Abel’s eNews: Preventing homelessness, fighting illegal dumping, public land policy, improving streets/parks, Lake cleaning crews, Chinatown safety

Preventing Homelessness Is a First-Step Measure
Last week, the City launched its “Keep Oakland Housed” program to help prevent residents from losing their housing and support those living in temporary housing and the City Council also voted to expand our winter shelter beds so they will serve homeless residents year-round. We allocated $300,000 for a safe-parking program in partnership with the faith community as one of the many emergency responses to homelessness in our city.

Read more about the past year’s efforts to address homelessness in Oakland.

Protecting Residential Hotels for Very Low-Income Oaklanders
The current moratorium to prevent the further loss of Oakland’s residential hotels expires in December. In advance of that date, the City Council is considering permanent regulations that will restrict the conversion, demolition and certain types of rehabilitation of residential hotels. The item will be heard at the Council’s November 27 meeting. 

More Bulky Block Parties to Help Fight Illegal Dumping
The three recent “Bulky Block Parties” across the city – free events where Oakland residents legally disposed of large unwanted items such as mattresses, couches, tires and even a few kitchen sinks – were such a big hit that the City will throw another one in November and start a once-a-month schedule of drop-off events beginning in January.

More than 1,200 residents participated and dropped off 157 tons of waste, including more than 300 mattresses and nearly 100 large appliances.

The next Bulky Block Party will occur following the Thanksgiving holiday – Saturday, November 24 – and continue on the last Saturday of every month starting in the new year.

Oakland also has curbside service. Learn more about curbside Bulky Pickup service.

New Public Lands Policy in the Works
I have sponsored a new public lands policy that the City Council will be considering in the next few weeks, following a review by the City Attorney’s office. I strongly believe that the development of City-owned land should prioritize the construction of affordable housing (perhaps with exceptions when the parcel is too small or poses other obstacles that make housing construction impractical).

The public lands proposal that I have brought forward – with input and guidance from non-profit housing developers and community groups – formally establishes that priority. I’ve been deeply involved in the policy nuances and practical logistics of “public land for public good” for the past 3-1/2 years, and we have spent many months working with stakeholders to craft the current proposal.

At least for the near future, City-owned land should be prioritized for building more affordable housing (perhaps with exceptions when the parcel is too small or poses other obstacles that make housing construction impractical). During this extreme crisis of housing affordability and housing insecurity throughout the region, it might be justified to require any public lands sold over the next certain number of years go toward affordable housing.

Since land costs are always a significant factor in making housing development pencil out, it makes sense to use City-owned parcels for projects that offer a high percentage of affordable units, a higher number of total units, and those affordable at the lowest AMI levels.

My proposal prioritizes affordable housing, inclusionary housing that blends market-rate with affordable units in a development project, and quality employment opportunities through a Jobs Element that promotes the use of Project Labor Agreements, local-hire goals, job-training resources and living-wage standards when developing City-owned land.

Improving Public Safety in Chinatown
Earlier this year, I secured an additional $75,000 to provide more street lighting and security cameras in Chinatown. The Chinatown Chamber of Commerce is working with OPD and Alameda County Sheriff staff to identify the best locations – 10 priority intersections of streets where most thefts and assaults occur and the routes that perpetrators enter and exit Chinatown – for the extra security. We will keep you posted on progress. For more info: Jessica Chan, clchen@oaklandca.gov

New Restroom at San Antonio Park
Our work to improve San Antonio Park continues. The old restroom was demolished today. The electrical and plumbing preparations will then begin, and the new restroom will be installed next month.

The track around the soccer field was refreshed with decomposed granite earlier this month, and we are in the process of identifying a company to repair the field’s artificial turf.

I’m also working on securing funds to fix the soccer field and dilapidated tennis courts as our next step. If you would like to help: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandca.gov

Updates on Street-Safety Improvements
Public Works crews are on the street around town, putting $25 million in Measure KK funds approved by the City Council in the 2017-19 budget.

Last week, the City Council approved allocation of $10 million in federal and state funds to seismically retrofit the 23rd Ave. bridge between E. 11th St. and E. 12th St.

Find out what’s going on with streets in your neighborhood with the City of Oakland’s new Active Projects Map.

The City Council also voted to oppose Proposition 6, the state measure on the November 6 ballot that would take millions of dollars in funding from Oakland’s re-paving efforts.


Cleaning Up around Lake Merritt
As part of the Council’s mid-cycle budget, I was happy that my pilot program to engage our unsheltered residents in cleaning Lake Merritt while providing them social services was approved. This program, run by Downtown Streets, will help the homeless help themselves while helping to tidy up our parks and open spaces. The City Council allocated $85,000 in its mid-cycle budget to hire homeless residents to help green and clean the city.

After getting a start last week, one crew member said, “we are making a natural area look beautiful for people who are homeless here and people who are walking through.”

The first crew sets out from its temporary tool storage space in Uptown Downtown. The crew picked up gallons of debris scattered around one abandoned recycling bin (before-after photos) at Snow Park.



Join Our Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway
Join me to provide hearty holiday meals for 500 underserved Oakland families for Thanksgiving!

Although many District 2 residents are doing well in today’s economy, there are still all-too-many children and seniors struggling to get food. Our annual Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway this year will again provide a bountiful Thanksgiving meal for 500 Oakland families.

This year’s Basket Giveaway Day will be on Saturday, November 17. Make a donation or sign up to volunteer If you have any questions: Jessica Chen, at clchen@oaklandca.gov or 510-238-7022

If you’d like to write the check, please make check payable to “Family Bridges, Inc.,” and include “Councilmember Guillén’s Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway” on the memo line; and mail to Councilmember Guillén’s Office (Jessica Chen), 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 2nd Floor, Oakland, CA 94612.

Stopping Sex Trafficking in Oakland
I have heard from many District 2 residents who are concerned about sex trafficking in their neighborhoods – where some children as young as 12 years old are being trafficked in Oakland today. Last month alone, OPD rescued 14 juveniles from trafficking. Trafficking also affects the quality of life for residents who should be able to feel safe in their neighborhood. Stopping this intolerable, heart-wrenching attack on our young people and on our neighborhoods has been a top priority of mine from Day One, and I remain committed to ending trafficking in our community.

This summer, I secured $50,000 to help implement new legislation to tow cars of johns and $25,000 for prevention education for Oakland Unified School District youth. Last year, I fought for $200,000 in the City budget to help provide housing and shelter grants to organizations combating the sexual exploitation of children in Oakland and organized a “Take Back the Streets” march along International Blvd. with neighbors to educate our community on how to report trafficking.

This is progress, but we need to do more. I am committed to continuing our fight to put an end to this abuse and violence. To learn more the issue and how you can get involved: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandca.gov

Scooter Town Hall | Contacts for Complaints
Thanks to everybody who attended the Oakland Scooter Town Hall earlier this week. A number of residents spoke about the need to regulate scooter parking to keep sidewalks clear and accessible for pedestrians and urged more investments in bike lanes citywide to make it safer to ride scooters and bikes. If you missed the town hall, you can share your views at scootershare@oaklandca.gov. Read more

Contact OAK 311 (call 311, email OAK311@oaklandca.gov, use the OAK311 app, visit 311.oaklandca.gov) to report improperly parked scooters. Complaints can also be sent directly: Bird - hello@bird.com; Lime - support@limebike.com; Skip - support@skipscooters.com

Bilingual Poll Workers Needed
Language barriers can make it difficult for some non-English-speaking citizens to vote. Join the poll workers to help our entire community to vote. (Beyond doing a civic good deed, poll workers can earn up to $205.) Apply to be a poll worker on Tuesday, November 6.


Grants to Quake-Proof Your Home | Apply by November 13
To help protect your family and home from earthquake damage, you can receive a $3,000 grant toward a seismic retrofit from Earthquake Brace + Bolt, a state-supported and FEMA-funded program. These grants are available to Californians with older houses in earthquake prone areas. See if your house qualifies. Apply by Tuesday, November 13.