Voter Guide-Oakland Measures for November 2022

lady shouting in megaphone to vote clipart

This is a follow up blog to my last voter guide on mayor, city council and school board races. It does not include state propositions, a whole other category of research and endorsement. The city has put a record number of initiatives on the ballot-7-plus one that the zoo gathered signatures for and one from the school district reupping an existing parcel tax.

Measure Q-YES

This fulfills an obscure state requirement that the city must declare its desire to build or assist in building 13k of affordable units. It does not asks for funds, just asserts the need for the housing that may be built within city limits.

Measure R-YES

Changes job titles in the City Charter to include gender neutral descriptions such as “firemen” to “firefighters” to encourage women and non-binary residents to apply for positions for which gender is irrelevant. It may sound trivial but it, in fact, goes a long way to changing the perspective of society over who is qualified to hold positions of authority that residents depend on.

Measure S-YES

This initiative authorizes legal guardians who are residents of the school district but not citizens of the US to be able to vote in school board elections in which their children’s needs will be considered. Let’s encourage parent/guardian participation in the governence of our school district.

Measure T-YES!

Many surrounding cities had already adjusted their business tax rates so that corporations making the highest profits pay a higher tax rate than struggling small businesses. Oakland formed a blue ribbon commission to research the need and the means to propose this progressive tax structure and came up with a modest proposal that will still bring in upwards of $20 million a year for projects, programs and staffing that our city desperately needs. But our business tax rate will still be lower than that of neighboring cities so warnings that it will discourage corporations from staying in Oakland are unfounded.

Measure U-YES

This bond measure continues the good work of Measure KK but expands the percentage of the bonds to be spent building affordable housing. The need for new or refurbished affordable housing to be built is as undeniable as is the need to continue repaving Oakland’s roads and updating its fire stations and other public buildings.

During the worst of the pandemic, most repaving work stopped but overall repaving has happened at 3 times the rate it was before the establishment of the bond, So be patient, if this passes the Department of Transportation will get to your street. This ballot measure requires a 2/3rds vote so please support it.

Measure V-YES!

This measure expands our Just Cause eviction protections to those who are renting units built since the original measure, which protected most tenants in dwellings occupied before 1996. This expansion covers more recent buildings except for the first 10 years of its occupancy. This is not rent control and tenants can be evicted for eleven separate reasons including criminal activity or violating their lease.

It also protects people who reside in RVs or have not signed a new lease for whatever reason. More importantly, it protects school children from eviction during the school year, something that as a former counselor at the Adult School, I saw happen all to often.

Measure W-YES

Popularly known as Democracy Dollars, this measure assigns up to four $25 vouchers per voter to donate to the candidate of their choice. The proponents believe that since most of the folks who donate to candidates come from higher income households and that 3/4 of candidates who raise the most money end up winning that this measure could help grass roots candidates run and win. It’s a bold initiative that has been tried in a few other cities.

It’s costly which is it’s only drawback but until we can change the laws and courts which promote big election spending, it’s the best choice if we want fair representation. Btw, it includes new rules against former electeds acting as lobbyists.

Measure X-OKAY

This measure, originally from Dan Kalb, is called the Good Government measure since it imposes term limits on councilmembers-3 four year terms starting after it passes-and other reforms. It will require two council hearings before a measure can be okayed to go on the ballot [two ways to do that-council presented measure or a public petition-backed measure]. It will do a few other things like make council abstentions no votes instead of non-votes and add staffing to the city auditor’s office.

Here’s what it will not do though it was part of the original proposal: it will not make the city administrator accountable to the policy makers. In our form of city government, the city council makes policy. And while the mayor proposes a budget, the council adjusts that and then passes the final. The mayor, however, picks the city administrator and absolutely every council decision must make it through the mayor and city administrator’s mine-fields-of-obstruction.

In a complex example when the new Police Commission attempted to hire an attorney to keep them independent as police department watchdogs; the mayor and admin asserted that they had to use the same attorney that the police department uses to interpret city ordinances much less amend them. Then, a number of years ago this mayor tried to cut parks maintenance workers in East Oakland. When a hue and cry went up, the city administrator assured us no one would lose their job because despite the council budgeting for those necessary positions, admin had declined to hire so no problem to cut those positions! Really?

Some of us had grown tired of not seeing the council’s policies implemented or understanding why necessary work never got done, and demanded that the council be given the opportunity of firing the city administrator for cause with a supermajority vote. This means it couldn’t be done on a whim but that there was recourse if the mayor and administrator just refused to follow the duly passed ordinances which under this mayor, has happened frequently.

However, powerful groups like Spur would like the mayor and the administrator to have more power leaving very little for the council to do and they objected to this change. We did not mount a campaign to keep that section in so now you will not see or receive that choice and things will go on as before, until at least, we have a new mayor.

Measure Y-YES!

This is a modest request from Oakland’s renowned zoo to help make them whole after all the losses of the Pandemic when they had to close for months. At one point they feared they might have to close permanently.

I want to be very clear here. There are groups that don’t like zoos, folks who don’t like taxes and organizations which don’t like parcel taxes in particular. And some of these folks have a knee jerk objection to anything the zoo proposes.

As to the first. Our zoo years ago went from almost losing accreditation to now being acknowledged by PETA as being a good zoo with a worldwide reputation as a place of animal rescue and conservation protection to a truly humane habitat where wild things can roam happily. That’s one of the reasons it expanded so that the larger and smaller critters who call it home can be safe and comfortable, not penned in as entertainment but live as inteded.

As for folks who don’t like taxes, well the zoo brings in lots of tourists and folks from neighboring cities to see what Oakland has to offer. Their funding provides education to zoologists, vets who work with wildlife and others who study these connections. They rescue, they train humans to understand other animals and they provide free tickets to Oakland school children. They provide a world class experience to Oakland families who want to commune with our animal siblings who teach us so much.

For those who don’t like parcel taxes, get over it, it’s less than $6 a month for something that’s special not only to us but to the world of dwindling animal habitat and resources. There are exemptions for seniors and low income homeowners. While I am both, I don’t mind paying for something this special, for all of us.

Oh, to the argument that the Conservation Society of California is some sort of private corporation, then what is the Audubon Society which supports this measure or any other non-profit advocacy group. The city still owns the land but could not keep up with funding needs {this tax would also include fire prevention measures in those dry hills} so spun it off to a non-profit to run. If they cannot raise these funds, they may be forced to raise prices rather than offer discounts to low income families-most places that cater to families have gotten pretty expensive over the last decade. Please support this wonderful Oakland facility. Can’t we have nice things?

Measure H, OUSD-YES

This parcel tax from OUSD continues the previous measure’s $120 annual parcel tax which according to the Oaklandside, its “goals were to decrease the high school dropout rate, increase graduation rates, boost students’ ability to succeed in college, and reduce disparities in achievement. By many measures, the program has shown success.”

One of the most popular provisions is paid internships which provide entree to jobs, skills, expertise, not to mention, connections that many students cannot afford to take because most are unpaid.

According to Lailand Huen, a Specialist in the Office of Equity at OUSD, “One of the best spent measures from the previous Measure N. Working in OUSD, I see those taxpayer dollars spent well everyday to support real pathways for students.  The student internships are critical for career experience pathways, making a huge and tangible difference for thousands of students’ lives and futures, creating equitable access to local industries. Our OUSD Linked Learning team has really done a great job building meaningful pathways.”

“Since its predecessor passed in 2014, graduation rates have gone up 12 percentage points, and for African-American students the increase is 17.5 percentage points reducing the equity gap. It’s endorsed by OEA, county Labor council, ACDems, Sierra Club, Oakland NAACP, Barbara Lee, Tony Thurmond, Nancy Skinner, Mia Bonta, Buffy Wicks, and many many others.,” reports Director Sam Davis.

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Ballot Measure Letter Designations

CITY OF OAKLANDMeasure Q – City Of Oakland
Percentage Passing: 50% + 1
Shall the measure to authorize the City of Oakland to develop, construct, or acquire, or assist the development of, up to 13,000 low rent residential units in social housing projects within the City for the purpose of providing affordable rental housing be adopted?
Measure R – City Of Oakland
Percentage Passing: 50% + 1
Shall the measure to amend the City Charter to replace gender-specific language with gender neutral language, such as replacing words like “fireman” with “firefighters” and using gender-neutral pronouns in referring to City officers and staff, recognizing that women and non-binary persons as well as men are qualified for and hold such positions, and to avoid gender stereotyping and discrimination, and promote inclusivity be adopted?
Measure S 
– City Of Oakland
Percentage Passing: 50% + 1
Shall the measure to amend the City Charter to allow the City Council by adopting an ordinance, to authorize voting by non-citizen residents, who are the parents, legal guardians, or legally recognized caregivers of a child, for the Office of Oakland School Board Director if they are otherwise eligible to vote under state and local law be adopted?
Measure T – City Of Oakland
Percentage Passing: 50% + 1
Shall the measure amending Oakland’s business tax rates to create a progressive rate structure that would (1) impose the highest rates on the highest grossing businesses, (2) increase Oakland’s annual tax revenue by an estimated $20,900,000, and (3) generate approximately $124,000,000 in total annual revenue for municipal services by imposing business tax rates of .05% to .55% of gross receipts, and other rates as stated in the measure, be adopted?
Measure U – City Of Oakland
Percentage Passing: 2/3
Shall the measure to improve public safety and invest in Oakland by creating affordable housing for Oaklanders, increasing housing for homeless Oaklanders, repaving streets to remove potholes, improving traffic/pedestrian safety, and updating fire stations and other public facilities, by issuing $850,000,000 in general obligation bonds, raising approximately $85,000,000 annually while bonds are outstanding at the rate of $0.071 per $100 ($71 per $100,000) of assessed value, with independent oversight and annual audits be adopted?
Measure V – City Of Oakland
Percentage Passing: 50% + 1
Shall the Measure amending the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance to: (1) prohibit no-fault evictions of children and educators during the school year; (2) extend eviction protections to tenants in recreational vehicles (RVs), tiny homes on wheels, and newly constructed units except during the first 10 years after issuance of the certificate of occupancy; (3) remove failure to sign a new lease as grounds for eviction; and (4) make other clarifying amendments, be adopted?
Measure W – City Of Oakland
Percentage Passing 50% + 1
Shall the Measure amending the Oakland Municipal Code and City Charter to establish resident public financing for candidate election campaigns, increase transparency regarding independent spending in City elections, further restrict former city officials from acting as lobbyists, and provide additional resources to the Public Ethics Commission for implementation be adopted?
Measure X – City Of Oakland
Percentage Passing: 50% + 1
Shall a measure to amend the Charter to, among other things, establish Councilmember term limits, require two hearings before Council places certain measures on the ballot; count Councilmember abstentions and absences as “no” votes in determining whether Mayor may break a tie; provide Public Ethics Commission discretion in setting Councilmember salaries; authorize the Commission to set City Attorney and Auditor salaries; and add and detail duties and provide minimum staffing for the Auditor, be adopted?

Measure Y – Oakland (initiative)
Percentage Passing: 50% + 1
Shall the measure to amend Oakland’s Municipal Code to fund Oakland Zoo operations, staffing, maintenance and capital improvements, including but not limited to animal care and rehabilitation, educational and conservation programs, fire prevention, accessibility, and visitor services, by imposing an annual $68 parcel tax for single-family parcels, and other parcels as specified, for 20 years, raising approximately $12,000,000 annually with exemptions for low-income households and others, and citizen oversight, be adopted?

Measure H – Oakland USD (OUSD)
Percentage Passing: 66.6667%
To continue to: reduce dropout rates; prepare Oakland students for college and 21st century careers; attract and retain highly qualified teachers; and provide mentoring, tutoring, and counseling; shall the Oakland Unified School District measure renewing the $120 parcel tax for 14 years, without increasing the initial tax rate, adding annual cost-of-living adjustments, exemptions for seniors and specified low-income individuals, and independent oversight and audits, generating at least $11.5 million annually that the State cannot take away be adopted?

2 thoughts on “Voter Guide-Oakland Measures for November 2022

  1. Thanks for posting. Please be sure to repost this again as we get closer to November. Vote by mail ballots come out in October so this will be helpful to see again.

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