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This Morning With the Mayor of Oakland

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, just a couple of months into office, told a packed house of 550 commercial real estate pros at Bisnow's 2nd Annual State of the Market at Marriott City Center this morning how the city has changed in just a year. Here are three of the biggest changes she's seen.

1. We Are A Twin City To S.F.

We are part of a vibrant region that is part of a whole that works together. That's different from last year's conversation about Oakland getting "Brooklyn-ified" and standing out on its own. Oakland is getting a ton of spillover from S.F., with businesses seeking more affordable space, especially those in creative spheres that find the vibe in Oakland appealing. 

2. The Affordability Conversation

Oakland recently got the dubious title of the city with the second fastest-rising rents in the US. With that soaring cost of living, there's cause for concern, as many are getting priced out. Libby says it's a good challenge because as a result of both residential and commercial rents going up, new construction is starting to pencil out for the first time. She says both national and international developers are knocking on her door. Last year she took the Bisnow stage (above) to commit to having the least irritating government in the world.

3. "Area-Specific Plans" Are A Hit

The new tool, which lets Oakland do the hard work to save developers time and money, is doing wonders. The city takes the time to chat with to the community about what uses they want preserved and where they welcome change. Then the city rezones the area and even does the EIR. "You should applaud that, you're real estate people," she says. "That's like a big welcome mat for you." It's already full steam ahead in the Broadway Valdez area. Next up: an area-specific planning process for a big swath of downtown, including Jack London Square. That should take about 24 months.