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Oakland Measure RR: Remove $1,000 Limit On Fines

Alan Turkus, Flickr Creative Commons
No Dumping Allowed

This is a 2-minute summary of what’s on the ballot. Click here to listen to them all.

Oakland Measure RR asks voters to remove a $1,000 limit on fines received for violating ordinances. This includes rules against misdemeanors like illegal dumping, vandalism, and excessive noise.

The reason for the $1,000 fine limit dates back to the late 60s. Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, was controversiallysentenced to prison for killing an Oakland police officer. Oaklanders had been demanding a civilian police review board. The city council refused, so Black civil rights leaders pushed to reform the city charter. That happened in 1969. And one of its sections set the thousand dollar limit on municipal code violations.

Over 50 years later, that fine limit has never been changed. If passed, Measure RR would allow Oakland’s City Council to establish a new fine limit.

Measure RR was unanimously put on the ballot the Oakland City Council. Supporters argue the low fine limit does not deter people like illegal dumpers from committing repeat crimes.

The Alameda County Taxpayers Association opposes Measure RR. They call it a "half-baked plan," and they say it will give the city too much punitive power. This would include unlimited fines for infractions such as cracked sidewalks, worn fences, or grass that is too high.

So, Oakland voters, if you support potentially raising the thousand dollar fine limit for civic violations, vote Yes on Measure RR. If you support keeping that fine limit at a thousand dollars, vote no. 

David Exumé (he/him/his) is a 2020-2021 Audio Academy Fellow. His reporting interests include music history, immigration, community organizing, and urban planning. He's previously worked at KCRW in Santa Monica and WPRB in Princeton.
Sonia Narang is the editor and project manager for KALW's Health & Equity series. Before that, she managed elections coverage for the station. Over the past decade, Sonia reported social justice stories from her home state of California and around the globe for PRI's The World radio program, NPR News, The Washington Post's The Lily, and more.