Thursday, February 20, 2014

Affordable Housing Project Coming to Lake Merritt: 68 Apartments on Grand Avenue

by Sam Levin
Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Over the next year and a half, nonprofit developer Bridge Housing will construct a 68-unit apartment building at a currently vacant lot on Grand Avenue by Lake Merritt. The affordable housing project, called AvéVista, is officially breaking ground on Friday and is slated for completion in summer of 2015.

In this case, "affordable" means monthly rents ranging from $696 to $1,392, depending on income and household and apartment size. The property will have studio apartments and units with one, two, and three bedrooms. The developers are targeting residents with incomes ranging from about $27,600 to $55,200, or 30 to 60 percent of the area median income for a family of four.

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Massive Oil-By-Rail Plan in East Bay Put on Hold

by Jean Tepperman
Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 10:44 AM

Pittsburg city government will go back to the drawing board for another round of environmental review on a controversial proposal to build a giant crude oil rail terminal near downtown. Environmental groups and local organizations opposing the crude oil terminal proposed by developer WesPac declared a “huge victory” after City Manager Joe Sbranti announced at a city council meeting on February 18 that, based on the public comments the city received so far, city staff decided it needed more information for parts of the environmental review and wanted to give the public more time to comment. Therefore, the city is opening a new period of review. “The city, as the lead agency for the California Environmental Quality Act review, is committed to protecting the public and prioritizing safety,” Sbranti said.

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Thursday Must Reads: Supermajority of Californians Back Soda Tax; State Lawmakers Revisit Oil Extraction Tax

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A supermajority of Californians — 67 percent — support a tax on soda pop and other sugary drinks to fund programs that make kids healthier, the Chron reports, citing a new Field Poll. And even more residents — 74 percent — said they support putting health warning labels on sugary drinks, much like those placed on cigarette packs. The new poll comes as the Berkeley City Council is considering a tax on sugary beverages. In 2012, Richmond voters turned down such a tax after the soda industry spent $2.5 million to defeat it.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hayward Council Imposes 5 Percent Wage Cuts on City Workers; Union May Strike

by Steven Tavares
Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 4:40 PM

The city council of Hayward, a city once known as the most union-friendly in the Bay Area, unanimously voted Tuesday night to force pay cuts on nearly three hundred union clerical and maintenance workers. Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 in Hayward have been without a contract since last April. And both sides of the growing labor dispute have not met at the bargaining table since last July. The one-year imposition of contracts by the city, which include 5 percent cuts in wages, angered union leaders and members. After the council’s vote, SEIU representatives vowed to fight the council’s action and retaliate politically against each councilmember — three of who are running for mayor this June.

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Wednesday Must Reads: Oakland Council Backs Away from Surveillance Center; Bay Bridge Contractor Pocketed $49 Million in Bonuses

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A majority of Oakland city councilmembers made clear last night that they have no intention of expanding the city’s surveillance center and intend to limit it to the Port of Oakland — a reversal from last year and a strong rebuke to city and port staffers. The Trib$ reports that councilmembers were clearly uneasy about the potential abuses of the so-called Domain Awareness Center, or the DAC, in light of revelations over the past several months about NSA spying on US citizens. The council wants city and port staffers to come up with a plan for limiting the DAC’s uses to just the port — as originally proposed in 2009, and postponed a vote on the issue for two weeks. City officials also acknowledged last night that the surveillance center was never intended to help fight crime in Oakland.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Electronic Frontier Foundation Opposes Oakland Surveillance Center

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 4:20 PM

Adding to a small, but growing list of organizations that publicly oppose construction of Oakland’s Domain Awareness Center, or DAC, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sent a letter today to city councilmembers calling on them to halt the project.

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Tuesday Must Reads: Berkeley to Kill Thousands of Gophers and Squirrels; Number of College Students Seeking Financial Aid Soars

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The City of Berkeley is planning to exterminate thousands of gophers and ground squirrels along the shoreline because the animals are digging into an old landfill and releasing toxins into the bay, the Trib$ reports. The number of squirrels in the area has expanded dramatically because people have been feeding them — despite warnings posted by the city. The city tried to attract raptors to the area to prey on the gophers and ground squirrels, but the effort failed. The city has now hired an exterminator, but is declining to reveal what methods it will use to kill the animals.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Activists Push for Raising Minimum Wage in Oakland to $12.25 an Hour

by Jean Tepperman
Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 10:36 AM

A coalition of low-wage workers, unions, clergy, and community organizations kicked off a campaign to raise Oakland’s minimum wage to $12.25 an hour at a morning rally in Fruitvale Village on Saturday. The campaign, calling itself Lift Up Oakland, is circulating a petition for a ballot measure that would not only raise the minimum wage in the city to one of the highest in the nation, but also includes a provision for annual cost-of-living increases and a requirement that employers provide at least five sick days a year.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Port Postpones A’s Ballpark Plan In Order to Examine Proposal for Shipping Coal Through Jack London Square

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 11:51 AM

The Oakland Port Commission decided to postpone a vote on whether to move forward with a new ballpark at Howard Terminal for the Oakland A’s in order to give more time to examine a plan by a Kentucky company to ship coal through Jack London Square. The commission made the decision after representatives from the Louisville-based firm Bowie Resources Partners, LLC contended that port staffers had not sufficiently considered their proposal for Howard Terminal.

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