Abel’s eNews: Use 311, new homeless funds and tenant protections, more street repairs, Earth Day

About four years ago, I noticed an uptick in homelessness in and around Oakland. Today, I know that every person in Oakland has experienced the impact of homelessness on our town in some way. The most recent point-in-time count showed that Oakland has 1,902 homeless residents living outside and that we’re talking about our neighbors – 86% of the total homeless population in Oakland had prior residences in Alameda County. Anecdotally, judging from the proliferation of tents in our streets, parks, the lake and the public right of way, it seems like that number has risen even more in the past few months.

Last week, I was in Sacramento to lobby for more state resources to help solve this problem that affects both homeless individuals and our neighborhoods.

Homelessness is one part of the larger housing affordability crisis in Oakland, the region and California. Nationwide, 22 states also saw an increase in homelessness last year – we’re facing a national crisis, not just a local problem.

Despite Oakland’s rebounding economy, the simple truth is that our city and our region is simply not producing enough housing units fast enough to keep pace with regional population growth and income disparities.

The City of Oakland’s current policy is to generally not move people from where they have set up tents unless the City can offer an alternative site for people to go. Simply pushing homeless camps from one neighborhood to the next won’t solve the problem. That’s why I am happy to report that the Council took action last week to acquire an SRO hotel on West Grand Ave. to convert to apartments that will serve upward of 70 homeless people.

Thanks to the advocacy of many of my constituents, Alameda County will also be providing Oakland with $633,000 in additional funds to combat this crisis.

The Council has also moved to extend the winter shelter efforts operated by St. Vincent de Paul through the summer.

While these are important steps in the right direction, it’s not enough. I’ve joined with Councilmembers Kaplan and Kalb to sponsor a vacant-parcel tax to provide the resources needed to provide more supportive housing and encourage the construction and preservation of more affordable housing in Oakland, while also combating neighborhood blight on vacant properties around town.

We’re also working to encourage the installation of tiny homes on lots owned by local faith-based organizations and other non-profits, and to provide safe parking facilities for unsheltered residents. I hope to have more news about these initiatives this summer.

Please know that I hear you and I am working to make sure that we implement the full package of immediate, long-term and comprehensive solutions that help get people into safe, affordable housing and shelter. This is an enormous challenge we are facing together: Your continued support and collaboration will be crucial as we scale up the steps we know work and we move toward getting more affordable housing into the pipeline.



Get the 311 on City Services
The City of Oakland launched its new OAK 311 service last week, uniting for the first time all of the phone numbers, email addresses, websites and mobile apps designed to make it easier for residents to request the City’s help with issues such as street potholes and damaged sidewalks, graffiti on public spaces, traffic safety and street light problems, park maintenance, and piles of debris illegally dumped on their sidewalks.

Residents can use the service to request infrastructure maintenance services and report problems. There are four basic ways to reach OAK 311: Call 311 from any phone within Oakland; email OAK311@oaklandnet.com; go online at 311.oaklandca.gov; or use the OAK 311 app.

Previous methods for reporting problems are still functioning, and the City tracks all requests in the same database, regardless of which method is used. Transitioning to a 311 system is designed to simplify the process for residents.

Putting More Resources into Picking Up Dumping
Thanks to all the community members who came out in force at the recent Town Hall to demand the resources needed to curb illegal dumping on our streets. I will keep you posted as the City Council starts its mid-year budget cycle review next month to fund an additional illegal-dumping crew and bring back Litter Enforcement Officers. I am committed to working with City staff and my Council colleagues to find the resources to make this happen. My thanks to Oakland Community Organizations and the East Oakland Council of Neighborhoods for organizing a great turnout.

Council Finalizes Move-Out Ordinance with Tenant Protections
The City Council gave final approval to our Tenant Move-Out Agreement Ordinance last week. The measure, which goes into effect May 1, regulates move-out agreements and negotiations with landlords, requires disclosure, and provides remedies for violations.

During a time when tenant displacement is one of the most pressing issues in Oakland, this ordinance provides a clear process for negotiations and agreements when tenants move out. It will help foster better communication and information shared between Oakland tenants and landlords. Tenants will now have more time and the information they need to make decisions that reflect their needs.

Under the new law, property owners must submit notifications of their intent to enter into move-out negotiations and completed agreements to the City’s Rent Adjustment Program. The ordinance doesn’t apply to move-out agreements that are negotiated or agreed to during the course of an unlawful detainer (eviction) proceeding. Read the ordinance

Oakland to Receive More County Funds for Homeless Shelter and Services
Last week, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors awarded the City of Oakland $633,320 to address homelessness in our community as part of its Unsheltered Homeless Immediate Impact grants. The new funding will help cover the annual operating costs of Oakland’s second Outdoor Navigation Center ($530,000); provide family motel vouchers and short-term Rapid Rehousing funds ($50,000); and provide portable toilets and wash stations at five homeless encampments ($53,320). Thanks to the Supervisors for their support – and to all the Oaklanders who helped me advocate for these much-needed resources!


Wesley Ave. Ride Gets Smoother
As part of our accelerated paving program, the City recently began repaving Wesley Ave., from Wayne Ave. to MacArthur Blvd. – and is now scheduling completion around the wave of intermittent rain storms. City staff are also working to replace speed bumps that were removed during the paving. Thanks for your patience.

A Better Walk along Lake Merritt
The new upper sidewalk along Lake Merritt is now open. Improvements to the lower walkway and a dedicated bike lane are now under construction. Thanks to Public Works for making it happen. See you around the lake this spring!


News from Splashpad Park
Ken Katz reports these new improvements at Splash Pad Park: Hats off to Public Works for addressing a number of serious infrastructure issues at Splash Pad Park. The fountain is up and running; an outside contractor is now working to abate the rat infestation and a number of other repairs are now slated. Public Works also provided funding for the materials while Grand Crew volunteers installed decomposed granite pathways – with a big assist from Christian Boyle, the City Gardener responsible for Splash Pad, the Morcom Rose Garden and other neighborhood locations.

If you haven't already, come by and check out these improvements as well as the California native plants that are coming into full bloom.

Oakland Secures State Violence-Prevention Funds
The City of Oakland and three local non-profit groups – Youth Alive, Fresh Lifelines for Youth, and Catholic Charities of the East Bay – have been awarded a total of $1.85 million in state grants for violence prevention programs. Recently announced by the California Board of State and Community Corrections, the awards are part of the statewide Violence Intervention Program.

Over the past five years, Oakland has seen annual drops in violent crime over the past five years. The new grants will go toward programs that are helping continue this trend.



Saturday, April 28 | Walk-and-Talk with Lakeshore & Grand Ave. Businesses
10:00 am-12:00 pm | meet at Main Squeeze, 3435 Lakeshore Ave.
In advance of Oakland’s Small Business Week (April 29-May 5), I will be hosting a walk-and-talk with small businesses on Lakeshore and Grand Avenues. Our walk will start at Main Squeeze and move to Bay Made, also on Lakeshore Ave., followed by stops at Wilde Brothers Coffee Shop, next to the Grand Lake Theatre, and Walden Pond Books on Grand Ave. (April 28 is National Independent Bookstore Day!) If you plan on attending, RSVP to 510-238-7023 or perickson@oaklandnet.com, so we can have an accurate head count. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 29 | Grand Ave. Neighborhood Clean Up
9:00 am-1:00 pm | meet at Walker parking lot entrance next to Ikaros, 3268 Grand Ave.
Join neighbors to spiff up containers and do some spring tree maintenance on Grand Ave. (between I-580 and a bit past Mandana Blvd.). Tools, gloves and water will be provided, but you are welcome to bring your own. Supervised children are welcome. For more info: Eric Hughes, hughesearthur@gmail.com

If you want to organize or participate in a clean-up day in your neighborhood, please let us know: Sarah Ting, sting@oaklandnet.com

Thursday, May 10 | Bike to Work Day with Abel
7:15 am | Start at Grand Lake Ace Hardware, 1221 Grand Ave., to City Hall
Join Councilmember Guillén and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland to pedal into work onthe morning of May 10 as part of Oakland’s 25th Annual Bike to Work Day. Our route will take us to City Hall, where a free hot pancake breakfast, transportation fair, bike safety check and prizes await. For more info



Oakland Volunteers Big Time for Earth Day
More than 3,000 volunteers and 90 community groups participated at 115 Earth Day project locations to pick up litter, remove graffiti, weed, mulch, and restore native-plant habitats throughout Oakland. Approximately 70 sites were in parks or along creeks and other waterways, and about 40 sites were neighborhood cleanups of streets, sidewalks and schools.

In District 2, I had a chance to work on several Earth Day projects: weeding and restoration at the Lake Merritt Channel with the Weed Warriors; the Morcom Rose Garden with the Deadheaders; Lincoln Square Park and Chinatown streets and sidewalks with the Cantonese Speaking Citizens Alumni Association; Clinton Park with the Tzu Chi Foundation; Laney College; Highland Hospital neighbors; and weeding, pruning and clearing at Parkway Garden Cascade, a community pollinator garden in the Eastlake neighborhood. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who put in work throughout District 2. You made a big difference!


Small Business Week | District 2 Honoree
As part of the city’s Small Business Week activities, I am pleased to recognize George Arth, whose auto body repair shop is the oldest west of the Mississippi River and maybe even the entire country. Located in downtown Oakland (110 10th St.), Geo. V. Arth & Son has been family-owned for six generations and in operation since 1877, beginning with repairing and painting horse-drawn buggies.

Events for Small Businesses
From April 29 to May 5, the City of Oakland will host a series of workshops, seminars and receptions as we celebrate and nurture Oakland’s vibrant small businesses during National Small Business Week. For a complete roster of events and activities For more info on City services that support small businesses: Aliza Gallo, Business Development Coordinator, agallo@oaklandnet.com

Events of special interest to District 2 businesses:

  • Oakland Family Legacy Business Awards Reception | Sunday, April 29, 4:00-6:00 pm (honoring Fortune Cookie Factory and Quality Tech Automotive Group)
  • Oakland Multicultural Chambers Awards Reception | Wednesday, May 2, 6:00-8:00 pm, Peony Hotel (honoring Gateway Bank
  • Chinatown Small Business Workshop | Thursday, May 3, 9:00 am-12:00 pm | Oakland Asian Cultural Center
  • Eastlake Business Planning Workshops (two given in Vietnamese) 4:00-4:45 pm and 6:00-6:45 pm

Oakland High Students Visit City Hall
Last Friday, my office organized the visit of four-dozen students and teachers from Oakland High School’s Social Justice and Reform Program to City Hall, learning how Oakland’s city government operates. The group had opportunities to discuss a variety of issues around homelessness, crime, affordable housing and immigrant rights with Mayor Schaaf, councilmembers and staff. The students asked a lot of great questions, and we were pleased to engage in these conversations with these future leaders and community advocates.

Sunday May 6 | Rose Show at Lakeside Park
1:00-5:00 pm | Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave.
See and smell gorgeous trophy-winning rose blooms at the East Bay Rose Society’s 71st Annual Rose Show. Vote for your favorite trophy winner, for the People’s Choice award. See which beautiful and fragrant roses grow well in the East Bay. Talk with the gardeners, get your questions answered by trained Consulting Rosarians, buy a plant, or bid in the silent auction. Free admission. For more info

Free Downtown Tours Start in May
Downtown Oakland’s continuing renaissance has captured national media attention, with Uptown emerging as a premier arts and entertainment destination. Residents and visitors can glimpse today’s happening scene and landmarks from Oakland’s past during the 2018 Oakland Tours season.

The free, 90-minute walking tours will be offered every Wednesday and Saturday, beginning at 10 am, from May to October. The guided tours showcase the city’s changing skyline, landmarks, churches and high-rises, and cover eight different tour itineraries (including Chinatown, Uptown to the Lake, and African American Leaders in District 2). Reservations are recommended: 510-238-3234 or aallen@oaklandnet.com. For more info