Oakland sets the stage for new supportive housing and RV fleet in 2022
Completing their policy making for the year, Oakland officials set the stage on Tuesday for several new homeless housing to likely open in 2022.
Over thirteen hours of back-to-back city council meetings, council members voted on a number of housing issues, including a new RV park in East Oakland, requests for state-funded housing programs, and rules for garden chalets.
But even with access to millions of dollars in public housing funds, a sobering recognition underpins Tuesday’s decisions: There are still not enough resources available to house the thousands of homeless. Oakland shelter, many of whom live on the streets in tents, makeshift cabins and vehicles. Sometimes council members argued over the best use of scarce funds and wondered if the city was spending them in the most appropriate or efficient way.
Here’s what happened to the housing decisions on Tuesday.
RV Parking in East Oakland
City council has given the green light to a proposal by council member Rebecca Kaplan to open a new “secure parking” site for motorhomes at 796 66th Ave, a city-owned parking lot near the Coliseum. The site will have sanitation services and will prioritize residents who lived in Oakland before losing their permanent homes. The inhabitants of the motorhomes will pay decreasing fees to park on the site.
At the last count, there were 700 people living in RVs in Oakland, and the site is located in the neighborhood with the greatest concentration, said LaTonda Simmons, Acting Homeless Administrator, “The need is enormous.
Kaplan said the lack of access to sanitation services is a “public health crisis.” Some do not have access to running water or places to unload their waste.
The $ 1.74 million effort is funded largely by unbudgeted money for the homeless that Kaplan said it recently discovered was missing due to a spreadsheet error.
His proposal initially included two other projects: a mini-house site on Wood Street and an RV park near I-880 and High Street. Kaplan has said she will come up with a new location for the Wood Street program, and she has accepted council member Noel Gallo’s request to remove the I-880 project due to BART’s parking needs and nearby affordable housing.
Homekey housing projects
Officials also gave city staff the green light to seek up to $ 120 million in public funding for five supportive housing projects.
Applications are made through California’s COVID-19 “Homekey” program, which funds housing for currently homeless residents. Cities and counties can apply, often on behalf of local organizations, for funds to purchase and convert existing buildings such as hotels, or create supportive housing. Oakland received three Homekey Awards last year (a fourth project was funded but failed), and now the city is considering the state’s latest $ 1.45 billion in funding for more housing.
The new candidates:
- Kingdom Builders Transitional Housing, an existing Fruitvale program serving youth and formerly incarcerated people
- The Phoenix, the affordable housing component of a mixed-income development project in West Oakland, a co-application with EBALDC and Allied Housing
- Piedmont Place, a hotel that BACS and Memar Properties are considering buying on MacArthur Boulevard to create supportive housing
- Coliseum Way, the conversion of an East Oakland hotel into housing supervised by Operation Dignity and Danco
Together, the four projects include 166 housing units. Council approved a fifth application to the Radisson through the airport, which the city will only submit if co-applicants can find more funding. A sixth proposal from staff, applying to BACS to acquire many houses or small buildings, similar to their project funded last year, was controversial. Kaplan managed to push back the move, saying BACS had more leeway than other applicants, who were told they couldn’t apply for Homekey if they didn’t know their site address yet.
For all projects, the city would be required to contribute local funding, up to a total of $ 9 million. In two cases, Piedmont Place and Coliseum Way, the city would also provide around $ 10 million to cover operating costs. While Oakland used Homekey funds last year to purchase a former college dormitory, in all of these cases the nonprofit co-applicants would own the properties.
The city’s contribution would come from separate state and federal grants, and staff said it was important to spend the remaining money to maintain existing homelessness programs. But officials said they feared there would be no plan to keep the 92-room Lake Merritt Lodge transitional housing site open after April, when federal support is expected to expire.
ADU in the fire zone
City council has approved new bylaws for accessory housing units, or DSUs, of back cabins and in-laws built on the same land as an existing home. The vote largely brought Oakland’s rules into line with state law, but also further restricted where ADUs can be built in fire-prone hills.
In recent years, many national and local policies have promoted ADUs as a quick and relatively inexpensive way to add much-needed housing units. But the Oakland Fire Department has raised concerns about the increasing density of the hills, where the increase in the number of cars and residents would make an already risky evacuation process even more difficult in the event. forest fire. OFD has called for ADUs to be banned in the fire risk zone.
After dozens of passionate residents attended Planning Commission meetings on the matter this year, many of whom opposed the OFD’s position, city staff offered a compromise measure. “We have sought to balance the need for public safety with the competing priority of ADUs,” planner Laura Kaminski said on Tuesday.
The new rules ban most ADUs from parts of the designated fire-risk zone where the streets are particularly narrow. The area covered by this rule goes beyond the existing restrictions but does not reach a total ban on hills. And affected homeowners can still build an in-house ADU or chalet, if they add off-street parking or have a medical need.