Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends – November 2022

The City of Oakland celebrated the opening of an EVgo fast-charging station at 519 Lake Park Avenue in Oakland with a news conference on October 12. Partially located on a sliver of Splash Pad Park east of the parking lot entrance, the public electric vehicle charging station features six 200kW fast chargers, capable of charging a vehicle up to 80% in 15-45 minutes, depending on the capability of the vehicle. This project adds to the 235 existing public EV chargers in Oakland, expanding the network of infrastructure to support the growing number of electric vehicles owned by residents and visitors.

Attendees included EVgo representatives and City of Oakland staff including Mayor Libby Schaaf, who said this:

Since adopting the Equitable Climate Action Plan in 2020, Oakland has made critical strides in fighting the climate crisis while ensuring that the benefits of our actions go first and foremost to Oaklanders who need them most. This convenient new ZEV site shows our commitment to ensuring that all Oaklanders – including renters – are part of this critical transition.

For the past several years, the Splash Pad News has been regularly reporting on homeless issues, particularly so as they pertain to those individuals who are mentally ill while roaming our streets, sleeping in doorways, and too often dying unhoused and untreated. An in-depth study by Jialu L Streeter titled, Homelessness in California: Causes and Policy Considerations was published by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in May of this year. It should be required reading for city, state, and county officials where homelessness has reached crisis proportions. I also highly recommend it for concerned residents and encourage them to actively lobby those officials to implement the necessary changes.

The key takeaways from the study are:

  • California’s homeless crisis is associated with high housing costs, inadequate shelter spaces, deinstitutionalization, and changes in the criminal justice system.
  • To improve housing affordability, California needs to streamline and accelerate housing production and reexamine the regulations that have hindered new housing development.
  • To reduce the unsheltered homeless population, more shelter capacity and increased investment in cost-effective housing are needed.
  • A large share of the chronically homeless suffers from drug addiction and mental health problems. More treatment facilities and lower barriers for treatment are needed.

By the numbers:

  • The homelessness counts in California rose by 42 percent between 2014 and 2020, while the rest of the country had a 9 percent decrease.
  • About 70 percent of California’s homeless live outside a shelter system, sleeping in tents, public open spaces, or vehicles. That’s a stark contrast with New York, where only 5 percent of the homeless population are unsheltered.
  • In 2020, about 25 percent of all homeless adults in Los Angeles County had severe mental illnesses such as a psychotic disorder and schizophrenia and 27 percent had a long-term substance use disorder.
  • The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is well over $3,000 in the Bay Area, more than twice as much as the national average of $1,200.
  • California ranks 49th among all U.S. states for housing units per capita (McKinsey Global Institute 2016).
  • About 70 percent of the homeless in California are unsheltered, more than in any other state. A primary reason for the sizable unsheltered population is the low stock of emergency shelters and transitional housing.
  • As a result of the nationwide deinstitutionalization, the number of mentally ill patients in public psychiatric hospitals plummeted from 558,239 in 1955 to 37,209 in 2016. However, the vision of providing care in the community didn’t materialize as was planned. The total beds throughout the country were about 170,000 in 2014, compared with over 550,000 in 1955 .

While the problems involved in solving the above issues may seem insurmountable, we are pleased to share an LA Times article about a non-profit agency in Salt Lake City called the Inn Between whose mission is to “end the tragic history of vulnerable people dying on the streets.”

We are even more pleased to end this month’s Odds and Ends column on a happier note about soft-serve ice cream with secret flavors.

Compliments of The Oaklandside: “Those seeking a little sweetness in Oakland should head over to My Goodness, a new soft-serve ice cream counter inside Lake Merritt’s charming Cafe Lakeview. Along with chocolate and vanilla cones, Straus Family Creamery soft-serve sundaes here feature decadent chocolate-y toppings, or seasonal fruit, evoking baked treats such as apple pie or peach cobbler.”