Oakland, CA

Monday in the East Bay: Iconic blues club to be converted in West Oakland, Newsom signs new relief package and more

Refugio Garcia

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Once a cultural icon and blues club, Esther’s Orbit Room to be converted to shared art space and housing

Esther’s Orbit Room blues club once featured performers such as B.B. King and Etta James and will now be converted to shared community art space, a café and housing that will become home for at least seven artists, East Bay Times reports.

The venue now sits vacant amid a strip of shuttered storefronts in West Oakland but was recently purchased by a co-op of investors with the goal of converting the space to help usher in solutions to the housing crisis in the Bay Area.

The East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative acquired the property near a West Oakland BART station after raising $1.5 million in funds that were donated by local investors, some of whom paid as little as $1,000.

The conversion of Esther’s Orbit Room will be the first step in revitalizing West Oakland’s 7th Street corridor. Read more of this article.

Gov. Newsom signs COVID relief package supporting restaurants and bars

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a legislative package that includes a number of provisions geared towards supporting small businesses across the state such as bars and restaurants, PostNewsGroup reports.

Some of the provisions in the package of new laws include allows for the continued use of parklets and street dining for restaurants, continuing to allow the sales of to-go alcoholic beverages among other special pandemic-related permissions.

Assembly Bill (AB) 61, Senate Bill (SB) 314 and SB 389 are just some of the laws listed in the legislative package and are part of the California Comeback Plan. The new set of laws will allocate $10.2 billion in financial support for small California businesses.

“These innovative strategies have been a lifeline for hard-hit restaurants during the pandemic and today, we’re keeping the entrepreneurial spirit going so that businesses can continue to create exciting new opportunities and support vibrant neighborhoods across the state,” Newsom said. Read more of this article.

Shell Oil fined for slew of violations at Martinez refinery

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Shell Oil was hit with 44 violations for emitting massive amounts of pollutants that studies have shown to cause long-term health effects at the oil refinery it once operated in Martinez between the years of 2017 and 2019, East Bay Times reports.

Shell has agreed to pay federal regulators $433,000. The Martinez refinery was purchased by PBF Energy in 2019 for $1 billion.

An additional $2 million was paid to the Bay Area Air Management District by Marathon Petroleum for violations stemming from the second refinery in Martinez.

The air quality district said that the latest settlement will pay for future inspections and code enforcement.

“Ensuring that we all have clean air to breathe is the Air District’s top priority,” Jack Broadbent, the district’s executive officer, said in a statement. “This settlement is one way we hold Shell Oil accountable for its violations of air quality regulations and continue to safeguard clean air for all Bay Area residents.” Read more of this story.

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