Just a few months ago, the City of Oakland was poised to sell a one-acre parcel of city-owned land near Lake Merritt for $5.1 million, with no strings attached, to a developer planning to build a luxury apartment tower. Then a coalition of scrappy neighbors and affordable housing activists got wind of the plan. Rarely can you fight City Hall and win, but that's just what Eastlake United for Justice and its allies have done. After several raucous council meetings, demonstrations, threats of lawsuits, and a stream of testimony against the land sale, opponents of the luxury apartment tower forced the developer to offer an $8 million in-lieu fee for affordable housing, plus $700,000 in other community benefits in order for the deal to go through. More importantly, EUJ elevated the broader debate about the effects of market-rate development on affordable housing and gentrification. The fight over the East 12th Street Remainder Parcel isn't over yet, and the battle for affordable housing during this regional economic boom will only get hotter, but already EUJ has achieved big things.
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