Abel’s eNews: More money for affordable housing, improving street safety, neighborhood cleanup days

Happy New Year! 2017 came and went at a fast pace – with something new facing our communities seemingly every week on a local, state and national level.

Looking back, I am proud of all that we have accomplished together here to make Oakland a better place to live, work and raise our families. While we have made progress in the last year, it is clear that our work continues.

This year, we will focus on working together to build and preserve more affordable housing, strengthen the quality of life in our neighborhoods, improve safety in and around our schools, repair our streets, improve access to our libraries, and provide shelter and services for the most vulnerable – our seniors, children and homeless – among us.

Working together with your help, I will continue the fight for more affordable neighborhoods, a healthier and safer city where we can ensure equitable prosperity and sustain our progressive values. Together, I know we will continue to make progress on our shared values and our vision for Oakland’s future.

I look forward to continuing to build upon what we’ve accomplished and working with you as your Council representative in 2018. Onward! #OakD2



Council Allocates More Funding for Affordable Housing
At its December 18 meeting, the City Council designated a total of $48 million to help build new affordable housing and preserve existing affordable housing. The Council approved $13.5 million from the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund to be used as affordable-housing loans for up to 10 new developments, and approved up to $34.4 million in County housing-bond money earmarked for Oakland to support the construction of 518 units of affordable housing.

We also approved $9.5 million from the City’s Measure KK Affordable Housing and Infrastructure Bond, which I co-authored, to preserve 20 housing units and convert 66 existing units to affordable apartments. Read more about these developments in the East Bay Times.

Bringing Fairness to Tenant Move-out Agreements 
I have introduced legislation, with the City Attorney and Councilmember Kalb, to bring clarity and due process to tenant move-out agreements that are offered by landlords. My office has received numerous complaints about buyout offers being made and rescinded and unfair negotiation practices. We hope to bring clarity and help even playing field to ensure a fair and transparent process. These reporting and disclosure requirements help tenants make better-informed decisions when negotiating with property owners.

The item was heard in the Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee at its January 9 meeting, and was placed on the pending list as staff looks at funding ($150,000) for the program. Staff estimates that there will be 400-500 declarations and 150-180 agreements reached per year under the program.

New Policy on Public Lands Moves Forward
I met with a group of small, minority- and women-owned businesses earlier this week to gather feedback on my proposal for the jobs component of a new public lands policy. I’ve been working on this public-lands policy with the community and City staff to ensure a more transparent process for the use of public parcels, establish a strong priority for constructing new affordable housing on those sites, and generate good-paying jobs for Oaklanders as part of an overall effort to our public land works for public good. For a copy of the draft jobs proposal: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com510-238-7246

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Safe-Routes Improvements around Garfield Elementary
We are making good progress on making it safer for children to get to and from Garfield Elementary School. Public Works staff painted more visible crosswalks and stop signs, and created a bus drop-ff zone and drop-off/pick-up zones to improve student safety in time for the start of the new school term this week.

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Year-End Stats Show Progress in Crime Prevention
City officials announced a steady decline in Oakland’s violent crime rate over the past five years. The FBI’s violent crime index – which tracks murder, rape, robbery and assault – has dropped 23% in Oakland from 2012 to 2017. The steepest reductions were in shootings (down 50%), homicides (down 42%) and robbery (down 38%). The homicide rate was the second-lowest total since 1985.

“Our efforts have always focused on interrupting violence now as it is occurring and preventing future violence. Oakland’s holistic approach – addressing the complex and multiple risk factors associated with violence: poverty, unemployment, discrimination, substance abuse, educational failure, fragmented families, and domestic abuse – has contributed to the significant decline in violence,” Said Peter Kim, interim director of the new violence prevention department.

OPD also continued a sharp decline in police use-of-force incidents, dropping 75% over the past five years.



14th Avenue Cleanup
The City has recently invested nearly $5 million to improve the 14th Ave. streetscape. Our volunteers, led by Luke Kosar, gathered last month to clean up the median, and I was happy to join them to pick about six bags of trash and a discarded office chair. New grass has been planted in the median, and the new storm drains and swales have performed well during the first few storms of winter. There was no reported flooding during this week’s rain. After the cleanup activities, we met up at Philomena for fellowship and pizza. If you want to organize cleanup activities in your neighborhood or join other residents in ongoing efforts in District 2, please let me know at aguillen@oaklandnet.com.


Saturday, January 13 | Madison Park Cleanup – MLK Day of Service
9:30-11:30 am | Madison Square Park, 810 Jackson St.
Join us as we honor Dr. King’s legacy by cleaning our city: clean up streets and sidewalks, remove graffiti, pick up illegal dumping and trash, and plant trees around Madison Park. We will be planting 20 new trees this weekend, and will need volunteers moving forward to help keep them watered (with help from “Trees for Oakland”) – let us know if you want to help out during the coming year. Water and tools will be provided. For cleanup info: Karely Ordaz Salto, kmordazsalto@oaklandnet.com510-238-7340 For volunteer opportunities to maintain our new trees in the future: Jessica Chen, clchen@oaklandnet.com


Saturday, January 13 and Monday, January 15 | Weeding and Deadheading at Morcom Rose Garden
9:00 am-1:00 pm | Morcom Rose Garden, 700 Jean St.
There’s always lots of pruning to do in January. Join the Friends of the Morcom Rose Garden and the East Bay Rose Society for weeding, deadheading, conversation and fresh air. Bring your hat, gloves, pruners, trowels, knee pads and water bottle. Long sleeves, long pants and closed-toe shoes are recommended. Parking is usually available on Oakland Ave. or Olive Ave. 

On Monday, Morcom Rose Garden will celebrate the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service with volunteers from the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Williams Sonoma and neighbors to prune, weed, and clean and prepare beds for planting. For more info


Monday, January 15 | Lake Merritt Cleanup – MLK Day of Service
9:00 am-12:00 pm | Meet behind Camron-Stanford House, 1418 Lakeside Dr.
Join the Lake Merritt Weed Warriors as we honor Dr. King’s legacy by cleaning our city: Weeding, mulching and cleaning up around the south end of the Lake. If you have gloves or a favorite gardening tool, bring them along. Loaners are available if you don’t. For more info: Jessica Chen, clchen@oaklandnet.com


Wednesday, January 17 | Community Meeting on Lakeshore Cul-de-Sac Parking 
5:30-7:00 pm | Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave.
Join Councilmember Guillén, Transportation Director Ryan Russo and Public Works staff to share your concerns about parking and related issues in the 1200 Lakeshore Ave. cul-de-sac (south side of Lake Merritt) and discuss potential changes needed to improve the quality of life for residents in the neighborhood, including limited-duration parking. For more info: Marquita Price, mprice@oaklandnet.com


Thursday, January 18 | Free Websites and 0% Loans for Small Businesses
6:00-7:30 pm | 439 International Blvd., Suite 1
Interested in partnering with a local youth for a free starter website? Curious about what it takes to secure a 0% loan for your small business? Join Hack the Hood, KIVA and other small-business providers as we answer your questions about the application process and provide free, hands-on help. For more info and RSVP


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Honoring Rod Dibble
At Saturday’s memorial at The Alley, I had the honor to present a City proclamation celebrating Rod Dibble (1932-2017) and his more than 50 years of contributions to Oakland’s arts and cultural scene. Afterwards, we sang Oakland, "We're For You" in his honor – a fitting tribute to our beloved music legend!

An abiding, neighborhood institution on Grand Avenue, Dibble began playing background piano at Larry Blake’s on Telegraph Avenue in the early 1950s before joining the scene at The Alley in 1960. While the Oakland neighborhood around The Alley changed over the decades, he remained a constant, making his music and the community spirit he inspired a vital part of our city.


Saturday, January 13 | Cleveland Heights and Borax Smith Walk
10:00 am-12:30 pm | meet at bottom of Cleveland Cascade on Lakeside Ave.
Join your friends and neighbors for a study in contrasts between four different urban stairways in four different states of access. This three-mile walk will explore the F.M. “Borax” Smith estate area and a house owned by Henry J. Kaiser – and more. Expect a moderate-paced walk, some stairs and lots of local history.

For more info Bad weather: Heavy rain cancels, walk will continue with light rain. Bring water, a hat and/or sunscreen as needed. Get there by transit: Lakeshore Ave. is served by AC Transit, and various bus lines come nearby on Grand Ave. or MacArthur Blvd. Sign up on Eventbrite so organizers know how many people to expect.

Oakland Restaurant Week
The 8th edition of Oakland Restaurant Week (January 11-21) will highlight the incredible culinary offerings found in our dierse city. The program encourages local residents and visitors to explore new dining options or revisit some of their favorites. Restaurants may participate by developing special prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menus at five different price points or create a unique dining experience (chef’s table, wine pairing meal, etc.). To register for the the promotion: Jaymee Rayford, jaymee@visitoakland.com

“Working in America” Exhibit
Until February 18 | Oakland Main Library, 125 14th St.
“Working for America,” a traveling photography exhibit presented by Project&, is inspired by and celebrates the tradition and humanity of Studs Terkel’s influential books about working people. The exhibit features images by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Lynsey Addario. For info: mtominaga@oaklandlibrary.org


More Free WiFi
I’ve been advocating form more free WiFi throughout Oakland, and wanted to let you know about a few City locations where we will be implementing OAKWiFi throughout 2018. Check out the map of the various public facilities that currently have broadband connectivity and thus can be connected to an access point and provide WiFi to the community. Yes, I know the coverage area needs to be expanded, but it’s a start.

Responding to Weather-Related Problems
This week’s stormy weather may have created some problems with downed trees, clogged storm drains and flooding in your neighborhood. For Public Works assistance, use the See.Click.Fix mobile app to report problems, email callcenter@oaklandnet.com or call 510-615-5566 (for after hours, press 0). These are the best City contacts for weather-related service calls such as downed trees, limbs or regulatory signs and poles, major flooding, sewer overflows, roof leaks, mudslides, street erosion, malfunctioning traffic signals, sink holes, and other non-police/fire emergencies.

For downed power lines or if you smell natural gas, leave the area immediately and then call 911 or PG&E at 800-743-5000.

In the event of flood conditions, please be careful and safe by avoiding walking, riding or driving across standing water.

Volunteer with Adopt-a-Drain: Consider volunteering with the City’s Adopt-A-Drain program to keep a storm drain near their home or business free of debris. That means there are 6,400 storm drains in Oakland waiting to be adopted. Sign up: adoptadrainoakland.com or call 510- 238-7630.

Free Sandbags: Oakland Public Works is providing residents and businesses with emergency sandbags (up to 10 per household) and plastic sheeting (up to 20 feet per household) while supplies last, to help divert runoff away from buildings and prevent flooding and mudslides: 

  • Municipal Service Center, 7101 Edgewater Dr. M-F, 8:00 am-4:00 pm, Sat-Sun, 8:00 am-4:30 pm
  • Drainage Services Facility, 5921 Shepherd Canyon Rd. M-F, 8:00 am-4:00 pm