Start on new downtown housing project, safer routes to school, transportation-housing funds, holiday events abound


New Housing on Downtown Garage, Alternative Parking Available

More housing is about to come to District 2: The Merchants Garage (at 1314 Franklin St.) is scheduled to close November 15, with demolition beginning the next day.

The developer, Carmel Partners, and the community reached an agreement to replace the parking structure near BART with an iconic, 40-story building consisting of 634 new homes (including approximately 27 to 54 new units of permanently affordable units on-site), nearly 17,000 square feet of retail space and a substantial community-benefits package that will help the neighborhood in a variety of ways.

The project will provide a much-needed mix of market-rate and affordable housing. The plans call for either 5% of the units to be made available to households at 50% AMI or 10% at 80% AMI. The new ground-floor retail will increase community vitality and safety in the area, especially at night.

The building’s owner will also seek to lease approximately 2,400 square feet of retail space at a reduced, below-market rate to a community-serving business compatible with residences in the neighborhood.

Other community benefits include: Technical assistance to the Black Arts Movement Business District, union labor and a 20% local-hire goal during construction, working with local job centers. The agreement will also create a public art advisory board. The development will also conduct a high-level feasibility study of a shuttle bus service in the 14th Street corridor, similar to the Broadway Free B and Emeryville Emery-Go-Round.

Parking alternatives: Shoppers and commuters can go to Oakland Central’s “Get Around” page to learn about a variety of options for getting to Downtown Oakland. Also check out the handy “Parkme” app to locate and reserve parking spots in the downtown area.

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Street Safety: Walk Audit around Franklin School 
I am happy to report that the Franklin student who was struck by a drunk driver last week is doing well and recovering. Last Tuesday, I convened a meeting at Franklin Elementary School with OPD, OUSD and Oakland’s Department of Transportation. We walked the perimeter of the school and listened to Principal Ingrid Seyer-Ochi describe the traffic and pedestrian-safety concerns of her students and families.

Among some of the ideas we discussed were installing speed bumps on 9th Ave. and removing a traffic lane on Foothill Blvd. and on E. 15th St. as a street-design strategy to reduce the speed of vehicles. OakDOT is proposing to look at this option as recent traffic studies suggest that there aren’t enough cars driving on these streets for two lanes. OakDOT says reducing the number of lanes will help slow traffic and improve safety on the corridor. My office will be working closely with the Franklin Elementary community, neighborhood stakeholders and City staff in the coming weeks to discuss any proposed changes.

The issue of traffic safety has been raised at the Bella Vista NCPC for a few months now, and residents have continued to ask the City to implement traffic-calming measures. I will need your help in the weeks ahead to ensure that both short-term and long-term street-design improvements are put in place. We will keep you posted on how you can get involved.

Regional Transportation Dollars for Oakland Housing
It’s hard to separate housing from transportation when looking for ways to create more affordable and accessible places to live and work. That’s why it’s smart to make funding decisions that consider both factors together. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) did just that last week by voting to link the distribution of all transportation dollars to housing production in the region.

This may sound like inside politics, but as a result, Oakland will get a piece of $46 million in transportation funds for being one of the Bay Area’s top 15 cities in housing production. The opportunity comes as part of an innovative “80K by 2020” reward program based on the regional goal of creating 80,000 housing units that are affordable to low- and moderate-income residents (35,000 very-low, 22,000 low and 25,000 moderate).

It also establishes housing preservation and protection as key priorities alongside production, and allows existing units that are brought under affordable-housing regulations to also be counted to the goal.

MTC also agreed to track local jurisdictions’ compliance with state housing laws, including the streamlining of secondary units, and to evaluate all the funding they manage for ways to best support solutions to the region’s housing crisis. I want to thank Mayor Libby Schaff and Matt Nichols for their advocacy and leadership in making this policy a reality at MTC. 


Saturday, November 4 | Community Office Hours in Crocker Highlands
10:00 am-12:00 pm | Carlston Triangle Park, Longridge Rd. (at Carlston Ave. and Paloma Ave.)
Rain: If it’s raining, we will meet at Starbucks (3347 Lakeshore).
Councilmember Guillén holds monthly “office hours” out in the community along with “Walk and Talks” throughout the year. We’ve been in Cleveland Heights, East Lake, Grand Lake and Chinatown the past few months, and will be in the Crocker Highlands neighborhood this week. Stop by to say hello and share your thoughts about the neighborhood and the proposed A's stadium site selection near Laney College. Bring the kids! “Walk-ins” are welcome, but you can reserve a time slot to avoid waiting: Richard Raya, 510-238-7023

Saturday, November 4 | Cleveland Cascade Cleanup Day
9:00-11:00 am | Meet at middle plaza (the stairs near the Lake) between Lakeshore Ave. and Merritt Ave. 
Jump into November with a little neighborhood cleanup this weekend. This month’s activities at the Cleveland Cascade include sweeping, weeding, planting, pruning and litter pick-up. Water and tools are provided. Just show up and have some fun putting in a little bit of work for the town. More info: Dang Nguyen,


Saturday, November 18 | Thanksgiving Dinner Basket Giveaway
Preparations are underway for our third annual Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway. Over the past two years, we’ve been able to provide hearty holiday meals for 500 underserved Oakland families, thanks to generous contributions from local organizations and neighbors like you.

Although many Oakland residents are doing well in today’s economy, there are still all-too-many families with children and seniors struggling to get by – often burdened by unemployment or stuck in low-paying jobs, facing skyrocketing housing costs, disabilities and other stressful difficulties – including hunger. In Alameda County, 1 of every 5 families faces food insecurity during the year.

The Basket Giveaway Day is November 18 at Roosevelt Middle School (1926 E. 19th St.). We’re working with District 2 schools, community organizations and churches to ensure that these food baskets reach families most in need.

With less than a month to go, we are short of reaching our fundraising goal and we need your help. You can donate online or mail your tax-deductible contribution to: Councilmember Abel Guillén’s Office, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 2nd Flr., Oakland, CA 94612. Make checks payable to “Family Bridges, Inc.” – and please add a memo line that says “Councilmember Guillén’s Thanksgiving Basket Giveaway.” To volunteer For questions about donating or volunteering: Jessica Chen, clchen@oaklandnet.com510-238-7022

Opening on Violence Prevention Commission
District 2 currently has an opening on the Public Safety and Services Violence Prevention (Measure Z) Oversight Commission. Learn more about the commission’s work. For this opening, the member must reflect the service-eligible populations of Measure Z. If you meet these criteria, a District 2 resident and interested in this position, please send a brief statement about your interest and experience (include your street address, email and phone number) to Sarah Ting,


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District 2 Welcomes Laney’s New President
Councilmember Guillén hosted a community reception to welcome Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson as Laney College’s new president. The memorable event, held at another District 2 institution (the Oakland Museum of California), was also an opportunity to showcase some of Laney’s educational programs, including the construction of a City-funded tiny home through the campus’ carpentry program, architecture, culinary arts and the dance department. Watch the video

Thanks to the generosity of our corporate and individual sponsors, the reception also raised more than $7,500 for Peralta Colleges Foundation efforts to support student success.

Lakeshore Homes Association: Celebrating 100 Years
How time flies when you’re having a great neighborhood!

Councilmember Guillén’s proclamation celebrating 100 years of the Lakeshore Homes Association will be presented during the association’s annual meeting on November 9.

Founded in 1917, LHA is the second-oldest association west of the Mississippi. The Lakeshore neighborhood was designed by the Olmsted Brothers, whose father designed New York City’s Central Park. Inspired by England’s “garden suburbs,” the Olmsteds laid out winding streets following natural contours, leaving natural areas along the creek (later Trestle Glen Road) and smaller park areas scattered throughout the tract.

Most lots were filled during the 1920’s, and homeowners would commonly buy a lot and commission the design of their own house. Many of Oakland’s best-known architects – including Julia Morgan, Maybeck & White, Charles McCall, A.W. Smith, Hamilton Murdock, William Schirmer, Kent & Hass, Frederick Reimers, William Wurster and Irwin Johnson – worked in the neighborhood over the years.

A century later, the Lakeshore Homes Association continues to plan events for the community, and provides a vital organizational structure for neighborhood emergency preparedness. Congratulations to LHA!


Friday, November 3 | Luna Mexicana
7:00 pm | Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway
Don’t miss these exciting Day of the Dead festivities, with performances by Nahui-Ehekatl & Co., Ballet Folklorico Mexico Danza, Mariachi Mexicanisimo and the Oakland Ballet Company performing Chaconne by Jose Limon and Luna Mexicana. For tickets: 800-745-3000 box office or click here for more info. Sponsorships and dinner packages are available.


Sunday, November 5 | Akira’s Book Club Launch
1:00-4:00 pm | Red Bay Coffee, 3098 E 10th St.
Akira and Grandma Grace invite you to join us for the launch of their new non-profit, Akira’s Book Club. All 12 of their Wordsmith Jr. books will be there along with lots of fun things for the kids. This is a great, free event for anyone with young children or grandchildren, or any educators who could benefit from these books. It’s going to be a very children-friendly occasion, much like the launch of Wordsmith Jr. two years ago at the Oakland Children’s Museum. Click here for more info.


Saturday, November 4 | Homebuyer Resource Fair
10:00 am-2:00 pm | City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
Get the resources to buy a home and stay in Oakland. This free housing fair will showcase financial assistance for qualifying and down payments, grants and loan programs, free homebuyer classes and support that are available locally for those who are considering homeownership. Housing counselors will be on-site. Information is available in English, Spanish and Chinese.

Economic Development Strategy 
On November 7, the City Council will receive the final draft Economic Development Strategy, which outlines our shared economic values and identifies immediate and long-term steps that the City can take to grow Oakland’s economy and enable all residents and business owners to thrive and prosper. Its goal is to make Oakland an easy, efficient and prosperous place to do business, reduce racial disparities, and help all Oaklanders achieve economic security.

The Strategy proposes more than 50 goals that the City should aim to reach over the next three years – ranging from supporting small businesses to building housing to maintaining public space. Crafted by the City’s Economic and Workforce Development Department, the Strategy reflects changes in Oakland’s economy and the tools available to stimulate growth.