Authorizes the City of Oakland to issue $850 million in general obligation bonds to fund various affordable housing, transportation and infrastructure projects.
What the Measure Would Do
The bond measure would provide funding for both new and existing projects:
- $350 million for affordable housing preservation and anti-displacement measures to acquire, construct and rehabilitate affordable housing.
- $290 million for transportation-related projects, such as street paving and reconstruction; curb ramps and sidewalks; and street capital improvements, including accessible pedestrian signals, traffic calming and safety measures, bikeways and streetscaping.
- $210 million for additional infrastructure, including:
- Recreation and senior centers, parks, outdoor spaces and public safety facilities.
- Waterways, creeks, and storm drains and structures.
- Creek restoration projects, environmental stormwater system infrastructure and gardens.
- Water, energy, environmental and seismic improvements to city facilities to advance Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan.
The measure would not increase or impose new taxes for residents and would limit the issuance of new bonds until older bonds are paid off or the tax base grows to support the new debt. However, the ultimate rollout of funding for projects may be slowed since it would rely on the retirement of current bonds.
The funding programs proposed under this measure are based on the needs identified by the Oakland City Council during the 2021–23 budget process. The city identified 296 unfunded capital projects to address the city’s current and future infrastructure needs, which would require more than $5.6 billion. Delayed maintenance and a lack of funding have worsened Oakland’s crumbling roads and public facilities, which — until addressed — present structural integrity concerns, safety hazards and adverse environmental impacts.
In 2016, Oakland voters approved Measure KK, which authorized $600 million in bonds to fund the following:
- $100 million for anti-displacement and affordable housing preservation projects to fund more than 1,500 units of affordable and transitional housing.
- $350 million for street and road projects including paving and reconstruction, bicycle and pedestrian improvements and traffic calming.
- $150 million to facilities and parks projects.
While Measure KK provided initial investment to address much of Oakland’s essential infrastructure, completion of these projects and meaningful improvement of affordable housing, streets and roadways, and public facilities will require a significant increase in funding.
Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas proposed Measure U, and it was approved unanimously for the ballot by the City Council. As a bond measure, it requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
Measure U would benefit Oakland’s most vulnerable populations by building transitional, interim and permanent affordable housing. As of this February, 5,055 individuals were counted as experiencing homelessness in Oakland — representing more than half of the homeless population in Alameda County — and two-thirds were considered unsheltered. This measure would also directly benefit low-income Oakland residents, who face challenges from the city’s rising rents and displacement pressures. People of color are overrepresented in this group and face intersecting barriers and structural inequality in the housing, education, employment and criminal justice systems, among others.
Projects funded by Measure U would be prioritized by how each investment addresses social and geographic equity to provide greater benefit to underserved communities and geographic areas of greatest needs. This is especially important for the distribution of street improvements, as there are big disparities in street and paving conditions between neighborhoods of color and majority-white neighborhoods in Oakland.
- Measure U allocates a significant amount of funding to Oakland’s most dire infrastructure needs, affordable housing and street improvements, as well as to smaller public works projects such as parks and recreational spaces.
- This measure prioritizes projects that advance social and geographic equity to ultimately address the disparities in infrastructure conditions such as crumbling streets that currently exist between low-income and affluent neighborhoods in Oakland.
- Measure U provides funding for projects that would otherwise not be completed at all or within their projected timeline.
- The distribution of funding may be slow, depending on the time required to pay off existing bonds.
Much of Oakland’s infrastructure continues to suffer from a lack of sustained and significant investment, with inadequate funding for routine street maintenance, repair, replacement and improvements, and a housing shortage at every income level. Without funding from the city, affordable housing, transportation and other city programs will continue to rely on limited and fragmented state, local and grant funding, which will further delay addressing these needs.
Continuing to invest in Oakland’s most essential infrastructure, including affordable housing and transportation, protects the quality of life for all Oaklanders and the city’s long-term economic vitality. The dollars generated from the bond measure would also help Oakland reach its climate and equity goals by investing in environmental and seismic improvements to city facilities.
As one of the few revenue mechanisms available to cities, a general obligation bond is a common and reliable funding tool.
 Oakland City Council, Affordable Housing Infrastructure Bond, Legislation, City of Oakland, July 2022, https://oakland.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5702686&GUID=503A10B7-417B-44A6-9D8B-B57BDA7D5683.
 Erin Roseman, “2022 Affordable Housing Infrastructure Bond,” Agenda Report, City of Oakland, June 27, 2022, https://oakland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=11018296&GUID=821955DA-EB64-4D81-857E-601D788D32E5.
 Sarah Ravani, “Oakland Kicks off ‘Great Pave’ with Fresh Asphalt for Fruitvale Side Street,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 22, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-kicks-off-Great-Pave-with-fresh-14371647.php.
 EveryOne Home, Oakland 2022 Point-In-Time County: Unsheltered and Sheltered Report, 2022, https://oaklandside.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Oakland-PIT-2022-Infographic-Report.pdf.
 SPUR Housing Policy Agenda, 2021, https://www.spur.org/sites/default/files/2021-11/SPUR_Policy_Agenda_Housing.pdf.
 Betsy Gardner, “Equity in Urban Improvements: Oakland’s Great Pave,” Data-Smart City Solutions, Bloomberg Center for Cities at Harvard University, July 15, 2021, https://datasmart.ash.harvard.edu/news/article/equity-urban-improvements-oaklands-great-pave.
 Oakland City Council, Affordable Housing Infrastructure Bond, Legislation, City of Oakland, 2022, https://oakland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=11019286&GUID=065403BB-973F-4269-9EA0-A392A26A56C8.