In Oakland, Public Advocates has worked with the resident-led East 12th Coalition to ensure that a city-owned site along the shores of Oakland’s Lake Merritt is used for affordable housing, as required by the state Surplus Land Act. The campaign began in 2015 and continues today. On March 1, 2022 the members of  Eastlake United for Justice & the Save E12th Coalition Oakland let their supporters know that Oakland City Council members had cast a decisive 5 to 3 vote denying an extension to the luxury tower development on the East 12th St. parcel, and committed once and for all to creating affordable housing on this public land. It is a great victory for Oakland community members and the participating affordable housing advocates.

Originally proposed as a high-end luxury apartment complex, the site became the focus of an intense campaign by the Coalition to ensure that public land is used for public good. After the Coalition made their voices heard — and Public Advocates warned the city that its plan violated the Surplus Land Action — Oakland entered into negotiations with developers promising to include low-income units in a mixed-income development.

Following this campaign, the City chose to sell the parcel to a developer planning a project with 30% affordable housing, rather than a 100% affordable development championed by the East 12th Coalition and based on an authentic community engagement process.

Construction on the site has still not begun, and earlier this year the community renewed its push for the city to select the proposal for 100% affordable development instead. This proposal would bring a diverse set of land uses designed with the community and site in mind to the Eastlake area, while providing much-needed housing for low-income individuals and families. In addition to affordable homes, the proposal includes innovative and community-oriented open and commercial spaces. In February, we submitted a letter to Oakland City Council members in support of that proposal.


In 2016, Public Advocates’ attorney Sam Tepperman-Gelfant and former Public Advocates attorney David Zisser described the campaign in an article in Street Spirit, Oakland’s homeless newspaper. The East 12th Coalition and Satellite Affordable Housing Associates submitted a proposal for 133 affordable units, competing with two other proposals, both of which also include affordable housing. After a public presentation of all three proposals , the Oakland City Council decided in a closed session to enter an exclusive negotiating agreement with UrbanCore (the developer originally slated to develop a luxury tower on the site) and East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, whose proposal includes 90 low-income units, 18-moderate income units, and 252 market-rate units. While the battle is not yet over, it is already clear that the East 12th Coalition, with support from Public Advocates, sent a strong message that public land must be used for the public good. No wonder that the East 12th Coalition was Public Advocates’ awardee at this year’s annual Voices of Conscience Celebration.



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