Abel's eNews: filling potholes, join a city commission, budget forums and community office hours

This week, the Council’s Finance and Management Committee unanimously adopted my resolution to boycott companies that help construct or are involved in building a border wall that will cost upwards of $40 billion. As a councilmember and resident, it is frustrating that a border wall is being prioritized over our local infrastructure needs. 

The American Institute of Civil Engineers released its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card recently – and it's not pretty. For example, California's roads and highways were rated a D+ while our transit systems and schools were rated a D. They estimate that every American spends $9 a day – $3,400 a year – on our faulty infrastructure. 

Some have asked why I’m dealing with a federal issue. The answer is simple: The consequences of decisions made in Washington directly affect what happens in Oakland. Trump’s decision to divert funds from TSA, the Coast Guard and our roads to build a border wall, for example, will do nothing to improve the safety of our community, and will take money away from improving our streets, parks or transit systems.

As we start the City budget process, I will continue to focus on prioritizing our local infrastructure needs. It is my hope that, with bond funding from Measure KK passed by the voters in November, we can begin to accelerate our five-year repaving plan to get more streets repaired while also addressing homelessness and housing affordability. 

As always, I appreciate your feedback and comments. Please email me at aguillen@oakalndnet.com or find me on Facebook or Twitter to share your views on how to make Oakland a better place to live, work and raise a family.


NOTE: Our Constituent Request Form Is Back Up and Running

Councilmember Guillén’s constituent request form on our District 2 webpage was experiencing a service-provider problem, but that’s been fixed, and our form is available again.


Help Us Stop Trump’s Wall
The Council’s Finance and Management Committee approved my proposal that would prevent the City of Oakland from doing business with companies that help build Trump’s border wall. The measure moves to the full Council for a hearing on March 21. Let your Councilmember (contact info here) know you support the ban, and urge them to vote for the legislation.

More than 600 businesses interested in federal contracts submitted initial proposals last week, including nearly 100 from California. Check out the local companiesthat are looking to get paid for building the wall. We want to let Trump and these companies know that we will say NO to any  business who uses our tax dollars to build a costly and ineffective wall, not to mention when funding is simultaneously being slashed for practical security efforts by agencies like TSA and the Coast Guard.

Nationwide, more than 60% of Americans oppose Trump’s wall, according to a Quinnipiac poll. Here in Oakland, nearly 9 in 10 respondents to my survey support my proposed boycott. Add your opinion.

Oakland Running Festival Showcases New Astro Tot Lot
The start/finish line for this year’s Oakland Running Festival (Sunday, April 2) will be at Eastshore Park. It’s a big showcase for the new Astro Tot Lot there and all the great work of our volunteers and supporters. Hopefully, rain permitting, the contractors will have put the finishing touches on the playground walkways, water bottle station, and parking lot by then. Join Councilmember Guillén and his staff on the run, and get a close-up look at the new playground.

Councilmember Guillén and his staff will be running as a team and raising money for the Oakland Education Fund. You’re invited to run with us, cheer us on, or donate to our efforts to support the Education Fund.

City Adds Online Service for Rent Adjustments
The City of Oakland announced a web-based service this week that lets tenants and property owners file Rent Adjustment Program petitions online, which should make it a little easier to resolve rent disputes. The website complements the existing paper filing system for rent disputes and non-standard rent-increase petitions. The online petitioning system is one of several improvements that the City has made to implement changes that shift the responsibility for petitioning non-standard rent increases from tenants to property owners, while also making it simpler for tenants to file a petition when they have complaints about any potentially unjustified rent increases. Approximately 70% of Oakland’s 100,000 rental units are currently covered under the program. Check out the new website.


Taking Extra Measures to Fill Potholes
In the weeks since this winter’s record-breaking storms began in early January, the City has received calls reporting more than 1,300 new potholes. Our public works and transportation crews have been working around the clock to repair our streets, prioritizing weather impacts that directly affect public safety.

They are currently developing plans to address the increase in new potholes. The City’s revised goal is to repair 12,000 potholes this year, with approximately 7,500 potholes repaired so far. Maintenance crews will implement a “Mini Pothole Blitz” – on top of our annual seven-week summer Pothole Blitz –to address the outstanding service requests brought on by the severe rains. This 21-day effort will be focused on repairing 1,500 potholes. They will also be undertaking crack-sealing at a number of locations to extend the life expectancy of these streets, using a new material called FastPatch, a unique polymer repair system that bonds tenaciously to surfaces and remains flexible throughout its service life.

Thanks for your patience. Please continue to report potholes (photo: like the one I “clicked” for a fix) and other street-repair problems to the Oakland Call Center to make sure potholes on your street get on the fix-it list: 510-615-5566www.oaklandpw.comcallcenter@oaklandnet.com or through the mobile app SeeClickFix

Equity Measures for Cannabis Businesses Revised
Last week, the City Council added a residency requirement to its equity measures for cannabis businesses. The ordinances bring Oakland in line with state laws that will regulate all aspects of the cannabis industry by 2018, which require that those businesses obtain an operating permit from the city.

The business permits will be allocated in two phases. In the first phase, half of the licenses will be reserved for equity applicants. However, that requirement will end after an assistance program fund (created with cannabis-business tax revenue) that provides zero-interest business loans and technical help to equity applicants reaches $3 million.

In Phase 1, half of permits will be issued to equity applicants. An equity applicant can be a person who: lived in a designated Oakland neighborhood for 10 of the last 20 years; has an income at or below 80% of Oakland’s average median income; was arrested in Oakland and convicted for a marijuana crime after Nov. 5, 1996. The Council also expanded the number of designated neighborhoods from the six East Oakland areas originally identified in the legislation to include Fruitvale and some parts of West Oakland.

The remaining permits in Phase 1 will be prioritized based on whether an applicant is an “incubator” providing free rent or property to for an equity qualifier. In Phase 2, there won’t be any eligibility restrictions based on equity. For both phases, the applicant must have been an Oakland resident for the last three years to get a permit. An amendment has been proposed that will exempt an applicant from this residency requirement if it serves as an equity incubator; this amendment is scheduled to be heard at the Public Safety Committee next month.  


Want to Serve on a City Commission?
District 2 currently has openings on several boards and commissions, including the Children’s Fund Planning and Oversight Committee (youth and adult representatives); the Privacy Commission; the Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention Oversight Commission; and the Alameda County-Oakland Community Action Partnership Board. Learn more about the work of these groups: https://oakland.granicus.com/boards/w/8552f8c4c0e15460/boards/6771 If you are a District 2 resident and interested in one of these positions, please send a brief statement about your interest and experience (include your street address, email and phone number) to Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com.

Monday, March 20 | Community Meeting on Lincoln Rec Center’s Future
2:30-4:00 pm | Lincoln Recreation Center Gymnasium, 250 10th St.
Councilmember Guillén invites you to join neighbors and City staff at the “Lincoln Recreation Center – The Future Project” community meeting. Share your ideas about how to build a better recreation center in Chinatown. For more info: Jessica Chen, clchen@oaklandnet.com

Community Forums on the City Budget
Make your voice heard in deciding our community’s funding priorities. We will hold a series of community conversations across Oakland to hear directly from you about your priorities for the City’s FY 2017-19 budget. Read more about the budget process.

  • Wednesday, March 226:00-8:00 pm | Sullivan Community Space, 1671 8th St.
  • Wednesday, March 297:00-9:00 pm | Hiller Highlands Country Club, 110 Hiller Dr. 

The Mayor will announce more forums in Chinatown and the Fruitvale district soon.


Saturday, March 25 | Abel’s Office Hours in Cleveland Heights
10:00 am-12:00 pm | Haddon Hill Cafe, 504 Wesley Ave.
Councilmember Guillén holds monthly “office hours” out in the community along with “Walk and Talks” throughout the year. We were in the San Antonio neighborhood last month (photo), and will be in Cleveland Heights later this month. Stop by and share your thoughts about the neighborhood.

Saturday, March 25 | Free Plant Exchange
12:00-4:00 pm | 4500 Lincoln Ave. (free parking)
Check out this free, semi-annual event where gardeners, landscapers, urban farmers and beginners come to exchange plants, tools, equipment and information about ways to make our urban environment more sustainable, aesthetic and healthy. Want an instant new garden? Bring your plants and pick up new ones. All types and sizes of healthy plants are welcome, small cuttings to full size. No time to re-pot donations? Bags and newspaper will do. The event will feature a live band, food trucks, gardening demos, advice from Master Gardeners and raffle prizes– come celebrate the Plant Exchange’s 10-year anniversary. For more info



Grand Avenue Cleanup
My nephews joined me and neighbors from around Grand Avenue for a cleanup day last week. We worked between Mandana and 580 to trim a few trees, spruce up plant containers, pick up trash and get rid of graffiti. Thanks to Eric Hughes of the Grand Lake NCPC for being the point person on this great event. To help water our new plantings or for more info: hughesearthur@gmail.com 

Friday, March 24 | Little Red Hen Day
10:30 am | Cleveland Elementary School, 745 Cleveland St.
Join the extended Cleveland Elementary family for “Little Red Hen Day,” part of the school’s eco-literacy program – recognized throughout the area for its work in developing a deeper understanding about the relationship between our community and the earth. Students learn about our shared responsibility for the environment, and how we can all be included when we use natural resources appropriately. Just like in the classic folk tale, kindergarteners help the Little Red Hen plan and create a feast for their classmates, grinding grain, baking bread, and using their resources to keep everyone well nourished. Stop by and enjoy the fun. For more info: peter.vantassel@ousd.org


New “Tell Us” App to Report Code-Enforcement Issues
Download the new “Tell Us” app on your iPhone or Android device to report code-enforcement issues directly to the City’s Planning and Building Department. The app can be used to report graffiti, trash, blight and other issues on private property. Users can then track the status of their reports, as well as other public notices, on the app. For reports about issues on public property like streets, illegal dumping and other similar issues, continue using the See, Click, Fix app.

Saturday, March 25 | Free “Know Your Rights” Workshop
9:00 am-1:00 pm | YEP, 2300 International Blvd. 
Jubilee Immigration Advocates, Harbor House Ministries, Youth Employment Partnership and New Hope Covenant Church will host an immigration legal clinic and immigration-rights workshop. Bring all your documents related to your immigration case. Attorneys speak Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin. If you speak another language, please bring an interpreter. Space is limited – pre-register: English and Spanish, 510-534-0165; Chinese, 415-813-1958


Hotline for Immigration Legal Aid
The Alameda County Immigration Legal and Education Partnership has opened a hotline (510-241-4011) for rapid response and legal services if you’ve seen Immigration & Customs Enforcement agents (ICE) in action, suspect ICE activity in progress, or if you or someone you know has been detained by ICE.

Port Employees Offer College Scholarships | Apply by March 31
The deadline to apply for Port Employees’ Scholarships is March 31. Scholarships range from $1,500 to $5,000. High-school applicants must be 12th-grade students enrolled in OUSD school or are a child of a Port employee, and plan to attend full-time a four-year, two-year or trade/technical postsecondary program in the fall following graduation.  For an application For more info

City Taps New Transportation Leader
Ryan Russo has been appointed as the first director of Oakland’s recently established Department of Transportation. He previously served as New York City’s deputy commissioner for transportation planning and management, overseeing some of the nation’s most innovative and transformative safety, pedestrian, bike and transit projects over the last decade.

“Great streets are equitable streets,” said Russo, who completed a master’s degree in city planning from UC Berkeley. “Streets must work for everyone and be safe no matter where in Oakland they live or how they get around.”

OakDOT will be receiving $350 million in Measure KK transportation funds approved by the voters last November to help repair city streets – 61% of which are in poor or fair condition – and update their design to meet current standards. The new funding will enable OakDOT not simply to resurface them but also redesign them as “complete streets” that improve mobility opportunities for people who walk, bike or ride transit, not just for cars.