Oakland's Planning Director says "there is no housing crisis in Oakland." Really?
At an October 7 event, Oakland Planning & Building Department Director, Rachel Flynn, said flatly "there is no housing crisis in Oakland." With rents skyrocketing and longtime residents being evicted and displaced every day, it is shocking that Flynn, who was appointed by former Mayor Jean Quan and kept in place by Mayor Libby Schaaf, could not only make such a preposterous statement, but then go on to suggest the Oakland renters deal with the crisis by simply getting a roommate, which she said was "no big deal."
This is not the first time Flynn has made such statements publicly. At another forum hosted by SPUR in May Flynn also repeatedly suggested that Oaklanders deal with rising rents by looking for opportunities for "natural affordability," like getting roommates, renting older or substandard apartments, or staying in small apartments even as families grow. She also said she was exasperated by the frequent complaints of gentrification and displacement she hears from Oakland residents and advocates.
On October 23 Flynn, who has not retracted, clarified, or apologized for her statements, was surrounded by housing rights activists at a public workshop on the City's Downtown Specific Plan.
Meanwhile, Oakland still does not charge any affordable housing impact fees or require on-site affordable housing development from private developers, as neighboring cities like San Francisco, Berkeley, and Emeryville have done for years. The City has hired a consultant to study such an impact fee, but the "nexus study" has dragged on for over a year and there is no clear date for its release. Apparently Flynn, who is in charge of the study and would be responsible for implementing any impact fees, has not made completing this work a priority, which is exactly what you'd expect from someone who doesn't believe there's any problem. As Oakland renters know, there is a dire affordability crisis in our city, and if Rachel Flynn isn't interested in addressing it, perhaps Mayor Schaaf should find a Planning Director who is.
Oakland's Top Housing Official: There Is No Affordable Housing Crisis (East Bay Express)
Community Turns up the Heat to Defend Residents and Businesses (Post News)
Opinion: Oakland City Council Should Prioritize Affordable Housing Impact Fees (Post News)