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    Oakland Together Budget Passes Unanimously

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    On Monday, June 24, the Oakland City Council, in a rare unanimous vote, passed the Oakland Together budget. I introduced the amendments together with Councilmembers Bas, Taylor and Thao. The amendments included an estimated $44.4 million in additional investments to combat our homeless crisis, create and preserve affordable housing, maintain our parks, and tackle illegal blight remediation. The Oakland Together budget also restored cuts to Parks Maintenance positions and increased funding around police accountability and workforce development.

     Key inclusions for police accountability were funding to study the CAHOOTS model of sending EMT and mental health workers to respond to appropriate 911 calls, reducing the need for police to intervene in an individual experiencing a mental health crisis, an audit of OPD. For housing and our unsheltered neighbors, there is funding for mobile showers and restrooms, a navigation center, a tiny house village project and additional safe parking sites.

    The Oakland Together budget adds funding for food security and healthy options by adding funding to Meals on Wheels and the Alameda Food Bank, and piloting a healthy food conversion program in our corner stores in East and West Oakland.

    To alleviate blight and illegal dumping, the Council added a fourth illegal dumping crew, additional cameras and enforcement measures, and an educational and outreach program to assure that people know Oakland is not the place to dump your trash.

    To assist homeowners and other small property owners in adding an Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) or other projects to their properties, the budget adds evening hours at the permit desks for planning/building. And to assist LGBTQ+ families and youth, there are anti-displacement funding, services for LGBTQ+ homeless youth, and direct funding for Our Family Coalition that has a proven track record of creating community and assisting LGBTQ+ families in Oakland.

    The budget amendments did secure funding for our workforce development programs, but we need to assure the programs are fully funded and working to help our unemployed and underemployed community to get the training they need to secure living wage jobs. We know unemployment in the black community is much higher than their unemployed white counterparts, and a thriving workforce development program that focuses on equity is a solid step to balance the inequity.

    There is also the issue of impact fees. It is important to have transparency around funds paid to the city for the benefit of community. Finally, our city staff gave much in the downturn; some are even our working homeless. It’s time that we thank them for making the sacrifices our city needed, and reward them with a contract that shows we value the work that they do every day to keep our city running efficiently and effectively. 

    Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( ) and Facebook ( ).