Oakland gets federal dollars for homeless, passes landmark medical cannabis changes

Oakland Secures Federal Funds for Homeless Shelter and Support
I have been advocating for improved services and solutions to the chronic problem of homelessness and the need for more shelters for this vulnerable segment of our community. I’m happy to report that the City of Oakland has secured more than $4.8 million in federal grants this month to provide immediate housing and support for youth, families and adults grappling with housing insecurity and homelessness in Oakland, where on any given night more than 1,300 people are unsheltered. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has renewed all five of the City’s current grants and added a new grant to Oakland’s Community Housing Services that will help establish rapid-rehousing services for 60 homeless youth. The grants will free up additional local dollars to add shelter beds and explore more innovative long-term solutions to this growing problem.

Among the project receiving funds: The Housing Fast Support Network provides interim housing for 280 single adults annually. In 2015, 67% of its clients moved into permanent housing. Families in Transition works with homeless families who enter the program directly from the streets or shelter. In 2015, 81% of these families went on to permanent housing. Matilda Cleveland provides congregate living for 14 families at a time, and 30 families over the course of one year. In 2015, 85% of these families found permanent housing. The North County Family Rapid ReHousing Collaborative offers assistance to 38 families a year. The Oakland Homeless Youth Housing Collaborative provides transitional housing to 70 young people a year. In 2015, 65% of the youth served moved into permanent housing. Read more

Oakland Passes Groundbreaking Medical Cannabis Regulations, Equity Provisions
Last week, the City Council approved landmark changes to its medical cannabis regulations that will establish a licensing structure for the full spectrum of medical cannabis activities from “seed to sale.” The new regulations include groundbreaking equity provisions that will provide ownership and job opportunities for Oakland residents in the medical cannabis industry and address the disproportionate impact that failed and inconsistent national drug policies have had on people of color. Oakland is the first city in the nation to require licensed medical cannabis facilities to maintain a staff of at least 50% Oakland residents, including 25% of all staff from high-unemployment census tracts. One-half of all permits will be issued to applicants who meet new Equity Permit Program requirements. It also establishes that prior marijuana or cannabis convictions will not be used as a reason to prevent equity ownership, and encourages permit holders to hire and retain formerly incarcerated Oakland residents.

The new changes amend City ordinances in place since 2004 to align with a recent state law that establishes a comprehensive regulatory system for California’s medical cannabis industry. The amended ordinance creates a local permitting process for cultivation, distribution, testing, manufacturing and transporting facilities consistent with state law. These revised rules should reduce electrical fires and burglaries, ensure that medical cannabis activities are established in appropriate locations, provide clarity to law enforcement, and allow for the collection of appropriate revenue from medical cannabis businesses. The new rules could also provide more tax revenue for the City. The eight currently licensed dispensaries generated more than $4 million in tax revenue last year.


Welcome Our Summer Intern | Michael Drane
I am happy to announce the addition of the  newest team member in my Council office. Michael Drane is currently a master’s student at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. He brings experience in housing and community development from his previous work as a community organizer with Mutual Housing California and a middle-school teacher in Detroit. Drane is excited about this opportunity to serve District 2 residents and learn more about the City Council. Originally from Pittsburgh, he graduated with a double major in geography and history from Shippensburg University.


Tuesday, May 31 | Public Hearing on Housing
5:00 pm | City Hall, Council Chambers
The Council will discuss recommendations about a new public lands policy, including principles, goals and targets for using City-owned land to build or subsidize affordable housing and other community benefits as well as Oakland's project applications for funding from the state’s cap-and-trade program.

Wednesday, June 1 | New Mobile Food-Vending Regulations
The Oakland Planning Commission will consider a proposal to establish a new citywide food-vending permit program, which would allow, with certain restrictions, individual food vending on private property and from public streets and sidewalks in selected commercial and industrial areas. “Group site” or “food pod” vending would also be permitted. Map and regulations Council meetings on the proposed regulations are tentatively scheduled for June 28 and July 5. You can email comments todreiff@oaklandnet.com

Wednesday, June 15 | Lincoln Square Park’s Panda Point Project Update
10:30 am-1:15 pm | Lincoln Recreation Center, 250 10th St.
Public Works staff will update residents about the progress on the new Panda Point project at Lincoln Square Park. A permit has been approved to remove the large magnolia tree and three other smaller trees in the park. If you can’t attend the meeting, please send comments: Ali Schwarz, Project Manager,aschwarz@oaklandnet.com


Saturday, May 28 | East Lake Music Festival
New Signs about Lake Merritt Park Rules
Join friends, family and neighbors this weekend for the free (with RSVP) 3rd annual music-and-arts festival on the shores of Lake Merritt. Check out the artists and event details. While you’re at the lake, check out the signs clarifying the new park rules. There will be temporary signs about park rules with maps of designated restrooms and BBQ areas. As a reminder, if you want to BBQ with charcoal, please go to the pit grills along Bellevue, and please keep dogs on leash. Alcoholic beverages and private groups of 25 or more require permits. Also, we will be reminding folks that Lake Merritt is the oldest wildlife refuge in America, and given its proximity to residential areas they should be mindful of neighbors. We will be sharing this information as our office tables at the festival.

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Bike to Work Day – Grand Ave. Bike Lanes Opened

Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Councilmember Guillén introduced Oakland’s first Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month last year. This year’s honorees will be recognized at the Council’s June 7meeting. Councilmember Guillén is honoring Laura Kwan, who has worked tirelessly for the sake of her family and Oakland community. While raising her children, Kwan worked at Mills College and owned her own business, the Wo Lei Noodle Shop Plant. She has helped new immigrants and the elderly through the Chinese Presbyterian Church and the Cantonese Alumni Association, and by raising funds to provide 1,500 gifts and 3,000 meals with the Salvation Army and the Christmas Red Kettle Campaign, respectively. Kwan is dedicated to helping residents of Oakland feel the warmth of community and hospitality.
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Chinatown Cleanup Day – Building Community

Thanks to all the volunteers – of all ages – who came out on May 14 to help with our Chinatown Cleanup Day. Councilmember Guillén partnered with the Asian Real Estate Association (AREAA), the Cantonese Speaking Citizens Academy, the Salvation Army and neighbors to combat blight and graffiti, and keep Oakland clean and beautiful.

Another Milestone in Fighting Chinatown Graffiti

Working with the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, Chinatown NCPC and City staff, the second phase of our graffiti-abatement program is underway. Now, the mural group “Illuminaries X Fuming Guerilla” joins us by creating the beautiful “Dub Nation” mural on one of the worst graffiti-tagged buildings (614 Webster St.) in Chinatown. The new mural – which is also visible from I-880 northbound – was completed last weekend. Public Works will clean the other wall of the building soon. We are looking forward to more property owners in Chinatown joining our program before June 9. For more information: Serenity Mlay, smlay@oaklandnet.com  

The Most Diverse Large City in the Nation
In a ranking of the largest cities across the U.S., Oakland took the top spot as the most diverse among cities with a population of 300,000 or more. The study, released by WalletHub earlier this month, combined household diversity with social-class diversity, ethno-racial diversity and economic diversity. Read the report


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Resources for Kids and Families
Family Paths’ free, 24-hour Parent Support Hotline (800-829-3777) is available to all parents and caregivers in need of immediate, live phone counseling support and/or referrals to more than 900 local resources for kids, parents and families. As a reminder of these services, several bus ads, made possible by a generous grant from the Kaiser Community Benefit Program, can be seen in South Alameda County bus shelters through May 29.

Free Indoor Food-Scrap Bins for Businesses, New Rules Start July 1
Oakland is joining several other Alameda County cities that have added organics collection to its basic recycling. Keeping compostables separate from the trash and subscribing to an organics collection service will become mandatory at many businesses starting July 1. To help you separate food scraps and food-soiled paper, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority is offering free containers for the indoor areas of your business. Up to $500 is available per approved business to choose from a variety of container and lid options. Complete the online form to get started with requesting the new bins. For more info: bizassistance@recyclingrulesac.org

New Parks and Recreation Director Appointed  | Nicholas Williams
Nicholas Williams has been named new Oakland Parks and Recreation Director, replacing Audree Jones Taylor who retired in December. An Oakland native, Williams previously served as Assistant Superintendent of Recreation for the City of Minneapolis, known as having one of the top municipal park systems in the country. Prior to Minneapolis, he managed Atlanta’s park-and-rec operations. Williams earned a B.A. in sociology from Morehouse College and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in management and leadership at Metropolitan State University. He will start work as the new director on Monday, June 6