Statement from Nikki Fortunato Bas, Candidate for Oakland City Council District 2, on $9 Million for “Keep Oakland Housed” Homeless Program.
While we applaud foundations contributing to housing solutions, our housing crisis is not going to be solved by private charities. Housing is a social issue, and it’s the job of our government to address this crisis, using the solutions that are at our fingertips.
Oakland is in a development boom. Big corporations and developers must pay their fair share for the infrastructure they need to do business, including affordable housing for their multi-income workforce.
Our City has streamlined the development process without requiring any affordable housing. Our neighbors have had affordability requirements for years: San Francisco requires 24%, Berkeley requires 20%, Emeryville requires 20%. With all the wealth being generated right now by development, we need to make sure that it’s benefiting our community. There’s no reason people should be pushed out of the city, or worse, onto the street.
Here are three solutions I will champion immediately if elected to City Council:
First, we must pass a public lands policy that allows the City to immediately use our vacant public lots and vacant buildings for sanctioned homeless encampments and to build thousands of affordable homes. The City Council has dragged its feet on such a policy for three years. Yet, the community has identified 36 vacant public parcels suitable for building over 3,600 units. The policy was supposed to be heard in Tuesday’s Council meeting, but once again, it has been delayed.
Second, we must push for the highest levels of required affordability with new development and work together for community benefits that pay for the true costs of infrastructure and help maintain our beloved Oakland culture. 25% should be the floor as we negotiate with new developers to build in our world-class city.
Third, our city budget must reflect our values of equity and fairness. Housing affordability and homelessness have surpassed public safety and education as the #1 concern of Oaklanders for the first time. Yet, our city budget allocates very little to this crisis. We should dedicate at least the $2.4 million of Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) (i.e. AirBNB tax) to affordable housing development – which the incumbent failed to do last year. We should also generate new revenue, such as charging private market-rate residential and commercial developers the true cost of their infrastructure burden.
As an independent voice for Oaklanders with a 20-year track record of passing win-win policies for working families, I will be able to represent our diverse community and balance our growth with real equity. Unlike the incumbent, I am not taking corporate and developer money. Instead, I will be beholden to everyday Oaklanders.