We Call on Oakland A's to prevent Chinatown Displacement

September 18, 2017

Dave Kaval, President, Oakland A’s

Mayor Libby Schaaf, City of Oakland

Council President Larry Reid, City of Oakland

Councilmember Abel Guillen, City of Oakland

Chancellor Jowel Laguerre, Peralta Community College District

Dear Oakland Leaders;

We were heartened to hear the recent news that the Oakland A’s have re-confirmed their commitment to remain in Oakland.  While in office at the City of Oakland, we did everything possible to keep the A’s in Oakland.  We met frequently with Lew Wolff.  We then convinced Major League Baseball of the importance of keeping the A’s in Oakland and the viability of our proposals for the construction of a new ballpark.  Had the Governor not killed Redevelopment in 2011, it is highly likely that the A’s would already be playing in their new ballpark.

We fought to keep the A’s in the past.  We continue our commitment to the A’s.  At the same time, we believe there are legitimate community concerns about potential negative impacts of a new Oakland A’s ballpark located on the Peralta Community College site, not far from the Chinatown and Eastlake neighborhoods.  We strongly recommend that you address these community concerns with full respect and include community representatives in your planning process.  

The history of Oakland Chinatown is unfortunately replete with misguided development decisions that disrespected the Chinatown community and displaced residents and community institutions.  It is our great hope that the Oakland A’s new ballpark development does not add to this ignoble history.

We also recommend that you undertake a rigorous socio-economic impact analysis of the Peralta site, as well as other site options, that includes study of potential market force displacement and pedestrian safety impacts.  Wise decision-making about the future site for the Oakland As, a beloved community asset, should be informed by a full understanding of both potential community benefits and impacts.  An effective impact analysis is critical to your ability to balance economic development and community preservation and pedestrian safety priorities for Oakland, as well as to develop meaningful community buy-in and support.

We thank you for your efforts on behalf of the Oakland community.

Sincerely yours,

Ron Dellums, Former Oakland Mayor & Congressman

Dan Lindheim, Former Oakland City Administrator

Margaretta Lin, Former Oakland Deputy City Administrator

Housing Counseling Prevents Oakland Family from Becoming Homeless.

 

Zane’s Story

Zane Burton came into the Causa Justa::Just Cause Oakland Housing Rights Clinic with a 10-day eviction notice from his current landlord, Andrew Cuikshank. Years before and under a different landlord, his wife and granddaughter moved into the unit with him. When Zane notified the previous landlord, he gave Zane his permission but failed to change the original lease, which listed Zane as the only occupant.

Cruikshank served Zane with an eviction notice and told him that he could either leave the unit with this family, or remain in the apartment but put out his wife and granddaughter, or pay an extra $900 a month on his rent-controlled unit so that his wife could stay. Cruikshank even wrote on the notice: "if you comply, your rent will not change.” He clearly regretted making such an obvious threat because several days after serving this notice, the landlord asked for Zane to give it back to him.  

Zane worked with Clinic staff to understand his rights and compose a letter to Cruikshank. His letter affirmed that he had taken all the right steps by informing his former landlord when his family moved in with him. We also identified a long list of repair requests that had not been resolved and included a paragraph about the Tenant Protection Ordinance. 

After his counseling session, Zane was excited to join CJJC as a member. He even attended a hearing regarding tenant rights at City Hall that same night.  Zane was one of the first people to speak and definitely got the attention of some City Hall staff, who promised to "look into it" and see if they could help with his case.  

The day after the landlord received Zane’s letter, he gave written notice that he would rescind the prior notice of eviction, make all needed repairs on the unit, and agreed to let Zane’s family stay in their home with no increase in rent. When we fight, we win!

How can the Oakland City Council, in the process of crafting its new budget, help people like Zane and his family, and prevent Oakland from becoming a national epi-center for the new homeless crisis?

The City of Oakland has $5 million from housing boomerang funds used to build affordable housing that can be used instead for anti-displacement.  Through new housing bond measures and a new housing impact fee, the City will have over $200 million in other funds for affordable housing development.  But it will take three to five years to build new units.  Meanwhile, people are losing their homes every day and ending up homeless.

Research and the City’s own prior experience show that funding a continuum of care--housing counseling, legal services, and emergency housing funds for low-income tenants and homeowners—works. 

With a thousand and one pulls on the Oakland Mayor and City Council’s attention, we need concerned residents to call the Oakland Mayor and Councilmembers before the June 12th special Council budget meeting.  Ask them to take action and fund proven anti-displacement strategies and prevent homelessness.


As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 


TAKE ACTION:  CONTACT OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL AND TELL THEM TO FUND THE ANTI-DISPLACEMENT SAFETY NET FOR FAMILIES LIKE ZANE BURTON

Housing Counseling + Emergency Rental Assistance Prevents Oakland Family from Becoming Homeless.

The New Homeless

Miriam’s Story

The new Alameda County homeless count reflects what we see daily in Oakland—homelessness has surged by 39% in 2 years.  The new faces of Oakland’s homeless crisis are not people with mental illness or substance abuse problems, rather they are people who cannot afford the new housing costs.  They are people like Miriam, a young single Mom with three small children, who was doing everything right to move up the economic opportunity ladder.  Miriam worked full-time at Target and went to school at night.  Her mother, Susan, helped take care of the kids.  A kitchen fire in Miriam’s apartment led to her eviction from an affordable rental at $850 month.  Miriam and her family couldn’t find housing—every place that they saw was double or triple what they could afford.  The few existing family shelters were full.  Miriam and her family were on the brink of homelessness.  Fortunately housing counselors at Causa Justa::Just Cause referred them to the City of Oakland’s Housing Assistance Center which connected Miriam with emergency rental funds, enabling them to stay in a hotel until transitional then later permanent housing could be found.  Miriam and her family are now living in permanent affordable housing in Alameda Point.

How can the Oakland City Council, in the process of crafting its new budget, help people like Miriam and her family, and prevent Oakland from becoming a national epi-center for the new homeless crisis?

The City of Oakland has $5 million from housing boomerang funds used to build affordable housing that can be used instead for anti-displacement.  Through new housing bond measures and a new housing impact fee, the City will have over $200 million in other funds for affordable housing development.  But it will take three to five years to build new units.  Meanwhile, people are losing their homes every day and ending up homeless.

Research and the City’s own prior experience show that funding a continuum of care--housing counseling, legal services, and emergency housing funds for low-income tenants and homeowners—works. 

With a thousand and one pulls on the Oakland Mayor and City Council’s attention, we need concerned residents to call the Oakland Mayor and Councilmembers before the June 12th special Council budget meeting.  Ask them to take action and fund proven anti-displacement strategies and prevent homelessness.

As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Let's Take Action! Ask Your Councilmember to Fund Anti-Displacement!

Let's Take Action! Ask Your Councilmember to Fund Anti-Displacement!

Community Justice Action Alert!

Oakland has lost 36,559 African Americans since 2000, a 26% decline.  Homelessness has surged by 39% in 2 years!  Oakland is now the epi-center for the national displacement and racial injustice crisis.  $5 million for 2 years is available in the City’s budget to fund proven anti-displacement strategies that would help over 7,000 tenants and 300 elderly homeowners at severe risk of displacement and homelessness.  We need YOU to contact the Oakland City Council and tell them:

Fund proven anti-displacement and homeless prevention strategies—housing counseling, legal services, and emergency housing funds for low-income tenants and homeowners.

Oakland Residents Raise their Voice Against Toxic Site

The abandoned and toxic site at 5441 International can easily go unnoticed but Oakland residents are harnessing their people power to ensure that their community is heard. General Electric’s 23-acre site has been uninhabitable for decades and the recent draft environmental impact report for proposed demolition has reinvigorated the community. Right along International Boulevard, the site contains several historic buildings and is of community value.

The Oakland Heritage Alliance has led the charge to push GE to do more for the community than their plan of demolition and paving the large historical site. In support of the Oakland Heritage Alliance’s comment letter, the East Oakland Black Culture Zone Collaborative has recommended that any mitigation funds collected from a demolition be dedicated to East Oakland projects and that instead of leaving a vacant lot, a clean energy reuse option be explored. Given the need to revitalize Oakland and stop the displacement of long-time residents and small businesses, it is critical that there is a collective commitment to improving the communities that we live in and ensuring that the spaces that are available be put to greater community use. The site at 5441 International can be a start to a better Oakland. 

For More Information & To Sign On: Contact Ndidi Okwelogu from the Dellums Institute at ndidiokwelogu@gmail.com or Naomi Schiff from the Oakland Heritage Alliance at naomi@17th.com

HELP US BY SIGNING OUR COMMENT LETTER BY APRIL 9th  TO SHOW THE CITY EAST OAKLAND MATTERS!

 

 

Moving Past the 2016 Election Cycle: A Debrief

Forty-five years ago, I entered the halls of Congress representing one of the most progressive communities in the nation and the fullness of my humanity was suspect because of my race and my political views.  There were attempts by members of both the Democratic and Republican parties to marginalize, exclude, and ostracize me.  But I refused to be marginalized.  I showed up every day, learned all I could as fast as I could, and was more than willing to engage with heart, dignity, passion and commitment to the values that I was sent there to advance.

 I learned that the measure of our character resides in how we behave when we are in the extreme minority.  At this juncture, we are confronted with the burning questions: How do we stay true to our values and be effective as an opposition voice?  How do we transform what at the time is perceived as the impossible into the eminently possible?  To the Bay Area communities that I have represented for 50 years as a Berkeley City Council member, Congressional representative, and Mayor of Oakland, I humbly offer you my thoughts on where we go from here.

"I learned that the measure of our character resides in how we behave when we are in the extreme minority."

First, we must never forget that Donald Trump and his agenda based upon bigotry, chauvinism, and nativism did not win a political mandate.  Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by an estimated 2 million votes. This election does not represent a sea change in American politics.  We can’t allow the pundits to convince us that America is now anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-climate change science, and anti-government. We must draw from this knowledge to galvanize the majority of Americans to prevent the decimation of protections to the environment and people who need help.

We must not allow our nation’s political history to repeat itself.  We must not allow a new normalization of bigotry and bullying to set in.  Cowardice, like courage, is contagious.  I lived the Reagan years and there are important lessons.  The Reagan Administration succeeded in changing the whole nature of the debate.  Ideas and policies that had been considered right-wing lunacy before the election became the center of the mainstream debate in just a few years.  Too many in Congress rolled over to support Reagan’s agenda. But some of us knew that our job was to fight with all our strength against an agenda that disrespected human and civil rights at home and abroad.  Working with the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus, we created alternative budgets and worked to prevent the decimation of safety net programs.  And we led efforts to stop Reagan’s nuclear warfare systems.  Today, we must create our own wall of humanity and justice and organize like our lives depend upon it, because I believe it does.

We must stand up and engage this country on the issues of racial and economic injustices and fight to realize our core values as Americans. This is not the time for silence and disengagement.  This is the time to build broad-based coalitions among the people and causes who will be gravely injured by president-elect Trump’s 100 day agenda--the 20 million Americans threatened with the loss of healthcare, the 1 million undocumented young people threatened with deportation, women whose reproductive rights are under attack, the people subject to increased hate crimes including Muslims and LGBT people, the rollback of banking regulations on the same behavior that led to the Great Recession, and the very survival of our planet.  And we also must reach out to the people who voted for Barack Obama twice and voted for Donald Trump this time because of their economic insecurity.  This, I firmly believe, is a winning coalition and represents American patriotism at its best.

"Giving up hope or becoming cynical about change is when the forces of oppression and intolerance win. Achieving justice takes time and perseverance."

We must also work with our progressive champions in Congress like Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Senator-elect Kamala Harris, and Senator Bernie Sanders.  This is how we build our wall of humanity and justice.  This is how we implement a progressive platform.  And this is how we begin to lay the groundwork for 2018 and 2020.  Remember, the Democrats won the national popular vote and actually net gained seats in the Senate and House this election. 

Second, serious soul-searching and transformative work must occur by the Democratic Party leadership and by progressives alike if we are to achieve a different outcome in 2018 and 2020.  This election, like the 2000 election, was close. It was won by 12,000 votes in Michigan, 27,000 votes in Ohio, and 68,000 votes in Pennsylvania.  What will it take to change the outcomes in two and four years? This is not the time to run away from the historic progressive policy platform that came out of the Democratic Party Convention.  This is the time to embrace and fight for it.  But it will take the Party leadership being willing to open the door to authentic partnerships with progressive activists.  And it will take those activists to be willing to engage with Party leadership, rather than walking away and saying those people don’t represent me. 

I know from personal experience that this work is not easy, but it is essential for the security of our nation and our communities.  I was one of the first Democratic Socialists in Congress.  I chose to stay in the Democratic Party and fight for its heart and soul from its left wing because the Democratic Party is not a monolith—it is made up of many diverse interests and groups. There is not a singular “they” who controls the Party.  As exemplified with the election results and also the 2016 Democratic Party Convention’s adopted platform, it’s a matter of who shows up and fights to advance their ideas. 

An extraordinary opportunity exists for the Democratic Party to elect Congressman Keith Ellison as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  He is a demonstrated leader with great integrity.  What better way to advance the Party’s adopted progressive platform then using his position as a sitting Congressman and member of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Progressive Caucus.  The selection of an African American Muslim and progressive leader as the DNC leader would be historic, significant, and would prepare us for different results in 2018 and 2020. 

I conclude with a message to young people. Do not allow the outcome of this election keep you from organizing your community, or even becoming a political candidate yourself.  Giving up hope or becoming cynical about change is when the forces of oppression and intolerance win. Achieving justice takes time and perseverance.  It took us 15 years of persistent commitment to the liberation of black South Africans for us to pass anti-apartheid divestment legislation and spell the death-knell of apartheid.  May we always remember Dr. King’s words that the arc of history bends towards justice.  And the arc bends towards justice because of people power.  And people power starts with you.  The only way that the forces of injustice can win is if you step back.  I’m saying to you, step forward in your creativity, your commitment to social justice, and your love of humanity.  And in so doing, you continue the legacy of Dr. King.

 

Oakland's Small Businesses are At Risk of Displacement - We Must Take Action to Protect Them

Oakland's Small Businesses are At Risk of Displacement - We Must Take Action to Protect Them

Oakland’s longtime small businesses, the institutions that have invested in our neighborhoods for years, deserve to share in our city’s growing economic prosperity. Unfortunately for the thousands of small businesses in rented units, increased demand for commercial space and real estate speculation are pushing commercial rents to new heights. From 2014 to 2016, the average market retail rent in Oakland increased nearly 20%, with West Oakland experiencing an over 35% increase. Meanwhile, small business owners in all parts of Oakland are sharing stories of doubling and tripling rents and threats of eviction. The loss of otherwise viable small businesses to exorbitant rent increases is not just a tragedy for their owners and customers. It is also a threat to Oakland’s cultural diversity and local economic health. Losing long-time small businesses means losing the heart and soul of Oakland.

The City of Oakland can and should act to help our longtime small businesses withstand this period of instability. It can follow the lead of San Francisco and develop a Legacy Small Business grant program to help meet rent needs. It can also incentivize landlords to keep rents low by offering low-interest tenant improvement loans. An investment in non-profit acquisition of commercial space can create both below market rate units and pathways to space ownership for business owners hoping to put down roots. Zoning tools can be creatively employed to prioritize the preservation of neighborhood-serving small business space. Solutions are out there, and what’s needed is the political will to advance them. This will require our small business community and its loyal customers to come together and demand action from our elected leaders before it’s too late. 

Here's How Millennials Can Redefine Democracy in the 21st Century

As an 80-year-old guy who has lived through struggle and transformation, I've been spending a lot of my time talking with America's young people. Our conversations always come back to the same point: that a number of issues critical to their future need to be discussed, debated and acted upon, but it's just not happening. Issues of climate change, global terrorism, racial and economic disparities, failing public education, mass incarceration and unequal access to the new tech economy are all being vibrantly debated on college campuses and on the streets, but not in the halls of Congress, where it matters the most.

This has not always been the case in America's politics. I have the distinction of serving as the poster child for bipartisanship, referenced by former Republican colleagues as someone who changed their positions because of my willingness to deal with them with respect and integrity.

Click here to read the rest of the article on Mic.com, a news platform for millions of millennials. 

Divestment Works!

 Just like with anti-apartheid, where activists of yesterday stood for the moral proposition that our monies should not be used to prop up immoral and racist systems, young activists today are calling for divestment from the two calamities of private prisons and fossil fuels.

Read The Hill article written by Ron Dellums, Anthony Williams with the Afrikan Black Coalition, and Silver Hannon with the UC Fossil Free Campaign.

DISJ Advisory Board Member Ise Lyfe Stars in a Statewide Television Infomercial

With the passage of Proposition 47, certain low-level, nonviolent felonies can now be changed to misdemeanors on old criminal records. If you or someone you know has a prior criminal record with a felony record for any of the following crimes, you may qualify to remove the felony from your record and change it to a misdemeanor:

  • Simple drug possession 
  • Petty theft under 950 dollars
  • Shoplifting under 950 dollars
  • Forging or writing a bad check under 950 dollars
  • Receipt of stolen property under 950 dollars

If you have a previous conviction for crimes such as rape, murder or child molestation or are in the sex offender registry, you will not be eligible to get these felonies reclassified. Follow the link for a list of crimes that will exempt you from getting your record reclassified and to read more from the California Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

http://myprop47.org/

Ron Dellums: A black Democratic socialist in Congress

As we watch activists from groups like Black Lives Matter make decisions to run for political office, we should also be aware of the history of the men and women who first opened those doors by making the transition from protest to electoral politics.

One of the foremost is Ronald Vernie "Ron" Dellums, elected as a Democrat to the 92nd Congress in 1970 from the Berkeley, California, City Council. An open Democratic socialist, he went on to serve 13 consecutive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was then mayor of Oakland, California, from January 8, 2007 to January 3, 2011. At 80 years old... 

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/2/28/1487633/-Ron-Dellums-A-black-Democratic-socialist-in-Congress

Ron Dellums Honored by Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

As a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Ronald V. Dellums received the Avoice Heritage Award at last night's Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's 7th Annual Avoice Heritage Celebration. Congressman Dellums was recognized for his founding status and leadership role for the Congressional Black Caucus along with other CBC founders Congresswoman Yvonne B. Burke, Congressman John Conyers, Jr, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Congressman Harold Ford, Congressman William Clay, Sr., and Ambassador Andrew Young.   

Margaretta Lin Selected as Inaugural Urban Equity Community Fellow by UC Berkeley's IURD

Under the leadership of Professors Jason Corburn and Malo Hutson, UC Berkeley's Institute for Urban Regional Development has launched a new Urban Equity Community Fellows program to build a movement of activist scholars working for urban equity in the Bay Area, nationally, and around the world.  The Fellows program connects the talents of leading Bay Area racial and social equity practitioners with university resources and community.  Dellums Institute for Social Justice's Principal, Margaretta Lin, has been selected to serve as one of the inaugural Fellows. Her focus will be to convene a national working group of activist scholars, community activists, local government officials, and students to develop a new "public rights paradigm" (working title) that advances the role of government in solving persistent racial and economic inequities facing current residents.

Will Guinea's Experiment in Democracy Succeed?

On the eve of Guinea's election to select a new president, Ron Dellums reflects on the advances towards democracy made in some African countries and the challenges that others have had in adjusting to democracy.  He writes about the impact of the Ebola crisis in creating a strong democratic institution in Guinea, improvements over several years in its public finance management and business environment transparency, while wondering how these changes will translate to the average Guinean voter.  He concludes with his great hope that Guinea will continue to move toward justice and democracy and never turn back.   http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international/256178-will-guineas-experiment-in-democracy-succeed#disqus_thread

Window for City of Oakland to Act on Housing Crisis Fast Closing

On the advent of the Oakland City Council's recent approval of the Oakland Housing Equity Roadmap, a comprehensive plan to address displacement, affordable housing production, and housing habitability, the Roadmap's chief architect and DISJ Principal, Margaretta Lin, provides context on the Council action taken.   http://postnewsgroup.com/blog/2015/10/06/window-city-act-housing-opportunities-residents-closing-fast/

Click here for the Oakland Housing Equity Roadmap.  

Ron Dellums Calls for Ubuntu Plan to Address Health Infrastructure in Africa

In today's keynote address on health infrastructure at the State Department, as part of the Constituency for Africa's 2015 Ronald H. Brown African Affairs Series, Ron Dellums calls for the creation of an "Ubuntu Plan" to address Africa's healthcare infrastructure challenges and opportunities for international partnerships. Building upon his prior work with private industry, the World Bank, and the U.S. government in advancing a Marshall Plan to address the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, Dellums put the new efforts under the framework of "Ubuntu" to reflect the underlying principles of respect, inter-connectedness, and unity that must undergird relationships between African countries with the international community.  

According to Dellums, "The African continent represents the world's future.  It holds natural resources needed for tomorrow's technological advances and renewable energy power. The region has continued to sustain an average economic growth rate of 5% during a time when developed countries were still recovering from economic crisis.  And with the world's most populous youth population, future global leaders and visionaries will come from Africa.  As the Ebola crisis and climate change show us, we are inter-dependent, mutually reliant, and mutually vulnerable.  How can the health of Africa deteriorate and the health of the world not deteriorate?  How can the ecology of Africa deteriorate and the ecology of the world not deteriorate?"  

Dellums calls upon African leaders to create the Ubuntu Plan, in partnership with the U.S. and international community, to fund both priority healthcare systems as well as the roots of health--access to decent jobs and housing, and clean water, sanitation, and environment.

Ron Dellums Featured on Radiolab Story on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Vote after 9/11

The September 11, 2015 episode of Radiolab features interviews with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and former Congressman/Mayor Ron Dellums regarding the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) vote after 9/11:  http://www.radiolab.org/story/60-words/

 

"...We go into the meetings that took place in the chaotic days just after 9/11, speak with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and former Congressman Ron Dellums about the vote on the AUMF. We hear from former White House and State Department lawyers John Bellinger & Harold Koh. We learn how this legal language unleashed Guantanamo, Navy Seal raids and drone strikes. And we speak with journalist Daniel Klaidman, legal expert Benjamin Wittes and Virginia Senator Tim Kaine about how these words came to be interpreted, and what they mean for the future of war and peace."

The Dellums Institute for Social Justice