Skip to content


Council poised to end Oakland's development boom

As Chronicle reporter Chris Heredia wrote today, the City Council is taking up a proposal at the meeting tonight that would impose price caps and fees on all new residential construction in the city, with a specific exemption for Jane Brunner’s pet MacArthur BART station project. After being unable to compromise with the development community, Councilmember Brunner brought an ordinance to the council today using a parliamentary manouver (the measure had been bottled up in committee).

The measure faces vigorous opposition from residential developers and the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. The developers will argue that this is changing the rules in the middle of the game, that the measure has had no economic impact study (housing activists opposed one), and that it will permanently close the door to transit-oriented downtown development (cutting off the migration of restaurants from San francisco). Additionally, the measure allows third-parties to sue for compliance, ensuring that no developer will ever work in this town again.

Will it pass? There are three votes for it (Brunner, Quan, and Nadel), and three against (Ignacio, Reid and Chang). Pat Kernighan is in an awkward position, as she would probably support a compromise, but none is forthcoming. Desley Brooks therefore could be the deciding vote. As she has championed first-time homeownership and the revitalization of her district, she may indeed vote the proposal down. A 4-4 tie would put the proposal off until next year.

Posted in california, citycouncil, housing, iz, oakland.


7 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Anonymous says

    …when Dellums will propose one that will make this look like a walk in the park.

    Read the political tea leaves and get real: it’s not IF we have IZ, it’s WHEN and WHAT it will look like.

  2. Oakland Native says

    No, this proposal is the worst possible one (well, Santa Barbar requires 65% of the units to be affordable, so I suppose it could be worse, but this is not only extreme but also poorly-written). I can’t imagine Dellums’ version being more radical. Besides, more time means more time for negotiation and compromise.

  3. Anonymous says

    Brunner said that the developers walked away from the table. Is she lying?

    And I think you should watch out about what you think is coming. I mean, both Ignacio and Desley said they voted against it because it really didn;t help the REALLY POOR people. From what they said, they seemed to be opposing it from the LEFT.

    Uh, yeah, I think it’s bullshit, too.

    Stalling, is all. Iggy has no fucking clue what to do in the new Dellums Oakland, and Larry and Henry are even more cut loose.

    Rebellion’s in the air. See, Jean and Jane, this is what you get when you endorse Ignacio for Mayor.

  4. Oakland Native says

    The developers did walk away, but that’s because there was no compromises coming from the OCO / Brunner. Also, housing activists are more split than the newspapers make out – some agree that inclusionary zoning, because it doesn’t help the poor, discourages all construction, and has no eviction protections, isn’t the way to go.

    Brunner’s measure was written to exact political vengence on downtown (by removing its BART stations from the list of those exempted), Fruitvale (whose BART station’s exemption was given a deadline), and all developers (by permitting third-party lawsuits, which is totally unacceptable). Jean Quan whined that, because they voted on Brooks’ motion and not IZ, “we can’t say they voted against it.” It was a political game to establish their bloc, and they lost.

    Also, developers agree that inclusionary zoning doesn’t help the poor. They’d rather pay a reasonable fee to the Housing Authority than be forced to built BMR units. Brooks repeatedly pointed to developer incentives for affordable housing (such as density bonuses), which are commonly employed in NYC, among other places.

  5. Anonymous says

    We can agree to disagree on this one, but anyone who looked at the original Coalition proposal in the packet and compared it to what Quan and Brunner put forward can see that there was considerable compromise from the advocates’ side. Their original proposal said that IZ would apply to any project with 5 or more units! Moving up to accepting 20 is definitely compromise, and that doesn;t even count the fact that they gave in on affordability.

    Anyway, if the developers walked away, they shouldn’t complain about there not being a chance to negotiate, which is what the testimony I saw strongly inferred. Say the negotiations sucked, but don’t say they didn’t happen. And isn;t walking away from the table an ultimatum and failure to negotiate in and of itself?

    I also think it’s disingenuous for people who oppose IZ on principle to use parliamentary tricks, excuses about negotiations and studies, or claims that “we haven’t done enough research.” I had more respect for people who went up there saying they were opposed than the developers and developer reps who said we just needed more study.

    IZ isn’t about providing housing to people who qualify for OHA housing (below 30% AMI at highest) but about providing housing normal old people who serve you food, collect your pint glasses, work at your gas station, teach your kids and clean your buildings. Honest, hardworking folk who I have no problem living next to.

  6. Oakland Native says

    Yes, the minimum was raised from 5 units to 20 (though almost all developments are more than 50 units). But the level of affordability was lowered from 100% AMI to 60% AMI, making it much more expensive. Also, the language allowing third-party lawsuits was added. Again, permitting third-party lawsuits despite city staff / council approval of a development is completely unacceptable to developers, and is even more chilling than absurd mandates. Jane Brunner’s staffer Justin Horner arbitrarily selected certain BART stations to be exempted (and Fruitvale to have a two-year deadline for exemption) without input from anybody. The idea that this was a compromise is laughable.

    Parliamentary tricks? IZ (before the aforementioned modifications, which were added two weeks ago and some over the weekend) was rejected by the Planning Commission and the CEDA subcommittee. Brunner found some loophole to get to the Council nonetheless. There is nothing wrong with advocating for good policy; it’s true that there had been no research, no EIR (!), and even OCO speakers admitted the policy wasn’t well-crafted.

    I’m not privy to details of the so-called “negotiations,” but I understand that only two developers were invited, and the housing activists made no pretence of considering economic impacts. Additionally, housing activists who oppose IZ were excluded.

    I’m glad that you’re so optimistic, anonymous, that the honest, hard-working people you mention will win a lottery for the handful of units IZ would create. Meanwhile, less lucky hard-working people (70% of which are first-time homebuyers) are smacked with a $110k/bd fee on their condo. And $6m speculative Hills mansions don’t pay a dime, let alone existing homeowners who benefit from high prices (some of whom spoke in favor of IZ at the meeting, realizing that they would be handed some extra price appreciation).

    Everyone agrees that, in light of federal cuts to housing programs, new sources of revenue should be found to increase low-income housing construction. But imposing expensive and rigid mandates on all new housing is counterproductive in the extreme.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Major development fight brewing at City Hall tonight « FutureOakland linked to this post on September 16, 2008

    [...] the players aligned as in other controversial development issues, the fight over Ada Chan’s nomination increasingly appears to be a proxy fight over Inclusionary [...]