Oakland City Council Approves Bilingual Services Ordinance
The Oakland City Council yesterday unanimously approved an ordinance that would require city departments to translate "essential services and materials" into languages spoken by at least 10,000 residents, the Oakland Tribune reports (Counts, Oakland Tribune, 4/25). Departments involving public health services will be among the first to hire bilingual employees (California Healthline, 4/20). Asians and Hispanics comprise 37% of Oakland's 400,000 residents (Pimentel, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/25). State and federal laws require agencies to "make their programs and services accessible to people with limited English," but the laws are not enforced and "compliance is spotty," the AP/Sacramento Bee reports. Council member and ordinance co-sponsor Danny Wan said, "The city has an obligation to provide the basic city services. ... Just because somebody may not be fluent in English yet does not mean they should be excluded" (Locke, AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/25). The ordinance is expected to be finalized on May 8 (Oakland Tribune, 4/25).