Oakland must take some bold and immediate actions
By Pamela A. Drake
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s recent State of the City was well received but was short on nutsand- bolts solutions, so I have written my own assessment.
First: Declare a state of emergency over the affordable housing crisis. Oakland could turn into San Francisco, that city that is now officially a museum of its former self. Oakland doesn’t have much time left to save itself, so the timetable needs to be tight. In the first 90 days after declaring a state of emergency: 1. Finish the Nexus study and impose impact fees on developers and insist that no projects get city approval until the fees are imposed. We need to begin to climb out of the affordable housing deficit we’ve been racking up for years.
2. Declare a moratorium on rent increases beyond the consumer price index and provide an adequate fund to help people stay in their rental units, if they are in danger of losing them. Talk to the Oakland Tenants Union for more ideas.
3. Begin writing a comprehensive inclusionary zoning ordinance so that future projects will include housing funds.
4. Raise the percentage of (redevelopment) boomerang funds from 25 percent to 50 percent toward building affordable housing and dedicate some of it to limited equity co-ops and other nonspeculative home ownership models.
5. Dedicate 60 percent of increases in revenue to building and rehabbing units in transportation hubs and please remember to build family-size units.
6. Legalize in-law units and encourage them and other infill housing in the priciest neighborhoods so more residents can share in the fun.
Youth Initiatives: It will take years to catch up on our housing needs, so better get started quickly. But public safety is still a big issue in Oakland. Oakland’s young people still face a perilous future. Tyrone Stevenson, who started the Scraper Bike Movement, lost his closest friend to gunfire. He is heartbroken and doesn’t know if he can continue. He has loved this town, but it hasn’t loved him back.
Let’s fire the hearing administrator who keeps citing churches and institutions like Humanist Hall for music— I mean, noise violations — and hire a Home Grown Initiatives Czar who will shepherd programs like the Scraper Bike Movement so our youth can nurture their own institutions.
OPD Reform: The Oakland Police Department under Chief Sean Whent has begun the process of reform but it’s still on shaky ground as evidenced by the police shootings this summer.
Yes, we know the police are wearing cameras but they don’t seem to believe those videos belong to the public. We need a transparency policy on police videos, and we need a police commission before the federal oversight of Judge Thelton Henderson goes away. After $60 million in lawsuits and decimated community trust, we can’t afford not to. Let’s get it on the 2016 ballot.
Well, Oaklanders, it’s only a start. Even the mayor can’t prevent the kind of ugly incident that happened on the lake recently, but one thing the mayor can do is make City Hall more welcoming. The open house should be every day, not a special event.
What’s your state of the city and what would you do to make it a better place for all of us? Pamela A. Drake is a resident of Oakland. Reach her at www. DrakeTalkOakland.com.
Even themayor can’t prevent the kind of ugly incident that happened on the lake recently, but one thing the mayor can do is make City Hall more welcoming.