Ordinance Protects Neighborhoods From Real Estate Speculators

Shirley Burnell

By Post Staff

Oakland has passed an ordinance designed to provide communities with some measure of protection from a large increase in number of absentee property owners, who are accused of scooping up properties at bargain prices but failing to maintain or renovate them.
The Oakland City Council voted Nov. 13 to pass the local ordinance requiring the purchasers of non-owner occupied properties to register with the city of Oakland.
The ordinance, championed by Councilmember Desley Brooks and supported by grassroots community organizations like Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and Urban Strategies Council, came in response to an unprecedented number of previously foreclosed homes being purchased by outside speculators and private investment companies.
“In addition to creating transparency and accountability for these speculators and private investors, we also believe that this will be yet another step toward improving the health and habitability of Oakland’s long-ailing housing stock,” said ACCE member Shirley Burnell.
One company purchased over 170 properties in West Oakland alone, marking a shift that has transferred whole neighborhoods from the hands of working families and long-term residents into the hands of a relatively small number of private investors.
Brooks responded to the trend by introducing the legislation last summer.  “Speculators are not buying homes, they are buying neighborhoods,” she said.
The impact of the ordinance was weakened by an exemption introduced by Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan excluding all properties purchased through non-foreclosure short sales.