2020 Chamber Ballot Measure Voter Guide
Every election cycle the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors takes positions on local ballot measures. The Board of Directors prioritizes ballot measures that will further an equitable economic recovery and grow jobs for Oaklanders. This is the first general election in recent memory in which the City of Oakland has not put some form of a tax before the voters - though both the county and school district have. This is in large part due to the advocacy of Oakland's multi-cultural Chambers of Commerce and BID Alliance to encourage the Council to defer consideration of tax increases until the impacts of the pandemic are better understood. This was particularly important for the proposal to restructure Oakland's Business License Tax, which we successfully deferred until 2022.

The Chamber's independent political action committee - OakPAC - released a separate 2020 Candidate Voter Guide earlier this week based on interviews conducted by its Board of Directors.
Local Ballot Measure Recommendations
Measure QQ - Youth Voting for School Board
Recommendation - Support

Measure QQ would amend the City of Oakland Charter
to authorize the City Council, by adoption of an ordinance, to authorize persons aged 16 and above, who are otherwise eligible to vote under state and local law, to vote for the Office of School Board Director. This would expand the right to vote to an estimated 8,000 Oakland youth. Voting on the issues that directly impact them will instill a commitment to voting and civic duty that is critical in the next generation.
Measure RR - Removing the Cap on Fines
Recommendation - No position

Measure RR would amend the Oakland City Charter Section 217 to eliminate the $1,000 limit on fines for ordinance and code violations. Currently the City Charter contains language written in the 1960s capping fines. In reality the cap is often circumvented by issuing multiple citations daily which increases the total amount well above the $1,000 limit. While it's generally not a good idea to codify a specific dollar amount in laws that can only be changed by costly ballot measure like a City Charter, allowing the City Council to set unlimited fine amounts could have unintended consequences. Prior to changing any fines, the City Council should conduct a thorough examination of Oakland's current fining practices to look for disparities in race and income. As is the case in many cities, sometimes fines hurt the people least able to pay and perpetuate economic disparity. The primary upside of this measure is that it will allow the city to increase the penalty for illegal dumping, which has long been a critical issue.
Measure S1 - Police Commission Independence
Recommendation - Support

Oakland voters created a citizen's Police Commission by ballot measure in 2016 that is often lauded as the most independent in the country. However soon after adoption it became apparent that the original measure contained some conflicts with the City Charter that caused confusion, delay, and both real and perceived limitations on independence. Measure S1 would clarify that the Police Commission and Community Police Review Agency are empowered to hire their own staff, create an Office of the Inspector General, and maintain the Commission's powers after Oakland is released from federal oversight. The Chamber played a central role in ensuring that this measure was properly vetted and appropriate in scope given the challenges posed to transparency by the pandemic. Overall the Board of Directors believes Measure S1 brings much-needed clarity to the important issue of police oversight.
Measure Y - OUSD School Facilities Bond
Recommendation - Support

Measure Y would authorize the Oakland Unified School District to issue $735 million in bonds for much-needed classroom repair and school safety improvements. The bonds and ensuing debt service will end up just over $1 billion, which is estimated to cost property owners in Oakland about $60 per $100,000 of their assessed value. This would add an average of $48.5 million each year for 30 years to OUSD cash-strapped budget. School site improvements would be prioritized according to the measure's project list and cannot be used on salaries.
Measure W - County Sales Tax Increase
Recommendation - No Position

Alameda County voters are being asked to pass another sales tax increase this November. Measure W would enact a half percent sales tax for 10 years to raise $150 million annually. The original intention behind the measure was to dedicate it specifically to funding homelessness services - which would have required a 2/3rds passage - however in the final weeks the Board of Supervisors switched it to a general tax, which requires only a majority vote. While County leaders have promised to use the funding for social safety net programs, that is no guarantee in the tight budget years ahead. Those wishing to see the money go toward homelessness will need to advocate during each budget cycle. Alameda County's current base sales tax rate is 9.25%, however pending the outcome of a lawsuit against another recent sales tax increase - Measure C from March 2020 - the base rate will likely be 9.75%. The Chamber supported Measure C for its dedicated funding for early childhood education and UCSF/Benioff Children's Hospital, however the Chamber will not be taking a position on a second sales tax increase this year in the absence of a dedicated and detailed funding requirement to serve our unsheltered neighbors.
Additional Oakland Voter Resources
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