Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ICE 'Public Safety Advisory' Criticizing Local Law Enforcement for Immigration Policies Appears to Contain Bad Data

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 7:27 PM

A newly-issued report from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is meant to name and shame local police and sheriff's departments that don't cooperate with the feds by holding immigrants in local jails for extra time so they can be taken into ICE custody to face immigration charges.

The report was requested by President Trump through an executive order as part of a White House campaign to "better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions."

But the report — which was issued without giving local law enforcement agencies an opportunity to provide feedback, or to even review ICE's data — appears to contain inaccuracies.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Office was one of the local agencies named in the report as having declined a detainer from ICE.

Detainers are requests sent by ICE to local police agencies asking that they hold a person in jail for extra time, beyond what's legally allowable based on the criminal charges the person faces. The purpose of the hold is so that ICE can take the individual directly into custody to face immigration charges.

Many so-called sanctuary jurisdictions do not honor detainers from ICE because they're not required to under federal law. Courts have also ruled that detainers violate people's constitutional rights.

Furthermore, in California, the Trust Act bars sheriffs and police from carrying out a detainer request in most cases.

According to ICE's report, the Alameda sheriff's Santa Rita Jail declined an ICE detainer issued in January against a Cambodian citizen who was convicted of a domestic violence charge.

The Alameda County Sheriff disputes this claim, however.

"Just to make sure we're doing our job right, we looked into ICE's detainer list, but we could not find the specific case that corresponded in our records with what ICE listed," said Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office. "When we contacted ICE to do a follow-up, they were unable to provide us with the name of the person, and nothing matching that date and time was in our records."

Kelly said his agency initially looked into the specific case highlighted by ICE to ensure the county jails are operating properly under state and federal laws.

Other local law enforcement agencies in California also told the Express that the ICE report appears to contain inaccuracies, and that they haven't been able to get more information from the feds.

For example, ICE claimed that the Anaheim Police Department released a Mexican citizen despite a detainer request made on January 18. The ICE report listed a charge of burglary as "notable criminal activity" the man was allegedly engaged in.

"What’s listed for us, apparently, is an issue from April 18, involving a man who had a burglary charge," said Sgt. Daron Wyatt of the Anaheim police. But Wyatt said his department doesn't have any corresponding records for a person fitting this description from that date.

Instead, Wyatt said his department was able to identify a man arrested the day before who roughly fits the description, but the man wasn't charged with burglary. Rather, he was arrested and charged for drug possession. There were also warrants for his arrest on drug charges and for possessing burglary tools. Wyatt said the charges were all misdemeanors.

He also said his department wasn't contacted by ICE before the report was released.

And he added that state law forbids the Anaheim police from honoring an immigration detainer against a man like the one the report appears to have singled out.

"We’re bound by the Trust Act that says when we can and can’t honor these. If we’re mandated to honor a detainer, we will," said Wyatt.

The Express also contacted the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which, according to ICE, declined two detainers issued in May and August of last year. One detainer, according to ICE, sought to put a hold on a Mexican citizen who had been convicted of assault. The other was for an El Salvadoran national who was convicted of a domestic violence charge. The specific nature of each case is unexplained in the ICE report, however.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Nicole Nishida said she's been trying to get more information from ICE to check on the two cases, but the agency hasn't responded yet.

"We can look at everyone we've released, but these two people are like a needle in a haystack," said Nishida. Los Angeles' jails book over 100,000 people each year and have a daily population of around 16,000, according to department records.

"We’re trying to ascertain from ICE who these people are," said Nishida.

In Texas, the Travis County Sheriff's Office is openly disputing the numbers of detainers ICE claims it declined. According to ICE, the Travis sheriff declined 142 detainers, but the sheriff says the number was lower — 128.

In Washington state, the Snohomish County Sheriff went so far as to call the ICE report "offensive" and "untrue."

The Express was unable to reach ICE representatives for comment.

But multiple law enforcement sources said that the declined detainer report was issued by ICE's Washington D.C. office, and that it caught local ICE field offices in California by surprise.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Alameda Sheriff's Letter Supporting Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions Draws Criticism From Immigration and Civil Rights Advocates

A local immigrants rights coalition called collusion with Trump and Sessions a 'disgrace.'

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 1:52 PM

Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern co-signed a letter sent to Sen. Jeff Sessions last December, supporting his nomination to lead the U.S. Department of Justice.

Now the letter is drawing criticism from local immigration and civil-rights groups.

The note recently surfaced as one of thousands of documents in possession of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the key panel of lawmakers who voted to approve Session's nomination in February. (All nine Democrats on the committee, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, voted against Sessions.)

Letter from the California State Sheriffs Association supporting Jeff Sessions nomination to be Attorney General.
  • Letter from the California State Sheriffs Association supporting Jeff Sessions nomination to be Attorney General.
"[W]e write to convey our support of your nomination and confirmation as United States Attorney General," the letter from Ahern and Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood states.

"It is clear from your service in the U.S. Senate that you place a high priority on upholding the rule of law, supporting our nation’s military and law enforcement, and requiring the utmost integrity of yourself and those that serve with you."

Ahern and Youngblood sent the letter on behalf of the California State Sheriff's Association. Ahern is chairman of the association's political action committee.

California's congressional delegation strongly opposed Sessions' nomination, due what they characterized as his past efforts to undermine civil- and voting-rights laws, and his staunch advocacy of anti-immigration policies.

"In the 1980s he was rejected from serving as a federal judge due to his blatantly racist comments," Congresswoman Barbara Lee told her colleagues during Sessions confirmation hearings in January. She called him an "extreme and divisive figure."

In the past, Sessions has called groups like the NAACP and ACLU "un-American," and "Communist-inspired."

Ahern said in an interview that he didn't personally sign the letter of support. Rather, his signature was electronically applied as a matter of routine business for the association. He said the sheriff's association sends out as many as 100 letters each year in support of state and federal law-enforcement appointees, and that the notes are meant to build a relationship.

"We have to work with these people in the future," said Ahern, who confirmed that he voted along with other sheriffs to send the letter of support. "This builds a better relationship if we have a letter of support on file."

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson said he's "totally opposed" to Jeff Sessions. He called the California State Sheriff's Association a "super conservative body," and said Ahern and the other sheriffs have adopted many positions that are at odds with the supervisors.

Immigrants' rights groups issued a strongly-worded statement this morning about the sheriff's letter.

In an email, the Alameda County United in Defense of Immigrants Rights coalition wrote that, "the Sheriff's entanglement and collusion with Trump and Sessions' xenophobic agenda is a disgrace."

ACUDIR has asked Ahern to further restrict his office's contacts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who often seek to arrest undocumented immigrants from the sheriff's jails.

The coalition has also criticized the sheriff's association for opposing Senate Bill 54, a proposed state law that would further limit local and state law enforcement interactions with federal immigration agents.

Sessions has a long history of opposing even legal immigration. He helped defeat the 2007 reform bill that many Democrats and Republicans supported, which would have provided a path to legal citizenship for millions of undocumented people already living in the United States.

Many fear that, as attorney general, Sessions will ramp up deportations and sign off on more aggressive enforcement tactics, such as bringing back workplace raids.

Sessions is also a supporter of continuing the types of hard-line drug war policies that most California lawmakers now reject.

He said during a senate committee hearing last year that "good people don't smoke marijuana."

Medical and recreational pot are big businesses now in Alameda County, and state and local officials have de-emphasized enforcing anti-marijuana laws which have disproportionally impacted Blacks and Latinos.

Ahern said that if and when the state sheriffs association disagrees with the new Attorney General, the group won't hesitate to push back.

"If we opposed any type of actions or anything like that, we do author those types of letters too, and say we object to what’s going on," said Ahern.

Uber Not Coming To Oakland After All?

Spokesman says only 200-300 employees initially to work in Oakland, not up to 3,000.

by Nick Miller
Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 10:54 AM

Uber planned to move up to 3,000 employees to a building on Broadway, but a report this morning from SF Biz Journal says only 200-300 will initially be housed there.
  • Uber planned to move up to 3,000 employees to a building on Broadway, but a report this morning from SF Biz Journal says only 200-300 will initially be housed there.
Is the tech behemoth Uber ride-hauling its ass out of Oakland?

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told the Express this morning that Uber reached out to her office "a few weeks ago" to let the city know that there would be a "smaller employee presence" when the Uptown Station building eventually opens.

“Uber’s sole decision to initially open its Oakland offices with fewer employees than originally planned does not negate the fact this prime office location will be put back into full use and made available for rent to other businesses and non-profits, in addition to the presence that Uber will have there," the mayor wrote.

Her statement comes on the heels of a story this morning by the San Francisco Business Times, which reported that the thousands of Uber employees scheduled to move into its Uptown headquarters sometime next year aren't coming.

As per SFBT Roland Li's scoop: "Uber now says it will have a few hundred employees when it opens its Uptown Station office in Oakland – not the 2,000 to 3,000 employees that it announced in 2015."

An Uber spokesperson told the Express that the company plans to grow into the Uptown Station building over the years, and that the first batch of employees are anticipated to move in in quarter-two of 2018.

Uber said it remains committed to Oakland, and that it still employs a community outreach employee in the city.

The location in Mission Bay is an expansion of Uber's existing presence in San Francisco, and a spokesperson said it plans to have workers move there in quarter three of 2019.

Some might say the news throws a wrench in Oakland's plans for the redevelopment of Uptown, and could impact hundreds of housing units in the pipe for the neighborhood. But the mayor was unworried by the Uber's scaling-down.

"Over the past two years Oakland has enjoyed a net gain in new businesses — both small and large — and several large-scale employers have announced plans to move to Oakland," Schaaf wrote. "This has had an impact on the development of new office space which is needed given that a low commercial vacancy rate is contributing to rapidly rising office rents in Oakland."

The BART board also was scheduled to discuss the possible station exit inside the Uber headquarters on April 13. The status of that meeting is now unclear. A BART spokesperson wrote to the Express in an email this morning that "negotiations between BART and Uber are confidential at this point."

The mayor reaffirmed to the Express that Uber had not received any tax breaks or incentives to move to Oakland.

Oakland community groups are demanding more information from Uber after this morning’s news.

“For months, Oakland community leaders have been concerned about Uber’s impact in terms of gentrification and displacement, and have worried that this company does not respect Oakland’s values,” wrote Orson Aguilar, president of Greenlining Institute, a local advocacy group that focuses on issues of social and economic equity. “With today’s report, we’re even less clear about what Uber’s plans mean for our city.”

Aguilar wrote in a statement that he wants Uber to meet with Oakland leaders immediately. “Whatever Uber does with this building will have a huge impact on Oakland. We call upon the company to meet with community representatives right away, and work with us to make the impact positive.”

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Oakland and Berkeley Arts Groups Will Lose Millions in Funding Under Trump's Scheme to Gut National Endowment for the Arts

Nearly three-dozen groups and individuals received more than $1.2 million in the past year alone.

by Nick Miller
Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 1:22 PM

Nearly three-dozen East Bay arts organizations and individuals will see millions of dollars in federal and state grants disappear if President Trump's surprising proposal to eviscerate the National Endowment for the Arts survives the Congressional budget process.

Yesterday, the Trump administration revealed a proposed budget that would reduce NEA funding to zero. The organization had requested a budget of $150 million.

The NEA is accustomed to unpredictable funding swings and steep cuts, most notably in the 1990s, when federal arts-and-humanities agencies were in the GOP crosshairs. (Big Bird even made an appearance on The Hill to plead for money.)

But the complete and total elimination of the NEA and other agencies will have a significant impact on new and established arts groups throughout the Bay Area.

In the past year-and-a-half, for instance, 34 groups and artists in Oakland and Berkeley were granted more than $1.2 million in funding from the NEA.

"People are a little bit shocked, to say the least," said Brent Cunningham, operations director at Small Press Distribution Inc., which was founded in 1969 and operates as an umbrella distributor for more than 400 publishers and writers, many of whom receive NEA grans themselves.

Cunningham says he's the numbers guy at Small Press, where he's worked for 18 years. The group employs a twelve people with an annual budget of approximately $1 million. Under Trump's proposal, Small Press would face at 10 percent budget hit.

"How the removal of that money will impact us is hard to predict, but it's surely not good," he told the Express.

He and others that the Express spoke to anticipated deep cuts to the NEA and other national arts groups under Trump. But the elimination of the Endowment came as a surprise to many.

"It's one thing to strip an agency down, that's draconian enough," is how Cunningham put it.

The destruction of the NEA will have a domino effect on other arts benefactors and funding sources, including the California Arts Council, which funnels NEA money to state groups and also doles out its own grants. Many of the 34 East Bay groups and artists who receive NEA grants also got money for the CAC.

The NEA also helps inform private donors of worthy arts groups seeking funding, since the Endowment conducts significant research to determine its grant recipients.

Local groups that received NEA grants for 2016 and 2017 include Berkeley Repertory Theatre, National Film Preserve (part of Telluride Film Festival), the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, California Shakespeare Theater, Youth Radio, the David Brower Center, Axis Dance Company, Destiny Arts Center, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Oakland Museum of California, Pro Arts, and Project Bandaloop.

There's still hope that the arts community will be able to lobby Congress members to salvage the NEA funds. Jobs are on the line, of course.

Lori Fogarty, the director and CEO of the Oakland Museum of California, released a statement this afternoon, reminding that Trump's budget still has to make it through the House and Senate, "where there has been strong bipartisan support for many years."

"Should these agencies come under serious threat within the House of Representatives or Senate, we will alert OMCA Members and other constituencies and ask for your direct assistance in speaking to our legislators," Fogarty wrote.

So, basically, the gloves are off in the arts community.

"We're in a fight now," Cunningham said.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Berkeley Is First City in America to Divest From Companies that Work on Trump's Border Wall

Oakland could be next.

by Nick Miller
Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 1:01 PM

  • Courtesy of Pixabay
If you want to build The Wall, then you won't be building in Berkeley.

At last night's city council meeting, Berkeley officials voted unanimously to divest of any company that involves itself with President Trump's border wall. This includes not just contractors who construct the proposed divider, but any company that designs, finances, or works in any way on the project.

Berkeley is the first city in the country to pass such a law.

"Our city is one that is known for breaking down walls, not building them," Mayor Jesse Arreguin said. "We will continue in that tradition regardless of what happens at the federal level.”

Oakland is poised to ban companies that work on the wall, as well, as similar legislation was introduced Tuesday morning.

The Express also reported on a list of Bay Area companies that expressed interest in working on Trump's wall.

Berkeley staff will compile a list of companies working on Trump's wall, and then bar the city from doling out contracts to said businesses.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

These Bay Area Businesses Want to Build Trump's Border Wall

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 1:39 PM

Nearly two dozen Bay Area companies have expressed interest in building Donald Trump's border wall, according to the federal government's website FedBizOpps.gov. They include Oakland and San Francisco construction firms and Silicon Valley surveillance-technology vendors, among others. Some have major contracts with local governments to build BART stations, add facilities at the Port of Oakland, and retrofit the Golden Gate Bridge.

The border wall, a centerpiece of Trump's campaign, is deeply divisive and unpopular in the Bay Area.

Today, an Oakland City Council committee approved legislation that would bar companies bidding on the border wall project from contracting with the city.

"If you want to do business with the city of Oakland, you will not participate in any way in building Mr. Trump's wall," said Oakland Councilmember Abel Guillen, the legislation's sponsor.

If passed, Oakland would be the first city to pass such a law.

Guillen said he hopes the boycott spreads to other local governments as a means of pushing back against anti-immigration politics.

One Bay Area company that expressed interest in bidding on contracts to help build Trump's wall is the Oakland-based Shimmick Construction company.

"No one is commenting at this time," said Jolynn Buresh of Shimmick Construction when reached by phone today.

Shimmick has contracts with BART, San Francisco, and numerous other Bay Area government agencies to build high-profile projects. For example, the company has done tens of millions in work for BART, building new stations and installing electrical cable upgrades along tracks in Oakland and Berkeley.

BART's board of directors recently passed a "sanctuary transit policy" in opposition to the Trump administration's plans to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

Another big construction firm that wants to build Trump's Wall is T.Y. Lin International Group, which is headquartered in San Francisco.

The Express was unable to reach T.Y. Lin's media spokesperson.

T.Y. Lin has worked on large-scale and valuable City of Oakland projects in the past. The company has had several large construction contracts at the Port of Oakland and is working on the Oakland Army Base redevelopment project.

The firms responded to a Department of Homeland Security solicitation asking for "expressions of interest" by companies or individuals who can build prototype wall structures near the border that are "nominally 30 feet tall, that will meet requirements for aesthetics, anti-climbing, and resistance to tampering or damage."

Also on the list of interested bidders for the border wall is American Steel Studios, the famous West Oakland metal fabrication and arts space.

"I am not a supporter of the creation of a wall and I am not a supporter of our current administration," wrote Karen Cusolito of American Steel Studios in an email. She explained that she was interested in receiving more information about the border wall, not helping build it, and somehow ended up on the list of potential bidders after checking a box on the federal government's contract opportunities web site.

Several Silicon Valley surveillance-technology firms are hoping to sell their wares as part of the Trump border wall project.

Optasense, a British company with subsidiaries in the United States, manufactures fiber optic-linked sensor technologies. The company is among one of dozens of tech firms hoping to cash in on beefed-up border security.

Richmond-based Simularity sells computer programs that analyze surveillance video and other data to detect people and objects. The Express was unable to reach anyone with the company for comment.

Oakland Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington voted in favor of the law that would bar companies bidding on the border wall from doing business with the city. "I believe one power we do have is voting with our dollars," she said.

The Port of Oakland and City of Oakland spend tens of millions each year on large construction and engineering projects. Altogether, the Bay Area's local governments and transit agencies spend billions each year upgrading roads, bridges, rail lines, and other infrastructure.

Oakland's boycott of companies bidding on the Trump border wall still needs to be voted on by the full city council.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Town Business: A New Police Headquarters. Does Oakland Have the Money?

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 9:38 AM

Oakland's Police Administration Building.
  • Oakland's Police Administration Building.
New Police Headquarters?: if a major earthquake were to hit, Oakland's Police Administration Building (PAB) located at Broadway and 7th Street would be seriously damaged. Same for OPD's Eastmont Substation. And the PAB also needs about $7.5 million just to fix its plumbing, heating, electrical and other systems.

On top of this, OPD's crime lab outgrew its cramped spaces inside the PAB a long time ago. And the department's evidence and property section has exceeded capacity.

As a result, city leaders have been talking for years about tearing down the PAB and constructing a new and state-of-the-art headquarters.

But if OPD were to replace it's headquarters, the price tag will easily jump into the hundreds of millions. It's unclear where the money would come from.

Last November, the city hired an architectural firm and consultant to study the feasibility of replacing the PAB, and possibly also solving safety and space issues at the Eastmont Substation.

At tomorrow's public safety committee meeting the council will hear an update on these plans.

OPD Stop Data Research: For years, the Oakland police have been collecting stop data about the race, gender, age, and other identifying features of people they stop, search, and arrest. The data can reveal subtle biases in how law enforcement interacts with different groups. But it can also be used to improve police practices and reduce racial profiling.

This week the city is considering entering into a data sharing agreement with the California Department of Justice and three academic partners — New York University, UCLA, and John Jay School of Criminal Justice — as part of an effort to study how the data is collected and ways to improve its accuracy and utility.

In 2015, the California legislature approved a bill requiring state law enforcement agencies to collect stop data and submit it to the California Department of Justice as part of an accountability and reform program.

The state DOJ's collaboration with OPD and the three universities is funded by a federal DOJ grant.

However, police transparency and accountability programs like these are now threatened with elimination by the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has said that local police agencies don't need to be monitored for racial bias and civil rights violations by the feds. Instead, the Trump administration claims there is a "dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America," and that they will "end it."

Friday, March 10, 2017

Developer Stiffs City on Permits for West Oakland Condo Project

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 3:01 PM

Politically-connected developer Madison Park and its general contractor Dettaglio Construction failed to obtain street and sidewalk obstruction permits for a large project in West Oakland.

Instead, the contractor displayed permits issued by the City of San Francisco — not Oakland — to block off an adjacent street and sidewalk, according to photos, city records, and interviews.

The un-permitted street and sidewalk closure was carried out to facilitate the demolition of several structures located at 3250 Hollis Street, where Madison Park plans to build a 94-unit condominium project.

The failure to obtain permits could cost the city up to several thousand dollars, depending on how many days the street is obstructed.

Demolition at the Hollis Street construction site.
  • Demolition at the Hollis Street construction site.
Earlier this week, neighbors noticed that one lane of Hollis Street was being blocked with construction saw horses. Upon inspection, the neighbors observed that street-closure permits attached to the barriers were issued by San Francisco, not Oakland.

The Express visited the construction site earlier this morning and saw signs claiming that the sidewalk abutting the demolition site along Hollis Street was "closed." The sign wasn't a city-permitted notice, however.

A construction manager at the site who did not provide his name confirmed to the Express that his company did not obtain permits to close the streets or sidewalks. But he insisted this was done in order to avoid inconveniencing the neighbors by taking away their street parking for a long period of time.

Artist rendering of 3250 Hollis Street when it's finally completed in 2018. - MADISON PARK.
  • Madison Park.
  • Artist rendering of 3250 Hollis Street when it's finally completed in 2018.
However, photos of the street closure show that parking and the pedestrian path were taken away.

When asked about the San Francisco permits attached to the signs, he claimed it was a mistake, and that employees forgot to remove the other city's permits after they were used at another job site.

Several officials in Oakland's Planning and Building Department confirmed this morning that the contractor and developer haven't obtained street closure permits.

Calls to Madison Park weren't immediately returned.

Madison Park is owned and operated by John Protopappas, one of Oakland's more high-profile developers. Protopappas is also a close friend of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Gov. Jerry Brown. He has served as political campaign fundraiser for both.

Street and sidewalk obstruction permits in Oakland can cost hundreds of dollars a day, depending on how much linear space a contractor wants to close off.

A short-term permit to close an unmetered road, such as Hollis Street, runs $17 per every 25 feet per day, according to the city's fee schedule. A long-term permit (more than 15 days) cost $519 per every 25 feet and is good for up to 30 days. Street closure signs run $3 each.

The stretch of Hollis Street abutting the construction site is approximately 530 feet long, according to a measurement taken using Google Maps.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Town Business: Developer Wants to Stick MacArthur BART Tower's Affordable Units Entirely in Bottom Quarter of Building

by Darwin BondGraham
Mon, Mar 6, 2017 at 7:44 AM

The Oakland City Council will vote on Tuesday night whether or not to give final approval for construction of a 24-story apartment tower adjacent to the MacArthur BART station.

The developer agreed to a number of valuable community benefits to gain original approval for the project in 2008. But the building increased in size since then, so now Councilmember Dan Kalb is asking his colleagues to require about a million dollars in total neighborhood improvements.

Kalb is also asking the developer to not cram all the affordable units into the building's bottom quarter, as is currently proposed.

The tower would include 402 apartments and ground floor retail. Per the original agreement for the project back in 2008, 45 of the apartments would be priced below market-rate.

The existing terms also require the developer, McGrath Properties, to sign a project labor agreement that includes a 50 percent local hire requirement.

At the Oakland Planning Commission's February 1 meeting, the commission added that the developer has to ensure jobs in the retail spaces of the building, and custodial and other contract jobs maintaining the building, pay Oakland's living wage. There will also be a ban-the-box policy to prevent employees with criminal conviction histories from automatically being screened out of employment.

Kalb and city planning staff also want several more meetings between the developer and the community to shape the project's final design. And the following;
  • $250,000 to build a new recreation center at Mosswood Park. The old center was destroyed by fire last November;
  • $350,000 for "beautification" of West MacArthur Boulevard where it passes under the freeway and connects to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. This could be fancy lights and/or a mural;
  • $15,000 worth of new trees planted around the neighborhood;
  • $25,000 paid by the developer into the neighborhood's residential parking permit program;
  • Ten years of subsidized transit passes for residents of the building's affordable units, costing about $110,000;

  • And a $50,000 donation to an Oakland NGO.
But the placement of the affordable units has become an issue too.

Kalb wants to make sure the developer doesn't stick all of the building's lower-income residents on the lowest floors, with the top floors and splendid bay views reserved only for the elite.

Currently, according to a city staff report, the developer is proposing to jam all the affordable units in the bottom quarter of the building. Kalb wants some of these units higher up. However, he's not proposing that any be put in the building's top half.

Correction: the original version of this story incorrectly identified the $350,000 as money that would be used to beautify 40th Street. It will be applied to West MacArthur Boulevard instead.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

City of Oakland Replaces Longstanding Coliseum-Oracle Board Members With Uber Lawyer, McElhaney

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 10:32 AM

A major shake-up is coming to the board that oversees Oracle Arena and the Oakland Coliseum.

According to a list circulated at a recent City Council meeting, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan and sports agent Aaron Goodwin are out, replaced by Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Uber attorney Christin Hill.

Oakland City Council President Larry Reid is behind the shakeup.

Reid said both Kaplan and Goodwin have been on the board six years. Kaplan's term was up in January, and Goodwin's expired in October, so he decided to replace them.

Kaplan said she has no problem transitioning off the board, and has plenty of other work to focus on, including her positions on the regional air quality board and the county transportation commission.

The Express was unable to reach Goodwin for comment.

McElhaney's appointment to Kaplan's seat comes as the Oakland Public Ethics Commission continues its inquiry into city officials' use of free tickets to attend Warriors games, concerts, and other events.

City Hall came under criticism last year for claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tickets. The councilmembers get the tickets for free, allegedly as part of their official business reviewing the operations of the arena and stadium. But critics question whether any of the officials are actually doing city work when they attend the events.

Reid was at the top of the freebie list, claiming $374,420 worth of event tickets, according to an analysis by the East Bay Times.

Gibson McElhaney claimed the second largest number of any Oakland official, with $325,190 worth of event tickets, which allow access to one of three private boxes.

But Reid said he doesn't see the ticket claims as controversial. He said he gave many of his free tickets to community groups like the East Oakland Boxing Association.

The Oakland Public Ethics Commission held hearings about the free tickets last November. It's unclear when the PEC will wrap up its investigation.

Kaplan told the Express yesterday that she thinks the free tickets pose an ethics problem for the city and other elected officials. "They just dump them on you," Kaplan said about the free tickets. She added that the city does not provide much guidance in terms of how to avoid violating ethics rules in handing them out or using them personally.

Kaplan said she plans to introduce a policy at today's council meeting that would end the free tickets. Instead, extra tickets would be sold at face value and the proceeds used to fund city services.

Reid's other appointment to the board, Hill, is an attorney for Uber who lives in Oakland. Reid described Hill as a "bright young businessperson." According to court records, Hill has helped Uber litigate against its drivers in lawsuits over whether they are employees or independent contractors.

Gibson McElhaney and Hill will join Reid on the board along with former Oakland councilmember Ignacio de la Fuente, who was appointed by Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty in January.

The changes on the board come as the Warriors are reportedly trying to avoid paying their facility lease fee, about $7.5 million a year. The JPA uses the lease money from the Warriors to pay off tens of millions in outstanding public debt that was used to upgrade the Arena. If the Warriors' don't pay the lease, then the city and county will have to pick up the bill.

According to documents circulated at a recent board meeting, the authority has retained the San Francisco law firm Keker & Van Nest to go after the Warriors for the lease money, if it comes to that.

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