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Catherine Traywick

As more consumers choose alternatives to banks, Bay Area social enterprises rise to meet their needs

Jose Rivera, 62, needed to cash two checks totaling $176—the fruits of a few days’ work as a gardener in Oakland. Though Rivera has a bank account with a small community bank chain based in San Francisco, he doesn’t deposit these or any other checks into it. Since the company closed its only Oakland location two years ago, Rivera has relied almost exclusively on fringe bankers, such as check cashing stores, to handle his financial affairs.

Infographic: How Oakland is balancing the budget

With the dissolution of the Oakland’s redevelopment agency, the city is looking at a $28 million budget shortfall. In an effort to fill that hole, the city council passed a new budget Tuesday evening that includes dramatic cuts to city staff, scales back city services and consolidates several departments. (A full list of eliminated positions can be found here.) The new budget will save the city about $8 million during the remainder of fiscal year 2011-2012 and $20 million the…

Infographic: How Oakland is balancing its budget

With the dissolution of the Oakland’s redevelopment agency, the city is looking at a $28 million budget shortfall. In an effort to fill that hole, the city council passed a new budget Tuesday evening that includes dramatic cuts to city staff, scales back city services and consolidates several departments. Check out our infographic to see what’s being cut and what’s being saved.

Oakland at Work: A sailor’s life for me

Though Mary Swift-Swan has traversed the Bay Area’s many estuaries and coastlines since she was 3 years old, she didn’t settle into the nonstop, unpredictable life of a sailor until she was well into her 30s. Now, as a licensed captain and the owner of Afterguard Sailing Academy, located near Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin, she spends almost every day on the water

City of Oakland to take over affordable housing programs, debt obligations after redevelopment agency is eliminated

The City of Oakland will take over the Oakland Redevelopment Agency’s affordable and low income housing programs, assume responsibility for the agency’s enforceable obligations and oversee the dissolution of the agency this spring. In a tense city council meeting that unexpectedly went into closed session Tuesday night, Oakland city councilmembers unanimously elected the City of Oakland to serve as the successor agency, and successor housing agency, to the Oakland Redevelopment Agency. The agency will close its doors February 1, s…

Metropolitan Transportation Commission debates proposal to create new seats for Oakland and San Jose

At its last meeting of the year, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) debated over whether a controversial proposal to create two new commission seats for Oakland and San Jose should be included in the commission’s 2012 legislative program—a package of proposed measures that the commission seeks to support or sponsor in the coming year. The proposal, AB 57, would add two seats to the MTC board to increase representation of the region’s most populous cities—Oakland and San Jose. The new…

Retailers launch Oakland Gift Card to help people shop locally

A small group of local businesses kicked off the holiday shopping season this month by introducing a new gift card program intended to keep retail sales dollars in Oakland. The “Oakland Gift Card,” which is available in amounts between $20 and $200, is accepted by 19 Oakland businesses, ranging from electronics and apparel stores to restaurants and art galleries.

New mobile vending proposal could create “food pods” throughout Oakland

A new pilot program championed by Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Jane Brunner would begin to legitimize Oakland’s largely underground street food businesses. And despite of years of contention, supporters and critics of mobile food seem to agree that the proposed program could be a boon to business, bolstering the mobile food industry while minimizing competition with dine-in restaurants.

Despite promises, the $484 million Oakland Airport Connector yields few local jobs

One year after construction began, has the controversial, $484 million Oakland Airport Connector project created the jobs it promised? “It requires a lot of physical strength and it wears on the body,” said Tiffany West, 31, of her work as a carpenter’s apprentice. Every Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 3:30 pm, West is somewhere along Hegenberger Road between the Oakland Coliseum and the airport shoveling debris, fine-grading sites for paving or building the footings for the connector’s elevated guideway.

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