Monday, February 29, 2016

Oakland's Cop Bar — the Warehouse Bar and Grill — Has Been Sold

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 11:52 AM

The Warehouse Bar and Grill. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • The Warehouse Bar and Grill.
The Warehouse Bar and Grill, Oakland's historic watering hole for police officers, located at 402 Webster Street in the Jack London district, has been sold to a group of investors who plan to significantly renovate the building and redecorate the bar and restaurant. The Warehouse will be closed for several months in order to add windows, a new bar, and to change the layout of the interior, according to several bartenders I spoke with recently. Additionally, the new owners plan to renovate the building's upstairs, which is currently unused, and transform it into several new apartments.

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Town Business: Developers Unveil E. 12th Proposals; Piedmont Police Say License Plate Readers Are Catching Criminals

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 9:59 AM

  • UrbanCore/EBALDC
This week, at a special meeting of the Oakland City Council's Community and Economic Development committee, three developer teams, vying to purchase the E. 12th Street Remainder Parcel, will make their final presentations, and the public will have a chance to weigh in on what the city should do with the publicly owned acre of land by Lake Merritt that became a lightening rod last year in the affordable housing debate.

In Alameda, tenant activists say they will be submitting a charter amendment for the fall ballot to strengthen tenant protections. And according to the Piedmont Police Department's recently published annual crime report for 2015, the automated license plate reader surveillance system that Piedmont installed in 2013 at intersections along the city's borders with Oakland, has caught numerous criminals and contributed to a reduction in crime.

E. 12th Parcel: Tonight the public will get to see three different visions for the future of the E. 12th Street Parcel, the city-owned land by Lake Merritt that was created in 2013 when the city realigned E. 12th Street. City staffers are recommending that the council select the developer team of UrbanCore and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC). UrbanCore previously had been selected through a no-bid process to purchase the land for $4.6 million and build an all market-rate apartment tower on it, but that plan was scuttled after a leaked city attorney memo showed that the deal would have violated the state Surplus Land Act.

This time around, UrbanCore has joined up with EBALDC, an affordable housing developer, and is proposing to purchase the land for $4.7 million, and to build a 26-story, 190-unit market-rate apartment tower next to an 8-story, 90-unit affordable housing mid-rise. The two towers would share a single lobby, according to the developers.

Bridge Housing and AVI Avant are proposing to buy the land for $4.4 million and build a 27-story tower of 364 apartments, of which 104 would be priced affordable.

Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA) and the E. 12th Wishlist Design Team are proposing buy the land for $1 million and to build a 7-story building with 133 units of affordable housing. Although the SAHA/E. 12th Wishlist Design Team proposal includes the most affordable housing at the deepest levels of affordability, city staff who reviewed all the developer proposals have ranked it third because it is not as “dense” as the other two proposals, and because it doesn't maximize revenue for the city on the land sale.

Alameda renters: The Alameda Renters Coalition plans to deliver a ballot initiative to the Alameda City Clerk's office today that, if approved by voters in the fall, would enact rent control, establish an elected rent board, and create a just-cause-for-eviction ordinance. Unlike Oakland and Berkeley, Alameda currently has no rent control or just-cause-for-eviction laws. But like other East Bay cities, rents in Alameda have been drastically increasing in recent years. While the Alameda City Council has debated how to address the affordable housing crisis for its tenant population, evictions have continued to drive low-income and middle-class renters off the island. Last year, several renter activists were brutally arrested outside the city council's chambers after tensions flared over access to the meeting.

"What we’ve been asking for consistently is rent stabilization, and, other than evictions allowed by state law, to restrict no-fault evictions," said Catherine Pauling of the Alameda Renters Coalition.

Pauling said her group has spent six months studying rent stabilization and just cause laws in California, and that their initiative will be modeled on the best practices from cities like Santa Monica, San Francisco, and Berkeley.

Stationary ALPR camera array at the intersection of Linda Avenue and Kingston Avenue installed by the City of Piedmont in 2014. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Stationary ALPR camera array at the intersection of Linda Avenue and Kingston Avenue installed by the City of Piedmont in 2014.
Piedmont auto surveillance: The Piedmont Police Department is calling its recently installed automated license plate reader surveillance system a “force multiplier” and is crediting the system with catching numerous auto theft suspects. According to the police department's 2015 end of year crime report, the city's ALPR system led to 49 arrests either as a direct result of locating suspects, or through investigative follow-up, and police were able to recover 4l stolen vehicles valued at over $225,000. Piedmont's ALPR system works by digitally photographing every car that drives past cameras located at major intersections on the city's borders. A computer program then automatically “reads” the license plate of the vehicle and runs it through police databases to determine whether it is stolen or associated with a person wanted on a warrant or suspected of a crime. This information can then be fed in real-time to police officers who can intercept a vehicle and make an arrest.

Monday Must Reads: Lawmakers Push to Clear Up the Rape Kit Backlog; Supreme Court Lets Brown’s Measure Go Forward

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Feb 29, 2016 at 9:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. State lawmakers have introduced a package of bills designed to clear up the backlog of untested rape kits in California and to make sure that all kits are tested in a timely manner, the Chron$ reports. No one knows exactly how many untested kits there are in the state, but one partial count found that there are at least 6,100. The legislation would upgrade the state’s rape-kit database; standardize rape kits; allow victims to track the tests; and would lift the ten-year statute of limitations on rape cases.

2. The California Supreme Court is allowing Governor Jerry Brown to collect signatures on his prison-reform ballot initiative while the legal dispute over the measure plays out, the LA Times$ reports. A lower court judge had blocked the measure, ruling that the governor illegally gutted another initiative and replaced it with his prison-reform plan, which, if approved by voters, would grant early release to nonviolent inmates. The state Supreme Court will consider in March whether to affirm or overturn the lower court’s ruling.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Transportation Agencies to Study Environmental and Health Impacts of New Freight-Hauling Projects and Protect Low-Income Communities

by Jean Tepperman
Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 2:29 PM

Planners expect a huge increase in the amount of freight traveling over Bay Area highways and railroads in the next couple of decades. That worries residents of communities near the Port of Oakland and along major rail and trucking routes, because they already have higher rates of asthma, cancer, heart disease, and traffic accidents than people in other areas. “People should not be paying with their lives for the movement of goods,” said Margaret Gordon, a longtime leader of West Oakland environmental-justice campaigns.

So when transportation agencies adopted ambitious new “goods movement” plans this week, a coalition of health, environmental, and community organizations was ready with its own proposal. Thursday, the Alameda County Transportation Commission unanimously passed a resolution developed by the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative and championed by Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, calling for measures to prevent freight-hauling changes from adding to health and environmental problems.

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UC Berkeley Student Government Passes Resolution to Ban Urban Shield Trainings

A resolution urging the end of militarized police trainings from the University of California Police Department passed unanimously Wednesday night.

by Sydney Johnson
Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 10:02 AM

The Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC) approved a resolution Wednesday night that recommends banning the University of California Police Department (UCPD) from taking part in highly militarized Urban Shield trainings.
  • John Martinez Pavliga/Flickr (CC)
The resolution, which was passed unanimously by the ASUC Senate, called for the “cessation of UCPD participation in, and funding for participation in, Urban Shield competitions, vendor expos, and seminars.” It stated that under the resolution, various campus officials, including the ASUC External Affairs vice president, the UC Berkeley Police Department chief, the vice chancellor of Student Affairs, and the Police Review Board will work together “to ensure the detrimental effects of Urban Shield are not found on our campus and to work on reforming policies to train UCPD effectively.”

Urban Shield is a full‐scale regional preparedness exercise funded by the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), a project financed by the US Department of Homeland Security. It assesses the Bay Area UASI Region's response capabilities within multi‐discipline procedures, organization, planning, policies, equipment and training. During the Urban Shield trainings, participants are allowed to use military grade weapons, gear, and munitions, much of which is available for purchase at event’s vendor show.

Boomer Vicente, ASUC senator and primary sponsor of the resolution, said in a recent interview that the removal of Urban Shield trainings is crucial to student safety and comfort around campus. “Our senators do not support [Urban Shield] because of it's racist trainings and how it promotes militarization on campus. The training itself promotes this idea that people of color are always a threat or are terrorists. The resolution calls to reform training policies that UCPD participates in so the department no longer perpetuates racism and Islamophobia,” he said.

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Friday Must Reads: El Niño Looking Like a Dud; Californians Fail to Meet Water Conservation Mandate, Again

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 9:31 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Shasta Lake.
  • Shasta Lake.
1. The El Niño weather pattern that was supposed to drench California in rain and snow this winter is looking increasingly like a dud, the SacBee$ reports. A staggeringly warm and dry February means that the state is not close to emerging from its five-year-long drought. Parts of the state have received just half the amount of precipitation they did during the last two major El Niño events, in 1998 and 1983, and California’s three largest reservoirs remain far below capacity. Climate scientists say the only hope now is for an extraordinarily wet March and April.

2. Californians once again failed to meet Governor Jerry Brown’s 25-percent water conservation mandate in January, cutting just 17.1 percent of water use, the Chron reports. In December, state residents slashed just 18.4 percent of their water usage.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

OPD Accused of Covering Up Home Invasion and Assault by Off-Duty Officers

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 1:47 PM

At a news conference yesterday, a married Oakland couple said that members of the the Oakland Police Department attempted to cover up a home invasion and assault perpetrated by at least two drunken off-duty Oakland cops, and that multiple Oakland police officers investigating the incident pressured them to change their story about what happened.

See also: Oakland Cops Implicated in Home Invasion and Assault

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Thursday Must Reads: Four OPD Cops on Leave in Assault Case; Judge Invalidates Jerry Brown’s Prison Reform Measure

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Oakland Police Department has placed four police officers on paid administrative leave in connection with a home invasion and assault case, which was first reported by the Express. The Trib$ reports that, in addition to Officer Cullen William Faeth, who was arrested on charges of assault and public drunkenness, OPD has also placed Sergeant Joe Turner on leave, along with two other cops. The victim, probation officer Olga Cortez, said that Turner pointed his gun at her during the December 7 incident in which Faeth assaulted her. Turner was one of four Oakland cops who also shot and killed a man in East Oakland in November.

2. A state judge in Sacramento invalidated Jerry Brown’s prison-reform ballot measure, ruling that the governor filed it improperly, the SacBee$ reports. A group of state prosecutors, who oppose the planned November 2016 measure, sued to block it, contending that Brown illegally gutted another measure and then replaced it with his prison-reform proposal, which would allow for early release of nonviolent felons. The governor and prison-reform groups plan to appeal.

3. The Sierra snowpack continues to plummet and is now at 92 percent of normal because of warm, dry weather in February, Capital Radio reports (h/t Rough & Tumble). At the end of January, the snowpack was at 115 percent.

4. Yet despite the melting snowpack, state water officials announced that they plan to double water allotments to farms and consumers this year from what they had originally proposed. The Chron reports that the state will increase water allotments from 15 percent to 30 percent.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Report: Profound Racial Disparities in Mortgage Lending Seen in Oakland

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 9:57 AM

  • Greenlining Institute.
According to a research report published today, Blacks and Latinos are “severely underrepresented” among borrowers who obtained a loan from a major bank to purchase a home in the city of Oakland.

The report, by the Greenlining Institute and Urban Strategies Council, also found that banks issued a much smaller total number of home mortgage loans in Oakland compared to Fresno and Long Beach, two other cities analyzed in the study. And Black and Latino borrowers in Oakland applied for home loans at very low rates, and were approved at lower rates than whites. This dearth in mortgage lending by major banks in Oakland, compounded by low numbers of mortgage loan applications from Black and Latino customers, and lower loan approval rates, is perpetuating and exacerbating wealth disparities, the authors of the study concluded.

See also: JP Morgan Chase's Home Loans in Oakland Mostly Went to White and Wealthy Residents

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Wednesday Must Reads: Oakland Moves Forward on Uptown Hotel and Housing; Richmond Tenants Launch Rent Control Measure

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 9:38 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1911 Telegraph Ave. - GENSLER
  • Gensler
  • 1911 Telegraph Ave.
1. An Oakland City Council committee greenlighted a plan to build a high-rise hotel and apartment tower in the city’s Uptown district, the Chron$ reports. The 27-story project by San Diego developers Oliver McMillan and Oakland’s Strategic Urban Development Alliance includes 330 residential units, including about fifty affordable units on a city-owned lot at 19th Street and Telegraph Avenue. The project must still be approved the full city council.

2. Richmond tenants launched a rent control initiative for the November ballot, the CoCo Times$ reports. The measure would cap rent hikes in Richmond to no more than 3 percent and would mandate landlord-financed relocation assistance for evicted tenants. Richmond renters have until June to gather the needed petition signatures. The ballot measure would replace a rent control law that was passed by the city council last year, but then overturned by landlord groups.

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