Oakland, like the rest of the Bay Area, has a housing crisis rooted in the fact that so much office, retail and entertainment space was built without enough homes for the people working in them – especially low-wage workers. As a result, Oakland has more than 4,000 homeless people, a population that has grown by more than 86% in the past five years, even as the minimum wage has increased.
And yet at a city council hearing earlier this month to discuss Oakland A’s $12 billion residential and commercial development on the Port of Oakland, team chairman Dave Kaval said publicly for the first time that A. There is a special exemption from city law that requires them to provide onsite affordable housing or private funding for affordable housing elsewhere in the city. The members of the city council present were genuinely surprised.
Rents have doubled in Oakland over the past decade, causing gentrification and forcing thousands to move away. It disrupts individual lives and communities as well as movement for everyone in the Bay Area, as low-income workers now have to drive miles away. Large mixed-use developments with office space (of which Howard Terminals proposes 1.5 million square feet) are particularly a gentrification risk, bringing in thousands of high-paid workers who work for rent in nearby areas. bidding.
It is in this context that Kaval&A is attempting to obtain a special exemption from the city’s current affordable housing requirements, which require one in every 10 homes for low-income residents to detach or pay a fee. New projects are needed. Funds that the city uses to build affordable housing. A project of this size would typically have either 300 affordable apartments or would pay $75 million to the city’s housing fund.
Instead, about $1 billion in tax revenue from the project site from Kaval Oakland City Council and unrelated new developments 10 blocks away to pay for stadium-related infrastructure, 450 million of future taxes to cover community benefits. dollars (effectively asking the city to pay for them) and exemptions from the affordable housing requirements that every residential project – even for individual Oaklanders to build a home themselves – adhere to needed.
This lure contrasts with the Giants’ mixed-use project near their ballpark in San Francisco, which would set aside 40% of homes as affordable housing, exceeding the city’s requirements. Other large mixed-use developments proposed or under construction in the Bay Area, such as the 5M project in San Francisco or the Valco Mall redevelopment in Cupertino, have the same or greater percentage of affordable housing.
During Oakland City Council’s public comment period, West Oakland residents called for affordable housing at 35% of homes at Howard Terminal. If A really wants to be “rooted in Oakland”, their owners must at least meet this level.
After decades of handouts to billionaire team owners, cities across the country have realized that directly subsidizing stadiums is a bad deal for the public. Unfortunately, we are still seeing requests for indirect subsidies, such as future fixed tax dollars or exemptions from affordable housing laws that other developers must comply with.
Oakland deserves better. Elsewhere in the city, developers of standalone apartment complexes on public land – which is Howard Terminal – meet or exceed affordable housing requirements, such as those at BART parking lots.
The owners of A should not receive special treatment. The Howard Terminal deal is looking worse and worse, and it is clear that the city council’s only responsible option today is not to vote and reject the project’s term sheet.
Alfred Tweu is a Berkeley artist, architect and housing activist working on zoning, affordable housing funding and tenant-rights issues throughout the Bay Area and statewide.