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At the Council tonight

There are a few interesting issues before the City Council tonight, but no big decisions. Here are the highlights.

Item 10.25-CC: Former school board member Jean Quan is asking the city to endorse Assembly Bill 45, seeking to return control of the Oakland schools to the school board. The resolution contains several questionable assertions, including the following.

The OUSD was found to be absent any intentional financial mismanagement or fraud. Well, since they didn’t mean to go bankrupt, I guess then it’s okay.

Restores accountability and transparency to the School Board. The school board is elected by general voters, not parents, and so are not terribly beholden to parents, who are a minority. Furthermore, they are elected based on City Council districts, which have nothing to do with the school enrollment process. Since not a single school board race was competitive last year, it’s hard to argue that the members are accountable. Finally, the bill transfers oversight decisions from an elected official, State Superintendent O’Connell, to an unelected board, the FCMAT. How is that transparent?

Known Opposition: None on file. Um, how about every Republican on the Assembly Education Committee? What about O’Connell? I don’t understand why some councilmembers think they can put blatant falsehoods into official documents (more on that later, when I discuss the plastic bag ban).

The Assembly Appropriations Committee hears AB45 tomorrow morning. If you’re concerned about transferring oversight of the OUSD to the FCMAT instead of the elected State Superintendent, I recommend sending an email or making a phone call. An email would be best sent to everyone except DeSaulnier, Karnette, and Solorio.

Item 21: The Hausrath group is asking for 40% more money from the city to produce a study of IZ. I am very worried that this study seeks to present an unrealistically low estimate of the cost of subsidizing housing. Why can’t we accept SF’s in-leiu fee of $110,000/bd? Why can’t we look at Berkeley and see that IZ strangles development? $100k, and now $40k more, seems extravagant for studying something pretty obvious. But I guess they’ll need some time to invent more convoluted reasoning in favor of the idea. Here’s an excerpt from the staff report:


Inclusionary housing can serve to further sustainable development and smart growth policies by encouraging higher density development in appropriate locations, when zoning constrains density. In areas of Oakland where allowable density is not a barrier, limited environmental benefit will be realized since inclusionary housing would most likely not lead to higher density.

    Social Equity

Inclusionary housing promotes greater housing opportunities for economically disadvantaged segments of the population. Furthermore, by producing mixed income housing, inclusionary housing contributes to a more equitable distribution of affordable housing and may help to reduce concentrations of lower income households.

Both paragraphs are completely wrong. Environmental impacts are significant. First, Oakland’s General Plan already provides for maximum appropriate density along transit corridors. Second, Brunner’s IZ measure, and her staff’s pressure on the Housing Commission to stick to her framework, does not provide density bonuses (Brunner seems to be trying to downzone Telegraph, as well). Because of our smart-growth General Plan, we don’t need upzoning (that’s why IZ is for suburbs, not cities).

In terms of social equity, the report could not be more wrong. IZ further concentrates poverty by erecting a huge financial barrier to the construction of market-rate housing. Currently, most housing activity is taking place in lower-income neighborhoods, helping to integrate them. Redevelopment areas already guarantee mixed-income developments. Therefore, IZ can only discourage, not encourage, economic integration. Furthermore (and I wish the press would notice this), nobody is proposing low-income housing as part of IZ. IZ’s subsidized units, according to city staff analysis for the Blue Ribbon Commission, will be available to people making over $80,000 a year.

Also on the docket: a Business Improvement District in Koreatown, the appointment of five teens to the Youth Advisory Commission, making Oakland a “city of refuge” for immigrants, Jane Brunner declaring this “Affordable Housing Week” (more on that later), and Desley Brooks spending her remaining discretionary funds.

Posted in breakingnews, citycouncil, iz, oakland.