City of Oakland

Oakland City Council 2021-2023 Oakland Budget Makes City More Dangerous, Small Business Unfriendly

Oakland City Council 2021-2023 Oakland Budget Makes City More Dangerous, Small Business Unfriendly

Much of the Oakland City Council sided with a public that is the full definition of the group you don’t want to follow: the one doing Mob Rule. Even though crime is up all over Oakland and America, these folks want to make moves to have less, not more, officers out in the field.

This is the Statement from Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf:

“The budget passed today by the Oakland City Council makes bold investments to reimagine public safety through violence prevention and non-police strategies that I strongly support.

Unfortunately, it also cuts 50 police officers who respond to Oaklanders’ 911 calls and enforce traffic safety. It also cuts much-needed future academies, which will significantly reduce police staffing and delay response to Oaklanders in their time of crisis. It will force our officers to work even more overtime shifts, which are expensive and unsafe for officers and residents alike.

I believe that until we have proven alternatives, we cannot destroy Oakland’s current public safety system at a time when we are losing so many to gun violence.

I commend Councilmember Loren Taylor for offering a measured compromise that would have funded all the new investments to reimagine public safety while still preserving the basic police services our residents rely upon, including Ceasefire, which has been proven to reduce gun violence.

It is difficult to understand why Councilmembers Bas, Fife, Gallo, Kaplan and Thao voted against Councilmember Taylor’s proposal (moved for a vote by Councilmember Treva Reid) that maintained all their new investments, and would have preserved the basic public safety response our most vulnerable Oaklanders rely on in their most traumatic times of need.

Our community is suffering and unfortunately, the impacts of violence and trauma are falling more heavily on communities of color in East and West Oakland. My office will continue to work in partnership with the Department of Violence Prevention and the Police Department to interrupt the cycles of violence affecting our city. We will also aggressively seek out the resources announced by President Biden yesterday to address the horrifying increase in gun violence that our city and many others are experiencing right now.”

No Economic Development Spending In The 2021-2023 Budget, Yet Oakland Must Have Low Skilled, Well-Paying Jobs

What’s more galling about the 2021-2023 City of Oakland Budget is that it completely lacks spending for jobs and economic development. That’s the obvious left-over from Governor Jerry Brown’s elimination of, and the California Legislature’s sad fear to restore, California Redevelopment Law.

Consider that this is what Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunado Bas considers spending for jobs and businesses in the current budget:

Good Jobs & A Vibrant Economy: Providing $300K to small and disadvantaged businesses for facade improvements, repairs, flex street supports, and parklets; $1.5 million in cultural affairs programming and staffing to support artists and festivals, particularly in a post-COVID recovery environment; and $1.5 million in workforce development, training and placement targeted to serve flatland neighborhoods, youth, unhoused, and formerly incarcerated individuals.

First, crowing about $300,000 for “small and disadvantaged businesses for facade improvements, repairs, flex street supports, and parklets” is a joke in itself. A decent grant to help an Oakland business clocks in at $10,000, so that $300,000 will help 30 businesses of the 44,799 estimated to be in our City, or about .0000067 percent of the total number of businesses in Oakland. Maybe Council President Bas didn’t know about a little term called “working capital” as in Oakland should be helping businesses increase working capital – providing cash or loans, as we used to do when we had Redevelopment. We could use Enhanced Infrastructure Finance District (EIFD) Development I’ve screamed about for years, as in this 2018 example here at Oakland News Now.

Of all the people to hear me scream, props to Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval for being the only one to listen. On April 4th, 2017, at 4 PM in the afternoon we talked about the baseball stadium matter. I wrote about that here, and note the date of April 19th, 2019 – several months before California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 293 Skinner, the special legislation allowing an EIFD for Howard Terminal, into law. But I digress.

Second, as I explained to Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan on Twitter, we have a long history of economic development failure, its just worse, today. Moreover, I have a generation long set of scars to prove it:

But Donnell Choy, then one of the City’s legal eagles under City Attorney Jane Williams, who told me behind closed doors and with our law consultant McCutcheon, Doyle, Brown, and Enerson, that I found a legal loophole. I calculated the tax increment throw off from Phasing would be $4 billion over 40 years. At the time, the Redevelopment Agency was facing a dire economic future. But then, Donnell, for reasons I still do not really know, got to the City Council and told them that while I did find a legal loophole with no case history, it was still “risky”. In other words, rather than try and do what I created, Oakland worked to kill it.

The 2021-2023 Oakland Budget Is All About Crime And Not About Economic Development. Oakland’s Forgotten How To Do Economic Development

The 2021-2023 Oakland City Budget is more proof my City has forgotten how to do economic development. There’s no way for Oakland to say that it has spent “x” dollar on economic development for “Y” number of businesses, to save or produce “Z” number of jobs. And Council President Bas cobbling together numbers to disprove my assertion would be laughable and embarrassing.

The Oakland of the past had what the Oakland of today lacks: a way to monetize its economy via grants and loans. Today, we, Oakland, have no organization like The Economic Development Corporation of Oakland – a city-run enterprise for economic development. We have no city-ran business loan programs. The fact is, Oakland left the small business-building business a generation ago, and isn’t even aware of it.

We need an expenditure of $20 million to start to have any meaningful dent in the City’s economic problem of closed businesses and damaged supply chains due to the Pandemic. Where can we get that from? An EIDL. And don’t have some lawyer tell me it can’t be done. Just go to the California Legislature and do what we did for the A’s: get them to approve a special EIDL for Oakland business.

Stay tuned.

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