I’m inspired by how Oaklanders are staying strong, showing love and solidarity with the movement to support our Black brothers and sisters, continuing to shelter in place, and coming together to help our small businesses.
In case you missed it, see my recent message on honoring George Floyd + Black Lives and working towards police accountability.
In this newsletter, you’ll find:
- How my office, the City & community are helping small biz post-demonstrations
- COVID-19 biz updates & resources for re-opening
- Preview of Tuesday’s Council meeting
Rapid Response to Help Small Businesses
Solidarity, Repair Damage & Volunteering
I applaud the solidarity of Oakland’s business community -- including the African American, Metropolitan, Vietnamese, Chinatown, and Latino Chambers of Commerce -- who declared their support for George Floyd, Black Lives Matter peaceful protests, and an economic recovery that centers racial justice.
Repair Funds: Following damages to storefronts and streets in recent protests, please consider contributing to the following repair funds to remove graffiti, fix broken glass / gates, and clean the streets. Coupled with ongoing losses due to COVID-19, many of our small businesses are truly struggling and need our support.
- Oakland Black Business Damage Fund
- Oakland Chinatown Recovery & Resilience Fund
- Oakland Indie Alliance Repair Fund
City Resource Hub: See the City’s multilingual resource hub for business support following demonstrations, including information about insurance, loss of merchandise, and volunteer clean-ups.
My Office’s 1:1 Outreach: District 2 staff have been visiting dozens of small businesses near recent protests in Chinatown and Eastlake, talking directly with merchants and employees, connecting them with city resources, and reporting needs to the City Administration. We’ve been keeping track of vandalism, loss of merchandise, security infrastructure, and mental / physical health of workers. In addition, we’re meeting weekly with the Lakeshore Avenue Business Improvement District and working with community activists to organize other small business meetings towards mutual aid.
Volunteer Tomorrow at 11 am - 1pm in Chinatown: Please join me at a physically distanced Rapid Response Chinatown "PickItUp" clean-up with OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates East Bay Chapter (photo above is pre-COVID). Meet at Pacific Renaissance Plaza fountain. You will help pick up trash, sweep broken glass, inspect public assets that may have been damaged, help report issues to OAK311 (as Chinatown has seen underreporting in the past), and help with graffiti abatement. If you want to help paint, wear clothes you don't mind staining.
COVID-19 Biz Updates & Resources
Supporting Upcoming Re-openings
Re-Opening & Recovery Survey: To help the City gauge COVID-19 impacts and needs as your small business plans for re-opening and recovery, please take the Business Re-opening and Recovery Survey. It’s available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Plan for Businesses Re-Opening: The City advises that all businesses begin working on re-opening plans that include physical distancing, training for employees on limiting COVID-19 spread, and disinfection protocols. See the City’s planning resources and federal, state, and county guidelines here. To specifically support businesses with curbside or storefront pickup and/or delivery, the City is taking the following steps:
- Request an expedited temporary white curb by dialing 311 or online.
- For a limited time, no permits are required and no penalties will be enforced for use of frontage space which is the first 3 feet of public space directly in front of your business, as long as the use allows for social distancing, respects pedestrians’ path and does not create new safety hazards. Contact OakDOT’s permit office with questions at (510) 238-3891.
- The City has launched the Flex Streets Initiative to streamline the permitting process for sidewalk and roadway encroachments to make it easier for businesses to use larger portions of the sidewalk and roadway (parking lanes and streets), including permits for parklets and cafe seating to meet physical distancing requirements. Take this survey to inform the program.
Grants for Local Black-Owned Businesses: The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce has created a COVID-19 Resiliency Relief Program to provide grants to Oakland-based, Black-owned small businesses adversely impacted. Apply by Saturday, June 20.
Grants for Female Entrepreneurs: The Red Backpack Fund is supporting female-owned businesses with grants of up to $5K in COVID relief funds. Apply by Monday, June 8.
Grants for Companies: Until July 16, apply for up to $10K in emergency funds from Verizon and Hello Alice.
Oakland COVID-19 Fund Update: $1 million in additional funding has been received from private philanthropy to support the existing Oakland Small Business Emergency Grant Program administered by Working Solutions. This program was launched in April with $500,000 in seed funding to provide emergency grants of $5,000 to small businesses owned by extremely and very low-income individuals. The program received more than 1,200 applications in 6 days and issued grants to 90 applicants in the first round. With $1.5 million in total funding, the fund can now issue grants to a total of 270 low, very-low, and extremely-low income business owners from the existing pipeline, and is seeking further donations to serve more businesses. Please note that the fund is not accepting new applications at this time in order to serve existing applicants.
Good Good Eatz: We want to shout out the inspiring work of Oakland Chinatown Improvement's Good Good Eatz project, which sprang up to support our community during COVID-19. See this Berkeleyside article on their powerful efforts to create networks of community-support organizations and donors to help local restaurants and markets in Chinatown, Fruitvale and Eastlake cover costs of making food for shut-ins, shut-outs (unhoused and unemployed), and relief workers.
Small Business Tax Relief: ICYMI, my last newsletter shared my proposal with CMs Thao and Kalb for a progressive, fair change to our business tax system. More here.
City Council Meeting
What’s On the Agenda?
On Tuesday, June 9th at 11:30 am, our City Council meeting will include the following important agenda items, among others:
- Item 5: Creation of the Department of Workplace & Employment Standards
- Item 7: OPD Racial Disparity Report
- Item 9: Ballot Measure Amending Powers of the Police Commission
- Item 10: Emergency Operations Plan