A New Plan For Oakland’s Planning Commission -- Action Needed

By Beth Gunston, Strategic Partnerships Director

The Planning Commission makes key decisions on what is built in Oakland – where and for whom – and it is stacked with corporate developers and real estate specialists. That's why we need more grassroots community voices on the Commission to look out for the needs and interests of everyday Oaklanders. Thanks to dozens of you who called Mayor Schaaf's office this month to support the reappointment of Planning Commissioner Jahmese Myres, she's now one step closer to being reappointed for another three years. In case you're not up to date on this battle to bring more community voice to the Planning Commission, check out our Op-Ed in the East Bay Express

We now need to secure the critical reappointment of Jahmese Myres to guarantee that community voice will continue to have a strong seat at the table as she advocates for more affordable housing and public land that serves the public good. The urgency of this upcoming decision called for a rapid response campaign. Over two days, a dozen volunteers contacted Oakland residents, informed them of this critical appointment, and then patched them through to the mayor’s office where they expressed their support of more community voices on the Planning Commission. Within about 20 of these direct calls, the strong community support for this appointment was undeniably clear to the mayor’s office. Mayor Schaaf is now recommending Jahmese Myres for a full second term -- a victory for the community that could not have happened without your help.

But we haven't won yet -- we now need the Rules and Legislative Committee to confirm the appointment on May 18th, and then it goes to the full Council for the final vote. We'll keep you in the loop if we need to do another push to get Jahmese Myres reappointed.

One of the issues that may come before the Planning Commission, City Council and Mayor is a Public Lands Policy that determines how city government owned land is used, sold or rented. For example, you may remember the battle around the E12th St lot, which was sold to a private developer who's going to build many market-rates units and only a handful of affordable housing units. We believe that public land should be used for public good – like more affordable housing built by local union workers. Some of our partners have put together a survey (English / español) to gather community input into what this policy should look like – and hold our elected representatives' feet to the fire to implement what the community wants. Can you please take 3 minutes to fill it out?

In this time of unprecedented homelessness and housing affordability crisis here in Oakland, it's more important than ever for our elected representatives to listen to the public's demands. In the height of gentrification, the city is selling public land to fill budget gaps and build market rate housing, when in fact they should insist that developers build things that directly benefit our community. Working class people are getting pushed out – we need to prioritize housing, jobs, and ending homelessness above building luxury housing.  

Please stand with us in this important moment. Public land for the public good!

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