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Impact fees Chamber takes position Page 3


CITY COUNCIL Chamber completes tracking report of Council actions

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Pages 4-5

February 2016

Save the Date: Economic Development Summit – #Oakland Advantage Friday, March 18

Oakland Business Review Port welcomes largest cargo ship ever – page 21

Visit for more business opportunities, news and event registration.

> Chamber’s 2016 Economic Summit, ‘Oakland Advantage,’ set for March 18 Building on the success of last year’s exploration of what attracts new businesses to Oakland, the Chamber’s 2016 Economic Summit will take a closer look at Oakland’s rapidly changing and expanding marketplace. Demand to live and work in Oakland is at an unprecedented high, and with that brings new development and great opportunity for new and existing businesses alike. Held on the morning of Friday, March 18, the annual Economic Summit will feature a deep dive conversation about “The Oakland Advantage.” The event will explore the reasons why businesses and investors are coming here, and why the longtime stewards of our economy are doubling down on Oakland. The summit will begin with a presentation from Robert Sammons of Cushman & Wakefield, who will give an update on Oakland’s rapidly changing real estate market. Christopher Thornberg of Beacon Economics will present the muchanticipated update to the Oakland Chamber Economic Indicators Report, an annual district-by-district in-depth analysis of Oakland’s economy. The event will also feature a panel discussion of representatives from businesses who have chosen Oakland to discuss what brought them here, what they hope to accomplish, and what makes Oakland special. The panel will include Denis Ring of Ocho Candy, Peter Weingarten of Gensler, Eric Tao of AGI Avant, and Denise Pinkston of TMG Partners. The summit will be held at the Kaiser Center on March 18, with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. The event will begin at 8 a.m. and continue until 10 a.m. Breakfast will be provided. To register, visit the Chamber’s website at ■

> City Council scorecard As part of our ongoing mission to keep Chamber members up to date on

considers development impact fee

will begin publishing tracking reports of a selection of City Council actions from the previous quarter. The goal is to give members a snapshot of what some of the actions and priorities of the Council have been – grouped according the Chamber’s public policy areas of focus – along with a brief summary. The Council dealt often with housing-related issues this fall – which continues to be true into the current quarter as well. They began the fall by adopting a Housing Equity Roadmap. The roadmap contains dations including the adoption of an impact fee, expansion of condo conversion restrictions, seismic retrofitting, enforcement of immediate rehousing

The Oakland City Council began its first publication consideration of adopting an affordable housing impact fee at the Community and Economic Development Committee on Jan. 26. Impact fees charge developers of market-rate housing a fee per unit of new development to help build affordable housing, make capital improvements, or fund transportation. The idea to charge impact fees has long been considered in Oakland and is now coming closer to adoption. While many cities in the Bay Area have affordable housing impact fees, they are not a one-size-fits-all proposition, nor do they always work as intended. It’s required by law for cities to conduct thorough studies before setting the level of the fee, and careful consideration must be given to the amount and phase-in schedule. “If you set the fee too low, the city may miss the opportunity to collect funds to offset impacts,” Darin Ranelletti, deputy director of the city's planning department, said during the staff presentation to the Community and Economic Development

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Antwan Wilson have launched the Oakland Promise. Over the next decade this cradle-to-career effort will triple the number of low-income Oakland public school graduates who complete a post-secondary education.

Chamber of Commerce

tenant protections, and

by Aly Bonde

initiative to triple number of college graduates

local issues, the Oakland

numerous policy recommen-

> City Council committee

> Oakland launches ‘Promise’

assistance. The Council continued to focus on housing throughout the fall, taking action on tenant legal services and landlord workshops, as well as declaring a shelter crisis. You can see all Council action, along with each Councilmembers’ individual votes, on pages 4 and 5. Stay tuned for the next installments in future OBR issues.

▲ Mayor Schaaf – with “This is the single most transformaSuperintendent Antwan tive thing we can do for Oakland and its Wilson and Lt. Governor young people,” said Mayor Schaaf. “In a Gavin Newsom standing district where 71 percent of students are nearby – announces the low-income, ensuring that more of our launching of the Oakland kids earn a college degree has the poPromise initiative. tential to interrupt generational poverty. Today, we’re raising the bar for this entire community by setting out a clear expectation for our children’s futures and giving them the tools and the support to exceed those expectations.” Within a decade the Oakland Promise will: • Open 55,000 college savings accounts for Oakland children • Invest $100 million in college scholarships • Serve nearly 200,000 students and families across Oakland • Triple the number of college graduates from Oakland “The partnerships and resources coming together through the Oakland Promise will help us ensure that every student graduates prepared for success in college, career, and community,” said Superintendent Wilson. Mayor Schaaf and Superintendent Wilson were joined at Oakland High School for the launch by Oakland Promise lead partners from the City of Oakland, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), East Bay College Fund and the Oakland Public Education Fund. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and OUSD graduate and current Oakland teacher Michael Jefferson delivered keynote remarks, speaking to the importance of the broad-based Oakland effort. “For too many, economic growth has become a spectator sport and we know that income inequality is synonymous with barriers to educational opportunity,” said Lt. Governor Newsom. “The Oakland Promise offers a model for the rest of the state, weaving together the best practices to tackle generational poverty in a way never done before.” The Chamber would like to thank its members who gave generously to Oakland Promise: Kaiser Permanente, PG&E, The Clorox Company, Golden State Warriors, AT&T, Comcast, Wells Fargo, Donahue Fitzgerald, East Bay Community Fund, EMC Research, Madison Park Financial, and Visit Oakland. If you would like to donate to Oakland Promise, please visit ■

– continued on page 20


> Sunset headquarters begins its move into Jack London Square

Names in the news

Daniel Newbold

• Donahue Fitzgerald LLP, one of the East Bay’s leading law firms for business, has elevated Daniel Newbold to partner and welcomed Daniel Senter to its intellectual property practice. Newbold’s practice focuses on the implementation and administration of all types of estate plans, including the use of trusts and limited liability companies to sustain and enhance wealth for families and businesses. Senter represents individual and corporate clients in copyright filing and enforcement, international and domestic trademark filing, and IP and business litigation. • Oakland Symphony

Executive Director Steven Payne has appointed 16-year marketing and promotions veteran Ruben Pimentel, Jr. as the Symphony’s new marketing director. Pimentel Daniel Senter has a wealth of Bay Area and national experience in marketing and promotions, particularly in media and broadcast, and was most recently marketing and promotions director with Cumulus Media in San Francisco. • The Pleasanton office of Lee & Associates, the largest broker-owned commercial real estate firm in the nation, has announced the promotion of Ruben Pimentel, Jr. Jessica Mauser to principal. A specialist in retail leasing, acquisitions and dispositions, Mauser has completed more than 300,000 square feet of transactions. In 2012, she was nominated as an “Emerging Leader” by the East Bay chapter of CREW (Commercial Real Estate Woman) Network. She has also been recognized by Costar as one of the “Top Producers” in the East Bay Retail Market. Jessica Mauser • DZH Phillips, one of the area’s largest regionally-based accounting and consulting firms, has welcomed Anthony Saris to its San Francisco office. With nearly 30 years of experience, Saris was previously chief executive officer of real estate investment firm St. Regis Properties and a partner and CPA at Rothstein, Kass & Company, LLP, the 20th largest CPA firm in the country. His practice will focus on tax and accounting matters in the real estate industry. Saris has handled multimillion-dollar transactions for top real estate companies and brokers, and has worked closely with property managers and developers and major financial institutions on acquisitions, renovations and loan transactions. • U.S. Security Associates, with locally-responsive offices providing premier national security services and global consulting and investigations, has located its Northwest Area headquarters office to 480 Roland Way, suite 104, in Oakland. Its telephone number is (510) 3829200. • Visit Oakland partnered with the Oakland Unified School District in December to celebrate two outstanding student leaders on the OUSD school board. Visit Oakland invited the two students and their families to spend Christmas Eve with them at the Oakland Raiders game against the San Diego Chargers. The two students were Darius Aikens, a 17-year-old junior from Oakland High School, and Bianca Ramirez, a 16-year-old sophomore from Fremont High School. Both represent Oakland students at the district level and have spent countless hours outside of the classroom to advocate for the student population. These leaders and four of their family members were invited to the Visit Oakland suite for a true Raiders experience. ■


| OBR Oakland Business Review |

Sunset Magazine has begun its two-phased move into its new Oakland headquarters at the Port’s Jack London Square. When completed, the offices will take up about 20,000 square feet on the second level of the sixth floor mixed-use space at 55 Harrison St. The iconic brand, which reaches more than five million readers through its magazine, digital and social media channels, books, and events, is moving to Oakland after more than 60 years in Menlo Park. “We’re delighted to move into such a vibrant area at the Oakland waterfront,” said Sunset’s Editor-in-Chief Irene Edwards. “This move reflects the fresh direction our magazine is taking. From past to present, Jack London Square’s ties to the food, wine and agricultural industries are an ideal fit for the Sunset brand.” This spring, Sunset will unveil the office’s most anticipated feature – the new Sunset Showcase and Test Kitchen. Some of the Western United States’ most iconic recipes have been developed in the Sunset test kitchen, said Edwards. In spring 2016, Sunset will also unveil its floor-to-ceiling wine “cellar,” which will house the magazine’s historic collection, and photo studios. Oakland is recognized as a food lovers’ destination. Sunset headquarters is likely to attract even more visitors to Jack London Square. Approximately 1.8 million people visit each year.

> Phased-in impact fees can build affordable housing – by Chamber President and CEO Barbara Leslie

For over 110 years, the mission of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce has been to promote economic growth and opportunity for Oaklanders. Part of that mission is advocating for government policies that are responsive to our city’s needs; and right now, one of our greatest needs is more housing. The Bay Area is in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis. In order for Oakland to realize its considerable economic potential, we Barbara Leslie must build more housing. Every new unit built in Oakland – at any income level – helps relieve the housing shortage, as well as create jobs and retail spending. It’s critical to our city’s continued growth that we implement policies that both address the region’s affordability crisis and support new development in Oakland. Oakland lost its most valuable tool for building affordable housing with the dissolution of redevelopment agencies in 2012. While no single policy solution can make up for the loss of redevelopment

funds, many cities have turned to per-unit impact fees on new market-rate development in hope of generating funds for affordable housing. As Oakland considers adopting an affordable housing impact fee, the critical question is how to design an effective fee program that continues to support new development. Unless it is phased in properly, an impact fee could render many existing projects unfeasible and discourage new investment during a time of great opportunity for Oakland. This would only serve to worsen Oakland’s housing crisis. As many of our neighboring cities experience unprecedented development, building in Oakland continues to be slow. Despite a growing local economy and rising rents, institutional capital remains hesitant to invest in Oakland due to high construction costs, slim margins, low yields, and perceptions of public safety. Until Oakland has a track record of successful projects, it will continue to be difficult to secure financing as investors weigh risk with potential reward of building here. There is a very real danger that an overly aggressive fee program will discourage new development and therefore fail to generate any money for affordable housing – something neighboring cities have experienced. Only recently have we seen institutional investors choose Oakland. An effective fee program should work to encourage that, not stop it in its tracks. The Chamber believes a responsible fee program could include a four-year phase-in at increments of $5,000, $10,000, $15,000, and $20,000 per unit, with exemptions for projects that submit building permit applications before the end of 2016. While fee levels can be determined based on the timing of the permit application, it’s important to allow the payment to be made upon occupancy to ensure the availability of rental income to help offset the fee expense. Given current market conditions, it’s likely that this is the most aggressive fee schedule Oakland can tolerate. If an impact fee stops market-rate development, not only will that exacerbate the housing shortage, it won’t generate any money for affordable housing. The goal should be to maximize the number of new privately developed units, which in turn will maximize the funds collected for affordable housing. While a reasonable and properly phased-in impact fee will hopefully play a part in addressing the housing crisis, it’s also important to remember that impact fees are only one tool in the city’s toolbox. Oakland needs a comprehensive local housing policy that encourages new construction for all types of housing. Oakland should also exhaust county, state, federal, and its own resources – such as converting city-owned and tax-liened properties to housing – as well as work with neighboring jurisdictions to find solutions. The housing crisis is not limited to Oakland; the solutions shouldn’t be either. As Governor Brown pointed out in his recent budget proposal, California’s economy is finishing its seventh year of expansion – two years longer than the average recovery. While the timing is uncertain, the next recession is getting closer. Policies enacted during economic peaks must take into account their effects during the valleys that follow. Oakland’s time is now. Virtually every economic indicator is headed in the right direction. With the right policies, this is our opportunity to continue the work of building an economic foundation that is prosperous, equitable, and lasting. We can’t afford to miss it. The Community and Economic Development Committee will discuss the impact fee proposal at its Feb. 9 meeting. For more information or to voice your opinion, contact Aly Bonde at Welcome Paola to the Chamber family The Chamber is pleased to welcome Paola Castellanos, our new Events and Membership Manager. Fluent in Spanish and French, and a Saint Mary’s College alum, Paola has extensive experience in business development with a diverse array of companies, from nonprofits to large privately-held global corporations. She also has more than 10 years of event and project management experience, Paola Castellanos with a focus on community engagement and corporate social responsibility. In her new role with the Chamber, she looks forward to creating opportunities for collaboration among members and Oakland residents. ■



> Fall 2015 City Council Tracking


s part of the ongoing mission to keep our members apprised of local government issues, the Oakland Chamber of Commerce will publish quarterly reports on votes taken by the Oakland City Council. These reports will focus on Council actions that are relevant to Oakland’s business community and are grouped according to the Chamber’s public policy priority areas. The Chamber’s tracking reports are meant to represent a snapshot of the Council’s actions and priorities from the previous quarter, but do include every action taken by the Council or City Administration.


| OBR Oakland Business Review |

HOUSING 1. Housing Equity Roadmap – Sept. 30 In a unanimous vote, the Council adopted the policy framework contained within the Housing Equity Roadmap. The framework contains numerous policy recommendations including the adoption of an impact fee, expansion of condo conversion restrictions, seismic retrofitting, enforcement of tenant protections, and immediate rehousing assistance. 2. Tenant Legal Services & Landlord Workshops – Oct. 20 In a unanimous vote, the Council amended the contract with Centro Legal to increase funding for legal services to low-income tenants from $90,000 to $165,000 and to provide $35,000 for informational workshops for small landlords with 15 units or less once a provider can be found. 3. Tenant Rights and Minimum Wage Enforcement – Oct. 20 In a 7-0 vote with one absent, the Council approved an amendment to the budget to provide $240,000 for community-based enforcement of the minimum wage, as well as $100,000 for outreach and education around the Tenant Protection Ordinance and Just Cause Eviction Ordinance. The original amendment was for $1 million, but was scaled back and adjusted to take effect after revenue sharing agreements with labor unions have been fulfilled. 4. Fruitvale Transit Village – Nov. 17 In a unanimous vote, the Council authorized a $7,050,000 loan to the Spanish Speaking Unity Council of Alameda to build Phase IIA of the Fruitvale Transit Village project, which consists of 94 mixed-income rental units (14 market rate) adjacent to Fruitvale Bart (Phase IIB will consist of 181 market rate rental units). The loan will be for $4 million in state Prop 1C funds awarded to the City in 2014 for the project, and $3,050,000 in Central City East and Coliseum bond funds. The negotiated agreement releases the city from a $5.4 million balloon payment due to the Unity Council in 2023 for lease payments on a senior center.

> Fall 2015 City Council Tracking 5. Declaration of a Shelter Crisis – Dec. 8 In a unanimous vote, the Council passed the first reading of an ordinance to declare a shelter crisis in the City of Oakland, which allows for a more flexible set of building and health requirements in certain public facilities to expedite projects to shelter the homeless. Councilmembers Brooks and Kaplan expressed concern that this ordinance doesn’t include anything specific about what the city will do. City staff will return with plans for locations during the first quarter of 2016.

14. DOJ/COPS Grant – Dec. 8 In a 5-1 vote with two abstentions, the Council passed a resolution to accept a $1,875,000 Department of Justice grant and appropriate a total City contribution from the General Purpose Fund of $10,254,763 for 15 new walking police officers. Staff said that allocating an additional $3,734,233 from the 15-17 budget is possible, and that the remaining obligation would be incorporated into future budgets. The resolution passed with Kaplan and McElhaney abstaining and Brooks voting no.

6. Strada Apartment and Hotel Development – Oct. 6 By a 7-1 vote, the Council approved an agreement with Strada Investment Group for the development of a 14-story residential mixed-use building with 250 units on Clay and 11th Street. The agreement also includes plans for a hotel, provided the group can secure funding. Councilmember Brooks voted no, saying the community benefits package was inadequate during a housing affordability crisis.

15. Gun Tracing Funds – Nov. 17 In a unanimous vote, the Council received an informational report on how OPD plans to spend the $1 million previously allocated in the budget to address gun violence. They plan to spend it on new technology and staff to better trace and catalog guns, as well as on overtime to respond to more ShotSpotter notifications and conduct thorough checks when the system reports gunfire.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT EFFECTIVE GOVERNMENT 7. Commercial Compost Rates Amendment – Sept. 29 In a 5-2 vote with one excused, the Council amended the City’s contract with Waste Management to ensure that commercial compost rates are 30% below the maximum garbage rates in order to incentivize composting. The amendment also requires WM to assist multi-family customers in reducing their bills, which dramatically increased due to the addition of push-pull charges. Councilmembers Brooks and Gallo voted no, with Brooks noting that the changes helped restaurants but not her residents. 8. Residential Solar Permitting Changes – Oct. 20 The Council voted unanimously to provide a streamlined and standardized permitting process for small residential solar systems, including online posting of permitting requirements and a consolidated single inspection for each residential rooftop solar system. The changes ensure Oakland is in compliance with state requirements, maintaining the City’s eligibility for solar and renewable energy grant funding. 9. Adjustments to CWS Recycling Rates – Sept. 29 In a 4-2 vote with one excused and one abstention, the Council failed to approve adjustments to the California Waste Solutions contract that would have increased recycling rates to adjust for the fact that the contract overestimates the total number of customers being served. This would have resulted in about a 10% increase in 2016, decreasing to less than 1% by 2021. 10. Request for Options to Regulate Coal in Oakland – Sept. 21 In a unanimous vote, the Council asked staff to provide them with options and recommendations for ways to regulate the export of coal from the former Oakland Army Base. The Council will receive a report on Feb. 16. 11. Department of Race and Equity – Nov. 17 In a unanimous vote, the Council passed a salary ordinance and MOU with the City of Portland for the loan of Dr. Dante James to serve as Oakland’s temporary Director of Race and Equity while the new department is set up and permanent director is recruited. 12. Oracle and 9-1-1 Upgrades Financing – Oct. 6 In a 6-1-1 vote, the Council approved a resolution to allow the City to enter into a $17 million financing agreement with IBM Credit to upgrade the City’s outdated Oracle software, implement a new municipal budgeting system, and provide seed money to commence the replacement of the 9-1-1 public safety system. Councilmember Guillen said he voted no because the proposal includes $6.45 million to fund operations and support of the existing system through 2016. He believes it’s bad policy to finance everyday operations with loans.


16. Support for Worker Cooperatives Resolution – Sept. 8 In a unanimous vote, the Council approved a resolution to support the creation of worker-owned businesses. Oakland has been a leader nationally in the movement to create worker cooperatives, which are seen as a way to address income inequality and increase productivity. 17. City Center Commercial Development – Oct. 20 In a unanimous vote, the Council passed a resolution to transfer the DDA for the property at 601 12th Street, owned by Shorenstein, from the Redevelopment Successor Agency to the City. This will make it easier to amend the agreement to give Shorenstein an extension to build the planned 600,000 sq. ft. 23-story office building. 18. Online Business Portal – Dec. 8 In a unanimous vote, the Council passed a resolution to accept $50,000 in grant funds from the U.S. Small Business Administration to create a streamlined multi-lingual online permitting navigation portal for new local businesses. The goal is to increase the number of business licenses and zoning clearances processed in a timely manner. 19. Temescal BID Loan – Dec. 8 In a unanimous vote, the Council passed a resolution consenting to a loan agreement to secure $880,000 for the installation of up to 83 pedestrian-oriented lighting fixtures. The City’s consent is needed because under the conditions of default, the lender would be entitled to receive a portion of Temescal Business Improvement District assessments.

TRANSPORTATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE 20. Lake Merritt Bart Improvements – Oct. 20 In a unanimous vote, the Council passed a resolution to accept $342,110 in Regional Measure 2 funds for the design and construction of bicycle and pedestrian safety and access improvements around the Lake Merritt Bart station, including the design of intersection improvements at the 1-880 underpasses between Broadway and Oak St. 21. Bike Lanes on Grand Avenue – Oct. 20 The Council voted unanimously to remove a travel lane in each direction to create bike lanes and a center turn lane along the Piedmont border on Grand Ave. between Elmwood Ave and Jean St. – where there have been many bike-vehicle collisions, including one fatality in recent years. 22. Laurel Pedestrian Improvements – Nov. 17 In a unanimous vote, the Council passed a resolution authorizing a contract with BKF Engineers for up to $750,000 to provide engineering services with the goal of improving pedestrian and bike access along the MacArthur corridor to connect Mills College with the Laurel Business District. ■

13. Measure Z Funding – Dec. 8 In a unanimous vote, the Council passed a resolution authorizing 32 grant agreements with 24 non-profit and public agencies for a total amount of $6,370,000 in Measure Z funds. The contracts will provide violence prevention and intervention services to approximately 3,800 high-risk individuals.



February marks Black History Month In an effort to educate all people about the vast contributions made by African American men and women throughout history, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson originated Negro History Week in 1926. He selected the second week of February as two prominent figures in African American history – Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln – were born in that month. In 1976, the event was extended to a full month and Black History Month was born. Below is a sampling of Black History Month events in Oakland throughout February. An * after the event name indicates free admission. All area codes are (510) unless otherwise indicated. For additional events and information, please visit New Era/New Politics Tour* Wednesday, Feb. 3, 10 to 11:30 a.m. African American Museum and Library at Oakland, 659 14th St. Highlights the African-American leaders who helped shape present-day Oakland. Learn how Lionel Wilson, Delilah Beasley, Byron Rumford and others changed the city and Bay Area. or 238-3234


Reclaiming Nature: A Panel Discussion with Outdoor Afro and Urban ReLeaf* Wednesday, Feb. 3, 4 to 6 p.m. Mills College Student Union, 5000 MacArthur Blvd. Rue Mapp and Kemba Shakur will discuss connections to the natural world and how blacks and people of color can claim and hold space in ensuring access and stewardship. or 430-2080


26th Annual Celebration of African American Poets and their Poetry* Saturday, Feb. 6, 1 to 4 p.m. 6 p.m. West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline St. Community members of all ages are invited to participate by reading poetry, performing, dancing and/or displaying works of art. This year’s theme is “#blacklivesmatter: The Politics of Blackness,” although all themes are welcome. If you’re interested in being featured, call 238-7352. or 238-7352


The Walking Blues Tour (Oakland Blues Walk of Fame)* Saturday, Feb. 6, 2 to 4 p.m. West Oakland BART Station, 1451 7th St. (Meet at Center Street behind the station) Come to the first official Walking Tour of “The Music They Played on 7th Street/Oakland Walk of Fame” and learn about the accomplishments of African Americans who made the music of 7th Street in West Oakland famous all over the world. Other highlights will include meeting some of the recipients who are on the Walk of Fame. or 472- 8800


Mindful Drumming for Healing and Community Building Saturday, Feb. 6, 3 to 6 p.m. Attitudinal Healing Connection, Inc., 3278 West St. Mindful Drumming is a transformative learning process that offers individuals opportunities to experience diversity through rhythm and sound. Participants will utilize the twin concepts of rhythm and sound as a way of raising awareness and consciousness for a rich experience of joy and peace. There will be drums available. Kokomon Clottey, author of “Mindful Drumming: Ancient Wisdom for Unleashing the Human Spirit and Building Community,” will facilitate this gathering. or 652-5537


Speeches of a Dream* Monday, Feb. 8, 6 to 8 p.m. New Parkway Theatre, 474 24th St. Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St. Annual open mic night including poetry, art and music. or 238-7217



| OBR Oakland Business Review |

The Black Mozart: Enlightening the Enlightenment* Tuesday, Feb. 9, 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Mills College, Music Building, Room 271, 5000 MacArthur Blvd. Scholar Nalini Ghuman sets the record straight on the contributions of black classical musicians. In this special session of her course on music in the Classical Era, she explores the remarkable life and music of Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the son of a slave who ended up being one of the finest violinists, composers and swordsmen in Europe. He also led the first all-black regiment during the French Revolution against the king, whilst teaching music to Marie Antoinette. or 430-2080


Founders Dinner Wednesday, Feb. 10, 6 to 7 p.m. Mills College, Founders Common, 500 MacArthur Blvd. A fun celebration of African American history through food with entertainment by Hip Hop for Change. $10.75 per person. Free for children 3 and under. or 430-2080


African American Oakland* Wednesday, Feb. 10, 6 to 7 p.m. Main Library, Bradley C. Walters Auditorium, 125 14th St. In observance of Black History Month, Oakland History Room librarian Dorothy Lazard will present a talk on the early history of African Americans in Oakland. She will share stories of early pioneers and the movers and shakers who helped establish the East Bay’s largest African American community. A slide show will accompany her talk. or 238-3222


“Blue-Eyed Soul Brother” When Bobby Kennedy Blitzed Oakland* Thursday, Feb. 11, 10:30 a.m. to noon North Oakland Senior Center, 5714 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way A talk featuring rare photos and videos on the blitz of East, West and North Oakland by New York Senator Robert F. Kenney’s inspiring 1968 presidential campaign. The presentation by historian Paul Lee will show the remarkable relationships that he established with African, Asian, Latino and Native American residents a week before his tragic death. RSVP as space is limited. 597-5085


Say Her Name: Black Female Bodies in the Breach* Thursday, Feb. 11, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mills College Student Union, 5000 MacArthur Blvd. Our labor, our bodies, our lives are valuable. A conversation with activists and organizers of Say Her Name and Black Lives Matter. The conversation will focus on centering issues of black women and how their bodies become targets for institutional, structural and physical violence in America. The conversation will cover the data in the report “Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women.” $3 for non-Mills students. or 430-2080


Write Out Loud: The Importance of Telling Our Stories Saturday, Feb. 13, 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Mills College, Mills Hall, Room 318, 5000 MacArthur Blvd. A hands-on writing workshop where participants explore how to write their stories using narrative nonfiction and fiction. This interactive workshop will focus on learning to write about issues facing black women and contextualize them in personal essays and short stories. Faith Adiele, noted memoirist and essayist, will lead this session. $10 for non-Mills students. or 430-2080 ■


> A partnership for Oakland In January, the Alameda

going the extra mile to resolve their problems.” Handler also volunteers his time as a member of the

County Bar Association

VLSC’s Board of Directors and serves as its secretary /

(ACBA) installed its 2016


Board of Directors. Amongst

Eric Handler

both as a volunteer and as a lawyer is helping people and

Handler follows a proud history of service beginning

them Eric Handler, a litigation

in 1929, when O.D. Hamlin became the firm’s first ACBA

partner at Oakland-based

president. In the 1970s, Joseph Woods, Jr., who was ACBA

Donahue Fitzgerald LLP,

president, helped establish the Alameda County Bar

stepped into the role of

Foundation and helped start the firm’s tradition of paying

president-elect. He is eager

for ACBA membership for all its attorneys who practice

to continue the firm’s tradition

in Alameda County. When the Foundation funded the

of serving the ACBA in its mission to promote

creation of the VLSC in 1982, the firm was first to take pro

excellence in the legal profession and the Volunteer

bono cases and has been a constant supporter since then.

Legal Services Corporation (VLSC), the nonprofit

Jonathan McNeil Wong (ACBA president in 2000, VLSC

arm of the ACBA, in its mission to facilitate access to

Board of Directors for many years and president) states the

justice for everyone.

firm has an “abiding belief in the importance of pro bono

Handler joined the firm, then Donahue Gallagher Woods, in 2003, just two years out of law school. He joined

service and the key role that the organized bar plays in the provision of pro bono service, which has become a part of

the ACBA the same year as a way to connect with the local legal community, and later he began volunteering in the VLSC program. “I realized that the best part of the ACBA, for me, is the work the organization does through the VLSC in giving free legal services to low income county

“What satisfies me about the work I do both as a volunteer

residents and workers,” he said. For several years, Handler has been leading one of the monthly low-income bankruptcy clinics. “I help low income pro per bankruptcy filers analyze whether bankruptcy may be the right path for their financial problems,” he said. “People often cry during the clinic while thanking

and as a lawyer is helping people and going the extra mile to resolve their problems.”

me for my time. What satisfies me about the work I do

our culture.” All attorneys are encouraged to do pro bono service for which they receive full billable credit without any cap. Volunteering extends to coordinating VLSC’s clinics, educating clients about the law and their rights, and training and mentoring other lawyers. Donahue Fitzgerald attorneys have contributed thousands of hours of pro bono services. The Pro Bono Firm of the Year for Alameda County in 1992, ACBA’s President’s Distinguished Service Award in 1999, and the State Bar of California’s President’s Pro Bono Award in 2007 are just a few of the honors the firm has received for its dedication to pro bono service. Numerous firm lawyers have also received accolades, including the State Bar of California’s Wiley W. Manuel award, presented to Handler in 2015. Raised in Cincinnati, Handler is proud to live and work in Oakland. He finds Oaklanders share values similar to those in the Midwest, including a blue-collar work ethic. “What it means to me are small and medium-sized business owners and their employees who work hard to make a living and to better the local community,” he said. “It is important to me because typically those who have worked hard to succeed care genuinely about the local community.” Looking forward to his ACBA presidency in 2017, Eric Handler is pleased to continue the firm’s and his own partnership with the ACBA and VLSC and Oakland. ■



Member update

> DIRECTORY ADDENDUM The following is a list of new members of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Please refer to these members when you have a need for goods and services. ADAMS ESQ A Professional Corporation 1300 Clay St., Suite 600 Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 832-6000 Fax: (510) 832-3099 Website: Wendy Kraal Email: Legal Services Beyond Emancipation 675 Hegenberger Road, Suite 100 Oakland, CA 94621 (510) 667-7694 Fax: (510) 667-7639 Website: Sara Goldware Nonprofit Black Star Investment Group 425 El Pintado Road Danville, CA 94526 (510) 566-2780 Website: Brother Ayinde Real Estate Development & Investments CareBuilders at Home – East Bay 1955 Gouldin Road Oakland, CA 94611 (510) 628-8426 Fax: (510) 628-8428 Website: www.carebuildersathome Bryan Ricks Email: Home Health Care Services D’s Dollar Store 6656 Bancroft Ave. Oakland, CA 94605 (510) 355-6807 Davita Llams Discount Store First Republic Bank 2110 Mountain Blvd. Oakland, CA 94611 (510) 336-3918 Fax: (510) 530-8885 Todd Brantley Bank

– continued on page 9


| OBR Oakland Business Review |


ADAMS ESQ Making a Difference…one child at a time. Jean Murrell Adams founded ADAMS ESQ in 2002 after attending an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting for her own exceptional child. “I know what it’s like to sit in a (special education) meeting and come to the realization that the school district is not going to help your child,” she says. “I’ve shared that sinking feeling.” Adams decided to do something about it. She left her high-profile position as head of litigation for DreamWorks Studios and formed ADAMS ESQ, a law firm dedicated to representing children with special education needs and fighting for their right to an appropriate education. Since its formation, the law firm has represented more than 3,000 children and their parents in California and Nevada – and even as far as away as Michigan. ADAMS ESQ charges most parents a nominal retainer fee of just $1. (Under special education law, school districts must pay parents’ legal fees in successful case resolutions.) From modest beginnings, ADAMS ESQ now boasts six locations throughout California and Nevada and operates primarily from its Oakland headquarters. This public interest law firm is truly making a difference…one child at a time. To learn more about ADAMS ESQ, visit or follow ADAMS ESQ on Facebook at: ■

Harden Communications Partners A boutique agency with a national presence Harden Communications Partners: Our name says it all. We are your communications partners. We work with you, our clients, to tell your story in your voice. Headquartered in the Bay Area, with dog friendly offices in the Oakland hills and New York, Harden Partners is a sophisticated and customer-focused full-service boutique communications firm specializing in content marketing, social media and digital content. Established in 2007 by founder and president Patricia (Pat) Harden, Harden Partners has grown from a one-person consultancy to an award-winning, mid-sized agency serving the financial, healthcare and professional services sectors – and their amazing support technologies. We work in partnership with local and national clients from major insurances companies and investment managers to community-based organizations like Financial Women of San Francisco and the East Bay Vintners Alliance, reflecting our passion for locally made artesian wines. Setting us apart, clients receive daily access to awardwinning senior communications professionals who’ve worked for America’s largest corporations and global PR firms. Our teams work with national media outlets like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, and local favorites including the San Francisco Chronicle, Fox 2 KTVU and Sunset Magazine. To learn more, visit or contact Pat Harden at (510) 635 4150. ■

Member update



U.S. Security Associates

ADDENDUM – continued from page 8 Harden Communications Partners, LLC 11881 Skyline Blvd., Suite F Oakland, CA 94619 (510) 635-4150 Website: Adrianna Webster Public Relations Living Jazz 1728 San Pablo Ave. Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 287-8880 Fax: (510) 486-2785 Website: Page Hodel Email: Nonprofit Magi Arts Fitness Division 8906 D St., Apt. A Oakland, CA 94601 (818) 200-7342 Johnny Ayai Health & Fitness Club Mobile Mini Inc. 44580 Old Warm Spring Blvd. Fremont, CA 94538 (510) 252-9326 Fax: (510) 651-4127 Website: David Bonal Storage STRAP – Support for Transforming Applied Practices 1901 Harrison St., Suite 1100 Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 936-3340 Website: Maria Agha Management Consultants & Services U.S. Security Associates, Inc. 480 Roland Way, Suite 104 Oakland, CA 94621 (510) 382-9200 Website: Brad Lauer Security Guard & Patrol Services Vroozi, Inc. 18301 Vonkarman Ave., Suite 470 Irvine, CA 92612 (866) 509-5045 Website: Dante Sykes Computers

U.S. Security Associates (USA) is North America’s security solutions leader, with locally-responsive offices providing premier national security services and global consulting and investigations. The company provides career paths for more than 49,000 security professionals serving several thousand clients and a range of industries. Innovative applications of leading-edge, proprietary technology enable USA to rank annually among the world’s best training companies, sustain the highest standards of quality, and underscore world-class customer service with unparalleled accountability. USA’s rise as one of today’s largest security companies is a natural byproduct of these differentiators together with a commitment to investing in employee reward and development, giving back to local communities and relentlessly striving to be a security company that is Safe.Secure.Friendly.® For more information, visit ■

Vroozi Vroozi – purchasing made ridiculously simple, beautiful, and mobile. At Vroozi, we are passionate about building innovation to drive procurement productivity for everyone, increase adoption, and reduce costs for companies. We focus on bringing value and delight to procurement professionals, suppliers, and anyone who makes purchases on behalf of the company, through intuitive shopping e xperience, intelligent process embedded technology, and accessibility via any device. Everyday shoppers can search and compare across catalogs, read product reviews, and order items with one-click. Procurement professionals have complete visibility into real time spend data, can ensure proper workflow approval process, and integrate Vroozi to other financial systems. These are some of the reasons customers selected us as their purchasing partner. Because Vroozi is 100 percent SaaS based solution, customers can set up their marketplace in less than a week and suppliers can join the Vroozi network for free. From mid-size growing businesses to Fortune 1000 enterprises, our customers trust Vroozi. For more information, visit or contact us with ■

D’s Dollar D’s Dollar is a true Dollar store – every item is just $1. It’s strategically placed in East Oakland to help serve the people of that community. D’s Dollar is a true example of big things coming in small packages with 20 different categories of merchandise from household goods, party supplies, snack foods and canned foods to spices, personal care items, greeting cards, balloons with helium and cleaning chemicals. The store is independently owned and operated, and much of the time you can find the store owner personally greeting and interacting with her customers. D’s Dollar gets new merchandise every two weeks, so if you would like a particular item that you don’t see in the store, customers can simply request it. Stop by and support this new local business. ■



> Leadership participants

> A study in health and

get a lesson in public safety

human services

by Mimi Rohr, Ingrid Severson and Louise Rothman-Riemer

by Jose Hernandez, Claudia Burgos and Julie Johnson

The Leadership Oakland class of 2016 learned about a variety of aspects of public safety in a seminar held at the city’s Emergency Operations Center in December. The day began with an address from Oakland Police Chief, Sean Whent. While murders have dropped 50 percent since 2012, they are still three times the national average. Chief Whent discussed a variety of strategies that are being employed to combat crime in Oakland, including a discussion about ceasefire, community policing, body cameras, crowd management techniques, and the role of federal monitors. For public safety to be effective there must be a collaboration between the public and the police, fire and emergency services. Two of the day’s speakers were individuals who were so influenced by a public safety issue that they made it the focus of their life’s work. The first was Rashidah Grinage, who has worked for more than 20 years on police accountability initiatives in Oakland, since her son and husband were killed in an altercation with the Oakland police. Grinage has been an insistent voice to expose and mitigate police misconduct and the impact it has on the community. She is the foremost advocate for a proposed Police Commission to oversee the Police Department including advising the Mayor on the hiring and firing of the Chief of Police. The other community activist was Genice Jacobs, who after learning about the trafficking of young girls for sex became an extremely vocal and effective advocate to end human sex trafficking. She was propelled into her work on human trafficking when she reflected on the fact that if members of the German community had stood up to Hitler and the Nazis they may have been able to change history. Jacobs has created a helpful and informative website called "Abolitionist Mom" that is an excellent resource for the community on human sex trafficking. Following a tour of the Emergency Operations Center and the adjacent firehouse, Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed addressed the group about the fire services in Oakland and how they are managed in the event of an emergency. The Fire Department is currently restructuring its resource allocation following the defunding of the Wildfire Prevention Assessment District, which was defeated at the ballot box in 2013. Chief Reed also described the challenges faced by the opposition to the FEMA grant which will be used to thin trees and reduce brush in certain areas of the Oakland Hills to reduce the fire-load.

Following a successful start to Leadership Oakland’s issue-based sessions in December, the conversation shifted from public safety to health and human services in January. The session was led and facilitated by Claudia Burgos (AC Transit), Julie Johnson (Ray’s Electric), and Jose Hernandez (Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee). It commenced with a visit to Youth Uprising, a nonprofit located in deep East Oakland whose mission is to develop youth leadership as well as to transform East Oakland into a healthy and economically robust community. ▲ Dr. Kathleen Clanon (left) and Melanie Youth Uprising’s Moore at the Leadership Oakland Health Chief of Staff Sikander & Human Services Day session in January. Iqbal led the Leadership Oakland group in a tour of the facilities and shared some alarming statistics of the surrounding community. “We often experience as many as six shootings in a day, but that is why our work is so important,” said Iqbal. He added that many of the issues within East Oakland are a result of racist systemic structures that have oppressed the African American population and hindered its growth. Today, Youth Uprising provides educational support, health and wellness, job readiness, case management, and talent development services to 3,000 youth ages 18-24 every year. The tour was followed by a panel of service providers composed by the Unity Council’s Latino Men and Boys Program (LMB), Covenant House, and MISSSEY (Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting & Serving Sexually Exploited Youth). Freddy Gutierrez, with the Unity Council’s LMB program, spoke about their after-school program that is achieving above average attendance rates and grades among Latino students in the Oakland Unified School District. Representing Covenant House and MISSSEY, Sergio Medina and Amba Johnson commented on the intersection between homelessness and trafficked youth. Johnson argued that among other factors, youth who are homeless are constantly preyed on by so-called “pimps” and forced into sexual exploitation. Medina acknowledged Johnson’s point and added that Oakland is facing a big homeless problem and there are insufficient shelters to accommodate the need. Medina stated that Covenant House is the only shelter in Oakland for youth ages 18-24, and that they consistently have a wait list of more than 100 individuals. All three panelists agreed that the City of Oakland needs to allocate additional funds and services to its youth. After lunch, the Leadership Oakland group headed back to the Chamber of Commerce to hear from three government representatives. First up was Dr. Kathleen Clanon, the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency medical director, who explained her agency’s leadership structure and spoke on the health disparities affecting Oakland. In fact, Dr. Clanon revealed that an African American child born in East Oakland can expect to live 15 fewer years as opposed to an Oakland Hills resident. The second speaker of the afternoon was Melanie Moore, director of All In Alameda County, a county-wide coalition whose goal is to eradicate poverty and eliminate food insecurity by 2020. Moore stated that All In has just finished a series of community listening sessions to identify the needs of the community, and that pilot programs are soon to follow to test their proposed solutions. The day ended with a presentation from Josie Halpern-Finnerty with the City of Oakland’s Health and Human Services Department. Halpern-Finnerty described the Oakland Unite program, which is a public safety collaborative aimed at reducing violence in Oakland. She added that the program is funded by tax-payer dollars and has brought in more than $15 million in state and federal grants to support the local investment in violence intervention and prevention. Coincidentally, many of the morning speakers reported receiving grants from Oakland Unite. ■

Clifford Chan gave an ▲ Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed overview of the water utility’s (second from the left) is greeted by planning for the earthquake’s Leadership Oakland participants (left impact, as well as the current to right) Louise Rothman-Riemer, status of the drought in our Mimi Rohr and Ingrid Severson. region. EBMUD has prioritized and ensured water supplies to the electrical transmission hubs, the fire hydrant network, refineries and hospitals. As one of the main entry points of water to multiple districts, the Dingee Backbone Pipeline is EBMUD’s most critical link for Oakland. A seismically secure replacement of this pipe was just completed this year, further ensuring that more of Oakland’s water needs will be met. Due to earthquakes, and other possible ruptures in the aqueducts and other pipe networks, it is likely that water supplies to homes and buildings will be broken. Chan recommended that individuals prepare a mobile, backup water supply of two gallons per person per day, for seven days. It could take up to a month or more for water to be restored to homes. First responders provide a lifesaving, critical service in the after effects of a major earthquake or other emergency. In the forum led by Genevieve Pastor Cohen of CORE and Ana-Marie Jones, executive director of CARD (Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters), key points were: the general public can fare better and more lives could be saved by training people with disaster preparedness strategies and a tangible, effective response system. Jones empowered all Leadership Oakland participants with her “At-a-glance” Incident Command System cards, which assign a team with roles and operations to handle emergencies. ■ Mimi Rohr, Ingrid Severson and Louise Rothman-Riemer are all members of the Chamber’s Leadership Oakland class of 2015-16.

A program of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce

10 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

Jose Hernandez, Claudia Burgos and Julie Johnson are participants in the 2015-16 class of Leadership Oakland.


Finance & Taxation

> The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) by Dennis Kaneshiro

Just before recessing for the holidays, the House and Senate passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act). President Obama signed the PATH Act and a fiscal year 2016 omnibus on Dec. 18. The PATH Act does considerably more than the typical tax extenders legislation seen in prior years. It makes permanent over 20 key tax provisions, including the research tax credit, and enhanced Code Sec. 179 expensing. It also extends other provisions, including bonus depreciation, for five years; and revives many others for two years. Many extenders have been enhanced. Dennis Kaneshiro

Permanent extensions for businesses

The PATH Act makes permanent many business-related provisions that had been up for renewal. Code Sec. 179 expensing – Pre-PATH Act, the dollar limit for Code Sec. 179 expensing for 2015 had reverted to $25,000 with an investment limit of $200,000. The PATH Act permanently sets the Code Sec. 179 expensing limit at $500,000 with a $2 million overall investment limit before phase out (both amounts indexed for inflation beginning in 2016). The PATH Act also makes permanent the special Code Sec. 179 expensing for qualified real property and removes the $250,000 cap related to this category of expenditure beginning in 2016. Also made permanent is the special rule allowing off-the-shelf computer software to be treated as Code Sec. 179 property and the ability of a taxpayer to revoke a Code Sec. 179 election without IRS consent. Research tax credit – The research and development (R&D) tax credit is available to taxpayers with specified increases in business-related qualified research expenditures and for increases in payments to universities and other qualified organizations for basic research. 100 percent gain exclusion on qualified small business stock – The 100 percent exclusion allowed for gain on the sale or exchange of qualified small business stock held for more than five years by non-corporate taxpayers is made permanent. This benefit has proven a valuable method of funding certain startups. With a five-year holding period, it obviously still requires a long-term commitment. Trading such stock for other, similar stock, however, can be a useful option under which gain is allowed to be deferred. Reduced recognition period for S corporation built-in gains tax – The PATH Act makes permanent the five-year recognition period for built-in gain following conversion from a C to an S corporation. A corporate-level tax, at the highest marginal rate applicable to corporations (currently, 35 percent), is imposed on an S corporation’s net recognized built-in gain (for example, gain that arose prior to the conversion of the C corporation to an S corporation and is recognized by the S corporation during the recognition period).

Five-year extensions for businesses The PATH Act makes several business-related provisions available for five years, under the rationale that, although they should not be made permanent, they are sufficiently valuable at this time to be relied upon for more than the usual two-year extenders period. Among these is bonus depreciation. Bonus Depreciation – The PATH Act extends bonus depreciation (additional first-year depreciation) under a phasedown schedule through 2019. Bonus depreciation is now 50 percent through 2017, at 40 percent for 2018 and at 30 percent for 2019. Also related, bonus depreciation is increased by $8,000, unadjusted for inflation in computing the first-year depreciation for passenger autos. Unlike Code Sec. 179 expensing (above), only new property is eligible for bonus depreciation.

Energy extenders The PATH Act extends many energy provisions for businesses. Among those are the following: Solar incentives – The FY 2016 omnibus extends the solar investment tax credit and the credit for qualified residential solar property but subjects the credits to phasedown. Under the omnibus, both credits will not be available after 2021. Energy-efficient commercial buildings deduction – The PATH Act extends through 2016 the deduction for energy-efficient commercial buildings. Additionally, the PATH Act updates the energyefficient standards. The PATH Act is more extensive than what we can provide in this article, thus many extenders were not mentioned. The Act also includes many individual tax extenders and many non-tax extender laws. We advise all businesses to consult with their tax advisor regarding how the PATH Act extenders affect their business and how to plan accordingly. ■ Dennis Kaneshiro is a partner at the offices of Timpson Garcia, LLP, CPAs and Consultants. He can be reached at (510) 832-2325.

FEBRUARY 2016 | 11


Finance & Taxation

> Offer in compromise by Jong Lee

A taxpayer’s problems may start in any number of ways, but seldom does a tax problem arise from a taxpayer setting out to intentionally defraud the IRS.

Most tax problem resolution cases begin with a serious life event that creates a tax problem as a side effect. Some of the events that can lead to tax problems are divorce, loss of employment, and forgiveness of debt, including business reversal and medical problems, just to list a few. Fortunately, the IRS has instituted the offer in compromise (OIC) to provide a fresh start program to help those with continuing tax problems. The OIC program may be the most desired Internal Revenue Service program because once the offer is accepted and the individual pays the amount offered, the overdue tax is settled over immediately. The OIC is a contract with the government in which the taxpayer makes an offer to settle, the IRS accepts the offer, and there is consideration (payment) that completes the essential elements of a contract. Of course, the IRS does not just allow taxpayers to offer whatever they decide they can pay. Taxpayers need to follow certain procedures to get their offers approved. An offer in compromise is eye-catching because it allows taxpayers to pay what they can afford and still be considered fully paid. The amount owed is not a consideration when determining the acceptability of an offer. The IRS decides if an offer meets the minimum amount they will accept by reviewing the financial information submitted and by doing their own calculation of what they call the reasonable collection potential (RCP). If the taxpayer’s offer equals or exceeds the RCP then it is likely the offer will receive approval. However, there are other factors that the IRS considers in addition to financial characteristics.

Jong Lee

If the IRS believes the acceptance of an offer would undermine compliance by the taxpayer they will reject it. Needless to say, the American tax system relies heavily on voluntary compliance by taxpayers. Therefore, the acceptance of an offer from a criminal or tax protester might lead other taxpayers to conclude that they should simply not pay their taxes and then eventually ask for a settlement at a reduced amount. Therefore, the IRS always reserves the right to reject an offer in compromise if they believe it would in any way be detrimental to our voluntary tax system. ■

Jong Lee, DBA, CPA, CFF is president of The Lee Accountancy Group in downtown Oakland. He can be reached at (510) 836-7400.

100 Filbert Street Oakland, CA 94607 510.444.7959

12 | OBR Oakland Business Review |


Finance & Taxation

> Taking care of fraud: best practices for business owners Small businesses are the engine of local economies and nowhere is that more evident than in the burgeoning East Bay. While these businesses are focused on making money, especially in a growing economy, their first investment should be in protecting their assets. In good times and in bad, one thing business owners must always pay attention to is fraud prevention and protection.

Each year, more than $3.7 trillion is lost to business fraud worldwide, and small businesses tend to suffer disproportionately large losses. Nearly 30 percent of all workplace fraud happens to small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. 1 “Small businesses that are particularly susceptible to fraud must be vigilant,” according to Dawna Dowdell-Dos Santos, cash management and deposit officer for Bank of Marin in Oakland. “The focus needs to be both internal and external, with an emphasis on implementing the right tools and resources to combat this ever-present threat.” In addition to always carefully monitoring bank accounts for any potential fraudulent activity, small businesses can protect themselves by following these three best practices, which range from basic protocols to more sophisticated processes, depending on the size and nature of the business: 1. Establish internal controls • Limit electronic access to financial information or sensitive documents. • Create strong and secure passwords, and change them regularly. • Develop company policies that control how financial transactions are made and implement review and authorization procedures. • Daily review and reconciliation by a party not involved in the payables process.

2. Secure and maintain computer systems • Be cautious when utilizing wireless networks. Avoid doing business on public wireless networks, and use encryption on your own wireless network. • Ensure up-to-date firewalls, anti-virus software and spyware prevention software are in place for all computers. • Maintain the physical security of computers and limit access to computers that are used for sensitive functions. • Do not download or install software from unknown third parties. • Do not open email or email attachments from an unknown source. 3. Supervise and monitor financial transactions • Use an automated monitoring system and/or continually review wires, transfers, payroll and business checks. • Provide ongoing training and adequately supervise everyone who takes part in business finances. • If appropriate based on business size, consider utilizing CPAs to conduct audits, and conduct your own regular and unscheduled audits of inventory and finances. With an estimated median loss of $145,000 to small businesses due to fraud each year,2 prevention and protection are a must-have for any organization. Another must-have is a banking partner that focuses on the needs of its business customers. For more information on how Bank of Marin can be your resource for expertise and ongoing support in preventing and managing fraud, contact Dawna Dowdell-Dos Santos at (510) 748-8427. ■ 1 2014 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse. ©2014 by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, Inc. 2 2014 Report to the Nation on Occupational Fraud and Abuse.

FEBRUARY 2016 | 13


Finance & Taxation

> Will the new revenue recognition rules impact your financials? by Jeff Tikalsky

FASB wanted to simplify these complex revenue recognition rules and create a uniform guidance that could be applied consistently across all entity types and regions, thus the addition of Topic 606 to the ASC (IFRS 15) “Revenue from Contracts with Customers.” Effective January 2017 for public companies and 2018 for private companies, all revenues are to be recognized using five steps to apply the core principal; “An entity should recognize revenue to depict the

Revenue is an important element in all businesses, a key indicator in determining performance. Currently, FASB Accounting Standards Codification® contains revenue recognition guidance for multiple industries, each with unique reporting requirements.

transfer of promised goods or services to

Each step contains a series of criteria and considerations that require entities to exercise professional judgment in estimating probable amounts to be collected and timing of performance obligations to be fulfilled. But why do we care – we have twothree years before any of this changes. A real estate developer enters into a contract with a customer to sell a building for $1 million. The customer intends to open a restaurant in the building. The

customers in an amount that reflects the

building is located in an area where new

consideration to which the entity expects to

restaurants face high levels of competition, and the customer has little

be entitled in exchange for those goods and

experience in the restaurant industry.

services” 1. Identify the contact with a customer 2. Identify the performance obligations in the contract 3. Determine the transaction price 4. Allocate the transaction price to the performance obligation in the contract Jeff Tikalsky

entity satisfies a performance obligation

5. Recognize revenue when (or as) the

The customer pays a nonrefundable deposit of $50,000 at inception of the contract and enters into a long-term financing agreement with the developer for the remaining 95 percent. The financing arrangement is on a nonrecourse basis, and the customer obtains control of the building at contract inception. The customer’s ability and intention to pay may be in doubt because they intend to repay the loan primarily from income derived from its restaurant business (facing significant risks because of high competition in the industry and the customer’s limited experience), lack other income or assets that could be used to repay the loan, and their liability is limited under the nonrecourse loan. Because of the preceding facts it is not probable the developer will collect and should account for all consideration received – the nonrefundable deposit and all principal and interest payments – as a liability, and does not derecognize the real estate asset or recognize revenue until either: 1. The developer can conclude it is probable they will collect 2. Substantially all of the consideration from the contract has been received 3. The contract has been terminated The developer must continue to subsequently assess the contract to determine if collection is “probable.” This is one example of a list of five criteria that all need to be met before revenue can be recognized (not to be confused with the five steps listed earlier). This change is to be adopted one of two ways; retrospectively to each prior reporting period presented in the financial statements, or retrospectively with the cumulative effect recognized at date of initial application. The retrospective adoption stresses the importance of gaining an early understanding of these changes in order to determine the information needed for disclosures and cumulative effect adjustments. This pronouncement affects all entities that have contracts with customers. It is safe to say many entities will be affected. Whether it’s obtaining contract information for new disclosures, calculating probable estimates of variable consideration, recognizing revenue at blended prices due to a modification of contract for goods, or calculating book tax differences, an early understanding of these changes will help save time when this change is required. RINA Accountancy Corporation will be discussing how these new rules will impact your business revenue. ■ Jeff Tikalsky is an audit senior at RINA Accountancy Corporation in downtown Oakland. He can be reached at (510) 893-6908.

14 | OBR Oakland Business Review |


Finance & Taxation

> Volatility: The new normal for business by Anthony Thompson

Since the end of the Great Recession, the Bay Area has led the nation with residential real estate and commercial real estate prices at all-time highs and unemployment rates at all-time lows. The East Bay, with Oakland as its de facto capital, has lagged the rest of the Bay Area but we have certainly caught the wind and our sails are now full with the economic air that is propelling the rest of our mega-region. With all this great news that seems to be reported daily, there is an underlying current of volatility that is still unnerving many business owners. Some observations: Bankers have been doing kabuki dances since the end of the Great Recession suggesting that interest rates would be going up any day. Seven years after the dances started, in December, the Federal Reserve Bank finally announced a 25 basis point (0.25 percent) increase in their Fed Funds rate. Banks quickly boosted their Prime rate to 3.50 percent from 3.25 percent. It was met by markets and businesses with a great thud. At the beginning of 2008 the Prime rate was 7.25 percent so even if the Anthony Thompson Fed increases rates every quarterly as has been hypothesized, rates will remain at truly historical lows for the foreseeable future. The New Year commenced with a great deal of global economic excitement. The Shanghai composite index lost all of its 2015 gains in the first week of the New Year and continues to slide. Oil is at its lowest price in 12 years. Other commodities have tracked along with oil in seeking new lows. All of this triggered our own Dow Jones (DJIA) and Standard and Poors indexes to plummet. That said, the DJIA was at 7,000 in February 2009 and is well above 16,000 today. Our own beloved Oakland has seen office vacancy rates plummet to 3.5 percent for Class A, and 4.0 percent for Class B commercial properties. Residential rents have soared more than in any other community in the country with albeit mixed blessing. There are over 9,500 market rate residential units in the pipeline currently. Uber choosing Oakland to be their headquarters is a game changer. Our unemployment rate at 5.5 percent is below the state average of 6.3 percent. When I started my banking career here in 2001, there were two restaurants in which I could entertain customers. Now there are over 40 and Oakland is a national culinary destination. The purpose of this article was to shed some light on the economic paradigms under which we are currently operating. If we wait for the “crystal ball” to validate our emotional economic assumptions, we will miss the current economic cycle. There is still no better time in our generation to expand business and recommit to our community. Now is also the time to recommit to the “Buy Local” movement. Whether at the farmers market on Grand Avenue, new retail on Broadway, or restaurants at Jack London Square, keeping economic activity in our city is vitally important. There is no better place to show your community commitment than by using a community bank. They are an integral part of the “Buy Local” movement since at their core they attract local money and lend it back out locally. ■ Anthony Thompson is senior vice president at United Business Bank.

FEBRUARY 2016 | 15


Finance & Taxation

> When considering a tax

> How to get ready

professional – choose wisely

for tax filing – Seven steps of preparation

by Mittie Grigsby

Choosing the right tax professional is not difficult to do when you first take the time to understand your needs. Be aware that not all tax preparers and consultants have the same set of skills and expertise; therefore, not just anyone will do for your particular situation. Whether you are in need of a tax preparer (someone who prepares or reviews your annual tax returns) or a tax consultant (a professional who can assist you with tax planning or tax problem resolution), you are encouraged to do your due diligence and consider the following: Mittie Grigsby

Professional designation If you only require tax preparation you will want to ensure that s/he is properly licensed and trained to prepare taxes. Be sure that your tax preparer is either a CPA (Certified Public Accountant), an Enrolled Agent (licensed by the federal government), an attorney (properly licensed by the state) or a Registered Tax Preparer (certified by the federal government). All tax preparers who are paid to prepare taxes must have one of these designations. If you are unsure, request the preparer’s PTIN number. Need tax planning for your estate or business? Look for a tax professional who specializes in tax planning and strategies. This individual may be a CPA or a tax attorney and can provide insight into and guidance for your future tax issues. Training How many years of experience does the professional have? What is her or his expertise? Is she or he skilled enough to assist you with your complex tax issues? Integrity We all want to pay the least amount of taxes possible, but we should also ensure that the returns we file are accurate. Choose a professional who prides her/himself on accurate filings. Be wary of anyone willing to “stretch the truth.” Thoroughness Work with the professional who goes that extra step and interviews you about your situation to ensure she or he is covering all aspects of income, credits and deductions that apply to you. Remember that they are the professional and should be able to enlighten you on opportunities to legitimately minimize your tax liability, not the other way around. Fees Tax professionals are not regulated on what they can charge in fees, so choose a professional whose fee structure fits within your personal or business budget. Be careful not to choose a professional simply for low fees; you want the best professional with the right skill set for your situation to be your first priority. ■ Mittie Grigsby is owner of Grigsby Finance and Tax Services in Oakland, and is an Enrolled Agent, license to practice before the IRS. She can be reached at (510) 638-4878.

by Robert “Bob” Griffin, CPA

Now that the holidays are over, another event that is looming on the horizon may not be a cause for celebration – filing your tax return. Nevertheless, you can relieve some of the stress by having your return professionally prepared. There still is a little “work” required on your part, but it should not take much time or effort. Here are seven steps to guide you along the way. 1. Assemble tax documents. Undoubtedly, you have been inundated with numerous tax forms for the 2015 tax year, including W-2s and 1099s. Employers are required to send W-2s to employees by Feb. 1, 2016. Similarly, investors will receive 1099s with the details of their investment activities. Instead of just dumping these in a pile on your tax return preparer’s desk, review them first to ensure they are accurate. In particular, verify the cost basis used to determine the tax ramifications of securities transactions. 2. Verify Social Security information. It is critical to provide correct Social Security numbers for all dependents, including any children who were born or adopted in 2015. You can claim an exemption of $4,000 that is available for each dependent, in addition to a $1,000 credit for qualified children, but exemptions for some high-income taxpayers are reduced under a re¬-instated tax rule. Also, retirees may owe tax on Social Security benefits. 3. Organize financial statements. Having your bank and investment statements on hand will make it easier to trace the origin of funds and reasons for deposits or payments. For instance, it may be determined that a bank deposit constituted a tax-free gift rather than earned income. Similarly, brokerage statements might indicate a carryforward of a tax loss that can be used to offset capital gains realized in 2015. 4. Organize business records. The same advice applies to self-employed individuals and business owners, who are often lax with their record keeping. Make sure that expenses can be substantiated through receipts and other documentation. Remember that the IRS pays close attention to travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses, including deductions for business use of vehicles, so proper record keeping for T&E is critical. 5. Check IRA details. A taxpayer can contribute up to $5,500 to any combination of traditional and Roth IRAs ($6,500 if age 50 or older) for the 2015 tax year. Deductions for traditional IRAs are phased out for active participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans (and spouses of active participants). Roth IRA contributions are nondeductible, but generally lead to future tax-free payouts. Note: The deadline for IRA contributions for 2015 is April 15, 2016. 6. Audit-proof charity deductions. Under the current tax rules, cash and cash-equivalent gifts to charities must be supported by records, including written acknowledgements for donations of $250 or more. For a contribution of a lesser amount, the appropriate statement will suffice. Stricter substantiation requirements apply to gifts of appreciated property (e.g., an independent appraisal is required for gifts valued above $5,000). 7. Schedule a meeting. The last item on the checklist is arranging an early meeting with your tax return preparer. This can head off potential problems and resolve any discrepancies. Then you can relax in the knowledge your return is in good hands. Even if you are not preparing your own return, do not wait until the last minute to get started. ■ Robert “Bob” Griffin, CPA, is the managing partner of Williams Adley & Company-CA, LLP. He can be reached at (510) 893-8114.

16 | OBR Oakland Business Review |


Finance & Taxation

> Eight things that could trigger a business audit by Doug Regalia

Whether you're doing taxes for your own business or a client's business, the small – but real – possibility exists for an audit. Understanding the chances of an audit and what the Internal Revenue Service may pay particular attention to can help you and your client during an audit, if and when one occurs. What are some common triggers that might lead to an audit by the IRS?

Doug Regalia

Running a home-based business Operating a business from one’s home is becoming more and more common with high-speed Internet. However, the IRS is scrutinizing just how much of a home is actually used for a home office. Per IRS Publication 587, someone claiming a den or single room of their house will be more likely to have the deduction approved versus claiming their entire home. Similarly, the sole room or workspace must be used exclusively for one’s business, not for family entertaining or personal storage.

Reporting business losses It is normal and often expected for a business to have losses during the first few years. However, if losses are still reported years after the business' incorporation, the IRS might take a second look. Higher income, higher audit chances On average, the chances of an individual audited by the IRS are about 1 percent. However, the more income reported, the greater the likelihood of an audit. Tax returns showing incomes of $200,000 and more have an increased chance of an audit, about one in every 30. Filers making $1 million or more have an even greater chance of an audit – about 11 percent. Lopsided and unsubstantiated charitable deductions Donating and not substantiating a high percentage of one’s income might raise a red flag with the IRS. Giving away half of one’s income, not appraising a car or similar valuable donation or forgetting to include IRS Form 8283 might have the IRS requesting an audit. Major currency withdrawals and deposits Businesses that make deposits or withdrawals of $10,000 or more may trigger an IRS audit. The IRS gets countless reports of these types of withdrawals every day, and they will naturally pique the interest for an audit. Medical bills Bills from medical problems might be deducted if they meet a certain threshold. If medical bills add up to more than 10 percent of a filer’s adjusted gross income and they are younger than 65, they might be deductible. However, gym membership fees, nonprescription medications and medical procedures for aesthetic purposes only do not qualify under the rules as medical expenses. Partially completed tax returns Whether it’s a Social Security number, a signature, or a 1099 Form not submitted, the IRS’ system and auditors often flag such returns. And sometimes computer or data entry mistakes result in an audit to ensure there are no other errors in the tax return. Tally up and include all 1099s Staying organized with all types of 1099s will help a tax return go smoother, reducing the chances of accidentally forgetting a 1099 and potentially triggering an audit. Whether it’s a 1099-MISC documenting income earned from self-employment, a 1099-INT for earned interest, a 1099-G documenting an income tax refund or another type of 1099, ensuring all necessary 1099s are included will ensure the IRS’ system is in agreement with the supplied 1099s. The IRS can still choose to audit a business’ tax returns regardless of the circumstances. However, staying organized, following IRS regulations and maintaining one’s own records will help reduce the number of errors – which will make it a much smoother process for all involved during tax time. ■ Doug Regalia is a partner with Regalia & Associates, CPAs. He can be reached at (925) 314-0390.

FEBRUARY 2016 | 17


> Chamber gets a peek at seven new housing projects Rachel Flynn, the director of Oakland’s Planning and Building Department, gave an overview of some of Oakland’s current housing projects at last month’s Economic Development Forum. As demand to live in Oakland continues to rise, new construction is a vital part of helping to relieve the housing shortage.

Flynn’s presentation featured hundreds of new units and thousands of square feet of ground floor retail space, both of which are necessary to Oakland’s continued economic growth. Some of the artist renderings of the projects are featured below. 2323 Broadway – Signature Development, 105 residential units, office and retail. This multi-use project is known as The Hive. MacArthur Village – 3838 Turquoise Way, 90 units and ground floor retail. Phase I of a 634-unit development at the MacArthur BART Station. Built by Bridge Housing – 100 percent affordable. (Not shown.) 1100 Clay St. – Strada Development, 225 units and ground

▲ 2323 Broadway

floor retail. Sits on city-owned land and there are plans to build a hotel in Phase 2. 1401 Wood St. – City Ventures, 171 units and ground floor retail. This townhouse project is adjacent to the West Oakland train station (foreground).

1700 Webster St. – Gerding Edlen, 206 units and ground floor retail. This residential project is east of Broadway. 2302 Valdez St. – Wood Partners, 200 units and ground floor retail. A residential project in the Broadway Valdez area. 4901 Broadway – SRM Development, 126 units and ground floor retail. On the corner of Broadway and 51st Street. ■

▲ 1100 Clay

▲ 1401 Wood

▲ 4901 Broadway

▲ 2302 Valdez

▲ 1700 Webster

18 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

> AC Transit Board approves more frequency, reliability, service hours The AC Transit Board of Directors has approved the largest service enhancement in the district’s history. Currently known as the Service Expansion Plan (SEP), bus service will increase by up to 14 percent, creating a more reliable, convenient and efficient transit network for the East Bay.

The SEP is primarily funded by the voterapproved Alameda County Measure BB transportation sales tax. Measure BB is projected to contribute almost $30 million annually to AC Transit. The District plans to invest approximately $24 million of those funds to improve bus service within Alameda County. In 2010, AC Transit was forced to reduce service due to the economic downturn. The East Bay is now experiencing a revitalization economically, culturally and socially, and the approval by the AC Transit Board now allows the District to be more proactive with these growing demands. “We were in an unenviable position in 2010, forced to reduce service that we know our customers relied on to get to school, to work and to medical care,” said AC Transit Board President H. E. Christian Peeples. “I’m thrilled to approve a service plan that both restores and enhances this invaluable service in an unprecedented way.” The SEP was designed with improved frequency as its primary focus. As a result, AC Transit has created a Frequent Service Network, which provides more buses running every 15 minutes or better along several key corridors. ■

> Get ready for a SMARTer way to drive on I-80 Interstate 80 is on its way to getting SMARTer with the I-80 SMART Corridor Project. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in partnership with the Alameda County Transportation Commission (Alameda CTC) and the Contra

Costa Transportation Authority ▲ During incidents, overhead signs (CCTA), has been testing newly will light up when there is an installed overhead sign frames upcoming accident or traffic jam, (gantries), traffic information reflecting real-time conditions boards, ramp meters, variable ahead. Successive overhead signs advisory speed signs and more. will be coordinated to inform When activated in spring 2016, drivers to change out of blocked the signs, traffic information lanes gradually. The red X sign informs drivers that the lane is boards and other project elements blocked ahead. along the corridor will notify motorists of incidents or blocked lanes ahead, provide real-time traffic conditions and expected travel times, and help smooth traffic and enhance safety. The overhead sign frames are located along westbound I-80 between Richmond and Emeryville, while the other elements, including the six large traffic information boards, are installed in both the eastbound and westbound directions between the Carquinez Bridge and the Bay Bridge. With the current phase of testing nearly complete, Caltrans will soon embark on extensive testing of the integrated system, which will continue until the anticipated system activation in spring 2016. The testing of the individual elements began earlier this summer. These project elements form a comprehensive, coordinated network along this 20-mile stretch of I-80. The I-80 SMART Corridor Project integrates electronic signs, ramp meters and other state-of-the-art elements into a regional system to enhance motorist safety, improve travel time reliability, and reduce accidents and associated traffic congestion along one of the busiest corridors in the Bay Area. In the event of an incident, motorists using westbound I-80 will see signs that will direct them to slow down or change lanes well ahead of time, as well as provide other useful information. Following the instructions on these signs will help reduce secondary accidents caused by sudden lane changes or abrupt stops when lanes are blocked as a result of an incident. Another benefit is that emergency vehicles will be better able to reach the scene of an accident due to cleared lanes. Motorists can see a demonstration of the new signs on the project website, The San Pablo Avenue corridor and some local roads are also part of this project, integrating the interstate and local road operations into a single system. For more information about the I-80 SMART Corridor Project, visit ■

FEBRUARY 2016 | 19

> Wendel Rosen honored; new attorneys named The Oakland-based law firm of Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP has been named to the sixth annual “Best Law Firms” list published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. The firm’s LitigationReal Estate practice moved from a Tier 2 ranking to Metropolitan Tier 1, joining the Bankruptcy and Creditor Debtor Rights / Insolvency and Reorganization Law, Construction Law and Real Estate Law practices. Additionally, Wendel Rosen’s Land Use & Zoning Law practice was awarded a Metropolitan Tier 2 ranking. Firms included in the 2016 “Best Law Firms” list are recognized for professional excellence with persistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. In addition, the firm congratulates Land Use Patricia Curtin Partner Patricia Curtin on being selected as a 2015 Northern California Real Estate Woman of Influence. Curtin, who was recognized for her contributions and achievements to Northern California real estate, was presented with an award and profiled in a supplement to the San Francisco Business Times. Evelin Bailey A member of Wendel Rosen’s three-person Management Committee, her practice emphasizes land use and local government law, representing both private and public sector clients. Wendel Rosen also welcomes a number of new attorneys, bringing the firm to a total of 67: • Evelin Bailey has joined the firm as an associate in its Employment Practice Group. Her practice focuses on defending employers in suits alleging anti-discrimination and wage and hour violations. Her experience also includes Jeffrey Levi representing employers faced with immigration worksite enforcement investigations related to the Form I-9. • Jeffery Levi has joined the Trusts and Estates Practice Group. Levi, who joins the firm from Roisman Henel LLP in Oakland, is certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in probate, estate planning and trust law. • M. Brooke Wilson also has joined the Trusts and Estates Practice Group. Wilson, also from Roisman Henel, focuses on estate planning, trust M. Brooke Wilson and estate administration, and federal estate and gift taxation, and is also a State Bar Board certified specialist in probate, estate planning and trust law. • Quinlan Tom has been named to the Construction Practice Group. Most recently with McInerney & Dillon in Oakland, Tom has more than 25 years of experience representing private and public owners, general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, developers, architects, construction managers and other professionals in all aspects of construction litigation. ■ Quinlan Tom

> Take the escalator instead of the elevator (speech) Editor’s note: Author David de Leeuw recently held a “Networking 101” seminar at the Chamber offices. by David de Leeuw

You’ve heard it over and over again – have your “elevator speech” polished for when you go to mixers and social events, right?

Wrong! In my “Maximize Your Mixing” class I explain how the elevator speech has hampered mixing success. Lots of people fear going to a mixer because they don’t have a polished elevator speech. Too bad – had they gone, they would have likely met a new client or two. The term “elevator speech” means delivering your “pitch” in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately 30 seconds to two minutes. But…

20 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

Have you ever been to a mixer and someone starts to give you their elevator speech? Have you observed their eyes? They roll slightly up and to the left – because they are accessing their memory to deliver their canned presentation. There goes eye-contact! And what do we do during their elevator speech? Once it is obvious that it is a speech, we go from active listening to judging and worrying. We think: “What is she trying to sell me?” or, “Wow – pretty good elevator speech,” and then, “Oh-oh, in 30 seconds, it’s time for me to give her my elevator speech,” so now your eyes are rolling up and to the left. The result is a whole lot of words, without much real connecting about what you two can possibly do for each other. Here’s what I teach instead: Picture an escalator instead of an elevator. You’re going up, the other person is going down, and you are within earshot of each other for about seven seconds. That’s long enough to say, “Hello, my name is John Smith, with XYZ Widgets,” and for them to respond in kind. Then picture both of you jumping back on the escalator several times to continue the conversation. You need little sound-bites to keep the conversation rolling along in a mutually attentive natural flow, instead of a canned presentation. Ideally, some of these sound bites should be questions instead of statements, like, “Have you heard about XYZ Widgets before?” or “What brings you to this mixer?” Got a polished elevator speech? Chop it into itty-bitty sound bites and trust your intuition to decide which one to say and when. Or, try answering these questions to construct your escalator sound bites – What are you good at? What do you offer? Who needs your service? How are you unique? Keep these answers short: one sentence, seven seconds short. Break multiple sentences into their own “escalators.” Try asking new contacts these same questions and listen to their answers. This will help you keep the conversation flowing and if you listen carefully, you’ll learn if this person is a good lead for you. After all, that’s what you really want to know, right? Don’t make your full pitch. Swap business cards and agree to follow-up at a later date for your full presentation. Then go meet some more David de Leeuw new people, you networking superstar! ■ David de Leeuw conducts Mixing/Networking workshops for organizations large and small. If you are interested in the next mixing skills workshop or in a private workshop for your team, contact him at (925) 817-7808 or email

> Development impact fee continued from page 1

Committee. “However, if we set the fee too high, it could slow development, which would in turn result in less fees being collected.” There is a real risk that setting the fee too high, applying it to too many existing projects, or phasing it in too quickly could kill a significant amount of development in Oakland and therefore worsen the severe housing shortage. Any unit built – at any income level – will help relive the housing crisis. City staff have recommended phasing in affordable housing fees along a three-year schedule at $5,000, $10,000, and $20,000 per multi-family unit, along with a $720 transportation fee and potentially a future capital improvement fee. The fees would be less in West and East Oakland. Berkeley and Emeryville both have $28,000 per unit fees, and it should be noted that their impact fee programs have not worked as intended – bringing in little money to their Affordable Housing Trust Funds. Approximately 40 housing activists turned out to the Jan. 26 committee meeting to advocate for immediate fees at $25,000 per unit – far more aggressive than what is recommended by the experts and city staff. Most people involved in the conversations around impact fees believe that option to be unsustainable. About eight public speakers at the meeting – including representatives of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce – supported the creation of a reasonable, phased-in impact fee that encourages development and investment in Oakland. “Unless it is phased in properly, a fee could render many existing projects unfeasible and discourage new investment during a time of great opportunity for Oakland,” Barbara Leslie, president and CEO of the Chamber, said in her remarks to the committee. “Regardless of the level at which the fee is set, without new market-rate development it will fail to raise any funds foraffordable housing. Zero times $24,000 or $25,000 per unit is still zero.” Over two hours of public testimony left the committee with little time to discuss substantive matters regarding the fee. The Councilmembers asked staff to return with more information on a few policy questions at their next meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 1:30 p.m. ■ Aly Bonde is a member of the Chamber’s Public Policy Department.

> Thoughts from Councilmember Campbell Washington Oakland City Councilmember Ann Campbell Washington spoke to a group of more than 30 members and guests last month at the Chamber’s regular Inside Oakland series. The Councilmember spoke about several issues upcoming for Oakland in 2016.

Campbell Washington expressed her excitement about the launch of Oakland Promise, an initiative aimed at tripling the number of Oakland public school students who graduate from college. The first phase – creating college savings accounts for low-income kindergarteners and at-risk children born in Oakland – will roll out on a pilot basis this fall, with the hope of scaling up in the near future. Also on the Councilmember’s agenda for this year is her effort to get Oaklanders to approve a soda tax likely to be on the November 2016 ballot. Berkeley became the first city in the country to pass a one cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks in 2014. Now Oakland and San Francisco are looking to do the same thing. Campbell Washington said the Oakland measure would be similar to Berkeley’s and would raise $11 million per year for public health and education. The Council is also currently considering charging a fee on new market-rate development to go towards funding affordable housing, capital improvements, and transportation. Campbell Washington said there will be Ann Campbell Washington debate on the Council about how to phase-in the fee, what level to charge in various parts of the city, as well as how to allocate the funds among the three categories. The discussion was part of the Chamber’s monthly Inside Oakland series – a public forum for Chamber members and their guests featuring public and private decision makers who affect Oakland. The next Inside Oakland will be held on Friday, Feb. 26 and will feature Oakland’s new City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, who will discuss her goals and priorities for the city. ■

> Port of Oakland welcomes first ‘megaship’ in U.S.

> The right care in the right place: partnership reduces hospital readmissions – by Ursula Boynton, M.D. Delivering high-quality, patient-centered care doesn’t end when patients leave the hospital. Sutter Health’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center collaborates with skilled nursing facilities in Oakland and Berkeley to help patients continue healing and return home. Repeated hospitalizations are stressful – physically and emotionally – for patients and their families. Nationally, about one in five Medicare patients discharged to a skilled nursing facility is readmitted to a hospital within 30 days. By emphasizing coordinated care and communication, we work closely with hospital Ursula Boynton and skilled nursing staff to ensure patients return home – not to the hospital. In 2014, Alta Bates Summit began partnerships with Elmwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Oakland Healthcare and Wellness Center, and Piedmont Gardens. Each committed to high clinical standards to improve care coordination and decrease preventable hospital readmission. Reducing readmissions Since partnering with Alta Bates Summit, all three facilities have seen a drop in the number of patients readmitted within 30 days. • In 2015, their combined readmission rate to Alta Bates Summit is 12.3 percent compared to almost 20 percent nationwide. • Emergency room visits and the number of patients readmitted to the hospital within a 48-hour period have also declined. While Alta Bates Summit works closely with these three facilities, patients and their families may select any nursing home, home health agency or other providers. Improving care As part of our partnership, skilled nursing facilities: • Access patient data from Alta Bates Summit’s electronic health record, smoothing the transfer from hospital to post-acute care. • Have increased rehabilitation and case management staff. Emmons Collins, M.D., oversees a specialized team of physicians and nurse practitioners working with Alta Bates Summit physicians to carry out their recommendations and treatment plans for skilled nursing patients. “By focusing our quality improvement efforts on communication between providers at the time of the transfer, we provide a better patient experience, clinical outcome and reduce unnecessary readmissions to the hospital,” Dr. Collins says. For patients and their families, that means receiving the right care at the right place to support recovery and return home. To learn more about how Alta Bates Summit partners to help improve patient care in our community, visit ■ Ursula Boynton, M.D. is the administrative medical director at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.

> Port of Oakland launches hotline, live chat, and office hours Recently, the Port of Oakland successfully berthed the largest cargo ship to ever visit the U.S. The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, at 1,310 feet nearly a quarter-mile long, tied up at the Port’s Outer Harbor. By docking without incident, it symbolically opened the Trans-Pacific trade route between Asia and North America to megaships. Prior to the docking in Oakland, megaships carrying 18,000 containers or more have been used exclusively in Asia-Europe trade lanes. Now that the CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin has proven workable in Oakland, other megaships will likely follow. They’re the most cost-effective, fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vessels afloat. “This is a milestone for the Port of Oakland and for U.S. trade,” said Port Maritime Director John Driscoll. “We’ll see more of these big ships before long. This vessel also represents and reinforces the economic partnership between the U.S. and France.” According to Marc Bourdon, president of CMA CGM (America) LLC, a subsidiary of CMA CGM, “The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin’s call at the Port of Oakland was made possible thanks to a tight collaboration with all stakeholders at the port. By welcoming the largest containership ever to call at U.S. ports, authorities have demonstrated their willingness to be part of an ever growing shipping industry.” ■

The Port of Oakland has launched a new toll-free telephone hotline, website live chat, and office hours in East and West Oakland. This new outreach program, called “Meet the Port,” provides the public access and engagement with the Port.

“Our hotline, live chat, and office hours are staffed by Port employees trained to provide information and gather feedback about anything Port-related,” said Port of Oakland Social Responsibility Director Amy Tharpe. “We also provide resources, referrals and the latest updates about doing business and working with the Port.” The Port’s toll-free telephone hotline is 1-844-OAKPORT (1-844-645-7678), and will be answered by a Port employee Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Port has a live chat feature at available Monday through Friday at the same time. The Port of Oakland today holds office hours in West Oakland at the West Oakland Jobs Resource Center, 1801 Adeline St. Office hours will be held during the third Tuesday of every month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The East Oakland office is located at Cypress Mandela Training Center, 977 66th Ave. Office hours in East Oakland will be held during the second Tuesday of every month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Drops-ins are welcome. ■

FEBRUARY 2016 | 21

CareBuilders At Home, which has been serving clients for more than 30 years, recently celebrated its new office with a ribbon cutting and open house. The office is located at 400 29th St., Suite 403, in Oakland.

Above, director of operations Sara Ricks cuts the ribbon along with executive director Bryan Ricks and home care manager Christina Ochoa. According to Bryan Ricks, home care has allowed those who cherish the homes they’ve built throughout their lives to remain in the comfort of that environment. It has also allowed people the capability to reduce care spending by offering a viable alternative to institutional settings, such as nursing homes, which in most cases run more than three to four times the cost of receiving care in one's home. CareBuilders at Home believes that they are the best option for people who prefer staying in their own homes while receiving the best possible care. For more information, call (510) 628-8426. ■

> A mixing of cultures

> About Town – News from the BIDs

> A Chamber welcome

The following is another in a series of columns featuring news and events in Oakland’s Business Improvement Districts (BIDs).

> A look at the KONO District The Oakland City Council has approved Phase I of the Telegraph Avenue Complete Streets Plan, which extends bike lanes from downtown Oakland to 41st Street, including protected bike lanes for nine blocks in the KONO District (Koreatown Northgate). Telegraph Avenue soon will have Oakland’s first protected bike lanes, from 20th Street to 29th Street. The goal of the project is for Telegraph Avenue to have a “safe, comfortable and attractive bikeway for people of all ages to enjoy getting around Oakland, visiting local businesses, commuting to work and school, visiting friends and enjoying all Oakland has to offer.” (Bike Eastbay, 2015)

Oakland received a $4.5 million grant to upgrade this project with bike traffic signals at 27th Street, MacArthur Boulevard and 40th Street to make these busy intersections safer for bicycling, and to add islands to the left of the bike lanes and eliminate bus/bike conflicts. Currently, Transportation Service Division staff members have performed field walks to fine tune adjustments to the striping plans that were developed last year after the City Council approval of the plan. Some small detailed adjustments include complying with driveway clearances and additional pavement repair in the future bikeway. Crosswalks and center-turn lanes will be marked out soon. Transportation Service Division staff is projecting the completion of the bikeway prior to the National Bike to Work Day celebration in May. First Fridays Throughout 2015, Oakland First Fridays street festival created significant impact in the monthly market space. Amongst the food vendor community, the festival provided economic opportunities for many mobile food entrepreneurs. The festival houses hundreds of arts, crafts and maker vendors, and draws thousands of patrons to the KONO district. Oakland First Fridays is currently on winter break and will returnon March 4, celebrating the arts and community in the streets of the KONO District. ■

The Peony restaurant in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown was the setting for the 2016 All-Chambers Mixer last month. Some 200 people representing five chambers of commerce in Oakland were on hand for the event, which featured some of the finest networking at any one event in the city. Chamber members enjoyed outstanding food and drink, a short welcome by Chamber executives, and a raffle, which produced a winner of two tickets from Southwest Airlines for anywhere that Southwest flies in the continental United States.

Pictured at the mixer (seated, left to right) are Oakland Metro Chamber President Barbara Leslie, Oakland Chinatown Chamber President Sandra Wong, Oakland African-American Chamber President Cheryl Perry League, and Cheryl Maier of the Oakland Private Industry Council, who was the lucky winner of the Southwest Airlines tickets. Standing, left to right, were Treva Reid of PG&E, one of the mixer sponsors; Victor Martinez, representing the Oakland Hispanic Chamber; Jennie Ong, executive director of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber; Greg Chan, representing mixer sponsor East Bay Municipal Utility District; Merlin Edwards, from the Oakland African American Chamber Board of Directors, and Phuc Tran of the Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce. ■

22 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

All events held at Chamber offices, 475 14th Street, unless otherwise noted. Call 874-4800 to confirm dates and times. Meetings are open to all Chamber members.

Economic Development Forum Update on the Port of Oakland | Feb. 10


Economic Development Summit #Oakland Advantage | Mar. 18

City Administrator Sabrina Landreth | Feb. 26

Keeping you connected and informed

> FEBRUARY 2016 10 | Economic Development Forum

|3 - 4:30 p.m. E X ECUTI V E COM MI T TEE


Chair of the Board MARK EVERTON Waterfront Hotel



VICTORIA JONES The Clorox Company

GREG CHAN East Bay Municipal Utility District DAN COHEN Full Court Press HILARY PEARSON Sungevity DAVID TUCKER Waste Management of Alameda County ZACK WASSERMAN Ex Officio Corporate Counsel Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP

B OA RD O F D IR ECTOR S KIM ARNONE Cutting Edge Capital HARMINDER BAINS Securitas ALICIA BERT PG&E ALISON BEST Visit Oakland DAREN CHAN AT&T JOHN DOLBY DTZ RON FOREST Matson Navigation Company BENJAMIN HARRISON Colliers International STAN HEBERT California State University, East Bay

PAMELA KERSHAW Port of Oakland

Tuesday February

featuring an update on the Port of Oakland’s three business lines – aviation, maritime and real estate, presented by Pamela Kershaw, commercial real estate director, and Amy Tharpe, director of social responsibility, free for Chamber members, $15 for non-members


After Five

No charge for Chamber members. $15 non-members.

5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

25 | After Five Reception | 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

MICHAEL LEBLANC PICÁN Restaurant KEN LOWNEY Lowney Architecture

26 | Inside Oakland Breakfast Forum | 8:30-10 a.m.

ROBERT LUCCHESE Bank of America KEN MAXEY Comcast ED MCFARLAN JRDV Urban International SAM NASSIF Creative Hospitality Corporation MICKY RANDHAWA Wells Fargo JACKIE LYNN RAY Schnitzer Steel Industries JENNIFER SCANLON Kaiser Permanente DENNIS SCHRAG UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland DAVID STEIN Donahue Fitzgerald LLP Bj WASHINGTON J.P. Morgan Chase ELÑORA TENA WEBB, PH.D. Laney College STACEY WELLS Sutter Health East Bay

The purpose of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is to promote commerce and industry, to advance economic growth and to enhance the quality of life in the city of Oakland.

OBR OAKLAND BUSINESS REVIEW (ISSN 1092-7220) is published monthly at $100.00 a year by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, 475 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612-1903. Membership dues include subscription. Periodicals postage at Oakland, CA. Contents can’t be reproduced without permission. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to OAKLAND BUSINESS REVIEW, 475 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612. Editor

HANK MASLER, (510) 874-4808

featuring Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, handling the day-to-day management of the city, free for Chamber members, $15 for non-members

> MARCH 2016 18 | Economic Development Summit, “Oakland Economy of the Future,” | 7:30-10 a.m.

CARTER DESIGNS The articles published in this publication do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

LWV luncheon set for April 28

The ballroom at Oakland’s Scottish Rite Center will be the site for a gala Silver Anniversary event – the 25th anniversary of the League of Women Voters (LWV) All-City Luncheon, which is set for Thursday, April 28. The event begins with registration and networking at 11:15 a.m. and will end at 1:30 p.m. Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State, will be the featured speaker. Secretary Padilla will share his plans to increase voter participation in California’s elections and build a pool of registered voters that reflects more closely the diversity of the population of the state. Individual tickets go on sale in March, but it’s not too early to pledge to host a table. For additional information, visit, call (510) 834-7640 or email

Kaiser Center

24 | After Five Reception | 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Albany Bowl, 540 San Pablo Ave., Albany, free for Chamber members, $15 for non-members

> APRIL 2016 1 | Women in Business Roundtable Luncheon | 11:15 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Waterfront Hotel in Jack London Square

13 | Economic Development Forum | 3 - 4:30 p.m. free for Chamber members, $15 for non-members,

22 | Inside Oakland Breakfast Forum

Web site design We work with you and your team to connect your product or service with your target. We create quality publications and websites that help build your brand – annual reports,

| 8:30-10 a.m. free for Chamber members, $15 for

brochures, logos, corporate newsletters, Emma marketing email, advertising, sales kits , post card


marketing and web sites.

28 | After Five Reception | 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. free for Chamber members, $15 for non-members |

Design/Production Editor


@OaklandChamber #OaklandChamber #TheOaklandAdvantage

C ARTER = DESIGNS C O M M U N I C AT I O N D E S I G N T H AT R E A L LY M E A N S B U S I N E S S 5 1 0 . 6 5 3 . 2 1 5 3 • c c @ c h e r i e ca r t e r d e s i g n s . c o m

FEBRUARY 2016 | 23

24 | OBR Oakland Business Review |

February 2016 Oakland Business Review  
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