Oakland Global News, November 2013
Happy Thanksgiving! Oakland Global News is a monthly newsletter for readers with an interest in staying current as the Oakland Global Trade & Logistics Center (former Oakland Army Base) project evolves. This week OG News includes stories about project hiring and several other topics. Enjoy!
Project Hiring Policies and Tracking Ramp Up
Two systems document hiring in line with jobs policies
As the Oakland Global construction project kicks into gear, so do the jobs policies that make the project unique in its efforts to employ union laborers and local residents. Complementing the policies are aggressive reporting systems to make sure that hiring goals are met.
In short, the jobs policies dictate that each contractor involved in Oakland Global construction ensure the following: At least 50 percent of project work hours are performed by Oakland residents; a minimum of 25 percent of apprentice work hours are performed by disadvantaged workers; and 20 percent of project work is performed by apprentices.
Disadvantaged workers include ex-offenders, and with limited exceptions, the jobs policies prohibit contractors from inquiring about applicants’ history of involvement with the criminal justice system.
The jobs policies also include contractor hiring reporting requirements, which Oakland Global contractors are currently ramping up to meet. The hiring data will soon be logged into two software systems designed to track contractors’ jobs policy compliance.
One system is managed by the City of Oakland. Contractors must submit weekly certified payroll reports to the city, which will tabulate totals and announce results every four to six weeks. Real-time data will be available to the public on the Web through separate software created by California Capital & Investment Group (CCIG), the city’s Oakland Global development partner.
“By using two separate systems, the city and CCIG are demonstrating their commitment to the jobs policies being followed to the letter,” said Marjo Keller, contract compliance manager for the project. “The public’s confidence should be bolstered by the opportunity to view real time jobs data reporting.”
Virtual Inspections To Accelerate Construction
Permitting process likely to be more efficient
Builders in Oakland are expecting faster turnaround times on construction projects – from small home repairs to commercial tenant improvements – following the Oakland City Council’s unanimous approval Nov. 19, which allows contractors to submit photos and video in lieu of a site visit during the building permit process.
The “virtual” inspections will be used in instances where building inspectors have already visited a job site and have required a contractor to correct their work. Historically, inspectors made additional trips to projects to observe and approve corrections.
The idea is the brainchild of a task force convened by Councilmember Libby Schaaf and the Oakland Builder’s Alliance (OBA), a membership organization which promotes urban infill and smart-growth policies. Alliance members, including President Mark McClure, reached out to Schaaf for help in solving a longstanding problem that has threatened to slow the pace of economic development in Oakland.
Even a small tenant improvement could take up to three months to be permitted under the old system, which included at least three in-person inspections, according to McClure. Those inspections not only delayed work, but unnecessarily used city resources, including staff time and fuel.
“The virtual inspections get to the heart of a problem that has stalled projects and frustrated Oakland’s builders for some time- the process simply took too long,” said McClure, who also is a partner with California Capital & Investment Group, the City of Oakland’s Army Base project partner.
Schaaf emphasized that the new system adds a layer of documentation that did not exist with in-person inspections.
“This new process significantly improves the end product by creating a lasting visual documentation of each inspection,” Schaaf said. She noted that, in addition to photos, the new rules also allow contractors to use video chat tools, such as FaceTime and Skype to confirm corrections.
A rough survey of other U.S. cities shows that while some may use photographs in permitting for select types of construction work, no city has embraced photographic and video evidence on such a broad scale.
EPA Offers Funds To Retrofit Equipment
The Environmental Protection Agency is offering $2 million in rebates to help construction equipment owners replace or retrofit older diesel construction engines.
The EPA is accepting applications for the funds until Jan. 15, 2014 and expects to make awards in February 2014. The EPA rebate may be attractive to construction companies that are performing work on the Oakland Global project and are interested in retrofitting equipment. Rebate details can be found here.
Under State of California rules, companies must ultimately comply with California Air Resources Board retrofit requirements, which for large construction fleets, will be enforced starting in Jan. 2014. Deadlines for medium and small fleets are 2017 and 2019 respectively. More information on the requirements is available here.
In addition to state requirements, the Oakland Global project includes conditions of approval and environmental mitigation measures, which dictate that late model (more modern) heavy-duty diesel powered equipment will be used at the project site to the extent that it is readily available in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The federal rebates are offered as part of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). According to the EPA, since 2008 DERA has awarded more than $500 million to recipients across the United States to retrofit or replace more than 50,000 vehicles.
Bay Bridge Bike Path Lot Open
More parking spots for Bay Bridge Visitors
A new parking lot for visitors to the Bay Bridge bike / pedestrian path is now available to the public.
The lot, which was created in a joint effort between The City of Oakland, Caltrans and Oakland Global developer CCIG, is near the intersection of Burma Road and Maritime Street with direct access to the bike path. The lot features new asphalt and designated, painted spaces surrounded by a fence.
The bike path is a big hit with the general public, which has flocked to the route in the droves since it opened on September 3 to enjoy views of the Bay and the former Bay Bridge, which is slowly being deconstructed.
While many visitors are arriving at the new path on foot or bicycle, some are traveling by automobile and finding little room to park. There are a limited number of two-hour street spaces in Emeryville and on Oakland’s Burma Road. As a result, many drivers had been parking illegally on a dirt shoulder on the northeast side of Burma Road.
The new parking lot, located on City of Oakland property, is intended to be a temporary fix while a more permanent solution is found. Caltrans built the new Bay Bridge and bike path, but did not necessarily plan for the numbers of visitors it has attracted.
For more information on the Bay Bridge bike / pedestrian path, please click here.