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.