Abel’s eNews: Homeless shelters opened, Thanksgiving baskets, safer school routes, tenant protections expanded

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I would like to take a moment to express my appreciation and gratitude. We are so fortunate to live in a community of neighbors who look out for one another. I am constantly amazed by the generosity that so many of you have shown by donating once again to our annual Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway. 

As we enter the holiday season, I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all the neighbors and volunteers, residents and small businesses that make our city and District 2 a great place live, work and play. From our volunteers who take care of the Morcom Rose Garden to our 23rd Ave. street cleaning crew to the mighty Cleveland Cascade volunteers and the Wa Sung Community Service Club – you all make Oakland a wonderful place to live.

While we certainly have had our share of challenges this year; and I am thankful for your kindness, encouragement and engagement in fighting for Oakland.

Have a warm and happy Thanksgiving holiday! 



Saturday, November 18 | Thanksgiving Dinner Basket Giveaway
Our third annual Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway to provide holiday meals for 500 Oakland families is this Saturday, at Roosevelt Middle School (1926 E. 19th St.). There is still time to donate online – $40 can feed an Oakland family with a turkey basket with all the trimmings. If you’d like to be a part of this wonderful event, you can also volunteer your time. For questions about donating or volunteering: Jessica Chen, clchen@oaklandnet.com510-238-7022


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Safer Crossings around Edna Brewer School, Park Blvd.
Great news! I’ve been advocating for improved pedestrian safety, especially around our schools. At the Council’s Public Works Committee this week, we approved $1,895,000 in active-transportation funding for Park Blvd. A long time coming, this “Crossing to Safety” project on Park Boulevard near Edna Brewer Middle School was developed initially though a site assessment by City staff in partnership with Alameda County’s Safe Routes to Schools program. (photos: existing – left; right – proposed)

These improvements will help protect our school children, and also improve safety for congregants walking to Beth Jacob on Saturdays. Now that we have the funding, construction should be completed in 2020. 

Pedestrian-Safety Improvements in the Works around Garfield
I’ve been working with City staff to expedite street-safety improvements around Garfield Elementary School. This upgrades will include installing high-visibility crosswalks at 22nd Ave./Foothill Blvd., E.17th St./23rd Ave., and E. 17th St./22nd Ave.; and repainting red curbs at all school crosswalks and the yellow loading zone on Foothill Blvd. “School Bus Only” signs have been installed on Independence Way. Stop signs will be added to 23rd Ave. at 17th St. All crosswalks will be upgraded to high-visibility (“ladder” style) with advanced limit lines at this intersection. We’ll keep you posted on the progress of these and other street-design improvements.


City Opens Winter Shelters This Week
The City of Oakland, in collaboration with Emeryville and Alameda County has developed a Winter Response strategy to address the shelter needs of homeless people during the winter. Shelters opened this week and will operate through April 16, 2018.  

In West Oakland, St. Vincent de Paul (675 23rd St.) in West Oakland and the Crossroads Shelter (7515 International Blvd.) in East Oakland will be open every night of the winter. St. Mary’s Center (925 Brockhurst St. at San Pablo Ave.) will serve vulnerable populations, with 25 beds for seniors. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul facility (675 23rd St.) will accommodate up to 65 single adults primarily through a voucher system. For info: St. Vincent de Paul, 510-638-7600, Operation Dignity, 510-882-7941, BACS, 510-238-5091, or the Oakland Housing Assistance Center, 510-238-6182

More Homeless Funding for Safe Haven Centers and Winter Shelters
Last week, the City Council approved $1 million in grants over the next two years to administer Safe Haven outdoor navigation centers, including $600,000 to Operation Dignity and $400,000 to Bay Area Community Services.

As part of its efforts to help provide more shelter for homeless people during the upcoming winter months (running through June 2018), the City Council also approved a $250,000 grant to the Society of St. Vincent De Paul and a $108,000 grant to Bay Area Community Services, and will expand funding to St. Mary’s Center by $15,000 and to the East Oakland Community Project by $22,000.

Expanding Relocation Assistance for Tenants
Oakland renters who are evicted from their apartments due to a property owner’s code-compliance violations are usually entitled to relocation-assistance payments from the landlord. Tenants can also receive relocation payments when the property owner completely withdraws the unit from the rental market.

At their meeting last week, the City Council expanded those protections to a larger set of Oakland tenants. Relocation payments are now also required when renters are displaced by owner move-ins and condominium conversions. The amount per tenant household is $6,500 for a studio/one-bedroom unit, $8,000 for a two-bedroom unit and $9,875 for three or more bedroom unit. For more info: Rent Adjustment Program510-238-3721

Interim Protection Measures for Neighborhoods around Ballpark Site
Councilmember Guillén and the City’s planning department convened a public meeting on Monday to gather additional feedback about proposed interim measures to help protect Chinatown and Eastlake neighborhoods surrounding the proposed ballpark site from market speculation and displacement of residents and small businesses in the wake of the team’s announcement. Read the report

These market pressures could contribute significantly to unfair rent hikes and displace already struggling residents and small businesses. To help mitigate these immediate impacts, we’re working to develop interim controls on the approval of new large-scale developments (50,000+ square feet of new floor area) and new hotels, building demolitions, condominium conversions and auto-fee parking lots in the portions of the neighborhoods near the Peralta site.

The specific area that will be most impacted and in which these two-year interim protections would apply is defined by the boundaries of Franklin St. to the west; 14th St., Lake Merritt and Foothill Blvd. to the north; 14th Ave. to the east; and Interstate 880 to the south.

The proposal will come back to the Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee in January to hear more community feedback and further information and analysis from staff.

Tune into my interview with Comcast about the proposed ballpark

Housing for People, New Trees for Birds
The trees recently cut down between 13th and 14th streets between Jackson and Harrison in District 2 were part of the site preparation for the construction of two new housing projects. The conditions of the permit approval were coordinated with the Audubon Society. During Measure DD improvements, the birds migrated to 14th St. The plan calls for relocating the birds and nests back to Lake Merritt. The trees needed to be cut now before the end of this month so as not to disturb the birds’ nesting cycle. New trees will be planted as part of the project, and the net number of trees will be more than doubled.

Ban on Border-Wall Contractors Approved
My proposal to ban vendors who help design or construct President Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border from seeking contracts with the City of Oakland was approved by the City Council last week. Our local action has encouraged other cities around the country to act.  A special shout-out to District 2’s own Nikki Fortuno Bas and her advocacy at Working Partnerships for all they’ve done to build a broad coalition across the country. Learn more

Oakland is putting our values where our dollars are. We should be working on security here at home and investing in infrastructure in our cities rather than a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border that is estimated to cost upwards of $70 billion to build and more than $150 million a year to maintain.

Local governments and communities should determine how their local dollars are spent. So while this is a federal decision, our local ordinance is a practical reaction and appropriate supplement to whatever actions the president and Congress take.

The Council action amends the Oakland municipal code to forbid companies that contract with the federal government to offer services or construction of the border wall from applying for City contracts. If approved by the full Council, the prohibition will be included in the City's procurement procedures and all contracts, including Request for Proposals.

The ban will have no impact on providing public services or creating local jobs, as funding for City contracts would go to other companies that are not involved in building the border wall.


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Riding with the Public Works Crew
I had the opportunity to visit with one of our public works crews last Friday – a kind of a ride-along to see first-hand the kind of work they do every day. As a member of the Council’s Public Works Committee, it gave me more insight into the department’s many responsibilities. We’re grateful for all they do to make Oakland a great place.

I had the opportunity to visit with one of our public works crews last Friday – a kind of a ride-along to see first-hand the kind of work they do every day. As a member of the Council’s Public Works Committee, it gave me more insight into the department’s many responsibilities. We’re grateful for all they do to make Oakland a great place.

Sewers are not something on top of mind everyday, but after my visit, I learned to appreciate the work that our workers do day in and day out to keep the system running as smoothly as possible. I learned that most of our pipes, particularly in District 2, are more than 100 years old and many of our clay pipes are deteriorating.

Using cameras and a remote-control joystick apparatus, we were able to use GIS maps of our sewer system, clean up clogged pipes, inspect for leaking pipes and make progress on the Landmark Clean Water Agreement (consent decree) for the East Bay. The consent decree calls for rehabilitating 13 miles of sewer pipes per year and clean the entire sewer system by 2018. Many of the sewers are not easy to get through, and sometimes the crews have to traverse unwalkable hillsides and valleys to get the job done. I have lots of respect for our public works crews.

Winter Holidays in Oakland 
Plaid Friday, the holiday weekend event for small businesses in Oakland, will take place November 24-26. This year, nearly 200 businesses are participating to encourage shoppers to explore Oakland’s shopping districts and meet local merchants. Plaid Friday Weekend will feature entertainment, holiday decorations, sales and extended hours, special events, artisan pop-ups and free parking. For more info

The Lakeshore Business Improvement District is bringing the fun back to the Avenue for the sixth year in a row. On December 8-9, the carriage rides will be back along with a face painter from 4:00- 6:00 pm on Friday and 2:00-4:00 pm on Saturday. Organizers are looking for a group to sing carols for a stipend. To recommend a group: pamela@lakeshoreoakland.com


Monday, November 20 | Free Haircuts, Hygiene Kits, Flu Shots at Library’s Care Village 
10:00 am-2:00 pm | Oakland Main Library, 125 14th St
To provide help to people in need, Oakland’s Main Library is hosting a “Care Village,” with barbers, healthcare professionals, and other services and benefits. Licensed barbers and cosmetologists will be on hand, along with the Roots Community Health Center’s Mobile Clinic, whose staff can administer flu shots and offer other medical assistance.

People are welcome to drop by for free giveaways such as hygiene packs, clothes and a hot meal. This volunteer-led event and all services are free. Haircuts will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. For more info: mtominaga@oaklandlibrary.org

Oakland Launches New Emergency Alert System 
The Oakland Fire Department announced today that it is officially launching AC Alert, a new emergency notification platform that will allow the City to contact thousands of residents in seconds to alert them to an emergency right away. This service allows us to quickly alert residents in the event of a local emergency or critical incident near them, and provide information about protective actions they may need to take. The City will send messages about red-flag warnings, severe weather, fire, floods, evacuation orders, shelter-in-place instructions, hazardous-materials releases and other emergencies. When the City issues a notification about a potential safety hazard or concern, you will receive a message through voice, text, email or TTY/TDD communication methods.  Sign up

AC Alert will complement the Nixle system used by the Oakland Police Department to send email and text updates about crime trends, incidents and events directly from officers. To register: text OPD2 to 888777 or visit www.Nixle.com