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Demand Mayor Schaaf & City Council Choose Leaders for Equitable Development in Oakland

This petition had 576 supporters


Other community stakeholders deserve a voice, too!

Residents of Oakland are fed up with seeing our loved ones pushed out of Oakland and facing homelessness due to rising rents.

We demand progressive and visionary leadership now for the Planning Commission and the new Planning Director being hired soon!

Mayor Schaaf is trying to push through yet another developer, Jonathan Fearn, onto the Planning Commission, with limited time for the public to vet, comment, learn about this candidate and have the Mayor consider other candidates, before City Council has to approve the Mayor's 2 nominations soon.

We demand more time to review Fearn’s history and talk about the balance on the Planning Commission, which is already dominated by developers and people who financially benefit from development, with few voices for other residents of Oakland.

We demand that Mayor Schaaf re-appoint Commissioner Jahmese Myres, who has shown exemplary leadership in making sure community is at the table in planning decisions.

We demand that Mayor Schaaf also appoint the candidate put forth as a labor representative by building trade unions, Nischit Hegde,  since the workers who build new developments are not currently represented.  

We ask that the Oakland City Council not allow more developers and those who profit from development to dominate the Planning Commission any longer.  We need balanced planning and leadership to stop the wave of displacement and gentrification pushing Oaklanders out of our hometown.

We support diverse representation on the Planning Commission:

  • Diversity of Industries, Experience & Geographic Representation on the Commission
  • No more than 3 seats of people who profit from development
  • 2 seats for community, 1 seat for labor, 1 seat for small/micro business owners
  • Each commission seat to be filled by people who live or work directly in each of the 7 Council Districts

We support progressive and diverse leadership for the Planning Department:

  • We demand the City of Oakland formalize a process for community participation in the hiring of the city’s new Director of Planning & Building.
  • Planning Department to commit to a process of equity in its hiring and retention practices and build a diverse leadership pipeline, as its staff is currently overwhelmingly majority white and not reflective of Oakland’s population.

Background Information:

The Planning Commission and Planning Department lead strategy for  development projects that shape our neighborhoods and access to affordable housing, good-paying jobs, public transportation, small business ownership, public open space, and the diversity of arts and culture that makes Oakland special.

The Planning Commission has historically been weighted to prioritize developers, architects and others who have a financial interest in fast-tracking development, most of whom come from wealthier neighborhoods. These commissioners too often have to recuse themselves from votes because they are in close partnerships with the developers applying for projects, and financially benefit from the approval of developments.

Already on the Oakland Planning Commission are 2 developers, 1 developer’s attorney, 1 real estate broker, 1 architect who works with developers, and the only seat for residents is up for re-appointment.  Having a biased Commission will only lead to more public fights and appeals over projects.

More progressive planning commissions in other cities have designated seats for community representatives, and we believe that equal geographic representation is also critical. Commissioners who live in the Rockridge don’t necessarily understand community needs in Elmhurst or Havenscourt.

In December, several community organizations sent letters to city leaders asking for community input in the hiring of the new Director of Planning & Building, and they still have not received a response.  We believe that a long history of disconnection between the Planning Department and Oakland residents requires community engagement in the process, and the hiring of a progressive leader who will innovate inclusive and equitable policies to build Oakland for all.



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