelerate street repair and redesign projects throughout Oakland.

HOUSING UPDATES

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LakeHouse and Empyrean-Harrison SROs Win State Affordable-Housing Funds 
The state’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program (AHSC) last week announced its latest round of awards, funded by California’s cap-and-trade revenue – and Oakland’s District 2 nabbed two grants, including more than $18.1 million for the LakeHouse Commons project to be built on the 12th St. remainder parcel. Congratulations to EBALDC, whose proposal was the second-highest rated among the 25 housing developments and transit-friendly infrastructure projects statewide that received a total of $289.4 million in AHSC funding.

This state grant represents additional, powerful leveraging of the city’s public-land asset to bring much-needed housing to our East Lake neighborhood. The LakeHouse project will also include new bus, bike and pedestrian infrastructure that connects residents to the downtown, Uptown and East Oakland.

Competing against applicants from across California, District 2 also scored with another proposal, earning $16.8 million for housing and transportation improvements for the Empyrean and Harrison hotel projects, which will rehabilitate the two historic SRO hotels with 100% affordable units (by Resources for Community Development). The project will also provide residents of these buildings and the downtown with new bike lanes, a bike-share station and the purchase of a new hybrid bus in partnership with AC Transit. These infrastructure projects are complemented with programs to encourage and facilitate easier access to biking and bus use.

In addition to helping people afford to live near where they work, the AHCS-funded projects will also help protect the environment and promote public health by reducing pollution.

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Measure JJ Strengthens Renter Protections
Earlier this week, I shared details about voting YES on Measures KK and A1 to provide housing and infrastructure funding, and previously urged Oakland voters to support Measure JJ. An important companion strategy in addition to more funding to solve the housing crisis, Measure JJ will flip the rent petition system so that landlords must first ask the Rent Board to increase rents above the allowable annual inflation rate (rather than putting the burden on individual tenants to appeal); expand just-cause eviction protections to more tenants by extending the law to cover housing built before December 31, 1995; and strengthen the accountability and transparency of the Rent Board. To read more, donate and volunteer

Design Workshop for Merchants Garage Project
At a community workshop held earlier this week, the Carmel Partners development team presented an update to a new 575-unit, mixed-use project proposed for the Merchants Garage site (1314 Franklin St.). The team highlighted revisions based on previous community suggestions and solicited new ideas for future design considerations.

Based on previous community feedback, the proposal will now include affordable-housing units in a tower along Franklin and a shorter building along Webster. The new building’s street level will contain retail space and parking, with two more levels of parking underground. A number of people expressed the need to increase retail activity in the area around 13th and Webster. The possibility of reserving some of those spaces for affordable retail was also discussed.

Let us know if you have additional ideas or concerns about the proposed development: rraya@oaklandnet.com We will keep you posted about future meetings and next steps.

Homeless Encampment Cleanup and Outreach for Services
City staff are dealing with homelessness and related illegal dumping issues all over Oakland. As we work toward humane solutions, they continue to clear encampments and remove trash where possible. The City’s response encompasses the Homeless Mobile Outreach Program and various coordinated efforts by several City departments. The outreach team is engaging major encampments weekly, at a minimum, to make wellness checks, provide food and hygiene kits, and offer referrals to additional resources and case-management office visits to help with access to public benefits, basic documentation and eligibility for health services and housing opportunities.

In addition to these short-term responses, we are working with the City Administrator on a spectrum of longer-term housing solutions, including preserving SROs, creating similar options like tiny houses, and using vacant hotels for transitional housing. We will keep you informed as these programs develop.

PUBLIC SAFETY

Fighting Back against Sex Trafficking of Children
Every day, people are bought and sold in Oakland. The Commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Children – sex trafficking of our youth – is a scourge on our city, and we must take strong action to uncover and put a stop to this hidden abuse of our young girls and boys. Last week, at City Hall, I called for the doubling of penalties on pimps and johns who operate in and around our public schools. We must create pimp-free and john-free zones where our children are most vulnerable.

GET INVOLVED

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Donate to 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive
Please join us in making our second annual Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway a big success. Your financial support will help provide a bountiful Thanksgiving for 500 underserved families in District 2 neighborhoods. The Basket Giveaway Day is Saturday, November 19, at Lincoln Square Park.

We still need to raise about $17,000. Your donation is essential in meeting the Thanksgiving needs of these families. Please give today!

If you want a chance to win a pair of tickets to the Warriors’ opening night against the Spurs on October 25, donate here (minimum donation: $25)

If you have any questions: Jessica Chen, clchen@oaklandnet.com

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Astro Tot Lot | Help Us Build a Playground
Sign up and save the date: 
December 6
Now that donations and designs are in, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and build the Astro Tot playground! Build Day is Tuesday, December 6. Sign up to volunteer

If building is not your thing, we also have committees for play, food (identifying restaurants to donate food for our 200 volunteer builders), volunteer recruitment, logistics and public outreach. If you can help in these areas now, let us know: rraya@oaklandnet.com

Adopt a Drain
The past week’s rain is a good reminder to start taking care of our storm drains. Adopt a drain today! Volunteer to keep a drain clear and report any problems. Sign up and check the map app for spots near you.

October 21-23 | Startup Weekend: Latinx Tech Edition 
Begins Friday, 6:30 pm | Kapor Center for Social Impact, 2148 Broadway
Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event where developers, designers and aspiring entrepreneurs to come together to pitch an idea and launch a business, all in one weekend. Latinx Tech Edition is the first Startup Weekend that will gather Latinx and allies to design tech-based solutions to the problems faced by Latinx communities in Oakland and beyond.

CELEBRATE OAKLAND

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Sunday, October 23 | Mural Dedication at Bella Vista Child Development Center
2:00-3:30 pm | E. 24th St. near corner of 10th Ave.
Join Councilmember Guillén and the community to celebrate the new “Garden of Delights” mosaic mural (right photo) at the Bella Vista Child Development Center. Funded by the anti-graffiti program through Councilmember Guillén’s office, the nature-themed mural was facilitated by Oakland artist Pam Consear and an enthusiastic group of volunteers earlier this spring. Enjoy light refreshments, brief tributes and up-close viewing of the new mural.

Meet the artists, volunteers and neighbors who made it happen, and enjoy light refreshments and the company of neighbors and friends. This section of E. 24th St. now has approximately 150 feet of child-painted tiles, mosaic and painted artwork. More than 200 people had a hand in the mural, including preschoolers whose literal handprints and self-portraits are in the tile work, their teachers, neighbors, parents, Girl Scouts, soccer teams, youth from the Weekend Training Academy and Councilmember Guillén’s staff.

CITY SERVICES

Oakland Unveils Innovative Resilience Playbook 
Last week, Oakland became the seventh city in the U.S. – and the 19th worldwide – to launch a comprehensive resilience plan. “Resilient Oakland: It Takes a Town to Thrive,” a resilience playbook and call to action to tackle Oakland’s most pressing interdependent economic, social and physical challenges, sets forth nearly 40 collaborative, data-driven and equitable actions.

Resilient Oakland is a chance to rethink old paradigms and provide equitable access to opportunity while building more creative and vibrant community infrastructure. The strategy provides concrete ideas to reduce climate and seismic risks, provide urban greening for the neighborhoods most in need, and explore innovative financing to maximize infrastructure investments.

Improved community resiliency will help to make Oakland better prepared for natural “shocks” like earthquakes, flooding and wildfires and social “stresses” such as housing insecurity, educational disparity and community safety. By creating pathways to success for young men and women of color, promoting safe and healthy neighborhoods and providing gap financing for affordable housing in transit-accessible neighborhoods, Oakland can support our residents’ ability to stay while accommodating a growing population. Read more: click here