Friday, October 19, 2018

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 home 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.

Thursday’s Briefing: Oakland Kills Anti-Loitering Law; Berkeley Enacts Tougher Rules on Homeless People

by Express Staff
Thu, Oct 18, 2018 at 10:35 AM

Stories you shouldn't miss for Oct. 18, 2018:

1. The Oakland City Council voted unanimously to overturn a controversial anti-loitering law after a lawsuit alleged that it was racially discriminatory and unconstitutional, reports Kimberly Veklerov of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The old law prohibited loitering on city public housing property but the recent lawsuit alleged that “the ordinance was used as a pretense to break up family gatherings and police the movement of mostly young Black men.” The council also approved more shelter beds for homeless people and voted to launch “a safe parking program that would give people living in their cars a place to park free of fears of break-ins or being towed by the city,” reports Ali DeFazio of Oakland North.

2. The Berkeley City Council, meanwhile, voted 7-1 to enact tougher rules on homeless people, approving a law that bans “personal belongings that are not for sale and not ‘in transit,’ except mobility devices like wheelchairs and small blankets or cushions,” reports Natalie Orenstein of Berkeleyside. “Proponents said the regulation simply applies to material items and is necessary on Berkeley sidewalks, where objects and debris often pile up and obstruct accessibility for pedestrians and people with disabilities. Opponents said the rules are anti-homeless, criminalizing some of the very people they purport to help.”

3. Brown Sugar Kitchen, one of Oakland’s most famed eateries, has closed its West Oakland location permanently, reports Janelle Bitker of SF.Eater. The popular restaurant is planning to open a new outlet in Uptown Oakland, but chef-owner Tanya Holland said the Mandela Parkway location was never profitable.

4. The Bay Area has the worst roads in the nation, according to a new report by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based transportation research group, reports Rachel Swan of the San Francisco Chronicle$. “Seventy-one percent of the streets in San Francisco, Oakland, and nearby cities are dilapidated, and the average motorist loses $1,049 a year in repair costs from driving on the bumpy pavement.”

5. And the old UC Berkeley Art Museum “could be transformed into a 90,000-square-foot incubator for life sciences companies under a unique proposal expected to be considered next month by University of California regents,” reports Ron Leuty of the San Francisco Business Times$. “The Bakar BioEnginuity Hub — named for real estate developer and UC benefactor Gerson Bakar, who died last year — could open in 2021 and house as many as 300 people, including graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. It would be evenly split into wet labs and office space, including student and ‘maker’ space.”

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday’s Briefing: Prop. 6 Gas Tax Repeal Surges in Polls; Kidney Dialysis Industry to Spend at Least $99 Million on Prop. 8

by Express Staff
Wed, Oct 17, 2018 at 10:07 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 17, 2018:

1. Proposition 6, a Republican-led effort to eliminate California’s new gas tax, is leading comfortably in the latest poll, 58 percent to 29 percent, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune, which commissioned the Survey USA poll. Opponents of Prop. 6 note that, if it passes, it will kill hundreds of transit projects around the state.

2. The kidney dialysis industry has raised a stunning $99 million to defeat Proposition 8, which seeks to regulate dialysis clinics in California, reports Chris Nichols of Capital Public Radio. Prop. 8 “would cap what clinics can spend on overhead and administrative costs, versus actual care.”

3. Hundreds of sea lions off the California coast have been stricken with a deadly bacterial infection — the second-largest outbreak “since state officials began keeping track of the infectious disease in 1970,” reports Peter Fimrite of the San Francisco Chronicle$. Some scientists believe that the outbreak of leptospirosis bacterial infections could be related to warming ocean waters.

4. California regulators have fined PG&E $5 million for two gas leaks in Northern California in 2016 and 2017, reports Melia Russell of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The California Public Utilities Commission “issued a $4.05 million citation to PG&E stemming from a 2016 incident in Deer Park” a $1 million fine for a leak in Yuba City last year.

5. ICYMI: Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and three nonprofits announced a $9 million, privately financed pilot program earlier this week that is designed to help prevent people from becoming homeless, reports Gwendolyn Wu of the San Francisco Chronicle$. The funding through nonprofits, East Bay Community Law Center, Catholic Charities of the East Bay and Bay Area Community Services, comes from a grant by Kaiser Permanente and a large anonymous donation to the San Francisco Foundation.

6. And recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada, Bloomberg reports.

$ = news stories that may require payment to read.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Opinion: Why I’m Supporting Mya Whitaker for Oakland Council District 6

She is that once-in-a-generation candidate who has the power to engage and empower the most disenfranchised and underrepresented people in her community.

by Philip Green
Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 7:01 PM

Mya Whitaker.
  • Mya Whitaker.
My name is Philip Green. I was born and raised in Oakland, I am a partner in entertainment collective Blackball Universe, and I co-manage Oakland Grammy-winner Fantastic Negrito. I am writing to share why, in a race with several candidates with similar platforms, I support Mya Whitaker for City Council in East Oakland. The choice is clear.

I first met Mya in 2016 at the screening of Fantastic Negrito’s new video In the Pines at Red Bay Coffee. The screening also included a community conversation about gun violence and police and community trust — or lack thereof.

At the end of screening, Mya spoke about losing several friends to gun violence — and about the almost impenetrable apathy and hopelessness among her peers. “They just don’t believe,” she said at the time. “They don’t see the jobs. They don’t believe there are Black-owned businesses like this (Red Bay Coffee) that are willing to invest in people who have been in the system. They don’t believe anyone cares.”

That moment the room went quiet. Everyone knew she was right. And hearing Mya speak with such undeniable honesty, our team knew that from that day forward, we would do whatever we could to support this young woman and her community.

Little did we know that two years later, she would decide to run for Oakland City Council. And we are thrilled she made the choice. Here’s why:

Simply put, Mya is that once-in-a-generation candidate who has the power to engage and empower the most disenfranchised and underrepresented people in her community — particularly young people of color.

Why? Because Mya is one of them. She is “from the soil,” as she likes to say, she is still their peer, and she speaks to them on their terms. If you've followed her campaign, you will see she is a tireless worker who doesn't just show up to take pictures and shake hands. She stays ’til the end. She goes to the deepest parts of East Oakland and engages everyone.

These are just some of the many reasons why Mya was the first — and youngest — African-American female candidate for Oakland City Council endorsed by the California Young Democratic Party.

Last year, Mya confided to me that some important people in Oakland suggested she not run because she was “too young.” It’s precisely because she is young and has so much to offer her community that we are supporting her. She’s not waiting around and asking for approval. She knows what her community is capable of, and she’s making it happen. Now.

As Mya likes to say of East Oakland: “We are not asking to be saved. We got this.”

Opinion: I’m Running for AD 15 on a Bold, Progressive Platform

I believe that corporations and billionaires win when we let bigotry divide us.

by Jovanka Beckles
Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 4:51 PM

Picture this: You’re elected to your city council, running on a platform of taking power back from the wealthiest corporations and returning it to working people. Then, at meeting after meeting, you’re asked to sit quietly as people stand up to say things like:
“There goes a girl, trying to be a man.”

And: “You’re just a little girl trying to be a boy, and don't even have the tools for it.”

And: “I’m going to keep coming up here and tell you how gays have no morality. ... You’re filth. You’re dirt.”

All of this because you’re not just an advocate for dignity and equality — you’re also the first out lesbian to ever hold the office.

Unfortunately, I don’t have to imagine it. I lived it as a Richmond city councilmember, day after day, since first elected in 2010. And not just from the people in the audience: Some of the hate came from my fellow councilmembers. They were more than happy to echo, ignore or excuse the bigotry from right next to me on the dais. My sexuality, my race, my heritage: nothing was off-limits.

If you’ve ever experienced a toxic workplace, you understand just how frustrating and helpless it can be. It’s even worse for Black women, who are subjected to a brutal false choice: We can stay silent and get pushed around, but if we ever push back, we’re stereotyped as an “angry Black woman.”

And sometimes I did push back. City council politics are unique — our meetings at 440 Civic Center Plaza are a world away from the plush carpets of D.C. think tanks and consulting firms. Every day, we deliberate on real issues that affect real people’s’ lives, and they can — and do — tell you to your face that they’re hurting. So it’s perhaps no surprise that tempers sometimes flared on both sides of the dais.

Nonetheless, I did my best to stay calm and effective, and to fight for the values that led voters to choose me in the first place.

As a woman, a lesbian, a dark-skinned black Latina, and an immigrant, I’ve been subjected to bigotry and hate my whole life. That part wasn’t a surprise. What did surprise me was in 2014, when my reform-minded colleagues on the council and I were targeted by a slate of candidates backed by Chevron, which spent over $3 million on billboards and mailers attacking us.

After all, Chevron boasts that “diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of our corporate values,” and sponsors floats at Pride every year. Chevron had the opportunity to put their money where their mouth was and stand against the bigotry I’d been facing for years — instead, they threw in their lot with the haters.

Now, that’s not the same as saying that Chevron is racist or homophobic. But it does mean that they’ll abandon their professed values of “diversity and inclusion” the minute that something threatens their bottom line. And as a longtime member of the Richmond Progressive Alliance — a grassroots organization dedicated to people-powered, corporate-free politics — I clearly posed a threat to Chevron’s ability to exploit the working people of Richmond in pursuit of profit. If dividing up Richmonders by gay and straight, Black and white and Brown, immigrant and native-born helped them continue to exploit and pollute, why would they lift a finger to stop it?

Fortunately, we out-organized Chevron and won. And we were able to collect an extra $114 million in taxes from Chevron, putting that money towards community services and a scholarship for every Richmond high school graduate to attend college. That’s not all: We raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, banned the box for city hiring, passed the first rent control laws in California in over thirty years, and more.

Now, I’m running for Assembly District 15 on a bold, progressive platform that puts people over profit. I’m calling for affordable social housing for all; a single-payer, Medicare for All healthcare system; fully funded public education from preschool through college; and more. I fully expect to be attacked with many of the same dog whistles and smears that have been deployed against me in the past: you’ll likely hear that I’m “angry,” or “lazy,” or “erratic,” or even all three. An avalanche of ads and mailers, funded by over half a million dollars of outside spending, will make sure that you hear these attacks every day between now and Election Day.

I believe that politics can be better than that. I believe that corporations and billionaires win when we let bigotry divide us. When we stand together in solidarity, we can defeat the forces of hatred and greed, and build a California that works for the many, not just the few.

Oakland’s Tuff Shed Program, by the Numbers

Before opening each Tuff Shed camp, the city conducted a census of unsheltered people living nearby. Here's what the data shows.

by Darwin BondGraham and Daniel Lempres
Tue, Oct 16, 2018 at 2:46 PM

Oakland's Northgate Avenue Tuff Shed camp before it opened.
  • Oakland's Northgate Avenue Tuff Shed camp before it opened.

To address its homelessness crisis, the city of Oakland has established three Tuff Shed camps at which social workers help unsheltered people seek long-term housing while they reside in converted garden sheds. Mayor Libby Schaaf raised much of the money for the program from private donations.

Each of the three Tuff Shed camps opened near an already existing homeless encampment and in advance of their opening, the city conducted a “census” of the unsheltered people who live in the immediately surrounding area. After the city’s Tuff Shed camp opens, the nearby homeless camps are ordered closed, and camping is banned.

In order to better understand the impact of the Tuff Shed program, the Express requested copies of the city’s official census records. Here’s what the census records show.

Northgate Camp

The census for the Northgate camp reveals the severe racial disparity evident in Oakland’s homelessness crisis. Before the Tuff Shed camp opened, there were 101 homeless people who lived near the intersection of Northgate Avenue and 27th Street. According to the census, 90 of these people, or 89 percent, were Black. Seven respondents, or 6 percent of the area’s homeless residents, were Latinx, and three did not state a race. There was one white person among Northgate’s homeless.

The county’s official survey conducted last year found that 68 percent of Oakland’s homeless are Black, even though just 24 percent of the city’s total population is Black.

Inside an unfinished Tuff Shed at the Northgate camp. The city added insulation, windows, and other fixtures.
  • Inside an unfinished Tuff Shed at the Northgate camp. The city added insulation, windows, and other fixtures.

Just over a third of people living in the Northgate camp were women. Ages ranged from 24-60. And over 97 percent of the Northgate camp residents have spent more than a year on the streets.

22 people disclosed that they suffered from a mental or physical disability and 16 people disclosed that they have criminal records which have been a barrier to getting jobs and stable housing.

Every person in the Northgate camp told the census takers that they were “interested” in the Tuff Shed program. The Northgate Tuff Shed camp has room for 40 residents at a time.

The census information doesn’t show how many people who lived in the existing Northgate camp ultimately chose not to participate in the Tuff Shed camp, and therefore left the area to camp in another part of the city. In fact, the city hasn’t tracked this information for any of the three areas where it has opened Tuff Shed site and subsequently banned camping.

“Everyone on the list who was locatable has now been offered a space and has either decided to participate or not,” Lara Tannenbaum, the community housing services manager for the city of Oakland wrote in an email to the Express. “Expressing interest at the time of the census does not mean that all people chose to move in at the time they were invited.”

The Northgate site also expanded its “invitation zone” to include homeless people living on Martin Luther King Junior Way from 27th Street to Grand Avenue, Tannenbaum said. This means that there were ultimately more and different people who were offered a space in the Tuff Shed camp than the original census of 101 counted.

Castro Street and Lake Merritt

Similar census counts were conducted in the areas surrounding the Castro Street and Lake Merritt Tuff Shed camps before they opened, but these surveys don’t include the same amount of information as the one conducted for the Northgate Avenue camp. For example, the Castro area and Lake Merritt surveys do not provide information about people’s race, gender, time spent homeless, or interest in participating in the Tuff Shed program.

Tannenbaum said these counts were conducted faster, resulting in less detail.

A pink "no camping" notice on a fence outside the Castro Street Tuff Shed camp shortly after it opened.
  • A pink "no camping" notice on a fence outside the Castro Street Tuff Shed camp shortly after it opened.

The Castro street census counted 45 people, while the Lake Merritt survey counted 72. The Castro area and Lake Merritt Tuff Shed camps can also accommodate 40 people at a time. Camping bans are being enforced in the surrounding areas.

Again, the census doesn’t track how many people chose not to participate in the Castro Street camp and therefore relocated to another part of the city.

The Lake Merritt camp just opened and city officials say they plan to phase in the no encampment zone around the lake starting first with the large camp that existed at Peralta Park next to the old Kaiser Center.

Some homeless people who lived across the channel from the new Tuff Shed camp are protesting the impending camping ban with signs reading “stop evictions now,” and “Homes: yes! Tuff Sheds: no thanks!” But others are taking the city up on the program and moving in.

Some residents of the existing homeless camp near the new Lake Merritt Tuff Shed site don't agree with the camping ban Oakland plans to enforce.
  • Some residents of the existing homeless camp near the new Lake Merritt Tuff Shed site don't agree with the camping ban Oakland plans to enforce.

As with the population that lived in the encampments around Northgate Avenue before the city opened its Tuff Shed site there, many living around Lake Merritt described a mixture of health problems and other barriers to finding stable housing.

For example, 24 people reported suffering from mental health problems and physical disabilities. 13 reported addiction to alcohol or narcotics. 11 had criminal records, which poses a major barrier to finding jobs and housing. 2 disclosed having HIV/AIDS.

Oakland's census count for the Lake Merritt homeless community found that many unsheltered people have chronic health problems and addictions, in addition to criminal records, which can be barriers to employment and housing.
  • Oakland's census count for the Lake Merritt homeless community found that many unsheltered people have chronic health problems and addictions, in addition to criminal records, which can be barriers to employment and housing.

These figures are similar to what advocacy organizations know about homelessness in Oakland, said Anita de Asis Miralle, program director at the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute. According to de Asis Miralle, the disproportionate number of homeless African-American men is due to gentrification, labor market inequalities, and housing discrimination facing men of color. At the same time, there tends to be more shelter services available to women.

Many people experiencing homelessness use drugs as a coping mechanism, de Asis Miralle said. “The longer you are out in the streets, the more vulnerable you are to drug use, drug addiction and drug dependency,” she said. “Also the longer you are out on the streets the more vulnerable you are to other mental health issues above and beyond addiction.”

Some homeless people choose to participate in the Tuff Shed program. Those who don't are ordered to leave camps nearby.
  • Some homeless people choose to participate in the Tuff Shed program. Those who don't are ordered to leave camps nearby.

Tuff Shed Outcomes

The Express also requested copies of the “exit matrix,” which tracks when and how homeless residents of the Northgate and Castro camps left the Tuff Shed program. The city’s goal is to help participants obtain transitional or long-term affordable housing.

According to the matrix, 75 people had participated in the Castro Tuff Shed camp as of Sept. 21, and 31 of them are still current residents.

Because the city’s original census of the Castro camp counted 45 people in the area before the Tuff Shed site opened, this means that 30 people participated in the program who weren’t part of the original census. This is because after exhausting its census list, the city expanded the “invitation zone” to a wider area.

So far, 15 people have exited the Castro camp into permanent housing. Another 17 have exited into transitional housing.

Five people abandoned their beds while seven people have been kicked out for violating the rules, but the matrix doesn’t describe the exact nature of the rules violations.

At Northgate, 52 people have been sheltered in the Tuff Shed camp. Seven residents have successfully completed the program and transitioned into permanent shelter, according to the city’s exit matrix. Five residents of the camp were kicked out for “violent behavior,” while four lost their spot after being arrested and incarcerated. Two people forfeited their spaces by abandoning their beds.

The remaining 34 residents who have taken part in the Tuff Shed program at the Northgate camp still live there.

Ultimately, the city’s census counts and exit matrix contain limited information about who was living in the areas where the Tuff Shed camps opened, who chose to participate, and who didn’t. “We do our best to capture all individuals,” Tannenbaum said about the accuracy of the census counts. “But certainly not all people will choose to share information to be placed on a census.”

The exit matrix also doesn’t contain details about what kinds of transitional and permanent housing a person obtained, and where it’s located. It’s unclear then how many of the Tuff Shed residents have been able to remain in Oakland and how many moved away to other cities in order to get housing.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Monday’s Briefing: Council Candidate Charlie Michelson Drops Out of Race; PG&E Shuts Off Power to 60K to Avoid Fires

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Oct 15, 2018 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss for Oct. 15, 2018:

1. In a surprise move, Oakland City Council District 4 candidate Charlie Michelson ended his campaign on Sunday, citing personal reasons. Michelson, who was backed by Mayor Libby Schaaf and retiring councilmember Annie Campbell Washington, had been considered a frontrunner in the race.

2. PG&E shut off power to about 60,000 customers in 12 counties on Sunday in order to avoid sparking fires from downed powerlines during hot, dry, windy weather conditions, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The unprecedented move affected residents of Napa, Sonoma, El Dorado, Lake, Amador, and Calaveras counties.

3. Disgraced restaurateur Charlie Hallowell, who was accused by dozens of female employees earlier this year of sexual harassment and misconduct, announced that he’s returning to having more of a hands-on role in running his operation after undergoing a 12-step treatment program, reports Tracey Taylor of Berkeleyside. Hallowell sold two of his Oakland restaurants earlier this year — Penrose and Boot & Shoe Service — but still is co-owner of Pizzaiolo and is going forward with the opening of a new eatery in downtown Berkeley.

4. House GOP Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s family “won more than $7 million in no-bid and other federal contracts at U.S. military installations and other government properties in California based on a dubious claim of Native American identity by McCarthy’s brother-in-law,” the LA Times$ found in an investigation.

5. And Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and plans to close 142 stores by the end of the year because of staggering losses, reports Anne D’innocenzio of the Associated Press.

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