November 2019 Newsletter


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Dear Friend,

My office had an eventful October! We welcomed two new staffers, celebrated the next steps in our outgoing staffer Brandon Baranco's career, got a chance to sit down with District 4 residents, pushed forward bold legislation that will positively impact the lives of many Oakland residents, and most importantly, we continued the hard work in the community and for the residents of District 4 and all Oaklanders. 

There were also some challenges in our community; from the PG&E power shutoffs to high fire risk days, we are experiencing the reality of climate change and how that has affected weather patterns. Through these challenges we got a chance to better understand the gaps in the city’s preparedness around disasters. I look forward to working rapidly with my colleagues on the Council and the City Administration to fill these gaps and move the City to being better prepared to respond to emergencies.

November won’t be much different; as we wrap up the year we’ll be working on initiatives and policies that will have big, positive changes for Oaklanders while ensuring your voice is heard in City Hall. We’re excited to keep working for you!

Updates from City Hall

Last Tuesday, we had a long City Council meeting and were able to accomplish a lot. Some of the items on the agenda were the implementation ordinance for the vacant property tax, also known as Measure W; we also held two public hearings regarding land use at 101 E. 12th Street for housing, located in District 2 and 1630 10th Street for a health care clinic, located in District 3 - all which passed. Adjustments to our cannabis tax ordinance was also on the agenda, but it was continued to our next regularly scheduled City Council meeting on November 19th.

Update on Vacant Property Tax, aka Measure "W"

On November 8, 2018, Oakland voters approved the City of Oakland Measure W, also known as the Oakland Vacant Property Tax Act, by a margin of 70.04 percent. The Vacant Property Tax Act establishes an annual tax on vacant property for 20 years to provide funding for homelessness programs and services, affordable housing, code enforcement, and clean-up of blighted properties and illegal dumping.

This measure was designed to directly confront some of the biggest issues facing our city. The city is faced with a housing crisis, many Oaklanders are being displaced due to a lack of affordable housing for middle income and low income families, and we're seeing an increase in our unhoused population. The tax on vacant parcels and store fronts is to discourage speculation and blight, and encourage bringing those vacant parcels and store fronts into use. 

My staff and I have worked hard to ensure this tax is implemented fairly by allowing exemptions to protect low income seniors, properties within 500 feet of the owner’s residence, community gardens, beekeeper’s properties, contiguous parcels, for example, a single family home sits on one parcel and the parcel next to or near it is used as a play yard, garden, defensive space, or in an area known to have land slides. The legislation that was passed hold all of these exemptions and keeps with the spirit of the Measure that was passed in November 2018. 

PG&E Accountability

October was a particularly challenging month for those of us who were in Public Safety Power Shutoff zones during red flag warnings. Like many of you, I had my power turned off in an effort to prevent above ground power lines from toppling over and igniting a wildfire. The lack of communication from PG&E and preparation was incredibly frustrating.

Unfortunately, there is very little our offices can do to regulate PG&E, and we will be dedicating time to doing what we can to better prepare the District and Oakland for future power shutoffs and emergencies, including wildfires and earthquakes.

In the meantime I have introduced a Resolution in support of Senate Bill 378 (Wiener), co-sponsored by Mayor Schaaf and Councilmember Kalb. SB 378 would ensure these shutoffs are regulated further at the State level, as well as ensure ratepayers and local governments are reimbursed by PG&E, including an audit and report on their equipment's status, and that local municipalities can create public options for power.

My Resolution in support of SB 378 will be heard at the Rules & Legislation Committee on Thursday November 14th commencing at 10:15am in the Council Chamber on the 3rd floor of City Hall. If you'd like to speak on this item, please fill out a speaker card on-line here.

Making Wildfire Prevention a Priority City-Wide

Last month we commemorated the 28th anniversary of the Oakland Hills firestorm as well as witnessed several large wildfires statewide. This was a big reminder that not only are we at-risk for possible wildfires, but need to make bold preventative measures and be better prepared. 
Cities that are in the high risk severity zone for wildfires need to take preventative measures seriously. That is why I'm working with Berkeley City Council Woman Susan Wengraf, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks and Councilmember Kalb to prioritize wildfire prevention.

I introduced a Resolution, co-sponsored by Councilmember Kalb, asking the City Administration to designate wildfire prevent as a top priority for the City of Oakland and ask the Administrator to provide a comprehensive report on wildfire safety. This resolution is to come back to the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday November 12th commencing at 6:00pm in the Sgt. Mark Dunakin Room on the 1st floor.You can find out more about this item and the meeting here. If you'd like to speak on this item, please fill out a speaker card on-line here.

Additionally, two biggest contributors to wildfires are powerlines and high winds. Currently, the California Public Utilities Commission does not consider areas in high fire severity zones as a qualifier for undergrounding of powerlines in Rule20A. As we have seen, more than we would like, many of the wildfires are ignited by power line sparks.

I've been urging all CPUC Commissioners to revisit and revise Rule 20A. As we are seeing weather patterns change due to climate change, we must make adjustments and update outdated policies. I'm proud to have been a cosponsor of a Resolution introduced by Councilmember Kalb calling for the CPUC to change its rules to prioritize undergrounding of powerlines in high-risk severity fire areas. This Resolution passed last month.

You can read the resolution's language here.

The A's Belong in Oakland

As Oaklanders we are proud of having such a talented and community driven team like the Oakland A's representing our city. This is why I am committed to ensuring we do everything we can to keep the A's in Oakland, including to negotiate with the A's, and ensure one way or another our team stays and plays right here in their home city.

We greatly appreciate and encourage you to keep advocating for our team and City. Your collaboration makes me proud to serve as a City Councilmember for District 4 and the people of Oakland.

Vegetation Management Plan EIR - Public Comments!!

The City of Oakland is preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Oakland Vegetation Management Plan (OVMP) for City-owned parcels located within the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) designated Very High Fire Severity Zone. The City is requesting comments on the scope and content of the EIR.

This process is extremely important. Previously, the City had a special wildfire prevention assessment district 

(WPAD) which held dedicated funding for vegetation management for areas located within the high fire severity zone. However, that special assessment sunsetted in 2013 and I will be working with the community to bring a new special assessment district back. This is not only important, but it is needed as an effective wildfire prevention mechanism.

I encourage your engagement in the vegetation management plan EIR public comment process as it will strongly set the tone on how the funds of a possible special assessment district will be implemented.

Please click HERE to review the draft Vegetarian Management plan. 
To comment on the scope and content of the vegetation management plan EIR please email:

Angela Robison Pinon at:

**Please reference Oakland Vegetation Management Plan (OVMP) in all correspondence. 

Comments may also be submitted via mail to the following address: 

Oakland Public Works Department
Attn: Angela Robison Piñon, OVMP – Scoping Comments
250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 4314
Oakland, CA 94612

The City of Oakland Planning Commission will conduct a public scoping meeting on the EIR for the Oakland Vegetation Management Plan on November 20, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers in Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA.


Working For You...

The best part about my job is getting a chance to join my neighbors out in the community. It is an absolute pleasure to join you at our community events, farmer’s markets, neighborhood meetings, parks, and throughout the city. Below are just some of the event that my office was able to take part in, speak at or hosted:

I was so humbled to be honored at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center Annual Gala alongside my colleague Councilmember Nikki Fortunato Bas . This institution is so important to Oakland’s diverse community, hosting community engagement meetings, youth programing and so much more. I look forward to working in partnership with OACC for many more years to come.

I'm so proud to have join housing advocates, union leaders, my colleagues on the Oakland City Council, Mayor Schaaf and State-wide officials, including, Governor Newsom, Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks, Rob Bonta, and David Chiu at the signing of AB1482. Protecting those that are most vulnerable in our community uplifts our whole city.

This year’s Oaktoberfest was the largest yet. I had the honor of opening up Oaktoberfest by tapping the keg - I did it on my first try!! My staff and I had a blast enjoying the sunshine, giving out raffle prizes, and discussing important community issues. Special shout out to the Dimond Businesses, the Dimond Improvement Association and everyone who participated and came out to enjoy and support Oaktoberfest.

Thank you to my colleagues for joining me in declaring October to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month! A special thank you to District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and the team at the Family Justice Center for their continued support and work towards healing for those who have been harmed by domestic violence. As a survivor of domestic violence, I know how hard it is to recover from such a traumatizing experience and hope that my story will help uplift other survivors and those currently going through domestic violence - you are not alone.

Family Justice Center

My friends over at Lane Court hosted my staff Amauri and me for a tour of their neighborhood. Their roads, as many others throughout District 4 and Oakland, are in bad shape. We are seeing now that Measure KK funds are tackling this issue, definitely not fast enough, but we are headed in the right direction. Thank you Lane Court community.

Thank you to the community members and City staff who came out to discuss renovations to Allendale park. If you missed our community meeting and have thoughts about the renovation please email our office at

At this year’s Annual Redwood Heights Association meeting we discussed emergency response and preparedness. Thank you to Redwood Heights Association Board for having me present on what my office has worked on, currently working on and working towards. It is always such a pleasure and I look forward to continuing our partnership and work towards “Love Your Park - an initiative to fund & renovation Redwood Heights park! 

It's always a treat to get to see and hang out with my friends Fmr. Councilmember of our District, Dick Spees and friends. On this evening we were at a fundraiser for Chabot Space and Science Center. The center continues to implement strong programming with an equity framework aiming to get science TO our Oakland kids where they live and play. Thank you Councilmember Spees, John and family for hosting me.

October is a very special month for me, my son Benedict was born on October 17th. He turned 13 years old and although he would prefer I not take, let alone share, any photos of him, I can't help but share with everyone how proud I am of this young man (*holding back tears*). He's the best kid any parent can ask for, he loves hard and with an open heart and everyday he makes me a better person.

Upcoming Community Events

Montclair Neighborhood Council
Thursday, November 7, 2019 7pm-9pm
Montclair Presbyterian Church
5701 Thornhill Dr

Litter Walk in Dimond Park
Every Saturday, 9am-10am
Meet in the parking lot at Giant Burger,
2055 Macarthur Blvd. at Dimond Ave

Montclair Village Sunday Farmers' Market
Every Sunday, 2019, 9am-1pm
La Salle Ave at Moraga Ave

21X/Y NCPC BRT/AC Transit Update
Thursday, November 14, 2019, 6:45pm-7:45pm
2488 Coolidge Ave


Native Pollinator Garden Workday at Bridgeview Trailhead
Sunday, November 17, 2019, 9am-11am
Bridgeview Trailhead

November Community Office Hours w/ Councilmember Sheng Thao!
Sunday, November 24, 2019, 10am-12pm
Montclair Farmers Market, La Salle Ave at Moraga Ave

Goodbye and Good Luck Brandon Baranco!

It's hard to say goodbye, especially to an amazing staffer who has been with my office since day 1! But our offices are so excited to see where Brandon's life journey takes him next. We appreciate all the hard work he did for District 4 and to get our newest members up to speed on community issues. You will be missed Brandon, thank you for your dedicated public service.

Thank you so much for being such an amazing community! Please reach out to my office if you need anything.


Sheng Thao
Council Member, District 4

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Report a Problem to OAK 311

To learn more about Oakland 311, a service where Oaklanders can call 311 from their cell phone in Oakland to report maintenance issues (graffiti, potholes, illegal dumping, please click the link below)

Ever wonder how to get an agenda for a future or past Committee or City Council Meeting? You can find it on Legistar,  which is the City of Oakland’s comprehensive database where you can view and search legislative records, and access previous and present agenda materials. Please click the link below to view the legistar website. 

Contact Us!

Please feel free to contact my office and me at 510-238-7004 or at Below is the contact info for my staff:

Brandon Harami, Communications Director
Office: 238-7042

Matt Napoli, Policy Director
Office: 238-4742

Amauri Collins-McMurray, Senior Community Liaison
Office: 238-7273

Important City Resource Numbers 




MAYOR: 238-3141

CITY COUNCIL: 238-3266



PERMITS: 238-3443



GARBAGE: 613-8710





RECYCLING: 238-7283

FPPC ID #1405456 
The Oakland Campaign Reform Act limits campaign contributions by all persons (OMC Section 3.12.050 and 3.12.060) and prohibits contributors during specified time periods from contractors doing business with the City of Oakland or the Oakland Unified School District (OMC 3.12.140) Contributions are limited to $800 per election from any person, i.e., individual, business entity, committee, or other organization or group of persons acting in concert.
Contributions from a broad-based political action committee is $1,600 per election.