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Oakland’s $3.8 Billion Budget for 2021-2023 Funds Roads, Parks, Youth and Boosts Money for OPD

District 6 City Councilmember Loren Taylor says while the budget includes many items that he supports, he ultimately voted against it because he believes leaves much to be desired.

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Oakland City Council Members Debating Issues courtesy oaklandca.gov

The Oakland City Council approved the city’s FY21-23 budget on June 24 by a 7-2 vote. The $3.8 billion budget will include funding for police and fire departments, roads, parks, homeless services, affordable housing, cultural grants, youth programs, and much more.

Although the council all but promised that it would ‘defund the police’ last summer in the wake of local and national unrest following the murder of George Floyd, about a week after the current budget was approved it was revealed that, in fact, the Oakland Police Department would get $674 million. That is an increase of $38 million over the previous budget cycle from 2019-2021, which was $635 million.

District 6 City Councilmember Loren Taylor says while the budget includes many items that he supports, he ultimately voted against it because he believes leaves much to be desired.

“I ultimately voted ‘no’ on the budget because at the end of the day it did the same as other budgets before it—perpetuating many inherent inequities that have plagued Central & Deep East Oakland for decades,” Taylor said in a recent newsletter to his constituents.

“Many things I advocated for are crucial to equitably addressing the needs of Oakland residents,” he said.

Let’s look at what items made the cut. Below are a few highlights which include:

  • $17 million investment into violence prevention programs
  • Doubled funding for MACRO Pilot (alternatives to armed police response)
  • Significant investments into homelessness services and affordable housing
  • A 3% cost-of-living adjustment for city workers;
  • A new fire station and regional fire-training/education center on 66th Avenue
  • Restoration and reactivation of Tomas Melero-Smith and 85th Avenue Mini Park
  • Investments into community partners providing workforce development services.

Taylor pointed out several items he and council members Sheng Thao and Treva Reid proposed that didn’t make the cut.

  • Millions of dollars in traffic calming infrastructure and sideshow deterrence including the MacArthur Blvd/Millsmont Traffic Corridor
  • Surveillance cameras to improve public safety in commercial districts and to address illegal dumping
  • Cost neutral shift of funds for the Police Academy to the first year of the budget to reduce 911 response times
  • Establishment of “City Hall East” to provide East Oaklanders with greater access to city departments and services
  • Increased staffing for illegal dumping/litter enforcement and abatement
  • Startup costs for a District 6 Business Improvement District (BID)
  • Arroyo Viejo Park upgrades (including parking lot resurfacing, commercial kitchen upgrade, and funding for pathway lighting)
  • Dedicated resources to eliminate race & gender disparities in City contracting
  • Removal of dangerous trees from Skyline Blvd. median

Taylor says he, Reid and Thao plan to introduce amendments that will address traffic safety, economic development, and community parks. He is calling on constituents to support these amendments which call for deeper investments in East Oakland.

City Government

Mayor London Breed Celebrates Completion of Haight Street Transit Improvement Project

New streetscape design enhances pedestrian safety, activates public spaces, and creates a more vibrant Haight Street corridor

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Haight Ashbury Intersection Photo Courtesy of Robin Jonathan Deutsch

Mayor London N. Breed joined city leaders, merchants, and community members at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 28 to celebrate the completion of the Upper Haight Transit Improvement and Pedestrian Realm Project. The transformative project improves pedestrian safety, enhances transit efficiency, and builds on the neighborhood’s vibrant character.

The two-year, $22.3 million project was based on a community-supported vision to revitalize and improve street safety and public spaces in the historic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. The redesign of Haight Street enables the most significant possible degree of flexibility by reimagining urban spaces that can evolve with the changing demands of the community.

“The Haight has a rich history that attracts tourists and locals alike, and with the completion of this streetscape project, we are making this historic neighborhood more inviting for all,” said Breed. “As we emerge from this pandemic and begin to see our city come alive again, it’s critical that we invest in the cultural vibrancy of our neighborhoods and provide our small businesses with the support they need to help drive our economic recovery.”

The project was designed to incorporate numerous safety features, including new pedestrian-scale lighting, ADA-compliant curb ramps, and expanded bus-boarding areas. The project also replaced the aging sewer system to bolster resiliency, repaved seven blocks of Haight Street between Stanyan Street and Central Avenue, and added new street trees and sidewalks to beautify the neighborhood. Crews performed additional sewer and repaving work on Masonic Avenue between Haight and Waller streets.

“The improvements are a welcome addition to the well-known neighborhood with its trove of independent retail establishments, cafes, and restaurants,” said Sunshine Powers, president of the Haight Street Merchants Association. “This project provides many wonderful enhancements that retain the character of this magnificent, sparkly corridor and will keep us thriving.”

Construction began in September 2018 and continued uninterrupted during San Francisco’s Stay-at-Home Order, which allowed work to continue on essential infrastructure. This project supported more than 130 construction and electrical trade jobs at a time when putting people to work was crucial.

San Francisco Public Works oversaw the design and construction management for the project. Key partners included the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and the Department of Technology.

Through the Office of Economic and Workforce Development’s (OEWD) Construction Mitigation Program, OEWD staff partnered with Public Works to provide small businesses with the necessary support to help minimize construction impacts.

“The redesign and safety enhancements bring much-needed improvements to this historic part of the City. The project serves as a great example of successful collaboration among City agencies in partnership with the community and our elected representatives to enhance neighborhood safety and livability,” said Acting Public Works Director Alaric Degrafinried.

“The changes we see on Haight Street today include a faster travel time for Muni passengers, bringing meaningful improvements to the community as we emerge from the pandemic.” said San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Director of Transportation, Jeffrey Tumlin. “The signals are designed to prioritize the 7-Haight– one of our highest ridership lines. Muni is delivering similar projects on most of our lines and we are proud to offer these improvements on Haight Street.”

“This project is another great example of City agencies working together to bring much needed improvements to our communities,” said SFPUC Acting General Manager Michael Carlin. “By upgrading and replacing our aging infrastructure, we are ensuring the safe and reliable delivery of critical sewer services to our customers.”

Funding for the improvements came from various voter-approved sources, including Proposition K sales tax revenue, the 2011 Roadway Improvement and Street Safety Bond, and the 2014 San Francisco Transportation and Road Improvement Bond. Additional funding sources included the City’s General Fund, Prop AA Grant, and Wastewater Enterprise Renewal and Replacement Funds.

“The Transportation Authority is proud to provide transportation sales tax and other funds for this project, which began with the community’s advocacy for safety and streetscape improvements along Haight Street,” said Transportation Authority Executive Director Tilly Chang. “The new traffic signals, pedestrian scale lighting, bulb-outs and curb ramps will enhance community access for the neighborhood and help achieve San Francisco’s citywide Vision Zero goal as well.”

Additional project information is available at www.sfpublicworks.org/upper-haight.

This report is courtesy of the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Communications. 

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Bay Area

Council Approves Additional Public Safety Investments

Councilmember Thao’s amendments included direct investments in West, Central, and East Oakland, including West Oakland Community Centers, Central Oakland traffic safety, and Oakland 911 response. 

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Stop typography on a sidewalk in Sterling Virginia during the fall photo courtesy of Obi Onyeador via Unsplash

Councilmember Sheng Thao

Councilmembers, community leaders, and city staff,  approved public safety investments for Oakland recommended by Councilmember Sheng Thao

These additions, approved Monday afternoon, included investments that align with the city’s reimagining public safety goals. The City Council unanimously approved Councilmember Thao’s budget amendments, which included investments in:

  • Traffic Calming and Sideshow Prevention
  • Faster 911 Response
  • Restoring Foot Patrol officers in business corridors during the holiday season
  • Business District Ambassadors
  • Adding Public Restrooms near homeless encampments
  • Investments to job training and resources

“My top priority is public safety, which means addressing violent crime, street safety, poverty, and homelessness,” said Thao.

“These budget amendments invest in our community and increase our Police Department’s ability to prevent and respond to violent crimes. These amendments will also protect our business corridors so Oaklanders can feel safe while they shop, and in turn, invest in our Oakland businesses.”

Said Oakland Police Chief LeRonne L. Armstrong, “I would like to thank Oakland City Council Member Sheng Thao and other Council Members for their vote and support with additional funding.

“These funds will provide walking officers in our business districts across the city during this holiday season. The funds allow us to restore much needed public safety services, walking officers, while our community and visitors shop across our city.”

Councilmember Thao’s amendments included direct investments in West, Central, and East Oakland, including West Oakland Community Centers, Central Oakland traffic safety, and Oakland 911 response.

“These amendments also help address decades of divestment from our BIPOC communities in East Oakland,” she said. “By bringing investments into street safety, beautification, and city services. It is important that we stay committed to equity for East Oakland.

“Our office made a point to work with Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Councilmembers Treva Reid and Loren Taylor to bring these amendments forward, and I thank them for their strong partnership in this work,” said Councilmember Thao.

 

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Business

S.F. Mayor London Breed Announces $4.5 Million in Grants to Over 560 Small Businesses

Small Business Relief Grants will award businesses with grants between $5,000 and $25,000 to help alleviate the impact of Stay-at-Home orders due to COVID-19

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Open sign for a business photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder via Unsplash

On July 23, Mayor London N. Breed and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development announced over $4.5 million in financial relief for more than 560 small businesses in the latest round of small business grants. The Small Business Relief Grants are expected to award over 700 businesses once the application review is complete. Funds can be used for rent relief, payroll, equipment, utilities and bills, and any other expenses needed to stay open, operate their business, and continue to serve the community.

“From the beginning of this pandemic, when we had to lock down the City to keep our residents safe, we knew that it was going to have a major impact on our small businesses and their employees,” said Mayor Breed. “That’s why we’ve been doing everything we can as a city, from waiving millions in fees to passing important legislation like Prop H and Shared Spaces. Our small businesses are going to lead our economic recovery, and these grants are going to help make that happen.”

The goal of the San Francisco Small Business Relief Fund is to provide immediate relief to help stabilize small business operations by offering grants of $5,000, $10,000, or $25,000. The fund targets anchor small businesses that contribute to the culture and vibrancy of neighborhood commercial corridors such as the Bayview, Central Market/Tenderloin, Chinatown, Excelsior, Lower Fillmore, Mission or in cultural districts including Japantown, Calle 24, SoMa Pilipinas, Transgender, Leather & LGBTQ, Castro LGBTQ, American Indian, and African American Arts and Cultural.

It also supports small businesses operated by people of color, women, long-standing businesses and storefronts, those most impacted by Stay-at-Home orders, and those excluded from or otherwise unable to access state and federal programs.

Over 50% of the grant recipients so far are women-owned, and nearly 80% are minority-owned small businesses that operate on thin margins. The program received a total of 843 applications and expects to award a total of over 700 businesses once the review process is complete.

“Delivering relief to our small businesses offers a lifeline essential to San Francisco’s recovery and infuses funding right into the hearts of our neighborhoods, said Assessor-Recorder Joaquín Torres. “After so much sacrifice to help protect public health, these grants are helping our small businesses bring jobs back into the community, vitality to our neighborhoods and with it the hope that better days are ahead. With this needed support, small businesses can drive the recovery we all want to see and make our city shine.”

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of San Francisco neighborhoods and employ hundreds of thousands of workers. For immigrants, women, people of color and working-class San Franciscans, running a small business is often an alternative to minimum wage jobs and can be a unique path to building wealth for their families and their communities. These grants will help small businesses get back on their feet and keep our neighborhood commercial corridors active and vibrant,” said Supervisor Hillary Ronen.

Breed led a supplemental appropriation that included this grant program, and a zero-interest loan program to provide small businesses with working capital to help offset losses resulting from the pandemic. In July, the San Francisco Small Business Recovery Loan Fund was launched with the California Rebuilding Fund, which leverages investments to maximize the available loans for small businesses.

Working with State-backed lending partners and local community-based partners, the City has now leveraged additional funding to offer small businesses zero-interest loans ranging up to $100,000. Small businesses can apply online at www.CALoanFund.org.

The program is being administered through the California Rebuilding Fund in partnership with KIVA and local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), including Main Street Launch, Mission Economic Development Agency, CDC Small Business Finance, Pacific Community Ventures, and the National Asian American Coalition.

“These funds will help me hire three more employees and extend my hours. During the pandemic I had to cut my hours because I didn’t have employees and business was so slow,” said Lamea Abuelrous, owner of Temo’s Café. “Now I have more foot traffic and my customers are asking me to stay open later. I have a lot of support from the community, I will also be remodeling my shop, painting, buying new tables and chairs.”

“The Small Business Relief Fund has been a lifeline for many of our small businesses—providing urgent capital to keep them open and operating while also keeping workers on payroll,” said Kate Sofis, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “Our small businesses are not out of the woods, the need for additional financial relief extends beyond this pandemic. Through the leadership of Mayor Breed and the Board of the Supervisors, the Office of Economic and Workforce Development will continue to program additional investments and make available more grant dollars with our community partners for our small business community in the months ahead.”

“The SF Relief Grant highlights the Mayor’s ability to listen and respond to what small businesses on the ground were in desperate need of,” said William Ortiz-Cartagena, San Francisco Small Business Commissioner. “The application process was simple therefore making the process equitable! This grant will allow our businesses in the most disadvantaged communities, that were hardest hit by the pandemic, live to fight another day. Gracias.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, San Francisco has provided immediate and ongoing support for small businesses, including making available more than $52.8 million in grants and loans to support more than 3,000 small businesses, in addition to tens of millions of dollars in fee and tax deferrals, and assistance applying for state and federal funding. This includes legislation introduced and signed by Mayor Breed to waive $5 million in fees and taxes for entertainment and nightlife venues and small restaurants.

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