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.

#berkmtg 2902 Adeline

#berkmtg 2902 Adeline

This upcoming Tuesday at 7pm there will be a special city council meeting on 2902 Adeline St. It's a 50 unit projects 1.5 blocks from BART in S. Berkeley. This area of Berkeley has been one that has been fighting new development as they feel they've been neglected by the City for decades and that gentrification is ruining their neighborhoods. The fact of the matter is that gentrification has been happening, but it's been "displacement without development". This would be the first new building built in this priority development area in decades if you don't count the current affordable-housing development that was originally proposed in the 90s and only started construction last year. Also know that Berkeley's housing stock is highly impacted by UC Berkeley and students are packing 3 to a bedroom, commuting long distances, and/or living in cars.

Please take a look at our sign up sheet and consider coming to help fight for this new development that the neighbors think is too tall and doesn't do enough for the community. This project will definitely set a precedent for the new Adeline PDA: https://goo.gl/forms/BtmTP6szRVtOgo403 

Facts:

  • mixed-use 50 units, with 10% onsite (4 units), $884k to the affordable housing trust fund, with 4 live/work onsite
  • ~100k$ to the City's public art fund
  • 100k$ to community organizations
  • tons of bike parking, green features
  • ample set backs

2902adeline.com

Support the MacArthur Mammoth at Tomorrow's Oakland City Council

The 402 homes at MacArthur BART are almost a reality. It previously made its way through the planning commission with unanimous approval, but before it can be built it needs approval from the full city council. Decades ago, when MacArthur Transit Village was being put together, the councilmember at the time considered it a good idea to require full city council approval, and so here we are.

Tomorrow, February 28th, 2017 at 1:30pm: The MacArthur Mammoth will be having a hearing at the Oakland City Council's Community and Economic Development committee. This is an early afternoon meeting, so not everyone will be able to make it. Thats fine! The Mammoth will still be coming before the full city council on March 7th. The exact time is being worked out, but you'll know when it happens.

In the meantime, East Bay Forward is asking supporters to write letters of support to the city council's CED committee and the city planner for the project:

  • Catherine Payne, City Planner: cpayne@oaklandnet.com
  • Annie Campbell Washington, CED Chair: acampbell-washington@oaklandnet.com
  • Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Councilmember: lmcelhaney@oaklandnet.com
  • Noel Gallo, Councilmember: ngallo@oaklandnet.com
  • Larry Reid, Councilmember: lreid@oaklandnet.com

If you're unsure what to write, here's a sample letter to get you started:

Members of the Oakland Planning Commission and Councilmember Campbell-Washington,

I am writing to you in strong support of the proposed housing for the MacArthur Transit Village's Parcel B, which will bring 402 additional homes to Oakland without displacement. Oakland is becoming increasingly unaffordable to newcomers and long-time residents alike through a long-term trend of creating insufficient quantities of housing. Our crisis-level housing shortage has caused rents to skyrocket across the entire city, while at the same time leaving even rent controlled tenants—otherwise safe from drastic, immediate rent increases in market-rate housing—unable to move into safer, higher quality housing.

These 402 homes will bring thousands of families, workers, artists, neighbors, and friends to the Temescal and Longfellow neighborhoods over the lifetime of the building. These people can be long-term Oakland residents needing to get out of their earthquake-prone turn-of-the-century Victorian, or newcomers who are looking to make Oakland their home just as many others have done here for generations. The new housing will generate millions in tax revenue for the city, provide throngs of eager customers to local businesses, and start to make a dent in rents.

While the MacArthur Transit Village will not end our housing shortage overnight, building more housing is part of the answer and Approval of this project does exactly that. I urge the Community and Economic Development Committee to approve this project at MacArthur BART at the Februrary 28th meeting, with a recommendation of expedited approval by the City Council for March 7th.

Since this meeting is in the early afternoon, we're not in full-out organizer mode and aren't herding folks the day of the meeting. However, if you are able to, please do show up! Others will be there in East Bay Forward shirts to speak for the mammoth. If you are forced to choose between this committee meeting or the full city council meeting on March 7th, please pick the March 7th one; we are estimating it to be heard around 8:45pm.

Help Save Federal Caltrain Funding

People all over the Bay Area rely on Caltrain every day for their access to economic opportunities up and down the peninsula and into the South Bay. Yes, that includes us in the East Bay!

Caltrain's planned electrification upgrades affect all of us, and they are in danger of being canceled. An electric caltrain reduces greenhouse emissions, improves maintenance, and in general is a huge boost to the bay area's well-being. Unfortunately in this time of Trump, the new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is considering denying Caltrain the federal funding needed to complete the project. Without it, we'll have a half constructed and completely diesel-powered train line that continues to be overwhelmed with riders from around the region.

Our co-conspirators at Friends of Caltrain from down the peninsula are asking everyone in the bay area to take action against defunding Caltrain. Here's some things you can do today to keep our region green and on time:

This is important! With your help, we can make a difference on a problem that affects all of us in the region. Whatever doesn't get electrified in the peninsula causes a worse climate for all of us.

Support Affordable Housing at Oak Knoll

Proposed map of homes in Oak Knoll

Proposed map of homes in Oak Knoll

Tonight, around 6:30pm, the Oakland City Council will be deliberating whether or not to include affordable housing in the Oak Knoll development agreement. Oak Knoll is the new name for the former Navy Hospital in the Oakland hills.

Oak Knoll is city-owned land, which means that the city can negotiate the cost of the land to effectively free and include terms and conditions as part of the sale. In this case, the city is opting to sell the land at market value and relieve the developer of any obligation to build affordable housing beyond what the city requires.

At first blush, this seems like a reasonable deal! The city gets a pile of money from both the sale of the land and from impact fees the developer is paying. But here's the thing: The city's own housing policy recommends leasing land for dirt cheap, effectively allowing for large numbers of 100% affordable homes to pencil out. When the developer only pays for labor and materials, affordable housing is significantly cheaper and carries a substantial impact on our housing crisis by lifting up those most impacted by ever increasing rents.

City Council starts at 5:30 pm, but public comment on this item isn't expected to begin until at least 6:30 pm. If you have time after work, please swing by! You can hop in and out and don't have to stay very long.

Here are some talking points you can use:

  • The proposal to sell rather than lease the land is contrary to City policy.
  • This is public land, which might put the city in violation of the Surplus Lands Act and be exposed to risk of a lawsuit
  • Public owned land can be leased at any price; they could lease it for cheap which presents an incredibly rare opportunity to directly lower the costs of building affordable housing to almost nothing.
  • This would bring a large number of mixed-income homes to what is otherwise an exclusionary high-wealth neighborhood that historically has benefited from redlining.
  • The neighborhood residents would rather these be million dollar single family homes to continue the trend of only having other millionaire neighbors. This is our chance to buck the trend. We can fight segregation, and integrate the Oakland Hills.

Oakland Planning Commission Unanimously Recommends MTV Parcel B to Council

Oakland Planning Commission Unanimously Recommends MTV Parcel B to Council

Commission member Elizabeth Weinstein, a CEQA lawyer, debunked the opposition's assertions that the Transit Village requires a new EIR for the shadows, light, and birds, by explaining that density near transit is best for the environment and the developers have already been through strenuous checks during this process. Additionally, Weinstein added that "we have an obligation to our region to build transit oriented housing here, and a moral obligation to do so due to climate change." The planning commission unanimously sent the recommendation to approve the project to city council.

Tell the Oakland Planning Commission: Bring 400 homes to MacArthur BART

Next Wednesday, February 1st at 6pm, the Oakland Planning Commission will be considering approving the construction of 400 homes at MacArthur BART. East Bay Forward will be having a meeting outside of City Hall immediately prior, at 5:30pm to sync up before we begin.

That gives everyone just under seven days to write their councilmember and the planning commission in support of the Mammoth. While the Mammoth itself lives in Councilmember Kalb's district 1, Councilmember McElhaney's district 3 is just across the street.

Everyone's emails are listed below:

  • Dan Kalb, Councilmember for District 1, dkalb@oaklandnet.com
  • Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Councilmember for District 3, lmcelhaney@oaklandnet.com
  • Adhi Nagraj, Planning Commission Chair, nagrajplanning@gmail.com
  • Emily Weinstein, Planning Commissioner, EW.Oakland@gmail.com
  • Tom Limon, Planning Commissioner, tlimon.opc@gmail.com
  • Clark Manus, Planning Commissioner, cmanusopc@gmail.com
  • Amanda Monchamp, Planning Commissioner,  amandamonchamp@gmail.com
  • Jahmeese Myres, Planning Commissioner, jmyres.oakplanningcommission@gmail.com
  • Chris Pattillo, Planning Commissioner, pattillo@pgadesign.com
  • Catherine Payne, City Case Planner, cpayne@oaklandnet.com

If you're unsure what to write, here's a sample letter to get you started:

Members of the Oakland Planning Commission and Councilmember McElhaney,

I am writing to you in strong support of the proposed housing for the MacArthur Transit Village's Parcel B, which will bring 402 additional homes to Oakland without displacement. Oakland is becoming increasingly unaffordable to newcomers and long-time residents alike through a long-term trend of creating insufficient quantities of housing. Our crisis-level housing shortage has caused rents to skyrocket across the entire city, while at the same time leaving even rent controlled tenants—otherwise safe from drastic, immediate rent increases in market-rate housing—unable to move into safer, higher quality housing.

These 402 homes will bring thousands of families, workers, artists, neighbors, and friends to the Temescal and Longfellow neighborhoods over the lifetime of the building. These people can be long-term Oakland residents needing to get out of their earthquake-prone turn-of-the-century Victorian, or newcomers who are looking to make Oakland their home just as many others have done here for generations. The new housing will generate millions in tax revenue for the city, provide throngs of eager customers to local businesses, and start to make a dent in rents.

While the MacArthur Transit Village will not end our housing shortage overnight, building more housing is part of the answer and Approval of this project does exactly that. I urge the Oakland Planning Commission to approve this project at MacArthur BART at the Februrary 1st meeting, with a recommendation of expedited approval by the City Council scheduled immediately for the next Oakland City Council meeting.