Oakland Local

Dear Ms. Drummond,
Your recent article presents a rosy picture for the Foothill Square area. However, the reality of this situation is a far cry from what the city and developers present.

As a local resident and business owner, I have been hopeful since first hearing about the redevelopment of Foothill Square in 2011. The road improvements seemed like a good start. But, the crime in the area has only increased and become more violent over the years, plus the fact that the city and developer chose a low-end grocer will not help this project succeed.
With Foodsco, Ross and Annas Linens as anchors, not to mention the bingo parlor and Head Start Center this shopping center has already been labeled as a discount/poor community /ghetto shopping center. The size of the shopping center and grocery store aren’t nearly as important as the quality and the safety of the surrounding area.
As a consumer, I will travel to Safeway (San Leandro, Fruitvale or Alameda), Trader Joes, Whole Foods or even Berkeley Bowl before I will shop at Foodsco and I live on Truman Avenue, just blocks away. But, It isn’t safe to walk from my house to Foothill Square and if I’m going to get in my car, I might as well drive another .6 mile to the Safeway on Dutton. Sure, I’ll go down to Foodsco when I run out of milk or bread but, I doubt that I will ever do the majority of my grocery shopping at Foodsco.
It has been my experience when shopping at Foodsco in San Francisco and Redwood City, that their advertised prices prey on the uneducated in that they present a sale price that is actually higher than completive products in the store. So, unless you are smart enough to check prices and unit costs, you will be ripped off by this retailer. And as is typical of grocers in poor areas, their produce selection is limited to basic items of poor quality which area overpriced.
Let’s be real here, if I won’t travel half a mile to shop there, no one is going to travel from Castro Valley (where they have Safeway, Trader Joes, Albertsons and more), San Leandro (with 2 Safeways, Grocery Outlet and more) or even other parts of Oakland to shop at Foodsco. They might come to shop at Ross but only if the store is above average since there is a Ross at the much larger and diverse Bayfair Center in San Leandro.
If you go check out the huge Pak ‘n Save store on Hegenberger, you will see that despite the warehouse size, the store itself carries relatively few items. Many of the shelves are stocked with low-end, bulky products just to fill space and it seems that there is never any volume of shoppers, even during the holidays. And this is a discount grocer in the heart of one of the poorest sections of Oakland. But, the residents would rather shop at the local Mexican markets.
The Mayor, City Council, especially Larry Reid, Oakland Police Department and Oakland Public Works have a lot of work to do if this project is going to be sucessful. This part of East Oakland has been going downhill since I moved here five years ago and I have seen no signs of improvement this year. In fact, matters have only gotten worse as the city has failed to deal with crime at any level.
The graffiti in the area is totally out of control. It is only because of 24-hour security that Foothill Square has remained clear of such tags. But, even the AMCAL project at 9817 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94605 has been tagged with guards present night and day. The site above was clean until crews started working there. Now the entire building is covered in graffiti.
For the last month, there has been a homeless encampment at 10511 MacArthur Blvd. I have reported this on SeeClickFix.com and called OPD 4 times about this situation. And yet the person is still there on the sidewalk blocking passage for pedestrians and leaving a huge pile of junk surrounding the area. Will this attract shoppers?
Result of a Sideshow?
Sideshows are a common occurrence in the area and I expect that they will only increase with more spectators for them to show off to. After experiencing one of these illegal events a few months ago, it became very apparent how ineffective OPD is to stop or control such unchecked illegal activities. First a helicopter circled the area for over 20 minutes. Finally a single OPD patrol car pulled up to the area. The officers did not get out of their car. They could not do anything to control the crowd that had gathered. So, they just sat in their car, powerless and helpless. Eventually the crowd dispersed, mostly out of boredom, I expect.
Then there is the violent crime that has been increasing for the last few years. Beside countless assaults, burglaries and robberies, I believe that there have been 5 murders within 5 blocks of Foothill Square in the last year and two of these deaths were women.
Mayor Quan, Larry Reid, Mr. John Jay – Do you really think this is the sort of environment that you would “bring your momma or children to? Have you walked a 10 block radius around this location? Would you expect your momma or children to walk there alone?
 
Please let me know what you plan to do to reduce the violent as well as low-level crimes that plague this area? And how you will accomplish this before the opening of the stores this summer.
Regards,
Gloria Polo

 

 Here are some crime statistics from the AreaVibes.com website-

Foothill Square, Oakland crime information

Statistic Foothill Square /100K Oakland /100K California /100K
Violent crime 2,305 (estimate) 1,683 344
Property crime 7,244 (estimate) 5,288 2,581
Total crime index 9,550 (estimate) 6,971 2,925

Put this data on your website

  • The estimated Foothill Square crime index is 36% higher than the Oakland average and and the Oakland crime index is 138% higher than the California average.
  • The estimated Foothill Square violent crime rate is 36% higher than the Oakland average and and the Oakland violent crime rate is 389% higher than the California average.
  • The estimated Foothill Square property crime rate is 36% higher than the Oakland average and and the Oakland property crime rate is 104% higher than the California average.
The short URL for this post is http://oak.lc/9ta0o.

10 thoughts on “An open letter re Foothill Square (Community Voices)

  1. I agree with the main point the author makes: FoodsCo is a bad business, and is undesirable to the community.

    This pattern of development in which larger and larger retailers are sought as an anchor (and a source of sales tax) is more often than not a failure for the city and the community in which it happens.

    The pattern must change from one of exploitation of the community as a “market” toward one which engages with the local community and helps them put their own businesses in that square. It will be a slower and more arduous process which doesn’t favor the short term goals of speculators and politicians, but who really cares about these vultures anyway?

    I know these words are unlikely to change the situation, but it feels better to say them. I’ve been watching this kind of crap development destroy the world I live in my whole life. I’ve been saying the same thing about it my whole life, and no one seems to listen. It always follows the same pattern.

    Claims are made that this crap will improve the neighborhood.
    It enters the neigborhood, and yet none of the neighborhood gains any real benefit.
    Over time the development declines. The large properties that remain are much too large for a local business to take over when they inevitably go vacant. And so the community then has no choice but to wait for someone else to do something about it.

    Yet when you have small scale businesses lining a street, you get better results.

    And so why do we keep engaging these monolithic developments?
    To answer that all you need do is follow the money.

  2. What they need to do is set up another police station down there, in the shopping center. Not just a sub-station that’s never open, a real police station. A station with cruisers parked outside, one that real police officers actually show up to for roll call and duty on a daily basis.

    • I completely agree with Kilo Mike. They need to setup an Oakland PD precinct near the area. Don’t understand why they don’t. Seems to work pretty well in NYC. Definitely improves response time if precincts are strategically placed over the newly created quandrants throughout Oakland. The former Walgreens on MacArthur across from Foothill Square would be perfect.

  3. You’re not going to get a Trade Joe’s or a Safeway at that location because they both aim at higher income areas where people have more money than time for deli items, higher priced organics etc.

    Even Walmart when it opens in urban areas looks for the higher income areas if the rent works.

    Question: for the residents would a Walmart with a large fresh food area be an improvement over Foodsco in terms of price and variety? Is Foodsco a union store?

  4. I’m intrigued by the inclusion of crime statistics. Typically the goal of redevelopment–especially in “urban” areas–is to CHANGE the neighborhood by adding jobs, reducing blight, and bring businesses to the area, right? Crime doesn’t stop people from carrying on with their day to day affairs.

    And it is awesome that you have a car and can DRIVE to another store for goods and services. For many, this is not an option. The corner store and liquor is their primary food source.

    (I’m curious…what is so wrong with a sideshow or homeless encampments?)

  5. Ms. Polo has many valid points and accurate observations. The pretense of attracting $$ from the wealthier pockets of deep east oakland hill residents as well as those in the immediate surrounding communities is hopefully optimistic. In reality, there may be a initial interest which will diminish rather quickly as those prospective clients interact and observe the real community these establishments will serve in the long-term. Subway has builtproof glass, and the newly planted streetscape trees have metal protective cages for a reason- not just for aesthetics. Daily I observe a complete disregard for the community- graffiti, trash, drugs, postitution, homelessness, illegal dumping go unchecked, despite occasional police presence. Do we really need another Durrant Square like redevelopment project? If you want to increase the tax base and revitalize the area, you need to encourage and facilitate gentification of the area.

  6. Crime is everywhere.yes, I would also be afraid to walk this area at night but there are a number of people who wouldn’t. I also believe it will be a number of thefts at this location.On the other hand it’s life and were living in the ghetto.

  7. Attn: Ms Polo,

    Yes, the flat lands of East Oakland is a violent area, but please remember
    that all it’s inhabitants are not violent people. . . just poor. And the poor
    deserve to have a grocery store and a retail store(s) in their neighborhood.
    Foods Co, Ross and Anna’s Linens will be a blessing for those in the
    neighborhood who do not have the options that you have. And it’s not
    the “uneducated” who are ripped off at the check-out stand; it can happen
    to anyone who doesn’t double check their receipt! For example, Safeway
    is notorious for overcharging customers.

    Please remember, there is another sigment of society that these stores will serve. . . the working class poor.

    I, like you, have options. . . but the next time I go to the grocery store, I’m driving right down the hill to Foods Co. because it’s convenient.

    Signed
    Oakland Hills
    Grass Valley Neighborhood

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