WEST OAKLAND BUSINESS ALERT
Minutes from Meeting Held November 16, 2011 at SF Enterprises
Business Community Attendees
George Burtt (WOCA), Roberto Costa (CEDA), Debbie Hauser (BusinessAlert staff), Michael Herling,
Chair (Consolidated Cleaning), Marcus Johnson (Amstutz Associates), Ray Kidd (WON), Steve Lowe
(WOPAC/WOCA), Tim Morse (Bay Alarm), Nathan Rapp (Sen. Loni Hancock), Cookie Robles-Wong
(OPW), Al Saroni (Saroni Foods)
Approval of Minutes
October 2011 meeting minutes were approved.
Safety and Security Forum
Tim Morse of Bay Alarm described recent strong-armed construction site robberies occurring at
Dogtown Development. Robbers approach during working hours and order workers to lie down and
give up belongings such as wallets and watches. OPD has been made aware of these crimes
occurring at three different job sites, and word has gotten out to local workers to be prepared. Police
response was not sufficient in that, in at least one instance, OPD did not arrive until three days after
being called for service.
Statistical maps will be provided next month for the last 56 days of reported criminal activity. The
crime trend appears to be up for the end of 2011.
Neither invited OPD command staff nor an officer representative was in attendance at today’s meeting
to discuss area metal theft. Committee members noted that OPD officers have not been in
attendance at BusinessAlert meetings in several months. Their attendance is especially important in
light of the brazen construction site robberies. Committee members discussed the lack of OPD
presence at area meetings. Captain Tull and/or Captain Israel should be engaged to address the
sporadic representation, particularly since it appears PSOs are no longer available to attend while
crime and quality of life issues persist. It was noted that PSOs regularly attend local NCPC meetings.
Roberto Costa reported his understanding that OPD does not have responsibility to have a PSO
present at West Oakland BusinessAlert. Al Saroni reported his dissatisfaction with a recent call for
service for which OPD took 12 hours to respond to a robbery in progress at the company. Emails to
OPD went unanswered.
Marcus Johnson expressed his opinion that the strength for fighting crime lies within the business
community itself, not necessarily in reliance upon OPD. OPD is operating with a skeleton crew in the
midst of Occupy Oakland activities. A recent NCPC meeting had upwards of 40 people in attendance
without OPD representation. Discussion focused around a sexual assault that had occurred the week
before. The group made the best of the situation by brainstorming and seeking solutions to become
safer and more observant. OPD does not necessarily need to be a participant in all meetings – there
are things the business community can do to help itself.
George urged that a meeting with Captain Israel be scheduled to discuss crime in West Oakland and
officer attendance at BusinessAlert. The status of officers designated through WOPAC needs to be
addressed as well as the funds allocated for their deployment. The question of whether West Oakland
BusinessAlert is an NCPC can also be answered by Captain Israel. Cookie noted there is a mechanism
that exists for tracking funding and its use, and that the project manager who oversees the funding
should be contacted. Steve Lowe stated that every business in West Oakland should have the
designated officers programmed into phones and that officers funded by redevelopment should be
accessible through a direct telephone number. Ray Kidd’s research indicates that the last West
Oakland BusinessAlert meeting attended by designated OPD officers was August of 2010. The fact
that OPD officers would no longer be attending meetings was not brought to the attention of West
Personnel shifts within OPD without notification to the public is a problem to be addressed, as is
continuity. Officers designated for West Oakland need to be identified, non-responsiveness needs to
be addressed, as does representation at area meetings.
Al Saroni reported theft from his roof, a 7-foot piece of copper removed that resulted in 900 lbs. of
Freon gas worth $50,000 being released into the atmosphere. Now the company is going to great
lengths to coat its copper with Henry’s 208 black tar and wrap it in fiberglass to discourage theft. Tim
Morse recommended that companies also identify and mark copper with a company name, i.e. “stolen
from….” Al noted that copper must be clean when presented to a recycling center for sale – tar will
not only disguise the copper, but make it unattractive to thieves as well. CASS was cited recently on
Channel 7 as one of the few recycling centers that came out of an undercover operation involving the
attempted sale of disallowed materials well. Alliance Recycling, on the other hand, was recently cited
in a sting operation that may result in the revocation of come component of its licensing.
Illegal Dumping of Mattresses
Nathan Rapp of Senator Loni Hancock’s office described efforts being made to eliminate mattress
dumping in Oakland. It’s important to develop a strategy to get mattress manufacturers on board and
part of a redemption program that also involves retailers that sell mattresses. One model that might
be followed is currently being implemented in Minnesota – state elected officials there are delivering a
mattress disposal program they are confident will pass and be made into law. There are currently two
California bills that deal with the recycling of solid waste materials, AB1019 introduced by John Perez
dealing with a carpet tax, and SB515 from Ellen Corbett, still in appropriations, that deals with battery
stewardship. Nathan emphasized that when a bill is developed in regards to mattress disposal and
redemption, it will have to have teeth in order to be effective. George Burtt discussed that mattresses
need to be given a value so that they are not dumped but rather there is incentive for their
redemption. A value of $2 will not work, and $20 might be punitive to the consumer. Nathan agreed
that coming up with an appropriate value will be a challenge. The Minnesota program will be
monitored by the senator’s office. George emphasized that the mattress problem should be termed
as a California problem, not a manufacturer or retailer problem. Nathan noted the philosophical
question being debated at the moment is whether incentives or punishment presents the better
avenue for dealing with this issue.
Tim Morse will provide the senator’s office with photos of dumped mattresses that can be used in
support of the argument to be made for a redemption program. Cookie Robles-Wong will provide
statistics in regards to the number of mattresses being picked up in Oakland on a routine basis by
OPW. Tim will also contact Waste Management to see if there is a way for the company to become
involved in supporting needed legislation.
Status of Railroads (BNSF and UP) Code Compliance Issues
UP continues to work with West Oakland BusinessAlert in sorting out the various entities that own rail
in the area and will most likely attend the January meeting with an update. UP representatives are
scheduled to meet with Jocelyn Combs in early January for a regularly-scheduled quarterly meeting to
discuss rail in Oakland.
Review of Current Code Compliance Cases and Blight Program Implementation
Marcus Johnson noted that code compliance signs, as discussed at last month’s meeting, have been
posted around the area. Committee members commented about Trapeze Arts on 9th Street at the
Caltrans site, where children and young adults have been seen out late at night in the area, which
presents concerns for their safety. Michael Herling will visit the site to introduce himself and let the
business know of the security issues being experienced in the area.
Illegal Dumping Deterrent System
Cookie Robles-Wong provided a chart depicting camera efficacy as it relates to the illegal dumping
deterrent system recently implemented in West Oakland, a first report of findings that shows the
cameras are having a positive impact on discouraging dumping in the test areas of 9th, 16th, Wood
Street and Louise. Tim Morse and Cookie will convene a meeting soon to consider whether moving
one or more cameras is prudent, and report back at a future meeting.