Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday’s Briefing: State Public Weed Bank Isn’t Feasible; Trump Threatens to Close Southern Border

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 28, 2018 at 10:32 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Dec. 28, 2018:

1. California’s plan to create a public bank to serve cannabis businesses isn’t feasible, reports Sam Dean of the LA Times$, citing a new state-commissioned analysis. Weed businesses can’t use regular banks because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. But the report found that a state public bank is a dead end “because of the high legal risks and large amounts of capital that would be required to create a functioning bank.”

2. President Trump, who has already forced the shutdown of the federal government, is now threatening to close the southern border completely unless Congress agrees to earmark $5 billion for his controversial border wall, The New York Times$ reports. A closure of the southern border would severely harm California and the national economy.

3. Bay Area ferry ridership has swelled in recent years as commuters have increasingly sought alternatives to overflowing BART trains and jam-packed bridges, reports Rachel Swan of the San Francisco Chronicle$. “The Bay Area is now the third biggest market for ferries in the country behind Seattle and New York City.”

4. Alameda students are reacting positively to the district’s new relaxed dress code that allows them to wear hoodies, hats, “shorts of any length, spaghetti-strapped tank tops and ripped jeans, all of which were previously prohibited,” reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. A recent survey of students also found that “about two-thirds of students who said they were publicly called out for a violation under the previous policy were girls.”

5. And freezing temperatures are expected to hit parts of the Bay Area tonight and this weekend, reports Gwendolyn Wu of the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Thursday, December 27, 2018

Thursday’s Briefing: California’s Legal Weed Market Is a Bust; Alameda Teachers Reach Pay-Raise Deal

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 27, 2018 at 10:05 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Dec. 27, 2018:

1. California’s legal cannabis market has been mostly a bust so far because of a complex regulatory framework and the decision by numerous cities to ban the sale of weed, reports Patrick McGreevy of the LA Times$. State officials had hoped to permit 6,000 cannabis shops in the first few years of legalization but only licensed 547 in 2018. In addition, the state had projected that legal pot would produce about $1 billion in annual tax revenue but it’s only expected to generate $471 million this fiscal year.

2. Alameda teachers and the school district have reached a tentative deal that calls for a 4.5 percent pay raise this year, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. Teachers must still vote on the tentative deal, and the Alameda school board is expected to vote on it on Jan. 22.

3. Oakland teachers, meanwhile, are preparing to strike soon as contract talks with the cash-strapped school district remain at an impasse, reports Theresa Harrington of EdSource. The teachers’ union is demanding a 12-percent raise over three years, along with class-size reductions. The school district, which is facing a $30 million budget deficit, is offering a 5 percent pay bump over three years.

4. A new report commissioned estimated that Alameda County needs to triple its annual spending to $334 million to deal with the county’s homelessness crisis, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle$. “The county spends about $106 million a year on homeless-related programs and subsidizes 3,000 permanent housing units. The report from Everyone Home, which was started by Oakland, Berkeley, and county agencies, says those numbers should be $334 million and 9,000.”

5. Bay Area bridge tolls will increase by $1 on Jan. 1, rising to $7 on the Bay Bridge and $6 at other state-run spans in the region, Bay City News reports. The toll hikes are were previously approved by voters and will generate more funding for mass transit and other transportation needs.

6. And the federal government shut down could extend indefinitely as President Trump hardened his demand for $5 billion in taxpayer funds to finance the launch of his controversial border wall, the Washington Post$ reports.

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday’s Briefing: Square Leases Uptown Station for 2K Employees; Federal Gov’t Shutdown Looms

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Dec 21, 2018 at 10:09 AM

Uptown Station.
  • Uptown Station.

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Dec. 21, 2018:

1. San Francisco tech company Square has leased Oakland Uptown Station — the old Sears building on Broadway — as office space for 2,000 employees, reports Roland Li of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The deal by the credit card payments processing company will make it the largest tech employer in Oakland.

2. The federal government is expected to shut down tonight after President Trump on Thursday said he wouldn't sign a Senate-approved budget bill that didn’t include $5 billion in funding for his controversial border wall. After Trump’s announcement, the GOP-controlled House OK’d legislation with funding for Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexican border. But the House bill is expected to fail to garner enough votes to pass in the Senate. If the government shuts down, more than 400,000 federal workers — including airport security personnel — will be expected to work without pay. Trump said today he expects the shutdown to last for a “long time.” Last week, he said he would be “proud” to shut down the government over the border wall.

3. Richmond political activist Kimberly Ellis announced that she will run again for California Democratic Party chair following the resignation of Eric Bauman for sexual misconduct, the LA Times$ reports. Ellis lost narrowly to Bauman in the 2017 race for party chair.

4. In an unusual move, the California Fair Political Practices Commission urged state Attorney General Xavier Becerra to file criminal charges against BART for illegally using public funds to campaign for a 2016 transportation ballot measure, reports Patrick McGreevy of the LA Times$. The FPPC fined BART $7,500 for unlawfully supporting Measure RR.

5. And liberal U.S. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, had surgery today to treat lung cancer.

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Thursday, December 20, 2018

Thursday’s Briefing: Bay Area Leaders OK Housing Pact; Big Tobacco Pumps $12.8B Into E-Cig Maker JUUL

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 20, 2018 at 10:26 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Dec. 20, 2018:

1. A Bay Area panel of mayors, transportation officials, and business leaders approved an ambitious housing plan that calls on cities and communities throughout the region to build 35,000 units of housing a year, reports Rachel Swan of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Slow-growth advocates blasted the plan, which is an advisory measure that is being forwarded to the Legislature, arguing that it would override local control of land use. But proponents of the plan, which also includes a regionwide cap on rent hikes and calls for $1.5 billion-a-year increase in taxes to pay for affordable housing, contend that local control of housing has caused the housing shortage.

2. Tobacco giant Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris, is pumping $12.8 billion into Bay Area e-cigarette maker JUUL, reports Catherine Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The huge investment by big tobacco undercuts JUUL’s longstanding claim that its e-cigs are designed to help smokers quit. Health officials have argued that JUUL has been marketing flavored e-cigs to teens and has caused a huge increase in youth nicotine addiction.

3. Facing a judge’s threat of an arrest warrant, former Oakland City Councilmember Desley Brooks finally showed up in court on Wednesday to answer questions about why she has yet to pay a $215,000 judgment against her, reports David DeBolt of the East Bay Times$. Brooks’ debt stems from her 2015 assault on ex-Black Panther Elaine Brown. Brooks failed to show up to previous court appearances on the matter.

4. The toll to cross the Golden Gate Bridge may climb to $10 in the next five years to make up for a multimillion-dollar budget deficit, reports Rachel Swan of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The bridge tolls not only pay for upkeep of the iconic span, but also help fund bus and ferry transit.

5. President Trump is again threatening to shut down the federal government over Congress’ refusal to fund his controversial plan for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Washington Post$ reports. The Senate on Wednesday night approved a stopgap funding plan that included no money for Trump’s wall.

6. Oakland Raiders’ star Marshawn Lynch urged the Oakland Planning Commission last night to greenlight the Oakland A’s’ plans for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal on the city’s waterfront, reports Gary Peterson of the Bay Area News Group$. “We’re losing the Warriors,” Lynch said. “We’re losing the Raiders. Best not lose the A’s. Appreciate it.”

7. And that bright light trail that flashed across the Bay Area sky last evening was likely a meteor, according to the Lick Observatory, Berkeleyside reports.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Wednesday’s Briefing: State Atty. Gen. Sides With Oakland Against Coal; Cops Union Sues to Block New Police Transparency Law

by Robert Gammon
Wed, Dec 19, 2018 at 10:03 AM

Xavier Becerra.
  • Xavier Becerra.
Stories you shouldn’t miss for Dec. 19. 2018:

1. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has sided with the city of Oakland in its appeal of a court decision that would allow the creation of a major coal terminal at the former army base, reports David DeBolt of the East Bay Times$. In an appeals court filing in support of Oakland, Becerra argued that the city had a right to establish regulations that sought to ban the handling of coal in The Town. A lower court had previously ruled against Oakland, saying the city attempts to block coal violated the city’s contract with coal developer Phil Tagami.

2. A Southern California police union has sued to block the implementation of a new transparency law that opens up past records of police misconduct for the first time, reports Liam Dillon of the LA Times$. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Employees’ Benefit Association contends that Senate Bill 1421, which was authored by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, should only apply to police misconduct records that are created after Jan. 1, 2019.

3. Democratic state lawmakers are pushing a plan to make the first two years of community college free in California, reports Melody Gutierrez of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The proposal would grant free tuition to students who commit to enrolling full-time right out of high school and “as long as a student takes a full course load each semester and remains continuously enrolled.” The first year of community college is already free in the state.

4. Berkeley’s marina is in dire financial shape and will be “insolvent” by 2020 if the city doesn’t take action, reports Tony Hicks for Berkeleyside, citing a new report from the Berkeley city manager. The marina is operating at a $1 million deficit and has more than $100 million in maintenance and repair needs.

5. The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan federal criminal justice reform bill, and President Trump is expected to sign the legislation after it passes the House, reports Marianne Levine of Politico. “The legislation, which was revised last week, provides incentives for some federal inmates to earn time credits if they participate in certain programs, reduces the three-strike penalty to 25 years from life in prison, reduces the disparity between sentencing for crack and powder cocaine, and would ease mandatory minimum sentencing.”

6. Facebook shared billions of users’ private messages and personal data with its corporate partners without people’s consent, The New York Times$ reports. “Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.”

7. And President Trump is backing down from his threat to shut down the federal government if Congress refuses to pay for his controversial border wall and is expected to sign a continuing resolution to keep the government open until February, Politico reports.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Tuesday’s Briefing: 1.1 Million California Buildings in Fire Danger Zones; Alta Bates Closure Will Restrict Access for Poor

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Dec 18, 2018 at 10:18 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Dec. 18. 2018:

1. California has 1.1 million homes and buildings that are “within the highest-risk fire zones in maps drawn by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection,” the LA Times$ reports. Some of the highest risk zones are located in the Oakland and Berkeley hills.

2. “The planned closure of Berkeley’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center would severely restrict health care access for poor, elderly and minority East Bay residents, increase wait times for emergency care, and result in a loss of jobs,” reports Catherine Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle$, citing a new report by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Urban and Regional Development. Alta Bates in Berkeley is slated to close by 2030.

3. Marc and Lynne Benioff donated another $15 million to Children’s Hospital Oakland, reports Erin Allday of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The donation will fund “much-needed psychiatric care to East Bay kids and families suffering from lack of resources.” The Benioffs have already donated more than $200 million to UC San Francisco’s two children’s hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland.

4. The FBI is accusing an Oakland man of plotting to kill thousands of people in the Bay Area, but his defense attorneys say he was an online troll who enjoyed saying outrageous things and had no intention of committing violence, the San Francisco Chronicle$ reports. Amer Sinan Alhaggagi, 23, pleaded guilty in July “to attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group.” A recently released video showed “Alhaggagi detailing how he’d lace cocaine with poison, plant bombs in UC Berkeley dorms, and set the Oakland hills ablaze.”

5. The Bay Area’s new $50 million ferry maintenance and emergency hub of the Water Emergency Transportation Authority opened in Alameda, reports Peter Hegarty of the East Bay Times$. The new facility will be home to WETA’s ferry fleet for the Bay Area.

6. And off-duty Oakland cop accidentally shot himself in the parking lot of a San Leandro shopping center, Bay City News reports. The officer was hospitalized and was listed in stable condition.

7. And ICYMI: A new report warns that the size of the Sierra snowpack could shrink by as much as 79 percent by 2100 if humans don’t limit greenhouse emissions, the LA Times$ reports, citing a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Oakland Loans Housing Developer UrbanCore $2.35 Million for Market-Rate Housing Project

Meanwhile, San Francisco is suing UrbanCore over an unpaid $5.5 million loan.

by Darwin BondGraham and Daniel Lempres
Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 4:07 PM

  • Darwin BondGraham/File photo
  • Michael Johnson.
Since 2015, Oakland’s city council has been negotiating the sale of a valuable slice of city-owned property near Lake Merritt to the developer UrbanCore, which plans to build a market-rate apartment tower on part of the property. UrbanCore won the deal after competitive bidding, partly based on its assurance that it wouldn't require a public subsidy. But the project has missed a major deadline, and now, UrbanCore can’t proceed without a loan from the city.

At its meeting earlier this week (which ran into the early hours of Wednesday morning), the Oakland City Council ignored protests from skeptical members of the public and stood by the beleaguered developer by approving the $2.35 million loan. The unusual public subsidy for a market-rate housing project — at a time when the city's market-rate development is red hot — also came with an extension to the project’s timeline of nine months.

Oakland’s new loan to UrbanCore, which is owned by businessman Michael Johnson, comes at the same time that the city of San Francisco is suing Johnson over an unpaid $5.5 million loan of public funds for a real estate development in the Fillmore neighborhood.

“This is an absolute scam,” complained Krishna Desai, an activist with the group Eastlake United for Justice, which has pushed for affordable housing on the E. 12th Street Remainder Parcel.

Desai reminded councilmembers early Wednesday that competing proposals submitted in 2016 by other developers were rejected because city staff and councilmembers claimed they would have required greater levels of public subsidy. The other proposals were submitted by affordable housing developers, and the subsidies were for affordable housing, not market-rate housing.

At this week’s meeting, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan raised concerns about UrbanCore’s record in San Francisco.

“It’s been brought to my attention that there’s ongoing litigation in San Francisco with this proposer regarding a similar loan term with San Francisco that’s not been repaid, and I wanted to know whether you are aware of that, or concerned about that,” Kaplan asked city staff.

“We are aware of that,” Patrick Lane, the manager of the city’s public-private development division, replied. “The issue there was a tenant that left the project and no longer was paying rent and they were no longer able to pay off the loan.”

Lane said the tenant was Yoshi’s restaurant and club, and that the project in Oakland is substantially different because it’s a loan for a residential project, not a commercial venture. He added that UrbanCore’s financial partners on the project are guaranteeing the loan.

According to the lawsuit filed by San Francisco’s City Attorney Dennis Herrera in August, Johnson’s other company, EM Johnson Interest, has never paid back the $5.5 million loan from the city. The city loaned Johnson the money in 2005. By 2010, the city and Johnson attempted to create a “work-out plan” whereby Johnson would repay the loan, but according to Herrera’s lawsuit, “Johnson failed to make all payments and perform all obligations[.]” In 2015, the city issued a notice of default against Johnson and demanded repayment, but again Johnson failed to pay.

According to Herrera, UrbanCore now owes San Francisco $6.5 million for the unpaid loan plus interest.

Johnson filed a countersuit against the city in October alleging that it was San Francisco that actually breached the contract by interfering with the project and making it financially infeasible. According to Johnson, the city didn’t allow him to recruit different tenants after Yoshi’s closed it's location there in 2012.

Oakland is already providing a loan to UrbanCore's partner, nonprofit developer East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, to build an attached affordable housing mid-rise on the same East 12th Street site. Under the 2016 deal with the city, EBALDC is assembling financing for the affordable portion of the property.

Councilmember Abel Guillen said during Wednesday morning’s meeting that he supports the loan to UrbanCore. He said the overall project, including EBALDC’s portion, includes 30 percent affordable housing out of the total 300 units, and that the city needs to add more housing of all types to address the housing shortage.

“We need to move on this project and no longer delay it,” Guillen said.

Kaplan voted against the loan while Councilmember Noel Gallo abstained and Councilmember Desley Brooks, a strong supporter of UrbanCore, was absent.

Like UrbanCore, EBALDC has fallen behind schedule due to rapidly rising construction costs. Construction at the site, known as the E. 12th Street Remainder Parcel, was supposed to begin last month.

The new loan to UrbanCore is required to be repaid in two installments, one upon transfer of the land, and one upon refinancing of the property, which will occur within five years, Lane said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Lane said he is confident the loan will be paid back because UrbanCore’s financial backers include a major pension fund. “We’ll have a payment guarantee from a sizable entity that has resources, so they’re going to guarantee it with somebody with financial backing,” Lane said. When asked who that entity will be, Lane said, “it will be somebody related to the developer, so it’s somebody related to the Electricians National Union Pension Fund.”

The E. 12th Street Remainder Parcel is valued at $8 million. Under terms of the original 2016 deal, $4.7 million was supposed to be paid by UrbanCore with the remaining $3.3 million, representing the portion committed to affordable housing, paid by EBALDC with a loan from the city. Under the new terms of the deal, the city will extend a $2.35 million loan to cover half of Urban Core’s portion as well.

Both UrbanCore and EBALDC still need to locate more financing to meet construction costs, according to the city report.

UrbanCore and Michael Johnson declined comment for this report. EBALDC did not respond to press requests in time for publication.

E-Bikes to Launch in the East Bay

by Daniel Lempres
Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 2:46 PM

  • Photo by Jake Stangel, provided by Ford GoBike.

The East Bay’s largest bikeshare program is giving residents some help riding uphill — and pushing them toward a more sustainable commute in the process. Ford GoBike will introduce electric bikes to their East Bay fleet on Friday, kicking off service by inviting residents on an inaugural ride with several East Bay officials.

The company will disperse more than 500 e-bikes to their East Bay docks, a move East Bay officials hope will encourage more people to bike rather than drive.

“The future of mobility is shared and electric,” stated Ryan Russo, director of Oakland’s department of transportation, in a press release. “Bikes like these allow Oaklanders to keep their transportation costs low and reduce costly wear and tear on our roads.”

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin sees the e-bikes as an opportunity to move closer to Berkeley’s transportation and environmental objectives. “This will help us realize our Berkeley Bike Plan goals to create a low stress biking network, and improve livability and reduce congestion,” Arreguin said in a press release.

The motorized bikes make pedaling easier when traveling uphill and over long distances, enabling the bikeshare system to be more accessible to folks with long or strenuous commutes and people who may need a bit more help covering ground. E-bikes will be available in all Ford GoBike docks, which are located throughout Berkeley, Emeryville, and Oakland, and can be easily located through the company’s app. The e-bikes will be marked in the app with a lightning bolt so riders can find them.

  • Photo by Jake Stangel, provided by Ford GoBike.

Ford GoBike has 127 docks in the East Bay. The program offers annual and monthly passes in addition to single-use access through an app and standard Clipper cards. It also offers discounted memberships to low-income residents, which can cost as little as $5 for an annual membership, and can be paid for in cash if needed.
GoBike is one of the largest bikeshare systems in the country, renting out thousands of bikes from hundreds of docking stations. The company has generated over two million rides in its first 18 months of operation.

Friday’s kickoff event will feature speakers, a demonstration of the e-bikes, and a group ride. The event will take place at the Ford GoBike station located at the corner of 23rd Street and Telegraph Avenue in Oakland at 10 am Friday, and the public is encouraged to participate.

The release of the bikes, along with city efforts to expand bike lanes, will make biking the East Bay much easier, said Ginger Jui, executive director of Bike East Bay, in a press release.

“I predict a lot of people will be surprised and delighted to discover how easy and convenient it is to ride in our cities,” Jui said.

Thursday’s Briefing: Oakland Council Certifies Measure AA Despite Apparent Loss; Raiders to Play Elsewhere in 2019

by Robert Gammon
Thu, Dec 13, 2018 at 10:37 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Dec. 13, 2018:

1. In a controversial move, the Oakland City Council voted to certify Measure AA, a parcel tax measure to pay for early childhood education, as having won in the November election despite the fact that it had failed to garner a two-thirds majority, reports David DeBolt of the East Bay Times$. The council now contends that Measure AA, which received 62 percent of the vote, only needed a simple majority to win, because of a 2017 court decision — even though the city attorney stated earlier that the measure needed 66.67 percent. The council plans to vote on the issue again on Friday, and opponents are expected to challenge the decision in court.

2. As expected, the Oakland Raiders announced that they’re pulling out of a proposed deal to play at the Oakland Coliseum next year and plan to find another locale for the 2019 season because the city of Oakland filed suit over the team’s scheduled move in 2020 to Las Vegas, the San Francisco Chronicle$ reports. However, it’s unclear where the Raiders will play next year — perhaps in Santa Clara at the 49ers stadium.

3. A large majority of Californians — 60 percent — say that Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom’s top priority should be to create universal health care in the state, reports Alexei Koseff of the Sacramento Bee$, citing a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California. In addition, 53 percent said they want Newsom to eliminate community college tuition.

4. State water officials approved a plan to slash water deliveries to cities and agriculture in order to increase river flows and help save the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, reports Bettina Boxall of the LA Times$. However, many environmental groups are criticizing the new plan because it leaves open the door for agreements that could severely undercut water flows in rivers and the delta.

5. Insurance claims from the 2018 wildfire season now total nearly $10 billion — and are expected to go up as claims are revised, reports John Woolfolk of the Mercury News$.

6. The California recreational abalone season will not open until at least 2021 in order to allow the depleted shellfish population to rebound, reports Tara Duggan of the San Francisco Chronicle$.

7. Oakland’s iconic Tribune Tower could change hands again — in a $48 million sale to investor Doug Abrams of Highbridge Equity, reports Blanca Torres of the San Francisco Business Times$. The current owner, Harvest Properties, bought the Tribune Tower in 2016 for $20.4 million and has been refurbishing it.

8. And Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi struck a deal with moderate Democrats that will allow her to become the next House speaker, but only for four years, The New York Times$ reports.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Police Commissioners Spar with Oakland Police Department Over Authority to Revise Search Policy

by Darwin BondGraham
Wed, Dec 12, 2018 at 1:22 PM

Oakland police commissioners huddle with members of the Coalition for Police Accountability during last night's city council meeting. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Oakland police commissioners huddle with members of the Coalition for Police Accountability during last night's city council meeting.

Three members of the Oakland Police Commission made an unusual appeal to the city council last night. They asked councilmembers to hold off on voting on a policy revision because the civilian police commission's version of the new policy was excluded by the city administration in favor of a version drafted solely by the police.

“I am confused because it seems like procedurally, you are all on the wrong track,” Police Commissioner Regina Jackson told councilmembers during a public comment period. “The very first policy we put forward to you, with teeth, is maybe not going to be heard.”

The policy revision in question regards the rules Oakland police officers are supposed to follow when they're deciding whether to search someone who is on probation or parole. Under the department's existing policy, officers are told they can always search someone who is on probation or parole. But this has been criticized as wasting officers' time, leading to racially disparate treatment, and creating distrust in the community.

Earlier this year, the Oakland Police Department proposed a revision to the probation and parole search policy. OPD's new version informs officers that they don't automatically have to search someone just because they're on probation or parole. Instead, the officer is advised to consider the entire context of the stop and whether a search will advance the rehabilitative goals of probation and parole and ensure public safety.

Ultimately, however, OPD's new version still gives officers discretion over whether to search someone who is on probation or parole.

Oakland's police commissioners say OPD's revision doesn't go far enough in limiting officers' discretion.

“The real modifications we did in the OPD version was simply, in most respects, to change a single word from should, that is discretionary, to must," Oakland Police Commissioner Jose Dorado explained to the city council last night during public comment on the item.

The police commission's version would bar OPD officers from searching someone simply because that person is currently on probation or parole. Instead, the officer must have some type of reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed in order to justify a search.

"What is so difficult about a requirement to respect the city of Oakland and its residents?" Dorado said.

Last month, OPD and Oakland's city administrator presented the police commission's version of the revised policy to the city council's public safety committee for possible adoption and recommended against the police commission's plan.

Councilmember Abel Guillen, a member of the public safety committee, moved to advance the police department's version to the full city council.

Police Commission Chair Thomas Lloyd Smith told the council last night it should consider the police commission's policy alongside OPD's and pick the better one.

Under the city charter, the police commission has the authority to "propose changes, including modifications to the [police] Department’s proposed changes, to any policy, procedure, custom, or General Order of the Department[.]" If the police disagree with the commission's recommended policy, the city council has 120 days to vote on what the final policy will be. If the council takes no action, the commission's recommended changes are adopted.

"They just high-jumped over the commission and went straight to public safety," Rashidah Grinage, a member of the Coalition for Police Accountability, said about the manner in which OPD's version of the new search policy was advanced to the city council for a vote instead of the police commission's. Larry White, another member of the Coalition for Police Accountability, called OPD's behavior an attempt to "end run around the police commission."

After hearing from the commissioners, Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Noel Gallo pulled the proposed search policy from last night's agenda so that the commission's version can be considered in addition to OPD's. The dueling versions will be discussed and possibly voted on at an extension of last night's city council meeting that is scheduled for Friday.

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