Oakland City Hall Credit: Amir Aziz

On Tuesday, the Oakland City Council is scheduled to vote on a package of policies to legalize more types of housing in Oakland, and settle a lawsuit filed to improve the Oakland Police Department’s response to public records requests. The council will also hear reports from representatives who sit on regional boards and commissions, as well as receive reports on illegal dumping, graffiti and blight, and abandoned cars. 

The meeting begins at 1:30 p.m. The full agenda, which has information on how to access the meeting remotely, can be found here.

OPD records lawsuit: City Council is expected to settle a lawsuit filed by freelance journalists and privacy advocates over the Oakland Police Department’s failure to respond to public records requests, in violation of the California Public Records Act and Oakland Sunshine Ordinance. Journalists Scott Morris, Brian Krans, and Sarah Belle Lin, and Michael Katz and Oakland Privacy sued the city last year. Under state law, government agencies must respond to a request within 10 days, either by handing over the records or explaining what laws allow them to withhold or redcat parts of them.. Agencies can extend the 10-day period for another 14 days in “unusual circumstances.” But in Oakland, thousands of requests went unanswered, some languishing for years. A Public Ethics Commission study found that many people struggled to get copies of their own police reports for insurance claims. According to Morris, the settlement requires OPD to clear its backlog of requests in six months and release all records sought under SB 1421—police shootings, use of force causing great bodily injury, dishonesty, and sexual assault cases—in 15 months with rolling productions every two weeks. It also sets benchmarks for releasing crime and tow reports, and requires the police chief and city attorney present a progress report to City Council within four months. Because the case was filed as a class action, the settlement will include everyone with a pending request submitted after Aug. 19, 2017, which is outstanding for more than 20 days at the time of the preliminary settlement approval. Alameda County Superior Court will retain jurisdiction over the case until OPD can show it cleared the backlog and is in compliance with 80% of new requests. The city also agrees to pay $127,500 to cover attorney fees and costs. In closed session on Oct. 7, City Council unanimously approved the settlement. Full disclosure: Morris, Krans, and Belle Lin have contributed articles to The Oaklandside. 

Rent control for RVs: As previously reported by The Oaklandside, in a rare expansion of rent control in Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf and councilmembers Sheng Thao and Dan Kalb have proposed including RVs under the city’s eviction protection and rent control policies. The proposal is part of a package of policies to legalize more types of housing and loosen rules around mobile, manufactured, and modular homes.

Annual report: Under City Council rules, delegates representing the city on regional and local boards each year must provide a report to the City Council about major issues, activities and high-stakes negotiations and decisions before their respective boards. On Tuesday, the council will hear several short presentations, from city leaders representing the Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program; Alameda County Transportation Commission; Alameda County Waste Management Authority; Association of Bay Area Governments; East Bay Community Energy Authority; East Bay Economic Development Alliance; Metropolitan Transportation Commission; Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority; Oakland International Airport Noise Management Forum and the Youth Ventures Joint Powers Authority.

David DeBolt reported on City Hall and policing for The Oaklandside. He spent 12 years working for daily newspapers in the Bay Area, including on the Peninsula and Solano County. He joined the Bay Area News Group in 2012 where he covered a variety of beats, most recently as a senior breaking news reporter. During his time at BANG, DeBolt covered Oakland City Hall, the Raiders stadium saga and the A’s search for a new ballpark, as well as the Oakland Police Department and police reform efforts. He was part of the East Bay Times staff honored with the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for coverage of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire.