Housing protestors descend upon Oakland City Hall
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - With Oakland city leaders preoccupied with police turmoil, critics say important business is being neglected.
Friday evening, as Mayor Libby Schaaf announced yet another change at the helm of OPD, a noisy protest charged right up to her door.
About 50 demonstrators wanted to be heard, on the housing shortage, evictions, and high rents.
It's been a huge issue for Oakland for several years, and critics don't want it overshadowed.
"Libby Schaaf come talk to us, Libby Schaaf come talk to us," protestors shouted.
The Mayor was behind closed doors, dealing with her cop crisis, as the crowd called for her attention.
"Our voices are not being heard, yet we are the ones being displaced," clamored an organizer on a bullhorn.
The group arrived on a flatbed truck: a coalition of labor, housing and community groups.
They've been holding daily protests, to raise visibility, all week, but been muted by expanding scandal in the police department.
"Fight, fight, fight, decent housing is our right," protestors chanted, as they entered city hall and climbed the steps of the rotunda.
Big city rents have risen with job growth all over the country, but Oakland has outpaced them all, more than doubling in six years.
Critics want more tenant protections, plus a permanent moratorium on no-fault evictions.
"Its' just hard, and I can't afford to go on my own," city public works employee Ivan Satterfield told KTVU. "Right now, I'm living with family, and I have a lot of co-workers doing the same, or just leaving the Bay Area."
Activists say without city intervention, more people will end up on the street, many of them seniors.
Development approved for a prized lot near Lake Merritt will offer a mix of affordable and market-rate units, which speakers called a "sell-out."
"This makes the East Coast cronyism look small-time," complained Adam Jordan of the Anti Police Terror Project, "This council gets away with more than the mob, because they look like liberals, but they act like mobsters."
The noisy hour-long protest sprawled over the City Hall lobby, without a response from officials.
"We don't have time to wait. We can't take a backseat while they do the police investigations, and all that stuff, " declared Alia Phelps of the Alliance for California Community Empowerment.
"We're going to keep pushing forward. People need housing now. They're getting evicted every day, 1000 evictions in Oakland every month."
Mayor Schaaf has convened a public-private working group on the housing crisis, and announced a plan to create thousands more housing units, while protecting existing stock.
Most of the proposals are still on the drawing board.