Subject line: Abel’s eNews: Join in spring clean-up days, new homeless center, new traffic lights, state honors for Oakland school

   City Moves to Acquire New Homeless Center for Shelter and ServicesEarlier this week, the Community Economic Development Committee voted to move forward on acquiring a single-room occupancy hotel on West Grand Ave., which will expand the number of City-owned shelter beds for homeless residents. The building (641 W. Grand near I-980) will provide a second navigation center – like the existing Henry Robinson Multi-Service Center – that provides housing and support services for recently homeless people. More than one-half of the people housed at the Robinson center last year have been successfully transitioned into permanent housing. The building has 70 units with shared bathrooms and a single kitchen on each floor. The City had previously sued the former West Grand Hotel’s owners for numerous fire and building code violations and uninhabitable living conditions. The building was purchased for $7 million using Measure KK funds, the 2016 bond measure for affordable housing. Continue reading

Abel’s eNews: Reducing waste and dumping, standing up for immigrants, updates on housing, Park Blvd. and ballpark

Reducing Waste and Dumping: Restrictions on Single-Use Straws IntroducedAs a part of my larger efforts to reduce waste and illegal dumping, I introduced plans earlier this month for a local ordinance that will prohibit the use of single-use plastic straws in Oakland’s dine-in restaurants, bars, cafés and other food facilities, except upon customer request, as part of our health and sanitation standards, while still ensuring that those who need straws can access them. As a part of Oakland’s Zero Waste Strategic Plan, the City has existing food-service ware guidelines that apply to straws. To make further progress on our waste-reduction goals and shift our culture away single-use products, my ordinance will focus on “by request only” use and better enforcement of existing legislation. The measure will also ask the staff to come back to the Council with recommendations for measures to more effectively enforce existing food packaging and utensils. We expect to bring the ordinance to the City Council for a vote in time for Earth Day. YOU CAN HELP: We will need supporters – residents, businesses and community organizations – to come to the Council’s April 10 committee meeting (at 1:30 pm) and then the full Council meeting on April 17 to show a groundswell for this action. Please email us if you’re interested in showing your support: Sarah Ting, Plastic straws pose a long-term threat to marine life, waterways and natural habitats, including Lake Merritt – and eventually local residents by way of food consumption and collateral environmental effects. There are easy, convenient and economical ways around this environmental-health problem, like “straw on request only” rules – and Oakland should be a leader in this effort. This legislation was inspired by a conversation I had with Ms. Chang’s fourth-graders at Cleveland Elementary School. After reading to students about civil rights for “African American Literature Read-In,” the kids started asking me questions about Lake Merritt and how we can do a better job to keep it clean. It’s a sensible policy that will be good for the community, good for the environment and good for business. The measure already has the support of many in the Oakland restaurant community, including Luka’s Taproom & Lounge and Shakewell on Lakeshore Ave. as well as Tacos Sinaloa and Tacos Mi Rancho, which operate popular food trucks in Oakland. The measure has also earned the support of Sierra Club and Save the Bay, leading advocates for plastic bag and straw ban legislation in California. Several California cities have adopted a variety of plastic-straw regulations, including Alameda, Davis and Manhattan Beach, as has Santa Cruz County. Americans discard approximately 500 million plastic straws every day, according to the National Park Service. The California Coastal Commission has reported picking up more than 835,000 discarded plastic straws between 1988 and 2014. Most straws are made from polypropylene, a petroleum-based plastic. Plastic straws, introduced in the 1960’s, can take 200 years to decompose. While certain plastics can be recycled, the vast majority of single-use straws are often discarded as solid waste and sent to landfills; and cannot be recycled due to their lack of resin code and small size, which can damage sorting machinery. Read the East Bay Times story Continue reading

Abel’s eNews: Affordable, transit-oriented housing breaks ground, BRT updates, walk-and-talk with Latino businesses

   More Affordable Housing and Community Space Breaks Ground Earlier this month, the Unity Council and EBALDC broke ground on 279 units of mixed-income housing at the Fruitvale BART Transit Village (E. 12th St. at 36th Ave.) – Casa Arabella – that will serve veterans, families and residents who earn 60% of the average median income (considered “very low income” households). The project, named in honor of longtime community leader Arabella Martinez (right photo), will also include 10,000 square feet of ground-floor space for an urgent care facility for La Clínica de La Raza and other non-profits. Congrats to Arabella and Unity Council CEO Chris Iglesias (left photo) on this important milestone. Looking at the bigger picture, Mayor Schaaf reported last month that we anticipate completing roughly 3,600 units of new housing in Oakland in 2018. That’s triple the amount we’ve ever built in a single year. Oakland also has roughly 15,000 units in the pipeline, which will help alleviate housing demands and ease rental prices. Continue reading

Abel’s eNews: More protections for renters, rehabbing affordable housing downtown, update on street improvements and sidewalk repairs

Government tends to move slowly, especially at the federal and state level. As your Councilmember, I also get frustrated sometimes by the pace of change at the local level. Fortunately, community leadership and public engagement here in our city and in our neighborhoods can get things done. The first two months of 2018 have seen several signs of such progress in Oakland. I’m happy to report that a number of neighborhood improvements that neighbors and merchants have been advocating for over the last year-and-a-half are finally coming to fruition. From fixing broken sidewalks to installing a new water fountain in the park, these small improvements can have a big impact. Better sidewalks, for example, mean greater mobility for our senior citizens, those with mobility problems and young parents with strollers. At the same time, we’re pushing for solutions to citywide issues, like funding for healthy, equitable communities that foster more affordable housing and transportation access for everybody. Together, I know we can continue to tackle the problems, big and small, to make Oakland a better place to live work and play. Thank you for your continued advocacy and partnership. Abel Continue reading

Abel’s eNews: Repaving and street-safety improvements in District 2, equity designs for Downtown Plan, new funds for Asian Cultural Center

     Celebrating Lunar New Year at Chinatown Streetfest San Lee Fai Lok – Gung Hay Fat Choi! Happy Lunar New Year! I was honored to help kick off Chinatown Streetfest at its opening ceremony this past weekend. I hope you will come by this week to shop, show Chinatown small businesses some love, and celebrate the Year of the Dog!  Continue reading

Abel’s eNews: A home for tiny homes, fighting sex trafficking, 1100 Broadway breaks ground, community meetings

     Trees for Madison Square Park The right kind of shade… As part of the citywide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, I joined more than 60 volunteers to plant 21 trees and remove graffiti at Madison Square Park. Thank you to our partners – Ministerio Internacional Maranatha, Asian Health Services, OCA-East Bay, Asian Youth Services Committee, Asian Prisoner Support Committee and Trees for Oakland – for making a big difference in improving our parks and our environment – and strengthening our community spirit in the process.  Continue reading

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 Continue reading

Abel’s eNews: Homeless center opens, economic strategy adopted, community meetings on public lands and parking

This is the last newsletter of 2017 – it’s been quite a year. I want to thank you for all your support, good advice and constructive suggestions over the past 12 months. It helps me so much to do my job when I hear from all of you about the challenges facing our city and our District 2 neighborhoods. From me and my whole staff, I want to share our best wishes to you and your loved ones for the holiday season, and for the Oakland community in the coming new year. Happy Holidays!   Abel Continue reading

Abel’s eNews: Moratorium on rent-control exemptions, new street-paving machine, Adopt-a-Drain

Council Places Moratorium on Substantial Rehab Exemption On Tuesday, the City Council passed a 180-day moratorium on substantial rehabilitation exemptions from the City’s Rent Adjustment Program. This temporary measure aims to help prevent the potential displacement of tenants from rent-controlled apartments when the units undergo substantial repairs or are rehabilitated. Continue reading

Abel’s eNews: Homeless shelters opened, Thanksgiving baskets, safer school routes, tenant protections expanded

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I would like to take a moment to express my appreciation and gratitude. We are so fortunate to live in a community of neighbors who look out for one another. I am constantly amazed by the generosity that so many of you have shown by donating once again to our annual Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway.  As we enter the holiday season, I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all the neighbors and volunteers, residents and small businesses that make our city and District 2 a great place live, work and play. From our volunteers who take care of the Morcom Rose Garden to our 23rd Ave. street cleaning crew to the mighty Cleveland Cascade volunteers and the Wa Sung Community Service Club – you all make Oakland a wonderful place to live. Continue reading