Abel’s eNews: revising the budget, revitalizing housing, reclaiming Cinco de Mayo, reimagining street safety

Update on the City Budget Process

Earlier this month, Mayor Schaaf and the City Administration released a proposed budget for FY 2017-19, which seeks to close the projected $32.5 million budget shortfall.

INDEPENDENT REVIEW. The City Council is responsible for reviewing this proposal and adopting a final budget by June 30. To help us with that responsibility, as chair of the Council’s Finance and Management Committee, I have asked the Council to add the municipal-budget expertise of Harvey Rose & Associates to provide an independent review in conjunction with our deliberations.

COMMUNITY PRIORITIES. We take our responsibility about funding vital programs and services seriously as we begin the process over the next several weeks to examine the budget carefully to identify any additional operational efficiencies and cost savings, and ensure that this budget reflects community-wide and district priorities – which councilmembers have been establishing over the past three months – that Oaklanders care about.

Thursday, May 25 | 6:30-8:30 pm | Lincoln Square Recreation Center, 250 10th St.
The City is holding seven budget town halls this month, including one at the Lincoln Square Recreation Center. If you can’t attend one of the forums, email your comments to budgetsuggestions@oaklandnet.com. Please take a moment to also email your budget priorities to my office: Richard Raya rraya@oaklandnet.com  

For more info: The Budget Explorer website offers interactive charts, graphs and tables to better illustrate how the City will use its resources. Budget overview Read more about the budget


New Housing to Replace Garage

District 2 continues to lead the way in creating equitable, community-driven, transit-oriented development in Oakland: The developer and the community reached an agreement about plans to replace the Merchants Garage facility at 1314 Franklin St., one block from BART, with 634 new homes (including approximately 27 to 54 new units of permanently affordable units on-site), nearly 17,000 square feet of retail space and a substantial community-benefits package that will help the neighborhood in a variety of ways.

Taken together, the recent housing developments in District 2 have established a pattern of collaborative consensus-building, and can provide guidance for future developers in their project planning and community engagement.

When this project was first proposed, I shared my desire that it provide affordable housing on-site and substantial community benefits. I believe this agreement fulfills that vision. Over the past several months, there have been more than 80 community meetings with various neighborhood and community stakeholders to shape the development. Thanks to Carmel Partners and the community for their diligence, hard work and collaborative spirit in making this happen.

The project will provide a much-needed mix of market-rate and affordable housing. The plans call for either 5% of the units to be made available to households at 50% AMI or 10% at 80% AMI. The new ground-floor retail – creating more foot traffic and putting more “eyes of the street” from the new residents and shoppers – will increase community vitality and safety in the area, especially at night.

In addition to the on-site affordable housing, the building’s owner will also seek to lease approximately 2,400 square feet of retail space at a reduced, below-market rate to a community-serving business compatible with residences in the neighborhood.

Other community benefits include: $50,000 for the Lincoln Recreation Center, $200,000 for participatory budgeting to support anti-displacement efforts (added to the $250,000 from the Wood Partners’ 226 13th St. community-benefits agreement), technical assistance to the Black Arts Movement Business District, union labor and a 20% local-hire goal during construction, working with local job centers. The agreement will also create a public art advisory board. The development will also conduct a high-level feasibility study of a shuttle bus service in the14th Street corridor, similar to the Broadway Free B and Emeryville Emery-Go-Round.

The new building will generate approximately $3.5 million in annual tax revenues for the City ($1.1 million for voter-approved bond measures for parks, public safety, libraries and other services plus $2.4 million to the General Fund), and a total of $18.4 million from impact fees for transportation, capital improvements, sewer mitigation, public art, public schools, water and wastewater infrastructure, and one-time administrative funding.

The construction of the revitalized block will also help create jobs (over 7,500 worker months of construction) and includes commitments to union participation and local hire programs, including with District 2’s Laney College. The mixed-use site is projected to generate $13.2 million in additional annual retail spending in Oakland and another $3.7 million on services, which will support predominantly small businesses in the area.

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Revitalizing Homes for Seniors
Our Rebuild Together volunteers are making a real difference in improving homes in District 2. My deep appreciation to Wendel Rosen and Bell Investment Advisors for all their work to help low-income Oaklanders like Ms. Cobb stay in their homes. Volunteers are installing a wheelchair ramp and rail bars, painting and doing some landscaping to ensure the home is more habitable and functional for Ms. Cobb who use a walker to get around and live alone. Hope others will pitch in at the next Rebuild Together site. To volunteer for a project near you

Traffic Safety around Garfield Elementary | Walk Audit
Last week, Councilmember Guillén’s staff participated in a “walk audit” with City public works and transportation staff, Safe Routes to Schools team members, parent leaders, East Bay Asian Youth Center and Principal Arenas to document the traffic-safety needs at Garfield Elementary School. The Safe Routes to Schools team is now developing a set of recommendations for the City and the school district based on this walking workshop. If you have any questions about this process or want to share your ideas: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com


Monday, May 15 | Community Meeting on Recruiting New Fire Chief
7:00 pm | Garfield Elementary School, 1640 22nd Ave.
The City of Oakland is launching a nationwide search for a permanent Fire Chief. Help ensure that the selection of the new Fire Chief who reflects the values, standards and needs of our community. Join us for one of the public meetings this month to share your ideas and concerns. Candidate screening will be held in June, and it is anticipated an appointment will be made in July. You can also submit responses to an online survey: English; there will also be Spanish Chinese Vietnamese surveys, but they are currently in development. 

Wednesday, May 17 | Town Hall with Police Chief
7:00-8:00 pm | Lakeshore Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave.
Join Councilmembers Guillén for a town hall with Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and Public Safety Director Venus Johnson. For more info: rraya@oaklandnet.com

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Saturday, May 27 | Abel’s Office Hours in East Lake
1:00pm-3:00 pm | Akat Café Kalli
Councilmember Guillén holds monthly “office hours” out in the community along with “Walk and Talks” throughout the year. We were in Bella Vista and Cleveland Heights the past couple of months, and will be in the East Lake neighborhood this month. Make it part of your Memorial Day weekend. Stop by and share your thoughts about the neighborhood. “Walk-ins” are welcome, but you can reserve a time slot to avoid waiting: 510-238-7246


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Second Annual State of Latinos Forum
The progress and well-being of the Latino community, which now comprises a plurality of California residents, is directly tied to the prosperity of our cities, our state and our nation. Last week, I sponsored and moderated a distinguished panel of local experts and leaders to explore the impact of the Latino community on the economy, civic participation, education and civil rights in this unprecedented time in history. This year’s forum, held at Pandora in Oakland, was aimed at “reclaiming” Cinco de Mayo as an opportunity for community engagement, and included executives from Centro Legal de la Raza, Public Advocates and the Latino Community Foundation, and experts from UC Berkeley sharing practical strategies and lessons learned. Check out the highlights. Thanks to Pandora and all of our sponsors for helping make this event a success.

Oakland Fiesta Sin Fronteras 

Thousands of residents and visitors celebrated Fiesta Sin Fronteras last weekend. The two-day cultural event, centered around the Cinco de Mayo holiday, showcased our city’s many connections to Latin America and the immigrant cultures that keep those connections alive. The activities included a neighborhood walk from the Oakland Art Murmur all the way to the Jack London waterfront, featuring music, art, salsa dancing and more. At the Fruitvale Transit Village, mariachis, Aztec dancers and authentic Latin American cuisine were in full swing. Oakland Indie Alliance and the Oakland Food Truck Association held a citywide “Dining for Justice” fundraising event with more than 30 Oakland restaurants, bars and mobile food vendors. A portion of the proceeds went to support Centro Legal de la Raza and other immigrant-services organizations.


Small Businesses in Oakland
As part of Small Business Week (May 1-6), the City of Oakland recognized local small businesses for the vital role that they play in driving our economic growth and contributing to our community’s quality of life.

I had the pleasure to acknowledge the work of Ruth Stroup (photo, second from left) for educating people about how insurance works and encouraging neighbors to keep dollars in the community by working with local businesses. Ruth won Oakland Magazine’s “Best Insurance Agent” award the past two years, and is a strong supporter of the East Bay Women in Business Roundtable and a boardmember of the YMCA of the East Bay and the Oakland East Bay Symphony. She dedicates 5% of her business’ gross revenue to local nonprofits, and has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Oakland schools and other local causes, and volunteers her time and resources at numerous community events.

We also recognized Yuen Hop Company, which has been a fixture in Oakland’s Chinatown for 86 years (824 Webster St.). Yuen Hop has long been run by Sylvia Quan and her husband David, who represents the third generation – and now it’s a fourth generation – operating this grocery store and food-production business.

Oakland’s Participatory Budgeting Earns Praise
Our pilot program to better engage the public in determining budget priorities received some national publicity this month. “Next City,” which covers local strategies to foster equitable economic and environmental change, examined the innovative Participatory Budgeting process in District 2 to identify community preferences for federal grants that fund a portion of the City’s programs in low-to-moderate income communities. This is the first time in the United States that participatory budgeting has been used to allocate federal funds, and we’re very excited to have so many residents engaged in determining how these community dollars should be spent. Read more


Mobile Food Vendor Applications Open June 5
The City of Oakland will be accepting applications for the new food-vending program starting on Monday, June 5 (open through June 30). The City Council adopted a new mobile food-vending program in March to permit food trucks, pushcarts, stationary carts and group-site events in select commercial and industrial areas. This new program expands the areas where food vending can currently be permitted. City staff will also hold workshops in May to explain the program and the application process. For more info and an interactive map of permit areas