"We enforce codes. That's what we do."

Rachel Flynn, Director Planning and Building, City of Oakland: "Nobody can just build something in the city and not get approvals."

Chris Hambrick, KALW: "Is the city of Oakland specifically in support of alternative housing?"

"Sure, sure, absolutely, yup."

"Is there some specific way that your office is encouraging it?"

"No, that’s not what we do. that’s what the private sector does. They want to make money, they want to be inventive, they want to be creative, they want to be entrepreneurs. we enforce codes. That’s what we do."


I think Chris did a great job of capturing multiple sides to this story, including the first meaningful interview with a neighbor who complained!

a Read the article and listen to the piece here (quoted part at ~5:55 minutes in).

Interestingly, from the City of Oakland's website, Planning and Building > About Us > Mission and Goals:

The Planning and Building Department improves the physical and economic environments of Oakland through sustainable development that embraces three core principles: healthy environment, economy, and equity. Planning and Building Department's Goals
  • Promote sustainable development
  • Leverage development activities
  • Make it easier for Oakland residents to live and work in the city
  • Continue to inprove code enforcement to keep Oakland residential and business neighborhoods safe and healthy
  • Enhance existing revenue streams
  • Provide responsive, timely and accurate customer service
  • Improve livability through well-maintained and accessible streets, sidewalks, parks, trees and facilities

(italics and bold added by me) Call me crazy, but I feel like "promote sustainable development" sounds a lot like "encourage alternative housing." Then again, I'm ambitious enough that I'd like my city's departments to run spellcheck before publishing their missions on the internets:)

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