Editorial: Berkeley Finally Treats Crisis Like a Crisis
Berkeley’s homeless population adds to the downtown area’s “neighborhood character,” and that’s not a good thing. Last month, Laura Jadwin, a homeless resident, was found dead under a tree in an empty lot on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. After weeks of heavy rainstorms, it came as no surprise when exposure was found as the cause of death. These inhumane conditions are well within the city’s power to ameliorate. Such misfortunes are more than an embarrassment; they completely invalidate... more
Oakland Activists Occupy Park to Build Settlement
We heard it before we saw it: the thudding of nails on wood, an undercurrent of basketballs bouncing off asphalt, and the occasional growl of a generator. People had taken over Marcus Garvey Park, a small patch of grass under Grove Shafter Freeway at 36th Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, and begun to build The Village. (Marcus Garvey Park has an official name designated by the city that activists encouraged us to ignore.) As far as squats and “intentional communities” go, The Village... more
Bay Area Mayors United over Sanctuary City Status
Mayor Ed Lee joined Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo in vowing to defend “sanctuary city” status in their respective cities. After President Trump signed an executive order to withhold federal funding from cities that do not cooperate with the ICE, many Bay Area activists and politicians redoubled on their commitments to keep local law enforcement from collaborating with deportation efforts. Though it is unclear what power, if any, the... more
Oakland Delays Decision on Warehouse Eviction Protections
In an occasionally tense special meeting last night, Oakland’s City Council voted unanimously to delay any decision on the Emergency Tenant Protection Ordinance proposed by the Oakland Warehouse Coalition. In the wake of the fatal Ghost Ship fire, OWC has requested a 180-day moratorium on evictions, particularly “red-tagging” evictions caused by a lack of building code compliance. Among other policies, the Coalition is requesting that the city extend Just Cause eviction protections to... more
Club Chai Celebrates First Year of Oakland Grooves
The popular term IDM, for “Intelligent Dance Music,” presupposes that simplicity of form is inherently dumb, or at least of lesser intelligence. But we all know that’s bullshit. The Oakland DJ collective Club Chai knows there’s zero correlation between complexity and depth, and they seem to exploit the very falseness of that dichotomy into a wild success—not to mention a treat for the listener/dancer. Club Chai’s new mixtape Club Chai Vol. 1 culls the best material from their sweaty,... more
Modular Supportive Housing Proposal Coming to Berkeley
On a rainy, gusty day in Berkeley, the city’s homeless residents huddled in alleyways, under tarps and in tents, struggling to withstand elements. During last week’s stormy nights, a homeless woman died of exposure one block from city hall. As I walked past Berkeley High, I spotted a group of tourists gawking at an alien-like metal cuboid parked beside the curb that I recognized at once: the MicroPAD had arrived at last. Far from an extraterrestrial spacecraft, Panoramic Interests’ 160... more
Alameda Shows Support for Housing, Immigrants
Alameda’s City Council meeting covered a dizzying variety of issues last night—among other notable actions, the city affirmed its status as a sanctuary city. Over the objections of a handful of older residents, the Council largely supported the efforts of several dozen demonstrators urging the city to draft a more specific resolution to protect the civil rights of migrants. More subtly, but perhaps just as importantly, the City Council also united to support an ambitious mixed-use... more
At First Sight, Alamedans Welcome Density on Waterfront
Alameda’s Planning Board convened in council chambers to review the Encinal Terminals Master Plan, an ambitious proposal on the island’s waterfront facing Oakland. What proceeded was a spectacle most unusual in the Bay Area: a municipal public hearing in which virtually every attendee enthusiastically supported greater density. “Across the estuary, Oakland will be building up to 30 stories at the Brooklyn Basin,” one speaker noted. “So I think fourteen stories might not even be tall enough... more
Oakland Town Hall Addresses Inequality, Warehouse Displacement
Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland’s City Councilmember-at-large, convened a forum in City Hall with the Oakland Warehouse Coalition last night. A panel including Councilmembers Gallo and Kalb, religious leaders, non-profit activists, and private sector organizers briefly discussed policy responses to the deadly Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed 36 concertgoers on December 2nd. Over the course of three hours, attendance ranged from standing-room only to a handful of stragglers after the final... more
Meet the Democrat Who Wants California Democrats to Focus on the Big Issues
Alfred Twu wants your vote. But there’s a catch—if you live in California Assembly District 15, you must show up in person on Saturday to the Albany Library from noon to 2pm. There you can cast votes for him, along with his slate of 13 other Democrats, for Assembly District Delegate. “Tell people to bring a pen,” he says at the conclusion of our interview. “We usually run out pretty quickly.” Does this sound too obscure and pointless to warrant your involvement? If you care about affecting... more