Volume 22, Issue 3 | Fourth Quarter 2022 Newsletter (December 2022)
News from Oakland City Attorney
Barbara J. Parker
BJP new

  • Looking Back on 2022
  • City of Oakland Measures Oakland Voters Passed on the November 8th Ballot 

Dear Friends and Fellow Oaklanders:

It is hard to believe that we are approaching the end of 2022! 
And what a year it has been and continues to be. With the 24-7 news cycle we sometimes may feel overwhelmed, as we are incessantly bombarded with the many crises around the world and in our nation. From the devastation the climate crisis has wrought to mass shootings to voter suppression, hate crimes, and the shameless campaign to strip Americans of our freedoms (not to mention the U.S. Supreme Court running amok), it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Despite this deluge of shocking, frightening and tragic events, I take time as is my custom every year to reflect on the many blessings for which I am grateful. I am honored and thankful to continue to serve as Oakland’s City Attorney with the opportunity to make our great City shine even brighter and to protect and advance the rights of all Oaklanders; and I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to work with our brilliant, creative, diverse and incredibly dedicated staff that shares my joy in serving our great, progressive city.  
Warm wishes to each of you for a spiritually fulfilling and rejuvenating holiday season! 
Looking Back on 2022
Throughout 2022 I and my team have worked hard to protect and advance the rights of all Oaklanders by providing advice and counsel and defending and enforcing the City’s progressive policies and laws. My office has spearheaded or supported our City regarding too many issues to catalog here; however, I want to highlight a few of which I am particularly proud:
My office also successfully defended against a lawsuit challenging Oakland votersright to decide whether certain non-citizen Oakland residents should be able to vote in Oakland school board elections if they are otherwise eligible to vote under state and local law. Read on for the outcome of this and other ballot measures that Oakland voters passed in this year’s November 8th general election.
City of Oakland Measures Oakland Voters Passed on the November 8th Ballot 

This year, Oakland voters passed all nine of the City of Oakland measures that were on the November 8, 2022 ballot. Eight of the measures were initiated by the City Council, and one, the Oakland Zoo Parcel Tax (Measure Y), was placed on the ballot by a qualifying voter initiative petition. 
As Oakland’s City Attorney one of my most important duties is to: 
  1. draft the question that appears on the ballot; and  
  2. prepare the summary and an impartial legal analysis of the measure that appear in the ballot pamphlet.   

The summary and impartial legal analysis must describe each measure in an unbiased manner and show the effect of the measure on the existing law. The summary and impartial legal analysis of the November 2022 City of Oakland ballot measures are available here. Please see below a brief, plain-language explanation of how these new laws will impact Oakland residents. 
Measure Q: Affordable Rental Housing 
Oakland voters approved this measure authorizing the City to develop, construct, or acquire up to 13,000 low-rent housing units in social housing projects within Oakland. Berkeley and South San Francisco residents passed similar ballot measures to allow their cities to build more affordable housing, although Berkeley residents did not pass a bond measure that would have provided $200 M toward the construction of affordable housing. 
Voters’ permission is necessary due to Article 34, a 72-year-old provision of the California Constitution, which prohibits state public bodies and cities from developing, constructing or acquiring any “low rent housing project” unless voters approve the project. Article 34, which was passed by a statewide voter initiative in 1950, has racist roots as it was sold to voters on the basis of propagating fear of public housing and integration of neighborhoods. This past September, the California Legislature voted to place a measure repealing Article 34 on the 2024 ballot. Co-author of the repeal ballot measure, State Senator Scott Wiener, aptly declared that, “Article 34 is a scar on the California Constitution - designed to keep people of color and poor people out of certain neighborhoods - and it needs to be repealed.”  
Measure R: Using Gender-Neutral Language in the City Charter  
Voters amended the City Charter in its entirety to replace gender-specific language with gender-inclusive language, including gender-neutral terms and pronouns to avoid gender stereotyping and discrimination and promote inclusivity. 
Measure S: Non-citizen Oakland Residents Voting for Oakland School Board Directors 
Voters amended the City Charter to authorize the City Council to adopt an ordinance that would allow non-citizen residents to vote for Oakland School Board Directors if they are otherwise eligible to vote under California law and parents, legal guardians, or legal caregivers of qualified minor children. Currently only U.S. citizens can vote in Oakland School Board elections. 
Measure T: Creates a Progressive Tax Rate Structure for Oakland Businesses 
Oakland voters amended the City’s business tax code to create a progressive tax structure for businesses. Businesses with gross incomes of $1 million per year or higher will pay more than companies with $1 million or less in gross receipts going forward. This measure is estimated to generate $124 million a year in additional revenue for the City. 
Measure U: $850 Million in General Obligation Bonds to Fund Affordable Housing and Housing Preservation Projects, Transportation Projects Including Street Repaving 
Oakland voters approved issuance of $850 M in general obligation bonds, raising about $85 million annually. Funds generated will be directed to affordable housing and homelessness services, street repair, traffic and pedestrian safety improvements, and updates to public facilities. The measure imposes a tax on real property based on the value of the real property and improvements to pay the principal and interest on the bonds.  
Measure V: Additional Eviction Protections for Oakland Tenants 
Voters amended the City’s Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance (“Just Cause Eviction Ordinance”) to provide additional eviction protections for Oakland residential tenants to:    

  1. prohibit no-fault evictions of children and educators during the school year;  
  2. specifically provide eviction protections for vehicular residential facilities such as recreational vehicles (“RVs”) and tiny homes on wheels rented for residential use;  
  3. prohibit eviction of tenants for failure to execute a new lease agreement;  
  4. remove the exemption from the Just Cause Eviction Ordinance for residential units built after 1995 and instead exempt units that were built “from the ground up” within the past 10 years;  
  5. clarify tenants’ right to re-occupy a unit if an owner evicts them to facilitate an owner move-in eviction but the owner doesn’t reside in the unit for the time period the ordinance requires; and 
  6. make other changes to the ordinance to enhance protections for low-income renters from eviction. 
The Just Cause Eviction Ordinance protects residential tenants from “arbitrary, unreasonable, discriminatory, or retaliatory evictions” by limiting the reasons a tenant may be evicted. 
Measure W: Public Financing for Candidate Election Campaigns 
Voters approved this campaign reform measure, which establishes resident public financing for City of Oakland and Oakland School Board candidate election campaigns, making public financing available to candidates for City and School Board elected offices. The measure will establish public financing for candidate campaigns by giving every voter four $25 vouchers to assign to their choice of candidates. The measure expands disclosure requirements on campaign advertisements, including on social media, and provides more funding for the Public Ethics Commission for implementation of the measure. 
Measure W will increase transparency regarding independent spending in City elections and provide additional restrictions on former City officials acting as lobbyists.  
Measure X: Charter Amendments Reforming Certain Procedures and Requirements 
Measure X amends the City Charter in a number of ways, including, but not limited to:  
  1. establishing three consecutive term limits for Councilmembers;  
  2. requiring two hearings before the Council places general obligation bonds, parcel taxes or Charter amendments on the ballot;  
  3. authorizing the Public Ethics Commission instead of the Council to set the salaries of the City Attorney and City Auditor based on comparable positions in other California local jurisdictions and taking into account the salaries of other City department heads and the salaries of the highest paid professional employees in their offices;  
  4. providing that the City must budget sufficient funding for at least 14 full-time employees in the City Auditor’s Office; and  
  5. establishing additional qualifications and additional duties for the City Auditor. 
Measure Y: Parcel Tax to Fund the Oakland Zoo 
Voters passed the “2022 Oakland Zoo Animal Care, Education and Improvement Ordinance,” which imposes a 20-year parcel tax to fund zoo operations, staffing, maintenance and capital improvements. With some exceptions, residential property owners will pay an annual rate of $68 per single family unit and per unit in multiple unit residential parcels. The rate for non-residential parcels varies depending upon the type of use, the parcel’s frontage and square footage, based on a formula specified in the measure. The City Auditor’s financial analysis says the City estimates it will receive approximately $14 million in the first year based on the initial tax rates. 
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