Oakland's 50th Mayor Libby Schaaf

Oakland Mayor Schaaf Can Rip Homeless Funds From Alameda County, Here’s How

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has earned her place as the landslide-reelected 50th Mayor of Oakland. But rather than celebrate the occasion with a bold move to end Oakland’s homeless crisis, she takes to social media to whine about, of all things, the County of Alameda not providing enough money for Oakland’s needs.

UPDATE: Steve Lowe, noted Downtown Oakland developer, responds.

Libby was born in Oakland, and has friends in Oakland, but quite apparently forgot or never really knew about the long period of time our great city held the mantle of most-fiscally-creative municipality in America.

I’m not going to recap a history Libby can simply be reminded of by asking about, but I will say the city that created the “sale-leaseback” financing provision, and creatively used redevelopment law to remove crack houses in East Oakland.

Have doubts? Don’t want to pay attention to Zennie Abraham? Well, then ask former Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, and former Oakland City Manager Henry Gardner, they’ll tell you.

But, I digress – sort of.

The Oakland I worked for was not afraid to form ways to take the money it needed from Alameda County and not sit back and cry about Alameda County. We never once gave the County power – OAKLAND WAS THE POWER. Got that, Mayor Schaaf? Don’t whine, or beg, just take.

SB 628 Beall, created by California State Senator Jim Beall and approved by Governor Jerry Brown in September 14th 2014, provides the tool we need to get the money we want for Oakland. I’ve mentioned this many times before to a number of Oakland elected officials, before, so here goes again.

SB 628 Beall is called “Enhanced infrastructure financing districts.” It allows us to put our planning and economic development staff to work in designing what we used to call “survey areas”, identifying boundaries within which we can establish what the law calls an “Enhanced infrastructure financing district.”

Once the Oakland City Council approves that proposed “Enhanced infrastructure financing district”, we can legally use tax increment financing for “The acquisition, construction, or rehabilitation of housing for persons of low and moderate income, as defined in Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code, for rent or purchase.”

How large should the “Enhanced infrastructure financing district” be? The answer is simple: the whole damn flatlands of Oakland. From West Oakland to East Oakland, and all points in between. In using tax increment financing, or “TIF”, we take the County’s money in the process.

The reason is baked in how TIF works: a normal dollar of property tax payment by an Oakland landlord is split mostly between the City of Oakland, the County of Alameda, BART, AC Transit, and the Flood Control District. In using TIF, takes the County’s share of that money, along with the other organizations, or what the law refers to as “taxing agencies,” during the process of issuing bonds for projects within the financing district.

SB 628 Beall calls for the creation of a public financing authority, and such that people representing the City of Oakland the County of Alameda, BART, AC Transit, and the Flood Control District, and at the least two members of the public, have a seat on it. But the law allows us to add more members of the public, and does not restrict the number of representatives the City of Oakland can have on it separate from the public.

So, we can have members of the public up to one less than the number of taxing agency representatives. That gives us a 12 member public financing authority, with eleven representing the board, and of that, five from the public, appointed by the Oakland City Council, and two Oakland representatives. The County would have a seat, but Oakland, clearly, would be in control.

That’s what SB 628 Beall allows us to do. That’s what we should do.

So, in closing, please stop giving the County of Alameda power. It’s embarrassing. It’s time to take what we need. Now!

Remember, The Autumn Wind Is A Raider.

The Autumn Wind is a pirate
Blustering in from sea,
With a rollicking song, he sweeps along,
Swaggering boisterously.
His face is weather beaten.
He wears a hooded sash,
With a silver hat about his head,
And a bristling black mustache.

He growls as he storms the country,
A villain big and bold.
And the trees all shake and quiver and quake,
As he robs them of their gold.

The Autumn Wind is a Raider,
Pillaging just for fun.
He’ll knock you ’round and upside down,
And laugh when he’s conquered and won.

Ms. Mayor, Go Back To “Made In Oakland” and Be A Real Oaklander, Please

Oh, and in closing, Ms. Mayor, start supporting Oakland-made, Oakland-based and Oakland-named news publications like Oakland News Now.

Be a real Oaklander! To heck with San Francisco! We’re not Brooklyn. We’re Oakland. OK?

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