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What is happening to small businesses all over the Bay Area is truly deplorable, immoral, unconscionable, and harmful to the quality of life of the neighborhoods these essential businesses serve. It is most regrettable that businesses have no rights in California beyond their initial lease. In the 60's, the City of Berkeley, in an heroic attempt, enacted commercial rent control to "save" a popular College Ave pharmacy/coffeeshop. The state stepped in and voided Berkeley's action proclaiming that commercial rent control is "preempted" by State law. This horrible situation will not change until small commercial owners come together, organize, and bring mass pressure on the legislature to change the existing law.
Congratulations, Tigray, for a well-written and well-expressed article on important and urgent issues that screams for adequate attention by Oakland policymakers. There are current voices, like the community assembly of The Oakland Post Salon, Block by Block Organizing Network, and others, that attempt to formulate and pressure Oakland leaders to take action on topics such as those you raise. I hope you will join them.
Victoria, perhaps if you read my comment more thoroughly, you will observe no criticism of development, per se. You will notice instead that I refer to the new developments as "welcomed." The impact fees you mention (the first application of such fees by the way) are meager and a minor offset for the many negative impacts of development (Berkeley and Emeryville collect $29,000 for each new unit constructed). At the current construction estimate, the $2.3M will produce about 4.5 affordable housing units.
Vincent states the issue much more concretely -- Oakland's overwhelming need is housing that current residents who are being displaced in droves can afford. Not one current resident will be able to afford the new apartments, which developers construct for maximum profit -- as is their right. But since the Feds no longer support housing for the least able, it is the city that carries the responsibility of assuring housing availability for all incomes. As part of the right to negatively impact the city with new construction, it is only equitable that developers must contribute to ameliorating the city's extreme housing need.
To Dave Campbell, and leaders of Bike East Bay, Asian Health Services, Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, and Oakland Asian Cultural Center.
It is extremely discouraging to witness respected community organizations falling prey to the "divide and conquer" tactics so effectively employed by developers whose primary objective is "self-enrichment," not enrichment of the life and culture of existing communities, their residents, and contributions to ameliorate the displacement crisis currently dismantling the Oakland we all love and desperately want to preserve.
Any Oakland organization that ignores the critical need for inclusion of affordable housing among their concerns in relation to the bubble of welcomed new developments is in effect helping to fuel the displacement crisis and destruction of our beautiful city.
Since the City has failed to do its job in making "community benefits agreements" mandatory on all developments, stakeholder organizations must join with community residents who have invested their lives in Oakland, and must unite on a program of demands to developers for the good of the entire neighborhood, not just the self-described individual interests of each various organization. To do otherwise plays directly into the schemes of outside developers, and is a sure recipe for the destruction of Oakland and its memorable neighborhoods.
Thanks to Darwin Bond-Graham for his insightful and timely article, and to Tonya Love for a clear expression of the the city's delay and malfeasance in not scheduling the "Protect Oakland Tenants Initiative" for council consideration to place the measure on the ballot -- since March !! While it is true that the City Attorney acted swiftly upon formal request to reduce the summary to its legal limit, a personal request was informally made to the C.A. a full week before the revision was made. Finally, through a confusing mishmash of legalisms and springing back and forth between committees, we are (seemingly though not clearly) to believe that the measure will finally be considered on June 20 or 21 -- but with this council, who knows !
No similar drawn-out procedure was imposed for the "sugar tax" or the "lease extension" -- measures that appeared at Rules Committee one time, were immediately advanced to the next city council meeting. and were immediately voted onto the ballot. If the comparative treatment of the "rent protection" measure is not obstruction , delay, and obfuscation ... then what in the world is it !!
The organizations and individuals of the Post Salon Community Assembly are pleased that the “Housing State of Emergency” Ordinance initiated February 29 by the Assembly was adopted unanimously by the Oakland City Council last night, April 5, after three hours of heart-rending stories from the broadly represented community.
A leader of the group, Carroll Fife, stated: “I am pleased with our unanimous victory at council last night, and I am even more enthused about the broad-based coalition that came together to forcefully address the needs of Oakland's current residents. I look forward to continuing to work toward real solutions with all the impacted parties, including the many landlords who strive to serve their tenants well. “
We urged the Council to recognize the unprecedented level of evictions and rent increases experienced by Oakland residents. More than 60% of Oakland residents are renters and the median yearly income for this group is $30,000 a year. The city’s housing policies must focus on this group in order to stop the displacement faced by a thousand every month. Affordable rent for this group is $750 a month; yet available 2-bedroom apartments are going for $2950 a month (City of Oakland 2015 Rental Survey).
Kitty Kelly Epstein added: “We are aiming to buck the national trend to permit all Oakland residents, who desire so, to remain in their homes. We are especially concerned that effective policies must be quickly implemented which will halt the present hemorrhaging of families with school age children and the African-American community.”
More than 200 individuals signed up to speak on the housing ordinance, and many proposed creative long-term solutions. In an addendum to the ordinance, the Post Salon Assembly laid out twelve specific policy proposals for consideration by the Council, staff, and community in the weeks ahead. These include, for example: 1) stockpiling and leasing residential-suited, city-land and buildings at no cost to the Oakland Land Trust for production of permanently affordable housing, and 2) mandatory mediation in the event of intended or threatened evictions.
Speakers noted that state and federal policies are contributing to the crisis and must also be addressed. The state “Costa-Hawkins” law, in particular, prevents meaningful rent control in all buildings constructed before 1983.
Community groups initiating the Emergency Housing Ordinance include the Oakland Post Salon, Oakland Tenants Union, Oakland Alliance, John George Democratic Club, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, Black Women Organized for Political Action, OaklandWORKS, Quilimbo, and Oakland Parents Together.
Kitty Kelly Epstein
In my activism days of the "new left," Inkworks was always the go to place. Loved the multiplicity of work. Each trip was like a museum visit, scorning the variety of recent printings -- posters, books, handouts, etc, always on display. Such beautiful, open, friendly people ... loved them all. and the holiday parties were to die for. No matter how many invitations, stopping by Inkworks was the only "must do." Surely miss you guys and gals all. Damn Economy !!
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