Oakland needs to plan for 26,000 new homes over the next eight years, and city officials want your help deciding where all of that housing should go.
Nico Nagle, an East Bay organizer with the Housing Action Coalition, has his eye on the area around the Rockridge BART station. Naomi Schiff of the Oakland Heritage Alliance wants to turn the City Hall parking lot and vacant land in Temescal into housing. James Vann of the Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merritt thinks the city should convert empty downtown storefronts into homes.
They can now share their ideas using a new interactive map that allows people to mark sites they think are suitable for new residential development – and also note where they don’t want to see housing built. Officials will consider this input when drafting their state-mandated plan for new housing. The result will play a big role in shaping Oakland for years to come, as the city and state grapple with an affordable housing shortage that has sent rents skyrocketing and shut out many low-income workers. income.
Residents have until March 7 to speak.
“I think it’s been a great tool,” Nagle said. The site allows the city to collect information from residents who may pass an empty parking lot or vacant building on their way to work each day that could be turned into housing, he said.
Oakland is also in the process of updating its master plan – a plan that will guide the city’s future through 2045.
In order to ensure that everyone is doing their part to produce enough housing, the state requires each city to create a “housing component” which provides for an assigned number of new housing units every eight years. Between 2015 and 2023, Oakland was to plan for 14,765 homes. This number will nearly double over the next eight years.
Cities across the region are grappling with steep increases. The nine-county Bay Area is expected to plan for 441,176 new units by 2031, up from 187,990 in the last cycle. Many local towns fought back and appealed to the ambitious new targets, including Danville, Dublin and Los Altos. Almost all of these requests have been denied.
Other cities have accepted the goals and, like Oakland, are asking residents for input on where new housing will be located. San Jose is one of many cities holding community meetings and soliciting feedback.
These meetings are only the first step in what will be a long process to satisfy the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (commonly referred to as RHNA) requirements. Cities are required to set aside space for new housing, update their permitting rules and re-zoning in certain areas as needed to ensure homes can be built. Then it’s up to the developers to build the housing.
The state is cracking down on the process this year after many cities failed to meet their housing needs and others openly flouted state housing mandates. Cities are urged to do more work to prove that housing can actually be built in designated areas, said Mathew Reed, policy manager at [email protected] These strict and complicated state rules can make the process more difficult.
“A lot of community processes need to be integrated into how and where cities plan for growth,” Reed said. “But there are also pretty clear rules and expectations from the state that need to shape this discussion. Sometimes it’s difficult because it becomes a kind of political discussion about certain neighborhoods.
In Oakland, Nagle wants to see the city build more housing near the Rockridge BART station. Close to public transportation, it’s the perfect place to replace one- and two-story buildings with taller, denser apartments that can accommodate more people, he said.
Several other people called a Planning Commission meeting earlier this month to decide on the new housing element. Vann suggested the city consider converting downtown storefronts that had been left vacant during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schiff agreed and also suggested the City Hall Garage and the vacant Pleasant Valley Avenue site.
“Please put accommodations there,” she said.
The housing shortage is hurting our residents, and the city’s new housing plan is one way to get closer to solving that problem, Nagle said.
“We’re doubling the number of houses,” he said, “because that’s what we need.”
Weigh in on new Oakland housing
To access Oakland’s interactive housing map and find out where new homes should go, visit oaklandca.gov/topics/general-plan-update.