Fixing Streets, Supporting our Rec Centers, Making Progress on Affordable Housing

This week marks the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. I'd like to thank all our teachers, principals, and educators for all you do in service to our young people. I hope you find our newsletter informative. 

-Abel

 sidewalks.jpg


Fixing Sidewalks and Streets

Construction to repair broken sidewalks on E. 34th Street from 13th Ave. to Park Blvd. began last week. We’re also working with EBMUD on a plan to fully repave streets after they make their upgrades, not just having them patched up. In a related move, Mayor Schaaf announced the establishment of Oakland’s first Department of Transportation yesterday. The new department will help increase the City’s ability to accelerate street and infrastructure maintenance, provide new mobility alternatives, and leverage the accelerated repair of our streets to make them “complete streets” that increase pedestrian safety and support the needs of drivers, transit riders and bicyclists alike.

Astro Tot Lot | Reached Our May Fundraising Goal

Thanks to donors big and small, we reached our $25,000 goal for May. We’re a quarter of the way to our goal. We donated Game 1 Warriors tickets last week to the Oakland Parks & Rec Foundation, and they auctioned them off to add another $2,100 to the total. We will be tabling at the tot lot this Saturday, June 11 (10:00 am-12:00 pm); swing by to learn more about the project. If you can’t make it, you can still help us reach our goal by making a tax-deductible contribution today:https://www.tilt.com/tilts/astro-park-totlot-b26a5fdc. From now until Sunday, June 12 (11:59 pm), every $100 you donate will get you a chance at winning two Game 5 tickets to watch the Warriors beat the Cavs Monday night. 

Lincoln Rec Center Funds

The Lincoln Recreation Center is the most heavily used in the city. It doubles as a youth center and a senior citizen facility.  This week, the City Council considered a midyear budget augmentation to provide $50,000 to keep Lincoln Recreation Center open longer hours for senior activities – two hours earlier in the morning. The Council is expected to vote on the midcycle budget on June 21. For more info: Jessica Chen, clchen@oaklandnet.com

GET INVOLVED

Tuesday, June 14 | New Structure for Improving Police Accountability
4:00 pm | Public Safety Committee, City Hall, Dunakin Room
Over the past year, Councilmember Guillén has been meeting with community advocates, faith leaders, members of our Neighborhood Crime Prevention Councils, police oversight experts, Chief Whent, the City Administrator and the City Attorney to address the components and root causes of police misconduct. We want to make sure that our police officers are a positive reflection of our vibrant city and that our residents feel safe. We are taking steps forward to ensure that we continue the progress that has been made to address the gaps and inadequacies of the police department.

A CULTURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY: To sustain positive cultural and behavioral improvements, we need to focus on four areas – police accountability, transparency, personnel management and community engagement:

  • Police Accountability – Ensure that the City takes all practicable steps to impose and uphold effective, consistent and fair disciplinary actions by creating the Office of Police Oversight and Monitoring, hiring an independent police monitor, and replacing the Citizens’ Police Review Board with a police commission.
  • Transparency – Create structure requiring police accountability and oversight bodies to interact and communicate consistently and with greater transparency, including the provision of timely notifications to the public.
  • Personnel Management – Create structure to sustain cultural and behavioral change in the police department, focusing on hiring practices, training requirements and continuing education.
  • Community Engagement – Police officers respect the community and are accountable to the people they protect; therefore, we must prioritize community involvement in all aspects of police strategy and tactics.

Our strategy has been thoughtfully developed and embodies the Council’s desire for a comprehensive, proactive and more effective approach. The legislation is available on the City’s website, and will be heard at the Council’s June 14 Public Safety Committee meeting.

A STRONG COMMISSION AND AN INDEPENDENT MONITOR: Our proposal will create a Police Commission with the tools to undertake stronger investigations and with a more powerful voice. It also establishes the Independent Police Monitor, a full-time, professional position outside of the City Administrator structure. This person will have the power to fire officers, is responsible for monitoring all police-department activity, including hiring, training and educating officers. The Independent Monitor, or the “People’s Chief,” answers directly to the people and the Mayor.

PROTECTING LABOR RIGHTS: This legislation improves upon a different Council proposal by preserving arbitration agreements. Our proposal seeks to establish consistent, fair disciplinary decisions without chipping away at an employee’s right to arbitration, a hard-fought right of working people. We believe that arbitration is the basis for fair labor standards and that removing this right will be detrimental to both our recruitment efforts and the rights of other types of unions.

It also avoids a potential exodus of officers like San Jose experienced after a new structure was adopted there by ensuring Oakland’s new Police Commission is more publicly accountable – the alternative proposal allows for a police chief to be fired by a handful of citizens who aren’t accountable to anyone.

We look forward to continuing to work with everybody to enhance these underlying principles and the implementation of effective oversight and accountability practices. We hope that we will come to consensus to put an initiative on the November ballot that reflects the best thinking around sustained police reform and accountability.

Wednesday, June 15 | Lincoln Square Park’s Panda Point Project Update
10:30 am-1:15 pm | Lincoln Recreation Center, 250 10th St.
Public Works staff will update residents about the progress on the new Panda Point project at Lincoln Square Park. A permit has been approved to remove the large magnolia tree and three other smaller trees in the park. If you can’t attend the meeting, please send comments: Ali Schwarz, Project Manager,aschwarz@oaklandnet.com


kaiser_center-lake_trail.jpg

Friday, June 17 | Progress on Kaiser Center
6:00-8:00 pm | Oakland Museum of California, California Room (Level 1, off the bar)
The community has been meeting with Orton Development, the project team that is working on rehabilitating the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. So far, core project values identified by the community focus on arts, education, history, energy, community and fairness. As part of the community dialogue, the design team has already spoken with more than 20 local arts groups.

They plan to restore the old theatre to a 1,300-1,400-seat venue with flexible theatre space, using the same architect as the Warfield and Bill Graham Auditorium in San Francisco. The middle part of the building will be devoted to arts/non-profit office space for lease. The other side will include mixed commercial spaces. A raised public market with restaurants and cafes will be situated outside the building. The basement will be used as a practice space for music, light-industrial work and/or music studios.

Come to OMCA on Friday, June 17, to meet the team working on the adaptive reuse of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center and Calvin Simmons Theatre. This will be an informal opportunity to learn more about the status of the project since the last community meeting and share your thoughts about the future of this historic building.

We will keep you posted about future community meetings and project presentations to community groups in District 2. For more details: oaklandcivic.com

Saturday, June 18 | Walk + Talk with Abel
10:30 am–12:00 pm | Convene at Kevin’s Noodle House AKA Pho Huynh Hiep, 1402 E. 12th St. (between 14th and 15th Aves.)
Join Councilmember Guillén, City staff and your neighbors for another of our summer Walk & Talk discussions. The walk will be followed by a group visit to Philomena Pizza (1801 14th Ave.), one of the newest additions to our East Oakland neighborhood.

Wednesday, June 22 | Amendments to Secondary-Unit Requirements 
6:00 pm | Planning Commission Meeting, Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 1
Councilmember Guillén is advocating to reinstate the owner-occupancy requirement for secondary units, and we need your help. Please contact the Planning Commission and other councilmembers to let them know you support the owner-occupancy requirement (Council contact info here) or you can send emails to council@oaklandnet.com and Development Planning Manager Robert Merkamp, rmerkamp@oaklandnet.com. The staff report on the item will be available here on June 10.

We also encourage you to attend the June 15 Planning Commission meeting and let them know what you think about all of these new rules. The commission will consider the three amendments that Councilmember Guillén previously introduced when the ordinance was first passed in February: (1) Establish that the City’s zoning regulations do not invalidate stricter regulations that may be imposed by a homeowners’ association’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs); (2) implement a procedure that requires applicants to provide evidence that the proposed new unit complies with applicable CC&Rs, such as those of the Lakeshore Homes Association in District 2; and (3) evaluate the designation of the Harrison-Oakland-MacArthur area as a “transit hub” where off-street parking requirements would be relaxed for secondary units within one-half mile of the intersection of Oakland Ave. and MacArthur Blvd. and Santa Clara Ave. Four other amendments will also be proposed from Planning Department staff (included in the staff report).

For more info and to share your views: Strategic Planning Manager Ed Manasse, emanasse@oaklandnet.com

Wednesday, June 22 | Off-Street Parking Regulations
6:00 pm | Planning Commission Meeting, Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 1
Oakland’s off-street parking regulations haven’t been updated since the 1960s. The Planning Commission will consider revisions to Oakland’s off-street parking regulations that focus on a 21st-century transit-oriented approach to parking requirements.For more info: Neil Gray, ngray@oaklandnet.com

HOUSING UPDATES

Public Lands Policy
I testified last week in support of establishing a Public Lands Policy – it’s long over due. I support a proposal that would create a predictable, citywide development process on city-owned surplus land. This proposal would prioritize the development of housing on suitable land and require that 15% of new units be affordable. It would also require that 30% of proceeds from the sale of city-owned lands go to the affordable housing trust fund. This policy will not solve all of our housing problems but it is an important element of the larger effort to expand affordable housing in Oakland.


brooklyn_basin_bldg-rendering.jpg

More Housing in the Pipeline: Plans for First Brooklyn Basin Building 
Signature Development filed plans in May for the first new building as part of the Brooklyn Basin project. Adjacent to a park, the seven-story building (bounded by 8th St., Brooklyn Way and 9th St.) will provide 241 new rental units. Construction is expected to start later this year, with the new housing available by late 2018. In addition to a range of housing, the Brooklyn Basin project will have 32 acres of parks and 200,000 square feet of retail.

New Housing Is on the Way 
The City’s Economic and Workforce Development Department reports that housing construction in Oakland is picking up speed. There are currently 1,900 residential units under construction and approximately 10,000 additional units approved, consistent with strategies to increase density in the downtown and along major transit corridors.

CELEBRATE OAKLAND

guillen-franklin_kids.jpg

Visiting D2 Schools | Almost Summertime at Franklin Elementary
This week, as part of my tours of all of District 2 schools, I had a chance to spend some time at Franklin Elementary – by far one of the largest schools in District 2 with nearly 800 students. I had a great morning, visiting with Principal Ingrid Seyer-Ochi and her staff. With more than 47 languages represented, it’s also one of the most diverse schools in the most diverse Council district in America’s most diverse city. We talked about ways in which we can collaborate to improve education outcomes for our students and the neighborhood. As you might imagine, the school was abuzz with the excitement of summer break on the horizon.

cleveland_heights-meeting_group.jpg

Community Issues in Cleveland Heights
We had a great turnout last week at St. Vartan’s for our meeting with Cleveland Heights neighbors. Councilmember Guillén provided an update about recent and upcoming Council legislation; and the feedback and discussion about neighborhood concerns was lively. The community talked about the Oakland Promise – a cradle-to-career strategy for Oakland youth to go on to college and graduate – as well as the history of Lake Merritt as America’s oldest wildlife refuge. Other topics included neighborhood block captains, National Night Out parties and volunteer caretakers for the Cleveland Cascade.

api_honorees.jpg

Oakland Honors Community Leaders for Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month
The month of May was Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month in Oakland, recognizing the achievements of the Asian American Pacific Islander community. The leadership, labor, advocacy and contributions of the Asian American Pacific Islander community dates back to the 1850’s and their achievements in every field of endeavor have helped build Oakland and America. At this week’s Council meeting, as part of this celebration, Councilmember Guillén was proud to recognize the service of District 2 resident Laura Kwan, along with the other honorees from around the city, including Julia Liou and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Darian Louie, Wendy Tokuda, Lao Family Community Development, Barbara Kong-Brown, Joshua Fisher Lee and Renee Geesler. You make us strong!