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Joel Devalcourt

Oakland Considers New Funds for Affordable Homes

The Bay Area’s housing affordability crisis has hit Oakland particularly hard. You may have heard that Oakland has the “hottest” rental market in the entire nation—yes, even ahead of San Francisco. Oakland rents have risen an astonishing 20% in just the past year.

Now some help is hopefully on the way.

Next month, the Oakland City Council is slated to vote on a housing impact fee to raise much needed revenue for new affordable homes. We’re encouraging the City Council to adopt a strong fee based on sound economic data to help address the housing crisis and create a more affordable, sustainable region.

With the dissolution of redevelopment agencies and severe cuts to local, state, and federal funding sources for affordable homes, housing impact fees are one of our best tools to create new affordable places to live. Nearly 30 Bay Area cities already have a housing impact fee, producing millions of dollars for the creation of affordable homes each year. Among the cities that have recently adopted or updated housing impact fees are Redwood City, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View. Many more cities are planning to adopt these fees in the coming months.

Oakland has been preparing to adopt its own fee for over two years. All of the recent neighborhood specific plans—including the Broadway Valdez District Plan, which we helped shape—indicated that the impact fee was impending.

The time to act is now. More and more Bay Area residents are struggling to find a home they can afford close to jobs and transit. This puts enormous stress on Bay Area families, facing grueling commutes and strained finances. It also increases sprawl pressure on our farms, ranches, and open space as more people search for a home they can afford at the edge of the region.

Any impact fee needs to be based on good data. That’s why we’ve been calling for the city to provide an economic study to help ensure that the fee is set appropriately. We’re expecting the City to release its assessment later this month.

Stay tuned for more on Oakland’s upcoming decision. For more information, contact Joel Devalcourt.


Photo: Michael Patrick via Flickr

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