Since 2015, Public Advocates has worked with the resident-led East 12th Coalition to ensure that a city-owned site along the shores of Oakland’s Lake Merritt is used for affordable housing, as required by the state Surplus Land Act. Originally proposed as a high-end luxury apartment complex, the site is now at the center of a controversy over how cities will help to address the region’s growing affordable housing crisis.

Public Advocates’ attorneys Sam Tepperman-Gelfant and David Zisser describe the campaign in an article in Street Spirit, Oakland’s homeless newspaper. The East 12th Coalition and Satellite Affordable Housing Associates submitted a proposal for 133 affordable units, competing with two other proposals, both of which also include affordable housing. After a public presentation of all three proposals on February 29th, the City Council decided in a closed session on March 3rd to enter an exclusive negotiating agreement with UrbanCore (the developer originally slated to develop a luxury tower on the site) and East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, whose proposal includes 90 low-income units, 18-moderate income units, and 252 market-rate units. While the battle is not yet over, it is already clear that the East 12th Coalition, with support from Public Advocates, sent a strong message that public land must be used for the public good. No wonder that the East 12th Coalition was Public Advocates’ awardee at this year’s annual Voices of Conscience Celebration.

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