Abel's eNews: A budget for a healthy future, new community pop-up on Broadway, free lunches for kids

Council Budget Includes Affordable Housing and District 2 Priorities
We’re getting closer to a City budget for FY 2017-19. The City Council president presented a revised budget proposal this week, and we will vote on the final budget next Monday, June 26. Thanks to everybody I’ve heard from for your input about city needs and priorities during the process. The latest version incorporates several of my priorities for District 2 while tackling our biggest citywide challenges.

A City budget reflects a community’s core priorities and shared values. Our revised budget proposal – focused on the principles of “Building a Healthy Future” – underscores our steadfast investment in our community’s future, our commitment to build a stronger foundation for the things that most improve and enrich our quality of life. That means fixing big issues like housing affordability and public safety that affect our entire city and its economic vitality as well as ongoing basic responsibilities like upgrading our parks, picking up trash, and filling potholes in the neighborhood.


In addition to the major priority areas of housing affordability and public safety, we have sought to make strategic investments to improve our response to a variety of quality-of-life concerns, such as illegal dumping, workforce development, worker protections, and arts and culture.

The “Building a Healthy Future” budget proposes to use $1 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to fund a comprehensive approach to help our neighbors who are in homeless encampments, to clean up these temporary places, ensure public health and provide basic services, and help unsheltered residents transition into permanent homes, combined with another $1.77 million for anti-displacement, and $1.4 million for healthy housing and lead-poisoning prevention.

Alameda County is matching the City’s funds, and our strong partnership will help Oakland and other communities deal effectively with this shared regional challenge. Voter-approved measures at the City and County levels will bring up to $100 million to create and preserve permanent, affordable housing.

The revised budget proposes an additional $1.3 million to provide washing stations, bathrooms and waste removal to the encampments and to fund an additional outdoor navigation center that will provide individuals with the services and assistance they need to get into transitional housing, and on a path to permanent housing. In total, this budget proposal calls for allocating an additional $5 million to homeless and anti-displacement services on top of what the City Administration proposed earlier this year.


A Budget that Improves the Quality of Life in Our Neighborhoods
Clean, healthy streets are one of my top priorities. The Council’s amended budget will add two new crews to tackle illegal dumping and help us make progress on this critical health-and-safety need that affects the entire city. We will also continue District 2’s successful pilot program to combat graffiti in our neighborhoods. To aid our efforts to prosecute illegal dumpers, we are also adding capacity to the City Attorney’s office to assist with illegal-dumping prosecutions.

In response to safety issues around our schools, the Council is increasing funds to add more crossing guards and will prioritize streets around schools that are most at risk for collisions. We are also prioritizing summer jobs for our youth.

I also advocated for restoring an additional street-tree crew that was cut in 2007. Our trees have long been neglected, and I hope this will help improve Oakland’s tree canopy while also reducing the problem of sidewalks damaged by tree roots.

I supported the inclusion of more community-improvement funds for District 2 to upgrade electrical and technology systems at the Asian Branch Library, and replace equipment and install new safety surface at the San Antonio Recreation Center’s Head Start playground. If project funding opens up, I’m also working to get planning-and-design assistance to revitalize Lincoln Recreation Center, replace outdated San Antonio soccer fields, and install pedestrian-safety improvements at 8th and Franklin. 

I also fought to provide funding for the Cultural Arts Commission and an increase grants to local artists.

A Budget that Protects Workers and Public Safety
The proposed budget would invest $170,000 a year in the Day Laborer Program, which will help provide health screenings, ensure safe, healthy work environments and increase access to dignified employment and leadership development opportunities. We will also support the Cypress Mandela Training Center with $50,000 to support training program for young adults to get ready for the construction trades, as we look ways to permanently support job-training opportunities in the trades for our young people.

The budget would also fund efforts to enforce Oakland’s minimum-wage law, working directly with community organizations to assist the city in enforcing violations and which voters passed overwhelmingly in 2014.

We are including funding for a third police academy to make up for our anticipated attrition of current officers and provide more than $1.7 million to backfill for wildfire prevention. 

Taking Steps to Prevent Violence 
The City Council’s proposed budget also provides funding to establish a new department of violence prevention to help fulfill the intent of voters, as expressed in Measures Y and Z, who want our prevention efforts to be at the forefront of Oakland’s overall approach to public health and safety.

Earlier this month, the Council voted to create a blue-ribbon commission on violence prevention and a community-engagement process to inform the work of this new department. The group will hold a series of town halls, and examine model policies and practices from other cities. Commission recommendations are expected by January 2018. Councilmember Guillén has urged the commission to apply a public-health lens to focus on identifying practical measures to reduce violence in our community.

Independent Budget Analyst Finds $5 Million in Savings
As Chair of the Finance and Management Committee, I asked the City Council to add the municipal-budget expertise of Harvey M. Rose & Associates to provide an independent review to assist our deliberations. Their review found $5 million in possible savings and new revenue opportunities. This report will help inform how we deal with structural problems in our budget and also makes other management recommendations.  Read the full report.


Saturday, June 24 | Abel’s Office Hours in Grand Lake
10:00 am-12:00 pm | Grand Lake Farmers’ Market
Councilmember Guillén holds monthly “office hours” out in the community along with “Walk and Talks” throughout the year. We’ve been in Bella Vista, Cleveland Heights and East Lake the past few months, and will be in the Grand Lake neighborhood this month. Say hello and share your thoughts about the neighborhood. Bring the kids! “Walk-ins” are welcome, but you can reserve a time slot to avoid waiting: Richard Raya, rraya@oaklandnet.com510-238-7023


Saturday, June 24 | Create Drought-Resistant Garden at Clinton Park 
9:00 am | Clinton Square Park, 6th Ave. and International Blvd.
Join neighbors and City staff to plant a sustainable, drought-tolerant demonstration garden at Clinton Square Park. The demonstration garden will be used to promote and train Oakland staff and residents about landscaping, climate change and sustainability. We will be installing 25 rolls of corrugated cardboard, spreading 80 yards of mulch, and planting more than 200 drought-tolerant plants. Please wear a hat, and bring a water bottle and sunscreen. For more info

601 MacArthur Project | Community Meeting Update
The developer and residents gathered at St. Vartan’s Church this week to discuss the proposed project for 601 MacArthur, which would construct a total of 25 units (nine 3-bedroom and 16 2-bedroom) on the currently empty lot. The presentation and Q&A addressed concerns about sidewalk setbacks, the location of the parking garage entrance, the number of units, and distance from the hillside. The project is currently waiting for planning and zoning approvals before moving forward. We will keep you posted about future meeting dates once that step is completed.


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Food Trucks on Broadway | Ribbon-Cutting on Pop-up Space
Before construction of a new building at 1100 Broadway (expected to begin this winter after design review is completed and final approval is issued), I’ve arranged for the space to be used temporarily for community events, thanks to Ellis Partners and event-management help from the Downtown Oakland Association.

We had the ribbon-cutting ceremony for “The Lot on Broadway” yesterday. I hope you enjoy this summer pop-up!

After being fenced off for 30 years, the vacant lot has been transformed into an exciting “community living room” for the downtown for the summer. Food trucks, curated by Off the Grid, are slated to be on-site for lunch (11:00 am-2:00 pm) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The venue includes a seating area and performance space for live music, dance and theater.


Woodminster Summer Musicals | Half-Price and Kids-Free Seats
For more than a half-century, Oakland’s historic Woodminster Amphitheater, surrounded by forest trails, picnic grounds and water features, has been the venue for outdoor, Broadway-style musicals each summer. This summer’s playbill features “Mamma Mia!” (July), “South Pacific” (August), and “Beauty and the Beast” (September). Oakland residents can get half-price tickets every opening night (July 7August 4September 1). Other discount options include kids-free, half-price for millennials, group discounts and season tickets. For more info


Assistance for Merchants during BRT Construction
Businesses located on International Boulevard or E.12th St., where AC Transit is moving ahead with construction of its Bus Rapid Transit line (BRT), are eligible to receive FREE business assistance services. Councilmember Abel Guillén and AnewAmerica’s Business Assistance Fund Specialist Xavier Sibaja met with area merchants last Friday to discuss resources available, including the Business Assistance Fund to affected businesses. For more info: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com; Xavier Sibaja, xsibaja@anewamerica,org We will also keep you posted on updates about BRT construction in District 2.


Free Lunches for Kids during Summer
Approximately 20,000 Oakland children depend on free and reduced-cost school meals during the school year. However, most families struggle to replace those meals for their children during the summer months. The City’s Summer Food Service Program bridges the meal gap by providing access to nutritious lunches and snacks while school is out of session.

All youth ages 18 and under can visit any location to receive a free meal Mondays through Fridays until August 11. About 70 youth-serving sites throughout Oakland – including City libraries and recreation centers, community-based organizations and faith-based groups – are participating. There are no program requirements or paperwork. To find the closest free meal: call 800-870-FOOD or download the list of locations.


New Neighborhood Service Coordinator for Chinatown
Ka Kui (Kenny) Ip is the new Neighborhood Services Coordinator for Chinatown. A member of OPD for almost three years, he began his career as a Police Service Technician, handling safety presentations, Neighborhood Watch, and Crime Prevention through Environmental Design inspections. He is fluent in Cantonese. Contact Kenny Ip: 510-238-3102kkip@oaklandnet.com