2020 Annual Community Meeting with FIRE SAFETY focus

When:  Monday,1/27/20 from 6 to 9:15 p.m. (extended to get more of your  questions asked and answered
Place:  Chabot Space & Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd, Oakland
6 - 7 p.m. Registration, Expo, Nosh, Visit
7:00   Annual Community Meeting 
  • Celebrate our utility undergrounding achievement
  • Chabot Space & Science Center: Executive Director Adam Tobin has new thinking for new times
  • Keynote:  Mayor Schaaf on paving, utility undergrounding, homelessness, crime and more. 
  • City Council District 4 (that's us!):  Sheng Thao  on all that's gone on to get undergrounding back on track, how she's working to get us better answers faster through city channels and her top priority for 2020 (emergency preparedness)
  • Fire Safety Panel.  Seven experts  addressed questions you rated high on your survey responses (which is why we stretched our time to adjourn from 9 to 9:15):
    • Why fires are so much more devastating, why they "explode" and what we can do about these trends
    • City's Vegetation Management: what's being done to make inspections more standardized and to normalize compliance assessesments
    • Insurance: what to do if your provider cancels you; how to know if you are adequately insured
    • Home and neighborhood prevention and protection: are you really ready?
    • Evacuation strategies and challenges
    • Public Safety Power Shutoffs and tree management for fire safety
  • Piedmont Pines Business Briefs. Undergrounding, paving, MONs, 
  • Raffle:  $25 gift certificate to Cole Hardware.  Won by Rose Petrovich.  $50 gift certificate for PG&E from East Bay Community Energy.  Won by Richard Flood
9:15 Adjourn

Meeting Notes

[Thank you, Mary Mancuso]

7:04pm - Meeting began

Welcome, Thanks, Undergrounding

  • Welcome address from Stan Weisner, PPNA President
  • Appreciation to Jeremy Sutton, Pack 296 leader and the Webelos who helped as ushers this evening.  PPNA has serves as Pack 296's sponsor and has done so for many years.
  • Thank you to our sponsors who help offset the meeting’s expenses
    • East Bay Community Energy, our annual meeting lead sponsor
  • Kelly Brezovec, EBCE Customer Care Manager, shared that EBCE is our green energy provider (PGE still does distribution and billing), learn more about EBCE and their resiliency program at ebce.org
  • Cole Hardware—emergency supplies
  • PG&E—undergrounding, power shutoffs, wildfire tree trimming
  • Celebration of CPUC’s green light to proceed with undergrounding
    • Efforts to underground began with our application in 1987
    • On Jan 16, 2020, we received notice from CPUC that we can move forward
    • Next steps include City Council approval of Phase 2 as an undergrounding assessment district, and to set up balloting for approval to fund the Phase 2  street lighting system
    • Special thanks to all who helped get us this far - Mayor Schaaf, Councilmember Thao, PPNA VP Ron Wacker, PPNA ED Robbie Neely, and Dick Spees
  • Thank you to venue sponsor Chabot Space and Science Center
    • Adam Tobin, Executive Director, shared what new at Chabot, including: refurbishment, new observation deck, new public programs such as First Fridays, and working to create learning everywhere by also going out to after-school programs

Keynote Speaker - Mayor Libby Schaaf

  • Discussed key issues for Oakland
    • Fire Prevention
      • Working at Federal level to support “Escape Act” to use road money to develop evacuation routes
      • Working at State level, Gov. Newsom selected North      Orinda for a fuel break since it was ranked highly vulnerable to wildfire
    • Homelessness
      • Issue has expanded in her tenure by 47%
      • Innovative cabin communities are proving successful (80-90% acceptance rate) and half the cost of other models; now opening 7th community
  • Gov Newsom sending 15 trailers (purchased with FEMA money for use in fire fighting efforts) to be repurposed as temporary housing
  • Fiscal Health
    • Made dramatic improvements since 2016-17 audit
  • Safety
    • Oakland has become safer overall, and recognized nationally for reducing gun violence by 50%. More work to be done but this is good progress
    • Car break-ins have increased, a task force has been created to address issue
    • Police are still understaffed and working to improve this
  • Paving
    • Replacing roads, not just filling potholes, and have 3-year plan to make up for years of neglect. Graphic showing huge difference between 2005-14 paving projects and 2015-22, thanks in large part to Measure KK
  • Growth
    • Oakland is booming, particularly downtown, with new businesses and more housing
    • New A’s stadium planning is well under way
  • Audience Q&A
    • Q: Can we end homelessness in 5 years? A: No, not with the funding we have.  But we are actively engaged in all facets of causes of homelessness, such as “Keep Oakland Housed” which provided 2600 families from losing homes; Measure Q on the March ballot will also fund better park maintenance and support homelessness initiatives
    • Q: How can we get more resources for vegetation management inspections? A: A combined departmental unit was created, but this didn’t address the vacancies; working to address overall vacancies.
    • Q: How can we go after developers to pay more taxes instead of passing along parcel taxes to owners? A: Impact fees have been imposed and stepped up over time to pay for affordable housing; we need to change structures so median income can afford median rent (which is mostly does not currently)
    • Q: How can we be sure a new City Administrator will hold staff accountable for responding to community concerns? In particular, for PPNA, to address the Ascot/Chelton path and slide issue that is now 3 years with no resolution to a dangerous situation? A: A portion was improved a couple years ago, we can hold our administrators accountable, including Libby - Libby will get back to us on this issue.

Speaker - Council Member Sheng Thao

  • Proud to represent D4
  • First year on the job, has 3 staffers, goal is to respond within 48 hours if possible
  • Key successes of the last year
    • Doubled proposed investment in paving with council-allocated discretionary funds
    • Increased funding for vegetation management plan
    • Secured matching funds after Oakland Fire Safe Council received state grant for wildfire emergency planning
    • Funding for Antioch Court in Montclair Village, and started Community Supper which will be an annual event to bring people together
    • Advocated for undergrounding to move it through CPUC
    • Enriched youth and senior facilities
    • Obtained funding to reactivate the Cascades at Joaquin Miller Park
    • 2020 focus: Wildfire prevention and vegetation management. It needs a comprehensive plan and development of a new ballot measure for a wildfire assessment district.

Special Guest - Nick Luby, Deputy Fire Chief

  • Spoke on behalf of Chief White who was ill
  • Fire safety and support requires diligent efforts and collaboration, PPNA is a model for this
  • Fire Dept is committed to our safety

Wildfire Panel

  • CalFire Deputy Chief Mike Marcucci
    • Q: What’s the most important thing your organization has learned about a “new normal” of wildfires?
    • A: The “new normal” are mega fires that need early notification and good coordination.  The “ready, set go campaign” is supporting the belief that it’s better to inconvenience people than try to move them in chaos.  Success stories include using temporary refuge, for example in the Camp Fire they kept people safe in a big box store while the fire blew through.  Communities need to be engaged and educated because large fire growth happens even when we work to reduce the fuel.
  • OFD Deputy Chief Nick Luby
    • Q: PPNA is filled with narrow, snakey streets.  What evacuation strategies and challenges will help residents escape safely?
    • A: An evacuation task force was started in Alameda County in unincorporated areas, but we also know that fires don’t know boundaries.  OFD is working with potential contractors who can support developing evacuation plans using data around traffic, flow, and also including notification systems so people know about the evacuation plan, and better predictors to understand how a fire will behave after it’s started.  Oakland Fire Safe Streets can also evaluate streets to determine if “no parking” needs to be implemented.
  • PG&E Vegetation Management Program Supervisory Brian Biancardi was represented by co-worker Vitaly
    • Q: PPNA residents feel a little whipsawed by the back and forth tree trimming work over the last year.  What can they expect this year, and how will you communicate with them?
    • A: PG&E provides letters, door hangers, emails and IVR calls to keep residents updated on timing and plans
  • PG&E Public Safety Specialist Pamela Perdue (I need to get the name of speaker who represented Pamela)
    • Q: Will getting more PPNA undergrounded put residents at less risk of enduring Public Safety Power Shutoffs?
    • A: It depends on the risk at the source of the power distribution. PG&E is improving by narrowing the focus on transmitters so they can narrow the need for PSPS.  By using cameras, weather stations, and analytics, they can know when and where to do a PSPS.  They are also hardening the system and enhancing the vegetation management.
  • OFD Vegetation Management Supervisor Vince Crudele
    • Q: What’s the most important thing residents should know about the 2020 inspection cycle?
    • A: Inspection cycle is now fully digital, get an Accela account to view your estimated scheduled date, and see your results including photos of the risks.  We now have 203 days of fire season so you may need to do more than one clearing. Residents are responsible for vegetation management through Dec. so inspectors may see something later in the year and you may fall out of compliance.
  • United Policyholders Chief Operating Officer Emily Rogan
    • Q: What is your organization doing to help people deal with cancellations and escalating prices of home insurance?
    • A: Prices are going up and coverage is going down, and also many people are under-insured.  If rates go up, you can look elsewhere, and if you are cancelled it’s not personal, companies are just skittish about profits.  There is good state legislation and the insurance commissioner is working to pass pro-consumer bills which will give you more time to shop, and require companies to abide by CA laws, even if they are located elsewhere.
  • Oakland Community Preparedness & Response Program Manager Doug Mosher
    • Q: How can your organization help PPNA residents be better prepared for disaster?
    • A: OCPR is a grant-funded program from CalFire with matching city funds, and it will include a workshop and materials to provide info and training.  It’s designed for the Oakland hills and foothills.  It will cover how to be prepared, neighborhood organization, and evacuation planning.  Plan is to start in a couple of weeks.

Fire Panel Audience Q&A

  • Q: For PG&E, will bad equipment be replaced?
  • A: PG&E is doing accelerated inspections to identify lines for immediate action.  They also brought in contractors that meet their standards to support the work.
  • Q: Is there an emergency notification system for fire evacuation?
  • A: AC Alert is one way to get alerts.  Non-functioning cell towers present a problem for homes without land lines, so we’re working on state bill to have a back-up system.  Looking into siren systems with voice notifications but they are very expensive.  Specialized sirens on vehicles can announce evacuations.  Nextdoor or Nixle can also help alert people.  On Red Flag Days, consider changing your behavior, such as leaving a bedroom window open a crack at night so you can hear sirens.
  • Q: I live on a dead-end narrow street, how can I get parking restricted?
  • A: First you need an evaluation, then OFD will determine the next steps.  Also, if you are leaving the house, or away for a duration, move parked cars out of the street so firefighters have the response time to get in and out.  Talk to your neighbors to do the same.
  • Q: What happened to the use of goats for vegetation management?
  • A: The goat program is still going, EBRPD also uses our same contract.  From May - Sept the goats graze to reduce the fire fuel.
  • Q: Can we start Phase 3 undergrounding now?
  • A: Phase 2 still needs a lot of implementation work, but Phase 3 has a much clearer path with none of the Phase 2 obstacles.
  • Q: Is there still a fire fighter shortage?
  • A: Yes, there are 509 budgeted and we currently have 447.  They are looking to recruit more.
  • Q: Can OFD do abatement in a neighbor’s yard if they are not in compliance?
  • A: Residents get 3 notices, and then it has to go to a third party “judge” so it’s hard to enforce on private property. We also don’t have funding for much abatement work.

PPNA Updates - our priorities

  • Undergrounding: This is an important project for wildfire prevention.  Phase 2 property owners will need to pass the assessment district.  If they pass it, we hope to expedite construction. If it doesn’t pass, we will move directly to phase 3.
  • Fire Prevention: This is the second fire safety forum in 8 months. 
  • Paving: PPNA lobbied hard to include more paving, and Sheng provided additional support.
  • MONs: MONs are rejuvenating - Lower Ascot now led by Denis Neema and Diana Obrinsky; near the schools led by Joan Van Horn and Cindy Gullikson; stretch of Castle now being led by Carole Glanzer
  • Hill Stabilization: Slide on Mastlands being repaired.  The Ascot/Chelton slide has been very frustrating but we won’t give up.
  • School traffic: Working to improve traffic flow around two schools, we’ve seen some improvement but aim to have more
  • Beautification: Thanks to Elaine Geffen for continuing to maintain Marj Saunders Park; and Richard Kaufman and Wendy Tokuda for work in Beaconsfield Canyon

Finance Snapshot

Changes to Board Members

  • Thank you to Roberto Stinga and Jean Hurricane for their years of service as board members.
  • Ratify new board member - Mary Mancuso (approved)
  • Re-elect board members - Helen Nicholas and Diana Obrinsky (approved)

Golden Pine Cone Award

  • Awarded to Doug Mosher for his work as an early leader of the Montclair neighborhood Council, a founder and supporter of the MONs, and for recent work getting us organized through OCP&R.  Thank you, Doug, for your contributions to the community.

Raffle Prizes

  • $25 Cole Hardware Gift Certificate and $50 gift certificate for PG&E from EBCE
  • Winners Richard Flood and Rose Petrovitz 

Thank you for attending.

Meeting adjourned at 9:15pm