Without a doubt, affordable housing is the biggest issue facing the East Bay. Last week, the state legislature delivered some help to alleviate the crisis, but only time will tell if the wisdom of allowing developers a quick path to building more housing was ultimately pan out. The potential loss of local control in some Alameda County cities created opposition and now skepticism. On the flip side, the total lack of new housing in places like Alameda likely renders the state’s actions prudent.

Meanwhile, this week city governments in Oakland, San Leandro and Fremont continue to address housing and excessive rent increases. Like many issues in Alameda County, once one has a suitable idea, they all eventually–eventually!–copy each other. Tuesday in Fremont is a perfect example as the council is set to create a revamped rent review structure. The proposal is similar to Alameda and San Leandro. However, those cities eventually added stronger renter-friendly amendments later such as landlord-paid relocation payments to renters, and, briefly in Alameda, just cause restrictions. These additions are included in Fremont’s ordinance. It begs the question, if Fremont believes rent ordinances in nearby cities are good enough to copy, then why don’t they copy the entire amended ordinance instead of the sluggish piecemeal approach being offered in south county?

Here’s this week’s highlights in East Bay government:
➤Oakland’s public bank feasibility study returns. But who’s going to pay?

➤Alameda County supervisors respond to scathing grand jury report

➤Hayward eyes BART shuttle service

➤How will San Leandro pay for its tenant relocation payment program?

➤Rep. Ro Khanna town hall on Wednesday.

–OAKLAND– Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 5:30 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
–PUBLIC BANK FEASIBILITY STUDY– An Oakland-based or more likely regional public bank to localize investment in local business and mortgage opportunities for underserved communities returns to the Oakland City Council after a road block during its budget season last June. But the public bank is really about giving cash-based cannabis enterprises a legitimate banking solution. Because of the federal prohibition against cannabis, most banks shy away from the industry.

–Tuesday’s plan offers $100,000 for a feasibility study, but part of the problem has been who will pay for the study. Since the cannabis industry is to greatly benefit from a public bank, some Oakland officials like Councilmember Noel Gallo believe they should foot the bill. Conversely, if it is indeed a regional public bank, critics say Oakland shouldn’t be the only city paying for its study.

–Berkeley and Emeryville have expressed support for a public bank, but both are staring at the check lying on the dinner table. So is San Francisco, according to the staff report. Support for a public bank in central and south county is tepid at this time, but it’s still early.

–SHELTER CRISIS DECLARATION– “The number of homeless persons in Oakland as of the most recent 2017 point-in-time-count is over 2,700. Of those, on any given night there are an estimated 1902 persons who are unsheltered and in living spaces unfit for human habitation. Throughout Oakland, there are approximately 350 emergency shelter beds available on any given night. Of those, nearly half are funded by the City. In addition, there are approximately 110 beds during the winter months. The majority of homelessness persons unable to find shelter creates the crisis. The homelessness problem affects Oakland’s population disproportionately: a majority of the homeless are African American and Latino. Often homelessness is accompanied by other challenges such as mental health difficulties, chronic physical illness, victims of domestic violence, and substance abuse.”

–SECURITY CONTRACT– Oakland city administration is recommending the award of a three-year contract worth $2.5 million a year for security at Oakland city government buildings, libraries and some senior and recreational centers to A-1 Protective Services, Inc. The Oakland-based company would replace Cypress Private Security.

–Rules Committee, Thursday, Sept. 21, 10:45 a.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]


–ALAMEDA COUTNY– Special board retreat, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 9:30 a.m. (Note: meeting held at Alameda County Training and Education Center, 125 12th Street, Fourth Floor, Oakland.) [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]

–GRAND JURY RESPONSE– An Alameda County grand jury report last June slammed Supervisors Wilma Chan for allegedly meddling in a contract with Acts Full Gospel Church, and Keith Carson, along with the entire board, for lacking transparency in how it doled out discretionary funds to local non-profits. Getting your nose flicked by the grand jury requires an official response from the county and it likely will be a denial… always is.

–CASTRO VALLEY MAC– Regular meeting, Monday, Sept. 18, 6 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]


–BERKELEY– City Council work session, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 6 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
–DIGITAL ROADMAP– Anybody who has tried to navigate Berkeley’s city web site know its hulking and quite outdated. Apparently the city’s I.T. infrastructure mimics the public site. The Digital Strategy Plan discussed during Tuesday’s work session updates the work already done. “Over the past few years we have seen a remarkable increase in citizen demand for web, mobile, and cloud technology. The new DSP specified ways in which recommended technology solutions will improve the City of Berkeley’s operations and overall service delivery, streamline operations to achieve cost efficiencies, and increased productivity, and support open and transparent governance.”


–HAYWARD– Regular City Council meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 7:00 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
–HAYWARD SHUTTLE STUDY– “During a series of community outreach meetings in 2013 and 2014, City staff received feedback from residents and employers expressing a desire for shuttle service to provide connections to BART…” Four areas have been identified by city staff: “Tennyson Route (Serving the Industrial area in the western part of Hayward through a connection to South Hayward BART Station); Winton Route (Serving the Industrial area in the western part of Hayward through a connection to Hayward BART Station); Downtown Loop Route (Serving downtown Hayward, the Amtrak station, and the Cannery Area development); South Industrial Route (Serving the Industrial area in the southern part of Hayward.”

–Shuttle service for the Jackson Triangle neighborhood, one of the poorest in the entire East Bay, was included in the study by the city council in February, but staff, while indicated a preliminary need, believes a larger stand-alone study for the Jackson Triangle is needed. “Therefore, due to the resource constraints, the upcoming grant deadline for the pilot project, and the Caltrans grant funding deadline to complete the Shuttle Feasibility Study, staff was unable to complete a comprehensive analysis of the Jackson Triangle Corridor.”

–PLANNINNG COMMISSION APPT– Over the years, serving on the Hayward Planning Commission have proven to be an exclusive path to getting elected to the City Council. All but Councilmember Mark Salinas on the current council have planning commissioner on their resume. On Tuesday, the council will officially approve the appoint of Ray Bonilla, Jr., a current member of the Community Services Commission. He succeeds Alan Parso-York.


–ALAMEDA– Regular council meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
–PLANNING NOMINATIONS, PART II– Mayor Trish Spencer‘s nominees to some board and commissions have been contentious, particularly for the all-important Planning Board. Spencer failed to have two of her nominees approved by the council’s progressive majority. Now, she’s back with tow nominees who may be even more unfriendly to growth in Patricia Lanborn and Alan Teague.

–INCLUSIONARY HOUSING– Alameda needs to build more housing. It’s not really a choice, rather than state law and Alameda has been woefully behind when it comes to building affordable housing and new units of any type. Councilmember Frank Matarrese‘s idea is to seek and make revisions to Alameda’s inclusionary housing requirement “in a way delivering much needed affordable and workforce housing without having to increase the total number of units allowed.”

–PLASTIC STRAW BAN– Who may soon have to ask a waiter or bartender for a plastic straw to go along with your beverage. A public hearing Tuesday night seeks to add the plastic straw prohibition to the city’s existing compostible container ordinance.


–SAN LEANDRO– Regular council meeting, Monday, Sept. 18, 7:00 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]
–TENANT RELOCATION PAYMENTS– The city council passed, 5-2, a tenant relocation payment ordinance on Sept. 5, but city staff says there’s one outstanding issue remaining–how to pay and administer the program. “Staff estimates the annual cost for Tenant Relocation Program administration is $50,000. Staff proposed an annual $10 per rental unit fee charged to landlords on the business license tax to offset administration costs related to the Tenant Relocation Program and the Rent Review Ordinance.”


–FREMONT– Regular board meeting, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 7:00 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]

–RENT REVIEW ORDINANCE– A bit under the radar in the East Bay, but Fremont is experience large numbers of the excessive rent increases. The council on Tuesday will enact a new rent review ordinance that establishes a three-person rent review board (renter, landlords, neutral Fremont resident) and requires landlords to petition the board when attempting to raise rents more than 5 percent over a 12-month period. 
–Staff is proposing the lower percentage because the average 2-bedroom unit in Fremont now rents for $2500/month, and an increase of even 6% ($150/month) can be difficult for tenants to absorb. Setting the limit at 5% would ensure that those tenants faced with higher proposed rent increases could have their concerns heard by the Board in a public meeting.”

–The proposed ordinance also raises penalties against landlords who retaliate against tenants who oppose rent hikes from $1,000 to $2,000. Fremont’s staff report references San Leandro’s recent rent review modifications, however, the proposed ordinance appears even more similar to Alameda.


–GATHERINGS– Meet the current pair of Democrats hoping to unseat  GOP Assemblymember Catharine Baker in the Tri-Valley’s 16th District. Tom Tarantino and Rebecca Bauer-Kahan will address the Tri-Valley Democratic Club in Dublin, Monday, Sept. 18, 6:30 p.m., IBEW Hall, 6250 Village Parkway, Dublin.

–Assemblymember Rob Bonta presents the keynote speech on “The Cannabis Effect on Jobs and the California Economy at the Alameda Chamber of Commerce Business Expo & Conference, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 4 p.m.-7:30 p.m., College of Alameda, 555 Ralph Appezzato Parkway, Alameda.

–Rep. Ro Khanna holds town hall in Fremont, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m., Ohlone College, Jackson Theatre, 43600 Mission Boulevard, Fremont.

–47th Annual Democratic Unity Dinner with keynote speaker California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Saturday, Oct. 7, 7 p.m. at the Oakland Airport Hilton, 1 Hegenberger Road, Oakland. Tickets. More information here.


–EDEN HEALTH DISTRICT– Regular board meeting, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 5:30 p.m. [ENTIRE AGENDA HERE]