The letter below which was written by the Block by Block Organizing Network’s housing committee was sent to all the council members and the mayor of Oakland in hopes of pushing them to take bold action during this housing emergency. While we await a response from our various leaders, we are considering our next steps if they do not respond with urgency. We urge you to join us!
Block By Block Organizing Network
Volunteers Working Together for One Oakland
2624 Fruitvale Ave. Oakland CA 94601 (510) 479-1237
The Council Has Passed the “Housing Roadmap” – Now What?
We applaud the City Council’s passage of the “Housing Equity Roadmap” on September 30, and urge rapid implementation of its strategies and more, in response to the housing crisis that is displacing many long-time Oaklanders right now.
Oakland is made up of over sixty percent renters, and in order for the Housing Cabinet to come to solutions that will benefit all of Oakland, we challenge our elected officials to create a Cabinet that is representative of the population of this diverse city. It should consist of members who are proportional to the population of Oakland, that is, over 60% renters and a majority of people of color. At least one seat should be reserved for a representative from the Oakland Tenants Union.
We call on the Oakland City Council to act now to implement the Housing Equity Roadmap strategies the 2017-2019 Budget:
Declare Housing State of Emergency and Immediate Moratorium on Approval of New Projects
To meet the crisis that is upon us and to stabilize the housing market in this moment, we call on city government to declare a Housing State of Emergency and a moratorium on approval of new projects until significant developer impact fees are implemented, along with a timeline to implement the Housing Equity Roadmap, including an inclusionary zoning ordinance.
Developer Impact Fees
Complete the study which will allow the City to impose impact fees on developers that will go toward affordable and low income housing (and other impacts, like better roads). Impose the highest amount suggested by the study and dedicate the majority of it to affordable housing. Do not approve new projects until the impact fees are in place.
We call on our elected officials to demand that Governor Jerry Brown sign an amendment to Costa Hawkins to allow for inclusionary zoning in all California cities, and to pass immediate substantial Developer Impact fees that can produce the equivalent of at least 30% affordable housing in new developments. To ensure that the cultural and economic diversity we all love about Oakland can stay here, we advocate that at least 15% of new units are accessible to 40% and below AMI, and that at least 15% of new units are accessible to 40%-80% AMI.
Use 50% of Boomerang Funds for Affordable Housing
The City should increase the percent of proceeds received from former redevelopment funds from 25% to 50% to increase the number of affordable units that can be built.
Mandate At Least 50% New Development Around Transit Be Affordable
As studies have shown, low-income residents use public transit more and market-rate developments around transit increase car usage. Therefore, at least 50% of new development around BART and AC Transit hubs should be held for affordable housing at 80% AMI or below. Oakland’s Fruitvale Village is a national model for equitable transit-oriented development without displacement, and Oakland should continue leading this important work.
Public Land for Public Good
Allocate un-used lands and properties currently supported by public tax dollars to affordable housing or mixed-usage for public good. This includes working with the Oakland Housing Authority to ensure that the 2530 9th Avenue property currently for sale and all properties purchased with public tax dollars remain affordable housing units.
Fund the Down Payment Assistance and First Time Homebuyer Programs
Ensure that down payment assistance programs targeted to long-time Oakland residents to be able to purchase their homes are funded at levels that actually enable low-income and middle-income residents to buy homes in the Oakland market.
Protect Tenants Rights
We call on city government to implement a comprehensive rent control ordinance. Oakland’s Rent Adjustment law was written by landlords to preference landlords in the majority of cases. We call for a revisiting of the Rent Adjustment process to ensure that tenants rights are protected, including more than two seats of the Rent Board held for tenants (as homeowners often side with landlords) and the burden of proof put on the landlord rather than the tenant.
We also call for the implementation of the Tenant Protection Ordinance to be funded through public attorney assistance for tenants, because the majority of tenants cannot afford lawyers to file cases in Superior Court. All landlords should be required to provide a copy of Tenant Rights laws with all tenants, or be charged fines that go to funding the Tenant Protection Ordinance.
Pass an Anti-Speculation Tax
To prevent further displacement of residents resulting from the flipping of houses and properties for profit, the City should implement a higher tax on for-profit corporations that buy foreclosed properties or buyout current residents to make a profit. This should include any companies using services like AirBnB to take large numbers of rental units permanently off the market.
Revise Accessory Dwelling Unit Policy
Cities across the nation are revising policies to allow for more smart density as the country re-urbanizes. The City Council should pass an ordinance that allows homeowners to add accessory units on their open land, including allowing tiny homes and easing parking restrictions with the understanding that more and more residents are biking and taking public transit.