Oakland murals color the urban jungle

Hundreds of street murals brighten Oakland’s walls, painted by local artists, graffiti writers and collectives, like the Community Rejuvenation Project. Some are “bombed”, i.e. done without permission, on the fly, usually at night. Others are commissioned by private businesses and public institutions. This audio slideshow is a preview of some of them.

Eight Childhood Development Centers set to close Friday

Judy Lee has already begun packing her boxes. Full of art supplies and Shel Silverstein books, the boxes sat neatly stacked near the wall of her spacious classroom at the Piedmont Avenue Early Childhood Development Center on Wednesday, a telltale sign of the center’s imminent closure.

Green energy financing faces federal roadblock

An innovative financing scheme designed to help homeowners afford to make their homes greener and more energy efficient could be in trouble. The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently announced that it would not support Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) finance programs, like one set to launch for Oakland residents later this year.

Oakland residents, community activists catch up on healthcare reform

As the 2010 midterm elections approach, Obama supporters are trying to get Oaklanders to think positively about the healthcare reform bill signed into law this past March. Organizing for America, the grassroots network that helped elect President Barack Obama, held a healthcare teach-in for Oakland residents.

Mayoral candidates share their plans on public safety

“Ladies and gentlemen, you could be taking dance lessons in Jack London Square or having a drink. But no, we’ve had too important a week, haven’t we?” With that, Aimee Alison, host of the KPFA Morning Show and founder of OaklandSeen.com, opened the Oakland mayoral forum on public safety held Thursday evening, July 15th at the Lakeshore Baptist Church.

City, community groups express pride following protests

As Oakland awaits next month’s sentencing of Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer convicted last Thursday of involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant, authorities, community groups and onlookers congratulated each other on the mostly non-violent protests that followed the verdict last Thursday. Joint planning among city, police and community groups helped keep the peace, they say.

Amidst the anger, Oaklanders peacefully discuss Mehserle verdict

On Thursday afternoon, protestors and media convened in downtown Oakland for what many feared would be a violent reaction to the verdict in the trial of former BART officer Johannes Mehserle. But following the verdict, several Oakland gathering spots offered an alternative to the mass downtown protest, where people could peacefully vent their feelings and talk about the future.

Parolee day reporting center planned for North Oakland

Residents in North Oakland’s Koreatown-Northgate district may soon be getting some new neighbors—a group of men and women trying to restart their lives after spending time behind bars. Center Point, Inc., a Marin-based non-profit social services agency, is planning to open a day reporting center for parolees from Oakland on the 33rd block of Telegraph.

Financing for energy retrofits coming soon, but facing hurdles

North Oakland homeowners may soon have incentives to insulate their walls, upgrade windows and install solar panels, thanks to a countywide program set to launch this fall. Through the Alameda County Energy Efficiency and Green Retrofit Program, owners of residential property in the county can get rebates and loans for making energy-saving improvements to their property.

Oakland City Council lays off 80 cops to balance budget

The Oakland City Council voted Thursday night to lay off 80 police officers to help close the city’s $30.5 million budget gap. Various city government departments—including the City Administrator’s office, City Council, the Fire Department, and Information Technology Department also had their budgets cut, by a total of $18.7 million, as part of the fix.

One man works to create Unity on the soccer field

It’s hard to catch Steve Sparkes these days between World Cup games, building a tasting room at Linden Street Brewery in West Oakland, and organizing a week-long free soccer camp for over sixty kids. Now in its third year, the “My Yute” soccer camp offers skills training to young players, while exposing them to the cultural diversity of the game and spreading, Sparkes hopes, his passion for the sport.

Oakland police officers, community leaders warn against laying off cops

On Monday morning, Oakland police officers and community leaders gathered at the site of a recent murder in West Oakland to warn of what could follow if Oakland’s police force is drastically cut to help close the city’s $31.5 million budget gap. “This is a dangerous city,” Dominique Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officer’s Association, told a small group composed mostly of journalists. Laying off one quarter of the police staff, he said, “sends the wrong message.”

Bowling on the Lake Merritt green

The Oakland lawn bowling club has been rolling on the greens at Lakeside Park for nearly a century. The game dates from 13th century England, and was played by the likes of Sir Francis Drake and Henry VIII.

Where to watch the World Cup in North Oakland

At the cafes, pubs and bars of North Oakland, the World Cup debates have begun, and are sure to escalate throughout the month-long tournament — although the nine-hour time difference between California and South Africa means coffee may gain on beer as the favorite game-watching beverage.