Abel’s eNews: Catching illegal dumping, safer streets in the district, upcoming safety meetings, new smoke alarms and another tiny home


Illegal Dumping “Detectives”
Last week, Mayor Schaaf and I announced that the City will be hiring three new litter enforcement officers – whom the media have tagged “trash detectives” – to combat illegal dumping on Oakland streets. These trash detectives will be working to identify the perpetrators of illegal dumping. These new positions are staffed by civilian employees who normally wear a uniform and a badge, like parking technicians and do not carry a weapon. They will be responsible for explaining and enforcing sections of state and local codes relating to litter, recycling and nuisance control. If you can help with any information about anybody who is illegally dumping their trash, call 311.

The City has also installed four cameras in dumping “hot spots” to help catch those who pull up and dump in the act.

We also added a new piece of equipment to help fight illegal dumping – the Lightning Loader – last week, the result of the budget proposal I advocated for in the mid-cycle budget.

A significant portion of the dumping incidents is also generated by local residents and out-of-town contractors dumping their haul on Oakland streets. To address the residential source, the City added bulky item curbside pickup service to multi-family buildings (4+ units) in 2015. A big focus of our education campaign will be raising awareness to increase its use. This service is already included in billpayers’ rates, and we want to help all residents take full advantage of it.

As Chair of the Council’s finance committee, I will push forward the funding for this strategy to deter dumping and for more City resources before the budget mid-cycle adjustments, including funds for an additional illegal dumping crew, as requested by my constituents.

Illegal dumping is obviously a problem about trash, but it’s a catalyst for neighborhood blight, and it’s a real danger to public health and safety. I’m especially concerned about the threat to our young children who are trying to walk safely to school every day.

Over the past five years, the number of work orders that Oakland Public Works has issued to pick up piles of dumping has more than doubled. In 2017, our crews responded to 33,000 incidents to pick up dumping. We’re on a similar pace this year.

Our crews pick up 95% of calls about dumping within one to two days. You can help our Public Works crews by using 311 to report illegal dumping as soon as you see it in your neighborhood.


Improving Street Safety around Franklin Elementary
More than 100 parents and students turned out for our community meeting to share their ideas about improving street safety around Franklin Elementary School and Recreation Center, one of the largest public schools in Oakland. Thanks to EBAYC for organizing.

The project area encompasses E. 15th St. between 1st and 14th Ave. and Foothill Blvd. (see before-after photos) between 8th and 14th Ave. City transportation staff are proposing several improvements, which include: reducing traffic lanes to one in each direction to better accommodate the low number of vehicles on the corridor at calmer, slower speeds; adding high-visibility, flashing-light signals at crosswalks to increase yielding to pedestrians; adding bike lanes in each direction to create a safe place for bicyclists; evaluating intersections for stop signs; moving bus stops to safer and more convenient locations; and expanding school loading zones to accommodate families dropping off and picking up children.

Meeting participants expressed support for protected bike lanes (rather than ones next to moving traffic; see “after” photo), and also suggested changing street-sweeping hours to make pickup/drops easier.

The overall response to proposed improvement options was very positive. The next steps will feature engineering drawings of the improvements and more community outreach. Read more about the improvement project.

Progress on 13th Ave. / Bella Vista Street-Safety Improvements
I’ve been working closely with the City’s transportation department and the Bella Vista Neighborhood Coalition for Peace and Community (NCPC) on making neighborhood streets safer for the past year. I have several encouraging results to share with you:

In March, we got a stop sign and crosswalk striping installed on 13th Ave. at E. 26th St. and crosswalk striping on 13th Ave. at E 28th St. In April, a work order was submitted for all-way stop controlled intersections on 13th Ave. at E. 32nd St. and E. 34th St. Stay tuned for updates on when these get installed.

This summer, a new traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of E. 12th St. and 13th Ave. as a part of AC Transit’s new Bus Rapid Transit line. I’m also in discussions with the City’s transportation staff and EBMUD about a potential collaboration to repave a portion of 13th Ave. in the next few months.

For residents concerned about parking and traffic around Highland Hospital, the Bella Vista NCPC is now organizing around the potential for Residential Permit Parking in that area. To learn more, join the Bella Vista NCPC meetings every second Wednesday of the month (7:00 pm) at Bella Vista Elementary School.

More Street Improvement Updates

  • Public Works installed crosswalk striping, “No Outlet” signs, diagonal-parking lines and red curbs at the Lakeshore cul-de-sac in April.
  • Drop-off signs at Garfield Elementary School were installed in April.
  • 20 new temporary Parking Control Technicians started last week.


Second Tiny Home on the Move
Our second Laney-College tiny home – that I sponsored with City funding – was completed and delivered last week. Thank you to all of the Laney carpentry students for their hard work on completing the Model-S tiny home – one of two prototypes created through the City-Laney partnership. And thanks to the Oakland Builders Alliance (who helped move the house) and the West Side Missionary Baptist Church (which is providing their parking lot to put both of the two prototypes) for working together to provide much-needed housing for our housing insecure students.

We have much work to do to solve our homeless issues, and I believe that the City working together with our education, faith and community partners can make a real difference for those most in need. 

This demonstration project will not solve the crisis by itself, of course, but tiny homes can provide part of a comprehensive array of solutions needed while we fund and build more affordable and supportive housing in Oakland.


Saturday, May 12 | Abel’s Walk and Talk at the Lake
10:00 am-12:00 pm | meet at Lakeview Branch Library, 550 El Embarcadero
Join Councilmember Guillén for his monthly walk-and-talk: This Saturday we will go on a one-mile, educational stroll with the Sogorea Te Land Trust that will focus on the history of the Ohlone and their sacred sites along Lake Merritt and around present-day Oakland.

We will also learn more about the Intertribal Friendship House and their fundraising campaign to make urgent repairs to their roof. Established in 1955 as one of the first urban Indigenous community centers in the nation, the Intertribal Friendship House was originally founded to serve the needs of people relocated from reservations to the Bay Area. Today, it provides a range of social programs and sustains cultural connections through dances, drumming, beading classes, traditional ceremonies and other cultural events.

The walk will conclude at the 1200 Lakeshore cul-de-sac. Read more about the fundraising campaign and to donate. To contribute to the Sogorea Te Land Trust, a women-led community organization that facilitates the return of Chochenyo and Karkin Ohlone lands in the Bay Area to Indigenous stewardship. For more info about the walk and RSVP: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com

Wednesday, May 16 | Emergency Preparedness Training for Grand Lake Residents
7:00-9:30 pm | Lakeshore Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave.
Grand Lake Neighbors will host a CORE II/Neighborhood Preparedness and Response training session. For more info and to register: Eric Hughes, hughesearthur@gmail.com


Smoke Alarms Installed in Eastlake
I joined a small army of volunteers to install more than 227 smoke detectors for 164 residents in 57 homes in Eastlake and Chinatown homes last Saturday. This was the second weekend of our local “Sound the Alarm” campaign in partnership with Tzu Chi USA. More than 121 volunteers spread out to install free smoke alarms and keep people safe through education about fires in the home. Thank you to all our partners for making the effort such a success! 

Teaching Diversity Skills, Disrupting Segregation
Even in as diverse a place as the Bay Area, kids still don’t often interact with other youth from different racial or class backgrounds. Camp Common Ground brings 40 middle-school youth leaders from different racial and economic backgrounds to its summer program, where youth learn how identity influences perspective and the skills to build relationships with people across cultural lines. The campers then meet during the school year to break down barriers that exist between their peers in their schools and communities.

Please join me in supporting Camp Common Ground’s scholarship campaign to raise the final $10,500 to cover the expenses for the last seven students. Learn more


City Launches New, Mobile-friendly “Dot.Gov” Website
The City of Oakland launched its new website last month – oaklandca.gov. The new “digital front door” showcases the details, landscapes and people who make Oakland feel like home. The new website will yield much more accurate results for City services, and is also more mobile-responsive, now working on smartphones and tablets with relative ease.

City departments will continue to build out content and features, working to hone the site and keep it fresh. Web analytics will help test what’s working and what isn’t, so we can make changes along the way in real time. Let City staff know what you think, and give them feedback using this form.

New Emergency Manager and Interim Fire Marshal Appointed
The Oakland Fire Department recently announced the appointment of two new leaders to help strengthen our community’s fire prevention and emergency preparedness and response efforts: Toshia Shavies Marshall as Emergency Manager of the Office of Emergency Services, and William Weisgerber, Jr., as Interim Fire Marshal.

An Oakland native, Marshall most recently served on the City and County of San Francisco’s Emergency Management team at the San Francisco International Airport. She has also served on Oakland’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission.

Weisgerber brings more than 40 years of experience with fire service, public safety management, and strategic planning expertise, including Fire Chief for the City of Milpitas. He will oversee the department’s Fire Prevention Bureau and will work to incorporate best practices in fire prevention, help re-design the permit approval process, and improve collaborative procedures with Planning & Building and Transportation staff to ensure more efficient and coordinated communications between City departments.

City Arts Grants Available | Apply by May 15
The City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program is seeking applications for FY 2018-19 grants. Grants will be awarded to Oakland-based artists and non-profits that present arts events and activities for Oakland residents and visitors. Grants range from $4,999 to $20,000 in four categories: Individual artists, organizations, Art-in-the-Schools and strategic development. To apply

Micro-Loans for Oakland Small Businesses
Working Solutions, one of the City of Oakland’s business-service partners, provides diverse, small businesses access to capital, loan application support, business coaching and additional resources to grow successful businesses. Check out “Diverse Communities Capital” and other resources at the Oakland Business Assistance Center. To learn more about applying for a micro-loan ($5,000-$50,000): visit Working Solutions or email laurie@workingsolutions.org