Ken Houston and the Fallacy of the Abatement-Industrial Complex

Fourteen months ago, in January 2014, self-proclaimed “community advocate” and wanna-be Oakland Mayoral candidate Ken Houston addressed a roomful of business owners, mass transit corporate executives, high-ranking police officers, journalists and a sprinkling of local and state elected officials or their representatives, invited on behalf of the East Oakland Beautification Council, a community initiative developed under the auspices of the Turner Construction Group (on whose website the group’s minutes appear), a major developer whose past projects include the Fox Theater and…

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Oakland Tribune Reports: City Council Has Only Spent a Fraction of Abatement Mural Allotment

  As CRP previously reported , Councilmember Desley Brooks (D6) is on record as telling KPFA’s Davey D, “Neighborhoods in West Oakland and East Oakland need to have public art.” Yet in an Oakland Tribune article published on Sunday, April 26, it was revealed that Brooks and her fellow Councilmembers have dragged their feet in allocating funds set aside in 2013 for abatement murals. As reporter Mike Blasky noted, “Of the $400,000 the council approved, only $14,100 has been formally allocated,…

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Why Are Representatives of Oakland’s Blight-Challenged Districts Reluctant to Commission Abatement Murals?

On March 18, District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks told Hard Knock Radio’s Davey-D, “Neighborhoods in West Oakland and East Oakland need to have public art.” The Community Rejuvenation Project (CRP) couldn’t agree more. In fact, as part of the Oakland Community Art Coalition, our efforts in 2012 led to the creation of a $400,000 budget line item for abatement murals in the city’s budget – 50k per Council district (plus the at-large seat). But those murals have been slow to…

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The Privatization of Public Art

Last November, then-Councilmember Libby Schaff proposed a new ordinance which required a percentage of new development–.5% for residential property, and 1% for private development—for “public art.” The ordinance further codified an existing public art program, which provides 1.5% of capital improvement projects to “commission and acquire public art.”  Yet while the existing public art fund is administered by the city’s Cultural Arts dept., the new ordinance “provides developers with the option of commissioning public art on the development site or…

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Ready Set Recycle! Win Prizes While Learning About Food Scrap Recycling

And now a PSA from our partner, StopWaste.org: Where do you put your leftover food scraps from dinner? Or how about that greasy pizza box? Put your knowledge to the test at ReadySetRecycle.org and you could win prizes. The Ready Set Recycle website offers prizes for entering the Recycling Rewards Challenge and provides recycling tips and resources for Alameda County Residents. It offers information for preventing valuable resources from going into landfill and rewards for testing your food scrap recycling…

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It’s Time to Rethink Graffiti Abatement Strategies

The answer to the graffiti problem isn’t throwing money down the abatement black hole or instituting stricter zero-tolerance policies. Any viable solution must revolve around the creation of sound, forward-thinking policy which avoids knee-jerk reactionism and repeating mistakes which have been made in the past. San Jose’s example shows that permanent reductions in graffiti vandalism through zero tolerance measures aren’t sustainable, and that with current abatement strategies, sometimes you get less than you pay for.

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The Zero Graffiti International Conference: At Odds with Long Term Solutions?

The First Annual Zero Graffiti International Conference was held in San Francisco last week. Hundreds of police officers, public works officials, “graffiti” consultants, and industry reps from 52 cities gathered as the industry that has grown up around abatement announced that it had made $17 billion in profit in the United State alone.  Despite the massive expenditure, no study has been undertaken to measure the effectiveness of simple abatement on vandalism recidivism. San Francisco alone spends $20 – 30 million…

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CRP Statement on Oakland’s Proposed Anti-Graffiti Ordinance

On November 2—just four days before the election—City Attorney Barbara Parker and Councilmember Nancy Nadel released a proposed amendment to Oakland’s municipal code which targeted graffiti vandals. Under the proposed ordinance— whose impetus reportedly came as a result of “Occupy”-style protests—graffiti would be classified a “public nuisance” and offenders charged with misdemeanors, rather than citations. The ordinance also calls for increased penalties—including fines as high as $750 per infraction—makes parents liable for damages caused by underage offenders, requires business and…

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Gardena and the Inflatable Felony

This is the first of a three part series by the Community Rejuvenation Project on the perpetual criminalization of aerosol culture, the abatement industry and the politics of incarceration. We begin with the problematic issue of “charge stacking,” which occurs when a prosecutor increases the severity of a charge or adds additional charges to an arrest to add leverage when making a plea agreement. This phenomenon was documented in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow in relation to the drug…

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