Opinion: We Must Support a Budget that Supports Our Communities!

Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan

Writing a budget is about the numbers, and it is also about our values. After the release of Mayor Libby Schaaf’s budget proposal, the law requires the Council President to produce a set of budget amendments, in response to community needs and public input. This Monday, I invite you to hear and respond to my budget proposal, which seeks to respond to vital needs, reduce blight and trash, help the homeless, and expand equity and opportunity.

Many of our neighborhoods, especially in East Oakland, lack adequate access to healthy food.  My budget includes funding for healthy food corner store conversions, East Oakland business development, and dedicated staff to ensure focus. And it includes funding for the important East Oakland sports center expansion.

The No. 1 concern for Oaklanders in the budget survey was homelessness and our unsheltered community. The point in time homeless study in Alameda County shows homelessness increased by 43 percent over the last two years.

My budget amendments establish a mobile homeless outreach team, hires a full-time administrator to coordinate efforts, provides targeted services to homeless youth, and funds a pilot program for self-governed encampments. It expands temporary housing options such as tiny homes and RVs with safe spaces to park, and provides funds for storage space, mobile showers, and restrooms for our unsheltered neighbors, and for the hiring of the homeless to help improve Oakland.

My proposal expands pro-active illegal dumping removal and strengthens the enforcement and rewards program to make people stop dumping in Oakland, and expands support for job training and preparedness, and youth summer jobs.

My Amendment rejects the Mayor’s proposed cut of 8.5 parks maintenance workers, which was planned to be handled by eliminating upkeep for over 30 community parks, many in areas which are struggling and cannot afford the blight and loss of access to healthy recreation which would be caused by leaving parks in disrepair. We have the opportunity to insist on a budget that responds to community needs. The budget proposals will be discussed at a Special Meeting on Monday, June 10 at 5:00 p.m. in Oakland City Council Chambers.

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