On November 6, 2018, Oakland voters approved the City of Oakland Measure W, the Oakland Vacant Property Tax Act, by a margin of 70.04 percent. The Vacant Property Tax Act establishes an annual tax of up to $6,000 on vacant parcels, buildings, and real property within the City of Oakland for 20 years, with exemptions for property owners who are low-income, senior citizens, non-profits, or demonstrate other forms of hardship or can demonstrate they are in the process of improving the property. A property is considered vacant if it “is in use less than fifty (50) days in a calendar year.
These tax funds will be used to provide services and programs to homeless people, reduce homelessness, and support the protection of existing housing and production of housing affordable to lower income households. In addition, no less than 25% of the tax funds must go towards remediating blight and illegal dumping. The Measure also establishes a Commission on Homelessness, composed of City residents, which may make recommendations on how to allocate the tax funds, and shall publish an annual report regarding how this tax has been implemented