We stopped Berkeley, but the fight isn't over yet!

This week at Berkeley City Council, East Bay Forward organized a turnout of nearly 50 YIMBYs, urbanists, EBFers, and everyday people impacted by our housing shortage. The rule of East Bay Forward is Show Up, and Show Up we did.

A proposed increase in affordable housing impact fees was delayed for two weeks and a feasibility study on the increase was brought back from the dead. Additionally, a proposed downzoning of Berkeley was continued to a future city council meeting.

If East Bay Forward had not shown up for housing, we'd see impact fees in Berkeley raised to the maximum price determined to be feasible by the city's 2015 Nexus study and no study to consider the impacts of such a drastic change.

However, there is more yet to do! Because these items are being continued to the next city council meeting.

East Bay Forward is asking you to write your city councilor and let them know how you feel. You can reach the entire council at once via council@cityofberkeley.info, or chose from below:

  1. Linda Maio, lmaio@cityofberkeley.info
  2. Cheryl Davila, cdavila@CityofBerkeley.info
  3. Ben Bartlett, bbartlett@cityofberkeley.info
  4. Kate Harrison, kharrison@CityofBerkeley.info
  5. Sophie Hahn, shahn@cityofberkeley.info 
  6. Susan Wengraf, swengraf@cityofberkeley.info
  7. Kriss Worthington, kworthington@cityofberkeley.info
  8. Lori Droste, ldroste@cityofberkeley.info
  9. Mayor Jesse Arreguin, mayor@cityofberkeley.info

Let the City of Berkeley know: Impact fees are not a sustainable way to produce affordable housing. They increase rents for those of us unlucky enough to win the affordable housing lottery, have chilling effects on housing both affordable and market rate development, and last but not least: do nothing to build affordable housing faster.

Equally important, we need to be demanding an upzoning of North Berkeley. If impact fees have a chilling effect on producing housing, an upzoning of exclusionary neighborhoods that have spent decades organizing against housing will be a massive boost to producing more housing towards ending our crisis-level shortage. Impact fees that fund affordable housing cede ground on fair taxation regimes, but they also mean building more market housing is needed to produce affordable housing. An upzoning along with approval streamlining means more affordable housing faster.

Finally, East Bay Forward is organizing meetings with elected officials. If you're willing and able to meet with them, please sign up and let us know.

YIMBYtown Keynote Speaker Laura Loe Confirmed

YIMBYtown Keynote Speaker Laura Loe Confirmed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

6/14/17 OAKLAND, CA - The YIMBYtown 2017 conference hosted by East Bay Forward will feature Laura Loe as a keynote speaker.

Laura Loe (Bernstein) is an educator, artist, and activist living in Seattle. Her writing has appeared in The Urbanist, The Seattle Globalist, South Seattle Emerald, and International Examiner. She was elected to the Sierra Club's Seattle Group in 2016 and chairs their housing work group. She is passionate about womxn urbanist voices, climate justice, community ownership, equitable community development and renters' rights. Laura has organized independently behind more inclusive, equitable housing policies, including Seattle's Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA).

The full schedule for YIMBYtown is available now at https://yimby.town/schedule and features topics such as using art & storytelling in activism, how to organize through a crisis, and learning from San Francisco's housing mistakes. There's still time to register at https://yimby.town/register

East Bay Forward is an unincorporated coalition of advocates dedicated to solving the housing-affordability crisis in the Bay Area. Find out more at https://eastbayforward.org or email info@eastbayforward.org for further details.

 

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Berkeley poised to tax affordable housing

Plot of new vs proposed impact fee formula

Plot of new vs proposed impact fee formula

Berkeley City Council is considering changes to the city's Affordable Housing Mitigation Fee. This fee is paid by housing projects that provide market rate housing, with the money going into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The fee can be avoided by building the affordable homes on site, within the project. The fee is calculated as $34,000 per market rate unit, 

The changes being considered by council will:

  • Eliminate the option for projects with less than 10 homes to include affordable housing on site
  • Increase market rate rents
  • Do absolutely nothing to increase affordable housing production numbers

Eliminating the option for projects with less than 10 homes to include affordable housing on site means districts with burdensome restrictions on housing such as height limits, density maximums, lot sizes and so forth will be completely deprived of their potential for affordable housing. It is not a coincidence that these neighborhoods are mostly low density single family homes that have fought tooth and nail to keep development - and low income families - out of their neighborhood for decades.

When developers need to pay more money to build market rate housing, this necessarily leads to higher rents in the end. The proposed changes appear to treat market rate housing as a hazardous problem - despite the fact that market rate housing is where many families live while on the affordable housing wait lists - by reducing their contributions towards housing affordability.

Most importantly however, these changes do nothing to increase affordable housing construction! While the affordable housing trust fund might get some more cash, and the inclusionary zoning percentages might generate more affordable housing, the higher fees will eat up all those gains when fewer and fewer housing projects are able to pay the fee. This all but kills smaller family sized developers who aren't building luxury towers but instead want to fill out our Missing Middle of townhomes, small apartment buildings, and affordable-by-design solutions. These changes don't streamline affordable housing construction, they don't push back against the forces of gentrification and displacement, and they don't undo decades of exclusionary zoning in low density luxury single family home neighborhoods.

Before the City of Berkeley can vote on the ordinance, they're required to hold a public hearing on the fees which is scheduled for June 13th.

East Bay Forward is organizing to show up in council chambers on the 13th to tell Mayor Arreguin and his council that this is unacceptable. We demand real solutions to our housing shortage, not empty gestures while rents rise and families continue to be displaced. Sign up below to get involved:

The EBF Rent Control Platform

East Bay Forward supports rent control.

Earlier this year, Assembly member Rob Bonta introduced AB 1506 to repeal the Costa-Hawkins act. Costa-Hawkins was passed to implement restrictions on rent control in California. In particular, it restricts us from creating new rent controlled housing if it is destroyed, and bans rent control on all single family homes. Unfortunately AB 1506 was pulled from the legislative process and died early on.

In May 2017, East Bay Forward convened a Rent Control platform working group to author a letter in support of bringing AB 1506 back to the assembly as part of the process of developing the Rent Control plank for addition to the East Bay Forward platform. Below is our letter of support:

TechEquity: Political Dynamics of Housing

TechEquity and SF YIMBY are hosting a panel on housing the evening of June 1st, 6pm at Twilio HQ.

Via TechEquity's RSVP page:

Everyone seems to agree there is a problem, and there is general consensus about the solution set -- so why is it so hard to get anything done? Who are the players and what do they want? Are there any breakthrough legislative efforts underway, and how might we support their passage?

This event will explore these questions, and include a forward-looking, solutions-oriented conversation about how we can break the deadlock. Kim-Mai Cutler will give an overview of housing's political landscape. She'll be speaking with:

  • Gloria Bruce, East Bay Housing Organizations Executive Director

  • AnMarie Rodgers, SFPlanning Senior Policy Advisor

  • Victoria Fierce, East Bay Forward Organizer

  • Rev. Damita Davis-Howard, Oakland Community Organization

  • Eric Tao, Developer and CEO of AGI Avant

YIMBYtown Keynote Speakers Confirmed

YIMBYtown Keynote Speakers Confirmed

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

5/30/17 OAKLAND, CA - The YIMBYtown 2017 conference hosted by East Bay Forward will feature Sasha Marshall and Emily Hamilton as keynote speakers.

Sasha Marshall is a Houston, Texas native and is currently employed at the City of Houston as a Planner III in the Grants Management Division. In this role, Sasha leads the effort to reduce the stigma against federally funded housing through the “Say Yes!” educational and public awareness campaign to encourage the development of affordable homes for all incomes in all areas of Houston. Sasha earned a Master’s degree in Regional and City Planning from the University of Oklahoma. Her entire career has been focused on improving the quality and availability of homes for low and moderate income people. Sasha brings her education and experience working in the planning department to talk about her city's campaign to make in impact in housing affordability by engaging with all citizens and encouraging them to "Say Yes" to housing.

Emily Hamilton is the policy research manager for the State and Local Policy Project at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. She writes for the blog Market Urbanism, and her writing has appeared in USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, Economic Affairs, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Emily is an alumna of the Mercatus Center’s MA Fellowship at George Mason University, and she is currently a PhD student in economics at George Mason University. Emily's academic background will set the stage for the conference as she discusses research behind the land-use policies of cities and their impact on important economic factors such as housing affordability. 

The full schedule for YIMBYtown is available now at https://yimby.town/schedule and features topics like How LA Defeated Measure S, Why housing teachers is important, and intersectional YIMBYism. There's still time to register, so bring your friends! https://yimby.town/register

East Bay Forward is an unincorporated coalition of advocates dedicated to solving the housing-affordability crisis in the Bay Area. They meet monthly in Oakland, and spend their free time showing up at city meetings in the East Bay to fight for more housing. Find out more at https://eastbayforward.org or email info@eastbayforward.org for further details.

 

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East Bay Forward Hosts YIMBYtown 2017

East Bay Forward Hosts YIMBYtown 2017

May 15 2017, Oakland, CA - East Bay Forward will be hosting the 2nd annual YIMBYtown Conference at Oakstop July 13-16 2017. YIMBYtown is an annual North American conference that brings together grassroots community organizers, political leaders, educators, housing developers, and everyday people to identify problems, create solutions, share resources on the issues that impact housing on local, state, and national levels. In addition to having one day of scheduled speakers, panels, workshops, YIMBYtown is half conference-half unconference and anyone is able to submit talks and workshops for day two. There will also be time for socializing, a live recording of SFYIMBY's Infill Podcast, and YIMBY swag.

YIMBYtown is a place for activists, developers, urban planners, architects, policy makers, and political leaders to come together and have meaningful conversations addressing the housing-affordability crisis that affects all of us. YIMBYtown's current list of attendees includes representatives from YIMBY groups from Austin, Boston, LA, Portland, Vancouver, and even London, England. Registration is open at https://yimby.town/register

East Bay Forward is an unincorporated coalition of advocates dedicated to solving the housing-affordability crisis in the Bay Area. They meet monthly in Oakland, and spend their free time showing up at city meetings in the East Bay to fight for more housing. Find out more at https://eastbayforward.org or email info@eastbayforward.org for further details.

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EBF Meetings May 10th and May 21st

EBF Meetings May 10th and May 21st

East Bay Forward has twice-monthly meetings, one on a weekday and one on the weekend to accommodate different schedules. 

Support Tenant's Rights in Concord

The cost of housing continues to be one of the biggest issues facing residents of the Bay Area. The crisis has been spreading ever further into the East Bay with the cities of Pleasanton and Concord facing the steepest year-over-year rent price increases according to a recent report published by Apartment List

The Planning and Housing Division of the City of Concord has proposed a new ordinance in an attempt to help address the community's concerns about their skyrocketing rents. This ordinance would establish a program to provide mediation services to renters who face rent increases over 10 percent in a 12-month period. A public hearing before a Rent Review Board would be required to resolve the dispute if mediation fails. Programs like these are one step along the road to helping ease the pressure that the housing crises has placed on all Bay Area residents. Resources like these are critical in helping the most vulnerable members of our community avoid exploitation by unscrupulous landlords.

The new Ordinance will be presented to the City Concil at a public hearing on May 2. Prior to that the Planning and Housing Division is holding a workshop to give tenants an opportunity to ask questions. If you have time I would urge you to attend. We need everyone  we can to show up in support of more and better tenant protections everywhere in the East Bay and beyond. 

The workshop is being held on at 1:30pm on Wednesday, April 19 in the City Council Chambers at 1950 Parkside Dr, Concord (15 minutes walk from BART).

For more information contact Planning Manager Laura Simpson, (925) 671-3369, Laura.Simpson@cityofconcord.org.

1314 Franklin Delayed at Planning Commission

634 homes proposed at 1314 Franklin were delayed at the April 5th planning commission meeting, despite overwhelming support for more housing. That night, 18 speakers and over a dozen letters from the downtown, old oakland, lakeside, and chinatown neighborhoods showed up to demand more housing in Oakland.

The proposed project brings 17,000 street level retail, almost 1,000 residents, and almost $4,000,000 annually in tax revenue for city services. It also brings 60 units of affordable housing to replace a two story parking deck that provides no housing whatsoever.

The final vote at the commission was commissioners Manus and Nagraj opposed to a delay of the project, with Myres, Limon, and Weinstein voting in favor. Patillo was excused for conflict of interest, as her architecture firm contributed to this project.

Despite all this support, the Chinatown Coalition lead by Lailan Huen still managed to pull strings behind the public eye in closed-door back room negotiations to get this delayed in exchange while they build up their case for yet another appeal.

Housing denied is housing delayed. East Bay Forward will continue to fight against unnecessary delays of housing that only serve to further exacerbate our crisis-level housing shortage, but we can't do it without the people power you contribute!

We're asking everyone to write a letter to the Oakland Planning Commission in support of this project, which is coming back to the planning commission next week on April 19th. Tell the commission that delays like this are unacceptable and undemocratic in the face of overwhelming support.

Oakland City Council Unanimously Approves MTV Parcel B

Oakland City Council Unanimously Approves MTV Parcel B

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

3/7/17 - OAKLAND, CA City Council chambers were standing room only when public comment opened up on the MacArthur Transit Village Parcel B project. The city council voted unanimously to approve the project pushing it into the next step of waiting out the 90 day appeal period ensured by law. The vote came after comments from many community members, both for and against the proposed project. Supporters such as Temescal Business Improvement District and Labor Unions, spoke in support of the project. They touted the community benefits of more jobs and foot traffic at local businesses as positive effects of the project. As one carpenter stated, "This is more than housing, it's building integrity and bringing forth change." Other community members spoke in opposition to the project claiming that people would not want to live in the project and that the "visual ugliness" will impact "all of the East Bay." Council Member Dan Kalb, representing District 2, where the project stands to be built, stated "We absolutely need more affordable housing. We can use this to take to other developers and can be used as a model.” We need more affordable housing, indeed. The project on Parcel B is the final piece of the larger transit village plan which consists of a multi-level parking structure for BART as well as a 90-unit building of below market rate units. These two structures are already built and the addition of 402 homes, 45 of which are below market rate, will build on what the transit village has already done. As Andrea Lo put it, "it's important for us to have high density housing near transit and downtown."

East Bay Forward is an unincorporated coalition dedicated to solving the housing crisis in the bay area. They meet monthly in Oakland or Berkeley, and spend their free time showing up at city meetings to fight for more housing. Find out more at https://eastbayforward.org or email info@eastbayforward.org for further details.

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Tonight: MacArthur Mammoth at Oakland City Hall

Tonight's the night!

After almost a year of community meetings, committee meetings, planning commission review, and more community meetings, the 402 homes of the MacArthur Mammoth are being brought before the full Oakland City Council tonight for a final vote.

Tonight, the Oakland City Council decides whether or not we'll allow the big, beautiful mammoth and its 402 homes to sit next to the MacArthur BART station.

The full City Council can, at times, be a vastly different experience than a subcommittee or even the planning commission. Tonight's agenda starts officially at 5:30 PM but I am estimating the Mammoth to be called for public comment around 8:00 PM. Thats super late, and not everyone (especially those with kids to put to bed) might be able to come!

Regardless if you can come or not, there are some things you can still do today to support the Mammoth:

Write a letter of support to the full city council

  • At-Large: Rebecca Kaplan, rkaplan@oaklandnet.com
  • District 1: Dan Kalb, dkalb@oaklandnet.com
  • District 2: Abel Guillén, aguillen@oaklandnet.com
  • District 3: Lynette Gibson McElhaney, lmcelhaney@oaklandnet.com
  • District 4: Annie Campbell Washington, acampbell-washington@oaklandnet.com
  • District 5: Noel Gallo, ngallo@oaklandnet.com
  • District 6: Desley Brooks, dbrooks@oaklandnet.com
  • District 7: Larry Reid, lreid@oaklandnet.com

Be sure to CC the Mammoth's city planner, Catherine Payne (cpayne@oaklandnet.com).

Call your councilor's office

  • At-Large: Rebecca Kaplan, (510) 238-7008
  • District 1: Dan Kalb, (510) 238-7014
  • District 2: Abel Guillén, (510) 238-7002
  • District 3: Lynette Gibson McElhaney, (510) 238-7245
  • District 4: Annie Campbell Washington, (510) 238-7273
  • District 5: Noel Gallo, (510) 238-7005
  • District 6: Desley Brooks, (510) 238-7006
  • District 7: Larry Reid, 510 238-7007

Show Up

Tonight in City Council Chambers, 3rd Floor of City Hall, around 8:00 PM. If you're coming, check in with Victoria Fierce by texting to 440-858-3382. She will add you to the list and let you know when the exact time to speak will be happening if it moves.