"We have left undone those things which we ought to have done" - Protestant Episcopal Church 1928 U.S. Book of Common Prayer


Current News Items

Oakland’s Pot Equity Program Withering On The Vine

Published by the San Francisco Chronicle October 28, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 30, 2018

[OGS Website note: Oakland's Cannibas Equity Program is run by the Libby Schaaf administration.]

By Otis R. Taylor Jr.

Oakland’s long-touted program to help black and brown pot entrepreneurs succeed alongside bigger marijuana businesses is dead.

Officially, it’s around still. But it may as well not be.

The program was crafted so Oakland natives and longtime residents, especially those arrested and jailed for marijuana-related offenses during the failed war on drugs, could get a stake in the legitimized cannabis industry.

For two years, the city sold a dream to hundreds of hopeful people: 616 applicants sought assistance under the equity program as of last month, city records show.

I’ve tracked several of those applicants and have watched them struggle as they’ve been misled and let down.

“Just about anybody you would ask — if you did a poll on the streets of Oakland — would say they believe in social, racial and economic justice,” said Robert Selna, an Oakland land-use attorney who represents marijuana businesses, including equity applicants. “Few can argue against the program that claims to promote those things, but the program only says those things. It doesn’t actually do those things.”

The equity program was born in May 2016 when the City Council unanimously approved laws to regulate the city’s medical cannabis industry, while promising to revisit the debate over the tacked-on program.

Several factors — understaffing in the city manager’s office, the flawed partnerships Oakland forced general and equity applicants to form, and the lack of supportive resources provided by the city to equity applicants — led to the program’s demise.

The nails in the program’s coffin will be hammered in the coming weeks when a big part of the program expires. That’s the part that limits how many general pot business permits the city can hand out. The limits were designed to even the playing field for equity applicants.

“It makes me angry to think that across America people are calling out the Oakland model when the Oakland model isn’t what they think it is,” Matt Hummel, a member of Oakland’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, said at the commission’s Oct. 4 meeting.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Homeless Encampment Eviction At Lake Merritt Thwarted By Protesters

Published by Oakland North October 25, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 27, 2018

By Katey Rusch

The city’s planned “clear-out” of a homeless encampment under Oakland’s 12th Street bridge did not happen Wednesday morning after a crowd of homeless advocates flooded the site in protest.

“We were successful today,” said Nino Parker, who lives in a tent above the bridge, after city officials left. Parker recruited homeless advocates, as well as city council and mayoral candidates, to show up to the site to protest the “eviction.”

Oakland city staff had vowed to clear the encampments around Lake Merritt weeks ago after opening their third “cabin community” at the southeast corner of the lake earlier this month. Joe DeVries, the assistant city administrator in charge of coordinating homeless services, said many homeless people living around Lake Merritt were offered one of the 40 bed spaces at the new Tuff Shed site.

The clear-out was planned for Wednesday at no specified time, but by 8:30 a.m., about 50 people had gathered holding signs, chatting and distributing coffee and breakfast sandwiches to the group.

Parker and DeVries got into a shouting match under the bridge when the city administrator showed up with Oakland police officers to clear the site, with Parker yelling “Not this time!” Just before 10 a.m. DeVries, surrounded by cameras, answered questions from reporters about the reason the city planned to clear this encampment. Parker, standing in the background, persistently injected, refuting the statements DeVries was giving to the press.

“Joe, you shouldn’t talk, because everything you say is bullshit,” said Parker.

The interruptions continued until the press conference turned into a one-on-one argument between Parker and DeVries.

“We actually offered you the first spot at the community cabins,” said DeVries to Parker, referring to the new Tuff Shed site near the lake. “You said you wouldn’t move in unless I moved in. You’re going to have to talk to my wife about that.”

“You talk to your wife about that,” said Parker.

The ten-minute exchange ended with DeVries walking away, mumbling “I’m done” as Parker called DeVries the “eviction king.”

“A bunch of activists showed up to make it impossible for us to do our work, so we left,” DeVries wrote later in a text to Oakland North. When asked if city staff will come back later to clear the site, DeVries wrote: “We’ll see.”

[Click on link to go to entire article]

After Scathing UN Report Calling Homeless Conditions 'Cruel And Inhuman,' Activists Demand Oakland Stop Street Removals

Homeless advocate Candice Elder, 34, checks in with Dorothy Smith, 65, at an encampment in Oakland on Aug. 24, 2018. Smith, who raised her children in the city, said her disability benefits are not enough to afford housing. 'It just don’t support me,' she said.

Published by KQED News October 24, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 26, 2018

About 100 homeless advocates and residents rallied in front of Oakland City Hall Tuesday, imploring the city to improve living conditions in homeless encampments instead of trying to tear them down and evict people living there.

Protestors also sent an open letter to Mayor Libby Schaaf asking her to stop ordering so-called "sidewalk sweeps."

The action was prompted by the recent release of a scathing United Nations report on global homelessness that specifically criticizes Oakland and San Francisco for denying basic services to people living in street encampments. The report is based on a walking tour taken by Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing.

Describing conditions at the homeless encampments as "cruel and inhuman," and comparing them to slums in the world's poorest nations, the report chastises both cities for denying basic services to people living on the street.

"Attempting to discourage residents from remaining in informal settlements or encampments by denying access to water, sanitation and health services and other basic necessities constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment," the report said, "and is a violation of multiple human rights, including the rights to life, housing, health and water and sanitation."

It added: "Such punitive policies must be prohibited in law and immediately ceased."

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland Officials Knew Concerns About Police Department’s Sexual Assault Inquiry

Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid huddles with Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan at recent meeting

Published by the San Francisco Chronicle October 23, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 25, 2018

A majority of Oakland City Council members knew as early as this summer about claims that police applicants were asked to disclose records that would indicate their status as sexual assault victims, and one said she had heard “rumors” about the inquiry for the last two years.

But it was only Sunday, hours after The Chronicle published a story on it, that the Oakland Police Department was ordered to halt the practice by Mayor Libby Schaaf. The Chronicle found no other large cities in California that require the disclosure. Legal experts said it was inappropriate and possibly illegal.

The issue came up in a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on July 17, when an aide to Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan raised questions about the practice during a discussion on diversity in the Police Department.

“We have received a comment from women applicants, that they’re being asked whether they have been … subjected to sexual assault, and concern their responses will be made public,” the aide, John Knight, told the committee. “So, is this a question being asked? And if so, why? Has the department considered this as deterring women applicants?”

City Council members Desley Brooks, Abel Guillén, Noel Gallo and Larry Reid were sitting on the dais at the time. But there was no discussion of the comment, and Police Department command-staff representatives did not answer Knight’s questions during the meeting. Kaplan said she and her staff did not receive responses after the meeting, either.

In an interview Tuesday, Kaplan said the issue should have been addressed under the section of her resolution calling for “a review of recent applicants who were rejected at the background check stage to determine if any of them, especially Oakland residents, were rejected for reasons that might warrant reconsideration.”

Kaplan said she had heard “rumors” of the inquiry into sexual assault records beginning two years ago. She said it was up to Schaaf and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth to fix it.

“I asked about it, and it was never answered,” Kaplan said. “A council member, by Oakland law, cannot order the question removed. That has to be done by the executive branch.”

She said she specifically broached the issue in face-to-face meetings with Landreth and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick in May or June.

“I tried to follow up,” Kaplan said, “but was told the chief was out of the country and not reachable.”

Spokespeople for Landreth and Kirkpatrick did not respond to requests for comment.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland Activists Protest ‘Cruel And Inhuman’ Treatment Of Homeless After Scathing UN Report

Published by the Mercury News October 24, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 25, 2018

OAKLAND — Activists on Tuesday demanded the city stop disbanding encampments and evicting homeless residents, citing a scathing United Nations report that accused Oakland of violating residents’ rights with its “cruel and inhuman treatment” of the homeless.

Nearly 100 activists, homeless residents and others gathered in front of Oakland City Hall, imploring city leaders to focus on improving living conditions at the city’s many homeless camps, instead of “sweeping” them off sidewalks and displacing inhabitants who have nowhere else to go.

The protest follows a damning UN report on global homelessness that describes encampments under California overpasses in the same breath as rat-infested camps in Mumbai, garbage-strewn settlements in Belgrade, overcrowded shacks in Mexico City, and damp, abandoned buildings housing migrants in Santiago.

In Oakland and San Francisco, officials are attempting to discourage homeless residents from living in the cities’ encampments by denying them access to water, sanitation and health services, according to the report.

“It says that Oakland needs to do way better than it’s doing now,” Candice Elder, executive director of The East Oakland Collective, said in an interview before the protest. “We need to make the encampments more humane and livable than they are right now, and Oakland’s not doing it.”

Oakland and San Francisco are the only two U.S. cities singled out in the 23-page report, which is “very damning,” Elder said. City officials provide portable toilets and hand-washing stations at just 13 of the city’s encampments, leaving many without services, she said.

Oakland’s homeless population grew by more than a quarter between 2015 and 2017, jumping from 2,191 to 2,761, according to the most recent Everyone Counts homeless census, which experts say likely under counts the population. The rapid growth has left city officials struggling to keep up.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

UN Report Singles Out Homeless Conditions In Oakland, San Francisco As 'Cruel And Inhumane'

Garbage overlowing from a dumpster at Lake Merritt, where homeless people were told to leave and relocate to another shelter

Published by KTVU News October 24, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 25, 2018

A United Nations expert on housing explicitly singled out San Francisco and Oakland as the only two U.S. cities that are part of a “global scandal,” describing homeless encampments there as “cruel and inhumane.”

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Canadian attorney Lelani Farha, presented her 23-page report on Oct. 18 in New York at the U.N. General Assembly after touring the world and visiting the Bay Area in January.

She also visited Berkeley and Los Angeles, but did not mention those cities in her report. On Tuesday, Bay Area housing activists held a rally at Oakland City Hall to discuss the findings. 

Farha issued 31 recommendations, namely earmarking enough money for the homeless, making sure building materials are affordable, prohibiting discrimination and stopping the eviction of homeless people and the criminalization of their behavior. 

“I visited California and saw firsthand the human rights' violations being experienced by people who are homeless,” Farha wrote. “They are the victims of failed policies—not the perpetrators of crime."

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland Mayor Forbids Asking Police Applicants If They Were Sexually Assaulted

Published by the San Francisco Chronicle October 21, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 23, 2018

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf ordered an immediate end Sunday to a Police Department policy that forced job applicants to disclose information about whether they had been sexually assaulted.

The mayor’s order came in response to a Chronicle story published Sunday revealing the practice, which legal experts said was highly unusual, discriminatory and possibly illegal.

“Today I ordered the immediate removal of a waiver where OPD applicants authorize the release of confidential records, including those that would disclose whether they are victims of sexual assault,” Schaaf said in a statement.

“Additionally,” the mayor said, “I directed the department to partner with the Oakland Police Commission to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the department’s recruitment and hiring process to ensure no other barriers discourage the hiring of women or minority applicants.”

Asking job applicants to reveal whether they have ever been sexually assaulted is at best problematic, according to experts. Catherine Sanz, president of Women in Federal Law Enforcement Inc., said questions about a woman’s ties to home and her children have long been considered inappropriate, so one would think sexual assault would also be out of bounds.

“I would look at it as an artificial barrier to eliminate candidates and particularly minority candidates, which is one of the biggest problems law enforcement has,” said Sanz, adding that women make up only 12 percent of the law enforcement workforce. “We know gender bias has a big impact on the policies and procedures that impact the recruitment, hiring, training and promotion of women in the profession.”

The Chronicle checked with police departments in the 10 most populous cities in California and could not find any that ask candidates to disclose information about prior sexual assaults.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Pastors, Black Panther Co-Founder, Residents React To Schaaf-Led Outside Money Pouring Into D-6 Council Race

Published by the Oakland Post October 19, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 20, 2018

A community coalition comprised of Pastors, former Black Panther Co-Founder, Bobby Seale, Civil Rights attorneys and residents held a press conference this week calling out “money in politics” in the race for Oakland’s District 6 Council seat.

The group is responding to Mayor Libby Schaaf, her big money donors and Building Trade Unions tied to powerful, luxury real estate developers, who are now pouring outside money into the race to unseat District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks.

Brooks has been a staunch critic of Schaaf and the lack of African American workers employed at construction sites throughout the city.

The community coalition is calling upon Mayor Schaaf and her supporters to immediately cease the outside money they are pumping into the local race and maintain what they deem a “fair and clean” election, free of distortions and attacks.

Mayor Schaaf has a history of mobilizing her base of wealthy donors to target councilmembers who have opposed her policies, including Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Rebecca Kaplan in 2016.

Over one-third of the Independent expenditure aimed at unseating Schaaf’s most vocal critic, Desley Brooks, has come from wealthy donors who have contributed tens of thousands of dollars over the years to the Mayor’s campaign efforts.

Speakers at the press conference, including Black Panther Party Co-Founder Bobby Seale, highlighted what they see as coordinated retaliation against Brooks for the many, community-based positions she has taken in City Hall

Earning powerful enemies, Brooks has advocated for more inclusivity of the hiring of African-Americans in the powerful, Building and Construction Trades Unions and fought to to establish a Department of Race and Equity, which was initially opposed by the Mayor.

Are Schaaf Administration And City Attorney Undermining Independent Police Commission?

City Attorney Barbara Parker,  Chief of Police Anne Kirkpatrick, Mayor Libby Schaaf
and City Administrator Sabrina Landreth.

Published by the Oakland Post October 19, 2018

Back in July when the Oakland City Council passed the enabling ordinance for the Oakland Police Commission—over the strenuous objections of the City Administrator and the City Attorney—it appeared for a moment that the issue was finally settled: commission staff would be independent of the mayor and the mayor’s administration.

In other words, the City Council decided the commission’s staff would report to the commission, not the City Attorney or the City Administrator.

Based on the Measure LL charter amendment, the City Council passed the ordinance July 10 on a 6-1 vote (with only Annie Campbell Washington voting no). The City contests the council decision, saying its provisions conflict with the City Charter.

Councilmembers rejected the City Attorney’s and the City Administrator’s contention that the City Charter as whole requires commission staff to be controlled by them, not independent of the administration as intended by the charter amendment, which passed two years ago with 83 percent of the vote.

Now, however, the mayor’s administration and the City Attorney are prepared to ignore the City Council’s decision, based on their interpretation of the City Charter, according to members of the steering committee of the Coalition for Police Accountability who met last Thursday with Mayor Libby Schaaf.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland's $9 Million Homeless Solution; City Launches New Preventive Program

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf speaks at City Hall during a media conference announcing the city’s new Keep Oakland Housed program to prevent homelessness.

Published by the Mercury News October 15, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 16, 2018

As growing tent encampments sprawl over the city’s sidewalks and run-down vehicles turned into homes of last resort line the streets, Oakland on Monday launched a $9 million program intended to keep residents from ending up as another statistic in the city’s growing homeless population.

The initiative, dubbed Keep Oakland Housed, represents a new approach in the city’s response to the homelessness crisis. Instead of trying to get people off the streets, the new program will attempt to prevent them from landing there in the first place by providing emergency financial assistance, free legal representation and other supportive services to people on the brink of losing their homes.

It will be run as a partnership between three local nonprofits — Bay Area Community Services, Catholic Charities of the East Bay and East Bay Community Law Center — and funded with $3 million from the San Francisco Foundation through an anonymous donor, and up to $6 million from Kaiser Permanente.

“No one deserves to spend a single night on the streets,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Monday during a news conference at City Hall. “And we here in Oakland want to keep Oaklanders here, securely housed.”

Cities throughout the Bay Area are struggling under the weight of a growing homelessness crisis, as skyrocketing rents push more low-income families out of their homes and into cars, RVs or tents. Twenty-nine percent of Bay Area renters are one financial emergency away from not making their next rent payment, according to a recent Zillow survey. In Oakland, the number of homeless people has grown by more than a quarter in two years — jumping from 2,191 in 2015 to 2,761 in January 2017, according to the Everyone Counts homeless census, which experts say likely undercounts the population.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland Review Agency Exonerates Police Chief Over False Statements Regarding ICE Raid

While trying to review the investigation, the police commission was told they're not allowed to inspect their own civilian investigative agency's police misconduct case files.

Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick being sworn in by Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Published by the East Bay Times October 12, 2018
Posted on the OGS Website October 16, 2018

By Darwin BondGraham

According to Oakland's Community Police Review Agency, Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick did nothing wrong when she made multiple false and inaccurate statements about an ICE raid that OPD officers assisted in August 2017.

CPRA Executive Director Anthony Finnell closed the case and informed the Oakland Police Commission at its meeting last night about his findings.

But several commissioners expressed frustration with the results because of Finnell's refusal to explain exactly why he cleared Kirkpatrick, despite the existence of video in which the chief made false statements. 

Commissioners also questioned why it took a year to complete the investigation.

And in a surprising revelation, Finnell also told police commissioners last night that they're not allowed to look at the contents of CPRA investigative files, even though they're tasked with reviewing cases and approving the CPRA's findings — and determining whether Finnell and his investigators are doing their jobs correctly.

"Why did it take a year to get here, and why are we getting it on the eve of 3304 when there’s almost nothing we can do about it?" Police Commissioner Andrea Dooley asked Finnell. 

Under Section 3304 of the California Police Officer's Bill of Rights, cops can't be disciplined for misconduct unless the official investigation is completed within one year. By presenting findings in the Kirkpatrick case as this statute of limitation was running out, there was no possibility for the police commission to question the outcome or ask for further investigation.

In fact, Finnell's presentation of the case to the police commission fell one day before the one-year deadline state law requires misconduct investigations to be completed in.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

What's Missing In Oakland's First Cultural Plan In 30 Years?

Published by East Bay Express October 10, 2018
Posted on the OGS website October 11, 2018

By Rick Paulas

[OGS Website note: Oakland's new Strategic Plan For Cultural Development" was produced by the administration of Mayor Libby Schaaf]

In June 1988, Oakland released its "Strategic Plan for Cultural Development." Its first goal was developing Lake Merritt's west end as a "plaza for the arts," with specific steps to be taken through the rest of 1988 and 1989. The other seven goals also came with directed actions to get there, and deadlines to be met. The entire document ran 24 pages, including the lengthy roll of credits. It did not mess around.

Of course, that was a different era for Oakland. The Oakland of 2018 sees the city's arts scene on the losing end of migration. Tech boom spillover, along with a limited housing supply, has skyrocketed rents enough to displace many of the city's poor. Meanwhile, fallout from Ghost Ship fire shuttered many of the remaining underground arts spaces, scattering the population to more affordable cities, meaning, just about anywhere else.

Into this environment comes the city's 2018 Cultural Development Plan. Called "Belonging in Oakland," with the summarizing subtitle "Equity is the Driving Force, Culture is the Frame, and Belonging is the Goal," the first noticeable aspect about this new plan — written by the city's Cultural Affairs staff, which is chaired by the poet, writer, and activist Roberto Bedoya — is that it's very long. Exactly 119 pages long.

The second thing is that the plan doesn't have much in the way of, well, plans.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Mayor Schaaf Delivers State Of The City Address To A Sparse Audience

Published by Oakland North October 3, 2018
Posted on the OGS website October 8, 2018

By Katy Rusch

In a brief statement to a noticeably sparse crowd, Mayor Libby Schaaf delivered the final State of the City address of her term Tuesday night.

Her prepared remarks were a line item on the agenda of the regular city council meeting, lasted 20 minutes and drew little public comment. This was a stark contrast to last year’s State of the City address held at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California to a ticket-holding crowd of 250, while dozens of city workers marched outside marking the first day of a strike over unfair labor practices including low wages and unsafe working conditions.

The mayor’s spokesperson, Justin Berton, called this year’s address “standard” and “traditional.”

During the speech, Schaaf referred to many of the items she’s listed as accomplishments during the her reelection campaign including her support for the city’s Tuff Shed program that houses the homeless as they transition to permanent housing, the city’s decrease in gun violence, and her “favorite thing in the world,” the Oakland Promise, a program that offers financial assistance for students who hope to continue their education past high school.

The presentation began with a brief video—the same one played by the mayor at last year’s State of the City address—shown on a screen above the heads of councilmembers to a ground-floor chamber of mostly-unfilled seats. The balcony was empty.

The three-minute video, made by Oakland filmmaker and poet Jamie DeWolf, featured a poem about Oakland and scenes of music, art and the city’s landscape. In it, the narrator calls Oakland “the sweetest gift” and ends with the line: “These are all the ways Oakland welcomes me home.”

“Our most pressing work as city leaders today is to keep Oakland home,” said Schaaf, as the video transitioned to a slideshow, listing what city officials are doing to address the homelessness crisis. In the next few months, the mayor noted, the city will be expanding the Tuff Shed program, opening a year-round emergency shelter, working with nonprofits to create safe parking sites for those living in their cars and RVs and opening a second rapid rehousing center. She said this could serve half the 1,902 people believed to be living on Oakland streets.

“Clearly this is not enough,” said the mayor. “It is a start to triage the crisis.”

The mayor said the city is ahead of its ’17K/17K Housing Plan’ to create 17,000 new units of housing by the year 2024. Schaaf said in the last two years, 1,300 new units have come on the market with 8,700 units under construction and 7,900 additional units in the planning stages.

“We in Oakland recognize that every new unit of housing, even the pricey ones, helps fight displacement, because the people who are moving into our city who can afford these pricey units will no longer have to displace the folks who are here right now and cannot,” said Schaaf.

This comment did not resonate with some people in the audience. Members of the Rose Foundation, an Oakland nonprofit that awards grants to grassroots organizations, came to the meeting to receive recognition from Councilmember Dan Kalb (District 1) for their 25 years of service to Oakland, but found themselves unexpectedly listening to the mayor’s address. “I don’t think there was anything she said that wasn’t true,” said Jill Ratner, president and co-founder of the Rose Foundation, after she left the council chambers. But she disagreed that all housing, no matter the price, is good for Oakland. “We need housing, but we need more affordable housing,” she said.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland Eyes Use Of CalTrans Property To Expand Tuff Shed Program

Published by Oakland North October 2, 2018
Posted on the OGS website October 7, 2018

By Katy Rusch

With a camel-colored scarf wrapped around her head like a hat, Latasha Hardman gives a tour of her West Oakland home. It’s in the middle of a homeless encampment under the I-580 freeway near 36th and Peralta Streets. The space consists of two camping tents with flaps facing each other. Draped over the two canvases are nearly half a dozen blankets. Below, two wooden pallets keep out the rain and rats. The 47-year-old says she’s lived at the intersection for two years. She greets those who enter the encampment with a smile and a handshake, but quickly admits that she doesn’t want to live in the camp she and others call Tent City.

A new law—signed last month by Governor Jerry Brown—may move Hardman out of her tent and into a Tuff Shed on land owned by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The law, which goes into effect January 1, allows the city of Oakland to lease up to 10 properties owned by Caltrans for $1 a month to help house and feed the homeless. Currently, California requires Caltrans to lease properties at market rate, but the new law will eliminate that requirement.

“This saves us a lot of money,” said Joe DeVries, the assistant city administrator who manages homeless outreach for Oakland. While Caltrans and the city are still working out the details, DeVries believes the law will allow the city to lease three or four Caltrans properties and expand its Tuff Shed program.

Oakland already has two existing cabin community sites in the North Gate and Castro areas with a third near Lake Merritt set to open this week. The sites are a cluster of tiny homes, 120-square-foot cabins that are used to house the homeless as they transition to permanent housing. So far, the response to the program has been mixed. Mayor Libby Schaaf calls the Tuff Shed program a success, citing a 55 percent placement rate from both camps into permanent housing, meaning more than half of the former residents are no longer homeless. But critics have frequently criticized the use of the sheds, pointing out that they do not have running water and those living in the sheds are required to have a roommate.

While city and Caltrans staff have not officially agreed which properties may become new Tuff Shed sites, reactions to the idea are already varied. “Hell no, I wouldn’t mind. I would love it,” said Hardman about the prospect of moving into a Tuff Shed. Hardman, who describes herself as courageous, said she’s been getting depressed lately, and she believes a cabin would be “a stepping stone to help me to feel better, to move forward.”

Hardman, a Stockton native, said she became homeless three years ago. She said she started living outside after she got into an abusive relationship and lost her job. Now, she said, she tries to keep up her morale. She does push-ups and tries to stay clean, showering at a nearby relative’s house when she can. She also keeps her signature style, a tan scarf wrapped around her head like a crown, “because I’m a queen. I’m still a queen, no matter what.”

But Hardman’s 61-year-old neighbor, who calls himself Spicy Mike said he would refuse the city’s offer. He said he wants to leave—“but not there,” referencing a Tuff Shed. “Are you serious? You know what kind of camp that is. That’s a concentration camp. That’s all that is. No water. No toilet. All you’re getting is a wooden tent,” he said.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

Oakland To Clear Lake Merritt Homeless Camps, Open New Tuff Shed Units

Published by the San Francisco Chronicle October 2, 2018
Posted on the OGS website October 4, 2018

Homeless encampments that have sprung up on the shores and parks of Lake Merritt in Oakland will be cleared in the coming weeks as the city attempts to move the population into sturdier housing units.

City officials and nonprofit contractors Tuesday were putting the finishing touches on Oakland’s third Tuff Shed village installment, located south of the lake, next to the shuttered Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center and across the street from Laney College. Their goal is for the homeless to begin moving in Thursday.

There is room for 40 people at the location — with two beds in each of the 20 tiny homes, and a curtain divider for privacy. A recent census by the nonprofit Operation Dignity, one of the city’s contractors, found there were 65 homeless people living around Lake Merritt. City leaders say some of them will not want to move into the storage sheds, and others may find shelter on their own.

“This is a voluntary project,” said Joe DeVries, an assistant city administrator who heads up homelessness issues. “People are not forced into these, but it’s certainly something that gets people on a path to housing. We don’t consider these houses. We consider this moving from a tent to a bed, and then the next step is to move from a bed to real housing.”

But [Schaaf's] critics say the shed project is incommensurate with the scope of the problem in Oakland. Some advocates of the homeless population have decried the sites as overly stringent and denounced the city for clearing encampments.

[Click on link to go to entire article]

In The Mayor's Race, Will Oakland Become The Next Boston?

In the eyes of the nation, Libby Schaaf is considered the “the resistance,” but in Oakland, she might be the establishment Democrat voters don’t want this season.

Published by Oakland Magazine October 1, 2018

By Darwin Bond-Graham

By many accounts, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is more popular than ever. In February, she took a very public stand against the Trump administration’s xenophobia, warning the public about an impending ICE raid. That led to verbal sparring with the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, transforming her into a spokesperson of “the resistance” and giving her a level of national recognition that few Oakland politicians achieve.

But while Schaaf may have a radical edge in the eyes of the rest of the country, locally, she’s seen by many as an establishment Democrat who hasn’t done enough to address issues of gentrification, displacement, and homelessness. Schaaf’s administration also was has been rocked by several catastrophic examples of the failures of city government, including a police sex trafficking scandal and the deadly Ghost Ship and San Pablo Avenue fires. While these calamities weren’t the mayor’s fault, her administration’s responses were far from transparent.

So as she faces re-election, Schaaf runs the risk that she may no longer be progressive enough for Oakland voters.

“Even though Libby is a decent person, I think many activists have viewed her as not helping stop the process of displacement, and not helping poor people in Oakland during a building boom and housing crisis,” said Jack Kurzweil of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, a progressive political organization active in Oakland politics. “I think what Cat Brooks represents, and to an extent Pamela Price, is a challenge to the status quo.”

These challenges would vex any mayor in a normal election, but Schaaf is seeking a second term during a year when Democratic voters, especially in liberal regions, appear to be gravitating toward radical candidates. A few challengers running far to the left have toppled establishment favorites indicating a desire for dramatic change.

[Click on link to go to complete article]







Front Page

Why An "Oakland's Getting Schaafted" Website

In The News

Our Thoughts On The Libby Schaaf Administration

What Others Are Thinking And Saying—Opinion Pieces About The Schaaf Administration

The Trashing Of Oakland

Schaaf And Oakland's Homeless Crisis

Oakland's Pot Equity Program Withering On The Vine
San Francisco Chronicle
October 28, 2018

Homeless Encampment Eviction At Lake Merritt Thwarted By Protesters
Oakland North
October 27, 2018

After Scathing UN Report Calling Homeless Conditions 'Cruel And Inhuman,' Activists Demand Oakland Stop Street Removals
October 26, 2018

Oakland Officials Knew Concerns About Police Department's Sexual Assault Inquiry
San Francisco Chronicle
October 25, 2018

Oakland Activists Protest 'Cruel And Inhuman' Treatment Of Homeless After Scathing UN Report
Mercury News
October 24, 2018

UN Report Singles Out Homeless Conditions In Oakland, San Francisco As 'Cruel And Inhumane'
October 24, 2018

Oakland Mayor Forbids Asking Police Applicants If They Were Sexually Assaulted
San Francisco Chronicle
October 23, 2018

Pastors, Black Panther Co-Founder, Residents React To Schaaf-Led Outside Money Pouring Into D-6 Council Race
Oakland Post
October 19, 2018

Are Schaaf Administration And City Attorney Undermining Independent Police Commission?
Oakland Post
October 19, 2018

Oakland's $9 Million Homeless Solution; City Launches New Preventive Program
Mercury News
October 15, 2018

Oakland Review Agency Exonerates Police Chief Over False Statements Regarding ICE Raids
East Bay Express
October 12, 2018

What's Missing In Oakland's First Cultural Plan In 30 Years?
East Bay Express
October 10, 2018

Mayor Delivers State Of The City Address To A Sparse Audience
Oakland North
October 8, 2018

Oakland Eyes Use Of CalTrans Property To Expand Tuff Shed Program
Oakland North
October 7, 2018

Oakland To Clear Lake Merritt Homeless Camps, Open New Tuff Shed Units
San Francisco Chronicle
October 2, 2018

In The Mayor's Race, Will Oakland Become The Next Boston?
Oakland Magazine
October 1, 2018

News Items Archive September 2018

News Items Archive August 2018

News Items Archive July 2018

News Items Archive May-June 2018