OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL ENACTS COVID 19 EMERGENCY TENANT ORDINANCE

Many Oaklanders have already heard about this, but to make sure you all know:  In this era of the Covid-19 virus pandemic, City Council and Council committee meetings will be rare but not non-existent (there were few in the last days of March, and just one meeting of any kind is presently set in April, a Council meeting on April 7).  And for the time being, pursuant to Governor Newsom’s order, meetings will be telephonic.  In that regard, Council held an emergency meeting on Friday, March 27, and enacted an emergency measure providing tenant and other protections.

Notice of the meeting to consider the measure was so brief MOBN! had no time to schedule telephonic appearances and express views.  But it is certainly critical for Oaklanders to know about it.  And among the key elements of the ordinance, passed on one reading as an emergency ordinance, are the following:

  • The Oakland City Administrator issued a proclamation of Local Emergency which was ratified by the Oakland City Council, and is presently deemed to extend to May 31.
  • Except when a tenant poses an imminent threat to the health or safety of other occupants of the property, and such threat is stated in the notice of termination as the grounds for the eviction, it shall be an absolute defense to any unlawful detainer action . . . that the notice was served or expired, or that the complaint was filed or served, during the Local Emergency.
  • Any notice of rent increase in excess of the CPI Rent Adjustment, as defined in Oakland Municipal Code Section 8.22.020, shall be void and unenforceable if the notice is served or has an effective date during the Local Emergency, unless required to provide a fair return. Any notice of rent increase served during the Local Emergency shall include the following statement in bold underlined 12-point font: “During the Local Emergency declared by the City of Oakland in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, your rent may not be increased in excess of the CPI Rent Adjustment (3.5% until June 30, 2020), unless required for the landlord to obtain a fair return. You may contact the Rent Adjustment Program at (510) 238–3721 for additional information and referrals.”
  • Notwithstanding any lease provision to the contrary, for residential tenancies, no late fees may be imposed for rent that became due during the Local Emergency if the rent was late for reasons resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes, but is not limited to (1) the tenant was sick or incapacitated due to COVID-19, or was complying with a recommendation from a governmental agency to self-quarantine, (2) the tenant suffered a substantial reduction in household income because of a loss of employment or a reduction in hours, or because they were unable to work because they were caring for their child(ren) who were out of school or a household or family member who was sick with COVID-19, or because they were complying with a recommendation from a government agency to self-quarantine, and (3) the tenant incurred substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses caused by COVID-19.  Any notice demanding late fees for rent that became due during the Local Emergency shall include the following statement in bold underlined 12-point font:  “You are not required to pay late fees for rent that became due during the Local Emergency declared by the City of Oakland in response to the COVID-19 pandemic if the rent was late for reasons related to the pandemic. You may contact the Rent Adjustment Program at (510) 238–3721 for additional information and referrals.”
  • In any action for unlawful detainer of a commercial unit based on non-payment of rent, it shall be an absolute defense if the failure to pay rent during the local emergency was the result of a substantial decrease in income (including but not limited to a decrease caused by a reduction in hours or consumer demand) and the decrease in income was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic or by any local, state, or federal government response to COVID-19, and is documented. This section shall only apply to small businesses as defined by Government Code Section 14837(d)(1)(A) and to nonprofit organizations. Any notice to a commercial tenant demanding rent shall include the following statement in bold underlined 12-point font:  “If you are a small business as defined by Government Code 14837(d)(1)(a) or a non-profit organization, you may not be evicted for failure to pay rent during the if the failure was due to a substantial decrease in income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, or by any local, state, or federal government response to COVID-19, and is documented. This does not relieve you of the obligation to pay back rent in the future.”  This section shall remain in effect until May 31, 2020, unless extended. Nothing in this section shall relieve the tenant of liability for the unpaid rent.
  • No Residential Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent that Became Due During the Local Emergency. In any action for unlawful detainer filed under Oakland Municipal Code 8.22.360.A.1, it shall be a defense that the unpaid rent became due during the Local Emergency and was unpaid because of a substantial reduction in household income or substantial increase in expenses resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.  This includes, but is not limited to, where, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the tenant suffered a loss of employment or a reduction in hours, or was unable to work because their children were out of school, or was unable to work because they were sick with COVID-19 or caring for a household or family member who was sick with COVID-19, or they were complying with a recommendation from a government agency to self-quarantine, or they incurred substantial out of pocket medical expenses due to COVID-19.  Any notice served on a residential tenant demanding rent that became due during the Local Emergency shall include the following statement in bold underlined 12- point type: “You may not be evicted for rent that became due during the Local Emergency if the rent was unpaid because of a substantial reduction in household income or a substantial increase in expenses related to the Coronavirus pandemic. This does not relieve you of the obligation to pay back rent in the future.  You may contact the Rent Adjustment Program at (510) 238–3721 for additional information and referrals.”   Nothing in this subsection shall relieve the tenant of liability for the unpaid rent.

 

Do You Feel Safe In Oakland? Join a discussion on February 27

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Join us for an in depth discussion about public safety and strategies for violence prevention in Oakland as they relate to public health, implicit bias and community/police relations.

  • Director of Violence Prevention Guillermo Cespedes
  • Stanford Professor Jennifer Eberhardt
  • Community Activist Reverend Damita Davis Howard

Doors 6:00pm. Program at 6:30pm. Free & open to public.

Tickets at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-safer-oakland-tickets-94780423799

 

Chief Guillermo Cespedes Shares Strategy for Department of Violence Prevention

Guillermo Cespedes

Make Oakland Better Now consulted with Chief Guillermo Cespedes concerning his plans for the Department of Violence Prevention (DVP) and how to stem violent crime in Oakland. Cespedes described a Violence Prevention and Intervention Strategy that combines a public health and community-driven approach. This plan, which we fully support, is an important step towards reducing Oakland’s violent crime. Read our summary below:

Community-Driven Results
If Oakland is going to prevent violent crime, it will need many voices, leaders, and resources. The following elements guide the concept of a community-driven model:

  • Communities identify the specific problems and participate in the solutions applied to that problem.
  • Communities are provided capacity building tools to identify problems and implement solutions.
  • All members of the community are considered legitimate stakeholders, including those who have been victims and/or perpetrators of violence.
  • All community-centered strategies focus on behavior, not identity.

Violence as a Public Health Issue
In general terms, Chief Cespedes describes the the public health approach to violent crime as one that views violence as a contagious disease that can be stopped by providing effective “medicine” (concentrated programming) at individual, family, peer, school and community levels. This approach is most effective when the medicine is applied in specific places, with specific populations, during the times that the disease is most acute.

The public health approach is comprised of the following elements:

  • Paying attention to underlying risk factors that create and reinforce violence in specific communities;
  • Interventions at the individual, family, peer group, school and community level;
  • An emphasis on specific populations at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of risk. (More on this subject below)
  • Evidence-informed interventions that examine specific people, places, months of the year, days of the week, and times of the day.

Focus Populations
Chief Cespedes described the specific geographic areas that have a documented level of violence. These spots can be as small as four square miles. Populations within these areas will receive four types of services simultaneously:

  1. Primary prevention services. These are for community members between the ages of 8 and 17 years of age who live in high-risk areas but are not involved in delinquent behaviors. This approach, which includes youth development services, can be compared to providing the necessary preventive medicine protects against the disease of violence before it starts.
  2. Secondary prevention services. This involves individual and family-based services for community members between the ages of 8 and 17 years of age who are involved in relatively low-level delinquent activities. (Family, in this context, is inclusive of whatever structure is present, rather than the idealized two-parent family.) The goal is to prevent this population from escalating involvement in violence, thus becoming more “contaminated.”
  3. Tertiary level services. This intervention involves individual and family services for justice involved community members between the ages of 8 and 30 years of age.
  4. Relational policing. In addition, the DVP will provide consultation on “relational policing” activities, defined as those actions aimed at establishing a non-transactional relationship between police and community in which the handcuffs are the last, as opposed to the first, resort. (The DVP does not implement relational policing activities, only consultation.)

Changing Community Norms
In addition to the focused interventions directed at different populations, the DVP’s public health and community-driven approach seeks to change community norms through campaigns and macro-level school and community-based interventions.

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Chief Cespedes has guided successful implementation of this Public Health / Community-Driven Approach in Los Angeles* and has provided consultation on the public health model to cities through Central America, the Caribbean, and in North Africa. Addressing the violence in this targeted way, Cespedes notes, is the most effective way of inoculating the entire city against a city-wide violence epidemic.

Oakland has much to do. We are glad to see that homicide and violent crime have gone down over the past five years. But still, in 2019, homicide was up 12% over the year before, and violent crime was up 5% over the year before. There is much to be done. But Chief Cespedes’ plan is a big part of it, and we support him.

*The Los Angeles implementation reduced 9 categories of part one crime including homicides by almost 50%. LA has sustained these reductions as it has completed 10 consecutive years with less than 300 homicides for a city with 4 million residents.

 

 

The Fair Chance Housing Ordinance Goes Before Council Tonight

At tonight’s meeting, starting at 5:00 p.m., City Council will be considering the Fair Chance Housing Ordinance, supported last week unanimously at a Special Community and Economic Development Committee meeting, and on the Consent Calendar for tonight’s agenda. Make Oakland Better Now! long ago agreed to support this measure, modeled after the Fair Chance Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2018, a California law that generally prohibits employers with five or more employees from asking about a conviction history before making an offer.

This type of law, also known as a “Ban the Box” law, would be applied to housing, and remove some barriers for formerly incarcerated individuals to access housing.

Here, we share an in-depth interview published on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative website from May 2019 with one of the leaders, Make Oakland Better Now! Committee of 50 member John Jones III.

Make Oakland Better Now! Endorses Measure Q

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On March 3, vote YES on Measure Q.
Join the
campaign at its kickoff event this Saturday.

Measure Q is a March 3 ballot tax measure, designed to generate revenue to be used for city parks improvement, homelessness services and clean water. The Make Oakland Better Now! board has voted to endorse it, and urges Oaklanders to support it. We join a wide coalition in support of this measure. Among other organizations, it is supported by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club, SF Bay Chapter, League of Women Voters of Oakland, Outdoor Afro and Oakland Tenants Union. Continue reading

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.) Continue reading

Meet Guillermo Cespedes, Oakland’s New Chief of Violence Prevention


For several years now, Make Oakland Better Now! has urged elected officials to adopt and implement a comprehensive public safety plan, involving coordinated activities from every city department – from police to parks and recreation and more – playing a role in violent crime prevention.

In 2013 the City’s police consultant, Robert Wasserman, argued for this in a report titled, “Zeroing Out Crime.” Mr. Wasserman wrote, “Every agency must see itself as part of the crime solution and coordinate initiatives.” He urged regular meetings of heads of every department with any responsibility for crime reduction.

While some of Oakland’s elected officials have agreed, they have not been able to coordinate adoption or implementation of such a policy.

A new City leader is taking up the work of making this finally happen, and we are hopeful. In October, three of our board members were pleased to meet with Guillermo Cespedes, the first Chief of Oakland’s new Violence Prevention Department, who assumed that position on September 23. He said at the start of his tenure, “I am honored and very excited to return to Oakland to join professional colleagues, community advocates and elected officials in building a balanced comprehensive violence prevention strategy.” Continue reading

Ten Questions for Darlene Flynn, Oakland’s Director of Race & Equity

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In 2016, Oakland formed its Department of Race & Equity, and recruited Darlene Flynn as its Director. Last month, Carrie Crespo-Dixon, one of Make Oakland Better Now!’s board members, sat down with Ms. Flynn to talk about taking on the unprecedented role of leading this department. Continue reading

Visit Make Oakland Better Now! at the Art + Soul Festival

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The annual Art + Soul Festival is this Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m. in downtown Oakland. It’s a really exciting weekend featuring local organizations, artists, food and musicians. This year’s lineup includes Fantastic Negrito, Kev Choice, Jennifer Johns, Estelle, West Coast Blues Society, Oaktown Jazz Workshop, and a special tribute to the tragically departed drummer Victor McElhaney. The weekend is a don’t-miss event.

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Make Oakland Better Now! will have a table there all weekend. We’ll be at booth 267 (on Clay Street by City Center). Come visit us! Board members will be there ready to talk to people about our organization’s history, advocacy positions, and future. We’ll have hand-outs telling newcomers about MOBN!

We’ll also be doing some fundraising for the projects we have lined up, so we hope to see you there. If you can’t make it, you can still donate here by clicking the “Donate” button below. Thanks for your support and we’re so excited to celebrate with The Town.


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What’s in the New “Oakland Together” Budget?


(This is a post in our Budget Bits series, following Oakland’s mid-cycle budget policy and process. Read our previous updates: post one, two, three, and four.)

On June 24th, the City Council unanimously adopted its two-year, $3.29 billion budget. (The full budget document can be read here.) The final adoption reflected a combination of the Mayor’s Proposed Budget and augmented by $44.4 million in amendments proposed in the “Oakland Together Proposal,” which was a combination of amendments by numerous council Members. The Mayor’s Proposed Budget included the funding needed to continue many necessary city services and required funding for continuing obligations such as bond payments, retirement and healthcare. The Council amendments added increased services in a number of critical areas. 

Make Oakland Better Now! believes that many of the service issues presented in both the Mayor’s proposed budget and in the adopted budget are critical. However, in the Adopted Budget, the Council took little action to significantly pay down our City’s long-term unfunded liabilities of $2.7 billion nor did it significantly increase the protections in the Rainy-Day Fund. Oakland also has unfunded Capital projects of $2 billion.

We are now in longest positive economic surge since WWII. However, there have been numerous indications that economic conditions may change during the period of this two-year budget. How will Oakland respond? Continue reading