Tenant protections adopted, making non-permitted spaces safer, immigrant defense fund created

HOUSING UPDATES

Council Implements Voter-Approved Tenant Protections 
Oakland's voters approved Measure JJ in November. Last week, the City Council adopted regulation changes to implement the measure. Effective February 1, these legislative updates modified the Residential Rent Adjustment Program (RAP) to require that owners petition RAP for any rent increases above those permitted by Consumer Price Index increases and banked increases from past years.

Other amendments include: The deadline for tenants to file petitions has been extended from 60 days to 90 days when they receive a proper rent increase notice. Owners must provide certain notices at commencement of the tenancy to be in English, Spanish and Chinese. Owners must now obtain a certificate of exemption before a property is considered exempt from the Rent Adjustment Program following substantial rehabilitation improvements. The amortization for capital improvements has been changed from five years to the useful life of the improvement. To receive the owner-occupancy exemption for duplexes and triplexes, the owner must occupy a unit for two years, instead of one.

Making Non-Permitted Spaces Safer for Tenants
Mayor Schaaf issued an executive order (2017-1) last month that outlines protocols for building inspections along with several priority measures (consistent with existing regulations) aimed at improving the safety of former warehouse and industrial buildings that have been converted to non-permitted use while avoiding displacement of economically vulnerable residents. In a special meeting last week, the Council approved amendments to the Code Enforcement Relocation Program Ordinance as an “emergency ordinance” so that these enhanced protections can take effect as soon as possible.

Property owners must now enter an abatement and compliance plan within 60 days after a building official or fire marshal cites the property for permit/zoning violations. The plan would include: fix building-code violations; obtain any necessary zoning changes to legalize the residential use; give residents five-days’ notice before any inspections prompted by complaints that weren’t made by the tenants (except when there is an immediate threat to life and safety); and provide tenants with information about their rights under Oakland’s rent-adjustment and eviction laws.

Relocation fees apply to both residents of non-permitted housing (including artists living in warehouses) and tenants (most often low-income families and undocumented immigrants) living in legal, but poorly maintained spaces. The updated ordinance raises the relocation fee that landlords much pay tenants they evict to repair code violations to $6,500 for a studio or one-bedroom unit, $8,000 for a two-bedroom unit, and $9,875 for a three-bedroom unit.

City to Revise Secondary-Unit Regulations
New state laws became effective January 1 that have made the City of Oakland’s current secondary-unit regulations null and void until the City adopts a new ordinance that conforms to state law. The proposed ordinance was considered by the Planning Commission last month, and will be heard at a subsequent Community and Economic Development Committee and the full City Council. Please share your input. We will keep you posted about meeting dates on this topic. For staff report and proposed code amendments For more questions: Edward Manasse, City Planning, emanasse@oaklandnet.com

Council Sets Aside Funds to Defend Undocumented Immigrants
At a special meeting earlier this week, the City Council allocated $300,000 over the next two years to fund legal defenses for immigrants threatened by deportation. The funding will establish a rapid-response network of a dozen local organizations to help families who cannot afford legal representation and could be separated by federal action against illegal immigration. Two-thirds of immigrants facing deportation had no legal representation to help them navigate immigration laws, and those who did have an attorney were three times more likely to win their cases, according to a 2014 Stanford Law School study. The funding will provide for an emergency hotline, know-your-rights workshops and free legal consultations.

Advice from the ACLU on what to do if immigration agents come to your door

GET INVOLVED

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Lakeshore Mobile Office Hours
We had a great time talking with District 2 residents at our mobile office hours on Lakeshore Avenue last Saturday. Residents shared their ideas about street sweeping, the renewal of the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market operator contract, how to encourage owners to convert vacant lots into new housing, and the availability of seismic retrofit grants (also discussed below under “City Services”).

We will be hosting mobile office hours throughout District 2 in 2017, and hope to see you next time at our office hours in the San Antonio neighborhood. For a complete schedule of this year’s office hours, see our January 12 newsletter.

Friday, February 3 | Know Your Rights Forum 
7:00 pm | St Elizabeth’s Cafeteria, 1516 33rd Ave.
Oakland Community Organizations is hosting an evening workshop about rights and resources for undocumented immigrants.

Thursday, February 9 | Public Bank Forum
6:00 pm | City Hall, Hearing Room 3
Councilmember Guillén will be co-sponsoring a forum to discuss ideas on the creation of a Public Bank for Oakland. A public bank could allow the City to divest from the big banks and allow for more investment in local businesses, among other benefits. Come out and learn more. For more info: mdrane@oaklandnet.com

PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING

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Residents Share Ideas for Federal-Spending Priorities
As part of the process to gather community ideas about how to spend federal funds (Community Development Block Grants) in the City’s budget, we directly engaged more than 200 District 2 residents, in four different languages, over the last month and heard your spending priorities. The Participatory Budgeting process now moves to the task of developing proposals for projects to be funded. In early February, community volunteers will review and prioritize all of the ideas and turn them into full proposals.

After that, residents of low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in District 2 will vote on the top projects they most want implemented in our district. Learn more and get involved

Tuesday, February 28 | Council Committee Hearing on Food Trucks 
1:30 pm | City Hall, Hearing Room 1
One of the first cities in the country to create a mobile food-vending permit program, the City Council is now in the process of revising regulations to keep up with changes in the environment for food trucks and increase opportunities for entrepreneurs to start a new food vending business, while protecting the health, safety, comfort, convenience and general welfare of the community. For more info: www.oaklandnet.com/foodvending or dreiff@oaklandnet.com

TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS

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Students and Residents Discuss Park Blvd. Improvements
Students from Oakland High drivers’ education class, led by Ben Visnick, hosted a meeting about traffic safety around lower Park Blvd. with City transportation staff last month. The students made presentations about their recent traffic research projects, while city staff laid out options for possible street-safety improvements. About 30 residents then gathered in small groups to provide feedback on what they heard and what they’d like to see along the corridor. We will keep you posted about more news on Park Blvd.

Getting Ready for Electric-Car Infrastructure
Reducing our transportation carbon footprint is crucial in the fight against climate change, and building the infrastructure for electric cars – charging stations available in commercial parking lots and residential buildings – is an important tool to achieve that goal. Oakland is considering updates to the city’s building code to foster the addition of PEV-ready parking spaces in new development. The estimated cost for making a parking space ready for an electric charging station when construction occurs is $500 to $1,500. This relatively small investment now can save thousands of dollars per parking space later because more expensive retrofitting for new electrical lines won’t need.

CELEBRATE OAKLAND

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Memo to Trump: Oakland Is a City of Women
Nobody needs to tell Oakland that women should seek leadership in their communities. The Mayor and one-half of the City Council are women. Almost all (6 of 7) of our School Boardmembers are women. The City Attorney, City Clerk and City Auditor are women. The City Administrator and the heads of the three largest departments (police, fire and public works, which account for more than 2/3rds of the budget) are women. In fact, 15 of Oakland’s 22 department heads are women. And don’t forget our representatives in Congress and the State Senate – Barbara Lee and Nancy Skinner. And all of us who live in Oakland – men, women and children – believe women’s rights are human rights, we believe in equal pay, and we believe all forms of healthcare should be accessible and affordable for everybody.

Friday, Febuary 3 | Bella Vista Bingo Fun Night
6:00-8:00 pm | Bella Vista Elementary School
The Bella Vista PTA is hosting a night of family fun with neighborhood children and families.

CITY SERVICES

City Responds to Illegal Dumping
If the trash is dumped on your block, big-picture statistics might not be all that comforting, but… Public Works reported last week that 85% of the service requests about illegal dumping they get are responded to within three business days. Illegal dumping is a persistent problem, but the City is working on it. If trash is dumped on your street, please let Public Works know right away, using the See.Click.Fix app

Friday, February 17 | Deadline to Apply for Seismic Retrofit Grants
Applications for seismic retrofit grants are due on February 17. The City of Oakland has secured more than $360,000 in FEMA funding for the Earthquake-Safe Homes Program (ESHP) for owner-occupied one-to-four-unit homes and the Safer Housing for Oakland Program (SHOP) for “soft story” apartment buildings of five or more units. Funding in the second phase could total $5.4 million. Interested owners of eligible properties are encouraged to fill out an online application: www.oaklandnet.com/homeretrofit For more info: residentiallending@oaklandnet.com