PROTECTING AND DELIVERING FOR OAKLAND

As Oakland’s open government watchdog, City Attorney Parker upholds the Sunshine Ordinance, Brown Act, Public Records Act and other open government laws that protect  transparent, honest and fair government, and ensures that all City officials and employees know and play by the rules.

“My Office protects and advances the rights of all Oaklanders.  I am proud of our accomplishments and excited about continuing my work on your behalf. “

In Solidarity,

Barbara Parker

 

As City Attorney, Barbara consistently delivers great value on issues Oaklanders care about. 

 

Protecting Tenants’ Rights

During the COVID-19 crisis, Barbara, working with non-profit partners and leading the Neighborhood Law Corps, has successfully intervened in over a dozen cases to immediately protect tenants and allow them to stay in their homes. 

  • Tenant Protection Lawsuit - This year, Barbara won preliminary injunction in a lawsuit against landlords who engaged in an unlawful, self-help eviction, in violation of Oakland’s Tenant Protection Ordinance (TPO) and other laws. These landlords removed tenants’ belongings, changed locks falsely claiming these actions were due to aa fraudulent City notice.   The court issued a   preliminary injunction that stopped further abuse of tenants.
  • Tenant Protection and Civil Rights Lawsuit - In May, Barbara filed a TPO and civil rights lawsuit against three landlords for tenant harassment, exploitation, and attempted evictions through illegal, discriminatory, and violent means. The landlords, who acted as if they were above the law, owned and managed several Oakland buildings. They disregarded the most basic rules of property ownership and management - and behaved as if they were not obligated to comply with civil rights guarantees.

  • Emergency Eviction Moratorium - In July, Barbara co-sponsored the City’s Emergency Eviction Moratorium which will be in effect during the Covid-19 public health emergency.

  • Justice for Elderly, Chinese- Speaking Tenants - Barbara secured a $1 million settlement from owners of an Oakland Chinatown residential building who intentionally created unbearable living conditions for their elderly and Chinese-speaking tenants

  • Amendments Expanding Tenant Protections - In July, Barbara crafted and co-sponsored amendments to the TPO, Just Cause for Eviction, Rent Adjustment and related relocation Ordinances that improve protections for tenants facing harassment and provide increased security from eviction.

  • Protecting Tenants from Fraudulent “Owner Move-in”- Barbara, along with non-profit partners at Centro Legal de la Raza, recently settled a fraudulent “owner move-in” case against landlords who tried to illegally evict tenants from a rent-controlled unit by fraudulently claiming they or a relative planned to move into the This type of unlawful action sometimes used to evict rent-controlled tenants so the landlord can increase rents to skyrocketing market rates. This fraud exacerbates Oakland’s housing crisis, depriving tenants of their homes, violating their legal rights, and potentially causing homelessness. The resolution requires that defendants pay $300,000 to the tenants, hire professional building management, and provide notice to the City of any Rent Adjustment Program or eviction filings at any of their Oakland properties for the next five years.


Securing Housing Justice and Affordable Housing

Barbara recently launched a Housing Justice Initiative to help preserve Oakland residents’ housing, protecting diversity in terms of race, incomes and professions. The San Francisco Foundation recently gave Barbara’s office two grants supporting this initiative. 

Barbara fights unscrupulous landlords who commit egregious violations of tenants’ rights by engaging in illegal “self-help” evictions - changing locks, removing belongings, cutting off utilities, and even threatening violence.

  • Emperean Towers - Barbara sued owners of the Empyrean Towers, a 90-unit SRO (single family residence) property for substandard housing and numerous code violations. The court appointed a receiver to manage the building and ultimately the property was sold and is being rehabilitated by an affordable housing developer and will remain affordable housing for at least 55 years.  The resolution included a $485,000 settlement.

  • Holland Hotel - Barbara’s Neighborhood Law Corps sued property owner for drug nuisance and habitability issues. City purchased the property after it was rehabilitated; it now serves individuals who are unhoused and individuals in encampments. Hotel has 90-person capacity.

  • 524 8th Street in Chinatown - Barbara’s Neighborhood Law Corps sued owners who attempted to force elderly, Chinese-speaking tenants out so they could renovate the 39-unit building and raise rent to market rates. Owners demolished bathrooms and kitchens, and discarded tenants’ property. The lawsuit was resolved for $1 million; tenants receive $795,00 and City receives $205,000

  • 1620 FruitvaleBarbara’s Neighborhood Law Corps sued owners of 30-unit building with mostly Spanish-speaking tenants who were forced to live without heat and security measures, in rodent-infested units. Barbara secured court orders requiring rehabilitation of the units and a $450,000 settlement.

  • DODGE CorBarbara has sued owners of 4 substandard properties for systematically violating tenants’ rights. The owners are leaders of a prominent local real estate and taxi empire, including Friendly Cab and dozens of properties.

Through multiple companies, the defendants own and operate numerous rental properties where tenants, including families with young children and pregnant women, have been subjected to grave risks to their health, safety and lives in flagrant violation of Oakland’s Tenant Protection Ordinance. At least one family ended up temporarily homeless because of the landlords’ negligence.

Since at least 2016, the defendants have rented uninhabitable or dilapidated units in buildings across the city to tenants who are often low-income immigrants and speak little to no English. Defendants have profited from this predatory business model by renting unsafe units to tenants who are desperate to find affordable housing, and often are unable to take legal action to defend their rights.

 

Fighting Racial Discrimination and Securing Equity  

  • Wells Fargo - Barbara continues to prosecute Oakland’s federal Fair Housing Act lawsuit against Wells Fargo for predatory and discriminatory mortgage lending practices against African American and Latinx borrowers. In August, the federal court of appeals upheld Oakland’s right to continue to prosecute this important lawsuit, rejecting Wells Fargo’s claims that the City’s case should be dismissed.

  • Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance - Barbara co-sponsored the 2020 Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance which prohibits asking or considering criminal records in rental housing applications, with limited exceptions

  • Repealing Proposition 209 - Barbara co-sponsored the Council resolution endorsing Proposition 16 on the November 2020 ballot which would repeal Proposition 209, restoring the ability to consider race and gender in public education admissions, contracting and employment 

  • Trump’s Unconstitutional Attempt to Add Citizenship Question to 2020 Census - Barbara, representing Oakland, joined other cities and states suing to stop Trump’s unconstitutional plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Experts, including the U.S. Census Bureau, agreed the question would discourage noncitizens from census participation, resulting in a significant undercount in states like California. In a major victory, the U S Supreme Court blocked Trump’s attempt to add this question - ruling that the administration’s rationale was dishonest and “contrived.

  • Trump Continues Unconstitutional Attempts to Undermine 2020 Census - In July Barbara joined a lawsuit with California’s Attorney General, and other local governmental entities, challenging the Trump Administration's unlawful attack on the census. This lawsuit pushes back on Trump's last-minute attempt to circumvent the Constitution and deny American citizens their due share of federal dollars and elected representation by counting only citizens in determining California’s allocation of federal dollars and its number of representatives in the House of Representatives.

  • City Attorney Issues Guidance on Oaklanders’ Rights and Protections During COVID Pandemic - Barbara released new guidance to make sure all Oaklanders are aware that local, state, and federal civil rights protections remain in full force and effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance educates Oakland individuals, businesses, and advocates regarding activities that remain illegal, details civil rights laws that remain in effect, explains behaviors considered unlawful harassing or discriminatory. The guidance walks readers through related penalties, provides help on locating resources to fight for rights, and lists additional sources of reliable COVID-19 information.

 

Delivering Expert Advice and Counsel

Barbara provides expert advice and counsel and has crafted and co-sponsored cutting edge and groundbreaking laws and policies.  

  • Expert and Just Defense of Claims and Lawsuits- Barbara remarkably resolved 74% of claims against Oakland for zero dollars and settled 62% of lawsuits involving Oakland, again for zero dollars.

  • Emergency Eviction Moratorium - Barbara crafted Oakland’s Emergency Moratorium on Evictions responding to the COVID-19 pandemic  

  • Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance -Barbara co-sponsored Oakland’s Fair Chance Access to Housing Ordinance and Tenant Protection Ordinance

  • Tenant Protection Amendments - Barbara crafted and co-sponsored this year’s Tenant Protection, Just Cause, and Rent Ordinance amendments clarifying and expanding the tenant protections and City Attorney’s powers to enforce the ordinances.

 

Fighting for Environmental Justice

  • Cleaning up Toxic Lead Paint - Barbara, with other jurisdictions, recently settled a $305 million lawsuit against lead paint manufacturers to remove toxic lead paint from homes that is poisoning and disabling children.

  • Cleaning up Monsanto’s Contamination of Waterways - Barbara, as a lead  plaintiff recently settled    national class action lawsuits against chemical giant Monsanto for $550 million for contaminating Oakland’s storm water and the Bay and waterways across our country with toxic PCBs.  The dollars will be used to clean up water contamination.

  • Climate Change Justice - Barbara filed a cutting-edge public nuisance lawsuit against five of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies to make them pay for massive costs due to climate changes caused by their fossil fuels products.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal recently reinstated this lawsuit after dismissal by trial court.

  • Upholding Oakland’s Coal Ban - Barbara continues the fight to protect the health and safety of the people of Oakland, and address environmental racism, by keeping coal out of West Oakland’s former army base. 

  • Santos Engineering - Barbara’s Neighborhood Law Corps won an important environmental justice case against an illegal debris hauling operation that intentionally blew huge amounts of dangerous dust into West Oakland.

  • Illegal Dumping - Barbara continues work to hold accountable individuals who are responsible for illegal dumping.

 

Promoting Public Safety and Fighting Human Trafficking

  • Human Trafficking - Barbara shut down approximately 25 massage parlors that were fronts for human trafficking and recovered nearly $1M in settlements, attorneys’ fees, penalties and other costs from their owners and operators.

  • Prostitution Motels - Barbara shut down two motels that were magnets for prostitution.

  • Gun Safety - Barbara sponsored common-sense gun safety laws to prevent the use of stolen guns in crimes that passed unanimously by Oakland City Council.

  • Drug Houses, Problem Liquor Stores and Bars - Barbara’s Neighborhood Law Corps shut down numerous drug houses, problem liquor stores, and bars that were hubs for violence and drug-dealing.

  • Office Reorganization - Barbara reorganized the City Attorney’s office to focus more resources on public health and safety, code enforcement and initiation of lawsuits that protect and advance Oaklanders’ rights.

  • Medical Cannabis - Barbara fought to ensure that law enforcement has the right priorities. She supported medical marijuana decriminalization and sued to stop the Feds’ crackdown against dispensaries in Oakland.

  • Opioids - Barbara joined litigation fighting opioid dependence and addiction against numerous pharmaceutical companies alleging public nuisance and false advertising. The lawsuit seeks civil penalties, injunctive relief and a monetary abatement fund.

 

Protecting Oakland's Financial Stability and Services

  • Oakland Raiders - Barbara filed an antitrust and breach of contract lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL), the Raiders and each of the other 31 NFL clubs to recover damages resulting from the Raiders’ illegal move to Las Vegas, including lost revenue, money that Oakland taxpayers invested in the Raiders.
  • Golden State Warriors - Barbara and Alameda County and the Joint Powers Authority recently prevailed in the lawsuit requiring the Warriors to honor their agreement (1) to pay approximately $48 million  of the more than $150 million the City and County incurred to renovate the Oracle Arena and (2) to pay more than $1 million dollars in attorney’s fees and costs we incurred fighting their bogus claims.    
  • Protecting City Services and Jobs - Barbara’s lawsuits have brought in millions of dollars to the City, helping to pay damages the City has suffered or will suffer and saving jobs and City services.

As re-elected City Attorney I will continue the critical work we are doing on behalf of all Oaklanders and delivering value to Oaklanders.