The Year Ahead

Rebecca Kaplan

I am writing to share some good news about successes strengthening regional solidar­ity, including in dealing with the NFL, and, my thoughts, suggestions and intentions for the coming year.
The year 2019 will bring some important changes and progress — at the national lev­el, the US House of Represen­tatives will switch hands, with many important progressive leaders being sworn in, and Democrats replacing Repub­licans in key leadership roles, from Speaker to Committee Chairs and more.
I look forward to working with our allies in Congress to help advance our values and protect our communities in the coming year.
Meanwhile, in Oakland, on Monday Jan. 7, starting at 11 a.m., the new City Council will be sworn in, and we too will welcome our new lead­ers for the coming term. The ceremonies will be held in the Council Chambers on the 3rd floor at City Hall.
I believe we have a great opportunity, with dedicated new members and the work of those of us already on the Council, to unite to advance the needs of our community. Specifically, in the coming term, it is my intention to work to advance vital goals, includ­ing:
1) Make the Council meet­ings more effective. Change how “ceremonial” items and scheduling are handled, so people coming to speak on important decisions are not made to wait around for hours before substantive discussion begins.
Ensure respectful interac­tions, and meaningful input.
2) Strengthen our response to homelessness. Including by ensuring implementation of the Council Resolution I au­thored, which called for a list of specific actions to expand alternatives to help the home­less (including allowable RV locations, use of public lands, church properties, and more), and by working together with county leaders and others to expand access to services for our community, and use of public properties for this vital need.
Expand affordable housing, including through tax incen­tives, public land, and direct funding, and displacement prevention, so that more peo­ple aren’t pushed into home­lessness.
3) Reduce permit backlog and ensure timely response for project completion. Ad­vance a specific program to make it easier to add Acces­sory Dwelling Units (ADUs), also known as “in-law apart­ments” to expand this impor­tant aspect of our housing supply and reduce the delay that is causing Oakland to lose revenue and hurting our local businesses and homeowners.
4) Expand access to job training and career pathways, including into vitally need­ed good-paying jobs in the trades, so that Oaklanders get positive and equitable access to these positions.
5) Equitable outreach. Over the years, with multiple reports, we know that there is inequity in who gets contracts for Oak­land business. The problem is worsened by inequity in where and how jobs and contracting opportunities are advertised. In the coming year we will be bringing legislation to expand equity in Oakland’s outreach methods for jobs and contract­ing.
6) Environmental justice, air quality, and mitigations. The City of Oakland has the worst air quality in the region, and some of our neighborhoods, es­pecially in hard-hit corridors in East and West Oakland, suffer disproportionately from asth­ma and other negative health impacts.
While we have already be­gun important progress in this area, and won regional com­mitments of many millions of dollars, there are important steps that are still needed, in­cluding to provide commu­nity mitigations to protect our hard-hit areas and improve air quality, including strategies like trees, filtration systems, cleaner trucks and trains, and relocating heavy uses away from residents.
7) Blight and trash. Last year we fought for a change away from the complaint-based dumping removal system – to­ward a pro-active cleanup sys­tem with geographic assign­ments. So far, this change has been tried in one area success­fully and in the coming year we will seek to expand and im­prove it citywide.
We have won increased fund­ing for mattress recycling and will continue to advocate for mattress pickup and additional strategies to prevent and rem­edy blight and illegal dumping, and work to implement a pro­posal to include opportunity for the homeless to help clean up our city and expand job op­portunity, and to help publicize and make clear that it is not OK to trash Oakland!
This, of course, is not a com­prehensive list, as we are aware that there are many issues we will be dealing with in 2019 and beyond. However, I want­ed to provide key examples of priorities and goals, and look forward to working together in coalition with community to advance vital needs.

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