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Education

City to Rezone School Headquarters Property for Residential Housing

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Plans are moving forward to lease or sell the Oakland Unified School District property at Second Avenue near the estuary – which currently house the Dewey Academy high school campus and the district’s former administration building – to build condominiums or residential housing.

The city’s Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the zoning changes of the school district’s property at the commission’s meeting Wednesday, Sept 3 at City Hall. The plan would then go the Community and Economic Development Committee and the City Council for approval.

The zoning changes are specified in the city’s 298-page Lake Merritt Station Area Plan, which covers the one-half mile radius around the Lake Merritt BART Station in downtown Oakland.

The final plan, which was released at the end of July, “illustrates the desired ‘land use character’ for different geographic areas” and “estimates all potential future development in the Planning Area.”

The city has worked with BART and the Peralta Community College District over the past four years to develop this plan. On page 87, it contains a map that shows Dewey and the administration building rezoned as “urban residential.”

According to the city administrator’s staff, the area would be “appropriate for multi-unit, mid-rise or high-rise residential structures in locations with good access to transportation and other services.”

However, this rezoning would not affect the property if it continues to be used for school purposes.

OUSD officials have let the city know they were considering “new or additional uses ” for their property, according to staff in the city’s Planning Department. If the district decides to sell or lease their property, the property then has to comply with the city’s zoning regulations.

The rezoning plan is the work of the city, not the school district, according to city staff. But during the four-year process of creating the plan, “staff have made significant effort to involve the school district and ask for their input,” said Edward Manasse, the city’s Strategic Planning Manager.

The school district has said it has to dispose of property in order to needs to generate money in order to build a new administration building to replace the old building, which was destroyed by a water leak.

Part of the plan is to sell or lease Dewey property to the developer that is already building high-rise condominiums or apartments next to the Dewey site.

The district also wants to find a developer that will sign a long-term lease to build a new administration building for the district in exchange for residential housing at the site.

However, the request for proposals is flexible and allows developers to submit proposals that involve sale of the property and construction of an administration building at another site rather than at the estuary.

School officials distanced themselves from the city’s rezoning plan and said they knew nothing about it.

“We didn’t make this zoning change, so I can’t speak to [the city’s] rationale” in making this change,” said Troy Flint, Communications Director of OUSD.

School Board President David Kakishiba is listed on the area plan as a member of the Community Stakeholder Group and Technical Advisory Committee, but says he has no knowledge of the rezoning and has never attended a meeting of the group.

Asked about the rezoning, he said, “I have no idea. (It’s a) question for the City of Oakland. They may have me on a list, but I have never attended or participated in any meetings.”

According to School Boardmember Jody London, the board has voted that it favors long-term lease rather than a sale of property.

“Under my leadership, the School Board adopted a policy,” she said, that the district’s first priority is to “pursue long-term leases over sale of property unless otherwise directed after consultations with the Board of Education.”

Community members opposed to sale of school property point to Measure DD passed by over 80 percent of Oakland voters in 2002 to improve the lower Lake Merritt /estuary area for public use, not for a handful of condo owners.

Spearheaded by Mayor Jean Quan when she was on the City Council, the $198.25 million bond provided for waterfront improvements at Lake Merritt and the estuary. Funded projects included parks, trails, bridges, a recreation center and an arts center, land acquisition, and creek restoration.

Kakishiba was on the school board in 2006 when he helped lead a community fight to fend off plans to develop the district administration building complex as condominiums, a proposal submitted by developers connected to then State Senator Don Perata.

Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Celebrates Birthday at Mills College

Lee’s celebration took place at Mills College Student Union, where, in part, Lee’s political career began.

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Maurice Arnold with Rep. Barbara Lee at a birthday party on the Mills College campus.

On July 24, Congresswoman Barbara Lee returned to her alma mater, Mills College, for a dual engagement.  As the guest of honor, she conducted a local meet-and-greet among special guests, friends and supporters and she also belatedly celebrated her belated, which was on July 6.

Mills College Lokey School of Business and Public Policy hosted the event for Lee.  The   special guests included Oakland’s Councilmember Treva Reid, District 7; BART Boardmember, Lateefah Simon, District 7, Candidate Mia Bonta, AD-18, Post Newspaper Group Publisher Paul Cobb and many more.

Lee’s celebration took place at Mills College Student Union, where, in part, Lee’s political career began.  Her political future was decisively shaped when she took a government course that required her to participate in a presidential campaign. “I invited Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress, to speak at Mills, and learned that she was running for president,” Lee recalls. “I helped organize her Northern California campaign, and I registered to vote for the first time . . . and the rest is history.”

Whether standing alone as the sole congressional vote against a blank check for endless war, authoring legislation on ending the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, or representing the U.S. House of Representatives in the United Nations General Assembly, Lee carries her Mills education with her. “Mills instilled me with the confidence I needed to achieve my goals,” she says.

Accordingly, we say happy belated birthday and much success to Team Barbara.

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Community

Congratulations to Michelle Mack

Nominated for Teacher of the Year

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Photo courtesy Michelle Mack

Congratulations to Michelle Mack, currently a pre-K lead teacher in Atlanta, Ga., who was nominated for Teacher of the Year. A 2008 graduate of St. Elizabeth’s High School who earned a degree in child psychology from San Francisco State University in 2012, Mack received her master’s from Clark University in 2015.

Mack was recognized by the Easter Seals of North Georgia (ESNG) for “serving five consistent years teaching children and helping families with the same company” and awarded the ESNG-Guice Center Award for Individual Excellence.

 

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Activism

Young Adults Speak Out at Climate Adaptation Seminar

The Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA), is conducting a series of seminars entitled “Building an Inclusive and Equitable Adaptation Movement.”  Their recent seminar, held on July 20, focused on the youth and how they could be more recognized and  represented in the climate adaptation space.

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From top left: Tianna Shaw-Wakeman, Skyler Kriese, Moiz Mir, Catherine Foster (Photo by Godfrey Lee)

The Alliance of Regional Collaboratives for Climate Adaptation (ARCCA), is conducting a series of seminars entitled “Building an Inclusive and Equitable Adaptation Movement.”  Their recent seminar, held on July 20, focused on the youth and how they could be more recognized and  represented in the climate adaptation space.
ARCCA is a coalition of the Local Government Commission and represents leading collaborative networks from across California that strive to build regional resilience to climate impacts.  ARCCA members work to enhance public health, protect natural systems, build economies, and create resilient, livable communities throughout California. 

ARCCA members effectively bolster their individual and collective efforts by sharing best practices and resources, identifying strategies to overcome key barriers and challenges, and conducting joint campaigns and projects.

ARCCA believes that the youth have been under-represented in the climate initiative. “It has become more apparent over the years that the youth, with their activism and experience, can have a pivotal role to play in our adaption to climate change. It is the goal of ARRCA, in their work in climate change, to expand the youth’s participation in their projects and actively include them in our leadership phases and decision-making processes,” said Catherine Foster, the moderator of the seminar, and ARCCA’s Climate & Energy Project manager, LGC.

Three college graduates who were involved in the environmental movement on their campuses spoke during the seminar.

Tianna Shaw-Wakeman holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California, and graduated as the first Black Valedictorian for the Class of 2021. She served and led many of the prominent campus environmental activism groups. “We all work with people who are different places, so recognize the gaps in your knowledge, and also what the other person does and does not know,” Wakeman said.

Skyler Kriese graduated from Santa Clara University in 2020 with a B.S. in Environmental Studies. She is a 2020-2021 CivicSpark AmeriCorps Fellow supporting Butte County Department of Development Services on three grant-funded, long-range planning projects. Following her service year, she will continue her studies at the University of Michigan, pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Justice and Environmental Policy and Planning.

Kriese says that local governments need to identify environment justice communities and address environmental justice in their general plans. This is important so that processes and policies can begin to work and ultimately create healthier communities. 

Moiz Mir was the president of the Environmental Student Organization at California State University Sacramento from 2017–2019. As an intern at the Sacramento Mayor’s Office, he organized youth summits to include students’ voices in the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change and served on the commission’s Community Health, Resiliency and Equity Technical Advisory Committees. 

Mir advocates building toward inclusivity, to reach out to a more diverse people in the work toward climate adaptation. 

For more information on ARCCA and their upcoming seminars, go to https://arccacalifornia.org/embedding-equity-in-adaptation/ 

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