Report potholes, securing funds for community serving programs

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Pothole Blitz for District 2 | July 18-22
Public Works will conduct its annual Pothole Blitz in District 2 on July 18-22. El Nino rains have faded, but they’ve left behind many potholes. Staff will work from a list of all potholes within each council district and fill potholes by the highest priority within that district. So be sure to submit those requests soon! To report a problem pothole in your neighborhood, use the mobile app SeeClickFix, or email The crews will focus on completing as many of the existing outstanding repair requests as possible, and meeting the goal of 2,500 potholes repaired citywide by the end of the blitz. Staff will also be completing street patching and crack sealing at selected locations as needed (photo: Councilmember Guillén pitching in during last year’s blitz). There are 831 miles of City-maintained streets in Oakland, and the backlog of streets needing work is $443 million and growing. #safestreets


In the “mid-cycle” process for adjusting the two-year budget passed last year, the City Council will postpone the third budgeted police academy to at least May 2017 to review audits on officer recruitment and hiring practices. That $2-million budget savings will be put into early childhood education, neighborhood jobs centers, a homeless camp pilot program, increased outreach and services for commercially sexually exploited minors and other social services. Of special interest to District 2 residents, I have introduced several important programs and services to be funded during our mid-cycle deliberations:

Extra Hours at Lincoln Rec Center: After hearing from many Chinatown residents, I secured an additional $50,000 to allow the Lincoln Rec Center to open an extra two hours a day earlier to accommodate the needs of senior citizens to practice tai chi, play ping pong and exercise. The Lincoln Recreation Center doubles as a senior center for Chinatown, which lacks a dedicated City Senior Center. 

Improved Fire Fighter Training: I brought forward a report outlining the excessive use of overtime within the fire department, which has resulted from the lack of continuous hiring and training. To address this issue, I pushed through funding that will add new permanent positions for a Fire Engineer and a Captain of Fire who will serve as training staff. These new positions will help the Oakland Fire Department fulfill its mission to keep our residents and our fire fighters safe. 

Meals on Wheels: I have also championed a $176,000 subsidy for Oakland’s Meals on Wheels program. This funding will cover the number of meals provided to homebound seniors in District 2 and throughout Oakland.

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Tiny House Partnership: Oakland is facing both a shortage of housing and a homelessness crisis. The Laney College Tiny House Partnership can help residents help themselves to get a home. I secured a relatively modest $80,000 investment by the City that will help encourage more support for this innovative approach as part of a broader plan to provide both affordable-housing options and more shelters for our residents who are now sleeping on our streets, in cars and at our parks.

Laney’s Carpentry Department and its new FabLab will develop two tiny-house prototypes for mass production to help address the homelessness challenges that Oakland is facing. Using a 3D computer model, components of their tiny homes will be designed and fabricated by students, and require minimal tools for rapid assembly. 

Designed to be comfortable, portable and easy to assemble, these digitally fabricated prototypes can also help promote local manufacturing and create entrepreneurships for students. The tiny house project will provide job opportunities for Laney students and other community members. If built on a trailer chassis, the tiny house can also require minimal permitting and be easily moved to and from a given site.

As a Peralta Colleges Trustee for eight years before joining the Council last year, I have always been impressed with Laney’s partnership programs, and look forward to this new initiative becoming a valuable community asset.

As part of the mid-cycle budget adjustments, I also support increased funding ($100,000) for the East Oakland Neighborhood Job Center, hiring a legislative analyst for the Council’s Finance and Management Committee, $50,000 for the Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation, and $100,000 for services to assist sexually exploited minors.

The Council is also putting aside $1 million to fund a new citizens’ police commission next year. The inclusion of City dollars for this academy makes Oakland eligible to draw down almost $2 million in federal COPS grants for community-policing efforts.


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Walker Avenue Lot Gets a Makeover

The long-awaited and badly needed milling and repaving of the City-owned Walker Avenue parking lot has been completed (photos: before, during and after the renovation). This much-appreciated Public Works makeover was more than a simple resurfacing on top of existing material – the undulations in the pavement were also smoothed out. 

Measuring the Results | Grand Avenue Road Diet
After opening the new road diet and bike lanes on Grand Avenue last month, Public Works began collecting data to measure vehicle speeds, queuing (backups at signalized intersections), travel time and impacts on pedestrians and bicyclists. They are also meeting with City of Piedmont staff and reviewing comments on NextDoor to identify issues that have been encountered since the street improvements were completed. Based on this information, Public Works will develop recommendations for street-design modifications to be presented in the near future. We will keep you posted.


Getting Closer to Rebuilding Astro Park Tot Lot 
The Warriors lost on the court, but our raffle of Warriors’ playoff tickets helped Oakland win on the playground. The Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation used game tickets, provided by Councilmember Guillén, that helped raise a total of nearly $11,000 during the NBA Finals. Help us reach our goal by making a tax-deductible contribution today: Consider pitching in $5, $25 or $100 today – we need to raise another $2,000 in the coming week to reach our next fundraising goal of $40,000 by July 1.

Thursday, June 30 | Pizza Night and Office Hours with Abel
5:00-7:00 pm | Leaning Tower of Pizza, 498 Wesley Ave.
Come out and meet Councilmember Guillén, and enjoy some neighborhood pizza while you’re at it. Please call the office at 510-238-7002 to reserve a time slot.


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San Antonio Neighborhood Walk
We had a great turnout for our Walk+Talk in the San Antonio neighborhood last Saturday. Thanks to all the neighbors and City staff for joining us to learn more about the 14th Ave. street improvements (secured more funding to extend them to Highland Hospital, toward I-580), ongoing efforts to eliminate blight, and enhanced street lighting as well as pressing citywide issues like affordable housing. After our walk, we continued the conversation over lunch at Philomena Pizza, a great addition to the neighborhood – thanks for hosting us.

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Council Honors Oakland’s Elders
At this week’s Council meeting, I was honored to recognize District 2’s Barbara Newcombe as part of Older Americans Month. Best known by neighbors in the Cleveland Heights neighborhood as a leader of the Friends of Cleveland Cascade, her boundless energy and tireless commitment has resulted in the clean-up and restoration of the historic Cascade Park on Lakeshore Avenue.

What many don’t know about Barbara is that she was previously the head librarian at the Chicago Tribune. After moving to Oakland to be closer to family, she volunteered at the Center for Investigative Reporting and wrote a seminal book on public recordkeeping, which was used to guide the task force charged with crafting the Sunshine Ordinance.

You can find Barbara taking care of the Cleveland Cascade every other Saturday. Come out and join her this summer.

Ceasefire Making Progress to Reduce Violent Crime
Not all the police headlines are bad. Since fall 2012, when the City of Oakland relaunched its “Ceasefire” crime-prevention program, gun violence and murders have decreased and the Oakland Police Department’s rate for solving crimes has improved. Check out the recent Oakland Magazine article on Ceasefire and public safety in Oakland for a good review of the progress.


Port Offers Free Harbor Tours in Summer 
The Port of Oakland will again offer free 90-minute cruises of the Oakland Harbor this summer that give rare glimpse inside a global trade gateway – Oakland handles more than 2 million cargo containers annually. Nine Friday-evening harbor tours, aboard a 120-passenger vessel operated by Commodore Cruises, are scheduled between July and October. The excursions pass the Port’s marine terminals in Oakland Estuary and Outer Harbor, and provide a unique vantage point because marine terminals are closed to the public. Register for free harbor tours. Sign up now because the tours fill up quickly. Schedule of weekend tours: July 1, 15 and 29; Aug. 12 and 26Sept. 16 and 30Oct. 14 and 28

Port Employees Provide Scholarships for Oakland Students
This month, the Port of Oakland’s employee scholarship associations raised $76,500 for 31 high-school students. Over the past 20 years, Port employees have provided $1.1 million in scholarships for 600 Oakland high-school students to pursue post-secondary education, vocational school or apprenticeship training.