The rental housing situation in Oakland in 2015 is now widely acknowledged to be in crisis. Rents in Oakland have gone up over 20% in just the past year, faster than in any other large city in the US (https://www.zumper.com/blog/2015/08/zumper-national-rent-report-august-2015/) .

This page is meant as a place to gather data on the scope of the crisis and suggest proposals to solve the crisis, including solutions for both the short-term (within the next year) and the long-term.

  1. Background
  2. Upcoming Events
  3. Previous Events
  4. Organizations
  5. Resource Links
  6. Articles
  7. Proposed Solutions - Short Term
  8. Proposed Solutions - Long Term


1) Background


2) Upcoming Events

12/5/2015: Oakland Alliance 2016 Election Strategy Forum, will include more discussion on creating a progressive platform for Oakland, including for housing, and how to elect a councilperson who could work for said platform - event is 1pm-4pm at First AME Church, 3700 Telegraph Ave.  Check https://www.facebook.com/OakAllianceCA/ for more details.


2) Previous Events

11/22/2015 (Sun): Berkeley Tenants Union holding a teach-in about the rental crisis in Berkeley, may be able to make alliances and share ideas. Facilitator: Paola Laverde, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board Commissioner. Speakers: Stephen Barton, Ph.D., Former Director of the Housing Department and Deputy Director of the Rent Stabilization Program in Berkeley; Moni Law, Affordable Housing Activist; Rick Lewis, Executive Director, Bay Area Community Land Trust and former Housing Advisory Commission Member; Austin Pritzkat, President, Berkeley Student Cooperative; Katherine Harr, Berkeley Tenants Union. http://berkeleytenants.org/?p=1445

11/14/2015 (Sat): Socialist Alternative meeting at the Omni Commons, 4899 Shattuck Ave, 2pm-4pm.  https://omnicommons.org/calendar/events/socialistsrising-oakland/. There will be some discussion of the Oakland housing crisis and how we get somebody elected to the Oakland city council who recognizes the crisis.

11/12/2015: Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (AD-15, Richmond->North Oakland) hosted an Affordable Housing Townhall, downtown Oakland, 6pm-8pm. https://www.facebook.com/events/1517027241951079/

11/09/2015: Regular monthly meeting of the Oakland Tenants Union, second Monday of each month.  http://www.oaklandtenantsunion.org/

11/08/2015:  Oakland Alliance 2016 Election Strategy Forum, had break-out discussion for housing crisis and what strategies to use to fix it. https://www.facebook.com/events/187221828277699/

10/17/2015, Speak Out Stay Put Forum, organized by Causa Justa: see  https://www.facebook.com/causajusta/posts/1043796915651890 and multiple other Facebook posts by Causa Justa. Also inluded in forum: Oakland United Coalition (https://www.facebook.com/OUCoalition)

9/30/2015, Oakland City Council meeting: https://oakland.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=434494&GUID=47FB844A-9842-4DE3-A97E-9F9366C79F06&Options=info&Search=

- Agenda for CC meeting on 9/30/2015:  https://www.scribd.com/doc/282667691/OaklandCC-20150930-MeetingAgenda

- Letter from Oakland Vice-Mayor Rebecca Kaplan dated 9/24/2015 outlining some proposals to reduce illegal evictions, for discussion at CC meeting on 9/30/2015:  https://www.scribd.com/doc/282667694/OaklandCC-20150930-KaplanHousingLetter


3) Organizations

Block By Block Organizing Network (BBBON): Grassroots organization for addressing the rental crisis.  Policy proposals: BBBON_Council Has Passed Housing Roadmap Now What_flyer.docx (see Proposed Solutions - Long Term below).  Working with Pamela Drake, https://twitter.com/Bethpikegirl. Pamela Drake's blog posts on affordable housing: http://draketalkoakland.com/category/affordable-housing/.

Causa Justa: Working for low-income folks' causes including wages and rents.  https://www.facebook.com/causajusta?fref=nf

East Bay Housing Organizationshttps://www.facebook.com/eastbayhousingorganizations

Oakland Alliance: Working on creating a progressive platform and fielding progressive candidates in targeted races.  https://www.facebook.com/OakAllianceCA.

Oakland Housing Cabinet: organized by Mayor Libby Schaaf: Email-newsletter from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf dated "August 2015", introducing her "Oakland Housing Cabinet" project:  http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs117/1104087626438/archive/1121923135430.html. Homepage for Schaaf's Oakland Housing Cabinet with lots of links to reference materials on scope of crisis and possible solutions: https://oakland-home.squarespace.com/

Oakland Tenants Union: Working for educating tenants about rent control and eviction law, eneacting "real rent control", reforming the condo conversion policies, and protecting tenants from seismic retrofit costs. http://www.oaklandtenantsunion.org/. Led by James Vann.

Oakland United Coalitionhttps://www.facebook.com/OUCoalition?fref=nf

SF Bay Area Renters' Federation: https://www.facebook.com/BARentersFed?fref=nf;  https://twitter.com/SFyimby

Socialist Alternativehttps://www.facebook.com/SocialistAlternativeUSA


4) Resource Links


5) Articles


6) Proposed Solutions - Short Term

(toconnor) Just brainstorming here:

  • relocation fund made available to anyone being displaced due to unaffordable rent increases
  • enact mandatory 3-month notice needed for rent increases over 5%, similar to Portland's emergency measures from Oct 2015
  • prohibit rent increases over 20% in one year
  • install modular housing, like what San Jose is installing for homeless people, in city vacant lots


7) Proposed Solutions - Long Term

From Tim McCormick on Medium, 12/10/2015-12/15/2015 (https://medium.com/@tmccormick/great-initiative-df0e13819c7c#.vob2d9y9l):

  1. Yale School of Architecture “Less is Enough” studio (Aureli / Emily Abruzzo) 2015 explored topic of how to add 100k new homes in SF .
  2. Proposals from David Baker Architects, SF.
  3. Housing Solution: Backyard Cottages Could Add 1/3 More Homes to SF” and other articles in SF Public Press’ June 2014 Housing special issue.
  4. Housing Solution: Allow Off-the-Shelf Homes in San Francisco’s Underused Spaces.” (on my Houslets project and Luke Iseman’s Boxouse project.
  5. Lantsberg, Alex. “Borrowing from Habitat and Rural Land Preservation: Affordable Housing Conservation Easements for San Francisco (and beyond).” 16 Sept 2015.
  6. Mejias, Luis (Luis Eric. ). “Solving the housing crisis in San Francisco with factory-built housing technology and regulatory reform.” 2015. M.A. thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  7. I thought New London Architecture’s recent proposals contest was well-done, & good model: https://t.co/aSaRgFNH9h.

Relatedly, Shelter (UK housing charity) is asking all London mayoral candidates to offer plans for 50k new housing units/year.


From Tim McCormick @tmccormick, 10/18/2015: OAK could permit on-trailer small dwellings on public parking, they cost < $20k (https://twitter.com/tmccormick/status/656045664770482176)


From toconnor: 

  • organize Oakland city government and Oakland residents to turn over the state law (Costa-Hawkins) that prohibits rent control on single-family houses
  • create a rent registry for all rental units in Oakland


Proposals from Block By Block Organizing Network: BBBON_Council Has Passed Housing Roadmap Now What_flyer.docx:

  • Declare housing state-of-emergency and declare moratorium on approval of all projects until developer impact fees are implemented and we have a timeline to implement the Housing Equity Roadmap
  • Developer impact fees
  • Inclusionary zoning
  • Use 50% of "Boomerang Funds" for affordable housing
  • Mandate at least 50% of new development around transit be affordable
  • Allocate unused public land for affordable housing or mixed-use
  • Fund the down-payment assistance and first-time home-buyer programs
  • Comprehensive rent-control ordinance
  • Anti-speculation tax
  • Revise accessory dwelling unit policy