Proposed Oakland department on race would be one of its least expensive to run

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Councilmember Desley Brooks’ proposal to create a new city department on race and equity in city government could cost over $800,000 annually to operate, according to a staff report, making it one of the least expensive at City Hall.

The Oakland City Council’s Finance and Life Enrichment Committees will first hear the plan to create a Department of Race and Equity this Tuesday.

The proposed department would be divided into the areas of race and equity, Civil Rights, and equity and project Implementation, according to Brooks’ draft work plan.

In addition, the department’s function would include creating a citywide Equity Initiative Plan; working with all departments to focus on equity as a standard practice and promote social and racial injustices within the city and potentially the entire region.

The city nor the county currently have such an office dedicated to race and equity. Similar departments in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle were briefly studied by city staff.

The cost of establishing a new city department on race and equity has earned early support since Brooks first offered the proposal late last month. However, with a budget shortfall of nearly $30 million on the books, money for creating the department could be problematic.

City staff estimates the staffing and operating the department could run as high as $819,000 a year. The estimate includes a $232,000 salary for a director and three other full-time employees, according to the report.

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