Connect with us

City Government

Oakland Housing Is in “State of Emergency,” Say Housing Activists

Published

on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A number of housing rights activists are calling on the City Council to declare a housing “state of emergency” – to temporarily freeze rents and place a moratorium on all evictions – while the council passes laws to slow down the displacement of Oakland families, seniors and other long term residents.

<

 

 

“Everyone acknowledges there is housing crisis, but the City Councilmembers don’t do anything,” said James Vann, a member of the Oakland Tenants Union and a veteran housing rights activist.

 

 

“They need to declare an affordable housing state of emergency, and they need to declare a moratorium on evictions and enact a rent freeze,” he said.

 

 

Vann says a temporarily eviction moratorium and rent freeze are legal if the council passes a state of emergency, though such a decision would require support of 75 percent of councilmembers.

 

 

He pointed out that these emergency declarations were passed recently by the city council in the City of Alameda.

 

 

Civil attorney Dan Siegel, a leader of the Oakland Alliance, supports declaring a state of emergency to allow the council to freeze rents and place a moratorium on evictions.

 

 

“You could start out by banning all evictions, and then perhaps empower the rent board to make exceptions to allow property owners to tell their side of story (at a hearing),” he said.

 

 

Siegel also called on the mayor to work with other cities to repeal state laws that restrict the right to pass strong rent control measures.

 

 

“I would love to see Mayor Schaaf meet with mayors of other major cities to develop a common point of view and put pressure on the legislature,” he said.

 

 

Margaretta Lin, formerly a city staffer who spent several years working to produce a comprehensive Housing Equity Roadmap, spoke to the Post about some of the major steps in the roadmap that the mayor and City Council could take to slow down displacement.

 

 

One proposal is to pass a condo conversion law, which would close a loophole allowing the conversions of buildings with two-to-four units.

 

 

“At present 29,000 units are at risk. They are not protected by the law right now,” she said.

 

 

The city also has to do more to stop evictions, she said.

 

 

“We have a lot of holes in city’s laws to protect tenants,” said Lin. “We don’t have consistent relocation requirements, and no department in the city is set up to enforce the laws the city already has.”

 

 

The City Attorney’s Office could do, but it would need more funding, she said.

 

 

James Vann said a strong rent control ordinance is on the council agenda, but, “We don’t know if the City Council will have the guts to pass it,” he said.

 

 

Under the present rent adjustment law, which was written by landlords, tenants must know their rights and have to file a petition with the board, Vann continued.

 

 

“All the onus on the tenants,” he said. “The landlords can do anything they want, and it becomes legal if the tenants do not file a petition complaining about it.”

 

 

Oakland has 405,000 people living in 92,000 households. Sixty percent are renters.

 

 

Less than one half of one percent of tenants file a petition in a year, said Vann.

 

 

Vann said the Oakland Tenants Union has already submitted a rent control proposal to the Mayor’s Housing Cabinet. If the cabinet rejects or does not act on the proposal by February, the tenant group is going to begin an initiative campaign to put rent control on the November ballot.

 

 

Vann also proposed fees that landlords would have to pay to evict tenants.

 

 

“I think there ought to be a cost to evict a tenant,” he said. “It should be something that would discourage landlords, perhaps the costs of relocation and first month’s rent.”

 

 

Lin said that the city must do something to stop ongoing foreclosures, especially the loss of homes by low-come residents and elders on fixed incomes.

 

 

According to Lin, there is an existing plan, which has yet to be implemented, to sell distressed properties to a national nonprofit that would keep people in their homes.

 

 

This would replace the existing practice where the homes are sold in bulk to hedge funds and banks like Wells Fargo.

 

 

The city needs to pass a bond to create “homeowner preservation fund,” she said.

 

 

“It costs only $50,000 to a keep homeowner in the home, but it costs $500,000 to build a new housing unit,” she said. “We need an infusion a lot of money, not just for affordable housing but a fund to keep homeowners and tenants in their homes.”

 

 

*This article is the first is a series in which the Post is interviewing some of the local leaders who are frontline fighters against gentrification – for affordable housing, decent paying jobs and protected status for churches and artists.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activism

Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

Published

on

To enlarge your view of this issue, use the slider, magnifying glass icon or full page icon in the lower right corner of the browser window.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Sen. Wiener, Mayor Breed Announce Bill to Shut Down Fencing of Stolen Goods

On June 3, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed joined State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to announce a bill aiming to combat fencing, the sale of stolen goods. Authored by Wiener and sponsored by Breed, Senate Bill (SB) 925 would allow San Francisco to create permitting requirements to regulate the sale of items commonly obtained through retail theft and impose criminal penalties for those who engage in this practice.

Published

on

iStock
iStock

By Oakland Post Staff

On June 3, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed joined State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to announce a bill aiming to combat fencing, the sale of stolen goods.

Authored by Wiener and sponsored by Breed, Senate Bill (SB) 925 would allow San Francisco to create permitting requirements to regulate the sale of items commonly obtained through retail theft and impose criminal penalties for those who engage in this practice.

“The sale of stolen items in San Francisco has created unsafe street conditions and health and safety hazards that have negatively impacted residents, businesses, City workers, and legitimate street vendors,” states a statement released by the mayor’s office.

San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Chief Bill Scott praised the effort.

“I want to thank Mayor Breed and Senator Wiener for identifying new ways to combat the illegal fencing of stolen goods. This will help our hard-working officers continue to make progress in cracking down on retail theft,” said Scott.

Under the legislation, San Francisco can require vendors to obtain a permit to be able to sell items deemed as frequently stolen by asking for documentation that the merchandise was obtained legitimately, such as showing proof of purchase.

The legislation also establishes that those in violation would receive an infraction for the first two offenses and an infraction or a misdemeanor and up to six months in county jail for the third offense.

Under this bill, people can still:

  • Sell goods with a permit
  • Sell prepared food with a permit
  • Sell goods on the list of frequently stolen items with a permit and proof of purchase.

“In San Francisco we are working hard to make our streets safer and more welcoming for all. SB 925 would greatly help us get a handle on the sale of stolen goods, all while taking a narrow approach that specifically targets bad actors,” said Breed.

Wiener says the cultural richness of San Francisco and the livelihoods of legitimate street vendors are threatened when bad actors are allowed to openly sell stolen goods on the city’s streets.

“With this bill we’re taking a balanced approach that respects the critical role street vending plays in our community while holding fencing operations accountable for the disruption they cause. It’s critical that everyone feel safe on our streets, including street vendors and neighborhood residents,” said Wiener.

Continue Reading

City Government

SUSD’s Dept. of Public Safety Achieves Compliance with State DOJ’s Five-Year Stipulated Judgment

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has ended monitoring of the Stockton Unified School District (District) and its Department of Public Safety (Department), concluding the five-year term of the stipulated judgment that addressed system-wide violations of the civil and constitutional rights of Black and Latino students and students with disabilities.

Published

on

California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Official photo, SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco. Official photo, Pastor Trena Turner of Stockton’s Victory In Praise Church. Victory in Praise Church photo.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Official photo, SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco. Official photo, Pastor Trena Turner of Stockton’s Victory In Praise Church. Victory in Praise Church photo.

Special to the Post

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has ended monitoring of the Stockton Unified School District (District) and its Department of Public Safety (Department), concluding the five-year term of the stipulated judgment that addressed system-wide violations of the civil and constitutional rights of Black and Latino students and students with disabilities.

The District has also committed to implementing a plan to further reduce disproportionalities in law enforcement referrals through school year 2026-2027, which will institutionalize the revised policies and practices and continue the progress made under the judgment.

“Over the past five years, the California Department of Justice and the Stockton Unified School District worked together to successfully implement the corrective actions set out in the stipulated judgment to protect the rights of students in schools,” Bonta said on April 11. 

“Today we can celebrate that the agreement has helped the District take important steps to address concerns regarding interactions between police officers and students and to promote an equitable and positive learning environment.

“This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our educators, staff, students, and Department of Public Safety, said SUSD Supt. Dr. Michelle Rodriguez. “We reaffirm our commitment to continue the important changes and policies and remain steadfast in our mission to improve services and support for all students, ensuring that each child has the opportunity to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.”

“The Department is proud of the work that was completed surrounding the DOJ Agreement which has not only made us a better Department but has placed us at the forefront of progressive policing,” said SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco.

“The consent decree was phase one. Now we must build on this momentum to cement the progress that has been made, and fix policdes and practices that continue to hurt SUSD students and families,” said Jasmine Dellafosse, Director of Organizing and Community Engagement at End Poverty in CA.

“The requisite collaboration that took place with community members and the Stockton Unified School District was an admirable beginning,” said Pastor Trena Turner, Victory In Praise Church. “Continued efforts of transparency and inclusion that outlasts the monitoring period, will be of paramount importance to further strengthen the district and ultimately improve the lived experience of our students.”

In 2019, a DOJ investigation concluded that the District’s policies and practices with respect to law enforcement referrals discriminated against Black and Latino students and students with disabilities. The investigation also found unconstitutional search and seizure practices.

DOJ and the District entered into a stipulated judgment that required significant reforms and a five-year monitoring period. As part of the stipulated judgment, which concluded on Feb. 19, the District:

  • Established clear policies and procedures limiting when school administrators refer students to law enforcement.
  • Created a formal diversion program in lieu of citations and arrests to address minor school-based offenses.
  • Revised policies and procedures relating to treatment of students with disabilities in order to prevent discrimination, including the hiring of a trained Disability Coordinator.
  • Created clear processes for school site administrators to refer students with mental health needs to support services rather than a referral to law enforcement.
  • Instituted mandatory annual training of all officers and staff regarding civil and constitutional rights, disability and special education laws, and elimination of bias.
  • Reformed use of force policies, procedures, and practices, including implementing a comprehensive review process.
  • Updated search and seizure policies.
  • Used data to track and analyze all arrests and referrals to law enforcement from schools; and
  • Established the Community Advisory Group, which collaborated with the District to provide input and review updated policies.

Overall, the judgment led to markedly improved outcomes for students. Total arrests of students dropped significantly; in school year 2018-2019, there were 155 arrests, compared to nine arrests during school year 2022-2023. Calls for service to the Department decreased by 54% and unwarranted calls for service decreased by 52%.

Under the disproportionality plan, the Community Advisory Group and Transformative Justice subcommittee, consisting of community organizations and other stakeholders, will continue to meet regularly to improve and reduce disparities in law enforcement referrals and receive and analyze disaggregated and anonymized District data on use of force, law enforcement contacts, citations, arrests, and calls for assistance.

The media office of California State Attorney General Rob Bonta is the source of this report.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Attorney General Bonta and his team are working to review the decision and consider all options that will protect SB 9 as a state law. Bonta said the law has helped provide affordable housing for residents in California.
City Government1 month ago

Court Throws Out Law That Allowed Californians to Build Duplexes, Triplexes and RDUs on Their Properties

Rev. Amos C. Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP and pastor of Third Baptist Church. Photo courtesy Third Baptist Church.
Activism1 month ago

S.F. Black Leaders Rally to Protest, Discuss ‘Epidemic’ of Racial Slurs Against Black Students in SF Public School System

Vibe Bistro Logo
Community1 month ago

Opening Soon: Vibe Bistro Is Richmond’s New Hub for Coffee, Cuisine, Community and Culture

Oak Days shelter, once a Days Hotel, resides in the Hegenberger corridor of Oakland. It is used as a temporary home to 60 residents who have experienced chronic homelessness or are medically vulnerable. Photo by Magaly Muñoz.
Alameda County1 month ago

An Oakland Homeless Shelter Is Showing How a Housing and Healthcare First Approach Can Work: Part 1

Activism1 month ago

Oakland Post: Week of May 8 – 14, 2024

Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Community1 month ago

Gov. Newsom, Attorney General Bonta Back Bill to Allow California to Host Arizona Abortion Care

Courtesy City of Vallejo.
City Government1 month ago

Vallejo Continues to Accept Applications for Boards, Committees and Commissions

Shutterstock
California Black Media1 month ago

Cinco De Mayo: Five Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Popular Mexican American Holiday

California Supreme Court (iStock Photo)
Business4 weeks ago

Cal. Supreme Court Could Strip Gov and Legislature of Power to Raise Taxes

Outdoor community events are integral to San Francisco’s vibrant culture and sense of community. iStock image.
Bay Area1 month ago

Mayor Breed Proposes Waiving City Fees for Night Markets, Block Parties, Farmers’ Markets, Other Outdoor Community Events

Rajah Kirby Caruth, an American professional stock car racing driver. (File Photo)
Community1 month ago

Rajah Caruth: Young Trailblazer of NASCAR

ELITE Sit in 1 & 2: ELITE Public School staff and students staged a sit-in at Vallejo City Hall on Wednesday afternoon to protest the City Council’s decision to vote against their Major Use Permit to expand into downtown. Photo by Magaly Muñoz.
Community1 month ago

ELITE Charter School Conducts Sit-In Protest at Vallejo City Hall After City Council Vote

San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed (File Photo)
Bay Area1 month ago

Mayor London Breed: State Awards San Francisco Over $37M for Affordable Housing

Peggy Moore and Hope Wood, photo from their hopeactionchnage.com website
California Black Media4 weeks ago

Activist and Organizer Peggy Moore and Wife Die in Fatal Car Crash

Shutterstock
California Black Media4 weeks ago

Expect to See a New Flat Rate Fee of $24 on Your Electricity Bill

Trending

Copyright ©2021 Post News Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.