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NE Residents Sue Over Proposed Fire Station

WASHINGTON INFORMER — The D.C. residents who live close to the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue in Northeast want affordable housing in their neighborhood.

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By James Wright

The D.C. residents who live close to the intersection of Minnesota Avenue and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue in Northeast want affordable housing in their neighborhood — not a fire station — and they recently went to court to make that point.

Fifteen plaintiffs who live in the city’s Deanwood section on Minnesota Avenue’s northern end made an appearance at D.C. Superior Court on Feb. 19 to stop the city government and a development company, Valor Minnesota LLC, from building a fire station on the property of 4409 Minnesota Avenue NE.

Dorothy Douglas, the advisory neighborhood commissioner for District 7D03 in Ward 7, lives several feet from the 4409 property and is not happy about what is going on with it.

“I am a long-term homeowner of 4401 Minnesota Avenue NE, where I have been a resident for over 35 years,” said Douglas, who once served on the D.C. State Board of Education representing Ward 7. “When I moved into my home, my purpose was to establish a foundation for my children and grandchildren. The neglect and now new proposed use of 4409 has caused me and continues to cause me anxiety and stress worrying if I could lose my home. I am now 70 years old, where peace plays a major factor in my daily living.”

The plaintiffs submitted a motion and memorandum for an injunction to stop the District government and Valor from building the fire station that consists of an Emergency Management Systems and storage facility. The court documents said the construction should cease because of the harm it poses to the residents and the District government should provide an environmental impact study on the property and another on how the project will affect the immediate area, produce a study on the costs of building the fire station when another fire station exists less than half a mile away, and the neighborhood should have the chance through its advisory neighborhood commissioners to have a say on the project.

There has been chemical residue on the property and vehicle explosions took place in November 2018 and in January, according to court documents. The proposed fire station will replace Engine Station #27 located on 4201 Minnesota Ave., N.E., documents say.

The defendants named in the court documents include Valor, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and Council members Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) and Robert White (D-At Large), the latter of whom chairs the council’s Committee on Facilities and Procurement.

D.C. Superior Court Senior Associate Judge Russell F. Canan continued the case because the defendants needed more time to prepare. The next court date is March 15.

In 2006, Valor acquired 4409, a former longtime auto repair facility, and worked with the community for years to build affordable housing units. However, Valor dropped the housing project when it has problems with the District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustments over zoning requirements and other constraints as well as a decline in the housing market in the neighborhood.

In addition, Valor failed to pay taxes on the property from 2016-2018 as it became an eyesore in the community with abandoned vehicles, storage pipes and debris, with no fence to protect the residents.

The motion and memo said when Valor decided to build the fire station, it did so without community consultation and with the support of the Bowser administration. Douglas’s commission, 7D, voted on Oct. 26, 2017, to oppose the fire station and communicated its action and views to the Bowser administration.

Nevertheless, Mendelson introduced the Valor lease agreement to the council on June 14, 2018, without the consideration of an approval or disapproval resolution, which the plaintiffs say violates city law. Plus, the court documents state that District officials violated another law that mandates that development projects must be considered by the commission in which it is located, and that the commission’s approval or disapproval must be given “great weight.”

“I hope we can work with the community on this,” Gray said. “I hope that we can come to an amicable agreement on this.”

Numerous attempts to contact Valor for comment were unsuccessful.

Rick Tingling-Clemmons, a plaintiff, said he and his neighbors are prepared to vigorously fight the proposed fire station.

“This community has been under constant siege, from 30-plus-year-old development plans to extend Minnesota Avenue through some of the residents’ homes and yards; through unregulated schemes from area profiteers; to developer Valor and the Department of General Services,” Tingling-Clemmons said. “But plaintiffs are committed to fighting for their homes, and to confronting those agencies that seem to be working in the developers’ interest at the expense of the residents’ quality of life. Land in our city is limited and valuable and we will guard our piece of it accordingly.”

This article originally appeared in the Washington Informer

Community

Alameda County Advances to State’s Yellow Tier, More Activities Allowed

To learn more about the updates, visit https://covid-19.acgov.org/beyond-the-blueprint. The livestream for both Community Updates will be available on YouTube and recordings will be available after the events.

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Nick Fewings - Unsplash

Alameda County announced that the county will advance to the Yellow Tier in the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy reopening framework effective Wednesday, June 9. In the Yellow Tier, indoor dining is allowed at 50% capacity; most retail store capacity increases to 100%; and gyms, fitness centers and yoga studios may operate indoors at 50% capacity with modifications; and movie theaters’ capacity increases to 50%. Bars, where no meals are served, may open indoors at 25% capacity. For the full roster of activities, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/ and enter Alameda in the search field.

The following activities remain restricted in the Yellow Tier and are not allowed by the State to operate:

  • Festivals
  • Nightclubs

 Businesses may want to use this week to plan for the broad reopening that the State will allow starting June 15. Wednesday through June 14, businesses and activities permitted to open or expand under the State’s Yellow Tier must continue to comply with the State’s Industry Guidance for that tierhttps://covid19.ca.gov/industry-guidance/. Additional workplace resources can be found at https://covid-19.acgov.org/recovery  and https://www.oaklandca.gov/resources/coronavirus-2019-covid-19-business-and-worker-resources

All workplaces governed by Cal/OSHA must follow their current standards and the updated standards starting June 15, including masking requirements for employees.

 To help residents and employers understand changing COVID-19 guidance and what moving Beyond the Blueprint means for them, employees, and clients and customers, Alameda County is hosting two Community Updates:

  • For Residents
    June 15, from 6-7:30 pm
  • For Employers
    June 21, from 6-7:30 pm
    This Community Update will include an overview of Cal/OSHA’s updated standardsso the appropriate steps can be taken to ensure a safe work environment after June 15.

To learn more about the updates, visit https://covid-19.acgov.org/beyond-the-blueprint. The livestream for both Community Updates will be available on YouTube and recordings will be available after the events.

Alameda County continues to encourage anyone 12 and older to get vaccinated. The decline in cases and mortality shows that the best protection against COVID-19 is vaccination. All currently available vaccines are safe, effective, free, and widely available. When you are ready, get vaccinated. If you missed your second dose, you should still complete your vaccination series. Visit https://covid-19.acgov.org/vaccines.page?#availability to learn where you can find a vaccination clinic near you.

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, get tested and then stay home. Wash your hands regularly.

Keep six feet of distance when you are in public or don’t know the vaccination status of those around you.

Alameda County remains aligned with the State’s face-masking mandate. Everyone should wear a mask in indoor public settings, even if fully vaccinated, until State masking guidance changes. If you are fully vaccinated, wear a mask in outdoor crowded settings. If you are unvaccinated continue to wear a mask outdoors any time physical distancing can’t be maintained. Keep it simple: if you don’t know the vaccination status of those around you, wear a mask.

With Alameda County’s movement to the Yellow Tier, the City of Oakland’s Emergency Grocery Worker Hazard Pay sunsets.

In the coming days, the City of Oakland will distribute more information on its planned, phased reopening.

Karen Boyd is the citywide communications director for the City of Oakland.

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Community

Legislative Summary from State Senator Nancy Skinner

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @NancySkinnerCA and Facebook and to visit my Senate website for regular updates on the status of my legislation and information on the state budget. It is a pleasure serving you in the state Senate.

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Sen. Nancy Skinner. Photo courtesy of Nancy Skinner.

Here’s a brief summary of the bills I introduced this year that are still moving through the legislative process. All so far were passed by the state Senate and are now on their way to the Assembly:

  • SB 8 Extends Housing Crisis Act of 2019: The Housing Crisis Act helped expedite housing that meets local rules by asking local governments to process permits faster and not change the rules midstream. SB 8 extends the sunset on the Housing Crisis Act until 2030.
  • SB 16 Coming Clean on Police Records: Thanks to my 2018 bill, SB 1421, Californians now have access to a limited set of police misconduct records. SB 16 expands access to records on officers who have engaged in biased or discriminatory behavior, unlawful arrests and searches, and excessive force.
  • SB 65 California Momnibus Act: California’s infant and maternal death rates, especially for families of color, persist at high rates. SB 65 expands pre- and postpartum services, such as doula care and financial support, to reduce death rates and ensures data is collected to understand what’s causing these disparities.
  • SB 65 California Momnibus Act: California’s infant and maternal death rates, especially for families of color, persist at high rates. SB 65 expands pre- and postpartum services, such as doula care and financial support, to reduce death rates and ensures data is collected to understand what’s causing these disparities.
  • SB 81 Judicial Guidelines for Sentencing Enhancements: California has over 160 enhancements that add time to a prison sentence over and above the time required for the crime committed. SB 81 establishes parameters for judges to determine whether a sentence enhancement is needed to help ensure that sentences are the length the judge believes is necessary to protect public safety.
  • SB 262 Bail Reform: I’m a joint author of SB 262 to reform CA’s bail system so no one is kept in jail simply because they can’t afford bail.
  • SB 290 Clarifying CA’s Density Bonus Law: Allows low-income student housing and for-sale low- and moderate-income housing to benefit from California’s Density Bonus law.
  • SB 354 Relative Placement: Reduces barriers that prevent children in foster care from being placed with relatives and extended family.

And great news, the funding to support my bill, SB 364, Free School Meals for All, was included in the Legislature’s budget proposal, which means millions of our K-12 students will get a free meal at school.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @NancySkinnerCA and Facebook and to visit my Senate website for regular updates on the status of my legislation and information on the state budget. It is a pleasure serving you in the state Senate.

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Endorses Mia Bonta

The special primary election is June 29 by mail-in ballot only with the general election set for August 31.

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Mia Bonta -- via Twitter

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, endorsed Mia Bonta for East Bay Assembly District 18, which includes the cities of Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro.

The special election is being held because seat was vacated by her husband, Rob Bonta, who was appointed California Attorney General by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The remainder of Rob Bonta’s assembly term is through 2022.

Lee tweeted “[l]et’s do this @MiaBonta! The Bay Area is lucky to have such a fierce progressive advocate.”

Bonta thanked Lee via Twitter for her support.

Lee also said of Bonta that she “ . . . will bring a progressive, social, economic and racial justice lens to our state legislature.”

“She will stand up for communities that have been marginalized and underrepresented for too long.  Mia is committed to addressing our community’s most pressing issues, such as homelessness, environmental justice, criminal justice reform, helping families and businesses recover from the pandemic, and reopening schools safely.  Mia has a strong record of serving East Bay children and families,” Lee said.

Mia Bonta is currently board president of the Alameda Unified School District.  She is also endorsed by U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland City Council members Sheng Thao, Loren Taylor and Treva Reid of districts 4, 6 and 7 respectively; California State Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen, Nate Miley and Keith Carson of Alameda County Board of Supervisors, District 7 BART Director Lateefah Simon; Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, Black Women for Political Action (BWOPA) and Equality California among others.

Bonta is running in a field with Mali Vella (who also received Schaaf’s endorsement), Janani Ramachandran, James Aguilar, Eugene Canson, Stephen Slauson, Joel Britton, and Victor Aguilar.

The special primary election is June 29 by mail-in ballot only with the general election set for August 31.

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