Connect with us

Bay Area

Over 1500 Oakland Hotel Rooms Sit Empty as COVID-19 Pandemic Spreads

Avatar

Published

on

The Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Downtown Oakland is one of the many hotels in Oakland which has seen a decrease in business since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The hotel has shut down its third, forth and fifth floors. Rooms on the second floor remain open. Photo by Zack Haber.

 After calling to inquire at 30 different Oakland hotels and motels, The Oakland Post has identified approximately 1,625 rooms that sat vacant on April 5 and 6. Unhoused residents, housing activists, and some local politicians have called for these rooms to be used to shelter those currently living on the streets to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We should be using hotel rooms rather than big shared spaces in order to prevent the spread of disease,” said Oakland’s City Council President Rebecca Kaplan.

Seven of the 30 hotels the Oakland Post contacted refused to say how many rooms were empty, and two hotels never answered the phone after multiple calls.

While the state of California has helped secure 393 rooms in two Oakland hotels for the purpose of sheltering unhoused residents during the pandemic, the vast majority of these rooms still sit empty as the county of Alameda, which controls access to these rooms, won’t admit those who have not tested positive for the virus, shown COVID-19 symptoms, or been knowingly exposed to COVID-19.

In addition to those living on the streets, unhoused residents and their advocates worry about the crowded conditions within Bay Area shelters that make it impossible to follow six feet social distancing recommendations, especially as 70 unhoused residents in shelters in San Francisco have recently tested positive for the virus.

 Kaplan says she’s encouraged Governor Gavin Newsom and county leaders to make use of empty rooms.

“We should be using hotel rooms already, immediately, and not wait until people are sick,” said Kaplan.

Those who have studied COVID-19 insist that while the virus is fatal for some, others who have the virus and can transmit it to others show no symptoms.

 “We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms and that even those who eventually develop symptoms can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms,” says a recent recommendation on the Center of Disease Control’s (CDC) website, which lists eight studies to support its claim.

Iceland, which has tested about 5% of its population for COVID-19, has reported that 50% of those who’ve tested positive say they felt no symptoms.

In order for more of the 393 currently available Oakland hotel rooms to be filled, the county of Alameda would have to ease its requirements for who’s allowed to live in them.

Governor Newsom has the power to open the 1,625 rooms that The Oakland Post has identified as currently sitting empty — to unhoused residents. He also has the power to open over 4,000 rooms to unhoused residents, some of which are vacant and some of which are occupied, that the county of Alameda has identified throughout the East Bay.

Newsom declared a state of emergency on March 4. Chapter 7 and article 3 of California’s Emergency Services Act allows him to “commandeer or utilize any private property or personnel deemed by him necessary.”

While the article also requires that the state “pay the reasonable value” of utilized private property, it does not define what “reasonable value” means.

It is unclear what the reasonable value would be to use a room in the Ramada INN  which reported that all 64 of its rooms were empty on April 6, to help in a public health emergency. Nor is it clear what the reasonable value would be for the state to use one of the over 120 rooms that sit empty at Courtyard by Marriott, in downtown Oakland, who’s reported that it has closed its 3rd, 4th, and 5th floors and is only currently renting out rooms on its 2nd floor.

California and Alameda County are currently sharing the cost of 186$ per day to rent rooms the 393 rooms at The Radisson and The Comfort INN and Suites, but that price matches the most expensive highest quality room at The Radisson. The county and the state are overpaying for standard rooms, which make up the vast majority of rooms they’re leasing and typically cost $85–$160 per day.

The City of Oakland’s communications team says “we are currently exploring opening one or more additional hotel to respond to COVID-19, with an emphasis on hotels that could be acquired and permanently used as homeless programs in the future,” but did not offer a timeframe for acquiring them.

Bay Area

Unanswered Questions Over Costs of Proposed Howard Terminal Ballpark

Avatar

Published

on

There is growing public scrutiny of the deal the Oakland A’s are offering to the city in a proposal, released the end of April, to “privately fund” the building of a $1 billion ballpark and a massive $12 billon real estate development, almost a city within a city, on the waterfront at Howard Terminal and Jack London Square in downtown Oakland. 

 

     The Oakland A’s “term sheet,” released on April 23 and available at www.mlb.com/athletics/oakland-ballpark/community-report, proposes a construction project that, in addition to a 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark, would feature 3,000 units of mostly market rate housing, a hotel, an indoor performance center and 1.5 million square feet of offices and 270,000 square feet of retail space, as well as a gondola to transport fans over the I-880 freeway.

 

     Many of the details of the proposal are vague,  and there are many unanswered questions about how much this project will cost Oakland taxpayers and what benefits the city would ultimately see. 

 

     Among those who raised questions was Mike Jacob, vice president and general counsel of Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, an opponent of moving the A’s to Howard Terminal.

 

     “I think it’s hard to say what’s going on. They haven’t made it plain what they’re asking for and what they’re proposing,” Jacob said in an interview with the Oakland Post. 

 

    The A’s term sheet proposes a cost of $955 million for infrastructure and $450 million that will be utilized for community benefits, but that funding would be paid by taxpayers, presumably with a bond, he said. 

 

    “It is unclear whether (the funding) is underwritten by the bond, whether it is backed by general fund money and pretty unclear what the scope for the infrastructure really is,” said Jacob. 

 

   Do infrastructure costs include toxic waste cleanup at the site, which would be considerable, the cost of the gondola, multiple safe railway crossings for pedestrians and cars and any required construction if the Port of Oakland shipping is impacted? He asked.

 

    In addition, not only would taxpayers pay the millions of dollars in community benefits they would supposedly receive for various types of services and other projects, the money would be spread over a 45-year period. 

 

    To help fund the project, the A’s propose the city create a tax district for property owners along 1.5 miles near downtown Oakland to help pay for city services and infrastructure to serve the development. 

 

    The A’s also have said in their literature that the project would generate 6,000 jobs but are short of details about what that promise means. According to a letter to a state agency in August 2019, many of the estimated 6,667 would be jobs at offices in the development, in effect counting as new jobs any existing Oakland businesses that lease space in one of the new office buildings. 

 

    For their part, the A’s are pushing the City Council to approve their deal before the council recesses for its July break. 

 

    “We are really excited to get that (the term sheet) out there, and we are even more excited to get this to the City Council to vote this summer,” Dave Kaval, A’s president, told the San Francisco Chronicle. 

 

    While Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has thrown the weight of her office behind the deal, she is expressing some reservations after the term sheet was released and community opposition to the Howard Terminal project has continued to grow. 

 

    In a comment to the Chronicle, Schaaf spokesperson Justin Berton said: 

 

    “Our goals for the project are unchanged: We want to keep the A’s in Oakland – forever. We need a deal that’s good not just for the A’s, but for the City, one that provides specific, tangible, and equitable benefits to our residents and doesn’t leave Oakland’s taxpayers on the hook.”

 

    “The A’s contend that the growth in tax revenues attributed to their project will be sufficient to fully fund those investments and that they will benefit the entire community, (and) the city is critically examining these claims,” said Berton in the East Bay Times. 

 

    The impact of the decision on the A’s proposal could be huge for Oakland, noted Berton. “The commitments requested by the A’s would pre-determine the use of a substantial portion of tax revenue from this part of the city for years to come,” he told the East Bay Times.  

 

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Women’s Cancer Resource Center Celebrates 35th Anniversary

Founded in 1986, WCRC’s mission has been to improve the quality of life for women with cancer and advance equity in cancer support, especially for low-income persons, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Nearly 80% of WCRC’s clients live below the federal poverty level, and 70% of them identify as people of color.

Avatar

Published

on

The Bay Area is full of “best-kept secrets.” The Women’s Cancer Resource Center is one of them. Tucked away in an unassuming building in a residential neighborhood in Berkeley, the Center serves more than 2,000 people with cancer and their loved ones every year.

They’ve been doing this for three and a half decades.

The Women’s Cancer Resource Center is celebrating its 35thanniversary at an online event on May 13. Visit www.wcrc.org/unite for more information and to register. If you or a loved one is facing cancer, please reach out to WCRC for assistance. 510-601-4040, www.wcrc.org or info@wcrc.org.

Founded in 1986, WCRC’s mission has been to improve the quality of life for women with cancer and advance equity in cancer support, especially for low-income persons, people of color, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Nearly 80% of WCRC’s clients live below the federal poverty level, and 70% of them identify as people of color.

WCRC staff have long observed that cancer often is not the greatest concern for the low-income and marginalized individuals in its client population. Limited access to primary health care, inadequate health services and financial resources, language and cultural barriers, racism, low literacy, fear, and mistrust of medical systems contribute to late diagnosis and earlier death, especially for African American, Latinx, and all other groups of low-income women diagnosed with cancer.

WCRC provides a set of comprehensive, coordinated services to mitigate these problems for people with limited access to essential, life-giving care. Free services include psychotherapy, support groups, art and wellness classes, community-based cancer patient navigation, and information and referral to community resources. These services increase adherence to cancer treatment and advance self-empowerment and care, improving quality of life and treatment outcomes.

But most of all, WCRC provides a place of refuge. Anyone who comes through the Center’s doors will feel safe, connected, and seen. The Center was able to extend this feeling of community even during the pandemic, transitioning its direct services to phone and Zoom.

One client for whom WCRC has made a huge difference is Ms. Arenoso.

She couldn’t trust anyone. Ms. Arenoso has been on her own since the age of sixteen. The trauma of her early life and experience of homelessness made it hard to trust others and feel safe.

She learned that self-reliance isn’t always the answer. In 2019, Ms. Arenoso was diagnosed with cancer. A few months into her treatment, which affected her ability to think clearly, she realized that she needed to be around other people who had cancer, andshe was referred to WCRC.

She was able to start to relax and receive support. Ms. Arenoso felt an instant connection with WCRC staff, who took the time to get to know her and tailor WCRC’s services to her needs. Her navigator helped her fill out housing and financial support paperwork and apply for emergency funding, which granted her enough money to cover three months of rent. WCRC also provides her with practical and emotional support, which she especially appreciates during the pandemic.

She found a home away from home, where she could truly be herself. Describing a visit to WCRC last year, Ms. Arenoso observed, “Your center was welcoming and beautiful. Everyone was so kind, and no one was rude. I felt that they loved me for me.”

As her heart healed, she was inspired to practice generosity. Ms. Arenoso wants to give back. “I used to be very angry,” she said. “WCRC helped me become more kind and compassionate.” She now collects toiletries to provide to people who are homeless and shares cancer resources with her neighbors to ensure that people understand the importance of cancer screenings. “I don’t know what I would have done without WCRC,” she said.

If you or a loved one is facing cancer, please reach out to the Women’s Cancer Resource Center for assistance. 510-601-4040, www.wcrc.org or info@wcrc.org.

 

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Good Day Cafe

Good Day Cafe is a black-owned business located in Vallejo,Ca

Avatar

Published

on

 Good Day Cafe is a Black-owned cafe  located at 304 Georgia St. in Vallejo. Their hours are from 7:00 a.m.- 3:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Good Day Cafe serves Southern-style breakfast and lunch meals. They offer online orders, dine in, and delivery. Visit their website to learn more information https://gooddaycafevallejo.com/ and follow their instagram @gooddaycafevallejo

 

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending