Sheng Thao’s Vision for a Safer, More Affordable, More Just Oakland

Sheng Thao believes that, for all of Oakland’s diversity, proud history, and creativity, there remains a nagging sense of missed opportunity, that we could be doing more to meet this moment, more to unite as a city, and to move forward and tackle the challenges we face in a way that reflects our values, our promise, and our potential.

Oakland has a lot of work to do, but Sheng Thao believes Oakland is always worth fighting for. And that Oakland’s time is now

Sheng Thao is running for Mayor with a bold, progressive, unifying vision for Oakland, with the experience, energy, and effectiveness to get it done. 

A Comprehensive Public Safety Plan That Addresses the Root Causes of Crime to Build a Safer Oakland for All 

Oakland is in an acute public safety crisis. This moment requires real urgency – too many of our neighbors, friends, and fellow Oaklanders have suffered the pain of loss or have been traumatized by the weight of fear. To bring change, we must put forth smart policing policies, not revert to the same, old approaches that haven’t worked. 

Public safety will be Sheng Thao’s top priority as Mayor of Oakland. That’s why she has a comprehensive public safety plan focused on increasing investments in violence prevention, more community-oriented policing, and community building. This holistic strategy will make our city safer, address the root causes of crime, and help heal our neighborhoods and communities that have been ignored for far too long. 

Sheng Thao is honored to be endorsed by a broad coalition of public safety, small business, community, and criminal justice reform leaders and organizations including Attorney General Rob Bonta, Oakland Firefighters Union, Pastor Billy Dixon Jr., the co-chair of Oakland’s anti-gang violence Ceasefire program, the 9-1-1 dispatchers who are part of IFPTE, Local 21, numerous Oakland Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council chairs and members, and many others. Thao has also been recognized as a 2022 Gun Sense Candidate by Moms Demand Action for her leadership in the fight against gun violence and for safer communities. 

Read Sheng Thao’s comprehensive public safety plan here.

The plan at a glance:
  • Double down on the violence prevention programs that we know help reduce violent crime. Sheng is the only candidate who voted to invest in these programs and will continue that leadership as Mayor.
  • Address the root causes of crime by creating more jobs and educational opportunities across our city. 
  • Fill police vacancies now with experienced, diverse officers and support them so they stay in Oakland.
  • Re-orient our police to focus more on violent crime and reform how we deploy our beat cops to stop the violence before it starts. 
  • Protect and support victims of violent crime by creating critical new victims rights positions in the City administration and by expanding OPD’s homicide unit.
  • Redouble our efforts to get illegal guns off our streets by partnering with regional, state, and federal leaders. Sheng already passed legislation to establish a gun buyback strategy and will continue that work as your next Mayor.
  • Increase our efforts to prevent property crimes and provide support for victims. 
  • Defend a woman’s right to reproductive freedom, because this is a public safety issue too. 

Make Oakland the Most Innovative, Active City in California on Tackling Housing and Homelessness

Sheng Thao knows that our housing and homelessness crises are inextricably linked and must be tackled in tandem. For some politicians who lack the lived experience shared by so many who struggle in our city, these issues are mere intellectual exercises. But for Sheng Thao, the housing and homeless crises are deeply personal, as they have been a central part of her life and what she has overcome. Sheng is the daughter of refugees. She grew up poor, one of 10 kids. Her family was always on social services, for a time they lived in public housing, and were often at risk of losing their home. In her 20s, to escape domestic violence, Sheng and her infant son slept on strangers’ couches and sometimes in her car. Today, she’s one of only three renters on the City Council.

During her time at City Hall, Sheng has been a leader on these issues, securing millions in funding for affordable housing, homelessness services, and at-risk youth. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheng strongly supported Oakland’s eviction moratorium–the strongest moratorium in the Bay Area. In the campaign for Mayor, Sheng Thao offers the boldest, most ambitious, most creative (and achievable) plan to make Oakland a statewide leader on housing and homelessness.

That’s why she’s endorsed by the Oakland Tenants Union, homelessness and housing advocates, labor and small business leaders, and working families who know she has the right approach to tackling these two, interlocking crises facing our city. 

Read Sheng Thao’s entire housing and homelessness plan here.

The plan at a glance:
  • Aggressive housing goals: Expedited delivery of housing to build at least 30,000 new housing units by the end of Sheng’s second term as Mayor
  • Addressing homelessness head-on with on-demand mental health and drug treatment, expanded safe RV parking sites, stronger city-county relations, and fully funded encampment clean ups and sanitation teams 
  • Innovative and flexible funding streams to build new affordable housing.
  • Creating cost efficient housing alternatives and making public land available for real housing solutions
  • Fiercely protect Oakland’s renters. Strengthen rent control across the City of Oakland, and expand it to such areas as 4-plexes and ADUs. She will also crack down on deadbeat landlords who take advantage of tenants. 

Building a City of Real Opportunity: More Jobs, Higher Wages, Better Futures

Sheng Thao is passionate about making Oakland work better for everyone, not just the few, the wealthy, or the well connected, because this fight is personal for her. Sheng Thao is a leader who came up from nothing, who experienced poverty, housing insecurity, and homelessness, who had to rely on welfare to help put herself through school while raising her young son as a single mother. On the City Council, Sheng has been a champion for workers’ rights, for tenants, working families, and marginalized youth. As Mayor, she’ll build a city of real opportunity. 

That’s why Sheng is endorsed by the Alameda County Democratic Party, California Nurses Association, Alameda Labor Council, SEIU Local 1021, Our Revolution, civil rights and labor leader Dolores Huerta, and many others.

As Mayor, Sheng will:
  • Invest in job training through strategic partnerships with local nonprofits, apprenticeships programs, and our local community colleges.
  • Create a school to work pipeline with new apprenticeships and workforce programs that provide transferable skills for Oakland high school students, so they can enter the trades, work in public service, or in other industries. One example is putting apprentices to work building tiny homes for low-income families and those experiencing homelessness, making an impact on both our jobs challenges and the housing and homelessness crises. 
  • Work to expand upon Oakland’s successful Guaranteed Basic Income pilot program, a privately funded program which provides cash assistance to low-income families and has proven to lift people out of poverty. 
  • Approach City hiring with an equity lens, ensuring we are hiring diverse candidates who reflect the diversity of Oakland. 
  • Partner with private foundations to secure critical funds for foster youth, working class expectant mothers, and other underserved communities. 
  • Prioritize Project Labor Agreements (PLA) to ensure that workers on City projects are paid prevailing wages.
  • Develop a Community College Public Service Work Partnership Program with local schools like Peralta, to enable students to work part-time for the City of Oakland, developing critical job skills and learning about public service. 
  • Expand the City’s Summer Jobs program, which puts at-risk youth to work cleaning up and beautifying our city, and expand the program to transitional age youth (18-24 year olds). 

Bring a Green New Deal to Oakland

Oakland needs a Green New Deal to create a just transition to the clean energy economy for workers, provide more good-paying, green jobs, and help create a cleaner, greener Oakland where your quality of life won’t change based on your zip code.

As a mother, Sheng Thao is fiercely committed to leaving a habitable planet for our children and future generations. As a City Councilmember, and before that as a City Hall Chief of Staff, Sheng has led on climate resilience. As Mayor she will implement bold climate policies. Oakland is a city of innovators that is focused on the future, and with new energy and the right political will, we can build the cleaner, greener, healthier Oakland we deserve. 

That’s why she’s the only candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club. 

As Mayor, Sheng will:
  • Fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Permanently ban coal exports from the Port, partner with business and labor to bring green energy and manufacturing jobs here, work to create a public power option for Oakland, and support tax breaks to encourage more green building and manufacturing.
  • Work to reverse decades of environmental racism: Work with regional partners to bring the Port up to clean air standards, to improve local air quality. Bring more parks, trees, and green spaces to formerly redlined neighborhoods. Create a local civilian climate corps, with youth planting trees, cleaning up watersheds, and restoring habitat. Expand fresh food access in East and West Oakland by attracting more grocery stores. Bring more equitable bus and transit programs to East and West Oakland. And support lower income residents in making their homes more energy efficient.
  • Strengthen our climate resilience. Ensure our waterfront is prepared for rising water levels, work with regional partners to reduce Bay pollution and protect ecosystems, and streamline rooftop solar and microgrids to bring more green energy to Oakland. Assign dedicated staff to streamline the process of undergrounding utilities. And fully fund and expand our emergency services team to prepare for disasters.
  • Make Oakland a transit first city. Support dense, transit-oriented affordable housing throughout the city. Streamline the approval process for speed limit reductions, traffic calming measures, and other life-saving traffic deterrents. Fully implement Oakland’s Bicycle Plan and bring a comprehensive network of protected bike lanes to streets across Oakland. Work with AC Transit to expand our Bus Rapid Transit system.

Champion Our Small Businesses and Economic Development

Small businesses are the lifeblood of Oakland’s local economy. As a City Councilmember, and previously as a City Hall Chief of Staff, Sheng Thao has worked aggressively to support local businesses, to make it easier for them to open and thrive in Oakland. 

In 2022, when business and labor were at an impasse over the future of Oakland’s business tax, both sides turned to Sheng to help them find common ground. Working together, Sheng and Oakland’s small business and labor leaders reached an agreement that will reduce taxes on small businesses in Oakland, while increasing them on big corporations so they pay their fair share. The deal will generate millions of dollars a year in revenue in Oakland to fund vital services like public safety, affordable housing and homelessness services. It’s this kind of common sense, practical, collaborative leadership that Sheng Thao will bring to the Mayor’s office. That’s why Sheng is endorsed by numerous local small business leaders, including Rick da Silva from the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, David Petlin, the President of the Montclair Village Association, Daniel Swafford, Executive Director of the Laurel District Association, and Adam Tobin, Executive Director/CEO of Chabot Space and Science Center (titles and organizations listed for identification purposes only). 

As Mayor, she will:
  • Streamline the permitting process to make it easier to open a small business in Oakland and thrive here. Small businesses create good jobs and can help revitalize an entire neighborhood. City Hall needs to make it easier–not harder–for entrepreneurs to start a business in Oakland and grow it. 
  • Promote Oakland as the best place to open a small business in her travels around the region, state, and nation as Mayor.
  • Ensure new development benefits existing small businesses with direct investments in street safety, transit connectivity, and beautification. 
  • Champion the city’s arts and cultural districts and events, part of what makes Oakland such a vibrant place to live and visit.
  • Provide more police foot patrols in our city’s commercial, cultural, and historic districts and neighborhoods, venues, and spaces. 
  • Support businesses impacted by property crime with financial, technical, and other support services.
  • Create a legacy business program to support legacy businesses like they do in San Francisco. 
  • Secure targeted funding to support key landmarks like Fairyland and the Oakland Feather River camp. 

Making Government More Responsive and Drastically Improving the Delivery of Basic City Services

The City of Oakland has a lot of work to do to improve government response times and the general delivery of basic city services. On the City Council, Sheng Thao doubled the City’s budget for street paving and made critical investments in parks throughout Oakland. She solved a decades old dispute to help save the Chabot Space and Science Center and keep it fiscally solvent, and helped break a 30-year impasse to bring undergrounding services to the Piedmont Pines neighborhood, to protect the neighborhood from wildfires. Sheng gets things done. That’s why she’s endorsed by numerous neighborhood leaders from throughout Oakland.  

As Mayor, she will:
  • Cut through the bureaucracy that is preventing the City from ramping up its hiring, which has left critical jobs unfilled and slowed down progress in many other critical areas. We must fill vacancies in our City departments for jobs like tree trimming and street repair as soon as possible.
  • Get back to basics, with increased funding for trash pickup and illegal dumping response. 
  • Make 3-1-1 work again. Sheng will establish an official, minimum response time for City service requests and hold those in charge of sticking to it accountable. No more excuses. You shouldn't have to wait months to have a broken street light fixed. 
  • Crack down on illegal dumping and hold bad actors accountable. Sheng will work to establish a permit process at the local or, if necessary, state level, for garbage haulers. By requiring individuals who want to haul garbage to have increased oversight, we can prevent the type of under the table hauling which leads to increased illegal dumping. Currently, many people hire a hauler who presents as legit, but then the garbage just ends up dumped on a city street.
  • Get proactive about removal of blight, graffiti, and illegal dumping, rather than waiting to respond to complaints. Incorporate these cleanups into other City programs like the Summer Jobs Program. 
  • Work with local and state leaders to hold Caltrans accountable for its responsibility to clean up and make repairs on land and areas that it owns within the city. 

Prevent Destructive Wildfires and Strengthen Our Emergency Response

The entire city of Oakland is a high-wildfire risk area. Fire safety is not just a hills challenge, as wildfires know no boundaries, and in today’s world of a warming climate, we are all in this together.

Sheng Thao is City Hall’s leader on wildfire prevention and emergency response. She has led on the undergrounding of utilities in high-risk areas, expanded our budget for clearing highly flammable vegetation, and has made sure that the emergency services department is fully staffed. Sheng Thao is the only candidate for Mayor endorsed by Oakland Firefighters.

As Mayor, Sheng will:
  • Make wildfire prevention a citywide priority. This is more than just a symbolic gesture. For every new official City plan, whether it be a downtown specific plan or another land-use plan, wildfire prevention is usually deprioritized if it’s even considered at all. It’s time to make this a key consideration of every major City plan going forward. 
  • Fight to stop the cancellations of homeowner insurance policies for those in high wildfire-risk areas. Partner with local, regional, and state legislative leaders to lobby the State Department of Insurance to take action to stem the crisis of insurance companies canceling homeowner policies or raising rates astronomically for Oaklanders just because they live in an high-risk area.
  • Create a regional wildfire prevention authority. Partner with community leaders, city leaders and fire chiefs in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, the East Bay Regional Park District, and state elected officials to establish a regional wildfire prevention authority to coordinate preparation, resources, funding, and response, because, as we’ve seen too many times these past years, wildfires don’t stop at city borders.
  • Develop a wildfire assessment district for particularly high-risk areas. Oakland once had a dedicated funding source for wildfire prevention– Sheng has been working to bring it back.
  • Secure grants and City staffing for hillside clearance and levy penalties on those who don’t comply. Support neighbors with the laborious and costly process of removing fire-prone vegetation.
  • Hold PG&E accountable for clearance work. We pay PG&E exorbitant rates for service, and yet, one downed powerline in a vegetation-heavy area could mean catastrophe. PG&E needs to be held accountable for doing their part to keep the areas around their lines safe.