Funding for Oakland Infrastructure and Housing, Tenant Protections Put on the Ballot

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Bond Measure for Infrastructure Improvements and Affordable Housing

The City Council voted this week to place a comprehensive bond measure on the November ballot to address the need to repair Oakland’s streets, upgrade our public facilities and fund essential strategies to create and preserve affordable housing.

The new funding, totaling $600 million, will be used for three different purposes:

Streets: $350 million for street projects, including paving and reconstruction, bike-and-pedestrian improvements (bikeways, sidewalks, paths, stairs, streetscapes and curb ramps), and traffic-calming improvements.

Public Facilities: $150 million for facility projects, including parks, recreation and senior facilities ($35 million), libraries ($15 million), fire ($40 million), a new crime lab and public-safety facility ($40 million), and water, energy and seismic improvements consistent with the City’s Energy and Climate Action Plan ($20 million). The Lincoln Park Recreation Center is the top-ranked OPR facility on the bond’s facility-projects list.

Affordable Housing: $100 million for affordable housing and anti-displacement projects, including the acquisition, rehabilitation and new construction of affordable housing. Because of the scope and urgency of Oakland’s housing crisis, Councilmember Guillén pushed to double the portion for affordable housing from the originally proposed $50 million.

These housing funds are essential to help protect vulnerable residents, especially low-income families, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities, from displacement, provide affordable housing opportunities to preserve the quality of life for all residents, and ensure Oakland’s long-term economic vitality. It will also be used to acquire and rehabilitate housing and ensure permanent affordability through shared-equity models such as deed restrictions and community land trusts.

Housing funds can also encompass efforts to rehabilitate and improve vacant and blighted properties – some 20,000 such properties in Oakland – to address health and safety concerns, correct code violations, and return uninhabitable properties to the city's housing stock as long-term affordable housing.

Social equity: The bond language requires consideration be given to how funded projects address social and geographic equity, provide greater benefit to underserved populations and in parts of the city with the greatest need.

The City’s overall unfunded capital need is estimated at more than $2.5 billion, with a current street-paving backlog of $443 million.

Bonds are typically sold in a series, not all at once. The first bond sale is expected to be approximately $200 million. The tax rate for the first series to be issued in 2017 is an estimated $25.30 per $100,000 of assessed home value. The cost for the average homeowner (assessed value of $434,208) would be about $113 a year. To put this in context, potholes cost Oaklanders about $1,044 a year in accelerated vehicle depreciation, repair costs, increased fuel consumption and tire wear due to driving on rough roads.


Improving Protections for Renters: Flipping the Petition, Just-Cause Protections Expanded
The City Council approved a ballot measure and a companion ordinance this week that require property owners to petition the City for approval of rent increases above the annual CPI rate (not including allowable annual CPI increases that the landlord did not take in previous years – “banked increases”). Currently, it’s up to tenants to challenge rent hikes that they deem unfair.

The ballot measure would also expand the City’s just-cause eviction law to 1995. The law currently only applies to multi-unit buildings constructed before 1981. Under just-cause, owners can evict tenants only for violating the terms of a lease, or because the owner is moving into the unit under the state Ellis Act. Extending the current exemption date to include units constructed between 1981 through 1995 will cover more than 3,200 additional units.

The new ordinance will also limit the amount that property owners can charge their tenants for capital improvements to 70% of the cost of the improvement, amortized over its useful life plus imputed costs. It will also require that buyers of duplexes and triplexes live in their buildings for at least two years before those buildings can be exempted from rent control. These laws don’t apply to single-family homes or buildings constructed after 1983.

Oakland’s rent ordinance currently covers approximately 59,000 non-owner-occupied units. One-third of Oakland’s 92,000 apartments – 32,000 units built after 1983 – are exempted because of the state’s Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.

Giving Local Preference for Affordable Housing
The City Council approved an amendment to the Oakland Municipal Code that will establish a policy to give preference for neighborhood residents, Oakland residents and workers, and displaced households to rent or purchase units in multifamily affordable housing projects funded by the City, and require participants in the City’s mortgage assistance program for first-time homebuyers be Oakland residents, Oakland workers or displaced households.

Extend Lease Terms for Public Land The City Council agreed this month to place a charter amendment on the November ballot that would extend the maximum lease term of City-owned real property from 66 years to 99 years. This amendment would make it more feasible to develop and finance projects with long-term ground leases rather than an outright sale of the property and make it easier to comply with the City’s policy to lease rather than sell City-owned land. It is especially appropriate for subsidized projects to give the City better options for preserving long-term affordablility for housing built on City land.


Prosperity Place to Open Its Doors to New Tenants | Pre-applications Due Next Week
Prosperity Place, a new affordable-housing development in District 2, will begin accepting pre-applications for renting its below market-rate and Section 8 units next week. Located at 11th and Jackson streets near Lake Merritt, Prosperity Place is a new 70‐unit project by EBALDC, scheduled to open in December. Pre-applications for the Section 8 wait list and the affordable housing lease-up list will be accepted online between July 25-29. Tenants will be selected by lottery from these lists. For more info: 510-606-1794

Fee Increase to Handle Rent Petitions
The City Council voted this week to increase the Rent Adjustment Program fee. Oakland has a backlog of about 800 rent-increase petitions, so both landlords and tenants need the program to be properly funded. The current $30 per-unit service fee will be raised to $68. The program applies to buildings with two or more units that have a certificate of occupancy prior to 1983.

New Rules for Short-term Rentals 
There are more than 1,100 private homes hosting short-term rentals in Oakland. The City Council, with my leadership, has asked staff to evaluate several options for regulating short-term rentals, including limiting the number of nights during a calendar year that a property can be “shared” and requiring owner-occupancy requirements for listed properties. The new rules could potentially regulate platforms such as Airbnb, Flipkey, HomeAway, VRBO and Craigslist, and add rules for short-term, vacation rental units in private homes used as alternatives to traditional hotels.

These regulations can help strike a balance to preserve such rentals, provide income opportunities for property owners to stay in their homes and protect neighbors from “party houses,” excessive noise and other disruptions to the peace and security of the neighborhood. The new rules might also require hosts/operators to obtain a business tax certificate and would assess the same transient-occupancy tax that hotels charge their guests (currently 14%). City staff will come back to the Council in six months with recommendations. 


Street Safety Update: Police Sting Park Blvd. Speeders
A pedestrian was seriously injured on Park Blvd last week. On July 13, OPD officers were stationed at Park Blvd. and Cleveland St. to enforce road rules to protect pedestrians in crosswalks at this intersection during the morning commute hours. Speeders were stopped and cited – and the penalty is not cheap!

During that operation, a decoy officer walked the crosswalks and drivers who failed to yield in the crosswalk were pulled over. In all, 17 drivers were cited in just two hours for violating California Vehicle Code section 21950a – “Driver Fail to Yield to Pedestrian in Crosswalk.” The fine is $234, and the infraction also counts as one point on your driving record.

On July 20 July, from 7:45 am to 11:00 am, police officers were again in the area to catch speeders. This time, 19 drivers were stopped and cited at Park Blvd and Cleveland St., while another 17 drivers nabbed at Park Blvd and Trestle Glen Rd. – for a total of 36 citations.

Motorists: Please slow down, and always yield to pedestrians. Avoid the fine, and keep your neighbors safe.

Neighbors: There is definitely a need for this type of enforcement at this intersection. Beyond police enforcement and better signage, I’m also working on other immediate steps we can take as well as long-term traffic-calming measures and street-design improvements to make the streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists in this area.


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Plans for Revitalizing the Kwik Way Corner
Earlier this week, Councilmember Guillén and more than 50 neighbors met with the developer and architect to learn more about a proposal to replace the old Kwik Way building (500 Lake Park Ave.) with a mixed-use building with housing and ground-floor retail stores. The new project would replace an underutilized parking lot, activate the street, and provide needed housing. The project seeks to use some design elements to evoke the old Kwik Way sign, and its impact fees would generate $500,000 for the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. We will keep you posted on future meetings and next steps.

Saturday, July 23 | Office Hours in Lakeshore
9:00-10:30 am | Grand Lake Farmers’ Market (next to the information booth)
Join Councilmember Guillén this Saturday for some morning sun, fresh veggies and good conversation about what’s happening in the neighborhood. 

Saturday, July 23 | 23rd Avenue Clean-up
9:00-11:00 am | Meet at 2209 23rd Ave. (near NE corner of E. 22nd St.)
We will begin at 23rd Avenue and E. 22nd St., and clean the street, sidewalk and drains in both directions as much as possible with the volunteers and time available. It’s fun for the whole family, your friends and neighbors. The City of Oakland provides tools, gloves and safety vests. Water and snacks also provided. If you can’t make it this weekend, join us on the 4th Saturdays – mark your calendar for August 27.

Thursday, July 28 | Meeting on EBMUD Pipeline Replacement Project
6:00 pm | EBMUD, 2nd-Floor Training Room, 375 11th St.
As part of its Alameda-North Bay Farm Island Pipeline Crossings Project, EBMUD is planning to construct about four miles of new pipeline, including in Oakland’s Chinatown (8th and Madison Sts.). The project will replace existing pipeline to ensure long-term reliability and redundancy of its distribution system, meet existing and future water needs, and facilitate repair and replacement of aging infrastructure. Written comments on the project’s Draft EIR must be received by August 15(4:30 pm): For meeting info:

Saturday, July 30 | Astro Tot Lot Fundraiser and Informational Gathering
10:00 am | Eastshore Park on Lakeshore Ave. (across from the Lakeview Library)
We are on a tight deadline to raise funds for the Astro Park Tot Lot renovation. We’re 80% of the way there, but we need your help to get across the finish line. Our grassroots fundraising group has pulled together $100,000 from Measure WW, another $100,000 from KaBOOM, and more than $40,000 from individual donors. We need to raise another $60,000 over the next few months to fully match the KaBOOM grant. Come by the Tot Lot to learn more about the project, and how you can help. If you would like donate online, please visit our facebook page


District Successes for Lakeshore Businesses
At last week’s meeting of the Lakeshore Avenue Business Improvement District, Councilmember Guillén provided an update about recent Council initiatives and improvement activities around Lakeshore and District 2.

Some of the highlights: The City will be upgrading Lakeshore’s decorative lights and the Necklace of Lights around the Lake with more energy-efficient, longer-lasting LED bulbs this fiscal year. The Walker Avenue parking lot was recently resurfaced. Crime in the area is down three years in a row. The sting operation to stop Lakeshore speeders was successful. Promoting Lake Merritt as the oldest wildlife refuge in the nation, the City put up new signs with updated rules around the lake, and has assigned more police officers on bikes.

The engaging discussion provided helpful input on setting priorities for the coming fiscal year. Thanks to everybody who attended, BID President Pamela Drake for the invite, and Michel Bistro for hosting the event.

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District 2 Awards in “Best of Oakland”
Congratulations to Arizmendi Bakery, named “Best Bakery” in Oakland Magazine's just-released “Best of Oakland & East Bay.” Other winners from District 2 neighborhoods include Grand Lake Ace Hardware (Best Hardware Store), Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill (Best Outdoor Dining), Grand Lake Farmers Market (Best Farmers Market), The Lake School (Best Preschool) and Grand Lake Theatre (Best Tuesday Night Bargain). Check out the rest of the list


Oakland’s Tiny House Prototypes Catch National Eye
Other cities have experimented with tiny-house villages, but Oakland is testing a design that can be mass-produced. Fast Company Magazine picked up on Councilmember Guillén’s leadership for a new City of Oakland-Laney College partnership to manufacture tiny houses in District 2, aimed at providing housing for the homeless. “Renting an apartment in Oakland, California, now costs roughly 30% more than it did two years ago,” Adele Peters writes. “As the steeply rising cost of housing forces more people to live on the street, some city officials hope to soon build a tiny-house village as part of a solution.” Read the article

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