Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Homeless Residents Protest Continuing Closure of Lake Merritt Campsites

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Oct 24, 2018 at 1:07 PM

Nino Parker, who lives in a camp on the E. 12th Street Remainder Parcel near Lake Merritt said he doesn't want to move.
  • Nino Parker, who lives in a camp on the E. 12th Street Remainder Parcel near Lake Merritt said he doesn't want to move.

The closure of homeless camps around Lake Merritt resumed this morning as a small group was ordered to pack up their belongings and tents and vacate the pathway under the 12th Street Bridge near the estuary channel.

Some of the homeless residents expressed frustration with the city and said their constitutional rights are being violated because Oakland doesn't have enough shelter beds for its large and growing unsheltered population. There are an estimated 1,902 homeless people in Oakland, according to the most recent count, conducted last year.

But city officials maintain that the closure of camps around Lake Merritt is legal and necessary. "It's time to clean up around the lake," said Karen Boyd, a spokesperson for City Administrator Sabrina Landreth.

Joe Devries, an assistant city administrator who coordinates the city's response to the homeless crisis, said that today trash would be collected by public works crews, and that no one would be forcibly ordered to leave their campsite without also being offered a space in the city's new Tuff Shed camp erected nearby on the Kaiser Auditorium's parking lot.

But Nino Parker accused the city of violating homeless people's rights. Parker, who lives in a camp on the nearby E. 12th Street Remainder Parcel, added that the city's homelessness crisis is resulting in the displacement of Black people, who are disproportionately harmed by Oakland's high cost of housing and other forces that push people onto the streets.

"This is a Black issue," Parker said while standing near the homeless camp being closed today. "I'm seeing everybody's in charge of us, but us. We're dwindling down here."

On the pathway in front of the camp, homeless protesters and their allies placed signs reading: "I do not consent to any search, to be questioned, to be detained, or forced to leave &/or relocate, shelter's full! Leave me alone."

Some homeless residents living under the 12th Street Bridge do not want to move or participate in the city's Tuff Shed program.
  • Some homeless residents living under the 12th Street Bridge do not want to move or participate in the city's Tuff Shed program.

They also posted printed copies of decision in the recent Martin v. Boise Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case in which the court ruled that cities can't criminalize camping and other life sustaining activities unless they are offering a viable shelter alternative to all of their homeless residents. The court said that banning camping and ordering homeless people to leave without offering shelter alternatives amounts to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th Amendment.

Devries said this doesn't apply to what Oakland is doing because the city is offering space in the new Tuff Shed camps to any and all people who are being ordered to leave camps around Lake Merritt.

Several candidates for city council and mayor also showed up at the homeless camp today to show solidarity with the unsheltered, they said.

Carlos "Kenzie" Smith, who is running against Abel Guillen and Nikki Fortunato Bas for the District 2 City Council seat, said he opposes the closure of homeless camps due to the fact that there aren't viable shelter spaces for people. He said he believes that the Tuff Sheds are unsafe and unfit for many of the homeless, and that the self-organized camps should be respected and provided more resources by the city.

Bas was also present at the camp today, while Guillen was not.

Camp residents and activists posted excerpts from the recently-decided Martin v. Boise case outside the camp to argue that camp closures are a constitutional rights issue.
  • Camp residents and activists posted excerpts from the recently-decided Martin v. Boise case outside the camp to argue that camp closures are a constitutional rights issue.

Cat Brooks, Saeed Karamooz, and Jesse A.J. Smith, who are all running against Libby Schaaf in the mayor's race this year were also at today's protests of homeless camps closing. Each of them has criticized the city's response to the homelessness crisis, saying that not enough city resources are being allocated to help unsheltered residents.

But Devries said that the city has expanded its shelter spaces and other services over the past year.

In addition to creating three Tuff Shed camps, which can house 120 people at any given time, the city also recently purchased an old SRO building on West Grand Avenue that will be transformed soon into a shelter and services center.

The city also recently announced a $9 million pilot program called Keep Oakland Housed that is designed to provide low-income renters with assistance so they can avoid being evicted or otherwise displaced and pushed onto the streets.

Wednesday’s Briefing: Desley Brooks Accused of Pocketing Cash; Explosives Mailed to Obamas, Clintons, and CNN

by Express Staff
Wed, Oct 24, 2018 at 9:52 AM

  • File photo by Steven Tavares
Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 24, 2018:

1. Embattled Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks has been accused by a former aide of unlawfully taking bags of cash from an East Oakland farmers’ market, reports David DeBolt of the East Bay Times$. In a whistleblower lawsuit, former Brooks aide Sidney Wilson produced texts in which Brooks allegedly wrote, “Where is the money bag? Make sure it’s dropped at my house no later than 3:30 p.m. today.” Wilson said Brooks was referring to cash from Millsmont Farmers’ Market vendors.

2. Explosive devices were mailed to former President Obama and his family, Hillary and Bill Clinton, and CNN’s offices in New York, The New York Times$ reports. Authorities said the devices were similar to the one mailed to liberal billionaire George Soros earlier this week. The Secret Service intercepted the devices sent to the Obamas and the Clintons.

3. California officials are warning about the possibility of massive flooding this winter in areas that were torched this summer by large wildfires, reports Joseph Serna of the LA Times$. Last winter, 23 people died in a giant mudslide in Montecito near Santa Barbara that was caused by heavy rains soaking burned out hillsides.

4. Work-sharing company WeWork is making a major expansion in Oakland, Berkeley, and Emeryville, reports George Avalos of the Bay Area News Group$. “The co-working titan leased three floors at 2201 Broadway, also known as the Breuner Building in downtown Oakland, four floors at 1900 Powell St. in Emeryville and six floors at 2120 Berkeley Way in Berkeley. WeWork provides shared work spaces, and usually focuses on fast-growing technology companies as its clients.”

5. And ATF agents are working with Oakland fire officials to determine the cause of the massive West Oakland blaze that destroyed a housing project under construction on Tuesday, KTVU reports. It was the fifth major blaze at housing construction sites in Oakland and Emeryville in the past two years. At least two of those fires were determined to be the work of arson.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

District Attorney Clears BART Police Officer in Fatal West Oakland Shooting of Sahleem Tindle

The attorney for Tindle's family called the DA's findings 'unsurprising' and said their lawsuit against the police will proceed.

by Darwin BondGraham
Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 12:55 PM

An image from a 3D forensic analysis of BART Police Officer Joseph Mateu's body camera video.
  • An image from a 3D forensic analysis of BART Police Officer Joseph Mateu's body camera video.

BART Police Officer Joseph Mateu was justified in shooting and killing Sahleem Tindle on Jan. 3, the Alameda County District Attorney has concluded.

In a report made public today, the DA's inspectors wrote that "the credible and admissible evidence shows that Officer Mateu acted in what he actually and reasonably believed to be self-defense and defense of others. The examined evidence does not support the contention that the shooting of Mr. Tindle was criminal."

The DA's finding means that Mateu will not face criminal charges for shooting Tindle.

"I’m not surprised by the result," said attorney John Burris, who is representing Tindle's family. "I never expected them to prosecute."

Tindle's family has maintained ever since the shooting that he did not fire a gun, and that he was shot in the back by Mateu while defending himself from an unidentified assailant. They have protested at BART board meetings and called on District Attorney Nancy O'Malley to criminally charge Mateu. The family has also filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court.

According to witness statements referred to in the DA's report, Tindle was walking to the West Oakland BART Station on Jan. 3 with his fiancee, two young children, and his fiancee's sister when he got into an argument with another man. The two ended up wrestling on the sidewalk outside a barber shop and taqueria.

Police say two shots were fired. Officer Mateu heard the shots while he was in the BART Station. He ran out of the train station about one block away and found the men grappling.

According to the DA's report, which is based on interviews with 14 witnesses, ballistics evidence, body camera video and other surveillance footage, Tindle was clutching a gun when he was shot and killed.

Burris said that Mateu wasn't justified in killing Tindle because he couldn't have known who fired the shots or who was the aggressor.

"Notwithstanding any of that, this officer ran up, he didn’t know who did what, but it looks like they’re wrestling, maybe over a gun, and he shoots this kid," said Burris. "In the very least, you have a negligent act here."

The DA's investigators conducted a 3D forensic frame analysis of Mateu's body camera video in an effort to understand whether the officer's statements about the gun being located in Tindle's right hand were consistent with the footage. They determined that the video did not "reveal any material inconsistencies" with Mateu's statement about the shooting, and that "Mr. Tindle likely had the pistol in his right hand at the time of the shooting."

However, the investigators also noted in their report that a gunshot residue test of Tindle's hands failed to reveal any sign that he fired the pistol that was recovered from the scene.

But the man that Tindle was wrestling with when he was shot did have gunshot residue on his hands, consistent with having fired a pistol.

DNA evidence collected from the grip of the pistol was determined to be that of Tindle. Three other people's DNA was also detected on the gun, but their identities were not disclosed in the report.

The man Tindle was wrestling has never been named by the police. He is referred to by the DA's inspectors only as "Witness #1."

He sustained a gunshot wound to his leg as a result of the incident. OPD ballistics experts determined that the man's leg wound was attributed to the gun found on the scene, and not Mateu's weapon.

Witness #1 initially ran away from the scene of the shooting. When he was later located by Oakland police, who led the criminal investigation of the incident, the man told police that the fight that led up to the fatal shooting was started over a pair of black and pink women's Air Jordan shoes. The man claimed that he mistakenly left the shoes on the sidewalk and that Tindle picked them up. After the man asked Tindle to give the shoes back to him, he claimed Tindle drew a gun on him.

But Tindle's fiancee told investigators that Witness #2 started the fight by approaching Tindle and asking about "some Jordans." He then attempted to tackle Tindle.

At that point Mateu ran up on the two men as they were wrestling. According to the DA's report, she told investigators "that she also yelled for the officer to not shoot, but to 'hit him with the baton.'" but "the officer was pointing his gun primarily at Mr. Tindle. The officer then fired two times."

Other witnesses also said the two men were fighting over a pair of shoes. According to the DA's report, several witnesses told the police that Tindle drew the handgun from his waist during the argument.

The Tindle family's lawsuit was filed on Sept. 19 in federal district court. It alleges that a man identified as "Rayvelle" was "in an apparent position of physical advantage standing over [Tindle]" when officer Mateu shot and killed Tindle.

"Our decision to go forward is not affected in the least by the DA’s report," Burris said about the status of the lawsuit.

Tuesday’s Briefing: Another Oakland Housing Project Burns; Judge Lowers Big Verdict in Roundup Case

Plus, domoic acid found in Dungeness crab.

by Express Staff
Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 9:50 AM

  • Photo courtesy of KTVU.
Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 23, 2018:

1. A massive, five-alarm fire early this morning destroyed a West Oakland eco-friendly housing project that was nearing completion, KTVU reports. The big blaze at West Grand Avenue and Filbert Street broke out at about 2 a.m. at a townhouse project owned by City Ventures. It was at least the fifth large fire to destroy a housing project under construction in Oakland and Emeryville in the past two years. Today’s fire, the cause of which is still under investigation, was so large that embers from the blaze ignited other small structure fires nearby. In addition, firefighters were dispatched to another incident at a housing project under construction at 36th and Peralta streets this morning.

2. A San Francisco judge lowered the big damages award against Monsanto from $289 million to $78.5 million in a case involving a schools groundkeeper who contracted cancer after using the weedkiller Roundup for years, the San Francisco Chronicle$ reports. The judge, however, allowed the verdict against Monsanto to stand.

3. With the Northern California Dungeness crab season just weeks away, scientists have found elevated levels of the neurotoxin domoic acid in five crabs in Humboldt County, reports Tara Duggan of the San Francisco Chronicle$. However, crabs in “the San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Monterey, and Morro Bay regions were clean in this round of tests.” Domoic acid, which is caused by a toxic algae blooms created by warm ocean waters, forced the delay or closure of previous crab seasons in the Bay Area.

4. Many University of California workers in the Bay Area and throughout the state went on a three-day strike today “to protest the university’s practice of outsourcing jobs to contract companies,” reports Ali Tadayon of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Leaders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union called the strike.

5. And Latham Square, a historic building in downtown Oakland, sold again — for 400 percent higher than it did four years ago — in yet another deal highlighting the city’s red-hot commercial real estate market, reports Blanca Torres of the San Francisco Business Times$.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Monday’s Briefing: OPD Was Asking Recruits If They Were Sexual Assault Victims; DA Clears Ex-Alameda City Manager Keimach

by Express Staff
Mon, Oct 22, 2018 at 9:55 AM

Stories you shouldn't miss for Oct. 22, 2018:

1. The Oakland Police Department has been asking recruits if they were victims of sexual assault since 2011 — a practice that some legal experts said was unlawful and discriminatory and likely dissuaded female candidates from applying to the department, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle$. In response to the Chronicle’s story, Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that she was ordering OPD to stop the controversial practice. OPD claimed that the department would not turn down a recruit who was a sexual assault survivor, but the agency has long had trouble hiring female police officers.

2. The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office cleared ex-Alameda City Manager Jill Keimach of illegal wrongdoing for secretly recording two councilmembers during a private meeting last year, reports David DeBolt of the East Bay Times$. The DA’s office also cleared councilmembers Malia Vella and Jim Oddie, whom Keimach had claimed she needed to record because she thought they would illegally try to coerce her into hiring a particular candidate for fire chief.

3. The Bay Area created six times as many jobs as housing units from 2010 to 2015, an extreme imbalance that fueled the region’s housing crisis, reports Louis Hansen of the Mercury News$, citing a study from Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The region is also “expected to open 18.2 million square feet of office space in 2018 — tops in the nation and more than New York City and Dallas combined — while home, condo and apartment building has grown only modestly.”

4. Embattled Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks, who is facing a tough reelection fight, has been missing in action for the past month, skipping council meetings and political debates and forums, reports Otis R. Taylor Jr. of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Attorneys for ex-Black Panther Elaine Brown, who was assaulted by Brooks, have been trying to serve the councilmember with legal papers. Brooks says she’s been taking care of a sick family member.

5. President Donald Trump is siding with Big Agribusiness in the San Joaquin Valley over the environment, ordering federal officials to slash regulations in order to send more Northern California river water to the south, reports Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee$.

6. California’s unemployment rate fell to a record-low 4.1 percent in September, and it was even lower in the Bay Area, where it was below 3 percent in eight of the region’s nine counties, reports Kathleen Pender of the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Schaaf Has 20-Point Lead in New Poll, But Is Still Well Short of a Majority

The poll also shows that Oaklanders favor more housing.

by Express Staff
Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 2:32 PM

Libby Schaaf.
  • Libby Schaaf.

Incumbent Libby Schaaf has a 20-point lead over her two main rivals, Cat Brooks and Pamela Price, in the Oakland mayor’s race, according to a new poll of likely voters released today by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce. But the poll also shows that Schaaf is still well short of the 50-percent threshold she needs to win. She sits at 37 percent, while Brooks and Price both have 17 percent.

Another 17 percent of the Oakland electorate remains undecided with less than three weeks before the Nov. 6 election, according to the survey by FM3 Research. None of the other seven candidates in the race has more than 1 percent of the vote.

Cat Brooks.
  • Cat Brooks.

Brooks and Price are running as a slate and are banking on second and third-place votes in ranked-choice voting to propel one of them ahead of Schaaf. The poll indicates that the winner of this race will be chosen by the undecided voters.

A high number of undecided voters at this late point in the campaign is typically not good news for an incumbent and indicates that voters are searching for an alternative. But there is also some positive news for Schaaf in the poll: It reveals that she leads Brooks and Price among all ethnic groups, including Black voters.

Among African Americans, Schaaf has 29 percent versus 25 percent for Price and 15 percent for Brooks. Both Price and Brooks are African American. Among Latinos, Schaaf leads 43 precent to 24 percent for Brooks and 11 percent for Price. Among whites, Schaaf leads  with 45 percent versus 16 percent for Brooks and 10 percent for Price. And among Asian/Pacific Islanders, Schaaf stands at 32 percent, with Price at 21 percent and Brooks at 18 percent.

Pamela Price.
  • Pamela Price.
Schaaf also has received a boost from her tough stance on President Trump’s anti-immigration policies. Sixty-six percent of Oakland voters said they “strongly approved” of her decision in February to warn about pending ICE raids. Another 15 percent said they “somewhat approved.”

The poll also shows that Oaklanders favor more housing. A majority — 53 percent — said they support speeding up the approval of new housing development. And a plurality, 41 percent, said the rate of development is too slow. Another 27 percent called it “just right.” Only 21 percent of voters said housing development was happening “too fast” in Oakland. In addition, a large majority of voters — in every council district — approve of increased housing density in Oakland.

Homelessness and housing are the top issues for Oakland voters, with 91 percent saying homelessness is the most important, and 84 percent selecting housing.

Voters are also evenly divided on whether they think the city is on the right track.

Overall, 53 percent of Oakland voters viewed Schaaf favorably, while 38 percent viewed her unfavorably.

The poll included 502 respondents and was conducted from Oct. 7 to Oct. 14. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.

Friday’s Briefing: First Friday Canceled; Big Bluefin Tuna Rebound

by Express Staff
Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 10:48 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 19, 2018:

1. The organizers of Oakland’s First Fridays in Uptown have canceled the next event scheduled for Nov. 1, saying they plan to review security procedures in light of the shooting that occurred several hours after the last event on Oct. 5, the East Bay Times$ reports.

2. Populations of big bluefin tuna have rebounded off the California coast, and scientists are attributing measures taken by the United States, Japan, and Mexico to prevent overfishing, Reuters reports. Bluefin populations had been pushed to dangerously low levels due to the global appetite for sushi.

3. A judge in San Francisco threw out criminal charges filed against homeless people who were arrested for sleeping on a sidewalk, saying the charges were unconstitutional in light of a recent federal appellate court ruling, reports Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle. A September ruling by the Ninth Circuit concluded that bans on homeless people sleeping in public places are unlawful if there is nowhere else for them to go.

4. Young Californians are becoming increasingly addicted to Juuling, a portable nicotine-delivery device, reports Nanette Asimov of the San Francisco Chronicle$. “The study, conducted by Stanford University researchers, found that the young Juul users were far more likely to have vaped in the past 30 days than those using other e-cigarettes.” Also, “youths who used Juul (nearly 16 percent) were more addicted to the product than those who used other kinds of e-cigarettes (30 percent), when ranked on an addiction scoresheet.”

5. And meterologists predict that California’s winter this year will be warmer than usual, meaning there likely will be less snow in the Sierra Nevada, SFGate reports. The total amount of precipitation, however, is expected to be average this year.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Oakland Councilmember Kalb Files Ethics Complaint Against Conservative Anti-Tax Group Over Mailers

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 6:23 PM

An excerpt from one of the ACTA mailers states "there are 6 more local tax measures on the November ballot."
  • An excerpt from one of the ACTA mailers states "there are 6 more local tax measures on the November ballot."

A conservative anti-tax group called The Alameda County Taxpayers Association has distributed three separate mailers to Oakland residents over the past several weeks criticizing the city's financial condition and urging voters to "ask questions" and "stay informed."

Today, Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb filed an ethics complaint against the group alleging that the mailers are in violation state and local campaign laws because they appear to take aim against three real estate tax measures on the Nov. 6 ballot without disclosing the source of funds used to pay for them.

The mailers are part of a "series" which purport to objectively describe "facts" about Oakland's finances.

The first mailer in the ACTA's series.
  • The first mailer in the ACTA's series.

The first in the series stated that Oakland ranks 479 out of 482 California cities in terms of its "financial stability," that the city owes over $1.6 billion in unfunded pension costs, among financial problems. It's not clear where the association came up with this claim.

The first mailer doesn't mention the election in any way.

But the second and third mailer in the series do mention the election, stating: "There are 6 more local tax measures on the November ballot that will add between $200 and $6,200 to you tax bill."

This appears to be a reference to the City of Oakland Measures AA, W, and X. (There are three other tax measures on Oakland's ballot, but they're for other government agencies, not the city.)

Measure AA is a $198 parcel tax to fund early childhood education, while Measure W is a vacant property tax, and Measure X would adjust the existing real estate transfer tax so that mostly commercial properties and homes sold for over $2 million pay higher rates. Kalb wrote Measure X and has registered a committee to campaign in support of it.

Kalb alleged in his complaint that the Alameda County Taxpayers Association is trying to take advantage of a legal "loophole" that states that only communications that expressly advocate support or opposition of a particular candidate or measure are subject to campaign finance and disclosure rules.

But Kalb cited another section of the state Political Reform Act that requires groups to register campaign committees and disclose sources of money if their communications with voters "taken as a whole and in context, unambiguously urges a particular result in an election."

According to Kalb, the mention of the six tax measures on Oakland's ballot alongside the critical statements about the city's financial situation within a few weeks of the election amounts to an independent campaign expenditure in opposition of the tax measures that should be subjected to sunlight.

Marcus Crawley of the Alameda County Taxpayers Association disagrees.

"They are not really election materials," Crawley said in an interview several days ago, before Kalb filed the complaint. "We decided what we really need to do is wake up the citizens of Oakland and get them thinking and scrutinizing taxes and city debt and city procedures, and since we have an election and everyone is paying attention, this was an excellent time to start."

Crawley said his group didn't form a campaign committee because the mailers are a general education effort. He added that they were paid for out of due of the ACTA's members.

"If you read those fliers there isn’t a single mention of any particular ballot measure or candidate."

Kalb submitted his complaint to the city's Public Ethics Commission but wrote that he also intends to file a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Opinion: Prioritizing People in Our Housing Policies

by Nikki Fortunato Bas
Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 12:47 PM

As election season heads into its final weeks, candidates will talk policy as we should. But it’s also important to talk people, because it’s Oakland’s people who drive our values and decision-making.

My home is near Lake Merritt. Bessie used to live next door where she raised three generations of her family. Like many African-American families, their long history in Oakland was cut short by the housing crisis.

When Bessie passed away, her sons and daughter might have kept the house, but with a reverse mortgage and expensive repairs, they had to let it go. They joined the search for affordable housing or left Oakland for good.

Troubled by the loss of Bessie’s family and two other neighbors, my 14-year old daughter Balana wrote an essay about the housing crisis. Her English teacher revealed that Balana’s guidance counselor was forced to leave the school because she didn’t earn enough money to pay Oakland’s high rents.

My daughter was devastated at the loss because her counselor had helped her so much. Her essay concluded: “Oakland’s elected officials must solve the housing crisis because it impacts teachers, artists and others who make Oakland the city we love.”

Going home from school, Balana and I pass several of Lake Merritt’s homeless encampments. The East 12th Street camp was founded by Nino, a senior; everyone in the camp is over 55. As he puts it, “Imagine your grandmother living in a tent.” On October 24, the city plans to evict Nino and his neighbors, but there are not enough “Tuff sheds” to house them all, and not all of them even want to move into these sheds.

I’ve lived near the Lake 20 years — where I’ve jogged and enjoyed BBQs and festivals, and led children through Fairyland — and this new normal of unsheltered neighbors is not normal. It’s heartbreaking.

While the city council drags its feet, one-by-one, hundred-by-hundred, thousand-by-thousand, Oakland residents are pushed out of our city, or onto the streets by the housing crisis.

Instead of acting to solve the crisis, the council exacerbates it by evicting our homeless neighbors as winter rains approach.

I see a different path. I see solutions at our fingertips, like the Public Lands Policy that the council has delayed for three years.

The policy would allow us to convert vacant, publicly owned land and buildings into thousands of affordable homes. It would also allow us to provide a safe space for our homeless neighbors so they can have access to sanitation and services.

Weeks have turned into months and years waiting for our council to listen to its constituents — the people of Oakland. A coalition of impacted residents, organizations, and housing experts brought a “People’s Proposal” to council. They identified 36 parcels that could be transformed into over 3,600 affordable units. But this sound plan and resourceful strategies have fallen on deaf ears.

Instead, the council has focused on streamlining the development process without any requirement for affordable housing. Our neighbors in San Francisco, Berkeley and Emeryville require about 20 percent affordability, and Oakland, zero. Left to the current city council, only 1,438 of the current 22,000 housing units in the construction pipeline are affordable units. That’s only 6.5 percent.

With all the wealth being generated right now by private development, we need to ensure there are fair requirements and community benefit agreements as a part of any development deal. Oakland is in a development boom that could help us thrive or bury us. Profitable corporations and developers must contribute their fair share for the Oakland infrastructure they use to do business, including affordable housing for their multi-income workforce.

If a fire or earthquake caused thousands of Oaklanders to lose their homes, local government would jump into action. Our city council needs to treat the housing crisis with the same urgency. We need to use all the tools in the toolbox.

FIrst, we must prioritize the development of 100 percent affordable housing projects. Second, we must set requirements for at least 25 percent affordable housing on new development and pass robust community benefits agreements. Third, we must generate new revenue such as charging private, market-rate residential and commercial developers the true cost of their infrastructure burden. Oakland taxpayers should not subsidize profitable, market-rate development. Finally, our council must pass a Public Lands Policy today, not tomorrow, not in three years, but now.

If elected to city council, I will be an independent voice for Oaklanders with years of experience negotiating win-win development agreements between community, labor, developers, and city government. I will be able to represent our diverse community and balance our growth with real equity.

Unlike the incumbent, I am not taking corporate and development money. Instead, I will be beholden to everyday Oaklanders. Like Bessie’s children and grandchildren. Like Balana’s guidance counselor, like Nino, and like you and your family. Together, we can build an Oakland for all of us.

Respected Oakland Police Commissioner Mike Nisperos Resigns

by Darwin BondGraham
Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 12:33 PM

Mike Nisperos at a police commission meeting last year.
  • Mike Nisperos at a police commission meeting last year.

Oakland Police Commissioner Mike Nisperos plans to resign next month due to the city's residency requirement to serve on the police oversight body.

In an email Nisperos sent to Oakland City Council President Larry Reid last night, Nisperos wrote that his resignation will be effective Nov. 7 because he's moving out of Oakland. Police commissioners must be Oakland residents.

"I want to thank you, the city council, and the members of the selection committee for according me the honor and privilege of serving my beloved Oakland," Nisperos wrote.

He added that he hopes another attorney like himself will be appointed to fill the soon to be empty seat due to the many complex challenges the commission is facing. The commission was created by voters in 2016 by ballot initiative. It's first meeting was held in December 2017.

"I respectfully encourage you to ensure that one of your appointments have legal training and experience," he wrote. "Many of the issues before the commission have complex legal underpinnings that are not immediately obvious to non-attorneys. Although we do have legal counsel available, she is appropriately not engaged in the active discussions between commissioners."

Mike Nisperos was picked to serve on the newly created police commission by the civilian selection panel.

Raised in Oakland, Nisperos worked as an Alameda County prosecutor, an Air Force JAG officer, a criminal defense attorney, and an associate in the John Burris law firm where he focused on police misconduct cases. He was also a public safety analyst and he wrote the Oakland Mayor's 2001 Public Safety Plan, which called for a transition toward community policing tactics. In 1997, he helped revamp the Citizens Police Review Board after the council expanded its jurisdiction and authority.

The loss of Nisperos is another setback for the police commission which has struggled to obtain resources and staff from the city, train its members, and carry out other parts of its mission.

It's unclear, however, why Nisperos addressed his resignation letter to Reid. The city council has no role in appointing the police commissioners as they are chosen by an independent selection panel.

This selection panel met last night and discussed, among other things, the process of recruiting and retaining police commissioners.

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