A community news source for residents of the HarriOak neighborhood in Oakland, CA.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What To Do About Blighted Properties

The Neighborhood Law Corps is compiling a list of blighted properties. We request your help as neighbors to be our eyes and ears to identify these properties so we can get them cleaned up.


1. Vacant properties; that are
2. Blighted (This means bad conditions on the property that affect the people near it.)

Failure to care for exterior of property:
Garbage on ground
Abandoned vehicles
Rotted or collapsing roof or walls
Graffiti on the building
Fire hazards

Excessive plant growth:
Overgrown grass/weeds
Substantial Dead organic matter on ground (trees, leaves, yard trimmings)

Failure to secure property from trespassers/ squatters:
Broken windows
Doors with no/broken locks
Missing doors
Broken gates

Failure to take action to prevent mosquito larvae:
Large amounts of standing water

Other conditions causing public nuisance:
Continual loitering
Drug activity on property
Squatters living there

When you find a property that meets these conditions, please send us the following information:

1. The specific property address
2. A description of the problems

You can contact us by email at info@neighorhoodlaw corps.org.
Or call us at 1-800-BE ALERT (1-800-232-5378)

We need this information by May 30th (the earlier, the better) so we can prosecute the owners and get the problems cleaned up.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gabriella Network's Political Fashion Show

Jacqueline Orpilla, one of our neigbhors, helped produce this awesome event at Berkeley earlier this year.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Annual Easter Egg Hunt April 11

Belinda Gilchrist-Day and Project Darreis are holding their annual Easter Egg hunt. Belinda is looking for donations of candy, pre-filled Easter Baskets, stuffed bunnies or monetary donations. If you can help out please call 510-467-5053 by April 3.

Open House for Women Artists March 29

Our neighbor Breathe One Love artist Lanell Dike is hosting an Open House on Sunday, March 29, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 204 Frisbie Street. This is part of a project of the Fund for Women Artists with the purpose of celebrating the creative spirit in all of us.

For kids: there will be an opportunity to learn about women artists from around the world and to create their own books

For adults: Sometimes one word can lead you to the heart of something. What’s your one word? Come make your own One Word Collage and see where it leads you.

Lanell is also organizing an art and writing exhibition for May 8,9 & 10
theme: What is Self? Would love to have your participation if you're interested.
More info here: http://whatisself.com/

Volunteers Needed at the Arena Vigil Tomorrow

This is a message from the United Neighborhood Councils of Oakland:

Many Officers have been "down" or outright depressed in the past week. It is
therefore VERY important to show them support, as broad as possible, from
Oakland Communities and Citizens. As a result Don Link & I are asking for the
support of neighborhood volunteers active with UNCO and their Communities:

At the ORACLE Arena tomorrow we will be handing out Blue Ribbons to wear (on person, on cars, or wherever you choose) in support of OPD. This will be a visible sign of our support to other citizens, and most importantly to Police Officers.

Please advise if you are interested in volunteering, and who else in your Neighborhood Council can volunteer? Please include your Cel.# and Neighborhood Beat info.

We will meet between 9am-9:30am at the ARENA
(we will update volunteers in a follow-up email later today, along with other needs).


I look forward to receiving an email reply from interested volunteers.
We need as many committed volunteers as possible!

Hugh Morrison
Beat 16Y

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Memorial Services for Slain Officers on Friday

The memorial service for the four Oakland police officers who were killed over the weekend while trying to protect people in one Oakland's poorest and most violent neighborhoods will be held Friday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Oracle Arena.
Thousands of people are expected to attend.

For people wishing to help the officers' families:

Wire transfers may be made directly to the following Merrill Lynch accounts: The Dunakin Children's Family Trust, Acct. No. 204-04065; The Romans Children's Family Trust, Acct. No. 204-04066; and The Sakai Family Trust, Acct. No. 204-04064. No fund had been set up as of Monday afternoon on behalf of Hege, who had no children.

Individual checks can also be made out to the families and mailed to the Oakland Police Officer's Association, Attn: Rennee Hassna, 555 5th Street, Oakland, CA, 94607. Make checks payable to the Dunakin Children's Family Trust; the Romans Children's Family Trust; Sakai Family Trust.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mourning Oakland's Police Officers

Thousands of people have joined Facebook groups to mourn three Oakland police officers who were killed over the weekend. The group include Pray For the Oakland Police Officers, Support the Oakland Police Department, and Police Officers Killed in the Line of Duty.

The San Jose Mercury News has complete coverage of the killings.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Oakland and the Stimulus Spending Bill

Want to weigh in on how the City of Oakland plans to spend its stimulus money?

Nancy Nadel, our city council woman, is holding a Town Hall meeting on March 25 that she is calling, "PRIORITIZING IN HARD TIMES: The Stimulus Package and other dollars: How can we prioritize spending?" The meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in chambers of City Hall at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612.

According to the invitation: "You’re invited to join us to talk about whether money is coming, what staff and WOPAC are proposing for it and how that matches with your priorities for your neighborhood. The City is expecting some stimulus money, and some redevelopment dollars are also available for parts of District 3. Let’s talk about the needs of each respective neighborhood, how we get priorities on a list, and what we can realistically expect."

Participants wll include:
Deputy Director Mike Neary, CEDA,
Director Raul Godinez, Public Works Agency,
Planner Margot Prado, Planning/Zoning
Co-Chair Larry Rice, WOPAC,
Board President Sheri Kramer, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth

Courtney Ruby Gets Documents

Apologies, this news is already more than one week old.

Monday, March 9, 2009

More Than $50 billion in Stimulus Money for California

The California Budget Project just published an analysis of the stimulus bill. The analysis is relevant for our community, so I'm reproducing the press release below. The full report can be found here. You can also visit the official state site: the California Economic Recovery Portal.

SACRAMENTO -- A new analysis by the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan public policy research group, examines the impact of the federal economic recovery package on the state. The report, What Does the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Mean for California?, outlines the more than $50 billion in federal funds that California and Californians could receive from the package of spending and tax measures.

"This is great news for California, particularly since many of the provisions in this package will directly benefit low- and middle-income Californians struggling during these difficult economic times," said CBP Executive Director Jean Ross.

The report estimates that California could receive:

Nearly $18 billion in temporary increases in federal funding designed to help states balance their budgets. This includes a temporary $11.2 billion increase in funds for Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California); $4.9 billion in education block grant funds for K-12 and higher education; and $1.1 billion in flexible block grant funds for education;
$2.6 billion for highway and bridge construction projects;
$1.8 billion in child tax credits, providing assistance to an estimated 2.3 million California children;
$1.5 billion to increase SNAP benefits (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), which would help nearly 2.5 million low-income Californians;
$1.5 billion in Title I grants for schools with a high concentration of students from low-income families;
$1.3 billion for special education, which will help an estimated 677,000 students in California; and
$1.0 billion to purchase buses and public transit equipment.
Ross noted that the report identifies multiple sources of funds that can be used to meet the $10 billion "trigger" included as part of the recent state budget agreement. The recent budget agreement includes provisions that would cut spending for IHSS, Medi-Cal, courts, higher education, and other programs and trigger an additional personal income tax increase unless the Director of Finance and State Treasurer certify that that California can expect to receive at least $10 billion in federal funds that can offset state costs by June 30, 2010.

"Where there's a will there's a way," said Ross. "The ARRA offers multiple opportunities that are entirely consistent with federal law to offset costs that would otherwise fall on the state budget."

While the ARRA aims to "jump start" spending and consumer confidence, Ross noted that the recent state budget agreement will dampen the impact of the federal measure. The federal economic recovery package provides a one-time payment of $250 in 2009 to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients. This payment will help more than 1 million SSI/SSP recipients in California meet basic living expenses. However, this one-time benefit is more than offset by a $57 per month cut to SSI/SSP payments that was included in the 2009-10 state budget agreement. Seniors and people with disabilities in California who receive SSI/SSP payments will lose $684 over 12 months due to this reduction.

"This is an example in which our recent state budget agreement will weaken the impact of the federal recovery package," Ross said.

In many cases, the federal economic recovery package requires the Legislature and/or Governor Schwarzenegger to act in order to receive funding. For example, in order to claim the full amount of additional federal funding for Medicaid policymakers must reinstate annual eligibility renewals for children in Medi-Cal before July 1. Currently, eligibility renewals are done twice a year. The state will lose an estimated $3.7 billion in federal funding for Medicaid in 2008-09 if it misses this deadline and will lose even more federal funds for every quarter that it delays making this change.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Appeals Court Upholds Oakland's Just Cause Ordinance


OAKLAND, CA – On Tuesday, March 3, City Attorney John Russo announced that the city has prevailed in a 6-year lawsuit filed by landlords seeking to overturn Oakland’s strong tenant protection law – the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance.

A decision last week by the California Court of Appeal upholds the Just Cause ordinance and affirms the right of tenants to receive significant damages and attorney fees from landlords who break the law.

“Oakland has been hit with waves of illegal evictions as a result of the foreclosure crisis,” City Attorney Russo said. “Some banks and their agents have routinely violated the law by evicting good tenants from foreclosed apartments and homes without cause.”

“In these economic times, illegal evictions create serious hardships for families across Oakland,” Russo said. “This victory is especially important because it upholds the right of tenants – and the City – to go after the bad actors who are breaking the law and putting Oakland families on the street.”

Oakland’s Just Cause ordinance, approved by voters and enacted in 2002, protects renters by requiring landlords to have a specific “just cause” for evicting a tenant. Causes include non-payment of rent, violation of the rental agreement, illegal or nuisance activity or a move-in by the property owner. The law also requires landlords to notify tenants of violations before they start the eviction process.

In 2003, the Rental Housing Association of Northern Alameda County and a group of individual landlords sued to invalidate the ordinance. Just Cause Oakland, a major backer of the law, intervened as a party in the case to defend the ordinance. In May 2006, the Alameda County Superior Court upheld all major provisions of Oakland’s law. Both sides appealed. The city settled with the Rental Housing Association in 2007, but some individual landlords continued their appeal of the court’s decision.

On February 26 of this year, the Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s decision upholding the ordinance and its protections against arbitrary and capricious evictions.