Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Oakland is a Mess

Oaktown continues to be in the news locally and nationally as a mess. The backlash of the BART Police Affair and death expands. Sunday I read an open editorial call for Mayor Dellums to resign by Byron Williams. Yesterday's Forum on KQED was a thoughtful interview with influential Oakland developer Phil Tagami talking about the need for better and effecient infrastructure in our city as the foundation upon which all growth and development must be built. [listen here]

I love our city AND it seems like no
one is at the wheel. I'm not talkling so much about our mayor (I'm not qualified to give a verdict on that). I'm talking about development, problems, issues and festering unresolved mess. The budget is exploding yet are our city services increasing? We balance the budget by closing down our libraries for extended time over the holidays (when most people with money can travel and those who don't need somewhere to go). The streets are in bad shape. Parking is inadequate - and then expensive if you do find it (I think it's easier to part the Red Sea than park on Piedmont Ave. on a weekend night!).

Many are the people I encounter that love Oakland, are proud to live here, yet have given up or become complacent in terms of things ever changing for the better.
We've pinned all our hopes of cleaning up the mess on the building of condos, hoping that if we build it they will come. Then upon a mayor. In my brief tenure as citizen of Oakland we seem to vacilate from hope to hope, touching lightly upon the notion that we all are the power to change the city - yet never being able to organize to make it happen. I think of the power of national night out and the half dozen parties I attended. What if we tapped into that community power more? That was a messy night - but a mess that built and created, not just distracted and made a nuisance.

A Better Oakland is just maybe one of the spots that is providing such organization and empowerment. But how big of a circle of influence can a blog have in a city and culture in which not everyone is online? In the interview Phil Tagami basically said we have lot's of potential, yet our city is a mess - infrastructure wise - so what business will risk to build here if they don't see us trying to clean it up and address some of our key problems, not merely making excuses or quantifying what we've done because of the complexity of our context.


Anonymous said...

One way to alleviate car parking issues is to encourage more bicycling. One car takes up the space of at least six bicycles.

Piedmont Ave is indeed quite popular with Oaklanders and out of towners alike. Same with parts of Telegraph Ave and College Ave. So put in more bicycle parking--real space, not just a token rack.

Wherever I lived or traveled overseas there were way more bike amenities and the people were more in shape.

Michael Huang said...

The problem with Oakland, is that ALL of the individual organization or groups work against one another towards their own special interests instead of supporting one another. Let's just take for example this past issue regarding the BART police shooting. Instead of forming organized statements of protest, and exercising democracy by flooding city council members to take whatever you choose, people just took to the streets and vandalized the property of others to solve what. I'm not sure it did anything but hurt downtown businesses and Oakland's reputation across the nation. I take all the citizens responsible for what happened, by either idling standing by and watching this fiasco, and by participating in it. I have contacted the representatives of the organizations which I belong to, and pleaded for them to make a formal statement regarding the matter, and to send it to their government representation. That's the democracy that I want to be a part of!

Monte said...

I'm with you - I want to be part and participant in that kind of democracy too. You're right in how we so often work against each other, or at least not with each other, towards a common goal. Keep the faith.