August 27, 2023
Let’s be clear. Community safety is Oakland’s top priority. I witness the fear, anger and trauma in our community and want you to know that your City is working hard and working collaboratively across city departments, with other government partners, and with community and business organizations. We’re responding with short term urgency to make things better now and with long-term strategies to address root causes that will pay future dividends of safe communities. We know these challenges are much bigger than Oakland and that there’s no quick fix and no single solution. But we know we can do better and that we must.
Let me also be clear. There are some in Oakland and across our nation who use fear to drive wedges between us. This is a time for love, not hate. It’s a time for unity and working as One Oakland. I remain committed to creating an Oakland where:
children can walk to school and play in our parks,
neighbors gather in community and patronize our local businesses,
seniors feel secure and respected, and
we all experience love, joy and healing with the foundation of a thriving neighborhood, good jobs, affordable housing, quality education and accessible healthcare.
Oakland's challenges (like other major cities) require a collaborative approach — across the City and with our government partners, community organizations, business associations, and residents. We are expanding our comprehensive community safety solutions to:
Address the root causes of violence and poverty,
Prevent violence, retaliation and recidivism, and
Improve response times to crises and solve more crimes.
In June, I proposed and funded an OPD staffing study which will assess the appropriate management and allocation of resources to ensure effectiveness and equity. For two years, I’ve said that the appropriate measures for effective policing are response times, solve rates, and crime rates. I’m committed to supporting improvements in all three, as well as achieving constitutional policing by getting out of the decades-long Negotiated Settlement Agreement that mandates police reform.
Now, here is the work that Oakland is doing, and that I am leading in my role as a Councilmember and Council President passing policy and approving budgets which the City Administration, under the Mayor's leadership, then implements to deliver services to Oaklanders.
Growing inequality and state disinvestment in the resources that support working families are the root causes of poverty, homelessness and violence that harm our communities. Through the Housing Bond I put on the ballot, Oakland is now investing over $200 million to create affordable housing. We’re also expanding job opportunities for youth and adults, like our training academy for 18 to 30 year olds. By offering dignity and hope for the future, we’re making a powerful intervention in the cycles that produce harm.
We’re also preventing violence before it happens. By partnering with trusted violence interrupters, outreach workers, and community ambassadors, we prioritize neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence and human trafficking — and save real lives. Community outreach workers and violence interrupters play a vital role in connecting with at-risk individuals, providing support, and offering alternatives to violence. Through their presence and expertise, they help build trust and work towards reducing violence, preventing retaliation, and decreasing recidivism in our communities. Community building events, like Town Nights, also offer safe spaces to prevent violence and foster unity in a fun and family friendly environment.
We’re also improving community safety with Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), by actively creating neighborhoods that discourage harmful and criminal activities. We’ve improved lighting, installed traffic calming speed bumps and traffic diverters, and invested in business facade improvements. And we’re rolling out even more of these projects in the coming months. Through CPTED, we aim to reduce traffic violence and disruptive events, like sideshows, and to discourage burglaries. In San Antonio, along E 15th Street, I worked with the community and city staff to install traffic diverters which have reduced human trafficking and dangerous driving in a residential neighborhood; and we will continue to address these issues across the neighborhood and our city.
This Fall we will be activating our public spaces with even more events, partnering with our commercial corridors on safety strategies and services, conducting community safety awareness campaigns, and marketing the things we love about our town.
Community policing, crisis response, solving crimes
When you are in crisis, you deserve a swift response. When you have been the victim of a crime, you deserve justice. Oakland’s measures of success are shorter response times to 911 calls, higher clearance rates in solving crimes, and fewer crimes.
We’re not just talking, we’re doing it. We’ve prioritized hiring and retaining 911 dispatchers, MACRO crisis responders, firefighters and police officers. We are expanding MACRO (Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland in the Fire Department) to answer non-violent 911 calls, allowing OPD to focus on violent crime. We have also civilianized police functions including special events and certain traffic enforcement to focus police on serious and violent crime, and we will civilianize internal affairs investigations next. We are adding more foot patrol officers in business corridors to improve community policing, and adding civilian investigators to solve more crimes.
With Mayor Thao's leadership, we are partnering more closely with all our government leaders and agencies. Our county and state law enforcement partners are providing support in key areas of Oakland. We are working together to identify those small groups of people committing crimes in our region. We are also working together to expand our tools and technology to deter and solve crimes, and these items, such as automated license plate readers that identify vehicles involved in crimes, will come before the Privacy Advisory Commission and City Council this Fall.
Community engagement is essential in our pursuit of a safer Oakland. Residents can voice their concerns, contribute ideas, and collaborate on solutions through active participation in Oakland's Neighborhood Councils (NCs). These councils serve as platforms for open dialogue and collective decision-making around neighborhood priorities with city staff and Council offices. (See our Neighborhood Updates below for more information on NCs.)
My team and I have been spending this summer recess connecting with neighbors and businesses to listen and problem solve, and we will continue to do so. (Read more below.) You can also engage in Oakland's citywide survey and town halls to help build our agenda and strengthen our partnership.
Additionally, community organizations such as Restore Oakland, CURYJ, and Asian Health Services play crucial roles in addressing trauma, promoting healing, and providing support to individuals and families affected by violence through offering free services and connecting victims to other services and resources.
Lastly, as your Councilmember and Council President, I am committed to building a safer and thriving Oakland, where every resident and business owner feels safe, secure, and supported. I continue to value and invite your collaboration and engagement to build an Oakland for all.
With Oakland Love,
Nikki Fortunato Bas
Council President and D2 Councilmember to build a safer, more equitable and thriving Oakland
Across District 2's diverse neighborhoods, our office engages with residents and business owners about their experiences and works hard to support your requests and connect you with city resources & services. Check out this article from Oaklandside about the role of Councilmembers in addressing safety. It helps explain our primary role in policy and budgeting and city staff's role in implementing policy and budget decisions to deliver services to Oaklanders.
East Lake: oaklandca.gov/topics/eastlake_neighborhood
My team joins the Bella Vista Neighborhood Council meetings together with OPD and community partners, where we problem solve concerns and foster community building.
We appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Lake Merritt Community Advocates and other groups around the Lake to address issue impacting our safety, quality of life, environment and wildlife, while ensuring Lake Merritt is inclusive and equitable for all.
In the Lakeshore cul-de-sac, we met with residents together with OPD, Public Works and the City Administrator's Office. We listened to concerns and made plans for addressing late night activities while the park is closed, picking up trash and maintaining the park, and addressing homeless encampments.
In Ivy Hill, we met with residents and businesses along Park Blvd. hosted by the Rooz Cafe. Together with OPD and our Economic & Workforce Development staff, we heard about the community's commitment to supporting our small local businesses and building strong neighborhood relationships. We are working to address safety along the commercial corridor, trash and illegal dumping, and homeless encampments. We're also planning a community event at FM Smith Park on September 23rd. (Photo credit below: Rooz Cafe)
In our Cleveland Heights community, we co-hosted a community meeting with neighbor Gala King, where we heard residents' concerns and ideas for a safer, healthier neighborhood. One of the next steps I'm looking forward to is neighbors reactivating the Neighborhood Council, and official city structure for neighbors, city departments/staff, and Council Offices to work together to prioritize issues and problem solve.
In our Clinton / Little Saigon community, the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Tzu Chi Foundation hosted me and OPD Captain Alan Yu at a recent meeting focused on public safety. It was good to meet and reconnect with the over 30 people who joined us. While I heard frustration, anger, fear, and trauma, I also heard those who want a better future for Little Saigon, and I am here to partner with them to do just that.
Grand Lake: oaklandca.gov/topics/grandlake-neighborhood
My team joins the Grand Lake Neighbors meetings together with OPD and other partners, where we review crime stats with our Community Resource Officers and problem solve.
We hosted a meeting of businesses with our merchant partners and OPD to listen to specific concerns. We're glad to share that one of our Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) strategies is being implemented. Next time you park in the parking lot between Grand and Walker, you will notice a new security camera system in the center. We look forward to working with the Grand Ave. Business Association to continue making our neighborhood safer.
I'm grateful to the Lakeshore Business Improvement District's (BID) team, Abebe Lemma & Carol Knight, for their partnership with myself & my District 2 staff, as well as their commitment to work with us on creative solutions & strategies to address issues impacting local businesses.
San Antonio: oaklandca.gov/topics/san-antonio-neighborhood
My team joins the San Antonio Neighborhood Council meetings together with OPD and other partners, where we work together for a safer community, including working to curb violence and blight.
We are grateful for our partnership with the San Antonio Neighborhood Coalition for our collaboration to address human trafficking, violence and dangerous driving including harm reduction solutions like the traffic barriers along E 15th Street. Our office will continue to collaborate on short-term strategies like targeted enforcement focused on exploiters and longer-term solutions involving outreach and services to women and children being exploited.
We also appreciate our collaboration with Friends of San Antonio Park. The Park Master Plan is headed to the Planning Commission for the chosen Capital Improvement Projects – the playground and the Community Library and Resilience Hub. Our community vision for the park is part of a strategy for building a safer, healthier, thriving neighborhood.
Chinatown, Downtown, Jack London: oaklandca.gov/topics/chinatown-downtown-jack-london-neighborhood
In Oakland Chinatown, the recent Safety Meeting brought much-needed alignment around ways to stay safe, and how we can work together to deter crime and other violence. Thanks to the Oakland Chinatown Improvement Council and the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce for working with me to host community meetings to hear residents' and businesses' concerns and work together to address them. Appreciations to our former Chinatown Officer Mae Phu and welcome to our new Officer Wesley Hyunh.
At the recent Jack London Neighborhood Council, we discussed the trends in incidents with Community Resource Officer Templeman and had a great conversation about follow-up from National Night Out. OPD is looking into improving reporting and encouraging residents to utilize the online reporting function as often as possible.