Oakland, CA - Mayor Sheng Thao delivered her first State of the City Address as the 51st Mayor of Oakland before the City Council, city administration, and members of the public. Mayor Thao laid out a clear vision for Oakland with an agenda focused on community safety, homelessness and affordable housing, economic opportunity, and clean and healthy neighborhoods.
“Making Oakland safer for children, families, businesses, and visitors is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the only thing on my mind when I fall asleep at night. Community safety is Oakland’s top priority,” said Mayor Sheng Thao. “Oakland will aggressively pursue a comprehensive community safety strategy by investing in a more robust and accountable police department, strengthening our violence prevention initiatives, and utilizing technology to modernize our investigations and disrupt criminal networks. We can and will do better, and together, we will fight for the resources we need to promote a strong, safe, and thriving Oakland.”
Mayor Thao is focused on implementing a comprehensive approach to community safety which supports a robust police department, strengthens violence prevention programs, and leverages technology. During Mayor Thao’s first ten months in office, she laid the groundwork for her approach and has taken action to make Oakland safer by:
- Budgeting for six new police academies, which represents an increase from four academy classes in the previous year.
- Restored police foot patrols to key corridors and then expanded these units citywide.
- Worked with Governor Gavin Newsom to bring California Highway Patrol officers to Oakland to help with traffic enforcement. This deployment has resulted in 36 arrests, 9 DUI arrests, 24 vehicles impounded, and 52 stolen vehicles recovered.
- Expanded Oakland’s investment in the Mobile Assistance Community Responders (MACRO) program. MACRO deploys trained mental health professionals instead of armed officers to non-violent mental health and non-criminal incidents.
In the coming year, Mayor Thao’s administration will enhance Oakland’s comprehensive community safety strategy by:
- Recruiting new dispatchers, taking deliberate steps to retain veteran dispatchers, and replacing our antiquated Computer Aided Dispatch system in order to improve 911 answer times.
- Adding new community ambassadors in the busiest business corridors throughout the city and new security personnel, security cameras, and other additional infrastructure will also be in place to enhance public safety in time for the holidays.
- Installing 300 new automated license plate readers (ALPR) throughout Oakland to collect evidence more quickly, pinpoint leads and identify vehicles, even those with stolen plates or no plates.
- Enforcing traffic safety by deploying cameras to enforce speed limits. Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB645 into law, allowing Oakland and a handful of cities to implement this program.
- Strengthening Operation Ceasefire, which is Oakland’s evidence-based strategy for reducing community violence. Oakland has enlisted the help of a nationally recognized consultant, the CPSC, to provide a clear picture of what is working well and what can be improved.
Over the next year, Oakland will build on these community safety investments, resulting in more police officers on the street improving response times, more 911 dispatchers improving answer times, and new technologies that will support intelligence-led investigations that target and disrupt organized crime rings.
Homelessness and Affordable Housing
Mayor Thao’s approach to the Bay Area’s homelessness and affordable housing crisis aggressively invests in affordable housing and protections for renters to help prevent homelessness. Oakland cannot do this alone, and a regional approach is necessary.
In the months ahead, Mayor Thao will take the lead in organizing with other Bay Area mayors to place a regional housing measure on the November 2024 ballot to expand the construction of affordable housing throughout the region. The blueprint for this effort can be found in Oakland’s aggressive approach to affordable housing. Under Mayor Thao’s leadership, the City of Oakland has created a healthy affordable housing pipeline which includes:
- $200 million for creating and acquiring affordable housing units over the next two years, representing the largest investment in affordable housing.
- $53 million in grant funding from the State of California to construct 1,000 new affordable housing units.
- Preservation of 134 affordable units through Oaklands’s Acquisition and Conversion to Affordable Housing program.
In total, Oakland has begun the process of building or preserving more than 1400 units of new affordable housing in our city. Over the next year, Oakland will break ground on over 615 units.
Oakland’s approach to homelessness is focused on coordinating critical care and wrap-around services to help unhoused residents find a path off the streets. Oakland pursues this compassionate approach while promoting clean, safe, and accessible public spaces for all to use. This year, Mayor Thao worked with the Oakland City Council to secure the Rapid Response Homeless Housing Acquisition Fund funding to help unhoused residents into safe shelters.
In April, Oakland closed Northern California’s largest homeless encampment on Wood Street. City staff offered care and critical support services to every unhoused resident, and 85% accepted services. City workers removed more than 800 tons of hazardous debris from the site so construction could begin on 169 affordable housing units.
Clean and Healthy Neighborhoods
Mayor Thao believes clean and healthy neighborhoods are safer neighborhoods and has directed her administration to develop and implement new strategies to achieve this outcome. In the next year, the Mayor Thao’s administration will launch Oakland Fresh. This initiative brings together multiple city departments to tow abandoned cars, paint curbs, fix signs, clean up illegal dumping, as well as deploy inspectors looking for blighted properties in coordinated operations.
Over the past year, Oakland has invested in cleaning, maintaining, and repairing its streets. These investments include:
- $106 million to build, repair, and upgrade parks, recreation facilities, libraries, and storm drains. This investment includes $50 million to repave and repair Oakland’s streets as a part of Oakland’s 5-year paving plan beginning in East Oakland, with 10 miles of streets set to be repaved in the next six months.
- $85 million in funding to calm traffic, improve intersection safety, and provide safe routes near schools and in business corridors including International Boulevard, Telegraph, Fruitvale, and 14th Street.
- Monthly clean-up blitzes of major transportation corridors by Oakland Public Works.
- Increased access to convenient, free, and lower-cost services to dispose of unwanted material and large items for every Oakland resident.
- Increased the Neighborhood Bulky Block Party Program brings free large disposal services into neighborhoods.
- Expansion of Oakland’s illegal dumping surveillance program by adding cameras and license plate readers in critical hot spots.
The City of Oakland must focus on investments that will help increase economic opportunity equitably and sustainably to grow the pie for all Oaklanders. Mayor Thao is working with all levels of government and business, labor, and community leaders to:
- Create more green jobs by working with the Port of Oakland on greening and electrification of port facilities. Last week, Oakland was chosen to be part of the California Hydrogen Hub along with the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, making Oakland even more central to a clean, green energy economy.
- Cut the red tape and streamline permitting to help make it easier to start a business, build housing, or plan an event in Oakland.
- Develop an Oakland Film Council to facilitate and encourage filmmakers to produce their movies, TV shows, and commercials in Oakland.
- Launch Five after Five, a pilot program to allow bar and restaurant customers to park in the city’s secure 19th Street Garage from 5:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. for only $5, Thursday through Saturday. This initiative will support Oakalnd’s nightlife, concert venues, and weekend shopping.
- Activate Oakland program that provides small grants to individuals, groups, and businesses to help “activate” our public spaces, attract more foot traffic, shoppers, events, and revenue, and create more inviting and welcoming experiences in our commercial districts. Oakland received more than 700 applications for grants.
- Continue to recruit businesses to put roots down in Oakland. Recently, PG&E moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Oakland. Along with workers relocating from Concord and San Ramon, more than 7,000 PG&E employees will make Oakland their home base. Akash Systems, a black-owned, advanced manufacturer of semiconductors is planning to expand in West Oakland, creating up to 500 new jobs–most of which won’t require advanced degrees.
Mayor Sheng Thao concluded her State of the City Address with a call to action for all Oaklanders to draw upon their mutual love for the Town to fight for Oakland and deliver results together.