Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday's Briefing: 1,000-unit project near West Oakland BART gets planning permits; 'The Great Pave' begins

A's sweep Yankees; Raiders win on an 80-yard field

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Aug 23, 2019 at 12:16 AM

A rendering of the 33-story tower proposed as part of the 1,000-unit 500 Kirkham Street project near the West Oakland BART station.
  • A rendering of the 33-story tower proposed as part of the 1,000-unit 500 Kirkham Street project near the West Oakland BART station.

News you don’t want to miss for Aug. 23-25:

1. A transit-oriented development near the West Oakland BART station featuring 1,000 new housing units received planning permits, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The projects also includes spaces for retail and open space, along with a 33-story tower. $$

2. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilmember Noel Gallo commenced the start of the city's three-year, $100 million road improvement initiative named "The Great Pave," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Work crews are already working on Harold Street, a road off Fruitvale Avenue near MacArthur Boulevard. $$

3. Seven passengers on a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Oakland to Honolulu Thursday morning were hospitalized for smoke-related symptoms, SFGate reports. An in-flight emergency was declared 20 minutes from landing in Hawaii. The smoke is believed to have emanated from the cargo hold.

4. East Bay Assemblymember Buffy Wicks is urging Nevada lawmakers to hold a joint legislative summit on gun control, the Politico California Playbook reports. The Gilroy shooter used a type of assault weapon that was purchased in Nevada, where it is legal, but illegal in California.

5. A BART board director's plan to ban busking and panhandling at its station is unconstitutional, said the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, Curbed SF reports. The proposed prohibitions are free speech, the ACLU added.

6. The deadline to apply for California's 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission was extending because the pool of applicants failed to match the state's diversity. With the deadline near, Calmatters reports, that while the commission received more applications, most were still white and male.

7. The A's swept the Yankees in Oakland Thursday night with a 5-3 win, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Bronx Bombers came into the three-game series with the best record in the Majors. The A's and Giants resume the Bay Bridge Series in Oakland on Saturday and Sunday.

8. The Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas next season, but played a pre-season game Thursday in Winnipeg, Canada, and on an 80-yard football field, Deadspin reports. Don't ask! But the Raiders beat the Green Bay Packers, 22-21, to raise their pre-season record to 3-0, NBC Sports Bay Area reports.

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thursday's Briefing: Initiative to rescind Livermore's e-cig ban makes the ballot; Oakland charter schools are not enrolling enough disabled students

Federal judge faults Oakland, OPD for backsliding on police reforms

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Aug 22, 2019 at 1:55 AM

San Francisco's ban on e-cigarette sales is also the subject of a ballot measure backed by Juul that hopes to overturn the ordinance. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • San Francisco's ban on e-cigarette sales is also the subject of a ballot measure backed by Juul that hopes to overturn the ordinance.

News you don't want to miss for Aug. 22:

1. A bill that restricts sales of flavored e-cigarette cartridges is moving through the state Legislature, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Meanwhile, Livermore's recent ordinance that follows San Francisco in banning the sale of e-cigarettes will be challenged at the ballot box next year after an initiative backed by e-cig maker Juul was certified by the county registrar, the East Bay Citizen reports.

2. "The federal judge overseeing Oakland’s efforts to combat racial discrimination in policing told the city’s mayor and police officials Wednesday that their current approach doesn’t seem to be working," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

3. The line of groups opposing PG&E's plan to shut off power during wildfire-prone period of time is getting longer. Now, California oil companies are raising concerns that the plan could create environmental dangers and raise gas prices, KQED reports.

4. Ghost Ship trial: After three days of deliberations, the revamped jury is taking some time off, the San Francisco Chronicle. The jury will return after Labor Day to resume discussions on 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter against Derick Almena and Max Harris. Earlier this week, the judge in the case removed three jurors for undisclosed reasons. $$

5. The California Teachers Association said charter schools in Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego school districts enroll a smaller portion of disabled students than public schools, according to a study, the Sacramento Bee reports. $$

6. Hector David Mendoza-Vela, a former priest at St. John's Catholic Church in San Lorenzo and Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Fremont,who was charged with allegedly molesting a boy in 2017 and 2018, could face up to five years in prison, the East Bay Times reports. $$

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Wednesday's Briefing: Oakland businessman indicted in $110 million fraud scheme; Half of guns used in Alameda County crimes were not registered in the state

Alameda USD eyes a parcel tax, but polling results show tepid support

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Oakland businessman Tom Henderson was indicted Tuesday. - OAKLAND POST
  • Oakland Post
  • Oakland businessman Tom Henderson was indicted Tuesday.

News you don't want to miss for Aug. 21:

1. Tom Henderson, the former owner of the iconic Tribune Tower in Oakland, was indicted Tuesday for allegedly setting up an scam that involved the federal EB-5 visa program, KTVU reports. Henderson and a Chinese national, who was also indicted, allegedly raised $110 million from hundreds of foreign investors who believed they were funding businesses created to use EB-5 workers. The scheme put 2,000 jobs in Oakland at risk, the U.S. Attorney said.

2. A report released by the Alameda County District Attorney's office shows nearly half of the 862 guns used in crimes in the county last year were not registered to owners who live in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Furthermore, 8 percent did not belong to the person arrested. $$

3. After back-to-back deadly wildfire seasons in California, so far this year has been one of the slowest starts in years, The Wall Street Journal reports. $$

4. Good thing, because over the last four years insurers have dropped an estimated 350,000 policies for homeowners who live in fire-prone areas, the Sacramento Bee reports, including 88,000 last year. $$

5. Facebook is being sued for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act after allowing housing providers to place ads on the social media site that excluded users from seeing them based on race, national origin, and disabilities, among other factors, the Mercury News reports.

6. A new survey of California developers found investors are skittish about building new multi-family projects in the Bay Area, Curbed SF reports. A sense that Bay Area home prices are in decline, along with expected higher inventory is cited, but the region's stringent rent protections may also be a strong reason. “As the most expensive rental market in California, [the Bay Area] is the most likely to be impacted by the growing movement towards rent control.”

7. Alameda voters might be asked to approve a school parcel tax next March to increase pay for its low-earning teachers (who, incidentally, are not exactly keen about a parcel tax). But polling done by the school district shows the parcel tax, which could raise up to $11 million a year in new revenue, is anything but a sure bet at the ballot box, the East Bay Citizen reports.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Oakland Planning Commission to Consider 5G Cellphone Facilities

Aug. 21 meeting will also consider Oakland Museum site improvements, Sobrante Park traffic issues, West Oakland Housing, and Redevelopment of CCA Campus.

by Patricia Maurice
Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 3:16 PM

The Oakland Planning Commission is set to consider a variety of items at Wednesday’s meeting including 5G antennas, and major residential developments near West Oakland BART and at the former campus of the California College of the Arts.

The director will issue reports on the following three items:

  • An update to zoning standards for telecommunications facilities. Staff will require: Measurement of actual Radio Frequency emissions prior to building permit sign-off, as well as of cumulative RF emissions; a 200-foot radius measurement separating antennas; applications to demonstrate that a community meeting regarding cell sites has been held. Staff will post a database/map on the City’s website indicating Telecommunications facilities by application, approval, construction and inspection phase.

  • Addressing traffic issues related to the Lodestar School in the Sobrante Park neighborhood.

  • A discussion of proposed site and building improvements at the Oakland Museum of California.

Public hearings will be held on the following items:

  • Construction of a total of 1,032 residential units (including 85 very low income affordable), approximately 35,000 square feet of retail and commercial flex space, 59 parking spaces, dog park, playground and pedestrian pathways at 500 Kirkham Street and 1255 7th St.; one block east of West Oakland BART station. Environmental determination: Detailed CEQA analysis shows project consistent with CEQA and City policies.

  • Environmental scoping session to redevelop California College of Arts Oakland Campus and Clifton Hall properties at 5200 and 5276 Broadway, respectively. Proposal includes construction of 554 residential units in four residential buildings including one 19-story residential tower, 367-space parking garage, 554 bicycle parking spaces; renovation of three historic structures, office space and an interpretative center, 1.71 acres public open space. Environmental determination: EIR will be prepared, a Notice of Preparation was published on June 21, 2019; comment period ends August 23, 2019.

The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers, at One Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

Tuesday's Briefing: Three Ghost Ship trial jurors replaced; DA will not seek death penalty for suspect in Nia Wilson killing

Oakland is finally fixing Harold Street's Potholepalooza

by Steven Tavares
Tue, Aug 20, 2019 at 4:00 AM

The inclusion of three new jurors means deliberations, which have been on-going for 10 days, must start over. - DAMU DAILEY
  • Damu Dailey
  • The inclusion of three new jurors means deliberations, which have been on-going for 10 days, must start over.

News you don't want to miss for Aug. 20:

1. Ghost Ship trial: Three jurors were replaced by alternates Monday after improperly discussing the case, possibly with a reporter, KQED reports. The change means a start-over for deliberations.

2. "The Alameda County District Attorney's Office on Monday said it will not seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing 18-year-old Nia Wilson more than a year ago," KTVU reports. John Lee Cowell was charged with murder and attempted murder of Wilson's sister at the MacArthur BART station in July 2018.

3. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation Monday that raises the threshold for when police can use deadly force from a "reasonable" to "necessary" threat, Politico reports. The bill follows a number of officer-involved shootings, including the killing of Stephon Clark by police in Sacramento last year.

4. An 87-year-old Holocaust survivor on Section 8 said he and his family were harassed and threatened with an evicition, The Guardian reports. Alameda has greatly strengthened its renters' protections over the past two years, but not for Section 8 recipients.

5. Harold Street in Oakland, the outrageously pot-holed road is finally getting a full repave, SFGate reports. Work should be done by the end of the week.

6. Oakland wasn't built in a day, but the downtown construction boom is reducing foot-traffic and cutting into the bottom lines of small businesses, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

7. A.J. Puk, one of the Oakland A's top pitching prospect, was called up from the minors, NBC Sports reports. Meanwhile, Nathan Patterson, the fan signed by the A's after throwing 96 mph at a stadium speed-pitch game, struck out the side in his first minor league appearance, SFGate reports.

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Oakland A’s Shake Off Injuries, Buck Odds to join Playoff Hunt

Despite a long list of injuries and an underachieving bullpen, Oakland again is leaning on a few young stars and no-name role players to nab a playoff spot.

by Chris De Benedetti
Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 2:14 PM

As the 2019 season winds down, the Coliseum will be the site of yet another pennant race.
  • As the 2019 season winds down, the Coliseum will be the site of yet another pennant race.

Buckle up, A’s fans. The final six weeks of the 2019 pennant race is going to be a wild, bumpy ride.

Then again, you wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?

These are intriguing days for Oakland baseball. A.J. Puk, one of the franchise’s most heralded prospects, was called up to the majors for the first time on Monday, bolstering an inconsistent bullpen and giving fans a tantalizing glimpse at the future.

News of the young hurler’s promotion was a jolt of energy for the A’s, which just won a thrilling series from the Houston Astros. The Green and Gold flexed their biceps at the plate and displayed a bottomless well of mettle all weekend, taking three of four games from one of MLB’s best teams. Two of the contests were tense, one-run A’s victories that felt like playoff baseball and must have done wonders to boost the young team’s confidence.

That there is a pennant race at all in which the A’s can compete is something of a miracle. Consider that Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino, last year’s stalwart relievers, have struggled mightily this season, while injuries have forced the A’s to play long stretches without Matt Olson, Ramon Laureano, and a few other key contributors. Also, several injuries have marred Khris Davis’ season, sending the powerful slugger into a tailspin at the plate.

Infielder Jurickson Profar also has disappointed with an anemic batting average (.204) and on-base percentage (.269), as well as a throwing “yips” problem that’s turned every ground ball into a scary adventure. Lastly, various ailments have placed five different A’s catchers behind the plate, robbing the pitching staff of some much-needed stability.

If I had known in March that the team would face all of those challenges this summer, my only reply would have been: “Will the A’s lose 100 games or just 95?”

Instead, the squad led by Manager Bob Melvin is right in the thick of the playoff hunt. Even though they were under .500 as late as June 10, they’ve played .667 ball since then to boost their record to a strong 71-53 record. After the dust cleared Sunday night, the A’s were right on the heels of the second wild card spot, with just 38 games left in the season.

In fact, they’re almost matching the pace of last year’s wildly successful campaign, in which the A’s earned 97 wins and a Wild Card Game appearance. Given the growing pile of bad breaks in 2019, how have the A’s stayed in contention?

Well, having some all-star talent helps.

And the A’s clearly have a number of young studs in Olson, Laureano, shortstop Marcus Semien, and All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman. Liam Hendriks has ably filled the closer role that Treinen’s struggles left vacant. Brett Anderson and Chris Bassitt have been unspectacular but effective as part of a patchwork rotation anchored by Mike Fiers, whose 11-3 record includes a May 7 no-hitter.

Some wonderful, albeit head-scratching, success stories have emerged, too. The recent arrival of 30-year-old second baseman Corban Joseph has been an unlikely godsend. Before joining the A’s a week ago, Joseph had just five career hits in a total of 16 major league games dating back to 2013. He matched that offensive output in just five games this past week in Oakland, knocking a homer and two RBIs and claiming the squad’s second-base job for the foreseeable future.

Now Puk, 24, is set to join a pitching staff that on Tuesday will begin a three-game set against the big, bad New York Yankees, possessors of MLB’s best record.

Is it reasonable to lean on inexperienced players like Joseph and Puk right as pennant-race pressure gets red hot? Um … sure, why not?

This is the Oakland A’s we’re talking about. It’s a clubhouse filled mostly with unheralded players who are as fascinating as they are flawed.

With this franchise, the unexpected is the only thing expected. Which might be the only explanation for if the A’s’ long, hot summer transitions into an unforgettable autumn in Oakland.

Chris De Benedetti, a co-founding member of Baseball Oakland, writes a regular sports column for the Express.

Monday’s Briefing: Bay Area rental prices are showing signs of cooling; BART board director wants to ban busking, panhandling at stations

Noted Oakland civil rights attorney allegedly gave jailed clients contraband phones

by Steven Tavares
Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 4:00 AM

BART Board Director Debora Allen. - BART
  • BART
  • BART Board Director Debora Allen.

News you don’t want to miss for Aug. 19:

1. “California’s job growth is now in its 113th month, tying the expansion of the 1960s as the longest on record as the world’s fifth largest economy continues its recovery from the Great Recession,” the Associated Press reports. In addition, unemployment in the state dropped to a record-tying 4.1 percent. Since 2010, California’s job creation accounts for 15 percent of all new jobs in the country.

2. Meanwhile, there are signs the red-hot Bay Area economy is beginning to cool. One indicator is rent prices. Just three of 44 Bay Area cities reported increases greater than one percent in average month-to-month rents, the East Bay Times reports. They include Oakland, Pleasant Hill, and surprisingly, San Leandro. $$

3. Anne Weills, the Oakland civil rights attorney who once led opposition to solitary confinement in California has been banned from visiting correctional facilities for allegedly communicating with clients via contraband cell phones, the East Bay Times reports. Weills is married to civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, who ran for Oakland mayor in 2014. $$

4. Lafayette Councilmember Susan Candell, in a reversal, said she will not recuse herself from discussion of a proposed 315-unit apartment project in the notably NIMBY Lamorinda enclave, the East Bay Times reports. Candell ran successfully for the city council on opposition to the project. Last spring, the project’s developer repeatedly called for Candell to recuse herself because of prior advocacy against the development. $$

5. BART Board Director Deborah Allen is proposing an ordinance to ban all panhandling and busking, the ubiquitous side shows that both entertain and annoy weary daily BART riders, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

6. Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo and Assemblymember Rob Bonta spoke at a rally Saturday in support of a citizens-driven, perhaps legally dubious, lawsuit against the NFL in hopes of keeping the Raiders logo and colors in Oakland. Meanwhile, Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown might offer his support for the lawsuit if it means keeping his old helmet. Raiders management questioned Brown’s commitment to the team after he missed practice Sunday because of the continuing helmet controversy, Yahoo! Sports reports.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Bassett Hounds the Astros, A's Rough em Up

Look Ma, No Homers!

by Kibby Kleiman
Sat, Aug 17, 2019 at 6:40 PM

The Oakland A's are playing their most exciting baseball of the year. There have been longer winning streaks, there has been more sustained stat padding, but winning three straight against their first place rivals means that we have arrived at a peak, on our way perhaps to higher peaks? Starting pitcher Chris Bassitt, on the mound today, has got to be the most anonymous looking of a pretty anonymous crew. I kept getting him confused with other A's pitcher, Daniel Gossett and for a fan who watches 60% of 80% of their games still would not recognize Bassitt if he walked past me wearing an A's hat and tossing a baseball. (Needing to ensure that we spelled his name correctly (we didn't) the first online reference was to a Pit Master Bar-B-Que chef) Bassitt was the pits in the first inning, loading the bases, then leaving a runner in scoring position in the second inning, then giving up two runs in the third and very lucky to not be much further behind. And then he slammed the door, throwing a career high 116 pitches and cruising until it was bullpen time. Meanwhile, the A's using their patented small ball offense (patented early this morning) to score eight and win going away. This means that Oakland is now 6 1/2 games out of first place, inches away from wild card ownership and confident as hell heading into Sunday's season finale against another Astro All Star. The A's won with homers on Thursday, with endurance on Friday, and with singles on Saturday. Hard to imagine what exotic method it will take to complete the sweep but thus far this whole series belongs to the believers.

Can The A's catch the Astros?

What is this Wild Card you speak of?

Sat, Aug 17, 2019 at 12:15 PM

If Robbie Grossman driving in Corban Joseph with a seeing eye single in the 13th inning is how you drew it up, then perhaps you can imagine that a 7 1/2 game deficit to the Houston Astros is doable as well. We're starting to believe too.

The A's are figuring out a way to beat a team they can't beat and outlast Justin Verlander, a pitcher they haven't solved for over a decade. This is all being done without the ace of the staff, Frankie Montas who is suspended until the last week of the season and for Khris Davis, whose bat is hibernating until next Spring. Our hottest hitter, Ramon Laureano is injured and we found Joseph, a 30-year old never-was and handed him the keys to second base just this week. The win yesterday was eye-squinting viewing; willing our scattered bullpen to keep the Astro in scoring position from scoring and trying to get our guys another 90 feet closer to victory. As soon as we turned off the TV after twelve unresolved innings, we heard the finish on the radio, suggesting we owe Athletics nation an apology for not thinking of this solution until 11:00 p.m. It is now proven we can beat the Astros in the night time, so we suggest Saturday and Sunday day gamers to keep battling until the 18th innings so we can get them twice more where they are most vulnerable, under the lights. Not sure if that will work, but we didn't think the 2019 line up August edition would be working either.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Friday's Briefing: BART wants $2.4 million in damages for Downtown Berkeley renovation delays; Beer now on tap at Cal football games

Alameda councilmember drops claim with the city for $90,000 in legal fees

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 4:00 AM

Downtown Berkeley BART station. - BART
  • BART
  • Downtown Berkeley BART station.

News you don’t want to miss for Aug. 16-18:

1. BART is seeking $2.4 million in damages from the contractor behind the recent renovation of the Downtown Berkeley station, Berkeleyside reports. The station opened last October, 455 days late.

2. The FBI agent who had a gun, ammunition, and official jacket stolen from a vehicle parked at the Hegenberger Shopping Center was cited by Oakland Police, Bay City News reports. The firearm, however, has recently recovered.

3. Hot weather in the East Bay is expected to cool this weekend, but not before 94 degree temperatures at the Oakland Airport Thursday tied a record last set in 1950, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. $$

4. Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie said he will no longer seek reimbursement for more than $90,000 in legal costs he incurred while defending himself against allegations of political interference made by the city’s former city manager, the East Bay Citizen reports.

5. A complaint was filed with the state Fair Political Practices Commission against the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Toll Authority, and AC Transit alleging they illegally coordinated public resources to support last summer’s Regional Measure 3 toll increase ballot initiative, the Marin Independent Journal reports. $$

6. Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson spoke to a packed house Wednesday night at the East Bay Church of Religious Science in Oakland. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli reports one supporter said Williamson’s self-help books saved her life. $$

7. Because Cal has not played in the Rose Bowl since 1959, you would have thought alcohol is a prerequisite at Memorial Stadium. Not so, apparently. Starting this upcoming college football season, beer and wine will be available at Golden Bears home games, SFGate reports.

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