Rendering of the proposed tower. [source]

Right now (May, 2015) there is a lot for sale by the city of Oakland at East 12th Street and 1st/2nd Avenues in Merritt/Eastlake. The plot was created when Measure DD rerouted streets.

UrbanCore is the developer who wants to buy the land.

Some citizens are very angry at the proposed development that will have 298 "market rate" units that will start at about 3,000$ each, arguing that the prices are a clear sign of gentrification and will lead to further increases in rent and displacement.

Neighborhood group Eastlake United for Justice has been the main group opposing the current plan. On May 4th, Public Advocates and the Public Interest Law Project submitted a letter to Oakland Attorney General Barbara Parker specifying the city's legal obligations in this plan and showing how the city is violating a number of laws with the current plan. Here's the text of that letter: letter_to_oakland_city_council_regarding_east_12th_street.pdf. On May 25th, in an article in the Oakland Post, "Alex Katz, Parker’s chief of staff, said she does not respond to questions regarding her legal advice to the City Council, citing attorney-client privilege."

On May 5, 2015, protesters shut down the city council meeting where the sale would have been approved. On May 9th, Eastlake United for Justice posted the following statement on the "Save the E 12th St. Parcel for the People" Facebook page:

Eastlake United for Justice (EUJ) Statement on the People’s City Council May 5th

On Tuesday May 5th, members of the groups black.seed and Asians4BlackLives held a People’s City Council meeting in opposition to the proposed E 12th St. apartment tower, slated for development on public land by Lake Merritt. Residents created a human chain in front of the Council members desk, and the City Council adjourned their hearing without discussing items on the agenda, including the E 12th proposal.

During the People’s City Council meeting, residents discussed issues of development, displacement and policing in Oakland. Many speakers made important connections between police violence and gentrification and called for us all to dream big and imagine the best for Oakland.

Eastlake United for Justice has worked diligently through all available channels to raise our concerns about the lack of affordable housing in the proposed E 12th St project and the opaque city process surrounding it. Since April 2014, we have met with Council members, the Mayor's office, the developer and planning staff. We have drafted extensive technical documents demonstrating how affordable housing is a viable option for this parcel, and even outlined significant legal concerns with the project
Despite the fact that many City Council members and the Mayor have all made public statements in support of affordable housing, there has been little effort toward including affordable housing, conducting a transparent community engagement process or creating meaningful community benefits within the E 12th development.
After this frustrating process, we are deeply inspired by the courageous leadership of black.seed and Asians4BlackLives.

We recognize that there were other important issues on the agenda that were not heard at the meeting, such as the effort to improve the Citizen Police Review Board. We are hopeful that the inspiring action of Black and Asian community leaders taking a stand against displacement, and the possibility to work together going forward, outweigh the frustrations.

EUJ will continue to organize our neighborhood as we have for months to fight for affordable housing in our community and stop the proposed high-end tower at E 12th. The City also needs comprehensive policies to ensure public lands are used for affordable housing in the future and to protect tenant rights. The City of Oakland’s number one priority should be addressing the growing housing affordability crisis and ensuring that our city’s long-time, working class residents are not displaced. We continue our call for affordable housing on the E 12th parcel. ‪#‎SaveE12th‬!

- Eastlake United for Justice [link to the original post]

These were spotted downtown in early June [source]These were spotted downtown in early June [source]

On June 1st, 2015, District 2 Councilmember Abel Guillen announced that he had gotten "concessions" from the developer and some of the units would be affordable housing. Details here.

During the June 2nd City Council Meeting, "After hours of testimony from nearly 100 residents on Tuesday night and into Wednesday, the City Council delayed its vote on the controversial tower planned for 12th Street." [Bay Area News Group] Check that article out for full details.

On May, 2018, Members of the Oakland Justice Coalition, East 12th Coalition, Eastlake United for Justice, along with Oakland civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, filed an ethics complaint alleging that Councilmember Abel Guillen accepted five campaign contributions totaling $1,800 from representatives who have ties to UrbanCore and East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC), the project’s developers. The community group alleges that contributions occurred while the city council was in the process of deliberating approval of the $5 million housing project.

On June 11, 2018, the Public Ethics Commission sent a letter in response refusing to open an investigation stating that, "they would not open an investigation into your allegation that Councilmember Guillen violated OCRA's Contribution Ban," as they found no violations, effectively closing the matter. 


There are many groups participating in the protest against the building. On Facebook: Save the 12th Street Parcel for the People. This group lists information and planned events relating to the tower.

On twitter, you can follow #SaveE12th.

In the News

See Also:

Data on housing affordability levels (for reference).

  • Annual household income levels that qualify as affordable housing based on percentage of Area Median Income (AMI): (AMI is specific to the U.S. Census-designated San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) but applies to all jurisdictions within the boundaries of the MSA. Levels here are from the City of Oakland’s Housing & Community Development Department and align with the levels set by HUD, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. )
  • Approximately 44,000 of Oakland’s households are renters who make less than 80% AMI (less than $50,000) and who pay more than 30% of their annual household income for rent. This represents 48% of all renter households and 28% of all Oakland households (including households who own their homes). Approximately 4,000 additional Oakland households are renters who make between $50,000 and $75,000, a range that includes 80% AMI (if they are a 1-4 person family) and 100% AMI (for a 1-2 person family). [Data from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey.]

Comparison between the median annual household income for the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont MSA and the City of Oakland

Estimated median annual

household income, 2009-2013

(regardless of household size)

San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont MSA

City of Oakland, California

Oakland median annual household income as a proportion of the MSA

median household income

For all households




For households who rent their homes




[Data from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey (although the 5-year ACS estimates hide any significant differences that may exist between consecutive years, they also have stronger statistical reliability than the 1-year and 3-year data).]