While OUSD sits on empty land, and empty and half empty buildings it was encouraging to see BART actually do something with its property for the community, putting forward plans to build 525 units of market rate housing and 242 units of affordable housing in West Oakland. This is a lesson that OUSD could learn from and should encode into policy.
The basic idea that public land should be put to public uses with real public input shouldn’t be controversial. It is exactly the policy that the Board will be voting on Thursday November 12th. As a member of the public and founder of the State of Black Education in Oakland, I 100% support this policy and hope we can get quick passage and action. (I had a problem with the link but it should be in the agenda found here).
You can read the policy here
A District Poor in Imagination
OUSD is a nearly bankrupt district, not because of its lack of resources, but its lack of imagination and will in using the resources it has. As one of Oakland’s largest landowners, OUSD has many underutilized buildings, several buildings that sit completely empty and scores of acres of undeveloped land. At the same time, we have an unprecedented housing affordability crisis for high needs, youth, families, and staff.
So you have a broke district, sitting on very valuable land, doing nothing with it, while staff, families and our most vulnerable students struggle to keep a roof over their heads. This makes no sense. We should absolutely follow BART’s example, if we can’t find the imagination to lead ourselves.
So here is BART’s plan from the chron.
“The Oakland Planning Commission unanimously approved a huge housing project at the West Oakland BART Station last week, part of the transit agency’s push for more affordable housing near public transportation.
The development at 1451 Seventh St. on BART property, called Mandela Station, features a 320-foot residential tower with 522 market-rate units, 14,350 square feet of retail and 125 parking spaces. It also includes a separate affordable housing project with 240 residential units, 15,944 square feet of retail and 50 parking spaces.”
And while no single project will answer all the housing needs we have, every housing project helps.
Meanwhile OUSD has a multiple sites sitting empty as they have for years, costing the district money in upkeep and creating a blight in some cases in neighborhoods. It is well past time, that we moved past the paralysis of analysis, or the multiple competing agendas that guarantee that absolutely nothing gets done, or just sitting on the status quo and somehow thinking outcomes will change.
Oakland deserves better. This is ultimately the public’s land, and it should be put to public uses. Please support Board policy 7351, which requires OUSD to look at using its property for housing and prioritizes immediate action for unsheltered youth.