AYPAL is continuing the fight against gentrification, this time by escalating our action against the permitting of building a new hotel on an empty lot in Chinatown at 378 11th street, a block away from our programming site. Youth crossed the fence line on April 19th and 21st to perform cultural arts action on the land, bringing into question “how else could this space be used?”. Our communities of Oakland need and deserve resources now, and our city government seems to be more concerned with working with developers with bad track records than paying attention to community. (Note: images purposely do not reveal AYPAL youth faces to prevent criminalization).
Below is an excerpt of our press release:
Downtown Oakland – At 4:45 PM on Tuesday April 19th and Thursday April 21st, carrying signs that read “Our Oakland, Our Future, Not for Sale!”, twenty-five students from different Oakland high schools crossed the fence into the lot of the proposed Hampton Inn Hotel in Chinatown and performed a cultural arts dance show to protest the building of the new hotel. By reclaiming the space, their youth organization, AYPAL: Building API Community Power, demonstrated an alternative use for the space that provides resources that their community lacks, including after-school programs for “at-risk” youth.
The Oakland Planning Department approved Oak 378 LLC’s application to build a new Hampton Inn on a valuable downtown site – just weeks after the City of Oakland notified Oak 378’s owners of a fine for violating the new minimum wage ordinance at their existing Oakland hotel.
Oak 378 is owned by Sima and Pravin Patel, who also own the Holiday Inn Express on Hegenberger Road. A City report, issued February 3, listed numerous violations of the Oakland minimum wage ordinance at the Holiday Inn Express – including underpaying workers, manipulating time-card records, withholding evidence from City investigators, and reducing workers’ hours in response to passage of the minimum wage law. Penalties included a $5,000 fine and back pay for employees.
Measure FF, passed overwhelmingly by Oakland voters last year, established a $12.25 minimum wage and expressly allowed the City to consider minimum wage law violations when making land use decisions.
The Hampton Inn approval was made with no hearings, public process, or community input – despite protests from Chinatown groups like AYPAL who said the hotel project would worsen inequality and displacement in the neighborhood. The decision to approve the hotel was delegated solely to Planning Director Rachel Flynn, who came under criticism last fall for asserting that there is no affordable housing crisis in Oakland.
“We want more accountability around decision-making. One person, Rachel Flynn, should not be deciding what gets built in our neighborhood. Today’s action is to show that we are still building community, while the City seems to be tearing our community apart with developments like these. The API community is often overlooked, and this space could be used towards resources that underrepresented communities need, rather than building a hotel that was a track record of bad working conditions,” said Joshua Fisher Lee, Director of AYPAL.