On Wednesday, Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo organized a rally at City Hall urging the City Council to approve a ballot measure so voters decide whether to use public funds for the A’s Howard Terminal proposal.
James Vann, co-founder of the Oakland Tenants Union, attacked Mayor Libby Schaaf pushing to decide the issue with one city council vote, saying “This is the people’s money, the people get to decide.”
“West Oakland has many unfunded capital projects planned,” he said. “All need attention, and yet we got those projects on a waiting list while the mayor wants to put a billion dollars to put in the A’s in the port.”
Council Members Bas and Fife Propose that the Controversial E 12th Street & Lake Merritt Blvd Parcel be developed with 100% affordable housing.
After years of controversy and failed plans to construct a high-rise tower of luxury units on the parcel, a city council committee voted this week to advance a proposal by councilmembers Bas and Fife for an all-affordable housing development to the full council for approval.
Currently, the so-called E. 12th Street “remainder parcel” is home to around 80 unhoused residents living in two temporary tiny-house programs. Now, Oakland staff and officials have signaled support for the development of two fully affordable apartment buildings on the city-owned site.
Nonprofit developer East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), already has access to $21 million in state funds for one of the buildings, but the City Council will have to approve the project soon in order to save the grant from being returned to the State. Members of the council’s Community and Economic Development Committee (CED) on Tuesday voted to send the proposal on to the full council for a vote on July 5.
A 91-unit building by EBALDC would serve residents who make between 30-60% of the area median income, and would be constructed on the Second Avenue part of the parcel. EBALDC would have a “ground lease” on the parcel, meaning the city would maintain ownership of the land. If the projects move forward, it will be a relief and a victory for neighborhood activists who have long fought for deeply affordable housing on the site.
Oakland renters, landlords, and policymakers will soon have access to a lot more information on rental housing in the city.
The city’s first-ever registry of rental housing units — approved unanimously by the City Council, Tuesday, June 21 —will include data on who owns which properties in Oakland, whether they’re covered by rent control, the maximum rent amount landlords can charge, and the eviction history for any unit. The registry will include all housing covered by Oakland’s rent control and eviction laws — which is most rental buildings constructed before 1996. (The City Council will vote this week on a proposed ballot measure that will make practically all the city’s rental units eligible for registration, regardless of their date of construction).
Many cities with rent control already have registries. Oakland's system promises to be user-friendly and will allow residents and city staff to monitor whether landlords are complying with the law. Currently, in Oakland, a renter must file a complaint if they suspect they’re being overcharged.
RAP staff will be able to communicate directly with tenants and landlords about rent limits for the first time because they will have each unit’s address and contact information for all owners. The registry will also benefit policymaking by tracking the average rent price and other information that can inform programs and laws.
Landlords will be required to submit information about each of their rental units annually to the city, or be prohibited from evicting tenants or raising rents beyond the standard amount.
Tuesday’s vote authorized establishing a rent registry. The city will now seek an experienced consultant to develop the system and database. RAP anticipates that the program will be operational later this year.