Last Friday, Mayor Libby Schaaf released her proposed budget for Oakland’s 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years. The budget, which totals roughly $2.6 billion, includes several new expenditures relevant to real estate development in the city.
Of immediate note is Schaaf’s plan to increase the Planning and Building department’s budget from $29.9 million to $34.2 million in fiscal year 2017-18, and $35.5 million in 2018-19. The funding increase would help the department hire 11 new staff members, who the mayor hopes will help get real estate projects approved for permits and built faster.
Under the proposed plan, the Economic and Workforce Development department (EWD) would receive $27.3 million and $16.1 million in fiscal years 2017-18 and 2018-19. The EWD is responsible for increasing “investment in Oakland in a way that contributes to the growth of the City’s economy, fosters fiscal sustainability, expands job opportunities for all Oakland residents, and enhances the City’s sense of place and quality of life,” according to the department’s mission statement.
Among the EWD’s goals in the upcoming budget cycle will be to negotiate and help implement big development projects, such as the redevelopment of the Oakland Army Base, Oak Knoll, and Coliseum City, among others.
The Housing and Community Department (HCD) will see its budget drop slightly in the 2017-18 fiscal year, going from $17.7 million in 2016-17 to $16.9 million. However, the department will see a slight increase in funding to $17.3 million in 2018-19. The HCD supports organizations that “develop and preserve affordable rental and owner-occupied housing,” and provides “direct assistance to homebuyers and existing homeowners,” according to the department’s mission statement.
In response to the fallout of the Ghost Ship fire in December, where the city was found to have been seriously lacking in its safety inspections of buildings, Schaaf is proposing that the number of fire prevention inspectors in the Fire Department increase from eight to 20 in the next two years.
For residents interested in expressing their thoughts on the budget, City Council members will be holding public budget forums over the next few weeks, with the next being held by Councilman Abel Guillen on May 8. The budget must be approved by the City Council by June 30.
To learn more about the budget, and to find out when and where the next City Council public forums will be held, visit: https://beta.oaklandca.gov/issues/budget.