April 2017 Volume 17, Issue 2
Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker 
News from the Oakland City Attorney's Office
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In this month's newsletter: The City Attorney's lawsuit against the City's recycling contractor to stop overcharging of Oakland customers for bringing recycling carts to curbside for pickup; updates on lawsuits challenging Trump's unconstitutional executive orders that would impose Muslim travel ban and strip sanctuary cities and counties of federal funding.
 
We also provide a link to the answers to frequently asked questions ("FAQ") arising from the December 2, 2016 warehouse fire at 1315 31st Avenue regarding the rights and protections of people who may be living in non-conforming, i.e., unpermitted or illegal, residential units.

As always, I look forward to your questions and comments about the work we are doing on behalf of the people of Oakland.
 
 
  Barbara J. Parker
 Oakland City Attorney
 
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City Attorney sues City's recycling contractor to stop massive overcharging of Oakland customers

In March I filed a lawsuit against California Waste Solutions ("CWS"), the city's residential recycling contractor, to stop the company's overcharging of Oakland multi-family property owners by thousands of dollars for moving recycling carts to the curb.
 
 
CWS and the City negotiated a charge of $27.85 per month for moving recycling carts to curbside for pickup at multi-family dwellings.  This is the rate CWS charges to single family dwellings for the same size carts. CWS also approved outreach materials that were widely circulated to the public and to multi-family dwelling owners and residents before it commenced its services; those materials specify $27.85 as the rate for recycling carts.
 
However, CWS has been violating its agreement with the City and its own promises to customers by billing multi-family property owners $152.68 per month, for bringing recycling carts to the curb for pick up; this is nearly 5.5 times higher than the correct rate. CWS's interpretation of the contract also reserves the right to charge up to $776.13 per month. Over the life of the 10-year contract, these overcharges amount to tens of millions of dollars of unjustified excessive charges to Oaklanders, depriving them of funds they otherwise could use to maintain properties and exacerbating Oakland's ongoing rent and housing crisis by leading to rent increases.
 
"CWS must be prevented from taking advantage of a mere draftsman's error in the rate table to gain an unjust, undeserved, and oppressive windfall that could amount to tens of millions of dollars over the life of the contract," the lawsuit states.
 
Not only does CWS' treatment of Oakland customers violate the contract, it enriches CWS at the expense of our community. Oakland was forced to file this lawsuit because CWS has refused to budge from its clearly unreasonable position.
 
We are asking that the court (1) declare that CWS is entitled to charge only the contractual amount of $27.85 per cart per month, (2) order CWS to cease this violation of the contract and (3) make Oakland customers whole.

U.S. District Court Holds Hearing on Motions for Nation-Wide Injunction Blocking Executive Order that would Strip Sanctuary Cities and Counties of Federal Funding
 
This is an update on the status of San Francisco's and Santa Clara County's lawsuits asking the federal court to issue a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking Executive Order No. 13768, which threatens to strip sanctuary cities and counties of federal funding.
 
In our last newsletter, I reported that the City of Oakland, and a broad coalition of local jurisdictions across the country, have joined together to file amicus (friend of the court) briefs, asking the federal district court in San Francisco to grant San Francisco's and Santa Clara County's motions.    
 
As we advised in our last newsletter, the coalition of 34 jurisdictions, including Oakland and the cities of New Orleans, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, filed amicus briefs  in County of Santa Clara v. Trump, Case No. 17-cv-00574, and City and County of San Francisco v. Trump, Case No. 17-cv-00485.
 
On Friday, April 14th U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick held a consolidated hearing on San Francisco's and Santa Clara County's motions for preliminary injunction.
 
Faced with the law, the Department of Justice ("DOJ") lawyer acknowledged that the federal government cannot compel local jurisdictions to comply with federal detainer requests to keep people in jail after their release dates. The DOJ lawyer also acknowledged that the president has no authority to claw back or strip sanctuary cities, counties or other local jurisdictions of all federal funding. The DOJ lawyer stated that the executive order would potentially apply only to federal grants issued by DOJ or Homeland Security and only if the grant recipient was on notice of the requirement to comply with 8 USC section 1973.
 
In essence the DOJ attorney tried to persuade the court that Trump and US Attorney General Sessions did not mean what they said when they threatened to withhold all federal funding from sanctuary cities, including funding for vital services such as child care, after school programs, housing assistance and other services.
 
The DOJ lawyer also asserted that there is no imminent or immediate threat to sanctuary cities and counties, that the executive order was no more and no less than a st atement highlighting an issue the president cares about, and that the order doesn't add or change anything regarding restrictions that were already in place under the Obama administration. "Then what would the purpose of this executive order be, then?" Judge Orrick asked. When the DOJ lawyer said the Court should not take into account statements made on the campaign trail, the Judge stated that he would consider statements Trump and Sessions have made since they assumed their respective offices as well as the words of the order itself.
 
The DOJ lawyer agreed that Congress has authority over federal funding and conditions on grants to cities must be reasonably related to the purpose of the program. And regarding the language of the executive order, the DOJ lawyer admitted that there's no clear definition of what constitutes a sanctuary city.
 
The City of Richmond also has filed a lawsuit challenging the sanctuary city executive order. Judge Orrick will hear arguments on the City of Richmond's motion for preliminary injunction on May 10th.
Our next newsletter will include updates about this important case.
 
More info
  
Oakland Joins Fight in Federal Appellate Courts to Uphold Judges' Orders Blocking Unconstitutional Muslim Travel Ban

As we reported last month, Oakland has joined a national coalition that has filed a number of amicus briefs supporting challenges to the new federal administration's cruel and unconstitutional ban on refugees of war and travel from Muslim countries. These policies are set forth in Trump's revised Muslim Travel Ban (Executive Order No. 13769).
 
I signed onto a number of amicus briefs in March: one supporting the State of Hawaii's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the second version of the administration's Muslim travel ban, one supporting the State of Washington's challenge and one supporting a lawsuit in Maryland by refugee aid groups and foreign nationals who argued that the revised executive order was motivated by animus toward Muslims and impermissibly discriminates on the basis of religion and national origin . In March, I also signed onto an amicus brief supporting the State of New York's challenge to the revised Muslim travel ban. New York joined Washington state, California, Maryland, Massachusetts and Oregon in a multi-state lawsuit challenging the revised executive order.
 
The Hawaii and Maryland federal judges granted motions for preliminary injunctions and the federal government appealed. We are signing onto amicus briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth and Fourth Circuits asking the Courts to uphold the preliminary injunctions. The Fourth Circuit will hear the appeal en banc, i.e., 15 judges will consider and rule on the case.
 
I will continue to provide you updates regarding these cases and the other actions we are taking to defeat the unconstitutional and inhumane policies and proposals of this administration.
 
FAQ: Tenants' and Landlords' Rights, Protections and Obligations regarding Non-Conforming Residential Units
                      
In March, the City Attorney's Office published an FAQ (frequently asked questions) arising from the December 2, 2016 warehouse fire at 1315 31st Avenue regarding the rights and protections of people living in non-conforming, i.e., unpermitted or illegal, residential units.
 
As you probably know, the warehouse was not permitted as residential housing. After the tragic fire, my Office and other City officials received many questions about the rights of the tenants and the landlord's obligations concerning non-conforming units.
 
The FAQ does not constitute legal advice, legal conclusions or legal analysis. It is intended to be general in nature and does not cover all issues or circumstances that might apply to a particular fact situation . We hope this FAQ is helpful. To read this FAQ and other FAQs my Office has published, go to:
 
  

Phone: (510) 238-3601

Email: info@oaklandcityattorney.org

 

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