One year ago, the City of Oakland released Resilient Oakland: It Takes a Town to Thrive, a resilience playbook and call to action designed to tackle the city’s most pressing systemic and interdependent economic, social, and physical challenges. Developed with support from 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC), and in collaboration with hundreds of stakeholders, the strategy is designed to better prepare Oakland for ‘shocks’ – earthquakes, flooding, wildfires – and ‘stresses’ – housing insecurity, educational disparity and community safety.
Resilient Oakland provides concrete, actionable initiatives organized around three themes: build a more trustworthy and responsive government; stay rooted and thrive in our town; and build a more vibrant and connected Oakland. Driving the strategy’s implementation are principles of the Civic Design Lab (CDL), an innovative approach that pulls in systems thinking, human-centered design, and a racial equity lens to transcend institutional silos in government, and create more responsive policy and services for those who most need it in the community. In practice, this means putting community and staff first in the policy development process.
When upgrading the Rent Adjustment Program Database and Online System was identified as a top priority, the CDL team saw this as an opportunity for improving civic engagement by facilitating conversation between renters, property owners, and the city staff. Extensive user research, engagement, and testing allowed us to launch a responsive website and online application in less than 5 months. Optimized and more accessible to residents, the new rent adjustment portal was launched in March and has 431 active users filing 104 total petitions, 76 tenant petitions, and 28 owner petitions.
Over the next year, Resilient Oakland has plans to develop an equity indicators dashboard, with the goal of strengthening the City’s resilience strategy with data-driven approach and analysis in areas such as economy, education, health, housing, justice, environment, and services. We are additionally working on a Healthy Housing Inspection Program, meant to rethink how the City provides resident rental inspections as well the ways in which inspections can be integrated with other basic services. For example, an inspector visiting a rental unit can be paired with a community health worker, or promotora, to provide case management services like health appointments or financial services.
This is just the beginning. Since the release of Resilient Oakland, 20 of the 34 projects have been completed with another 12 projects currently being implemented, significantly contributing to a more equitable, modern Oakland. With the support of 100RC, we are excited to continue evolving as a leader in resilience, in the Bay Area and beyond. As we look to year two, I am proud to continue working towards our goals of making more equitable, collaborative, and data-driven decisions to support a promising resilient future.