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Tenant Rights Movement Wins New Law in Oakland

A Step Towards Healthy Housing for Oakland’s  Tenants
By Robbie Clark

ACPHD staff member speaking on the health impacts of displacement. Photo courtesy of APCHDOn November 5, 2014, the Oakland City Council approved the Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO), a landmark policy victory that will protect thousands of Oakland’s tenants from landlord harassment.
The TPO resulted from the work that Causa Justa::Just Cause (CJJC) has been doing with the Alameda County Public Health Department’s (ACPHD) Place Matters program. It was a key policy solution highlighted in CJJC’s Development Without Displacement report released earlier this year. (See

Dan Kalb, councilmember for District 1, sponsored the ordinance, which was approved by five out of eight councilmembers last November.

The TPO is a major win for the Bay Area tenants’ rights movement and a critical step forward in ensuring that Oakland’s longtime residents are not displaced by new development. It’s part of a growing tenant justice movement, which includes establishing a rent cap and limiting rent increase pass-throughs for Oakland’s tenants. It was also the first tenant protection policy to be approved in Oakland in more than a decade. Previous protections, such as the rent stabilization program and just cause evictions, only applied to tenants in units built before 1983. The TPO extends to all rental units built up until 2014, with the exception of owner-occupied buildings and nonprofit-owned housing.

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Gentrification is Making Us Sick

Envisioning Healthy Development without Displacement
By Zoë Levitt

Photo courtesy of CJJC

The Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) has witnessed the health consequences of gentrification for years. As Oakland neighborhoods have become less affordable and housing resources have decreased, the health threats have increased for the county’s most vulnerable residents. Case managers in ACPHD’s home visiting programs have heard numerous stories of low-income clients being threatened with eviction if they complain about housing conditions that contribute to asthma and other health issues.[1] Many of our clients have been forced into areas where services are less accessible and still others have been pushed into homelessness—a devastating scenario for health.

Gentrification and displacement have also come up repeatedly in the work of Place Matters, a community-centered local policy initiative of ACPHD.* This initiative was built on the recognition that the places where we live critically shape our health. Social inequities drive health inequities,[2] and policies and institutions are largely responsible for the vastly unequal conditions faced by people based on race, income, and geography. Over the years, it has become clear that while Place Matters and our community partners were successfully engaging in housing, land use, and transportation policy to improve health, gentrification was undermining those efforts by displacing longtime residents and preventing them from benefitting from neighborhood and city-level policy change.

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Who Gets to Live Near Transit?

Latino Residents Battle New Condo Development
By Dyan Ruiz and Joseph Smooke

Plaza 16 protest ©2014 Dyan Ruiz

On a blazing hot Saturday afternoon, several hundred people marched through the streets of San Francisco’s Mission District as part of a growing movement against a developer’s plans for condo buildings at one of the Bay Area’s busiest transit hubs. The proposed development of two 10-story and one five-story buildings is on the plaza at 16th and Mission streets, which has an entrance to a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. BART is a public transit system of heavy rail and subways that connect San Francisco with cities in the East Bay, such as Oakland, and northern San Mateo County. The protest on October 4, 2014 was organized by Our Mission No Eviction and the Plaza 16 Coalition.

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Democracy vs. Development Oakland Wins a Round

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor

Lake Merritt © Oakland Convention and Visitors Bureau Oakland has always had a decidedly mixed relationship to its waterways. The city retains one of the largest working shipping ports in the nation but elsewhere along its extended waterfront, the East Bay’s gateway city has largely neglected its shoreline. That longtime neglect is more than made up by Oakland’s care for its most popular attraction, Lake Merritt. Created at the same time as the city itself, the lake was carved out of a fetid, marshy tidal pool. Today it is the home of a string of pleasant lawns, walking and jogging tracks, and the nation’s oldest wild bird habitat, the place where Oakland residents go to relax, and where they bring out-of-towners to show off. The lakeshore could be a prime spot for high-rise residential development butting up to the edge of the water. But over the years, the city and its public and politicians have fiercely protected both the view from the lake and public access to its environs, refusing to give in to the box-in builders. It is one of Oakland’s greatest success stories.

Six years ago, Oakland residents decided to extend that preservation success all the way out to the bayshore waterfront. But the initial aftermath of that effort showed that even where communities take affirmative steps to set aside open space parkland and waterways, the attempts to subvert that set-aside to private, commercial use can be both enormous and insidious.

Lake Merritt empties into the San Francisco Bay waters through the 3,000 foot long Lake Merritt Channel, a lovely but poorly-named little creek, much-loved by ducks and other waterfowl, bordered along some of its stretches by grassy banks and shadetrees. But many decades ago the channel was cut off from the lake by a high-speed throughway, so that only a spelunking adventure through an underground passage of uncertain safety makes it possible to walk from the lake to the channel.

Public Money from a Public Vote Expands Park Access
In 2002, in a $198 million municipal bond measure called DD, Oakland residents decided to correct that problem, voting to spend $80 million of the bond money in large part to dismantle the throughway, connect the lake to the channel through a series of bridges and pedestrian walkways, and landscape the channel banks into a more parklike atmosphere. END OF SUMMARY

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The Beat of 24th and Mission

By Christine Joy Ferrer

If you stand at the corner of 24th and Mission in San Francisco and listen closely you can hear its heart beat. Its rhythm echoes from the windows of Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission Theater (DMT). You hear it in the laughter of children dancing and youth bustling. The beat intensifies as you walk up DMT’s stairs with Japanese Taiko drumming and the colorful rhythms of dances from the African Diaspora: Cuban, Haitian, Brazilian, West African. Or maybe, it’s that Vogue and Tone.

Various communities overlap inter-culturally and inter-generationally in this space—drawn together by performances, festivals, and dance that’s accessible to everyone. People hang out in the halls or enjoy the Mission’s warmth on the fire escape. Even when classes have ended for the evening, their brilliant fire stays lit during the booming late night rehearsals of Ramón Ramos Alayo’s Alayo Dance Company or Allan Frias’ Mind Over Matter.

In the interviews on the following pages, DMT’s Krissy Keefer, artistic director of Dance Brigade and Grrrl Brigade, and Stella Adelman, theater/adult program manager, voice their opinions about the current social and economic conditions in San Francisco’s Mission district and DMT’s commitment to its vibrant community at the intersection of arts and politics.

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Interview with Krissy Keefer, DMT Artistic Director of Dance Brigade and Grrrl Brigade

Dance Mission Theater's Krissy Keefer voices her opinions and concerns about the current social and economic conditions in San Francisco’s Mission district and DMT’s commitment to its vibrant community at the intersection of arts and politics.

Interview with Krissy Keefer

Christine Joy Ferrer: Tell me a little bit about who you are, and your role at Dance Brigade’s Dance Mission Theater.

Krissy Keefer: I am an artist, an activist, and a mother. I’ve been running Dance Mission since 1998, but I’ve been an artist my entire adult life. A group of women [and I] formed the Wallflower Order Dance Collective in Eugene, Oregon and performed all over the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Canada doing very bold feminist dance theater. That’s a 40-year career at this point. I’ve been creating social justice art for nearly all of my adult life. I run Dance Mission with those principles and out of a strong feminist belief about equity and fairness and multiculturalism. I really try to dig into the hearts and minds of struggling people everywhere in order to create the kind of art I make.

Foreclosure Struggle Continues

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac demonstrations.   Courtesy of Causa Justa::Just Cause [2]

Campaign Wins Foreclosure Program in Oakland, Concessions in LA, Sets Sites on National Change

By Robbie Clarke

"I am taking an arrest to call attention to my demand for community control of housing,” says Nell Myhand. “As Ella Baker said about the courageous young people who sat in at lunch counters in the segregated South during the Civil Rights Movement to challenge unjust law, ‘it’s bigger than a hamburger.’” who went to jail fighting for their homes and for the homes of millions of other victims of the foreclosure crisis.

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