COUNCIL PRESIDENT KAPLAN RELEASES HER BUDGET AMENDMENTS AND ANNOUNCES JUNE 10TH SPECIAL BUDGET MEETING
OAKLAND, CA – Dear Colleagues and the People of Oakland,
The City of Oakland’s budget policy requires that, after the Mayor’s budget proposal is received, that the President of the City Council produce an amended budget, to serve the goals of the public and the City Council, and to ensure that vital needs are funded.
This budget is a statement of our values as a City, a reflection of our intention to build a healthier, safer, livable, vibrant Oakland.
I have reviewed reports and surveys, studied the asks of our colleagues, and have engaged in meetings with residents and community to create the attached documents. Our proposal is in line with resident priorities, including: Housing, Homelessness, Violence Prevention, and Blight Remediation.
I therefore am submitting this budget proposal, in order to help provide stronger accountability and meaningful implementation, and funding for essential services needed by our community. This document lists only the changes from the Mayors proposal, which was hundreds of pages long, so the majority of it remains unchanged. Some of the most important changes I propose include:
· Reject the Mayor’s proposed cut of 8.5 FTE parks maintenance workers. This cut would severely harm our communities, leaving numerous parks in Oakland with no maintenance, creating blight and hazardous situations, and making parks unusable for some of our most vulnerable communities. The proposed cut is even more problematic after learning that the proposal would focus the cuts in service on specific neighborhood parks in an inequitable way. Therefore, I propose to restore these positions.
· Add pro-active trash removal and remedying illegal dumping, including by strengthening enforcement of illegal dumping violations, and ADDING an illegal dumping crew to enable city-wide pro-active geographically-targeted illegal dumping remediation.
· Expand our response to homelessness. The recent Point-in-time count shows that homelessness has increased here dramatically over the past four years, and thousands of people are living in unsafe conditions in underpasses and more. The scale of our response has not been adequate to the magnitude of the problem, and more people are becoming homeless every year than are being helped out of homelessness. Therefore, I am proposing to increase solutions including homelessness prevention (assistance for tenants facing displacement), along with expanding supports such as sanitation, designating additional allowable locations, and other assistance, and to include opportunities to hire the homeless to help with these and related efforts.
· Ensure that survivors of violent crime are provided with support services and that we take action to reduce violence.
· Invest in permanent affordable housing solutions that include expanding our capacity to acquire, preserve, or construct smaller sized buildings.
· Budget accountability and transparency, including remedying police overspending. Currently, we lack good systems to track and ensure that the budget, as legally adopted by the Council, is actually implemented. And to ensure that the budget is realistic, and then is followed. I propose creating stronger oversight methods, to remedy the problem of unbudgeted over-spending. In addition, this proposal includes an Audit of OPD, to help identify and remedy problem areas, and policy directives to focus our resources where needed.
· Making it easier to get projects permitted and completed in Oakland, including specifically for small property owners, people seeking to add ADUs (accessory dwelling units, also known as “in-law units”). Launch new innovations including evening hours for people to be able to get their questions answered and get their permits.
· Explore and launch new innovations including pilot money to explore the CAHOOTS model for responding to mental health situations without needing to always rely on police for response, (as recommended by the Police Commission), reducing incarceration, and also piloting models for homeless response which have been found successful in other cities.
We live in a city which is both growing and seeing significant experiences of human suffering. Together we can help adopt a budget which speaks to our values and improves quality of life for all of our community.
Also, I would like to thank Councilmembers Bas, Taylor and Thao for their significant and thoughtful input and contributions to this effort, as well as the many community members, organizations, and public meetings, at which we received important ideas and suggestions to strengthen the budget, and Oakland’s future.
In addition, this proposal includes a proposed compromise solution, to the debate about the use of the soda tax funds. We seek to ensure that key public services are sustained and expanded, while also wishing to appreciate and respect the community board and keep faith with the voters for the purposes of the soda tax.
It is my hope and intention that we can all come together to take action to remedy some of the most serious harms impacting our community, by improving our actions around homelessness, illegal dumping, making it easier to permit and complete projects, and ensuring police accountability and transparency and accountability of our government decision-making. I look forward to continuing this conversation, including at our June 10th special budget meeting (Link to Agenda) at 5pm.
Thank you very much for your consideration, and your dedication to the people of Oakland.
Rebecca Kaplan is Oakland’s 3-Term At-Large Councilmember