Helping businesses during BRT, police recruitment, parking rules for new development

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Oakland Is Proud
I was happy to once again be a sponsor of the Oakland Pride Parade and Festival. I joined the Eastbay Stonewall contingent on the parade route and celebrated with Bike East Bay at the festival. In its seventh year, the event is slowly but steadily growing. Last year, more than 42,000 people participated – more than 50,000 attendees this year. I’m proud to live in a city that doesn’t just tolerate diversity – it celebrates it!

Business Assistance and Construction Updates during BRT Construction

AC Transit’s new Bus Rapid Transit service will run through the 9.5-mile corridor from downtown Oakland (12th St. and International Blvd.) to San Leandro BART. Construction on its 21 center-median stations and 12 curbside stations will begin this fall. Each BRT station will feature hallmark artwork, new pavement, walkways and native landscaping. This $174 million investment in the community will enhance regional connectivity and help relieve traffic congestion while also revitalizing one of the East Bay’s most diverse cultural corridors. Residents and business owners along the route will be notified in advance of construction activities and impacts in their neighborhood. To find out more Route map and fact sheet 

As the construction begins, it’s important to get additional feedback now from affected merchants to come up with timely solutions.

AC Transit and the City of Oakland have allocated $4.5 million to assist affected small businesses along the BRT route with technical assistance and support to improve their chances of weathering the construction phase and succeeding in the new environment. More than half that amount ($2.5 million) will go toward business technical-assistance services, which will be provided by the Oakland Business Development Corporation in the start-up phase (contact Paula Groves, brt-consulting@obdc.com). The other portion ($2 million) will go directly to individual businesses to mitigate and cope with the indirect or economic impacts of the BRT on their operations.

Specific criteria for allocating $2 million of the business-assistance funds directly to neighborhood merchants were approved by the Council on July 19. To find out if your business meets the criteria, click here.

Eastlake merchants have said they wanted a parking lot in their neighborhood for employees who won’t be able to park conveniently during BRT construction and once BRT lines are in service. Staff are looking into options for how the City might address this request.

Changes in Parking Regulations for New Development Adopted
This week, the City updated its parking regulations for the first time in more than 50 years. The changes seek to help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, encourage more housing development, and increase walkability. The new rules only affect new development.

New downtown developments of 10 or more units are not required to provide new parking spaces, and can build a maximum of 1.25 spaces per unit. Regardless of which option they choose, all developers are required to provide transit passes and car-sharing services to residents.

The new regulations also require developers to unbundle parking spaces from housing units, so that the residents can choose to not pay for a parking space if they do not own a car, for example. 

Council Focuses on More Diverse Police Department
Several months ago, I pushed for a citywide working group to come up with suggestions on how OPD can recruit qualified Oakland residents who better reflect the city’s diversity, improve the number of our police officers who live in Oakland, build effective relationships with institutions that can recommend recruits to the police academy, and explore strategies to better recruit and train Oakland residents to serve our community as part of OPD.

Last week, the City Council’s Public Safety Committee heard the final report from this police-recruitment working group. Its recommendations to help diversify OPD include targeting the marketing of OPD jobs more actively to Oakland residents, local youth and community organizations; improving the metrics for measuring the effectiveness of recruitment strategies and upgrading the City’s personnel data system; offering housing incentives as a recruitment and retention tool to help OPD employees better afford Oakland housing costs; and adopting a local-hire policy to benefit Oakland residents in the recruitment process. Read the report

OPD currently has 768 sworn officers: 18% are African American, 25% are Latino, 15% are Asian, and 40% are white, while 12% are women. Fewer than 1 in 10 officers live in Oakland. As we work to improve these numbers and strengthen our community-policing efforts, we also need to bring more multilingual officers on-board who speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and other languages commonly used in Oakland.

Much appreciation to all the hard work by the group’s members, including District 2’s Jenny Chen and Emmanuel Gomez.

GET INVOLVED

Make a Difference for Small Businesses | Join Oakland’s Task Force
Earlier this week, the City Council created a Small Business Task Force. The spirit of small businesses is scrappy, full of pride, innovative and community-driven – these are qualities that embody Oakland too. Our businesses define the heart of our community, contributing a wide range of tangible economic and social benefits. Vibrant small businesses increase community identity, health, involvement and jobs.

The task force is charged with providing the Council with information, guidance and recommendations to significantly improve its communication with and support for Oakland’s small businesses to help them survive and thrive. We’re looking for one small business owner in District 2 to volunteer to join the group. If you are interested or if you know someone who you’d like to recommend, please contact Councilmember Guillén’s office: RRaya@oaklandnet.com.

Wednesday, September 28 | Community Forum for Police-Chief Search
6:00 pm | Fruitvale Village, 3301 E. 12th St. (in Spanish)
Make your voice heard: The City of Oakland has launched a national search for a permanent police chief. Community input is encouraged to help make this recruitment a success and ensure that prospective candidates understand Oakland’s values, standards and needs. More opportunities to get involved are available:Take an online surveyJoin the online discussion. Email your comments: OPDChiefRecruitment@oaklandnet.com

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Saturday, October 1 | Survey Oakland’s Parks on “Love Your Parks Day”
8:30 am-12:00 pm | Lake Merritt Boating Center, 568 Bellevue Ave.
Want to make Oakland parks better? Help survey conditions in more than 110 Oakland parks. Your findings will become part of a comprehensive report for the City Council and Public Works. Now in its 11th year, this is the only all-city park user survey for the City of Oakland, the main source of public feedback on park conditions.

How it works: Volunteers should sign in at 8:15 am. Then grab a breakfast treat and mingle while survey teams are formed. After a brief survey training, teams will be assigned 3-5 parks. Each team member will have a job – photographer, survey recorder and someone to input the survey info online. When you RSVP, let us know if you can drive, and whether you can bring your smart phone or camera. Younger surveyors (at least 12 years old) are welcome. RSVP:oakland.parkstewards@gmail.com 

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Wednesday, October 5 Design Day for Astro Tot Lot
5:00-7:00 pm | Cleveland Elementary School, 745 Cleveland St.

Thanks to grassroots donors and a new commitment of resources from AT&T, Waste Management and the city’s ADA Capital Improvement Program, we have met the KaBOOM-grant match requirement!

Now you can help design the new playground, which will be built on December 6. Attend our design meeting on October 5 to provide your vision for the new playground equipment: The first hour of the meeting will be for children up to 12 years old to provide their input, with the second hour dedicated to parents’ perspectives. Food and child care to be provided. We hope to see you there! Please RSVP: mdrane@oaklandnet.com  

Although we have raised more than $98,000, we still need your help to raise $2,000 to pay for final upfront costs. Donate here for your chance to win tickets to the Raiders’ October 9 home game.

Wednesday, October 5 | New Mobile Food-Vending Regulations
The Planning Commission will consider a proposal to establish a new citywide food-vending permit program, which would greatly expand, with certain restrictions, individual food vending on private property and from public streets and sidewalks in selected commercial and industrial areas. “Group site” or “food pod” vending would also be permitted. Map and regulations Please attend the meeting and/or email your comments: dreiff@oaklandnet.com

CELEBRATE OAKLAND

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64th Annual St. Vartan Armenian Church Food Festival and Bazaar
Friday, September 30, 5:30 pm to midnight
Saturday, October 1, 12 pm-midnight
St. Vartan Armenian Church, 650 Spruce St. (off MacArthur Blvd.) 
Experience the East Bay’s premier Armenian Food Festival, featuring live music from Khatchig Jingirian. Enjoy authentic Armenian cuisine, music and dancing plus games for the kids, cultural displays and church tours. For more info

Saturday, October 8 | Free Plant Exchange
12:00-4:00 pm | Ability Now Bay Area, 4500 Lincoln Ave. (down the hill from the Mormon Temple), plenty of free parking
Want an instant new garden? Bring your plants and pick up new ones. Exchange other garden items, such as pots, decorative items, tools, equipment, gardening, stepping stones and anything useful in a yard. All types of plants are welcome, from cuttings to full size. Hundreds of plants change hands. This event also features free advice tables staffed by Alameda County Master Gardeners and services donated by local businesses. Food trucks and live music too. For more info:theplantexchange@yahoo.com