Environment

West Oakland garage getting electric car-chargers for public use

Oakland is partnering with electric provider East Bay Community Energy to install 17 dual-port fast chargers, powered solely by solar and wind power, at the City Center West Garage.  The project is part of the Oakland Transportation Department’s plan to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles across the city, while tackling the health disparities in neighborhoods most plagued by air pollution. Bounded by the Port of Oakland and the interstate 580, 880 and 980 freeways, West Oakland has some of…

New filtration program is step toward cleaner air for West Oakland residents

Shortly after Brian Beveridge moved to West Oakland in 1999, he noticed a greasy layer of black soot building up on his window shades and tabletops. It wasn’t hard to figure out where it came from, with diesel trucks from nearby industries driving through the neighborhood and expelling pollution into the air that residents were breathing.  Now, over two decades later, Beveridge is co-director for the nonprofit West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, where he works to provide solutions for West…

East Oakland scraper bike program gives kids a chance to safely cycle

Beside bikes dazzling with brightly colored tape and foil, about a dozen East Oakland elementary school children excitedly, in unison, recited their ABCs:   “Air, brakes, chains.”  The kids learned the drill to check bike parts during a new six-week, after-school bike course this fall for children at Brookfield and Madison Park elementary schools. Mentors from The Scraper Team and the nonprofit Higher Ground launched the program to teach kids about bicycle safety and maintenance in a neighborhood that has very…

Planners move to restrict new housing in Oakland hills fire zone

Thirty years ago, 25 people were killed trying to escape the Oakland Tunnel Fire, which swiftly engulfed neighborhoods in the hills.  Since then, many residents have rebuilt in those neighborhoods, which remain under higher risk of fire.  In the next few months, the Oakland City Council will consider a proposal put forth by the Planning Commission that some worry doesn’t go far enough in restricting development in the hills, where narrow, winding roads still pose challenges as escape routes.  The…

‘This danger is one spark, one gust of wind, away.’ 30 years after tragic fire, Oakland better prepared but more at risk

When Sheila Davies Sumner stepped out of her house in the Oakland Hills on the morning of Oct. 20,1991, she had a sinister feeling. It was seasonally hot but there was nothing unusual about this Sunday morning, except for a blast of dry wind.  She put her Siamese cat, Algebra, in the garden, then left for work.  Oaklanders later would recall the gusts from Mount Diablo, some 30 miles to the northeast, the Diablo wind. On that day, 65 mph…

Want a lush garden that needs little watering? East Bay utility has a rebate for that.

Even in a drought, you don’t have to resign yourself to a brown lawn or a drab garden. A Bay Area utility recently started a “super rebate” program to encourage people to convert their wilted shrubbery into a lush garden of not-too-thirsty native plants.  The East Bay Municipal Utility District, which provides water and wastewater service to many communities in the East Bay, is offering customers $1.50 per square foot of converted turf lawn. The rebate comes as a credit…

Hundreds march for right of animals to live with ‘decency and kindness’

Hundreds of animal rights protesters marched in San Francisco Saturday afternoon to demand the end of factory farming, chanting, “Humane slaughter is a lie! Animals do not want to die!” “We believe in a world where every animal, every human being is treated with decency and kindness,” Wayne Hsiung, founder of animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere, told a crowd in Dolores Park. The protest aimed to raise awareness for animal rights, recruit more people to join the effort, and…

Oakland Zoo asks people to drop off ivory, other items made from illegal animal trade

When Ting Ting the sun bear arrived at the Oakland Zoo in 2006, she had a spacious field to explore. But Ting Ting confined herself to a raised wooden plank. Ting Ting, rescued from the illegal wildlife trade where she was sold as a pet, was previously kept in a small cage where she could walk only a few steps back and forth. In her first months at the Oakland Zoo, she maintained the same pacing pattern. The Oakland Zoo…

How to make Telegraph Avenue safer for bike riders

Cycling has become safer on Telegraph Avenue over the years, thanks to protected bike lanes that impose a barrier between two-wheel and four-wheel traffic. In 2016, Oakland supported a pilot project that made the thoroughfare bike friendly from 20th to 29th streets. With the introduction of protected lanes came a dramatic decrease in car-bike collisions. Since then, the city has been working to bring the same safety measures to the corridor between 37th and 52nd streets. The advocacy group Bike…