What Happened to Oakland Housing in 2021


Derrick Soo’s occupation of a vacant hill in his childhood neighborhood mirrored the Oakland land use debates that have dominated 2021. Credit: Amir Aziz

Earth. There isn’t much that isn’t developed in Oakland, and it became increasingly evident in 2021 as city leaders, homeless people, and activists debated the best use. limited vacant and built spaces, in the midst of double housing and public health crises. .

Where should Oakland allow apartment buildings? How should the city use the land it owns? Where can people who do not have permanent accommodation pitch tents or park motorhomes? These were some of the pressing questions at the heart of the Oakland housing conversation this year, and the questions that ultimately drove policy decisions.

Read on to review some of the 2021 stories and talk about land use in Oakland.

“We will resist”

Residents of Union Point Park protested the state-imposed closure of their camp and eventually moved to a co-governed mini-house site in Eastlake. Credit: Amir Aziz

In late 2020, Oakland City Council adopted a controversial “camp management policy,” prohibiting people from sleeping outside in most areas of the city. In 2021, some homeless residents and activists backed down, saying they should be able to live in parks, tennis courts or vacant properties, criticizing limited or unattractive alternatives.

Finding ways to create more housing

Oakland officials have vowed to reassess – and possibly abolish – single-family zoning in the city. Credit: Amir Aziz

The majority of residential neighborhoods in Oakland only allow single-family homes, no apartments. In March, city council voted unanimously to consider the possibility of “over-zoning” the city, pointing to the exclusionary story of single-family zoning and insufficient housing supply for Oakland’s growing population. Meanwhile, activists pushed the city to adopt non-traditional forms of housing as well, like motorhomes and cottages, and city leaders eventually passed a law allowing these homes on private property.

Site search

Vacant and developable land, like this West Oakland property owned by Caltrans, is scarce in Oakland. Credit: Amir Aziz

When the “community cabin” transitional housing site closed in the Kaiser Convention Center parking lot in March, it wasn’t because the city lacked the money to maintain it. A construction project was due to start on the parking lot, and the city could not find a new site for the cabins in time. When Oakland came up with $ 4 million for housing solutions for the homeless a few months later, the same question arose: where could the new programs go?

Public land

This empty Eastlake field – the site of a long delayed and controversial housing development plan – was at the center of the land use conversation this year and ultimately became the site of a program for the homeless. shelter. Credit: Darwin BondGraham

A city-owned lot has long been at the center of a debate over public land use. 2021 saw another expansion for the developer of the long-delayed construction project to E. 12th Street and 2nd Avenue – and the eventual opening of a temporary village of cottages on the site.

Vacant private property

The city has tried to crack down on landlords who do not use their land for housing. But the homeless owners of this East Oakland lot say the efforts have backfired. Credit: Amir Aziz

Oakland’s new vacant property tax aims to push landowners to use their undeveloped land and empty homes for much-needed housing. But while the $ 6,000 tax was implemented this year, some landowners who were affected by the bill said there was a loophole in the tax language, penalizing people who tried to do so. exactly that.


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