Strengthening Code Enforcement for Safer Housing

Oakland seeks to prioritize housing that is both safe and affordable. Yet the city continues to see a proliferation of living situations that are not compliant with municipal building codes and safety standards. In response, the City has enacted a number of policies to increase staffing and improve technology for building inspections and code enforcement. As part of these efforts, it is looking to implement a program that will inspect rental properties proactively, taking the burden off residents to report poor living conditions. Working with the Department of Planning and Building, FUSE Executive Fellow Alicia Polak created a path to implementation for the city’s new Proactive Rental Inspection Program, including revising existing operating procedures and ensuring that the program is equitable.

To do this, Alicia researched best practices in other cities, counties, and states. She worked with key stakeholders and city experts to develop enforcement services and standard operating procedures, and she incorporated racial equity principles from her training into the program. Alicia worked with the city’s Race and Equity Department to conduct a Racial Equity Indicator Analysis (REIA) on the Proactive Rental Inspection Program. The REIA will help inform the desired racial equity outcomes for the program. Additionally, Alicia worked with the Spatial Data Administrator to produce a new series of maps that will indicate racial demographics and cumulative rental inspection burden by census tract. This mapping tool will enable the agency to prioritize inspections based on community needs. Further, Alicia assessed how the department’s land-use management system can be modified to improve code enforcement workflows and case management and support the needs of relevant departments.  

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