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Homeless Housing on Public Land at East 12th Street

On August 2 residents will be relocated to a portion of the same East 12th Street remainder parcel and will stay on-site until the program opens. Residents have been offered priority, first placement in the program. Others will receive temporary housing in other programs.

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photo courtesy of Pallet Shelter

The following are Oakland Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas’s recent answers to questions about building homeless housing at a city-owned parcel at East 12th Street and Second Avenue. The answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

 

Nikki Fortunato Bas

 

What is this project?

Informed by the experiences of our unsheltered neighbors and by homeless advocates, (Nikki Bas’s) District 2 team has been working closely with city departments and Housing Consortium of the East Bay (HCEB) to develop a large-scale homelessness intervention on the city-owned parcel at East 12th Street and 2nd Avenue. The project would:

  • Provide temporary housing and comprehensive, trauma-informed/harm reduction services, serving high-needs District 2 unhoused residents, providing them permanent housing.
  • Provide “tiny home” PalletShelter structures for up to 65 homeless residents and support services including healthcare and housing navigation.
  • On the same parcel, a co-governed program supported by provider Tiny Logic will house 14 residents in PalletShelters.

What is the project timeline?

We expect construction to begin on this project on August 4 and for individuals to move into the Pallet Shelters as early as this fall.

How will individuals be selected or approached for participation in the program?

The city has been coordinating outreach to encampments in the immediate geographic area, prioritizing larger encampments near Lake Merritt and East 12th Street.

Where will the current residents living on the East 12th remainder parcel move when construction begins this week? 

On August 2 residents will be relocated to a portion of the same East 12th Street remainder parcel and will stay on-site until the program opens. Residents have been offered priority, first placement in the program. Others will receive temporary housing in other programs.

How are you incorporating wrap-around services into the program? 

Staff from HCEB will employ trauma-informed and harm-reduction wrap-around services and care, working closely with each resident to provide case management that fits their individual needs.

How will safety and privacy be maintained for residents and the surrounding community? 

HCEB will hire security professionals to secure the site daily, and the adjacent co-governed program supported will have residents providing their own security. The site will also be secured by a keypad for entry/exit, a 6-foot fence to provide privacy, and ample lighting.

What are the “Community Agreements” for the program and residents? 

The service provider, HCEB, will draft Community Agreements to ensure that safety, restorative justice, well-being and community-building are prioritized at the site. Residents will provide input and agree to these terms and will be asked to leave if rules are violated.

What is the best way for neighbors to support the program?

Our project will feature a “Community Council,” a group of stakeholders, including housed residents, nearby business owners, advocates, faith leaders and others, to provide ongoing guidance, community participation, and support. Email lsalaverry@oaklandca.gov to get involved.

Is there a plan for site beautification?

Bas’s office is working with potential partners, students and teachers at nearby schools and community groups, on murals and beautification efforts. Email lsalaverry@oaklandca.gov information.

What plans are there for noise, dust/debris mitigation during construction?

Site preparation/construction will consist of grading the parcel; this process will be minimally invasive and short. Assembly of PalletShelters will also be relatively simple. Each structure can be set up within 45 minutes, not requiring heavy equipment.

What are the future plans for this parcel, previously slated for development of the LakeHouse Commons Project?

The Lakehouse Commons Project, approved in 2016, is a mixed-use housing project by developers UrbanCore and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC). The group has missed several construction deadlines and has received six separate extensions or updates. The most recent extension means that – if they are able to confirm their financing – the project would not begin for at least one year. A city staff update will be available in August.

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Activism

Call to Protect Geoffrey’s Inner Circle from Threatened High-Rise Development

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by reso-lution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and cul-ture of Oakland.

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By Ken Epstein

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a downtown Oakland Cultural Center that has featured live jazz and served music lovers and the Black community for decades, is now under threat from a proposed real estate development that could undermine the stability and future of the facility.

Geoffrey’s, located at 410 14th St., is part of the city’s Black Arts Movement and Business District which was formed in 2016 by resolution of the Oakland City Council to protect Black-owned businesses and enhance a downtown district that would encourage the historic African American legacy and culture of Oakland.

Now, the Oakland Planning Commission is considering a high-rise building proposed by out-of-town developers next to Geoffrey’s, which would jeopardize both the survival of the venue and the Black business district as a whole.

In addition to running a business that has been a crucial institution in the local community and the regional arts scene, Geoffrey Pete, founder, has utilized his business to offer meals for thousands of unsheltered individuals and hosted countless community events.

The following petition is being circulated in defense of Geoffrey’s and the Black Arts district (To add your name to the petition, email info@geoffreyslive.com):

“The African-American community in Oakland has been seriously damaged by developers and public offcials who are willing and sometimes eager to see African Americans disappear from the city. Black people comprised 47% of the population in 1980; now they make up only 20% of said population. In response to this crisis the 14th Street Corridor from Oak to the 880 Frontage Road was established as the Black Arts Movement and Business District by the City Council on Jan. 7, 2016, in Resolution 85958.

Tidewater, an out-of-town developer, is proposing to build a high-rise building at 1431 Franklin, which will damage the Black business district and the businesses in the area including the iconic business of Geoffrey’s Inner Circle at 410 – 14th St.

We demand that the Planning Commission and the City Council reject this predatory building proposal and proceed with plans to fund and enhance the Black Business District.”

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Bay Area

Popular Chief LeRonne Armstrong Placed on Administrative Leave During Investigation of Police Misconduct

In a press statement, Mayor Sheng Thao said that placing Armstrong on paid administrative leave was not punitive but was a standard procedure when investigating possible officer wrongdoing. “We must do what we need to do to get out of that oversight,” she said, explaining that she wants to show the public and the court monitor that there will be no favoritism. A rookie officer or the top officer will face the same investigative process.

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In his remarks, Armstrong defended OPD’s internal affairs department and fellow officers who were criticized in an independent report that found “systemic deficiencies” in the police department.

“I did nothing wrong. I violated no policies,” said Armstrong, speaking at a press conference

By Ken Epstein

Refusing to accept administrative leave during a police misconduct investigation, OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong fired back with a press conference of his own this week, organized by a high-profile corporate public relations and communications firm.

“I should be the chief of police and remain in my position,” he said. “I did nothing wrong. I violated no policies.”

Mayor Sheng Thao placed Armstrong on administrative leave with pay while his role in an officer misconduct cover-up scandal is investigated by internal affairs. The case involves a highly paid police sergeant who was involved in a hit-and-run automobile accident in San Francisco and is accused of later discharging a gun in an OPD freight elevator and disposing of the shell casings by throwing them off the Bay Bridge.

At a press conference Monday at the office of PR consultant Sam Singer’s office in Emeryville, Armstrong did not blame Mayor Sheng Thao for placing him on leave but instead denounced federal monitor, Robert Warshaw, who oversees the police department and evaluates its reform efforts as a representative for the federal court that has overseen OPD for two decades.

In his remarks, Armstrong defended OPD’s internal affairs department and fellow officers who were criticized in an independent report that found “systemic deficiencies” in the police department.

“This to me, clearly, is a last-ditch effort to destroy the credibility of me…and to make the community believe that Oakland police is involved in some shady business,” he said.

He blasted Warshaw’s “ulterior motives,” accusing him and his team of seeking a reason to continue to be paid over $1 million a year to oversee the department, which was potentially set to exit from federal oversight at the end of May.

“It’s hard to say a mayor who’s been in the seat for just a couple of weeks would be able to push back against a monitor at this point,” Armstrong said, adding that some city officials might be “intimidated” by Warshaw’s team.

City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement that her office agreed that the recent report on OPD deficiencies “revealed failures that call into question the integrity of (OPD’s) internal investigation processes.”

Many observers and police accountability activists are saying that the present scandal and subsequent community uproar over Chief Armstrong is best resolved by removing police misconduct investigations from OPD and instead turning the cases over to an independent civilian body.

Defending the department’s internal investigation, Armstrong said the investigation that was conducted was “consistent with the findings that were presented to me.”

“To work and get to this point and have it taken away from you hurts. It doesn’t just hurt me, it hurts my community because every day I come into this job to try to make Oakland better,” he said. Prior to this incident, Armstrong has been widely praised for helping make significant reforms at OPD and paving the way for an end to federal court intervention.

Armstrong said the sergeant involved in the case, who was identified in the media as Michael Chung, was placed on leave following the shooting incident, but that the chief was unable to review the case because Warshaw had taken over the investigation.

Sergeant Chung, one of Oakland’s most highly paid employees, received total pay and benefits of $492,779.77 in 2021, including regular pay of $160,828.84 and overtime pay of $276,959.38.

Armstrong, who has deep ties in the Oakland community, was born and raised in West Oakland, California, and was a graduate of McClymond’s High School. He joined the OPD as a police officer in 1999, after spending four years with the Alameda County Probation Department. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree.

In a press statement, Mayor Sheng Thao said that placing Armstrong on paid administrative leave was not punitive but was a standard procedure when investigating possible officer wrongdoing.

“We must do what we need to do to get out of that oversight,” she said, explaining that she wants to show the public and the court monitor that there will be no favoritism. A rookie officer or the top officer will face the same investigative process.

“I want to make sure that everyone understands that, under our administration, that we take these findings seriously and it’s important that we look at taking the corrective action that is needed to make sure that we stay on track to make sure that we get out of the federal oversight,” she said.

“My belief is that, by holding ourselves accountable, we can be safer and a more just city,” Mayor Thao said.

At a federal court hearing Tuesday, Judge William Orrick, not addressing the criticisms of Warshaw’s role, said he was “profoundly disappointed” by the findings of the outside report conducted by attorneys hired by the City of Oakland, which revealed “significant cultural problems” that still exist after 20 years of court oversight.

The oversight began as a result of the negotiated resolution to a civil rights lawsuit in the Riders scandal in which plaintiffs alleged that four veteran officers, known as the ‘Riders,’ planted evidence and beat residents, while OPD turned a blind eye to the police misconduct.

“This is the third time since I’ve been overseeing the implementation of the (settlement) that the city has seemed to come close to full compliance,” Judge Orrick said, “only to have a serious episode arise that exposes rot within the department.”

Mayor Sheng Thao said she takes this case seriously, not a minor fender bender as some have dismissed it, and that said those involved will be “disciplined appropriately.”

“This particular misconduct is serious because it provides fertile ground for other misconduct to thrive,” she said at the hearing. “I will not tolerate toxic subcultures that try to demonize or deter officers who do the right thing.”

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Activism

16th Annual MLK Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway

The 16th annual MLK Day of Service in Richmond honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  was held Jan. 16 with a day of service to the community and activities for families on the Richmond Greenway.

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“…Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The 16th annual MLK Day of Service in Richmond honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  was held Jan. 16 with a day of service to the community and activities for families on the Richmond Greenway.

The event was hosted by Urban Tilth and the City of Richmond. Event partners were Groundwork Richmond, Rich City Rides, Moving Forward, Hope Worldwide, The Watershed Project, Contra Costa Resource Conservation District, Building Blocks for Kids, City of Richmond, Cal Cameron Institute, Friends of the Richmond Greenway; and Pogo Park.

The celebration made possible with the support of the Hellman Family Foundation, City of Richmond, and hundreds of individual donors.

The day’s schedule included volunteer projects along the Richmond Greenway and a Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial and community celebration at Unity Park.

Among the community service projects were opportunities to take part in projects to transform and beautify the Richmond Greenway Trail, like tending to the Greenway Gardens, trash pickup, and planting native plant and trees.

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