Abel's eNews: second-unit rules revised, Lincoln rec makeover underway, Parkway Cascade improvements

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Oakland Earth Day in District 2

I love Oakland every day but my smile is a little wider on Earth Day – when simple yet significant actions by people sharing a cause make big impacts in small places. Thanks to all the neighbors for joining us to celebrate the true meaning of Earth Day. A special shout-out to East Oakland octogenerian Pat McGinnis for holding down the block on 23rd Ave. this past Saturday.

My staff and I worked with neighborhood residents at several District 2 locations during Earth Day clean-up and beautification efforts, including a Chinatown clean-up with the Cantonese Speaking Police Academy Alumni Association, EBALDC and UBER volunteers in the San Antonio neighborhood, the 23rd Avenue Beautification Group, and adopt-a-spot activities around Highland Hospital as well as the weeding and deadheading with the Morcom Rose Garden Deadheaders.

Citywide, hundreds of volunteers picked up litter, removed graffiti, weeded and planted, and restored native habitat at more than 90 Oakland locations. The sites included parks, creeks and waterways, as well as neighborhood cleanups of streets, sidewalks and schools.

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Makeover at Lincoln Rec Has Begun
Thank you, Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors Foundation for your tremendous support of our efforts to improve our recreational facility for residents of all ages in Chinatown. As a result, the indoor gym and outdoor courts at Lincoln Square Park are now being refurbished. First up is the gym’s indoor court (photos). The courts will be temporarily closed during the renovations, which may inconvenience some Lincoln Rec users – thanks for your patience during the repairs. We are looking forward to the new courts and reopening the whole recreation center in mid-May. Please send a tweet to @KDTrey5 and @gswfoundation to express your thanks for their support of Lincoln Rec, using hashtag #LincolnRecOakland.   

Streetscape and Mobility Improvements in District 2
Good news for getting around: The Council’s Public Works Committee approved $150,000 in funding for the E. 20th Street Stairpath Rehabilitation Project to repair deteriorated stairs and landings and install handrails for a stair path along the E. 20th St. right-of-way, known in the neighborhood as the Parkway Cascade. The stair path connects 5th Ave. to Park Blvd. near the Lake Merritt/Parkway Commercial District, the FM Smith Recreation Center and AC Transit’s Line 18 bus service.

New Rules for Secondary Units: Supporting More Housing, Protecting Neighborhoods
The Council has approved revisions to secondary-unit rules to conform with state law and make it easier to build new housing in certain areas, primarily by reducing parking and street width requirements. This new law does not supercede homeowner association covenants but does supercede our local ordinance approved by the Council last year. For more information



Saturday, April 29 | Abel’s Office Hours in Bella Vista
1:00-3:00 pm | Bella Vista Park, 1025 E. 28th St.
Councilmember Guillén holds monthly “office hours” out in the community along with “Walk and Talks” throughout the year. We were in Cleveland Heights last month, and will be in Bella Vista this Saturday. 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

Saturday, May 6 | Oakland Lawn to Garden Party 
9:30 am-1:00 pm | Clinton Square Park, 655 International Blvd.
The Vietnamese American Community Center of the East Bay is working with StopWaste and Oakland Public Works to convert a 2,500 square-foot portion of the lawn at Clinton Square Park into a sustainable garden with seating for public use. Join Councilmember Guillén and neighbors to clean up and transform the park. For more info: Thao Dang, tdang@vacceb.org

Monday, May 8 | Budget Town Hall (Save the date)
Location and time: TBD
Join Mayor Schaaf and Councilmember Guillén for a town hall to discuss priorities for the FY 2017-19 City budget. For more info or to share your comments: Richard Raya, rraya@oaklandnet.com 

Thursday, May 11 | Lakeshore Merchants Meeting
3:00-4:00 pm | Shakewell, 3407 Lakeshore Ave.
We invite Lakeshore Avenue businesses to a merchants-only meeting with Councilmember Guillén, where we hope to provide a forum for merchants to get to know each other better and discuss their concerns. Thank you to Tim Nugent of Shakewell for hosting this meeting.  We will be joined by city staff from Economic Development, Public Works and OPD. For more info: rraya@oaklandnet.com 

Wednesday, May 17 | Town Hall with the Police Chief

7:00pm-8:00pm | Lakeshore Baptist Church, Barnett Hall, 3534 Lakeshore Ave.
Councilmember Guillén will host a District 2 Town Hall with Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick and Public Safety Director Venus Johnson. Come meet our public-safety leaders, and share your ideas and concerns about crime prevention, safe streets and schools and other public-safety issues facing our neighborhoods. For more info: rraya@oaklandnet.com


An Enduring Asset to the Community: The Lake Merritt Breakfast Club 
At the Council’s April 18 meeting, I honored the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club on its many years of community service and dedication to Oakland and District 2. The club recently held its 4,000th meeting during for its 84th year in existence. Thanks to the club and all of its members – past, present and future!


Chávez Legacy: Honoring Social-Justice Leadership
As part of the City’s celebration of César Chávez’s legacy during last week’s Council meeting, I recognized the civic contributions of Orson Aguilar, president of the Greenlining Institute, one of the nation’s largest and most successful advocacy and leadership development nonprofits. Under Aguilar’s leadership, the Greenlining Institute has become a leading voice in the movement to fight redlining by advocating for greenlining policies, particularly in the areas of the economy, health and the environment. He is also a boardmember at the California Women’s Foundation and a past member of important local boards, including the City’s Budget Advisory Committee. The Greenlining Institute relocated to downtown Oakland, into a building (360 14th St.) they purchased last year. Read more about their work.


Warriors Honor Lincoln Rec Leader
Last week, the Golden State Warriors honored Gilbert Gong with the State Farm Right Combination Community Achievement Award for his work as director of the Lincoln Square Recreation Center in Chinatown. Through the many partnerships Gong has established, the park has grown to become one of the busiest parks in Oakland. He is a District 2 treasure. Congrats, Gilbert!

Tuesday, May 2 | Small Business Leaders Honored
As part of Oakland’s Small Business Week, I am pleased to honor Ruth Stroup of State Farm Insurance a fixture on Grand Avenue and in the community. Watch the ceremony live on KTOP TV-10 and streamed live on the KTOP webpage.

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Library Cards Get New Designs
The Oakland Public Library has announced six winning artwork designs in its Library Card Design Contest, Selected from more than 300 entries, each winner’s design will be featured on a library card, and patrons can choose which version they want.

The contest was divided into three age groups – children, teen and adult – with two winners chosen from each group. A panel of judges named their top choice from each level, and the public picked a second winner. The public winners were determined by the number of “likes” that each entry received on the library’s Facebook page, where a total of more than 10,500 votes were cast. In addition to being seen on library cards (photos: “Happy Books” and “Bait Reeled in”), the winning designs will also be displayed on AC Transit buses in April and May. Check out all of the entries at facebook.com/oaklibrary – or ride the bus!



Oakland’s Crime Lab at Work
You may have heard about many law-enforcement agencies struggling with rape kit backlogs. Oakland is currently up-to-date on processing its kits. Last week, my staff and I visited Oakland’s Crime Lab to learn more about rape-kit processing as well as gun-tracing efforts and latent fingerprinting. 

While workspace at the lab is tight, OPD scientists have been able to devise a system that uses a robot to more quickly process rape kits to assist in matching DNA evidence in criminal investigations. Most agencies take 120 days to process kits but Oakland’s average turnaround time is about 10 business days. The protocol was developed by Oakland native and OPD scientist Helena Wong. 

While we certainly have our public-safety challenges, I want to recognize the hardworking professional staff behind the scenes making sure cases are solved in a timely manner. Thanks IFPTE Local 21.

Selection Panel Named to Appoint Police Commissioners
Oakland voters approved the creation of a citizens’ police commission last November. Under Measure LL, a panel of nine community members selects four of the seven police commissioners, and one of the two alternates. (The mayor appoints the other three commissioners and alternate.) Each City Councilmember and the Mayor appoints one member to the selection panel.

My choice is nationally renowned civil-rights attorney James Chanin, who has been involved in police misconduct issues for nearly four decades and with the Oakland Police Department’s court-mandated reform program since the early 2000’s. He represented the plaintiffs in the infamous Riders Case dealing with civil-rights abuses by OPD officers. Chanin also helped establish the Police Review Commission for the City of Berkeley in the early 1970’s, and twice served as its chair.

Oakland residents interested in serving on the Police Commission: The application process will open in May or June. For more info contact Sting@oaklandnet.com

May 1-6 | Small Business Workshops
The City of Oakland will host more than a dozen free workshops and events for small business owners and entrepreneurs as part of National Small Business Week. The Oakland Business Connect Program is taking business-development resources and workshops to five commercial corridors around town. Events include financing workshops in both Chinese and Spanish on Friday, May 5 (9:45-11:10 am). Read more about all of the week’s activities for businesses and the community.

Small businesses are the engine of Oakland’s economy – 90% of local firms employ 50 or fewer people. Across all industry sectors, small businesses are helping to fuel Oakland’s economic growth and are an important factor in our diversified economy. Learn skills to start and grow your business.

Residents are also encouraged to join in the celebration during Saturday’s Shop Local/Shop Oakland activities. For more info


Sign-Up Begins for Free Harbor Tours
Free Port of Oakland harbor tours will return in May with Blue & Gold Fleet running 12 cruises through October. Blue & Gold’s 230-passenger sightseeing vessels will offer 90-minute tours. The tours will trace the shoreline along Oakland Estuary and Outer Harbor, and showcase working marine terminals. The schedule calls for two tours a month on Fridays at 6:45 pm, departing from Jack London Square’s ferry dock. Ticket registration begins May 1