Oakland City Council’s Parcel Tax to Improve Funding for City Parks, Litter Reduction, and Homelessness Support

(image source: Oakland Homeless Response)

On November 14, Oakland’s City Council passed a resolution to submit a parcel tax to voters on the March 3, 2020 primary ballot.  The amount of the tax will vary depending on forms and usage of real property, but residential property would be taxed at rates of $148 per single-family residential parcel and $101.08 per residential unit for multiple residential parcels with a 50% reduction for affordable housing projects, and for non-residential units, a rate based on frontage, square footage and building area. (Read the Chronicle’s recent article on the parcel tax here, and East Bay Express’ coverage here.)

The tax is expected to generate more than $20 million dollars per year. Usage of this revenue is prescribed as follows: Not less than 60% of net proceeds for parks, landscape maintenance and recreational services, as well as associated administrative expenses. This includes parks, landscape maintenance, and recreational services, including:

  • Mowing City-operated sports fields frequently;
  • Collecting trash and litter several times per week;
  • Performing regular maintenance on frequently used trails, open spaces and parkland;
  • Performing regular maintenance of park assets including buildings, play structures, and trees;
  • Cleaning park restrooms;
  • Acquiring furniture, fixtures, and equipment to enhance parks and recreational services;
  • Acquiring and installing non-structural improvements to maintain and enhance parks and recreational facilities;
  • Providing maintenance and custodial services to parks and recreational facilities;
  • Enhancing safety and security at parks;
  • Purchasing equipment, such as vehicles and computers, supplies, facility improvements, minor additions, and building modifications;
  • Training city staff to provide any of the above services, and others, in an efficient manner and in compliance with all City policies;
  • Developing measurable tools to ensure equitable maintenance of all parks and open spaces;,
  • Providing dedicated staff at major parks.

According to the City Administrator’s office and members of counsel, the need for this relates to the insufficient funding provided by the Landscape Lighting Assessment District parcel tax enacted in 1989, which had no inflation escalation provision, while inflation caused park and recreation costs to escalate over the past 30 years. 

Thirty percent of the total funds appropriated by the tax are appropriated for services to address homelessness, such as:

  • Providing programs and services that enable unsheltered and unhoused residents to access temporary shelters, transitional and supportive housing, and permanent housing;
  • Expanding cleaning, health, and hygiene services for unsheltered and unhoused residents and alleviating public health impacts associated with lack of sanitation and hazardous conditions and materials;
  • Developing City-run programs to prevent homelessness and providing matching funds for programs developed by nonprofit organizations;
  • Implementing programs, services, and actions included in Oakland’s Permanent Access to Housing (PATH) Strategy, or other housing and homelessness policies adopted by the Oakland City Council;
  • Providing services to currently or formerly unhoused persons that help them obtain or retain housing, including employment services, rapid rehousing services, and services to persons residing in shelters, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing developments;
  • Increasing the number of shelter beds that include support services and housing resources;
  • Supporting safe RV parking sites with health, hygiene, security, and case management services;
  • Increasing case management services and quick financial assistance programs to keep people from becoming homeless; and
  • Providing employment training programs to provide job training, job placement, and wage paying work experience for current or recent homeless residents.

In addition, nine percent of the revenue shall be spent on water quality and litter reduction, and one percent on in-house and outside auditing and evaluation of the programs, strategies and services, as well as associated administrative expenses. 

The goals in this measure are highly supported by Make Oakland Better Now!  We will be evaluating this at a board meeting soon, and will let the public know whether we urge support for the measure on the March ballot.

Make Oakland Better Now!

OakTalk Here is the blog of Make Oakland Better Now!, an Oakland community grassroots group of a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates committed to improving the City of Oakland by focusing on public safety, public works, and responsible budgets. Founded in 2003, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Urban Guy

    How will Oakland be held accountable with the additional funding. What are the measurable goals? How are the current funds being used? No one should approve a blank check to Oakland.

  2. James

    The listed objectives for this measure include the entire range of social reconstruction. It might be better to focus on a few of the most needed objectives, such as temporary housing, that might be actually obtainable.
    Any allotment of funds and/or dedicated objectives can be erased or reversed by a declaration of emergency requiring only a simple majority of the council. This is another blank check tax that in the end allows the council to spend the generated funds in any manner they please. Stand back and watch the impulsive spending begin!

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