Oakland City Hall and Frank Ogawa Plaza. Credit: Pete Rosos

Sign up for our free newsletter

Free Oakland news, written by Oaklanders, delivered straight to your inbox three times a week.

It’s the final day of City Council meetings this year, and you know what that means: a flurry of activity and council businesses to squeeze in before the new year. Expect a marathon on Tuesday, with two meetings scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. 

Here are some of the items before the council: 

At the 9:30 a.m. meeting: 

COVID-19 vax: The council is considering an emergency ordinance that would require everyone to show proof before entering restaurants, bars, coffee houses, clubs and banquet halls; entertainment venues and museums; gyms, fitness centers, and yoga studios; senior adult care facilities, and public libraries, City Hall, and large indoor events at city and privately-owned facilities. Written by District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb, the law would require adults to show a form of ID that matches a vaccination card, while children ages 12-17 are not required to provide an ID but must show proof of inoculation. People who have a doctor-verified note and a recent negative test are exempted, and a recent negative test can get you into City Hall, libraries and dental offices. Although 84% of Oaklanders are vaccinated, officials are worried about the spread of the delta and omicron variants. Other cities like San Francisco have implemented similar rules.

Homekey projects: The state’s COVID-19 Homekey program gives grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations to buy existing buildings and convert them into permanent supportive housing. Oakland got $37 million from the program last year, and now staff wants to apply for up to $120 million, enough to fund four to six new projects. The proposal coming before the council this week includes transitional housing for formerly incarcerated men and youth, hotel acquisitions in North and East Oakland, and more.

RVs and tiny homes: Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan is proposing two new RV “safe parking” sites in East Oakland, on 66th Avenue and by I-880 at High Street. The city would manage these sites and charge residents a sliding-scale fee. She’s also proposing a new tiny-home program on a privately owned lot on Wood Street, the site of an existing city RV program.

At the 1:30 p.m. meeting: 

ADUs in the hills: A controversial ban on backyard cottages in parts of the Oakland hills is finally headed to council. For months, the Oakland Fire Department has pushed for a prohibition on building more “accessory dwelling units” in the fire-prone area, over concerns that more residents and cars would obstruct evacuation. Opponents of the ban say that ADUs are an important solution to the housing crisis. The item coming Tuesday is a compromise: a scaled-down version of a full ban. 

Police PR cut: The Oakland Police Department currently has a public relations team consisting of two sworn police officers and a strategic communications manager. Councilmember Kaplan wants to reduce OPD’s PIO unit by about $493,000, and reallocate the money toward police patrols of East Oakland, where a large percentage of the city’s total shootings and homicides have occurred this year. If approved, the PR unit would be cut from three employees to one. The city spends $247,694 for one of the two sworn police officer PIOs and $245,795 for a strategic communications manager, which is a civilian position, according to Kaplan’s memo to council. 

OPD staffing: The council will discuss ways to address gun violence. Councilmember Loren Taylor is proposing council ask city administration to return in January with a recommendation to hire five non-sworn criminal investigations workers, invest in surveillance cameras, and unfreeze eight positions to fully staff OPD’s Ceasefire unit. Taylor is calling for OPD to double its homicide clearance rate, create a clearance rate dashboard and a staffing plan to increase the number of sworn OPD officers to 800. The City Council will also adopt a resolution to honor the lives of homicide victims. As of Monday, police had investigated 133 killings in Oakland, the highest number of homicides since 2006. 

Biz relief: Businesses targeted by burglars might soon see some relief. The council is looking at ways to defer or waive city-issued loans, offer tax rebates and go after state grants to help cannabis and East Oakland businesses that were damaged or lost products during a recent string of mass burglaries and robberies. Over one weekend in November, about 20 cannabis businesses were hit, causing an estimated $5 million in losses and damages. 

Agendas for both the 9:30 a.m and 1:30 p.m. meetings can be found here. And here’s a helpful guide to watching and speaking at council meetings

David DeBolt reports 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.

Natalie Orenstein covers housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. She was previously on staff at Berkeleyside, where her extensive reporting on the legacy of school desegregation received recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists NorCal and the Education Writers Association. Natalie’s reporting has also appeared in The J Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, and she’s written about public policy for a number of research institutes and think tanks. Natalie lives in Oakland, grew up in Berkeley, and has only left her beloved East Bay once, to attend Pomona College.