A number of community leaders are expressing misgivings about Oakland Mayor Libby’s Schaaf’s $600 million infrastructure and affordable housing bond, approved by the City Council this week at the end of a nine-hour marathon meeting to go on the November ballot.
The bond, which has been discussed in city council committees, and the Mayor’s Housing Cabinet, earmarks the money to fix streets and sidewalks, including pedestrian, bicycle and traffic safety ($350 million); repair and build parks and libraries, as well as for facilities for the fire and police departments ($150 million); and housing anti-displacements measures.
The council voted 7-1 early Wednesday morning to support the measure. Only District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks was the sole “no” vote.
In an interview with the Post, Brooks said the bond was pushed through the council “with little to no community input that was seriously considered.”
She said a poll shows that Oaklanders are willing to support a bond that addresses affordable housing issues, but only about 17 percent of the money would be spent on the city’s housing needs.
“Housing is the number one issue, and too little money is being allocated for housing,” said Brooks. “In order for them to pass the bond they needed to put something about housing, but they didn’t put enough in my estimation.”
In addition, she said, the tax burden will unfairly impact seniors and low-income renters and homeowners. “The assessment is too high. $69 per $100,000 of assessed value,” Brooks said. “People can’t afford this on top of the garbage bill and all the other measures on the ballot if approved.”
Brooks and other community leaders are also concerned that the measure at present is vaguely worded. The council will ultimately decide the spending plan. There are only general areas for spending in the measure. Specifics will be decided at a later date.
Mayor Schaaf’s bond proposal was sponsored in the City Council by Vice Mayor Annie Campbell Washington and Councilmember Abel Guillén.
“We can’t afford to keep taking a piecemeal approach to our city’s deferred maintenance,” said Schaaf. “This bond proposal is a concerted effort to protect and build up quality of life in our city. With a fix-it-first philosophy, we can use this bond to tackle wholesale our crumbling roads, repair our fire houses, rec centers and libraries; and put protections in place to address the displacement of Oakland families.”
Said Vice Mayor Campbell Washington, “These are forward thinking investments to lessen ongoing operations and maintenance costs with particular attention to our citywide goals around energy consumption, resiliency and mobility.”
The bond will be issued over a 10-12-year period so the cost to taxpayers will adjust over time.