Archive for May, 2018

Mayoral Candidate Cat Brooks Pledges to “Turn the Tables” on Business as Usual in Oakland

Cat Brooks

By Ken Epstein

“It’s time to turn the tables” on the developer- and financier-led displacement agenda that currently runs Oakland, says mayoral candidate Cat Brooks, radio host, actor and justice activist, who wants the city to move in the direction of utilizing its resources to solve homelessness, promote education, build housing that regular people can afford and spend public safety dollars to eliminate conditions that give rise to crime.

Brooks formally kicked off her campaign May 1 on Radio Station KPFA, speaking to Brian Edwards-Tiekert, who until that morning was her co-host on the “Up-Front” driver-time public affairs program on the station.

Taking at least a six-month leave of absence from KPFA, she is focusing on organizing the majority of Oaklanders “who can’t afford to purchase power in City Hall,” she said in the interview.

Win or lose, she hopes her campaign will build “a base of 10,000 … to push to save the soul of the City of Oakland,” Brooks said.

She said her campaign will promote the voices of the unhoused, immigrants and poor people, “who in the last four years have borne the brunt of a neoliberal mayor who has put development over people.”

Central to her program is dealing with “the housing crisis like the epidemic that it is,” mustering the city-wide commitment to turning around the alarming rise in homelessness and uncontrolled rent increases that are displacing tens of thousands of Oaklanders.

“We need to deal with the unhoused crisis in this city like a bomb dropped in the middle of our city – because it did, a gentrification bomb,” she said, calling for the city to build 4,000 affordable units.

“We have to take a stand on the side of our most vulnerable residents,” she continued.

Not a fan of solving crime by increasing policing, Brooks said, “We should actively be walking away from militarized policing and incarceration.”

She said that police funding drains almost 50 percent of the city’s budget, including $30 million a year in unauthorized overtime. A significant amount of that money can be redirected to solve the city’s social problems, she said.

People in Oakland rightfully want to be safe, but the current approach is not working well, she said, adding that there are many car break-ins and burglaries, and the police department’s homicide solve rate is only a little over 30 percent.

Rather than increasing the numbers of police, the city can increase public safety by hiring “community ambassadors,” “training (people) for community safety,” she said, recognizing that “police should not be the solution to every single issue.”

“At the same time, (we should be) reforming and holding accountable the Oakland Police Department, finally for the first time in that department’s history,” said Brooks.

For information on Cat Brooks’ campaign, go to www.catbrooksforoakland.com/

Published May 12, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Councilmembers Not in a Rush to Hold City Accountable for Late Payments to small Businesses and Nonprofits

By Post Staff

A number of speakers at this week’s meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee asked councilmembers to handle an urgent issue: the failure to hold the city accountable for late payments on contracts, jeopardizing the nonprofits and businesses that depend on the city to honor its agreements.

But following a discussion, councilmembers voted to postpone examining possible solutions to the longstanding problem until September, after the council’s summer vacation.

At present, a local ordinance – passed in 2007 – requires the city to pay vendors a penalty if they are not paid within 20 business days. However, the city interprets the law to mean that it pays only interest, not penalties that would compensate the vendors for expenses they incur for the city’s failure to pay on time.

A report was discussed at Tuesday’s committee meeting at the request of Councilmember Noel Gallo, which shows that while late payments to contractors are a small percentage of the total number of invoices the city pays each year, the numbers have been growing steadily.

“There is a steady increase in the number of late payments,” said Councilmember Abel Guillén, who chairs the committee. He pointed out that the report shows there were 141 late invoices in 2013 and 609 in 2017.

Annie Campbell Washington

A statement by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, read by one of her staff members, emphasized the importance of putting teeth into the law.

“This was a hard -ought victory and is now the law in Oakland. It should be taken seriously,” Kaplan said in the statement.

“The failure to pay on time can cause a business or nonprofit to go out of business or be evicted if they can’t pay their rent on time. It can cause workers to be laid off or have their own pay delayed and have ripple effects in service reduction.

“We enacted a prompt payment policy and intended that it would include penalties that would make the policies meaningful, to make sure the policy is truly implemented.”

While the report does describe “token amounts” of interest that is paid, interest if not the same as penalty, Kaplan said.

Richard de Jauregui of the Oakland Private Industry Council (PIC) told council members that small businesses and nonprofits face significant penalties, not only interest, if their rent or payroll taxes are paid even one day late.

As an example, he said that if a business was paid 1 million late for one year, it would receive about $7,300 in penalties from the city.

“(But) the damages to the business (would be) in excess of $75,000,” he said.

Because the issue was only on the agenda as an informational item, the main debate at committee was when to reschedule for possible action.

Finance Director Katano Kasaine proposed scheduling the item for next year after her department had more data.

Councilmembers Annie Campbell Washington and Abel Guillén ignored Councilmember Gallo, who wanted to schedule the discussion in June, instead scheduling the discussion for the end of September.

Published May 12, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

Congress of Neighborhoods Says Mayor’s Illegal Dumping Proposal is “Insufficient”

“The time for partial solutions and unmet promises is over,” says community activist

Trash in East Oakland

By Post staff

Facing mounting pressure to solve the illegal dumping crisis in flatland neighborhoods, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has announced a proposal that community members say is “insufficient and overly focused on enforcement as a solution.”

The East Oakland Congress of Neighborhoods raised the demands April 16 at an angry community meeting of 600 flatland residents, where the mayor and city council members spoke.

“The issue of illegal dumping is an issue of access and equity,” says Chris Jackson, Congress leader from District 7. “Equity is everyone getting what they need to thrive. We expect elected leaders to support all of our demands, not the punitive ones they like best.”

Congress is demanding comprehensive solutions to what they see as a public health emergency: One new Public Works crew focused on illegal dumping, three litter enforcement officers, better lighting in chronic dumping areas, a zone-based clean-up system focused on the hotspots rather than simply reacting to complaints.

Responding, Mayor Schaaf and District 2 Councilmember Abel Guillén on Thursday announced plans to hire three litter enforcement officers. However, residents are continuing to press the mayor to meet all of the demands.

Councilmembers Desley Brooks, Annie Campbell-Washington, Noel Gallo, Abel Guillén and Rebecca Kaplan have all agreed to find funding for the demands in the mid-cycle budget review process, which occurs in June.

“We pay taxes just like residents in the hills. We want to see the same level of city services here in the flatlands,” says Congress leader Evangelina Lara of District 2. “We expect all of our demands to be met in the mid-cycle budget review process, as was promised on April 16. We intend to make sure that city officials fulfill their commitments to the community. The time for partial solutions and unmet promises is over.”

“The community’s collective work pushing city officials is creating a reaction,” says Congress leader Manuel Arias of District 5. “We will continue to organize—our children, elders, parents, all residents deserve better. No one’s children should have to walk over garbage to go to school.”

In March, the Congress of Neighborhoods held a “trash tour” that began at Mayor Schaaf’s home and visited trash hot spots in Oakland flatlands, designed to show elected leaders the difference between how the city takes care of hills and flatland streets.

Published May 11, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

“It Makes No Sense to Sell Public Land,” Say Local Residents

 

Attending this week’s Rules and Legislation Committee to support a moratorium on the sale of public property were ( L to R): John Jones III, Kitty Kelly Epstein, James Vann, Gay Plair Cobb and Cathy Leonard. Photo by Ken Epstein.

By Post Staff

The Oakland Post Community Assembly is asking the City Council to adopt a 90-day moratorium “on the sale of any public land until the council passes a policy that reflects the will of the people of Oakland in regard on how public land should be used and whether it should be sold or leased.”

“The only exception to the moratorium would occur if and when a proposal was made to use a piece of land by lease for deeply affordable public housing,” according to the proposal submitted to Thursday’s meeting of the city’s Rules and Legislation Committee by members of the Post Salon Community Assembly.

According to the proposal for the moratorium, which was passed unanimously by the Salon at its April 29 meeting, “These public lands are the most likely way to create genuinely affordable housing, and very, very little affordable housing is being built.”

Reports indicate that the city owns 50 parcels that are considered suitable for affordable housing and capable of accommodating over 7,300 new housing units. Yet as of December 2017, Oakland has 20,000 market-rate units under construction and only 1,500 affordable units that are being built.

Kitty Kelly Epstein, speaking for the Post Salon, asked members of the Rules Committee to place the moratorium on the City Council agenda.

“The administration seems to have adopted its own policy to sell property at will to private developers, without transparency,” she said,

Until the city adopts a policy, city staff should stop selling the public’s property, she said.

“We’ve been talking about this (issue) for a long time, but in the meantime the city continues to sell public property,” said James Vann of the Post Salon.

John Jones III said he was a member of the Citywide Anti Displacement Network, which has been meeting with city staff for a year and a half on a public land policy.

“The desire of the city is to sell all public land at market rate value. This is not an accident – this is really their intention,” he said.

In addition, he said, city staff proposes to use 40 percent of the profits from the sale of land for affordable housing.

The Post Salon is working with Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s staff to write a formal moratorium resolution, which will be submitted to the council within the next few days.

Published May 11, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Council Committee Approves Sale of Public Land to Charter School

Public hearing will be held at Tuesday’s City Council meeting

Activists say the proposed 625-student charter school would drain students from existing nearby schools, such as those at the César Chávez Education Center, located at 2825 International Blvd. in the Fruitvale District.

By Ken Epstein

The City’s Community and Economic Development (CED) voted unanimously to approve the sale of a publicly owned parcel of land for a K-8 charter school in the Fruitvale District that community activists say would compete with and undermine nearby public schools.

Councilmembers Noel Gallo, Annie Campbell Washington and Lynette Gibson McElhaney voted in favor of the sale, which now goes to the City Council for a public hearing next Tuesday.

The school, Aspire Eres Charter Academy, is currently located at 1936 Courtland Ave., near Fremont High School, serving 217 students. The proposed three-story school would serve 620 students, nearly three times as many as attend the existing school.

The 9,000-square-foot property is located on the northwest side of Derby Avenue between East 15th Street and International Blvd, which city staff intends to sell to a private developer for $450,000.

Parents, children and staff at the charter school told city councilmembers they desperately need a larger and more up-to-date space.

“We’re currently in a very cramped, dated facility,” said, Kimi Kean, superintendent of Aspire Public Schools 11 Bay Area campuses.

The sale of the property was already approved by the city’s Planning Commission on April 18.

According city staff, the property must be sold and rather than leased to the developer because of legal requirements connected to the $30 million in funding that the project is receiving from the state.

Opposing the sale of public land to the charter school, school activist Mike Hutchinson said, “Charter schools are in direct competition with our public schools. For every student who goes to charter schools, that (money) doesn’t go to the public school, schools, it goes to the charter school.”

Underscoring the impact of charters on the Oakland Unified School District, a new report released this week says that charters cost OUSD $57.3 million in funding every year. The study, called “Breaking Point: The Cost of Charter Schools for Public School Districts,” was commissioned by In the Public Interest, an Oakland-based think tank.

Furthermore, Hutchinson said, the charter would be located only two blocks away from two elementary schools housed at the Cesar Chavez Education Center, which the school district and the city spent tens of millions of dollars to build.

“This will destroy (those schools),” he said.

Tyler Earl, a legal fellow with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), said that selling the property to a developer to build a charter school was a violation “in total disregard of the city’s responsibility to properly consider this land for affordable housing.”

“(You are) getting rid of this land without considering the state law (that says) you must first consider affordable housing. This must be done – it’s required by law, and it’s required by city ordinance,” he said.

Published May 10, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Questions Continue on Fate of Oakland Public Library’s African-American History Books

 

Discarded library books. Photo courtesy of John Jones III’s Facebook page.

By Ken Epstein

Concerns over the erasure and preservation of Black history and culture in Oakland’s public libraries continued to grow this week, as City Administrator Sabrina Landreth explained library policy on discarding books, while District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks rasied questions on the specifics of the policy and how it is implemented.

Oakland Public Library’s practice of discarding books was brought to public attention last week when community member Assata Olugbala showed up at week’s City Council meeting with an armful books on African American themes that the library had discarded.

One of the emails the Oakland Post received on the subject asked, “How do we protest the discarding of African American books at Oakland Public Library? I am infuriated!”
In a memo dated May 7 to the Oakland City Council, City Administrator Sabrina Landreth wrote:

“Upon research, these particular books, in addition to others, were withdrawn from the Elmhurst Branch Library, having been published between 1990-2007, about 11-28 years ago.
“Books are officially withdrawn periodically to keep the collection responsive to patron needs, to ensure its vitality and usefulness to the community, and to make room for newer materials or newer formats.
“When OPL discards a book, it is typically donated to the local branch of the Friends of the Oakland Public Library.”

In removing books from its 18 branches, Landreth said Oakland follows the guidelines of the American Library Association.

“Oakland librarians are professionals that receive formal training in the care and management of the OPL collection,” she said. “Decisions about what to have in the collection are made by subject specialists at each location based on the needs and interests of the community”

Brooks replied to Landreth in a letter, questioning the policy and seeking information on whether it was followed in this case.

“While your memo responds generally to the concerns raised it doesn’t provide adequate information to make an informed determination that the proper protocols were followed prior to discarding the books,” she wrote.  “This is a serious and extremely troubling issue which warrants a more comprehensive response.”

Further, she wrote, “It is insufficient to say that we follow the American Library Association guidelines. We should revisit a policy which gives the public perception of purging the history and existence of a community. We should make sure that the community is involved in the deselection process. We should also develop a policy to donate discarded books to community and educational institutions.”

Citing OPL policy, Brooks said the library uses statistical reports to analyze whether books are being used by patrons, but “your memo fails to provide sufficient information to determine whether any of this analysis was completed,”

Said Post Publisher Paul Cobb, a former library commissioner, “It is going to be hard for African Americans to support a library tax this year when the Oakland Public Library shows such disregard for   the preservation of Black history information and culture.

“I asked the mayor to resolve this matter, and she said she would look into it, but she has not responded,” said Cobb.

Published May 10, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Oaklanders Urge City to Take Legal Action Against NFL and Raiders

 

Shown (L t R): Bob Bobbit, Griz Jones, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, (behind Kaplan is Geoffrey Pete), Councilmember Noel Gallo and John Jones III.

 

Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan and Councilmember Noel Gallo stood in solidarity with community members and the “Forever Oakland” group for a press conference May 1

on the steps of City Hall urging the city to take legal action against the NFL and Raiders.

The “Forever Oakland” and “We Stand with Oakland Citizen Driven Initiative are working with Councilmembers Kaplan and Gallo as they request that the Oakland City Council retain, under a contingency-fee agreement, Jim Quinn, Michael Fay with Berg and Andropy and Eric Hochstadt with Weil, Gotsal to explore Oakland’s legal options against the NFL and the Oakland Raiders’ decision to leave Oakland.

“After a year of collecting data and working with several local based community groups, it’s time for the City Attorney’s office and our local municipalities to do what’s right for all Oakland and Alameda County tax payers and push forward to become a client for the #1 Anti-Trust Lawyers within the USA,” according to a media statement released Monday.

“The Forever Oakland / We Stand with Oakland Citizen Driven Initiative has brought “a Gift” to the table that will greatly benefit our community and municipalities. This is a “Win – Win” for everybody. We are in total support of the Oakland City Council to become a client and further explore options in pursuing a law suit against the NFL and the Oakland Raiders,” the media statement said.

According to Councilmember Kaplan, “We must stand up for the tax-payers of Oakland and Alameda County. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to work together with dedicated advocates on this goal”.

“In light of these new developments and the continued public and media interest in this subject, Supervisor Miley, Councilmember Gallo, and I believe that the reasonable and responsible decision is to take advantage of this incredible opportunity and begin exploring the legal action that the citizens of our community are responsibly calling for,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

“These citizens have gone above and beyond to do their part. It is now imperative that we as civic leaders do our part,” he said.

In addition to Kaplan and Gallo, speakers at the press conference included Griz Jones of Forever Oakland, Ray Bobbit of We Stand with Oakland and John Jones III of Forever Oakland.

Published May 6, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

 

Mayor’s Role in Taking Kaplan Off Air Quality Board “Is Politics at Its Worst,” Says Boardmember

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan received appreciation and an award on her lat last day on Bay Area Air Quality Management (BAAQMD) board. Kaplan is shown with BAAQMD board Chair David Hudson, member of the San Ramon City Council.

By Ken Epstein

 Members of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) board paid tribute recently to Oakland City Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan at her last meeting on the regional body. A few members criticized Mayor Libby Schaaf for indulging in “politics at its worst” to remove the councilmember from the BAAQMD board and encouraged Oakland residents to work for Kaplan for mayor.

 

“It’s ridiculous that you have to leave this board. I think it’s politics at its worst,” said Supervisor Shirlee Zane, a board member representing Sonoma County.

“The fact that someone bright and capable and articulate as you is being replaced after two years, well shame on the mayor,” she said.

Added Boardmember Supervisor Scott Haggerty, representing Alameda County, “For those of you who think Rebecca should be here, maybe you should help her run for mayor.”

Kaplan, who served for two years as one of Alameda County’s two representatives on the 24-member board, whose members come from cities and counties from Napa to Palo Alto.

According to a spokesman of the Alameda County Mayors’ Conference, which appoints a representative on the BAAQMD board, mayors have first preference in seeking appointments, but Mayor Schaaf had the right to nominate Kaplan for reappointment to the position.

Kaplan was “not precluded” from reapplying, according to the spokesman, but, “If a council member applies for a position, the councilmember (must) receive the approval of the mayor,” the Mayors’ Conference spokesman said.

Instead of nominating Kaplan and despite a deluge of community letters in support of her reappointment, Schaaf nominated the mayor of Berkeley. In March, the Mayor’s Conference voted to give the position to the mayor of Emeryville.

In her response to the letters in support of Kaplan, Schaaf said her hands were tied, and that she was precluded by the rules of the County Mayors’ Conference from reappointing Kaplan to the board.

As Oakland’s first representative on the board 25 years, Kaplan worked to bring funds to improve air quality in the city, which persistently has had some of the highest levels of air-borne toxic wastes—including cancer—and asthma-causing pollutants—in the Bay Area.

Kaplan has helped secure money for major projects to improve air quality for Oakland and other East Bay cities, including for the Broadway Shuttle, replacing a diesel locomotive engine to clean the air around the Port/Army base and setting up a fund to get old, high polluting diesel trucks off the road.

Members of the BAAQMD board praised Kaplan for what she has been able to accomplish in only two years.

“(Kaplan) represents the kind of person that is the reason I want to be on this board, someone who is a critical thinker, thinks about the big picture and has helped to shape a unique profile for the district,” said Boardmember Mayor Doug Kim of the City of Belmont.

Another board member referred to the time when Kaplan went to North Dakota to stand in solidarity with Dakota Access Pipeline protests (#NODAPL). “That’s walking the talk, you really did it. I thought after that: ‘you know what, Rebecca really means it,’” said Mayor Liz Kniss, City of Palo Alto.

“You’ve distinguished yourself as a thoughtful advocate for human health. You’ve done a very effective job articulating concerns in communities most affected by air pollution, which certainly includes your city (and) which your mayor should appreciate. I know we do,” said Vice Mayor Rod Sinks, City of Cupertino.

“We’ve gotten the message about cash for clunkers. We’ll make sure we carry that mantle,” said Supervisor David J. Canepa, San Mateo Count.

Speaking to the board, Jed Holtzman of 350.org Bay Area member said, Rebecca is the kind of textbook example of what the public would like to see on this board and any board in terms of consciousness and engagement.”

She paraphrased a minister she knows in her remarks: “If you woke up this morning, you still have work to do. I ain’t done.”

The video of the discussion at the April 4 BAAQMD board meeting can be viewed here

Published May 5, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Opinion: Rebecca Kaplan Should Run for Mayor of Oakland

Sandré R Swanson (with Rebecca Kaplan.

By Sandré R. Swanson

 I was born in the City of Oakland and I have proudly served Oakland as our Assemblymember for three terms.

I was honored to serve as Oakland’s Deputy Mayor, as chair of Oakland’s Civil Service Commission and chair of Oakland’s Reuse and Redevelopment Commission.

During my service to Oakland, City Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan has been consistent in her hard work for the prosperity of all Oakland citizens and her vision of Oakland as one of California’s most desirable cities.

Rebecca Kaplan has challenged Oakland government to serve all of its citizens, and now it’s time for her to lead the city as Mayor.

I know that as mayor, she would support good paying job opportunities for working families. She will promote affordable housing, long term solutions for assisting homelessness, support schools with a safe and great learning environment for our children, promote small business growth and protect Oakland’s environment as a great city by the bay.

Rebecca Kaplan has been promoting and honoring Oakland’s beautiful diversity for years, supporting a growing middle class and giving needed attention to our senior citizens and the too often ignored, our poor.

Rebecca will work for real opportunity for our youth from school to work.

When I was growing up in Oakland, my parents and I enjoyed safe parks and Oakland neighborhoods that positively supported family life. Rebecca Kaplan will work for a police force that has the full confidence of the community.

She would work for the recruitment of officers from local residents with a strong commitment to community and the safety of all citizens.

I am encouraging a visionary, Councilwoman-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan, to join the race and give Oakland voters a creative, hard-working, progressive choice for mayor this November.

Sandré R Swanson served in the California Assembly from 2006 to 2012

Post Salon Calls for Moratorium on Sale of Public Land as Market Rate Building Boom Sweeps City

Mayor and City Administration push property sales without transparency or community involvement. Speakers at the Post Salon included (L to R): Margaretta Lin, Councilmember Abel Guillén, Post Publisher Paul Cobb (moderator) and Vanessa Riles (Back to camera). Photo by Ken Epstein.

By Ken Epstein

This past week’s Oakland Post Salon examined a critical issue that underlies many of Oakland’s recurring conflicts: the mayor and administration are rapidly selling to developers the city’s limited numbers of publically owned properties—paid for by taxpayers—without regard to the impact on communities or the needs and wishes of local residents.

Rather than allowing Mayor Libby Schaaf and the City Administrator to continue with their version of Ronald Reagan’s “trickle-down economics,” promising that someday a few of the benefits will reach the people, the community can ask the City Council to stop selling city-owned parcels as investments for market-rate housing and high-priced office buildings for the wealthy, according to speakers at the Post Salon.

Vanessa Riles

Instead, the city can use public lands for community needs such as grocery stores, playgrounds, affordable housing, solutions to homelessness and office space for the nonprofits that serve the community, the speakers said  The Salon agreed unanimously at its April 29 meeting to call on the City Council to pass a moratorium on sale of public land, except for real affordable housing, until the council passes a strong policy requiring that 100 percent of city-owned land should be utilized for community needs, prioritizing community land trusts that promote long-term leases instead of sale of public land.

In addition, the moratorium calls for a process that requires the mayor and administration to be fully transparent in its dealings with the public, involving affected communities in decisions on how to use the land.  In addition, decisions should be made in public rather than secretly behind closed doors, as so often happens at present.

The panel of speakers at the Salon, which was held at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle in downtown Oakland, were Vanessa Riles of the Citywide Anti-Displacement Network, City Councilmember Abel Guillén and Margaretta Lin, former city staffer and executive director of the Dellums Institute for Social Justice.

“Oakland is the epicenter for the racial displacement crisis,” said Margaretta Lin, pointing out that rents in the city have increased 63 percent since 2014, causing widespread evictions and an “explosion of homelessness.”

An answer to this crisis is within the city’s grasp, if it has the political will, she said. Citing reports, she said that Oakland has 2,400 publicly owned land parcels, 50 of which have been earmarked as suitable for affordable housing and capable of accommodating over 7,300 new housing units.

“Oakland is becoming the next San Francisco,” said Lin, adding that affordable housing advocates across the Bay tell her the lesson they have learned is that Oaklanders should “hold down land.”

However, she said, “We have a mayor and city administration that is not friendly to this.”

At present, “We have this policy vacuum,” she said.  “The city does not have a policy.”

Citing studies, Lin said that as of December 2017, Oakland has 20,000 market rate housing units under construction or in the pipeline, while there are less than 1,500 affordable units that are being built, she said.

Truly affordable housing would be available to the majority of Oakland renters, who have an average annual income of $36,000 a year for a family of four, she said. But the units that the city labels as affordable often require family incomes of as much as $100,000 a year or more.

Councilmember Guillén in his remarks pointed out that California has one of the highest numbers of homeless in the country, 140,000 people statewide, “and it’s getting worse.”

“The city has not had a clear process on how we deal with public land,” which has allowed “sweetheart deals” with individual developers, he said.

“Our process is not transparent at all,” Guillén continued, adding that “right now we are not building enough affordable housing. What we have right now is not good. The number is not good.”

Rather than build affordable housing and market-rate housing in separate locations, all new construction should include affordable housing, he said.

“Every project should have at least 15 percent affordable housing, if not more,” he said.

Vanessa Riles said that those at the table when decisions on public land are made must be indigenous people, low-income residents and Black people—those who have been experiencing the violence of displacement since the beginning.
“Public land should be used for public good. Period. The decisions should be made by the public and the most vulnerable populations, the people who live in the places that are being developed.”

She called for rejecting present policies with “loop holes,” which allow the city administration to do anything it wants.

“Staff has been able to go forward because (existing) policy has not been strong enough. I want the city to actually mitigate displacement and homelessness in Oakland,” she said.

There are many different organizations in the city with different ideas and priorities about what should be done, Riles continued. She said she supports “deep levels of community engagement, (the formation) of a community advisory committee and prioritizing the public good: maybe it’s a grocery store, a community garden or low-cost clinic.”

The City Council has the authority to stand up to the mayor and the administration, she said. “It’s question of political will.”

Community members are backing the proposal for a moratorium on the sale of public lands at the City Council’s Rules and Legislation Committee, Thursday, May 10, 10:45 a.m., in Oakland City Council Chambers.