Housing Initiatives - A Special Report

The Mayor’s Housing Cabinet, made up of local housing-policy experts to help develop a plan for implementing the City’s Housing Equity Roadmap, will meet this morning, and I wanted to take this occasion to update you about actions that I have pushed forward and the progress we’ve made on the package of housing strategies that the City Council has developed.

Earlier this spring, we established a 90-day rent moratorium to give the City a little breathing room to put solutions in motion. That pause ends on July 5.


To help keep residents apprised of our progress in fighting Oakland's housing crisis, here is a brief summary highlighting major actions and proposals in the works. I hope you will find this edition of my e-newsletter informative.


This daunting challenge ultimately affects all of us, and community support is crucial. We need to work together to ensure Oakland’s future. Thanks for all of your feedback, and please continue to share your ideas and comments about this wide range of housing issues in the coming months.

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Abel Guillén

Oakland City Councilmember, District 2

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Key Dates for Housing Legislation

Please note these important upcoming Council meeting dates for legislative items still in progress:

June 21                        City Council Meeting

- Protect Oakland Renters Act (legal and administrative analysis)

- Renter Protection Act of 2016

June 28                        Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee Meeting

- Rent Registry

- Rent Adjustment Program Fee Increase

July 5                           Rent Moratorium Ends

July 19                         Last Council Meeting before Recess

September 1             Affordable-Housing Impact Fee Takes Effect

November 8              Election Day – City/County Housing Bonds Potentially on the Ballot

 

Anti-Displacement and Housing-Support Initiatives

1. Rent Increase Moratorium [ADOPTED]:

Councilmember Guillén scheduled the public’s motion at the Rules Committee to enact the 90-day moratorium on rent increases.

2. Affordable Housing Preference for Oaklanders [UNDERWAY]:

Co-sponsored by Councilmember Guillén, the City Council heard a proposal at its June 7 meeting to create a new first-order preference for allocating affordable units to anyone with a “no fault” eviction from a unit in Oakland in the past eight years. It would also create a second-order preference that would reserve 30% of new affordable housing units to be preferred for residents within the same council district or a 1-mile radius of the development. Finally, it would establish an Oakland residency or worker requirement for participants in the City’s First-Time Homebuyer Mortgage Assistance Program. The measure will be heard again at the June 21Council meeting.

3. Short-Term Rentals [UNDERWAY]:

Councilmember Guillén has worked with other councilmembers to create a policy statement to explore a short-term rentals ordinance. Still in process, the resolution is considering measures to regulate short-term rentals (Airbnb, HomeAway, etc.).

4. Safe Housing Inspection Program [ADOPTED]:

Councilmember Guillén supported the Safe Housing Inspection Program. SHIP establishes yearly fire inspections for rental properties and a process for the Oakland Fire Department to report habitability violations to the City’s Department of Planning and Building. Not only will this serve to increase the safety of Oakland’s rental units, but by creating a proactive inspection process that puts the habitability onus on landlords, residents will no longer need to be afraid of repercussions from landlords for reporting potential violations.

5. Homeless Shelter and Support [ADOPTED]:

Councilmember Guillén co-sponsored a Council declaration of a “shelter crisis” in Oakland. The declaration allows the City to relax building and zoning requirements to make it easier to create shelters for homeless people.

With his leadership, the Council added $170,000 into the budget for additional winter shelter beds and rapid rehousing services.

Councilmember Guillén also advocated for new and renewed federal grants, amounting to $4.8 million. The funds will provide immediate housing and support for youth, families and adults grappling with housing insecurity and homelessness in Oakland. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has renewed all five of the City’s current grants and added a new grant to Oakland’s Community Housing Services that will help establish rapid-rehousing services for 60 homeless youth. The grants will free up additional local dollars to add shelter beds and explore more innovative long-term solutions to this growing problem.

6. SRO Preservation [UNDERWAY]:

The Planning Commission is reviewing changes that would require a strengthened conditional use permit for converting or destroying Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units.

7. Ellis Act Relocation Assistance [ADOPTED]:

In February, Councilmember Guillén and the Council voted to require landlords to pay $6,000 total for tenants of one-bedroom residences, $7,500 for two-bedroom homes and $9,875 for three-bedroom homes when a landlord removes all of the units in a building from the rental market. Landlords must also pay $500 to help with moving expenses and an additional $2,500 to seniors, the disabled, people with low incomes, and families with children under 18 years old when taking their units off the market. Prior to this action, landlords only had to pay low-income or elderly residents the equivalent of two months’ rent.

8. Condo Conversion Ordinance Revisions [UNDERWAY]:

Revisions to the Condo Conversion Ordinance have been drafted and are currently under internal review. The new ordinance would expand protections for renters in two to four-unit apartment buildings from being displaced without fair compensation. Another possibility is to include a one-to-one requirement to replace lost rental units with an equal number of units.

9. Renter Protection Act of 2016 [UNDERWAY]:

Councilmember Kaplan has introduced a proposal that would remove the permanent new-construction exemption within the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance and replace it with an exemption limited to projects that received a First Certificate of Occupancy after January 1, 2002. It would also require landlords to petition for rent increase in excess of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), adopt a Fair Return Standard for the evaluation of rent increase petitions, and increase the transparency of the Rent Board.

10. Landlord Petition for Rent Increase [UNDERWAY]:

“Flipping” the petition would require apartment building owners to submit an application/petition for any rent increase above the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI), as provided by law. The staff report on the proposal was submitted on May 26. An update is likely. The Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee heard this item on June 14. It will be on an upcoming agenda for a full Council meeting.

11. Addressing Rent Board Backlog [ADOPTED]:

Extra staff have been hired to address the backlog of cases. The Council adopted Councilmember Kaplan’s proposal to amend Rent Board composition and functions, which allows for more alternates on the Rent Board, thus increasing the odds of achieving quorum.

12. Amendments to Relocation Assistance Requirements [UNDERWAY]:

Proposed amendments would increase relocation assistance for tenants displaced by code-enforcement actions to $6,500 for studio or one-bedroom units, $8,000 for two-bedroom units, and $9,875 for three- or more bedroom units. Amendments have been reviewed by the Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee. They are currently under legal review. Currently, displaced residents receive assistance in the amount of two times the fair market rent of a comparable unit, plus $200 for moving fees.

13. City Auditor Report on RAP Program [UNDERWAY]:

In line with recommendations from Oakland at Home and A Roadmap Toward Equity, the City Auditor is reviewing the Rent Adjustment Program and preparing recommendations for redesigning certain aspects of the program. The City Auditor’s report is in process, but early indications suggest that findings will include the need to clarify the number of cases per hearing officer, and the need for performance standards and measurement.

14. Rent Registry [UNDERWAY]:

A consultant has been hired to write the report on the proposal to create a registry of all Oakland rental units, including those not currently covered by rent control. The report is due on June 28. Council action taken as a result of its recommendations will most likely come after the August recess.

15. Resolution Overturning Costa Hawkins [ADOPTED]:

On June 2, the Council’s Rules Committee recommended that the full Council adopt a resolution urging state legislators and the governor to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Councilmember Guillén supported this effort. Passed by the Legislature in 1995, Costa-Hawkins allows a property owner to establish a new rental rate for each new tenancy before rents are re-controlled, and exempts certain units, including single-family homes, condominiums and homes constructed after 1983. By repealing Costa-Hawkins and allowing local governments to stabilize rents through vacancy controls and de-exempting post-1983 housing construction, cities will have an important tool to keep rents from rising even further.

16. HUD Benchmark Increase [ADOPTED]:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has raised its “fair market rent” benchmark by 35% for Alameda and Contra Costa counties, allowing local housing authorities to increase the amount of federally funded Section 8 subsidies. HUD’s new fair market-rent rate for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,663 a month – a $428 hike over last year’s rate. The rate for a two-bedroom unit is $2,103 a month – a $541 increase.

 

Creating Affordable Housing and Securing Funds

17. Transient Occupancy Tax [ADOPTED]:

Councilmember Guillén co-authored the Transient Occupancy Tax resolution. As a result of the tax, revenue in excess of $300,000 for FY 2016-17 will be deposited into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. That amount is expected to grow in the coming years.

18. Brooklyn Basin [UNDERWAY]:

Councilmember Guillén advocated with the Brooklyn Basin Coalition to ensure the state funded its enforceable obligation to secure $40 million to build 465 units of affordable housing as part of the Brooklyn Basin revitalization.

19. Empyrean Hotel [ADOPTED]:

After the Empyrean Hotel, an SRO in Oakland’s downtown, went into bankruptcy and court receivership, Councilmember Guillén advocated for its transition to full affordable housing and attended bankruptcy court to support the affordable housing.

 

20. Public Lands Policy [UNDERWAY]:

Councilmember Guillén introduced the motion to direct staff to codify a public lands policy. The Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee reviewed this draft policy and received public comment at its May 31 meeting. The Public Lands Policy will be heard again as a draft ordinance before the August recess.

Based on the recommendations of the workgroup, the draft ordinance will recommend a minimum of 15% of the units constructed on public lands to be reserved for affordable housing and 30% of the funds from the sale of public lands are to go to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Language will also be added clarifying that no condo conversion credits will be created through these developments. If adopted, the ordinance is projected to result in $10 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund over the next eight years, and 1,000 affordable units could potentially be created from properties that have already been approved for development.

21. Affordable Housing Bonds [UNDERWAY]:

The biggest impediment to affordable housing in Oakland is the lack of a source for substantial and sustained funding. Two upcoming bond measures, expected to be placed on the November 2016 ballot, have the potential to generate new funds to create and preserve affordable housing. Each bond proposal addresses a unique aspect of the housing crisis. It will be important for voters to understand these differences so that they don’t think that the two measures overlap and vote for one, or even neither.

Councilmember Guillén has been pushing for about a year for the County and City to put these local and regional housing bond measures on the ballot. Councilmembers Guillén and Campbell Washington are leading the City’s infrastructure bond measure, which should be on the Council’s agenda by July.

Countywide bond: The Countywide bond will create funds that would go toward the construction of new affordable housing, and generate $105 million for affordable homes in Oakland. These funds could produce an estimated 600 affordable homes for Oakland’s lower-income households.

City bond: Oakland’s infrastructure bond will create $100 million for the acquisition, rehabilitation and preservation of existing affordable housing, which would help secure approximately 2,000 units. Councilmember Guillén has supported allocating $100 million of the bond to affordable housing, doubling the originally proposed $50 million.

22. Affordable Housing Impact Fee [ADOPTED]:

The affordable housing impact fee was adopted by the City Council in April, and will take effect on September 1. Fees will range between $750 and $7,000 per market-rate unit, and will rise to $13,000 to $24,000 by 2020. The fee is projected to generate $65 million for affordable housing over the decade.

23. Sustainable Communities (Cap-and-Trade) Projects [UNDERWAY]:

The State has invited the City to apply for funding for five affordable housing projects that qualify for Sustainable Communities grants; two of these projects are in District 2. If accepted, current applications would secure $72 million for the City. Resolutions authorizing applications for funds for these projects were authorized at the June 7 Council meeting.

24. Governor’s Proposal to Streamline Affordable Housing Approvals [UNDERWAY]:

In his proposed budget, Governor Brown has included a requirement for by-right approval of all developments that include 20% affordable units at or below 80% AMI or 10% affordable units for developments near transit. The legislation requires State Assembly and Senate approval.

 

Measures to Increase Housing Supply

25. Secondary Units [ADOPTED]:

Councilmember Guillén supported the passage of eased restrictions on secondary units close to transit stations. The rules relax height, setback, and parking requirements, making it easier for owners to create additional dwelling units on their properties and expanding Oakland’s housing supply.

 

 

26. Proposed Development Projects in District 2 [UNDERWAY]:

In the coming months, several new housing developments will be proposed in District 2. Four of these housing projects include proposals for 226 13th St., 1314 Franklin St., 12th and Webster, and 325 7th St. We hope to work together with the community to deal with the collection new-development proposals holistically to reach our overall, long-term goals for community benefits and affordable housing.

27. Parking Reforms (Reduced Minimums for New Housing) [UNDERWAY]:

The Planning Department is reviewing considerations to reduce parking requirements for new homes, thereby allowing for the development of more homes, especially where there is proximity to transit. More information will be made available when the review is complete.

 

Community Initiative

28. Protect Oakland Renters Act [UNDERWAY]:

A coalition of local organizations has been gathering signatures to put the Protect Oakland Renters Act on the November 2016 ballot. At the same time, advocates have pushed the Council to add it to the ballot. The act would create stronger eviction protections, cap rent increases at 5%, increase tenant representation on the Rent Board, and require tougher oversight and enforcement of tenant protections.

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