Credit: David Gray, Austin TX
These tragedies remind us that the work to reimagine public safety and restore critical human services must continue to be top priority. I ask for your support on two pieces of legislation I’m introducing at Tuesday’s Council meeting to support state efforts to better protect and serve our most vulnerable communities:
 Improving Conditions to Elect Progressive Sheriffs
I’m bringing forth a resolution to support SB 271 (Weiner), The Sheriff Diversity And Democracy Act, which would allow voters to choose from a broader pool of candidates for Sheriff with more diverse backgrounds and skill sets -- ideally favoring de-escalation, mental, and health care -- and greater accountability.
SB 271 restores California’s long-standing eligibility criteria for candidates seeking the office of Sheriff so that all registered voters can run, rather than only those with law enforcement backgrounds.
From our state’s founding in 1850 until 1989 — 139 years — California operated under what SB 271 proposes: anyone could run for Sheriff. But in 1989, the law changed to allow only law enforcement officers to run for Sheriff. This restriction dramatically shrinks the pool of eligible candidates, and effectively eliminates accountability for Sheriffs since so few people can challenge them for reelection. This dysfunction plays out in California, with some Sheriffs refusing to enforce state law around immigration or refusing to enforce public health orders around COVID-19.
Thank you to Secure Justice, the Wellstone Democratic Club and the many criminal justice, civil and human rights advocates who’ve organized around and supported this bill. Read more in Oaklandside. View my resolution here. Share E-Comments here.
 Ending ICE Transfers in California
I’m bringing forth a resolution to support AB 937 (Carrillo), The Vision Act, which would end ICE transfers from our local jails and state prisons, ensuring that local law enforcement and other city / county agencies are not engaged with ICE.
Our immigrant and refugee families in the Bay Area have endured immense suffering due to the Trump Administration’s deportation efforts, and we must create stronger statewide protections so that brothers and sisters who’ve served their time and rehabilitated are not subject to inhumane and unsanitary conditions in detention centers and torn from loved ones and all stability.
Thank you to the powerful organizations based in District 2 -- Center for Empowering Refugees & Immigrants / CERI, Asian Prisoner Support Committee / APSC, and AYPAL -- and many others for leading this charge in the broader work to end systemic racial injustice and mass incarceration.
Leading up to this milestone, I’m proud to have successfully called on Governor Newsom to pardon Oaklanders like Danny Thongsy and Sakhone Lasaphangthong, who work as community leaders providing resources to unhoused communities and re-entry services for formerly incarcerated community members. With CM Thao, we also passed legislation last spring urging the Governor to take action to protect our Lao, Hmong, Iu Mien, Khmu and Southeast Asian refugee and immigrant communities from deportation. View my resolution here. Send E-comments here.
QUICK COVID UPDATES: Alameda County has been in the Orange Tier since March 30, with more businesses and activities permitted to open. Residents ages 16+ are also now eligible for vaccines. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson (currently paused) vaccines are approved for individuals 18+. Learn more about availability and vaccine sites here.
In this newsletter, you’ll find information about:
- Important public safety updates
- Findings of Oakland’s Homelessness Audit + urgent next steps
- Important items for Tuesday’s Council meeting
- City and District 2 news and resources
Important Public Safety Updates
Funding to Prioritize Community Ambassadors, Response to Violent Crime & Health + Equity at Lake Merritt
 Restoring Mayoral Budget Cuts & Appropriating Federal COVID Relief Funds: This past Monday, I led with Vice Mayor Kaplan the City Council's approval of an FY 2020-2021 Budget Amendment accepting and appropriating federal COVID relief funds and $10M from the Coliseum Authority/Warriors Settlement. We balanced the budget by closing the projected shortfall and made important service restorations which the Mayoral Administration cut in December 2020, including:
- public safety services like Ceasefire,
- walking foot patrol officers in Chinatown and Fruitvale,
- Community Resource Officers,
- traffic, sideshow and investigative functions;
- restoring fire services; and
- reinstating up to 500 temporary staff to re-open parks, rec centers and libraries.
We also funded critical new violence prevention and community safety programs, including:
- Community Safety Ambassadors in Chinatown, Eastlake, Lake Merritt, Fruitvale, East Oakland, West Oakland and North Oakland,
- as well as our Department of Violence Prevention programs.
Lastly, we expanded fire prevention, homeless supports, trash/illegal dumping/grafitti services, high priority traffic calming, and economic/workforce programs.
My budget resolution also provides for increased transparency and accountability clarifying that new funds shall be appropriated and allocated through a public process by the City Council with a public vote, and seeks state and federal funds to acquire and develop housing for homeless residents and permanent affordable housing.
 Community-Led Safety, Health, and Equity at Lake Merritt: We are making progress at the Lake to balance and address the needs for programming, recreation, safety, and respite in the neighborhood, as well as advance a long-term vision for community programming, alternatives to policing, and shared agreements for Lake Merritt and other public parks and spaces.
Our office’s plan -- through at least Labor Day -- to improve safety, health and equity at the Lake includes:
- introducing a Parks Ambassadors pilot for the Lake as a community-led alternative to policing to address amplified noise, littering, and other priorities;
- permitting a vending market for merchandise vendors;
- city operations including street closures and traffic controls, parking enforcement, municipal code enforcement, additional litter/trash collection, porta potties and handwashing stations; and
- longer-term plans to convene the Life Enrichment Committee (LEC), Parks & Recreation Advisory Commission (PRAC) and Cultural Affairs Commission to develop community agreements and programming at public spaces citywide, including Lake Merritt.
I recently convened with leaders in the Black community to hear their visions and goals for the Lake and public parks and spaces across the City. Check out our Facebook Live video here (or click photo above).
Findings of City Auditor’s Homelessness Audit
Join Our Call for Housing-First Solutions
The City Auditor finally released an audit on Oakland’s encampment management program which I called for two years ago, asking for data and evaluation of our homelessness interventions and spending.
The findings are unacceptable: Since 2017, Oakland’s Encampment Management Team has operated without a clear structure, strategy or budget to address this crisis, and data to evaluate millions in spending is inconsistent or non-existent.
While the Mayor and her Administration have failed to address the magnitude of this crisis, and have now committed to follow the Auditor’s recommendations, 2 years ago Council created the position of Homeless Administrator and has been allocating them a budget to serve and house unsheltered Oaklanders, including this past week’s Council action to allocate $400K for hotel stays and $1.4M for trash collection, sanitation and other services.
I’ve scheduled a hearing on the audit for Monday, April 26th, 1:30pm at the Life Enrichment Committee and need your support to urge for these solutions:
We must use EVERY PARCEL OF PUBLIC LAND to house the unsheltered and create affordable housing. That includes the E. 12th Parcel in my district, near Lake Merritt, which has languished for the two years I’ve been in office and longer.
We must use every state and federal source of funding to acquire hotels and vacant buildings to house the unsheltered and create affordable housing, like the 92-room Lake Merritt Lodge which the City will purchase and open soon.
We must build modular housing, stand up new dignified shelters, and create more safe, clean RV and car parking sites.
We need Alameda County to increase their investment in mental health and substance abuse resources for Oakland’s unhoused.
We must improve services to respect the dignity of unhoused residents in any encampment interventions — from notifications of cleaning to handling personal belongings and transportation.
Tuesday 4/20: Council Meeting Preview
Public Safety + Just Economic Recovery Initiatives, Traffic Safety and more
This coming Tuesday, April 20th’s 1pm City Council meeting will include the following important agenda items:
Item S11: We’ll consider adopting a resolution to implement last week’s budget actions by authorizing the City Administrator to negotiate and execute professional service or grant agreements for a range of public safety and economic recovery initiatives in our underserved communities including:
- Community Safety Ambassadors in Chinatown, Eastlake, East Oakland, West Oakland, Fruitvale, North Oakland;
- Lake Merritt’s Safety and Equity Program -- including for permitted street vending and Community Ambassadors;
- Vendor support and markets including the Akoma Market in East Oakland; and the Native American and Fruitvale Market vendors.
Item 2.8: We’ll receive a report on the Safe Oakland Streets Initiative regarding comprehensive traffic safety strategies that effectively reduce injuries, advance equity, and address speeding, including infrastructure + policy changes, enforcement strategies, and programs in place or under consideration.
Item S2.25: We’ll consider a resolution I’m bringing with CMs Thao and Fife to support AB 937, The Vision Act, which would end ICE transfers from local jails and CA state prisons. Read more in my opening letter above.
Item S2.26: We’ll consider a resolution I’m introducing to support SB 271, The Sheriff Diversity And Democracy Act, to ensure a broader pool of candidates -- ideally with skill sets favoring de-escalation, mental and health care -- are eligible to run for the office of County Sheriff statewide. Read more in my opening letter above.
Item 2.14: We’ll consider a resolution to adopt the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth Final Evaluation Report for FY 2019-20. I’m honored to have brought forth legislation in early 2020 that reauthorized the fund -- thank you to all the youth and supporters whose advocacy made this possible.
See details to join the meeting and share public comment or e-comments here.
City + District 2 News and Resources
Emergency Rent Assistance, Multilingual D2 Budget Survey
Apply for Emergency Rent / Utilities Assistance: New emergency funding is now available for tenants who owe rent / utilities (or property owners to apply for unpaid rent). Oakland residents earning 50% or less of area median income should apply online at hpp.bayareacs.org or call (510) 238-6182. The City is partnering with four local community organizations – Bay Area Community Services (BACS), Catholic Charities East Bay, Centro Legal de la Raza, and Eviction Defense Center – to engage w/ and identify potential applicants and screen and process applications. There is also a new state SB91 Rental Assistance Program to serve tenants earning MORE than 50% area median income. Learn more and apply here.
Help D2 Budget Survey Reach Our Immigrant Communities: Please help share our translated District 2 budget survey to reach friends, family, and organizations serving Vietnamese, Chinese, and Spanish speakers! We want to ensure that the voices of our immigrant communities are heard in how Oakland spends its resources in the next 2-year city budget. If you didn’t already complete the survey in English you can find it here. Also check out our D2 Budget Town Hall.
Refund, Restore and Reimagine Oakland Faith Community Panel: This coming Monday from 5-6:30pm, join the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy and the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity for a panel conversation about how our city budget can support a vision of just recovery to strengthen families and communities, and address root causes of violence. I’m honored to speak alongside CM Carroll Fife, Senior Pastor Anthony Jenkins, Pastor Meina Ko, and Minister Cherri Murphy.
Participate in Chinatown Neighborhood Council: One way to support the wellbeing of our Chinatown and Asian community is to come together around solutions. The Chinatown NCPC will reconvene more consistent meetings on 3rd Wednesdays at 2pm, starting Wednesday 4/21. We encourage Chinatown residents to participate, especially Cantonese speakers. Neighborhood Councils focus on quality of life, economic vitality, sustainability, crime prevention and respect for community identity. Learn more here and reach out to Lisa Dieng at 510-238-3102 or [email protected] with questions.
Community Safety Walk with Franklin Elementary: We recently gathered with Franklin Elementary staff, area neighbors, and partners from EBAYC and the Neighborhood Services Division to go a community safety walk using the CPTED / Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design framework. Together, we walked the perimeter of Franklin Elementary & Rec Center to identify improvements such as better lighting, school zone + pedestrian crossing signage, four-way stop signs, and additional trash bins to improve safety and the built environment for Franklin students and families. Our office is now working with city departments to advocate for implementation.
Oakland Public Library Reopening: Beginning on Monday, April 19, Oakland Public Library will open 16 locations for indoor Express Service. You'll be able to access modified library services including browsing, checkout, and computer use during limited business hours. This includes the Main Branch Library in District 2. Asian Branch in Chinatown will continue to offer Sidewalk Service due to ongoing facility improvements. Learn more here.
Support Summer Camp Parks & Rec Scholarships for Youth: Join the Oakland Parks & Recreation Foundation for “Spring for Parks” on April 29, 2021, a special virtual fundraiser to support scholarships for Oakland, Parks, Recreation and Youth Development’s Town Camp summer program. This year's program includes a keynote address from Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro, a performance from Goapele, stories from Town Camp, and many more surprises! RSVP here.
Oakland Head Start Enrollment: Head Start is currently enrolling students aged 0-5 for the 2021-2022 school year! Head Start serves families who meet certain federal eligibility requirements including households who are low-income, experiencing homelessness, or have a foster child. Learn more and apply here.
Oakland Launches New Poet Laureate Program: On Monday, April 19, the City of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Division will begin accepting nominations for the new Oakland Poet Laureate Program. The program’s primary goal is to make poetry more accessible across Oakland, while promoting an understanding of the transformative power of this art form. Nominations are accepted here through Wednesday, May 19.
New Round of Funding for CA Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program: Round 6 of funding for grant awards of $5-$25K will open on Wednesday, April 28 and close on Tuesday, May 4. New applicants should apply through a partner found at CAReliefGrant.com. Learn more here about funding rounds, application windows and eligibility.
May 31 Deadline for PPP Loans: The extended deadline to apply for this current round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans is May 31, 2021. PPP loans provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. For most borrowers, the maximum loan amount is 2.5 times their average monthly 2019 or 2020 payroll costs up to $2 million. For borrowers in the Accommodation and Food Services sector the maximum loan amount is 3.5 times their average monthly 2019 or 2020 payroll costs up to $2 million. SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses.
Waste Management Hiring Locally: In an effort to attract and hire more Oakland residents, Waste Management has built a Local Hire webpage, WM.com/OaklandCareers, where you can review and apply to all open career opportunities in Oakland, including Drivers, Recycling Education Representatives, Maintenance Supervisors, and Environmental Technicians.
2021 Homeowners Expo: Alameda County Assessor Phong La is hosting the 2nd annual Homeowners Expo on Wednesday, 4/28 from 12-1:30pm for community members to connect with resources and organizations who can assist in navigating the refinancing process, seeking loans for home upgrades, or starting their homeownership journey. Register here. This event will have Spanish and Cantonese translation available.
Join Monthly District 2 #MakeOaklandBetter Clean-Ups: Join Forever Oakland Inc. / Make Oakland Better on the 1st Saturdays of each month for COVID-safe efforts to pick up trash and feed our unhoused neighbors. Next clean-up takes place on Saturday, May 1; meet at the corner of E. 12th St. and 18th. Ave, 1-3pm!
Earth Day Clean Up in Chinatown with OCA East Bay: Please join my office and OCA East Bay for a Chinatown PickItUp clean-up on Sunday, April 25th from 11am-2pm, meeting at Madison Park. Learn more and RSVP at [email protected].