Frustrated residents of Oakland are tired of talking about a plan to combat displacement as rents continue to rise in the city and the region. The special housing meeting was held this week to take some, or really any, action.
About 80 speakers told the City Council personal tales of unfair evictions, dangerous conditions in homes because of uncaring landlords and steep rental increases. But mostly, they worried about the basic cost of living in the area. Alameda County’s median rent is already $2,800, according to Zillow, with a median home price around $680,000.
Kit Vaq, a government secretary, said that she’s lived in Oakland for decades and is worried that she might soon be priced out of the market. The Council agreed with her plea for more action. Although sympathetic Council members listened to hours of public testimony, there was little done the day of the hearing. Council members formally accepted a city staff report that was initially filed in May, the housing equity road map, while acknowledging the action was just policy framework for possible future actions.
The work is in the pipeline. Several Council members were working on ordinances to protect tenants and ensure the city is building enough affordable and market-rate housing.
Councilman Kalb is working with Mayor Libby Schaaf on several proposed policies including one that would require landlords to complete seismic retrofits of dwellings, better enforcement to ensure evictions are valid and legal, and studying the prospect of new developer impact fees that many cities use to pay for affordable housing. Several legislative ordinances would be ready in the coming months.
Edward Del Beccaro, managing director of the East Bay office of commercial real estate firm Transwestern, told the Council that Bay Area companies are creating jobs much faster than cities can build the housing, and the problem is only expected to get worse in the next ten years.
Development has lagged in Oakland because there’s a construction boom across the region, but developers are getting a better turn by building in San Francisco.
The Council is optimistic about working with county officials and other cities to develop a regional housing bond to pay for affordable housing. The city’s goal of building 7,000 new affordable housing units in the next seven years might depend on it; a $250 million bond would pay for about 2,500 units.
Residents are hopeful that the meeting would inspire practical solutions to the problem that can be replicated across the region.
If you are in the market to buy or sell your home, or if you have questions about the real estate options in your area, please give me, Ray Marquez, a call at 888-584-9427 ext. 119 or by email at Ray@RayMarquez.com. You can also visit my website at www.RayMarquez.com.