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Inspections of Hazardous Cargos in West Oakland Would Violate Law, Says City

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City officials are saying that current zoning regulations prohibit the inspection of hazardous materials at the old Horizon Beverage building in West Oakland, which is encouraging news to local residents who do not want to see big trucks and potentially dangerous cargos moved from the Port of Oakland into their neighborhoods .

 

The city planning and zoning department has yet to receive an application from the building operator, according to the city.

“If there were to be any hazardous materials proposed to be handled, stored or transferred here, that’s prohibited in [that zoning district]. If anything were to come to the zoning counter on this issue, the red flags would go up,” said Scott Miller, the city’s zoning manager, speaking at Tuesday’s Community and Economic Development Committee (CED) meeting.

Owned by investor Tom Henderson at 1700 20th street, the proposed site is located across from Raimondi Field, posing potential risks to the community and small children who regularly play sports there.

In general, U.S. Customs inspects cargo containers suspected of carrying black market products, illegal drugs, smuggled weapons, radioactive materials and infested farm products. If produce is infested, it must be fumigated with highly poisonous gas.

In response to concerns raised by community members, city staff is conducting a risk assessment on the hazardous waste that could stem from customs inspections operating in West Oakland, expected to be done by next week.

“I don’t want us to limit our view just to the hazardous materials. There are a lot of other health impacts that could happen from land-use decisions,” said Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who wants the risk assessment to include the impact of the diesel trucks and other diesel producing equipment associated with inspections of cargo at the site.

Community speakers urged the council members on the CED committee to put a stop to the proposed inspection site.

“The chemical waste issue is concerning to me being a homeowner in West Oakland,” said Dean Chambers, who added that he has asthma and therefore a personal concern about air quality in the area.

Pacific Coast Containers (PCC Logistics) located on the Oakland Army Base previously had a contract with U.S. Customs. However, when the city moved the company off of its current site, PCC was only granted a two and a half year lease. Customs decided to contract with another operator with a long-term five-year lease, according to the city.

The city knew well in advance that it was going to move the businesses at its Army Base property in order to make way forit development project and therefore had plenty of time to ensure that PCC Logistics could maintain its contract on Port on Oakland land, said Rashidah Grinage, executive director of PUEBLO.

“This was entirely foreseeable. You knew this was coming for two years, and no provisions were made for how to keep this ‘genie in the bottle.’ You need to figure out how to keep customs inspections at the port,” Grinage said.

“This is a disaster in the making,”she said. “This is a risk that is incalculable in terms of potentially dangerous items coming into the community.”

City staff agrees that customs operations should remain at the port and that the contract should be awarded to PCC Logistics, said John Monetta, project manager for the city.

“City staff believes that (inspections) should stay in the port area. We believe that (the contract) should be awarded to the applicant that is within the port area, which is (PCC Logistics),” said Monetta.

Community members suggested that city staff reach out to Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein to encourage U.S. Customs to dialogue with the city.

To contact Scott Miller, City of Oakland zoning manager email smiller@oaklandnet.com or call (510) 238-7733.

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Black History

IN MEMORIAM: Black Leaders Remember Life and Work of Former Legislator Willard H. Murray

William H. Murray died on Dec. 20, 2021, of natural causes. He was 91. “It is with heavy hearts that we bid farewell to our former Chair and colleague, the Honorable Willard H. Murray, Jr., who passed away yesterday afternoon,” read a statement the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) released the same day. “Willard Murray, Jr. was an exceptional man and public servant.”

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The Honorable William H. Murray was known for helping Black people get involved in water policy. Photo courtesy of the family.
The Honorable William H. Murray was known for helping Black people get involved in water policy. Photo courtesy of the family.

By Tanu Henry | California Black Media

Black leaders in California are remembering the life and accomplishments of Willard H. Murray, Jr., an engineer and United States Air Force vet, elected to the California Assembly in 1988. He served in the State Legislature for eight years until he termed out in 1996.

Murray died on Dec. 20, 2021, of natural causes. He was 91.

“It is with heavy hearts that we bid farewell to our former Chair and colleague, the Honorable Willard H. Murray, Jr., who passed away yesterday afternoon,” read a statement the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) released the same day. “Willard Murray, Jr. was an exceptional man and public servant.”

In the Assembly, Murray represented California’s 52nd Assembly District in Southern California. Murray and his son, Kevin Murray made history as the first father-and-son duo to serve in the Assembly simultaneously.

The younger Murray represented the 47th Assembly district which covered a part of Los Angeles. Later, he won the 26th Senate district seat based in Culver City.

Murray worked in government for more than 25 years at various levels. Before he was elected to the Assembly, he worked for former California Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Congressman Mervyn Dymally (D-CA-31). In addition to serving as an adviser to the California Senate Democratic Caucus, Murray also served on the staffs of former Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty and two former Los Angeles City Councilmembers, Robert Farrell and Billy Mills.

In the Assembly, he chaired the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on State Administration and served on a number of other committees. A civil rights activist in the 1960s, Murray’s political and legislative priorities included education, criminal justice, economic development and healthcare.

In 1998, Murray was also elected to serve on the board of the Water Replenishment District (WRD) of Southern California. He also served on the board of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the largest water public agency in the United States.

“Willard had a long, distinguished career as a leader and public servant in our state. He was giant in the water industry and a champion for the districts he served,” Dale Hunter, executive director of the California African American Water Education Foundation (CAAWEF), told California Black Media.

Hunter said Murray introduced African American professionals, including himself, to the water industry, teaching them the ins and outs, mentoring them, and guiding them so that they moved ahead in their careers.

“Willard truly made a difference,” Hunter continued. “He was not afraid of diving into policy and making changes that needed to happen. I’m thankful for his contributions and saddened by him leaving us. I’m also grateful for his teaching. I definitely would not be where I am if it were not for his influence.”

Murray earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Northridge State, a Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School, and MBA from Loyola Marymount University.

In 1956, he married Barbara Farris Murray. The couple had two children, Kevin and Melinda, who are both attorneys.

“We mourn with the friends and loved ones of Willard H. Murray, Jr. and celebrate his life and tremendous legacy as a public servant,” the CLBC statement continued. “May he rest in peace.”

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Bay Area

Planning Commission to Hold Public Hearing on Oakland A’s Real Estate Project

The Planning Commission will consider whether the Final EIR was completed in compliance with state law, represents the independent analysis of the city, and provides adequate information to decision-makers and the public on the potential adverse environmental effects of the proposed project, as well as ways in which those effects might be mitigated or avoided.

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By Post Staff

The Oakland Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the Oakland A’s Stadium and Real Estate Development. It will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 3 p.m., according to a city media release.

“During the hearing, the Planning Commission will consider whether the Final EIR was completed in compliance with state law, represents the independent analysis of the city, and provides adequate information to decision-makers and the public on the potential adverse environmental effects of the proposed project, as well as ways in which those effects might be mitigated or avoided” according to the media release.

The 3,500-page report was released the week before Christmas 2021, leaving little time for community advocates to read and critique the report.

After the commission makes a recommendation, the Oakland City Council will consider certification of the Final EIR, likely in February. A “yes” vote by the council does not mean the project is approved but is a major first step toward approval.

Community advocates are asking the commission to postpone the meeting, so that the community has time to read and analyze the 3,500-page report in time to provide public comment. You can contact the commission at drarmstrong@oaklandca.gov or cpayne@oaklandca.gov.

The following are Planning Commission members:

• Clark Manus, Chair

• Jonathan Fearn, Vice-Chair

• Sahar Shiraz

• Tom Limon

• Vince Sugrue

• Jennifer Renk

• Leopold A Ray-Lynch

To read the Final EIR, go to:  https://bit.ly/32KZ3pT

 

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Activism

OPINION: An Agenda for Jobs and Freedom in Oakland

This struggle is not over, and the work must continue, as today the Black unemployment rate continues to far exceed the white unemployment rate in America. The racial wealth gap is large, and, in Oakland, our local disparity studies continue to document, year after year, the ongoing exclusion of Black-owned businesses from important city opportunities in contracts and economic development.  

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Rebecca Kaplan. Oakland.ca.gov photo.
Rebecca Kaplan. Oakland.ca.gov photo.

By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember-At-Large

In 1963, hundreds of thousands of people marched in what many now refer to as the March on Washington for Civil Rights. But the march organizers called it the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, fighting for justice and equality under law and equal access to economic opportunities and jobs.

This struggle is not over, and the work must continue, as today the Black unemployment rate continues to far exceed the white unemployment rate in America. The racial wealth gap is large, and, in Oakland, our local disparity studies continue to document, year after year, the ongoing exclusion of Black-owned businesses from important city opportunities in contracts and economic development.

That is part of why I and others have been pushing to remedy these problems, and fighting to ensure that jobs, business contracts, and development opportunities in the City of Oakland must, much more significantly, include our Black community.

One of the recommendations that came from conducting the most recent disparity study, was to ensure that Black contractors are ready and able to bid on city contracts.

As a result, and with strong community support, we fought for and won a budget amendment allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund a project, in conjunction with the Construction Resource Center, to provide training and technical support to ensure Black contractors have improved access to these opportunities.

And yet, at every turn, there has been opposition and obstruction to these efforts, from an Administration which initially tried not to even conduct the legally mandated disparity study in the first place, to hide the data about the extent of the ongoing inequities and tried to block the release of the study.

Once the study was released, and our budget amendment had passed, they then continued to obstruct these efforts, refusing to issue the funds for the contract. Repeated and ongoing efforts — including demanding follow-up public reports from the Administration on the status of funds — were required to get the support that the Council had approved, issued.

Similar obstruction also took place with workforce investment funds — even as communities in Oakland continue to suffer the economic fallout from both the pandemic and decades of under-investment and inequality.

Monies the Council has approved to support workforce development, job training, and job placement have been delayed and undermined. In fact, this issue of delay of funding of these vital needs has been such an ongoing problem that former Councilmember Desley Brooks authored a law, which Council passed, mandating “prompt payment” — recognizing that crucial organizations doing work to improve quality of life and opportunity are impeded and undermined when payment is not issued promptly.

We have continued to push for full implementation of this law.

This is also why the plan of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) to develop 30,000 jobs in the revitalization of the Oakland Coliseum site is so important.

This vital development opportunity is one of the most significant in the entire county. It is on a large site that is central to the entire region, with easy access to BART, freeways, the airport and more.

The land has been approved for development through the completion of the Coliseum Area Specific Plan, as well as Oakland having completed California’s required Surplus Lands process.

This large site can provide for housing at all income levels, business, entertainment, hotel, convention, biotech, public services, and much more, and provide for quality jobs for our community, both during construction and in ongoing jobs going forward.

This important effort, too, faced ongoing obstruction from the Administration, and, nevertheless, we persisted, and it was approved in November 2021 by the City Council in a unanimous vote!

In order to ensure that Oakland, and particularly, the Black community in Oakland, will have the opportunity to fully succeed, it is essential that the next mayor of Oakland be someone who not only will stop the obstruction of these important efforts, but also who will actively champion them and help ensure they are brought to fruition.

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