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A Note To The East Bay Express;
How come you always report negatives about the community in our area? Why don't you share successes surrounding the Farm Park which is open to everyone and even has someone who shuts and opens it daily that is an unhoused resident? Or what goes on with kids at Willie Keyes Center.
What about the work this community did to feed folks after the closing of Alliance Recycling? Or the hopes of what this community needs to really create change.
We know this City as a history of activism. What predominately poor minority community doesn't?
Let's get some positives told. This community wants some change that works to all who want to be here. But sometimes those who are here want to bring things that are harmful to its future. And those may not be as welcome.
Is it still gentrification to want to get Crime, drugs gangland presence and hostility out of the neighborhood? I was never raised to believe that. But I guess the readership doesn't respond positively or stay engaged unless the pile on is there.
The negative and frequently one-sided and misinformed media surrounding the activities in West Oakland (as usual) forgets to share what the collective community does to promote and create POSITIVE changes. There is a LOT if you didn't know.
Just because this community has grown up and gotten fed up to show they don't want the drug dealing and shooting here doesn't mean the people aren't welcome. The Liberation Group has more in common than they have in difference with those who live here. Actually anyone moving here has the presumed pick of the litter to choose where they want to live; why would they choose a community full of struggle unless they also care? It's not cheap to buy over here anymore as it once was so think about that!
Learn to separate the two. This is why black people are historically vilified; media that creates this narrative is as bad as those who spew it as politicians to stay endlessly in office but do no work to change the subject to positive outcomes.
I'd be happy to get some neighbors of all walks of life together for a profile and expose of this area.
To amplify what was shared by Michael; the community wanted the park closed as part of the renovation-activation of healthy activities that serve the community as a whole. The community has been abused and mistreated for Decades.
Pretty much every surrounding entity (senior center residents and those who utilize the senior center; West Oakland Youth Center, the residents of neighboring Myrtle, Filbert, Linden and Chestnut Streets) experienced endless amounts (and I do mean endless) of police activity and drug use, prostitution and hostility. It's why the redesign was considered.
To support what Dorothy us saying: What does it take to provide the younger generation in the community some hope? The acts of a few adults who didn't give a damn and used their circumstances to abuse the community were so intense, shutting it down to redesign it for things like what occurred was actually desireous.
For the record, I know because I attended 90% of the meeting the community held to inform and engage the public about this long-time neglected area.
Plus, the ground-break of what is supposed to come in the form of People's Community Market has no hope for success if we don't work to change and bring a different narrative to this area. Just look at the area surrounding the park. Since I've lived here and even as many cleaned the area weekly to rid it of needles and filth left by those who abuse it for sport.
The community wants to see everyone be involved and included; even those who are forgotten still matter but having wrong incomes don't have right outcomes.
Adults who have aged out of (addiction,foster or prison) systems that suffer from having no homes is still a community problem to be solved. Even average working folks can't afford to live here, even offsetting incomes by thanks to an overall and overwhelming expensive city hijacked by San Francisco's lack of affordability. That is a longer and less addressable issue. But it will still need to be addressed; these are human beings; not disposable trash. Yes, the chickens always come home to roost and the conflict of gentrification which is always the buzz word even for communities of all races and income levels.
These are always factored into and mounted onto the happenings in this area or Clawson-McClymonds. The younger folks here are tied of getting shot and tired of seeing their futures destroyed because adults can't get their shit together. They don't want to be shifted out of the area to places that are more affordable but unfamiliar to them.
I moved here a decade ago and am black. I also have neighbors who have historical roots in this community. From all racial backgrounds. And many of the black community were here during the periods when employment existed in the rail yards and Port of Oakland.
While I don't agree with the vandalized style the fence was taken down, I am far from surprised that it occurred.
First the closing of the Recycler without a response to serve the poorer residents. When you leave something sitting, without designing it to completion and not continuously engaging the ENTIRE community and including those activating the Plaza to resolve problems, this is what can happen.
All you have to do is look at who lives in these encampments to measure who is being effected. Promises to engage with nothing coming back to the table.
The one thing most wanted gone is the crime and drug use going on in the Plaza, along neighboring Filbert Streets and Brockhurst Street where there is a senior center and Youth Center within a block from the Plaza. Many of the neighboring activities which are serving the community are the anthesis of activities going on in the Plaza
What's unfortunate is there is no Adult Center because the age group between senior and youth appears to be ignored.
I actually like the Black Joy idea but don't think it should to be just racially motivated. If that was related to Dr King's Day, I am not surprised. The challenges in this community are about poverty across the racial spectrum. Everyone in this community including new residents understand this. It is clear that the people suffering most of these injustices are residents of a predominately black and impoverished community, with higher indices of unemployment and other opportunities.
And weekly cleaning that include defecation not to mention the hundreds of used needles from overwhelming addiction in this community. The Plaza was abused when it was open on so many levels that these discussions, which were inclusive and open to the public were intended to redesign the Plaza and try to get those who brazenly did whatever they wanted to do, with blatant disregard for EVERYONE ELSE. No matter who they were or what group they represented.
Serving JOY for the benefit of ALL PEOPLE within the Community isn't a bad idea, especially if the goal is to bring healthy alternatives to the Plaza and change the environments that remove crime (drug dealing) and behaviors that brought more police action to that little parklet and plagued a community for several decades; long before the gentrification occurred this was here and continues to be here.
Children here need more also; McClymonds just won the State championship and turning around the crime and drug use, dumping and ignoring the for JOY isn't truly a bad thing. But it should be done right.
Long time black residents want these eradicated also. When you have less of this, as one of the elders on Filbert Street told me 'you can't have officer involved shootings when you can keep the police away from the community; keep the crime out and the police don't have to spend tons of time here'.
No one wants their children and family exposed to these behaviors. Black, Hispanic, Asian or White.
Once again, a failure to focus and complete goals to serve the community's needs, serves to embarrass the City. We have folks sleeping under overpasses here. Of course a group of people who are activated to do something to change the subject was and is brewing.
I think the focus should shift the blame from the community. There are those in position who should be working with all of the residents: those who acted and those who want change and to bring everyone to the table.
The divisive nature of this is unnecessary, when all in the community want outcomes not dissimilar. The activists and the residents. In my opinion, that's an exclusive community that recognizes the needs of the poor and under-served and longtime disenfranchised and balances it with the growth and development for change that includes affordable housing and jobs, is what needs mending.
What's sad is that this blemishes the many actually good and caring officers in the department.
So I too am for an overhaul and I think Mayor Schaaf kicked off the fixing of this by putting the right leadership in.
Now, if only we could get eyes on the issues that plague our city, like this story has managed to uncover (as it continues and unfolds). It's exactly things like this that take away the resources we need on the community concerns we consistently have. As someone who sits on several boards and volunteers my time on commission(s), this is a G.D. SHAME. The time we spend as citizens trying to clean up communities, we are CONSTANTLY TOLD "we don't have money for this OR we are trying to do this". THIS IS WHERE OUR TAXPAYER MONEY IS GOING? WTF? So when I chair our Beat NCPC next month, this question will be at the top of the list. I'm sorry this is happening at all and horrified that its sex with a minor and federally a crime, not just an embarrassment. Perhaps our Local/State/County and Federal representatives across politics and law enforcement can help us figure out why we have to read about this embarrassment, but can't seem to get traction on some of things they're to have oversight on.
People need to do their jobs and stop stealing money for the time they spend supposedly working but are creating news stories to embarrass the rest of us.
Here's a thought: the housing that continues to sit blighted throughout the City is really a problem and also needs to be addressed. I was told by someone (not in city government but appears to be knowledgeable on the subject) that Oakland had a bad past history on racism and doing things like imposing fines on poor or minorities, and these impact fees cause the owners to essentially build up liens and fines against the properties.
Since the City may never see that money if the owner doesn't sell the house, the City of Oakland in its crisis for affordable housing needs to put a moratorium on blight. If you can afford to own a building or property, then you should be able to either RENT apartments in it or work with the municipality to see how something can be done. Perhaps a incentive from the City is to assist in re-establishing these properties and making them inhabitable if the building owners can't afford to make them re-habitable. Owners should then by City mandate, commit to providing these units to the City for a period that is in alignment with a portion of the loan-grant to fix u these properties (5-10 years for example); the writing off of some liens can support the incentives if that's what is compelling owners to stand mute on sales and sitting on premium locations but dilapidated structures. The buildings are standing but may not be habitable. Let's get this construction going because no matter how quickly Oakland identifies housing, if it has to be built from the ground up, that's gonna take some time. And in the meantime, we'll see more folks suffering from the lack of affordable places to reside.
As a West Oakland resident, I can confirm that there are TONS of properties just sitting, vacant, empty and apparently still OWNED by people who just don't do a damn thing with them. These properties continue to be what we see day-in and out with no new improvements and in many ways can be a side-bar to dumping and blight. A city that doesn't care about what the landscapes look like, even in poor communities, are going to have their share of things that express "we don't give a F***" and while that comes from a City that doesn't enforce regulations to make sure it's a habitable place for everyone, that is also expressed in the form of property owners who are not identified and given the opportunity to work with the City since they are not taking care of their properties. Many communities without live-in ownership suffer from obstructive behaviors that impune the community.
There can be room in here for everyone, as long as EVERYONE is at the table and the regulations are fair but the support to solve and creative solutions needs to be more than rhetoric and the promises since an election for Bond Measures may not pass...what happens then?
Bravo for this article. All sides should be heard....no one should be silenced.
There are the passionate voices from the community and even those who have been homeless and saw the Plaza as a refuge but the question that keeps resonating about WHY DID THE COMMUNITY WANT IT REVIEWED AND SHUTTERED?
I can't speak for an entire community but I can speak for ALOT of people who over the past decade worked tirelessly to clean and try to bring a little hope to a long ignored part of Oakland that is on public display due to its position down a very busy thoroughfare.
There are many of us who agree that public space should be public. No one wants to see anyone displaced. But that wasn't the issue for many of us. The issue is how this public space that all who used it claimed to love it, but treated it like a bastard child in many ways.
To us all it's a public space...but, it's NOT A PUBLIC TOILET...NOT A PUBLIC CAMPGROUND nor was it accessible to CHILDREN and YOUTH. Several people who are frequenting the parklet threatened neighbors and frankly that changes the image a bit. Harassed because you are new in the community is a horrendous environment. And the seniors who live across the street, who also want to frequent the parklet, didn't feel safe. Many of them expressed this inasmuch when invited to a PUBLIC discussion (of which there were several) and the disruptions planned to try and stop this change from coming were clearly designed and engineered to divert the need away from this long-needed change.
As a resident of West Oakland for a decade with Family who have lived in Oakland for over 100 years, the St. Andrews Plaza was affectionately but unfortunately referred to 'crack-head' park. I don't find that charming and it's insulting that this parklet is known for being associated with crime and drug-abuse, but not in the good way where people identify their addictions and work towards curing.
As someone who grew up in East New York, Brooklyn (which is wrought with parklets like St. Andrews Plaza), I worked with the community on this change request. We hated the filth, people being fed in the park like animals when there are at least 3 dining halls within a 2 block radius of the parklet and the on-going drug-use and just disrespect of the community is far and away the answer to why the community members I know wanted it changed.
Many would prefer to see that row of buildings immediately alongside changed into something viable instead of being decrepit, ignored, blighted space. How about it becomes housing where lower-income with an extended place for those who reside in the community...FAMILIES, not single adults who don't know which way is up. (notice I didn't say market rate because there is plenty of that in Oakland and more to come).
So, that's my 2 cents which may feel more like 5 cents however, the goal of this mission is to allow the community to use the park again...not have an environment where 70% of the community won't go near it; 30% of the community will but 85% of them do it for reasons most of us don't want to even know.
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