Abel’s eNews: Homeless shelter/services, more housing around Lake Merritt BART, more school-crossing guards, Cultural Plan unveiled

I love Oakland. And I’ve worked very hard the last four years as Councilmember to help create a healthier, safer and equitable city.

Like other Bay Area cities, Oakland is dealing with a deep housing-affordability and homelessness crisis. It will take a regional comprehensive package of strategies to solve the problem – the faster, the better. We know we have more work to do.

This week, I will be scheduling my public lands policy – which I have been working on community members and City staff for the past two years – to the City Council. If passed, this framework will bring greater transparency, improve public notice and input, and prioritize affordable-housing development in City decisions about the use of Oakland’s public land.

My hope is that these new policy guidelines will be approved by the full Council next month.

Oakland faces many challenges but, with your continued support and engagement, I know we can make a real difference to continue to move Oakland forward.

In service,



Cabin Community Provides Emergency, Temporary Shelter and Assistance toward Permanent Housing
Last week, the City Council took action to fund a year-long “community cabins” program on the parking lot at the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium to help address homelessness around Lake Merritt. These cabins will offer emergency, temporary shelter that provides safer, healthier places while we help people seek work and get into more stable living conditions and permanent housing.

This is just one emergency response being implemented as part of the City’s package of comprehensive strategies to rapidly rehouse residents and build more affordable housing to address the root causes of homelessness and our region’s housing-insecurity crisis. Approximately $200,000 in private funding has been secured for the cabins, with the City paying for site maintenance and support services for the residents.

The City has opened two similar communities. About 90 people have opted into the first pilot location at 6th St. and Castro St. in West Oakland since it opened in December – watch the video to see how the second site at 27th St. and Northgate Ave. has improved public health and safety conditions.

To date, of the 126 people who have moved into these two cabin-community sites, 41 have moved on to transitional and permanent housing; 23 have found jobs; and all have received access to social services and healthcare assistance.

The small structures (8’ x15’) on the auditorium lot will serve up to 40 people at a time, with a total of up to 100 expected to be served over the course of a year. In addition to the safer, healthier shelter that the cabins will provide, on-site staff will help connect residents to health care and job opportunities. The cabin community setting will also connect mainstream services such as MediCal, food stamps, GA and SSI; and assist them moving into temporary or permanent housing.

The site is voluntary, and residents can come and go as they please.

The cabin model includes windows and insulated walls, with a tan-painted exterior. The new cabins will include:

  • Basic sanitary services such as porta-potties, hand-washing stations and garbage service, privacy (two people per unit), site security and limited storage for personal possessions.
  • Food service (breakfast and dinner) and access to mobile shower facilities.
  • A variety of social services, such as housing navigation and connections to health, mental health and addiction-recovery service, for residents.

Mayor Libby Schaaf succinctly described the imperative for this program: “We can’t afford to sit around and do nothing. The inhumane response is inaction.”

As we seek solutions to our regional crisis of homelessness and housing insecurity – this is one small step among many initiatives – we must also balance the diverse needs of all residents who use our parks, sidewalks and other public spaces.

Learn more about the homeless crisis in Oakland, details about the City’s responses, and how you can help.

New Crossing Guards for Oakland Schools
Pedestrian safety, especially around schools in District 2, is a big priority for me as part of Safe Routes to School and broader “complete streets” approach to transportation and mobility in Oakland. Thanks to the $350,000 I helped to secure for 16 additional school crossing guards Parents have a little extra peace of mind, knowing their children will be safer walking to school. Two District 2 schools – Crocker Elementary (photo above) and Bella Vista Elementary – will benefit from this extra eyes-on-the-road for our kids.

Plan for New Housing around Lake Merritt BART Station
The BART Board of Directors voted this month to enter into an exclusive negotiating agreement with housing non-profit developer East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation and the Strada Investment Group to develop affordable housing in a transit-oriented development around the Lake Merritt station.

Helping to improve connections between Lake Merritt, Downtown, Chinatown and Laney College, the proposed mixed-used project will include 519 new apartments – 44% of them affordable – and more than 500,000 square feet of commercial space. About one-fifth of the new office space will go to local nonprofit organizations.


Thursday, September 27 | Grand Avenue Business Meeting
1:30-2:30 pm | Aisle 5, 3320 Grand Ave.
Join Councilmember Guillén and Grand Ave. merchants to collaborate on improving business on the street, and help work with the City of Oakland to address challenges facing local businesses and the neighborhood. Public Works, Transportation and Oakland Police staff will be there too. Thanks to the owners of Aisle 5 for hosting. For more info and RSVP: Pamela Erickson, perickson@oaklandca.gov, 510-238-7023

Wednesday, October 3 | Justice Jam on Gun Violence Prevention
6:30-8:00 pm | Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave.
Join us to find out more about the realities of gun violence and what is being done in Oakland to prevent it. Guest speakers include OPD Captain and Ceasefire Commander Ersie Joyner and Mike McLively from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Hosted by Pastor Jim Hopkins and the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.

Saturday, October 13 | Chinatown Community Health and Safety Fair
10:00 am-2:00 pm | Lincoln Recreation Center, 261 11th St.
Hosted by the Asian Advisory Committee on Crime and the Oakland Chinatown Lions Club, this annual community health and safety fair will provide personal health, dental, vision, education and safety-awareness classes for Oakland residents. This year’s safety discussion will be focused on homelessness issues. Police officers will conduct presentations in multiple languages, including Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Cambodian and English. Free food and beverages will be provided.

Monday, October 15 | Cleveland Heights Neighborhood Meeting
6:00-7:30 pm | St. Vartan Church, 650 Spruce St.
Please join Councilmember Guillén, neighbors and representatives from the Oakland Police Department and the Department of Transportation for the next Cleveland Heights neighborhood meeting. We will discuss updates on public safety and traffic issues in the neighborhood as well as any new concerns you may have. For more info and RSVP: Pamela Erickson, perickson@oaklandca.gov, 510-238-7023



Friday, October 5 | Junk Boat Re-opening and Lincoln Square Park Summer Nights
5:00-8:00 pm | Lincoln Square Park, 261 11th St.
It’s time to get back on board the Junk Boat! After years of heavy use at one of Oakland’s busiest recreation centers, the Lincoln Square Park’s iconic play structure – built nearly 50 years ago – has been modernized to bring it back to its past glory for children and families of all ages.

As part of the participatory-budget process I initiated for our district’s Community Development Block Grants, we secured funding to repair the large wood-and-metal play structure permanently moored in the heart of Chinatown. Public Works repaired slides, ladders and activity panels, and added safety flooring. The Junk Boat repairs complement last year’s renovations of the outdoor courts and gym at Lincoln Square Park.

Stick around for the last of the “Summer Nights” events. There will be free fun and food for all ages. Enjoy outdoor activities, music and dancing, sports and exercise, cultural performances, games and great food. For more info

City Unveils Cultural Plan for Just, Equitable Community
The City of Oakland last week released a new Cultural Plan, its first in 30years. The document, “Belonging in Oakland: A Cultural Development Plan,” provides a roadmap to support and lift up the role of culture in building a just and equitable city – so that every Oaklander in every neighborhood has access to cultural amenities. The plan was adopted by the City Council after a robust community-engagement process. Read the plan


Want to Work in a Library?
Need a part-time job? Work for the Oakland Public Library! For more details: rconstant@peralta.edu and request notifications about open positions.

Want to Travel out of the Country? Get Your Passport at Night
October 16, November 20, December 18 | 5:00-8:00 pm | Oakland City Hall, Room 201
The Office of the City Clerk is offering after-hour passport services (first-time passports, renewals, passport books and cards). Download the applications For more info or to schedule an appointment: Office of the City Clerk, cityclerk@oaklandca.gov