Establish a City Trust Fund that can receive payments from the Equitable Development Performance Point in the Zoning Code. This fund should be managed by the Department of City Planning in partnership with a community board that makes recommendations on investments that benefit all of Oakland.

  • Discussions throughout the planning process consistently show that creating affordable housing and improving access to local jobs are top priorities for new development.
  • Research into development in similar innovation neighborhoods and analysis of recent development in Oakland presented to the community as part of the two workshop events shows that future projects on the Fifth and Forbes Avenue corridor, Boulevard of the Allies, and other locations in Oakland should allow for significant community benefit investments while remaining feasible.
  • Recent community benefits agreements have been successful in securing investments for community services, but often occurred through contentious negotiations between community organizations, developers, and residents. The resulting conflicts have negatively impacted partnerships within Oakland and significantly delayed investments.
  • Nationwide, community benefits agreements have faced a number of challenges including issues around enforceability and the need to renegotiate them as projects or development teams change.
  • The City of Pittsburgh currently has no process in Oakland for development projects to earn additional building height in return to addressing community goals. The Performance Points System in the Zoning Code, currently applied to Uptown and Riverfront Districts, includes a height bonus for the creation of affordable housing that begins to address this community goal. A new Performance Point could be created to allow bonus height in return for contributions toward jobs and/or workforce access opportunities to respond to this other goal for new development.
  • Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning is being considered for Oakland as part of rezonings and would create a pathway for development projects to directly invest in off-site affordable housing solutions if they are not accommodated on their parcel.
  • Guidelines, goals, or areas of emphasis should be set for the fund to create the right level of limits that ensure the funds will go to important projects while still allowing enough flexibility to spur innovation and adaptation to changing conditions. Need to be clear about what the intentions are for the funds.
  • Establish a new Equitable Development Performance Point option that allows projects to gain additional height by addressing community goals around job access and workforce development programming. Allow this bonus opportunity in the employment and mixed use areas in the land use map.
  • Consider three potential ways in which these goals could be met:
    • By more speculative development where the tenants are not known at the time of permitting and construction; or
    • By development for specified tenants that could meet goals by employing a percentage of employees from specific groups (e.g., employees with less than an bachelors degree, or from neighborhoods of needs, etc.); or
    • By development that can include as a tenant, an organization that provides workforce training / career services that helps residents access jobs in Oakland.
  • The fund could be a City of Pittsburgh trust fund similar to the open space, stormwater, and shade tree trust funds that already exist. The Tree Canopy Trust Fund is managed by the City’s Shade Tree Commission which could provide a precedent for management structure.
  • Guiding policies for the fund should address the variety of needs including youth training, training for individuals of different life stages to be successful applicants for jobs, provision and quality of jobs, as well as business support and entrepreneurial services for specific disadvantaged groups. African-American and immigrant entrepreneurs were noted as groups that are particularly in need of supports in commercial corridors.
  • Consider the potential for this fund to receive money from other sources and be spent on activities not linked to workforce development such as the plan’s proposed micro-grant program, food insecurity, etc. For example, funds could be received from institutions or foundations and support these other goals.
  • Ensure that the direct provision of jobs option as well as the use of fee in lieu funds consider both the number of jobs created and also the quality of jobs. Partners4Work could support the work of DCP and the community board if needed.
  • Consider a more proactive approach to bringing employers to Oakland that would support all three of the options.
  • Consider a partnership with the Allegheny Conference and their Strengthening Communities Partnership (SCP) program which assists communities to achieve stronger momentum in their economic transformation. Leaders representing communities, business and government are working collaboratively to create truly transformative economic development.

When to start: 0-2 years

Duration: Ongoing

Estimated costs: $ (out of $$$$)

Project lead(s): DCP

Project partner(s): City Council

Potential funding source(s): None needed