City Attorney

Mission Statement

The City Attorney’s Office is committed to doing excellent work for the community justly, efficiently and effectively. As advisors to City officials and staff, the Office seeks to provide timely, strategic and complete advice.  As advocates, the Office represents the City and its employees vigorously and fairly. As prosecutors, the Office diligently and justly enforces the law on behalf of the People of California. As administrators of the City’s Rent Program, we protect and preserve affordable housing with compassion and fairness.  As police auditor, we objectively, independently and collaboratively work to promote community confidence in policing and accountability.

Summary of Key Functions

The Municipal Advisory function of the Office provides advice to the City Council, the City’s Boards & Commissions, and City staff. The Office drafts ordinances, resolutions, contracts, leases and other legal documents, and it reviews documents prepared by City departments. The Office further oversees personnel investigations in collaboration with the Human Resources Department and review Public Records Act requests in collaboration with the City Clerk’s Office.

The Litigation function of the Office defends the City in state and federal court either with in house resources or through the supervision of outside counsel. The Office’s caseload is diverse and includes personal injury cases, employment litigation, civil rights suits, contract disputes, as well as land use, constitutional and other specialized litigation.

The Prosecution and Public Rights Unit of the Office represents the People of the State of California in misdemeanor criminal matters. The Unit is further charged with bringing affirmative litigation in response to violations of consumer protection and fair housing laws, and protecting consumers against fraud and unfair business practices. City prosecutors are dedicated to promoting and improving public safety and the quality of life in Alameda, through the fair, compassionate and effective administration of justice.

The Alameda Rent Program was created to implement the City’s Rent Ordinance.  Program staff strives to promote equity and stability in the rental housing market, prevent unnecessary displacement of residents, and preserve the City’s housing supply. The program pursues this mission through education; community engagement; and collaboration with landlords, tenants, and the broader community.

The Risk Management function of the Office works with Departments to eliminate or mitigate potential risk and preserve public property, as well as manage the City’s Workers’ Compensation program.

The Police Auditing function of the Office works objectively, independently and collaboratively with the community, police officers, city management to enhance community confidence in policing and accountability.

The City Attorney’s Office does not provide legal advice to private citizens.

Note: Alameda City Government is open and transparent.  Any written correspondence sent to the City may be deemed a public record which could be disclosed.

City Attorney's Office Leadership Team:

--Yibin Shen, City Attorney

--Bill Chapin, Director of Rent Program

--Celena H. Chen, Chief Planning Counsel

--Julia Gonzales, Managing Assistant City Prosecutor


Where can I get advice on the City's Rent Program?

For questions about the Rent Program please call 510-747-7520, email, or visit

Where can I report a possible Code Violation?

Code violations are handled by the Code Enforcement division of the Community Development Department.  Their phone number is 510-747-6800

Where do I file a Small Claims Court action in Alameda County?

OAKLAND - Rene Davidson Courthouse, 1225 Fallon Street, Oakland, CA 94612

HAYWARD - Hayward Hall of Justice, 24405 Amador Street, Hayward, CA 94544

Where can I access law books?

Alameda County Law Library, 125 - 12th Street, Oakland, CA 94612, (510) 208-4800

211:  2-1-1 is a free, non-emergency, confidential number and service that provides easy access to housing information, and critical health and human services. 211 operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with multi-lingual capabilities.

 Alameda County Bar Association, Lawyer Referral Service & Volunteer Legal Service: (510) 302-2222 ext. 2 - For a $35 fee, collected at intake, you will be given a consultation of up to 30 minutes with an attorney and contact information for two attorneys qualified to represent you.

Alameda County Immigration Legal and Education Partnership (ACILEP): (510-241-4011)  ACILEP provides legal services, know your rights education and rapid response services when there is an immigration enforcement action in Alameda County.  

Alameda Housing Authority:  The Housing Authority is the City's Program Administrator for the Rent Review, Rent Stabilization and Limitations on Evictions Ordinance. 510-747-4346 -

Bay Area Legal Aid: (800) 551-5554 -- “BayLegal is committed to providing meaningful access to the civil justice system through quality legal assistance regardless of a client's location, language or disability.”  Bay Area Legal Aid is free to those who qualify.

Centro Legal de la Raza: (510) 437-1554 3022 International Blvd, 4th Floor, Oakland, CA 94601 Email: -- Free legal services for low-income tenants. Find more information including drop-in days and hours here.

Eviction Defense Center: (510) 452-4541 -- for tenants facing eviction or landlord-tenant issues.

Echo Housing: (888) 887-ECHO (3246) - -- ECHO’s Tenant/Landlord Counseling Program provides information to tenants and landlords.  Additionally, ECHO has trained mediators to assist in resolving housing disputes.  For information on Alameda County’s Mandatory Rent Mediation Notification and Rent Mediation Services email them at

Family Violence Law Center (FVLC): (510) 208-0220 - -- Family Violence Law Center is a non-profit organization serving family violence victims and their children throughout Alameda County. If you or someone you know is being abused, please call their crisis line: (800) 947-8301. FVLCdoes not charge for their services, but they do accept donations.

Lawyers in the Library Program: (510) 747-7713 --  Alameda Free Library hosts volunteer attorneys on the first Wednesday of the month who provide free consultation and referrals on a wide variety of issues including landlord tenant disputes, probate matters, employment problems, and other general consumer issues.

Legal Assistance for Seniors (LAS): (510) 832-3040 -- LAS provides free legal information, representation in court and administrative hearings, referrals to other community resources, and community education and training on legal issues. Additionally, LAS provides legal assistance to seniors 60 and older at the Mastick Senior Center on the third Monday of the month between 1 and 3 PM. For an appointment at Mastick call (510) 747-7506.

SEEDS: 510-548-2377 - Provides Services that Encourage Effective Dialogue and Solutions for businesses, schools, government agencies, and communities




Child Abuse Reporting: 510-259-1800

Domestic Violence National Hotline:  800-799-SAFE (7233)

Elder & Disabled Abuse:  510-577-3500 or 866-225-5277 (866-CALL-APS)

Emergency Housing:  510-537-2552 or 800-273-6222

Family Justice Center:  510-267-8800

Mental Health and Alcohol and Drug Referral Services:  800-491-9099

Recycling:  877-786-7927

Suicide Crisis:  800-309-2131

Vector Control:  800-832-8678

Veterans Crisis:  800-309-2131 or 800-273-8255 press 1