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Renter Protection Going to Oakland Voters in November

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In an historic win for tenants’ rights advocates and Oakland’s most vulnerable residents, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday morning after seven hours to place the strongest renter protection initiative that the city has ever seen onto the November ballot.

 

 

The vote comes several months after housing organizations, labor groups and interfaith leaders launched a campaign to strengthen Oakland’s 35-year rent law to help tackle the city’s unprecedented displacement crisis.

 

“We’re just so happy for Oakland to see that we could pass this with unanimous support from the council,” said Camilo Zamora of Causa Justa: Just Cause, which is a member of the Protect Oakland Renters Coalition.

 

“Hopefully, this will show people out there who are losing hope in Oakland that there is momentum, and a movement growing for them in the region,” Zamora said.

 

Now, the coalition will shift to campaign mode to encourage Oaklanders to registered to vote and go to the polls in November.

 

“We know that landlord and realtor organizations, on a state and national level, are going to put a lot of money into an anti-renter protection campaign to beat this,” said James Vann of the Post Salon Community Assembly.

 

James Vann of the Post Salon Community Assembly applauds after City Council voted unanimously to place the Protect Oakland Renters Act onto the November ballot. Photo by Tulio Ospina.

James Vann of the Post Salon Community Assembly applauds after City Council voted unanimously to place the Protect Oakland Renters Act onto the November ballot. Photo by Tulio Ospina.

 

“We need to be ready to fight for renters’ rights because tenants are the majority of residents and this is a fight for the soul of Oakland,” Vann said.

 

Wednesday’s vote is a first-time victory for Oakland tenants and housing advocates who have fought for improved renter protections for nearly every election cycle since 1983.

 

Not since 2002 has a renter protection initiative made it onto the ballot and just a couple of months ago it appeared that the council would not send renter protection to the voters this year.

 

“Just a month ago we only had three solid votes” in support from council members, while five were needed to place the initiative on the ballot, according to Zamora.

 

“They didn’t want a ballot measure in the beginning,” he said. “It just shows how the council was moved by community pressure to ultimately vote unanimously on this vital issue.”

 

The renter protection initiative, put forward by the renters’ coalition and introduced to the council by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, would make several changes to the current rent law if it is approved by voters in November.

 

These include requiring landlords to petition through the Rent Board if they wish to increase rents above the annual consumer price index, extending Just Cause eviction protections to buildings built up to Dec. 31, 1995, and increasing transparency and accountability of the Rent Board by broadening its powers to include more tenant representation.

 

On Tuesday evening, several hundred community members packed City Hall to speak to Kaplan’s renter protection proposal, the majority speaking in favor.

 

“Oakland is no longer a diverse city like it once was,” said Dorothy King, owner of Everett and Jones BBQ.

 

“I’m a landlord, but I got compassion for people,” she said. “They can’t afford to live here anymore and we need to put up some protection for people renting in Oakland.”

 

Dozens of small property owners spoke out against the ballot measure, arguing that by increasing protections to tenants, the city will be exacerbating Oakland’s displacement crisis since owners will be forced to sell their buildings to wealthier developers, thus hiking up rents.

 

But for many small property landlords, the opposite seems true.

 

“I want this city to be as diverse as possible in terms of class and race,” said Stephanie Schaudel, a landlord and public school teacher in Oakland.

 

“We’re currently seeing a bleeding of people throughout the Bay due to a lack of renter protection. We need the most aggressive and protective measure on the ballot,” Schaudel said.

 

The majority of speakers Tuesday night were tenants who have either experienced displacement or are in the midst of it now.

 

“I remember to this day in the fourth grade as my mother packed our belongings into a suitcase and we made our way to a homeless shelter,” said Sinorti Iris Stegman, an Oakland native who is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University.

 

“I made a commitment to return to Oakland and serve my community,” Stegman said. “Will I be able to afford to come back to my home and by the time I graduate, will there be a Black community to serve?”

 

Another renter protection proposal put forward by Councilmembers Dan Kalb, Abel Guillén, Annie Campbell Washington and Council President Lynette McElhaney was also passed this week with seven votes in favor and one abstention from Councilmember Desley Brooks.

 

Some of this proposal’s changes would not go into effect until as late as 2018 but would be superseded by Kaplan’s ballot measure if it passes in November.

 

City Government

City Council Passes Reid’s Gun Violence Resolution

Officially declaring gun violence a public health crisis within the City of Oakland, the resolution endorses the call from many community-based organizations for Alameda County’s Board of Supervisors to direct an equitable amount of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds into violence prevention resources.   

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stop gun violence sign photo courtesy chip vincent via unsplash

Reacting to Oakland’s 100th homicide of the year, the City Council unanimously voted to adopt Councilmember Treva Reid’s gun violence resolution.

Officially declaring gun violence a public health crisis within the City of Oakland, the resolution endorses the call from many community-based organizations for Alameda County’s Board of Supervisors to direct an equitable amount of the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds into violence prevention resources.

“We are in a state of emergency. We can no longer continue to report the lives lost of our loved ones without intentionally working to implement immediate and strategic solutions to stop the onslaught of violence that we are experiencing,” said Reid.

By officially declaring gun violence a public health crisis and calling for additional funding from the county, Reid says Oakland can achieve the following:

  • Deeper investments for violence prevention programs, like Ceasefire and Mobile Assistance Community Responders of Oakland (MACRO), as well as community healing organizations
  • Funds for culturally responsive mental health services
  • Additional community clinics and providers to support holistic delivery of health services
  • Rental support, down payment assistance, homeownership retention, and affordable housing development
  • Access to life coaching, service connectors, living wage jobs and grants and technical assistance for Black business to enhance economic self sufficiency
  • Expanded work force development and business assistance resources

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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City Government

Mayor Breed, S.F. Airport Announce Vaccination Requirement for All Airport Workers

Mandate for all airline, service, concession, and construction employees effective immediately

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Portrait of flight attendant standing on airport, wearing face masks and looking at camera.

Mayor London N. Breed and the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) announced a requirement on Tuesday that all airport workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The mandate, the first for a U.S. airport, goes into effect immediately and requires all on-site personnel to be vaccinated or, if exempt, be tested weekly for COVID-19.

“We know that vaccines are the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 transmission and reduce hospitalizations and deaths,” said Breed. “This new requirement supports our aggressive measures to protect the health and safety of our region and our continued economic recovery. I want to thank SFO for their continued leadership protecting our city and its visitors.”

“Throughout this pandemic, SFO has been leading the aviation industry in protecting passengers and employees alike,” said Airport Director Ivar C. Satero. “As SFO prepares for the upcoming holiday travel season, and the return of pre-pandemic passenger levels, we have an obligation to provide a safe airport facility for the traveling public and our on-site employees. According to the Centers for Disease Control, vaccination is the most effective way to prevent transmission of COVID-19.”

Effective immediately, every SFO tenant or contractor must require all on-site personnel to be fully vaccinated. The Airport continues to offer free vaccines at the SFO Medical Clinic. Exemptions from the vaccination requirement can be granted by the employer for either medical disability or sincerely held religious belief. For employees granted an exemption, the tenant or contractor employer must establish a weekly COVID-19 testing and reporting protocol.

Tenants and contractors will also be required to submit reports on the status of their respective workforce until all on-site personnel are fully vaccinated. Failure to comply could result in fines under the Airport’s Rule and Regulations.

In August 2020, SFO became the first U.S. airport to establish an on-site rapid testing capability and now administers tests to an average of 500 travelers at various on-site locations every day.

In February 2021, SFO first offered vaccines on-site when it partnered with the County of San Mateo to provide vaccines to health care workers and County residents over 65. The Airport converted one of its multi-level garages to serve as a drive-through vaccination facility.

Over 26,500 doses were administered through this program. SFO also launched a vaccination clinic in early May, located in the International Terminal, which offered doses to airport workers, local residents, and travelers. This program was administered through a partnership with Safeway and administered almost 2,200 doses.

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City Government

Alameda County Launches New Redistricting Process

The next hearing will occur on Tuesday, Oct.12 at noon on Zoom (Access the meeting link at: https://redistricting2021.acgov.org/meetings/)

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Alameda Redistricting Flyer; "Our Community Has Changed"

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors held a Special Meeting Tuesday to hear public input on redistricting.

The county will begin redrawing districts for its five Board of Supervisors. Redistricting is the process of adjusting existing district boundaries and must occur every 10 years after the population data is available from the decennial Census.

The City of Oakland is also underway with redistricting for its city council and corresponding school board districts. Those new maps will be approved by an Independent Redistricting Commission, as was approved by voters in a 2014 ballot measure.

Alameda County’s Board of Supervisors will vote on the final maps, which must be passed with a 2/3 majority.

Census 2020 data shows that Alameda County grew by 10.7% over that last 10 years and is now home to 1,682,353 residents. More data will be released soon to reflect which Supervisorial districts are too large and which districts are too small in population as currently configured.

With the passage of the FAIR MAPS Act (Fair and Inclusive Redistricting for Municipalities and Political Subdivisions), state law now requires counties to follow specific timelines and requirements for their redistricting processes, including holding at least four public hearings, ensuring language access, publishing all materials and meeting information on a website, and collecting input from the public in multiple formats.

“Alameda County is exceeding the new transparency laws for our redistricting process. We’ve even procured a mapping tool to allow the public to draw their own “Communities of Interest” and to propose district maps,” said Casey Farmer, director of community engagement for Alameda County Redistricting 2021.

“Public input is vital to this process, so we’ve made it easy to engage in many ways,” said Farmer. “By taking a few minutes to share your “Communities of Interest,” you will ensure the Board knows which areas you want to remain intact in the new district boundaries.”

Members of the public can engage in the redistricting process in multiple ways, including sharing their Communities of Interest (a geographic area of residents who share economic or social interests) using an online mapping tool, submitting written input or phoning in feedback. The public can also speak at any of the eight Redistricting hearings.

The new district maps must abide by the following criteria: Comply with US and California Constitution (which requires equal population amongst districts), comply with federal Voting Rights Act (to protect race and language minorities), maintain geographic contiguity, and uphold geographic integrity (minimizing the division of neighborhoods, local Communities of Interest “COIs”, or unincorporated areas). District boundaries should be easily identifiable and understandable by residents, should be compactly configured, and cannot favor or discriminate against political parties.

The County’s Redistricting website contains detailed information about the process, the timeline, videos, multilingual outreach materials, and the online Community of Interest mapping tool: https://redistricting2021.acgov.org/

The next hearing will occur on Tuesday, Oct.12 at noon on Zoom (Access the meeting link at: https://redistricting2021.acgov.org/meetings/)

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