Building Services Task Force Meeting
Property owners from all sections of Oakland flocked to City Hall to attend the inaugural meeting of the Building Services Improvements Advisory Task Force.
The meeting, held Wednesday, touched on a range of issues, including designing a proactive inspections program and developing code enforcement programs to address major problems in Oakland. A presentation from Alameda County Public Health Department on the connection between health and housing was also a part of the meeting.
The 12-member task force is the result of ongoing reform efforts of the troubled Building Services division, which was once housed under the Community and Economic Development Agency.
Many property owners who attended the meeting said they hope the task force will play a large role in reforming Building Services, which was the subject of a scathing report this summer by the Alameda Country Grand Jury.
"I'm really glad there is a task force, but there's still a lot to be done," said property owner Lucy Lequin who is trying to navigate her project on Seventh Street through the Building Services maze of permits and codes.
Other property owners at the meeting said they hope the task force can turn a critical eye towards problem personnel in the division. To date, no one has been reprimanded for the the problems documented in the grand jury report.
"We've still got a broken system," property owner Andrew Vincent said. He has been fighting Building Services over liens and aggressive inspectors. "Before they start putting more laws on the book and writing new policies, they need to go in and make some real changes, like removing those problem inspectors. At a minimum they should get rid of their police power."
City officials said they envision a task force that will provide City Council with feedback on specific changes to Building Services procedures and programs. Those recommendations will be a part of an upcoming report on the agency's priority improvements. The report is expected to be presented to the Council this spring.
City officials from Building Services also were present at the meeting. Ray Derania, deputy director and Margaretta Lin, special project director of Building Services were both on hand to answer questions from the task force and members of the public.
The creation of the 12-member task force by the Council is just one in a series of reform measures taking place with the division, which was the subject of a scathing Alameda County Grand Jury report last July.
The next meeting for the task force is scheduled for March 14. A March 21 meeting also is tentatively scheduled.
For more information on the Building Services Task Force, click HERE.