Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent granted a union demand this week aimed at reducing mandatory overtime in the department.

In an email to officers, Whent said he would no longer authorize transfers out of the patrol division. While the entire department is understaffed, a shortfall in patrol has forced officers to work about two extra days per month for the past 18 months just to fill patrol beats.

The union had demanded an end to transferring officers out of patrol to other understaffed units in a letter to council members earlier this year. When the council's Finance Committee took up the overtime issue Tuesday, Deputy Chief David Downing said the department needed the flexibility to move officers around and that some of the other units in need of officers, such as crime suppression and investigative teams, had played an important role in bringing down violence over the past year.

However, just five hours later, Whent sent out the email to officers declaring an end to transfers out of patrol.

"Eliminating the need for mandatory overtime is my goal and as we continue to grow the department, I will continue to assess the number of shifts required of you," he wrote. "Thank you again for your commitment to the community, the city, and one another."

Union President Barry Donelan praised Whent's directive as a "common sense decision that is good for the residents of Oakland and the officers who serve them. Ending mandatory overtime needs to be a top priority for the police department," he said.

SunCal repurchases Oak Knoll property


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Real estate giant SunCal repurchased the 167-acre Oak Knoll property in the Oakland Hills that it lost during the financial collapse when its partner, Lehman Brothers, went bankrupt.

SunCal and Lehman originally paid $100.5 million for the former U.S. Navy hospital campus in 2005. The company did not reveal how much the real estate company paid this time around to acquire it from the Lehman Brothers estate.

The company still envisions a development that will include about 960 homes, 82,000 square feet of shops and 50 acres of open space above Interstate 580 between Mountain Boulevard and Keller Avenue.

"We're excited to resume our involvement with this very special site and we look forward again to working toward making this a new community that all of Oakland can be proud of," SunCal Executive Vice President Frank Faye said in a prepared statement.

Berkeley to raise garbage collection fees 24 percent

The Berkeley city council is considering raising residential garbage collection rates 24 percent and commercial collection rates 2.5 percent on July 1 and will hold a public hearing Tuesday evening on the issue.

Rates for a 32-gallon garbage can would go up from $29.62 a month to $36.94 a month with a vote from the Council.

The city wants to raise the rates because its Zero Waste Fund is running a $3 million deficit.

The hearing will be at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Hospital district chairwoman resigning

Carole Rogers is resigning from the Eden Township Healthcare District board effective July 1.

Rogers, first elected to the board in 2006, fought to keep San Leandro Hospital open. The district had turned over the hospital to Sutter Health, and Rogers was one of the directors who voted to sue the nonprofit hospital chain when there was a threat the hospital would close. The district lost the lawsuit and its appeal to the state Supreme Court, and Sutter took possession of the hospital in 2012. Last year, Sutter turned over San Leandro Hospital to Alameda Health System, which also operates Highland Hospital, Fairmont Hospital, Alameda Hospital, John George Psychiatric Hospital and several clinics.

"I think my mission is done, that we saved the hospital," she said.

She said she is moving out of the area and has put her San Leandro house up for sale.

"We have a home in Palm Springs and a cabin in Washington, and maintaining three homes is too much," she said.

The district will be accepting applications for the post in July. Rogers' term expires at the end of the year. The health care district includes Hayward, San Leandro and the unincorporated areas in western Alameda County.