OAKLAND, CA – Writing a budget is about the numbers, and it is also about our values, our goals, and whether we take care of all of our community. I, Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan, have taken input from throughout our community and worked to craft budget amendments as required by Oakland law (Link to Law – see page 13) which states that after the release of the Mayor of Oakland’s budget, the Council President shall release budget amendments, to ensure community needs are met and Council and public input is considered.
And, we must keep in mind that these decisions are also about the real-world impact on our daily lives. Specifically:
Many of our neighborhoods, especially in East Oakland, lack adequate access to healthy food, and the other amenities people need for their lives. My budget includes funding for healthy food corner store conversions, East Oakland business development and dedicated staff to ensure focus. And my budget amendments include funding for the East Oakland sports center expansion/improvement which is a community benefit for many.
The number one concern for Oaklanders in the budget survey was homelessness and our unsheltered community. The point in time homeless study in Alameda County (Link to Study) shows we increased our unsheltered community by 43 percent over the last two years and clearly shows we are not doing enough to assist our Oakland residents. My budget establishes a Permanent Affordability Fund (PAF) to create an ongoing source of revenue to ensure access to affordable housing for Oaklanders under the immediate threat of displacement. The amendments also establish a full-time mobile homeless outreach team, hires a full-time high level administrator to focus on coordinating services and programs, provides targeted services to homeless youth including LGBTQ+ youth, and funds a pilot program for self-governed encampments. It expands temporary housing options such as tiny homes, shipping containers, and mobile homes with safe spaces to park. And my budget provides funds for storage space, mobile showers, and restrooms for our unsheltered neighbors.
We also need to solve some of the ways services have been provided inefficiently and inequitably. For example, the complaint-based illegal dumping system has meant that communities with the most privilege, and access to time and technology to file complaints, get the service, regardless of need. That system is also inefficient, because trash lingers on the streets for extended periods of time, awaiting a complaint and assigned pickup, thus attracting more dumping and worsening public health risks and blight. By providing pro-active cleanup with dedicated, geographically-assigned crews, we can provide a cleaner city, more effectively, and ensure we aren’t leaving behind our hardest hit areas. As such, we have added funding for a 4th illegal dumping crew which will fully fund our zone based, pro-active clean up priorities.
Inefficiencies in implementation causing a problem to only get worse is also part of why my budget rejects the Mayor’s proposed cut of 8.5 FTE parks maintenance workers, which was planned to be handled by totally eliminating upkeep for 30-40 community parks, many in areas which are struggling and cannot afford the blight and loss of access to healthy recreation which would be caused by leaving parks in disrepair. If we let our parks deteriorate further, bringing them back into effective use will take even more money and effort. In addition, this cut was proposed to be done inequitably, further worsening disparities in our community.
Rebecca Kaplan Calls For Audit Of Oakland Police Department
I am also proposing to fix other systems that are inefficient and implementing accountability measures.
For example, providing oversight of police resource usage, adding an Audit of OPD, and working to add new models, such as the CAHOOTS model (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) (Link to FAQ) which provides for non-police response for mental health issues, reducing incarceration, and focusing our police resources in ways that improve community relationships and reduce crime — including specifically regular assignment of walking beat officers, including for our commercial districts. The budget provides for oversight and public reports to responsibly redress the over-spending, along with a set-aside fund for these purposes so Council has the necessary accountability measures we need.
Rebecca Kaplan Calls For Analysis Of Oakland Department of Transportation OakDOT
In another example of efficiency, I am asking that we remedy the disconnect that has taken place during the implementation of the Department of Transportation (DOT), in which lack of adequate clarity about roles and responsibilities of the department has caused wasted time and resources, both for city staff and regional partners and stakeholders, as numerous transportation and construction projects have been sent for approvals or support back and forth between DOT, Public Works, and other departments as the duties of each appear to overlap in ways that are wasting time and impeding the completion of important projects. As someone who is deeply involved in transportation projects planning and advocacy locally and regionally, and a member of our county wide transportation authority, I am often in the room when these problems come up and people approach me regularly about the difficulty or confusion getting transportation projects through Oakland and being referred back-and-forth between DOT or public works and more. Therefore, I am creating a small budgetary adjustment, to take place halfway through year one (1), accompanied by a request for an analysis of the duties of the DOT and clarifying action to be brought back to Council to deal with duplication and confusion of roles, and project applicants being sent to multiple offices for one approval.
The first scheduled budget hearing is Monday, June 10th at 5PM in Council Chambers. We hope you can join us for a continued conversation about these priorities and to fight for what you feel is important to our community. (Link to Agenda)
Rebecca Kaplan is Oakland’s 3-Term At-Large Councilmember