Lake Merritt Boulevard Apartments Rendering

According to a confidential legal opinion written by Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker and obtained by the East Bay Express, the Oakland City Council’s agreement to sell the East Lake development site at the corner of East 12th Street and 2nd Avenue for the development of a controversial 23-story building with 298 market-rate apartments violates state law.

From the Express:

“Parker wrote in her February opinion that Oakland is required to offer the land, called the 12th Street Remainder Parcel, to local government agencies that plan to build affordable housing and to affordable housing developers before soliciting bids for the construction of market-rate housing on the site. And regardless of who develops the 12th Street Remainder Parcel, if the project contains more than ten units, a minimum of 15 percent of the units on the site must be affordable to low-income households. Neither of these legal requirements have been followed by the city council and city staffers, despite the fact that the city attorney explained the law to council members five months ago in a closed session meeting.”

Oakland’s City Council, which did not respond to any inquires from the Express, is slated to ratify the land deal with developer UrbanCore this evening.

According to Parker’s opinion, any interested affordable housing developer, or possibly even an ordinary Oakland taxpayer, would have standing to bring suit to block the conveyance of the parcel.  But once the parcel is conveyed, the transfer could not be invalidated and it’s unclear if any damages could be claimed (other than to cover a prevailing plaintiff’s legal fees).

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by AnalyzeVotes

    Did Barbara Parker leak her “confidential” legal opinion to internet? I am curious what is the penalty to the city if what Parker said is correct.

    Smells like a political fight.

  2. Posted by Sierrajeff

    “despite the fact that the city attorney explained the law to council members five months ago in a closed session meeting”

    Love it. Attorney says “this would be illegal”. Council does it anyway. Sounds like they all should be impeached.

    • Posted by wonkster

      Sound like a board meeting at Uber to me…maybe the City Council is being “disruptive”

      • Posted by Matt in Uptown

        ^nom for best reply award.

  3. Posted by Bertie Anglis

    Politicians pushing through a deal they KNOW to be illegal because they desperately need the money to close a budget shortfall? I’d like to say I’m shocked. Sadly I’m not.

  4. Posted by JayJay

    Minimum of 15% should be affordable housing. It’s a shame city council opted for affordable housing off-site.

    • Posted by Matt in Uptown

      Why? Oakland is affordable. Where else can you buy a 3/1 for under $350k? Where else can you rent a 2/1 for under $2000/month? Why do we need to subsidize more affordable housing on super expensive land when the city is affordable?

      • Posted by Larry

        What planet is your Oakland on? I just had to move from my apartment in Oakland because the rent went to $2700 for a tiny one-bedroom.

        • Posted by Justin

          So what you’re saying is that you were either in a condo or in an apartment that is not subject to rent control. Oakland is getting more expensive because there is a lack of supply where people want to live. The major problem is that it is still cheaper than San Francisco and other more desirable places which also refuse to build new units. Nimbys united around the bay…

          • Posted by Larry

            Oh I see. Oakland is just a poor substitute for where everyone really wants to be – the “more desirable places”. I keep forgetting that. Note to self – try to see the world from the perspective of a San Franciscan.

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            Actually, it’s from the perspective of the market, which prices S.F. real estate (residential sales, residential leases, commercial leases, etc.) markedly higher than comparable properties in Oakland. You don’t have to be defensive about it, it’s just a fact.

        • Posted by Matt in Uptown

          Larry, right now in Oakland there are 46 homes for sale that have at least 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom asking under $350k. There are about 40 residences for rent, right now in Oakland, that are at least 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom renting for under $2000/month. Could you let us know where your former tiny one bedroom is located?

          • Posted by Larry

            And nothing wrong with any of them, I am sure. And all those listings are totally legit – meaning that you won’t be quoted any other rental price when you actually go to view the property and hear “oh, that one is taken, but we do have this other one for $500 more, and if you want parking…” Ask anyone who has had to search for a rental recently.

            And as for my old place, go to the 901 Jefferson website. “This is where people want to live”, it says. The prices quoted do NOT include parking and other charges.

  5. Posted by Some guy

    #%*^$& activists standing in the way of Progress. Gentrify this craphole city already, it’s the new Brooklyn.

    • Posted by x

      no words. what is wrong with you?

      • Posted by Lloyd

        If they allow low income housing, I am going to quit my job, smoke weed and play video games all day at my new pad overlooking Lake Merritt!!!!

  6. Posted by Some guy

    If you read the opinion closely it says that the law in question does not specify any penalties for noncompliance. And, since even a preferred entity is required to pay FMV for the property, there is no basis for a PE to claim monetary damages, i.e. to sue because they were not offerred the property at a discount.

    I bet this is exactly why the board went ahead in secret, because they know the law has no teeth — and no provision to undo a signed, sealed deal. The only questions now, methinks, are 1) is the deal really signed, sealed, delivered? and 2) what the political fallout will be if it is. (Or isn’t.)

  7. Posted by Sutro_Tower

    Legal issues aside, can we take a moment to digest how humdrum the architecture is on such a prominent site by the Lake? For a project that is going to be charging market rate prices the design and materials suggested look like it was dug out of the budget bin. It’s almost as if they knew what they were proposing wasn’t legal so they created something forgettable that could get shuffled through the process without contention.

    • Posted by ElitistPig

      Agreed, looks like Miami copypasta.

  8. Posted by JayJay

    Let’s add 15-25% affordable housing on-site and call it a day.

Comments are closed.

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