The Oakland City Council meets Tuesday at 1 p.m. Here are some of the items on the meeting agenda:
Vaccine mandate to end: Oakland’s mandate requiring people to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, entertainment venues, and other Oakland establishments is expected to end next week. The vaccine ordinance went into effect in February after the council approved it in December. Earlier this month the council voted to end the emergency ordinance but it needs a second vote. If the council, as expected, drops the requirement it will be effective as of Wednesday. However, individuals entering senior centers and assisted living facilities would still be required to show their vaccination cards and masks will now be required at large indoor events.
Roe v. Wade: With the threat of a Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe V. Wade looming, the council is moving to declare Oakland a “right-to-choose sanctuary city” and add the city’s voice to calls that the state and Alameda County, which provides health care services, adequately fund reproductive healthcare including abortions. “It must be our responsibility to protect the health and privacy of those who live and work here in Oakland and to offer safe harbor for reproductive healthcare needs for pregnant persons seeking care that has been made illegal in their home states,” Councilmember Sheng Thao said in a press release. Thao, Nikki Fortunato Bas, and Rebecca Kaplan have brought the resolution to the full council.
Desley Brooks settlement: The city is set to pay Brooks, a former councilmember, $165,000 to settle a lawsuit she filed claiming the City Attorney’s Office did not sufficiently represent her when former Black Panther leader Elaine Brown sued Brooks for elder abuse after Brooks allegedly shoved her inside Everett and Jones restaurant in 2015. A jury awarded Brown $3.75 million in damages but a judge lowered it to $1.2 million plus $1 million in attorney fees. Brooks claimed poor representation from the City Attorney’s Office hurt her financially and damaged her reputation, which played a role in her losing reelection in 2018.
Sarai Crain settlement: Crain was the chief deputy of the city’s Department of Violence Prevention Department until Jan. 22, when she was terminated. Attorneys for Crain sent the city a letter in March demanding that she be reinstated as the head of DVP or be compensated for pay inequities between Crain and the department’s chief, Guillermo Cespedes. The letter accused Cespedes of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and retaliation. City Administrator Ed Reiskin, in a statement, said he could not discuss details of Crain’s termination but said the city stands behind its decision and continues to support Cespedes. Councilmembers have called for an independent investigation and the council voted to pay Crain $268,000 to settle the matter before Crain even filed a claim or a lawsuit.
Lake Merritt parking meters: More parking meters could soon line Lake Merritt. Oakland is considering adding meters on Bellevue Avenue from Perkins Street to Grand Avenue, the entirety of Lakeshore Avenue abutting the lake, and Lake Merritt Boulevard to Jackson Street. OakDOT officials said the lake would benefit from added parking meters that are active seven days a week. Because of the popularity of the lake, it costs $25,000 a week for park maintenance and to keep nearby streets clean and staff the area with police, traffic control, and municipal code officers. The Oaklandside reported in-depth about the proposal in March.
E. 12th Street encampment: The city has received a $150,000 grant from Alameda County to help residents of an E. 12th Street encampment find stable housing. According to Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, the camp has been the site of multiple fires, homicides, dumping and sanitation concerns, and reports of illegal gambling shacks, prostitution, and human trafficking. Bas is asking the city to accept the grant and use it to help the approximately 40 to 70 people living on the median in the San Antonio neighborhood not far from I-880.
Convention center deficit: Oakland’s city-run convention center and parking garage next door to the Marriott Hotel bled money during the coronavirus pandemic and has a deficit of nearly $1 million, according to a memo from Alexa Jeffress, director of the city’s economic and workforce development department. Revenues from booking exhibits and conference spaces dropped 70% since the COVID-19 economic shutdown and parking garage revenue dipped 26%, the report said. The center’s operators are asking the city to provide $200,000 in reserve money to help, which is allowed under a city agreement. In the early months of 2021, the convention center served as a mass vaccination site.
The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting can be found here. And here’s a helpful guide to watching and speaking at council meetings.
David DeBolt reports on City Hall and policing for The Oaklandside. He spent 12 years working for daily newspapers in the Bay Area, including on the Peninsula and Solano County. He joined the Bay Area News Group in 2012 where he covered a variety of beats, most recently as a senior breaking news reporter. During his time at BANG, DeBolt covered Oakland City Hall, the Raiders stadium saga and the A’s search for a new ballpark, as well as the Oakland Police Department and police reform efforts. He was part of the East Bay Times staff honored with the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for coverage of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire.
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