Friday’s Briefing: Huge Housing Project Proposed for Oakland’s Waterfront; Elmwood Café Abruptly Closes After Renewed Attention to Racial Profiling Incident
Plus, West Oakland is getting a new grocery store.
The owner of Eve’s Waterfront is proposing to build a 50-story, 500-unit residential tower on the Oakland Estuary that would be the city’s tallest building. Restaurant owner Chris Malki, also of Walnut Creek-based Capital Financial LLC, and his wife, Eva, want to build at the site of their restaurant, 15 Embarcadero West, although they don’t yet have a developer or architect for the project. The city has already approved a commercial boat dock at the location and Malki is exploring possible ferry service, as well as improving the Bay Trail, creating a public bathroom and water area, and improving a nearby condo complex, where Malki lives. (San Francisco Business Times)
Berkeley’s Elmwood Café has abruptly closed after attention to a racial profiling incident there three years ago recently resurfaced in light of a racial profiling incident at a Starbucks in Philadelphia. Last week, two Black males were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, the video of which went viral. On Monday, comedian W. Kamau Bell wrote a blog post for CNN recounting his experience of being racially profiled at the Elmwood Café in 2015, saying after promises to end implicit bias at the café, it’s been “business as usual.” Media reports and negative Yelp reviews followed. Elmwood Café hasn’t given any reason for its sudden closure. (Berkeleyside, CNN)
Despite promises to clear marijuana convictions, Bay Area prosecutors have only made a small dent in the number of cases they vowed to dismissed. An investigation by KTVU showed that Bay Area District Attorney’s offices have so far only dismissed or reduced between 4 to 10 percent of cannabis caseloads on their docket. (KTVU)
West Oakland is finally getting another grocery store. The 14,000-square-foot Community Foods Market, located on the 31st block of San Pablo Avenue, broke ground last Friday and is expected to open in October. (East Bay Express)
A state auditor’s report shows that California is doing a poor job of sheltering its homeless population — the largest in the nation — and needs better leadership to address the problem. The audit noted that 68 percent of the state’s homeless live in vehicles, abandoned buildings, parks, or on streets. Additionally, 82 percent of homeless youth are unsheltered, compared to 38 percent in the rest of the nation. It’s estimated that California now has about 134,000 people living on its streets. (SFGate)
The owner of a debris-hauling company who was sued by the city of Oakland in January for intentionally blowing toxic dust into a West Oakland neighborhood is being accused of violating a court order. Mocair Dos Santos of Santos Engineering has been using a warehouse at 1266 28th St. to haul and break down construction debris — improperly so — causing nearby residents to complain of coughing, lightheadedness, and swollen eyes. Despite the court order to cease such activity, the City Attorney believes the work is continuing. (Hoodline)
The city is going ahead with plans to purchase a vacant building for a new homeless shelter. The 70-unit, 9,500-square-foot former SRO, located at 641 W. Grand Ave., will be bought for $7 million and provide transitional housing for up to 140 homeless people. (Hoodline, East Bay Express)
California state workers who are accused of sexual harassment resulting in costly claims don’t necessarily lose their jobs; in some cases, they get raises and promotions. (Sacramento Bee)
A former medical assistant was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday for sexually assaulting a patient. Efrain Castanon, 48, pled guilty to one count of sexual battery for assaulting a woman at a Kaiser Hospital in Union City in January 2017. The woman sued Castanon and Kaiser in January, alleging that Kaiser knew of past complaints about his behavior. (East Bay Times)
Federal regulators are fining Wells Fargo $1 billion for forcing customers to buy unnecessary products such as auto insurance policies and fees related to mortgage applications. The stiff penalty represents the most significant move by federal banking regulators under the Trump administration. (New York Times)
Happy 4/20! Looking for a way to celebrate cannabis’ biggest holiday? Here are some events.