Last June, Oakland’s school board voted to disband its $6 million school police force, believed to be the country’s first district to do so. It committed to redirecting the money to trained staff like counselors and mentors to better support all students, but especially Black students, who studies show are much more likely to be arrested and disciplined by police of all kinds.
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No policy is better made for this moment than TOPA, a policy that will level the playing field by providing tenants, who already call Berkeley home, the first chance to acquire the rental property they live in when it comes up for sale. TOPA requires owners seeking to sell a rental property to give current tenants notice of intent to sell before marketing the property to other purchasers.
“The very presence of police in schools, in and of itself, is part of the school to prison pipeline,” said Oscar Lopez, the Interim Director of the Education Advocacy Clinic at the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC). “Feeling like you’re being watched all the time, knowing that a little mistake can land you in the juvenile legal system — that is the school to prison pipeline.”
Many Californians can’t afford a day off work to plead their case to a judge. But when they don’t pay and don’t show up at court, the fines increase, their licenses can be suspended and if they are caught driving on a suspended license, they face criminal charges.
“It’s the criminalization of poverty,” said Asher Waite-Jones, staff attorney and clinical supervisor at the East Bay Community Law Center.
Preventing Displacement & Creating Homeownership Opportunity: A Community Conversation on Berkeley’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) Proposal
EBCLC’s Community Economic Justice Clinic is hosting an upcoming community forum with the City of Berkeley’s Mayor, Jesse Arreguín. We will be discussing the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), an anti-displacement housing policy created by EBCLC, in close collaboration with our partners, including the City of Berkeley. We hope that you can join us!
Stakeholders such as the Berkeley Tenants Union, East Bay Community Law Center and Eviction Defense Center have spent months working to strengthen the city’s law suspending evictions and delaying rent during the pandemic. On Oct. 28, the 4×4 Committee on Housing — composed of four council members and four rent board commissioners – unanimously approved a suite of crucial amendments to protect tenants and homeowners from eviction and financial ruin.
Electronic monitoring of youth, and data sharing, widely used in California’s juvenile justice system
As today’s report shows, electronic monitoring technology is widespread in the California juvenile justice system, with some 90 % of counties using the technology to track young people. This technology tracks young people wherever they go, typically through a GPS-enabled ankle bracelet that cannot be removed. Although it is now widespread, the impact of electronic monitoring on the juvenile justice system is poorly understood.
“The City of Oakland is caving in and maybe they’re using the BCDC as an excuse to do what they want to do anyway, which is to remove that encampment,” Neumann suggests. Neumann points to a parallel situation in Berkeley last year, where that City’s Council contemplated installing a permitted RV encampment in a Marina parking lot area. He says Berkeley’s City Manager was unenthusiastic about the idea, and ultimately used the argument that the BCDC’s threat of a lawsuit in Oakland meant Berkeley would be challenged at the Marina, as well. The argument was effective, and Council abandoned the idea.
Berkeley and Oakland are working on a policy to preserve affordable housing that would be the first of its kind in California.