Friday, October 30, 2015

Raiders and NFL Gain No Leverage at Oakland Town Hall

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 5:50 PM

Mark Davis.
  • Mark Davis.
Under the NFL’s bylaws, franchises that want to relocate to another city must first allow fans to have their voices heard. The practice of the NFL, however, when it comes to building costly stadiums, is to leverage fans’ fears about a team leaving to pressure municipalities into funding stadium construction with taxpayers’ money. However, if NFL executives on Thursday night at Oakland’s Paramount Theatre were expecting citizens of Raider Nation to provide that leverage, and help pressure Oakland city officials into such a deal, they must be sorely disappointed.

Raiders’ super fan Ray Perez, aka “Dr. Death,” may have best summed up the night when he told team owner Mark Davis: “When I want a house built, I don’t ask the City of Oakland to give me a check.”

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Oakland Businesses Adapting to New Minimum Wage as Economy Booms

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Oct 30, 2015 at 10:13 AM

  • Brooke Anderson / file photo
It’s been eight months since Oakland’s $12.25 minimum wage law took effect. So what has been the economic impact of higher wages on the city?

For one thing, Oakland’s economy is booming. Plus, unemployment is falling, and new businesses are clamoring to locate in Oakland. And perhaps surprisingly, most business owners don’t seem to think the higher minimum wage is a major obstacle to growing, prospering, and hiring more employees in Oakland. That’s what Sepi Aghdaee, a grad student in the Lorry Lokey School of Business and Public Policy at Mills College, found after conducting a detailed survey of 103 Oakland businesses over the summer.

The Oakland City Council will consider the effects of the minimum wage increase at their finance committee meeting on November 10, and Aghdaee’s study about how the new minimum wage has affected employment, business location, prices, and the overall business climate of Oakland will provide some of the evidence.

See also: The Tipping Point
See also: The Battle for Profits

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

After Contemplating Retirement, Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo Says He’s Running for Reelection

by Steven Tavares
Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 5:59 PM

Noel Gallo.
  • Noel Gallo.
One of the oddest pieces of political chatter over the past few months in Oakland went like this: Councilmember Noel Gallo was planning to quit after just one term in office. The rumor, no matter how ridiculous it seemed at first glance, began to grow feverishly among City Hall politicos.

Preceding Wednesday night’s state of the city speech by Mayor Libby Schaaf, numerous City Hall insiders expressed certainty that Gallo was out of the race for 2016. And it turns out there was a good reason for why Oakland’s political class was sure that the Fruitvale district councilmember was going to retire.

Gallo said Wednesday that he was seriously thinking about not seeking reelection and broached the subject with some community members. However, he has now decided that he will run again for the District Five seat. “Man, it’s frustrating being on this council,” Gallo said while wearing a Raiders T-shirt over his dress shirt. In the past few weeks, Gallo said he changed his mind about quitting. “I’m running for sure,” he said.

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Oakland Downtown Plan Draws Skepticism

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 10:15 AM

James Vann of the Oakland Tenants Union (left) and Victor Dover of Dover Kohl. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • James Vann of the Oakland Tenants Union (left) and Victor Dover of Dover Kohl.
Downtown Oakland is going to be a very cool place in the future. There will be expansive parks, tree-lined boulevards crowded with store fronts, bustling sidewalks, protected bicycle paths, and nightlife. Lots of nightlife. But many Oaklanders fear they won’t be around to enjoy it, unless the city does more to provide for existing residents, rather than moving them out to cater to wealthy newcomers.

That was the main takeaway from last night’s “work in progress” presentation on the downtown Oakland specific plan at the Paramount Theatre.

See also: Oakland Launches New Planning Process for Downtown

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Thursday Must Reads: California Salmon Run Decimated by Mass Die-Off; Berkeley Council Okays Green Affordable Housing Plan

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A mass die-off of Chinook salmon eggs and hatchlings last winter in the Sacramento River pushed the already endangered salmon run to the brink of extinction, the Chron reports. About 95 percent of winter run Chinook salmon eggs and babies died because of warm temperatures in the river. Water managers had released water from Shasta dam to keep the river temperatures cool — as required by environmental law — but the water was too warm because of the four-year drought.

Lori Droste.
  • Lori Droste.
2. The Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a green affordable housing plan proposed by Councilmember Lori Droste that would slash parking requirements in order to make new multi-unit housing projects cheaper and would streamline the process for approving affordable housing developments, Berkeleyside reports. Droste’s proposal will come back later to the council for final approval.

3. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called for more “new housing at every income level so the people moving into Oakland don’t push out the people already here,” the Trib$ reports. Schaaf’s comments came in her first state of the city speech.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015 Executives Meet With Oakland Activists, Discuss Efforts to Combat Racial Profiling

by Sam Levin
Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 4:56 PM

  • Sam Levin
Nirav Tolia, co-founder and CEO of the neighborhood social networking site, met with a group of Oakland activists today to discuss concerns about racial profiling on the website. As I investigated in a recent cover story, "Racial Profiling Via," Nextdoor has evolved into a virtual neighborhood watch in Oakland with members frequently using the Crime and Safety section of the site to post unsubstantiated "suspicious activity" warnings about Black residents who aren't doing anything wrong. Throughout the city, Nextdoor posts have labeled Black people as suspects simply for walking down the street or driving a car. In an effort to combat these kinds of offensive posts, a group of activists called Neighbors for Racial Justice — made up of white residents and people of color (some who have been profiled in their own neighborhoods) — is now pushing the San Francisco-based tech company to make concrete changes to the site. 

Earlier this month, Tolia responded to the Express article with a blogpost on outlining the company's plans to curb racial profiling — including potential new training initiatives and changes to the site's guidelines. Today at the co-working space Impact Hub Oakland, Tolia and three other Nextdoor representatives met with five members of Neighbors for Racial Justice, which invited me to sit in on the meeting. The activists — including Upper Dimond resident Shikira Porter, who I featured prominently in my piece — presented Nextdoor with a number of proposals aimed at eliminating racial profiling on the site. In addition to Tolia, the meeting included Kelsey Grady, Nextdoor's head of communications; Gordon Strause, director of neighborhood operations; and Maryam Mohit, director of product. 

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Wednesday Must Reads: Oakland Raiders’ Owner Continues to Demand Free Land; Uber to Pay Oakland's $1 Million Affordable Housing Fee

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 9:50 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Mark Davis.
  • Mark Davis.
1. The Oakland Raiders remain at an impasse with officials from the City of Oakland and Alameda County over a new stadium because team owner Mark Davis continues to demand that he receive free land in the deal, the Chron$ reports. Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid, who is on the Coliseum Authority board, said “there is no way that the city and county are going to agree” to give the Raiders taxpayer-owned property for free. The city, however, is offering to spend up to $120 million on infrastructure upgrades around the Coliseum site. The revelation about the Davis’ demand comes just before the NFL will hold a town hall at the Paramount Theatre concerning the Raiders desire to move to Southern California if they don’t get what they want in Oakland.

2. Uber will pay the City of Oakland's $1 million affordable housing fee as part of the company’s deal to purchase the old Sears building in Uptown and expand its headquarters to the city, the SF Business Times$ reports. Oakland charges the impact fee for warehouse and office development in the city — and it's dependent on the size of the development. The city does not have an impact fee for market-rate housing development, although it has been studying the issue. The $1 million will only pay for three to four affordable housing units.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Oakland Animal Services Euthanasia Rates Plummet, Shelter Saves Record-High Number of Animals

by Sam Levin
Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 1:43 PM

Rebecca Katz, OAS' director - BERT JOHNSON/FILE PHOTO
  • Bert Johnson/File photo
  • Rebecca Katz, OAS' director
For years, Oakland Animal Services (OAS) euthanized a huge portion of the animals it took in. From 2009 to 2013, the city-run shelter annually put down between 37 and 45 percent of all the dogs and cats in its care. The cash-strapped shelter is an open-door municipal facility that doesn't turn away any animals and has often struggled to handle the roughly 6,000 animals it sees every year. OAS has further suffered from consistently high rates of staff turnover and vacancies and repeated controversies surrounding questionable euthanasia decisions and policies

This week, however, OAS finally has some good news to report — and even local advocates who have been vocal critics of the shelter say they are encouraged by the progress. According to data from the city, OAS has saved a record-high number of dogs, cats, and rabbits so far this year — with an overall euthanasia rate of only 15 percent. That means that for 85 percent of animals, OAS has returned them to owners, adopted them into the community, or sent them to a partner rescue group. That's despite the fact that the shelter is on track to have a 10 percent higher total intake of animals this year compared to 2014, according to the city.

When I wrote about OAS in October 2014 — after a group of shelter volunteers accused the shelter of carelessly euthanizing adoptable dogs — the total euthanasia rate was 30 percent from January through September 2014. According to year-to-date comparisons the city sent me at the time, that represented a steady decline in euthanasia rates from previous years — 42 percent in 2011, 40 percent in 2012, 36 percent in 2013. Given those trends, the rate of 15 percent this year so far signals a pretty significant drop. 

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Utah Attorney General Could Kill Plans for Oakland Coal Terminal

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 10:12 AM

Bowie Resource Partners' Sufco Mine in central Utah would be one source of coal shipped through Oakland. - UTAH CONGRESSMAN CHRIS STEWART
  • Utah Congressman Chris Stewart
  • Bowie Resource Partners' Sufco Mine in central Utah would be one source of coal shipped through Oakland.
The Utah Attorney General is considering whether a $53 million public loan to finance construction of a private coal export terminal in Oakland is legal, the Express has learned. 

The loan would be made by a special Utah state agency, the Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB), to four Utah Counties — Sanpete, Sevier, Carbon and Emery. The counties would then use the funds to help build a marine terminal in Oakland. In exchange, they would receive preferential access to the facility, mainly to ship coal extracted from mines in central Utah. But the CIB was set up to provide grants and loans to local Utah governments in an effort to mitigate the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction in the state. Critics of the proposed $53 million loan believe that the CIB is betraying its purpose, and breaking the law, by financing private companies that hope to expand fossil fuel extraction.

See also: Banking on Coal in Oakland
See also: Coal Attorneys Investigate Oakland City Council

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Tuesday Must Reads: Sugar Is Toxic for Kids, Study Confirms; Bay Area Residents Stock Up on Raingear Before El Niño

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Oct 27, 2015 at 9:38 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A new study confirms that sugar is toxic for kids, especially obese children, the Chron reports, citing research conducted by UC San Francisco and Touro University in Vallejo. Researchers found that the health of obese kids can quickly improve if sugar is taken out of their diets. The researchers didn’t slash the kids’ overall calorie intake, but rather replaced sugar with fruits and starches. “What this is saying is that sugar is toxic because it’s sugar; not because it’s calories,” Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco and lead author of the study, told the Chron. “This proves conclusively, beyond a shadow of doubt, that a calorie is not a calorie.”

2. Bay Area residents are stocking up on raingear in advance of the coming El Niño weather system, which is expected to bring torrential rains to California this winter, the Chron reports. Weather forecasters are predicting a small amount of rain for the region tomorrow.

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