Last August, more than 100 Oaklanders met at St. Theresa’s Church to form Make Oakland Better Now!, a grassroots issues and advocacy organization devoted to improving public safety, public works, transparency and accountability in the City of Oakland. Make Oakland Better Now! was formed by Oakland residents, many of whom hadn’t been activists for a long time and many of whom admitted they hadn’t paid as much attention to Oakland politics as they should have. But they believed Oakland was a wonderful city that urgently needed to change. And they were determined to build an organization that would be a force in these three critical areas in the 2010 mayor’s race and beyond. More specifically, Make Oakland Better Now! is determined to shine a light on mayoral and city council candidates’ positions in these three areas and to monitor improvement after the election.
Oakland is full of superfun stuff to do during the holiday season. Shopping districts host festive street fairs. Normally-cool institutions like the Dunsmuir-Hellman Historic Estate, the Oakland Zoo, Children’s Fairyland become even cooler when they get all gussied up with lights and decorations. The Holiday Parade is must-see, as are the adorable Christmas lights on Picardy Drive. Artemis at City Homestead has an incredibly thorough round-up of this year’s events.
But the holidays are a difficult time for many in our community, those who have fallen on hard times and those who never had very much. It’s important to remember those less fortunate than we are during this period, and try to find ways to give back.
I get so frustrated with the City sometimes. Okay, most of the time. Following Oakland government as closely as I do, especially in dire times like these, can be completely maddening. I am often tempted to just throw my hands in the air, declare the City hopeless broken, and like, move to the mountains or something.
But despite Oakland’s myriad problems, this is an incredibly special place. So today, I’m going to take a step back from everything that makes me angry or depressed about the city, and remember some of the reasons I really am thankful I live in Oakland.
It isn’t news for this blog’s readers (or, well, for anyone, really) that AC Transit is facing a looming (and significant) budget deficit, or that to deal with the deficit, the agency will soon be making some dramatic cuts to bus service. But what some of you might not know is that last week, they released a revised service reduction proposal that would dramatically reduce the impact of the coming cuts.
Amber Tree Apartments lay behind a fence along 200 feet of the south side of Foothill Boulevard between 25th and 26th Avenue. I first noticed them last summer when I was on a walking tour of the 23rd Avenue area with other members of the Central City East Redevelopment Project Area Committee (CCE PAC). Walking west, the sidewalk abruptly narrows to accommodate the first of two motel-like structures. We look down the cluttered central courtyard and saw that the properties suffered from great disrepair. Staff members Theresa Navarro-Lopez and Doug Cole agreed to contact code compliance about the property.
2009 is quickly coming to a close, and if things keep going the way they have been, it looks like we’re going to end the year with a substantially lower number of reported crimes than last year.
As we saw last week, Oakland’s budget problems are ongoing. The City is currently anticipating an $18.87 million deficit in the General Purpose Fund by the end of the year (plus a $25.4 million shortfall next year) due to a combination of revenue shortfalls and overspending.
The City Council will hold a special meeting at 4 PM on Tuesday (PDF), before the regular Council meeting at 6 to figure out what to do about it.
Condo conversions were a big controversy a few years ago, but since then, have pretty much faded off the radar of everyone but professional affordable housing activists and developers. Now the issue is back, sort of.
Monday night, I attended the Town Hall meeting with Oakland’s new Police Chief, Anthony Batts, at Prescott Elementary in West Oakland. It was okay.
Do you guys remember back in June when the Council was putting together the budget? And they kept talking about how this is just a temporary solution, and that they would be back constantly making more cuts, and adjusting this and that. Council President Jane Brunner, a couple of times, called it a “rolling budget” and at one point suggested it just be a standing item at every meeting.