Update on Rebecca Kaplan’s Call for the City of Oakland to Open Health-Compliant Clean Air Cooling Centers. Response to City Administration Report to be heard September 15 at 1:30pm
Oakland – On August 26, 2020, I shared with you my ongoing efforts to request the Oakland City Administration to open health-compliant Clean Air Cooling Centers, to protect public health on days of extreme heat and excess air pollution. Since then, we have continued to experience dangerous air quality. In the last few days, Oakland has seen hazy orange skies with falling ash, putting the health of the public at risk. We are asked to spare the air, and when outside, wear protective masks and limit our time outdoors. But not everyone has access to the resources needed in this challenging situation. Unfortunately, to date, the city has yet to open clean air centers.
We cannot ignore that many are without adequate shelter, clean air spaces or protective masks. When the administration had still not opened the previously-requested safe clean air facilities, I took action to schedule a report to Council on the progress, and any further steps needed, so both the Council and the public could hear from the administration about what has been setup, and what additional plans have been made. The report I requested from the City Administration will be heard at the Tuesday, September 15th City Council meeting, which takes place on zoom starting at 1:30pm.
To observe the meeting by video conference, please click on this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86525566247
Click here to view the FULL AGENDA & more Viewing meeting information
The report they have submitted to the agenda, lacks the information requested and it appears to disclose that they have not opened any clean air buildings despite many days of heavy smoke and high heat, and from the report, we cannot tell if any buildings have been made ready to open, nor have they provided information about what is needed to open them. The standards the administration mentions planning to use seem designed to avoid opening them, despite serious impacts to public health.
As I mentioned:
I have followed up with a supplemental memo, calling for further action to protect the health of our community, including to ensure such facilities are prepared and actually are opened when needed, and sharing my prior email with the administration about this. I am proposing that we give direction to the Administration to return to Council with the following:
What facilities are prepared to open for these uses?
What programs have been set up for masks and other protective equipment distribution?
What steps or funds are needed to achieve these goals?
Direction for a policy of opening them in a way that is protective of our community and public health.
Oakland must be prepared with clean air safe spaces for people, including for those who are unhoused or lack other options. The City must have a way to respond when we have smoke or air quality warnings or excess heat. Wildfires and the accompanying poor air quality can, and should have been, anticipated. In July, when I reminded the City Administration on the record, it was prior to the start of the traditional fire season, there was time to prepare. Experience has taught us to expect that there will be more fires. We needed to ensure we were prepared to have all of our community be protected in these situations.
In fact, last summer, when libraries were closed to the public during high heat bad air days, due to inadequate HVAC equipment, I reached out to start a process to identify and fund solutions to allow for our vital public facilities to be safe places during times of high heat and bad air quality. In recent budget deliberations, I sought funding to ensure that public facilities can be prepared to safely accommodate public needs, including being COVID-compliant, having adequate filtration, and being able to provide respite from high heat and bad air quality.
Please join me at the September 15th Council meeting to advocate for all of Oakland to have a safe space to breath and gain relief from the heat.
These materials are posted online at:
Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan is an honors graduate from MIT, and holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School. Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember, she was re-elected in 2016.
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