By Dannette Lambert

Gentrification is the word of the day in Oakland. Everywhere you look people are asking, “Am I a gentrifier? Is it bad? Should I care?” What people don’t seem to realize is it isn’t the mere act of moving into a neighborhood that makes you a gentrifier; it’s what you do once you get there.

If you come into someone’s home, do you immediately start rearranging it and moving furniture in? Do you throw away their family photo albums and tell them they have to go to bed at an earlier time or play their music at a lower volume?

No, of course not. You get to know each other, decide if you get along, and, once your host has decided you can stay, you ask politely if there is space to put your stuff. So why do you think you can move into someone else’s neighborhood and start making it over as your own? Why do you think you can move into someone’s ancestral land and start taking it over, evicting them from their homes and pushing out their businesses?

And yet, recently arrived residents of Oakland are doing just that. We would like them to stop. We would like them to include us in on their meetings. Maybe ask one of us what we think about putting in a bunch of high-end markets and pricey boutiques. While you all are dining out at fancy restaurants, some of us are struggling to find a cheap meal.

So I’ve put together a few how-to’s for avoiding the gentrifier label in Oakland:

1. Smile and say hi to your neighbors every time you see them, even if they seem scary or don’t say hi back. Sometimes it takes time to build a rapport and gain the trust of the community.

2. Recognize all the people outside of your door as your neighbors, even if they look different from you and live under different circumstances. This includes the homeless who sleep on the street, the drug dealers who sell outside the liquor store, and the prostitutes walking your streets. Replace the words homeless, drug dealer, and prostitute with the word neighbor. Treating these folks with respect and dignity from the beginning will give you later leverage to talk to them about changing their behavior and getting out of the life.

3. Change the way you look at said neighbors by changing the language you use to describe them. Think about the motivations for their actions. Instead of “that prostitute was out all night selling her body” think “my neighbor (insert name here) was forced by her pimp to stand out in the cold all night and have sex with multiple men she didn’t know.” See if that doesn’t change your opinion of her.

4. Pay your taxes, parking tickets and fines with the pleasure of knowing you are financially helping a beautiful, but struggling city. Be grateful if you are able pay them without too much difficulty.

5. Really think before you call the police. Ask yourself, is this something that can be fixed by a simple conversation? Did a violent crime just happen? Then, of course you should call the police! But your neighbor playing their music too loud is not a police issue. Remember many communities have experienced, and still experience, real trauma at the hands of the police. While you may think a person has nothing to fear if they didn’t do anything wrong, an African American will always be holding Oscar Grant and Alan Blueford in their mind. A simple interaction with the police can trigger the collective PTSD from which the entire community suffers.

6. Remember low-income communities and communities of color are suffering from hundreds of years of historic trauma and this trauma is very fresh in the minds of most Oaklanders.

7. Recognize most of the perpetrators of crime in Oakland have also been the victims of a system you have benefitted from disproportionately.

8. See all of Oakland’s problems as opportunities for growth, creative problem solving, and entrepreneurship. Refuse to complain about a problem unless you are willing to play an active part in the solution.

9. Donate and/or volunteer at local organizations that build solidarity and add capacity to low-income communities of color. Some of my favorites include MISSSEY, The Ella Baker Center, EBASE, Causa Justa :: Just Cause, Black Girls Code, Phat Beets Produce, and Oakland Rising.

10. Shop local and small. Go to the dive bars, hole in the wall restaurants, and small markets as often as the upscale restaurants, swanky bars, and boutiques.

11. If you are opening up a business, make sure your prices are within reach for the majority of people in the neighborhood you operate.

12. Hire locals, low-income folks, people of color, and people from a variety of backgrounds. Take a chance on someone with low experience, but high potential. Hire someone who has been formerly incarcerated. Train some folks. Forgive them for not understanding the ins-and-outs of the workplace as quickly as you would like. If it doesn’t work out, clearly explain to them why and suggest some job training organizations that could help them develop the skills they need for the next job.

13. Recognize Oakland has a very unique and vibrant history and culture, and you were attracted to this city because of the energy that is already here. You should be here to add to that history and culture, not to erase it. We are not San Francisco. We don’t want to be San Francisco. So please don’t try to remake our city in San Francisco’s image. And remember, you don’t gain culture by eating a burrito. You gain culture by engaging in a real and meaningful manner with the person who makes the burrito.

14. Give to crowd-funded campaigns that support local projects by Oaklanders. Encourage low-income folks to launch their own crowd-funded campaigns to help them go to college, get their car fixed so they can drive to work, buy a suit they can wear to an interview, or get a computer so they can pay attention to all that is going on in the community. Invest in your neighbors’ well being. A neighborhood where everyone’s needs are met is a safe neighborhood.

15. Identify your privileges. We all have them. Having privilege is not necessarily the problem, it’s what you do with it. As an Afro-Latina woman, I am not who you would traditionally consider privileged. However, I do have privilege in this society over people who have darker skin, less education, a less respected job, and less money. When I am in situations when these things act in my favor, I use my privilege to enrich myself and the people around me. I mentor people. I try to find jobs and internships for people of color. I teach people how to navigate city services. I know whatever success I gain, I didn’t gain it on my own. I have a responsibility to the community that has facilitated my success to be a resource and asset to those people still trying to make it.

16. If you create a neighborhood organization, make sure the racial and socioeconomic diversity of the group is reflective of the neighborhood. Actively recruit members who have differing perspectives. Find translators that can help facilitate the recruitment and retention of non-English speakers. If there is another organization working in the neighborhood, ask them what they are doing and how you can help, not the other way around.

17. If you plan any major projects in the neighborhood, make sure you do active outreach, and seek the opinions of all your neighbors. Put in the extra effort to build a consensus.

18. Engage with the government and advocate on behalf of policies that benefit all the residents of Oakland, those born and raised here, transplants, people in your neighborhood, and those living in greater Oakland. Support affordable housing, education funding, re-entry services, job training and placement programs.

19. Learn all that you can about the culture and history of Oakland. Take a free, guided walking tour of some of the neighborhoods. Read some books on Oakland. Check out some museums. Go to a few festivals. Talk to elders and ask them what Oakland was like when they were growing up. That older black guy who hangs out the park is a walking historian and a cultural asset. He should be treated as such.

20. Hella love Oakland. Fall in love with our city for everything it ever was, is, and will be. I did a few years ago and have been ecstatic to live here since.

Dannette Lambert is a community organizer and resident in Oakland, CA who works for City Councilperson Dan Kalb. This piece reflects her individual views.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. See our guidelines.

 To follow the discussions on OL about gentrification, follow this link.

358 Responses

  1. oaklandlogic

    The comparison of moving into someone’s home is not a good one. If you moved into a new home, would you leave it the same as it was. If the electrical wiring in your new house was not working, would you leave it, since the electrical wiring was always there, or would you attempt to install something new, safer, and more efficient, for the betterment of people around you (since you know, now your house won’t burn down).

    Yes you should involve your neigbhors, pay your taxes, and be a good citizen, but making the area around you safe and comfortable is not the same as moving the homeowner stuff around, it’s akin to fixing up your new house.

    • peter

      the analogy isn’t perfect, but if you really don’t understand the spirit of what she is saying then move to Walnut Creek?

  2. a person with an opinion

    You suggest that Oakland is *your* home, and that new residents should seek your approval before starting businesses, or doing pretty much anything. You have a lot to say about what people should do to ensure that that they don’t offend your sensibilities, or tread on your misplaced sense of ownership. I’ve got news for you. Oakland is not yours. If I want to start a boutique cat massage salon right next to your 50 year old business, and employ it with rich, white 20-something hipsters, I’ll do just that. And I’ll do it without an ounce of shame.

    You who have been living here for 10, 20, or 100 years don’t have any special claim to Oakland. You’re all “gentrifiers” as much as anyone. Who do you think lived here before you? Nobody? The Native Americans were here first, then the Spaniards, etc. Many places in Oakland — e..g, Temescal and Mosswood — were predominantly Italian American neighborhoods before they became African American. By your logic, African Americans in Temescal are “gentrifiers”.

    Get off your high horse.

    • Brian

      Right. These aren’t like, rules set in stone. They are rules for not being an asshole. You can open up your cat salon, and pay no attention to what it does to the community around you. Thats fine, it happens all the time and its not like you will be a unique cause to the problem. It just makes you an asshole. You are able to be an asshole, but this is a list to avoid doing just that.

      Now that I’ve said the inflamatory thing: Sure, people have always moved in and out of areas. Nobody has “ownership” of Oakland, and nobody has a right to claim that their way is the only way. But the decisions we make effect the lives of those around us. We can choose to disregard that, and people often do, but if we consistantly choose to ignore the effects of our actions then that says something about us. This list is a good list of ways to avoid that.

      You can choose to ignore the consequences of your actions, but it says something about you if you do.

  3. Pamela Mays McDonald

    You took the words right out of my mouth. I couldn’t have said it better. Thank you for speaking my mind.

  4. Ben

    Wow! Very illuminating to read this, given that I have been corresponding with Dannette about crime problems in my neighborhood, which is in Dan Kalb’s district. I certainly agree that all of us — newcomers or not — should try our best to kind, sympathetic and friendly to each other. But I’m deeply troubled by statements like “Smile and say hi to your neighbors every time you see them, even if they seem scary or don’t say hi back.” I generally try to be friendly, but I’ve encountered some people in Oakland who seem to share Dannette’s view that I owe them a hello. It’s astonishing to be hurrying to work, your mind on your sister’s hospitalization, only to be berated by someone who think you’re disrespecting them because you didn’t say “hi.” And Dannette’s statement that I should simply regard “the drug dealers who sell outside the liquor store” as my neighbors sheds a lot of light on why Oakland’s government seems unable to help with our crime problem, which includes shootings that have taken young lives in my neighborhood. I respect my fellow Oaklanders, however long they’ve lived here. And we do need to address poverty and other social programs. But I deeply resent Dannette’s implication that I should simply shut up about Oakland’s problems, smile at everyone (no matter how rude or threatening they are) and focus on paying my “taxes, parking tickets, and fines” with “pleasure.” If I don’t want to smile, I won’t. If I need to call the cops on a drug dealer, I will. And if I see crime and other problems, I’ll complain about them to the city all I want — that’s why you get my tax money.

    • kathleen

      Wow Ben… There’s much to respond to in your comment, but most salient is this: “If I don’t want to smile, I won’t…” I think this is at the heart of this whole discussion. If I won’t smile back at someone, be they the homeless man on the corner, or the addict on the stairs, I convey a special kind of disrespect. I was a social worker for many years; I lived and worked in San francisco in some of the roughest housing projects; 15 years ago I moved to Oakland and again worked (and live) in what some consider “dicey” neighborhoods. I was never assaulted or threatened. Some of it was luck, some of it was wisdom, but a lot of it was this: I treated everyone with respect. This means that when somebody called out “hey, baby… good morning” I responded, and kept.on.moving. By doing so, not only did I treat that person with dignity, I also did not give him/her reason to retaliate because of feeling disrespected. They idea that we can walk anywhere we wish (and by extension, move anywhere we wish) and disrespect and refuse to even acknowledge, those we come in contact with is at the heart of the privilege enjoyed by those who come here with preconceived notions of “changing” Oakland.

      • Nevermind

        Kathleen that is 100% your choice and your choice alone. The fact that you want everyone else to act this way is literally exactly what you are speaking out against. Not saying hello every single day to every single person you see is not being disrespectful. If they say hello, say hello back. If you say hello, great. But I’m really not sure how this is even in any way remotely an “Oakland” thing. That city is sounding more and more shitty by the minute, and ironically it’s from the people who have been there the longest!

  5. max cadji

    Great article! Dannette is a great organizer and spends her time balancing the needs of all the loud, self-entitled NYMBY folks while at the same time actually talking to people on the streets and offering support for families in need and caring about this that have little to no political voice in Dan Kalbs district. I’ve never encountered this before in a political aide, its refreshing that someone can understand the city process and connect folks on the streets and corners to policy makers.

  6. Josie

    LOL “Unless you’re native american…” Boy ya’ll white folk get so annoyed. The author is obviously saying what you folks tend to not do, talk to people. Don’t just run into your house and pretend that life is happening around you. Calmly waiting for your all organic coffee shop to open up.

  7. Trader Vic

    Holy high horse Batman! Should I give all my money to charity too? Back wax for the bum on the corner? What classic drivel from an over-indulged American hipster mentality. Ironically the author is merely perpetuating the concept of us vs them thinking that she seems to decry in the article! Plus the advice to embrace the local homeless and criminal element seems absolutely devoid of any perspective regarding the very dark underbelly of our Oakland (or anywhere else for that matter) and what it’s criminal element is capable of. Would you tell your kids to do that?

    D.L. you think entirely too much about what other people should be doing. Focus on number one, be kind to your fellow humans, stop judging them and mind your own freakin’ business!!

  8. OaklandNative

    It’s interesting that these commenters criticize Dannette’s article, yet they said nothing about Stephen Kopff’s article.

    Didn’t you find his essay offensive?

    These responses show the divide between gentrifiers and Oakland natives.

    At least Dannette is trying to bridge the racial divide (yes, race is at the center of this).

    So does know that many Oakland natives agree with Dannette shock you? Does knowing that the people you are moving next to (your new neighbors) might not see you as wonderfully as you see yourself, offend you? They might resent you?

    Would you feel more comfortable living with strangers?

    Why come to Oakland and complain about it? It is not that you don’t have a right, it’s just stupid. No one made you move here. If this is all you can afford, then learn to live with it. I don’t want to hear your complaints.

    Dannette is right in her home analogy. If you move in a neighborhood, you’re moving into someone’s home. Respect it or leave it.

  9. TerryChristian

    Ms Lambert is also an aide to Councilmember Dan Kalb. I wouldnt admit to it, either, but it’s true. I cant imagine her boss agrees with this stuff, or would recommend not calling the police when you want to.

    Actually, a lot of people would argue (I certainly would) that the mere act of moving into a neighborhood can make you a gentrifier. In this debate here in Oakland, if you’re white, college educated and making a certain income, you are contributing to gentrification. The rental market doesnt care if you’re a nice white or a mean white: it’ll appreciate nevertheless. The sad truth is that gentrifiers cannot have their cake and eat it too. They cannot move in and just be nice and have no impact. A better message would be “Since you insist on coming here and causing housing market pressure, the least you could do is…” Doing these things will not remove newcomers from the process of gentrification.

    Im not necessarily opposed to gentrification, I just think a fact’s a fact. Im white; but I live in the hills, so Im where Im supposed to be.

    Your “coming into other people’s house” analogy seems to imply that if neighbors dont like you when you move in, they are right and entitled to have you move. That’s dumb. Your house is your house. The neighborhood you live in is absolutely, positively not yours in the same way. It is good that there are not neighborhood gatekeepers deciding who’s allowed to live in Oakland and who’s not. I get the point, but the analogy is inelegant.

    I dont think you have to treat drug dealers with respect. I also dont treat liquor store owners with respect, or porn shop owners. Sorry.

    Actually, I do get to complain about something without having to have a solution or actively participate in a solution. Just like I can oppose the war in Afghanistan without knowing exactly how to withdraw, or I can oppose income inequality without knowing exactly how to rejigger the tax code.

    There are people who’s job it is to solve these problems. People like you and your boss (to whom I am to pay my taxes and parking tickets without complaint). I dont expect to be told that I have to do everything, or anything, for a basic condition of cleanliness and safety. I feel entitled to it, as should all Oaklanders. I know it’s a bit ridiculous to expect it, and my neighborhood doesn’t have it, but that’s how I feel.

    Most of these things are decent and considerate things to do, and it’s important, generally, to be self-aware and to be thoughtful about your place in your community. Being civically engaged is good wherever you live, as is volunteering and mentoring people. If you live in a place and are ignorant of its history, you are missing out on a lot and may not really understand what’s around you; in certain, discrete situations, it could lead to misunderstandings and could even hurt someone’s feelings. All in all, this is a fine list of recommendations.

    That said, there are two points I think are essential:

    a) You do not have to do any of these things to earn the right to live in a new neighborhood; and

    b) Depending on your demographic profile, you’ll still be a gentrifier even if you do every single one

  10. Wilson Riles

    Ms. Lambert is right! There is much deep, traditional wisdom in what she suggests. It is neither a liberal nor a conservative wisdom but is a human wisdom. Some Occupy Oakland folks plunked themselves down in front of City Hall declaring that they knew best how to bring about more justice and equality in Oakland; the ignored current activists or denigrated them for not being willing to use the violence against property which attracts attention. Some “urban pioneers” move into neighborhoods also thinking they know best how to do what everyone wants: freedom from crime, violence, and poverty. Like the “manifest destiny” pioneers of old they are quite willing to use the power of the state and the oppressive forces of monopolistic industry to sweep away the ‘natives” that precede them on the lands. Those antagonistic forces are exactly the ones that have always led to the creation of dysfunction, violence, and poverty. You can not end violence with violence. Those who are disturbed by Ms. Lambert’s suggestions are triggered by the unmasking of the psychologically deep, unconscious American colonial memes that reside alongside racism.

  11. A

    I have to agree with all the comments everyone has mentioned before me. What I took from it is that the author is okay with all the “new” people as long as they conform/assimilate to the way she feels is right and that you have to ask permission to do anything. Oakland doesn’t belong to any group/race of people. Times are changing whether you like it or not.

    I find it hypocritical of people who think that you have to assimilate moving to a new place (not to say you shouldn’t be respectful, but then again respect is a two way street). Where’s the individuality in that? Where’s the celebration of diversity? Before the influx of people of color, Oakland was predominately white. Did those people “Ask for permission” or assimilated into what was there already?

    This isn’t the first time someone wanted to get all the benefits of the extra income being generated by the influx of people but still try to regulate them as if they are somehow owed something.


    • Bee

      omg. please just stop. comparing the epidemic of white flight in oakland (past) to people being pushed out of their homes (present) is not a good comparison.

      It always amazes me when ppl are so blind ( yes i’m talking about mainly white people). they don’t realize they are repeating their ancestors past by forcing people to leave their homes, or moving into other peoples turf and proclaiming that their culture is better-deal with it. Really, think about it. Assimilation has already happened one way. Everyone assimilates to white culture because we live in a white society. A two way street would be if new people that moved in actually tried to assimilate and get to know their black/ppl of color neighbors (rarely happens because people are scared to talk to black/ppl of color).

      Read this article and freaking learn. you have a chance to actually do something different. you have a chance to not think individually, but think of the community-you know the whole picture type of thinking.

      People need to recognize Oakland has a deep history. its one of the only cities on the west coast with a large black population. It’s where the black panthers held many rallies (my mom who is in her sixties still talks about it). it is not easy for black people to recreate pockets of culture that Oakland has for them because we are a minority and also don’t have the economic power to mass produce our culture everywhere. It is hard to see a city like Oakland change to all white faces because-well-where will I go that I can feel comfortable socially?

  12. Kimberly

    horrible article on so many levels
    do only non black people qualify as gentrifiers?
    I’m black recently moved to Oakland and there are urban campers aka homeless people on my street and pimps and hoes and crack dealers all of which I want gone and anyone who is sane should too
    so much of Oakland needs to be reformed cleared out cleaned up gentrified whatever too want to call it it needs to happen
    those long time residents that are experiencing changes should participate in the changes and welcome the flowers and gardens and be happy there are less crack pipes to step over

  13. Daniel Monroe

    What a great list of harm reduction principals! I love the simple and tangible ways that you have lined out to be a ‘good neighbor’ which is what everyone should aspire to.

    I would like to just comment though that when you say that instead of thinking of someone as a ‘prostitute selling herself’ you think think of her as ‘my neighbor forced by her pimp to have sex with random men’ that, while it may switch the lens from being a rejecting to a pitying gaze – a pitying gaze is still dehumanizing. Thinking of sex workers as ‘people who are doing sexual labor either out of choice, compromise, or coercion’ recognizes that there might be many reasons somebody might be doing sex work, that you don’t know the reason and you should respect their agency to do what they do, while also being available if someone comes to you to ask for help.

    I think that is the major force of gentrifying behavior – when people no longer see each other as humans, but rather chess pieces getting in their way

    • Amanda

      “Thinking of sex workers as ‘people who are doing sexual labor either out of choice, compromise, or coercion’ recognizes that there might be many reasons somebody might be doing sex work, that you don’t know the reason and you should respect their agency to do what they do, while also being available if someone comes to you to ask for help.”

      Thank you for recognizing peoples agency. I want to add to your point that there are plenty of organizations in the east bay offering assistance to sex workers. If someone on the street in Oakland comes to you to ask for help a healthy sense of caution is warranted.

  14. CWM

    This piece articulates an idea that is very common in Oakland: that that gentrification is the result of bad attitudes. This is simply not the case. It happens when wealthier people move into poorer neighborhoods (regardless of whether they are nice or mean). Yes, you should be nice to your neighbors, but fighting gentrification requires collective, political action, not just a better attitude.

  15. Stopfrontin

    Yes, treat others with respect. Be a good neighbor.

    Being a good neighbor means not accepting the toxic behaviors that seem to be socially acceptable to a HUGE number of people in Oakland. Until I moved here, I NEVER thought it I’d see a place where it is a regular occurrence for men physically assault women on a crowded public street and nobody even blinks an eye. The only person I ever saw “call out” the “privilege” of a man hitting a woman was a tiny little bald white “hipster” covered in tatoos from his neck to his fingers.

    Until people, ALL people, get their shit together then don’t think for one instant that anyone who wants to be a positive and contributing member of Oakland’s community should accept the assaultive, violent, misogynistic, and abusive behavior that people hurl at others. If you can’t handle that kind of honesty, maybe you should spend more time talking to the folks that live in deep East, or maybe the ACORN projects. Hit the streets and see what things are really like here.

    Perhaps you haven’t had a gun put to your head by a young man demanding your phone and wallet. Perhaps you haven’t picked up shell casings left on the sidewalk in front of your home after a gun battle. Perhaps you haven’t gone and looked into the eyes of mothers who have lost their children to bullets. Perhaps you haven’t seen women knocked to the ground by ignorant men who abuse their physical stature. Perhaps you haven’t watched multiple people bleed out and die in front of you. Perhaps you haven’t had to wash away the blood of a young black man from the sidewalk after another young black man steals their life away from this world.

    I have. I live in the flats. I know what the score is. I’m not going to sugar coat this shit to play the PC game where nobody should be held accountable for the actions they take. NOBODY should accept some of the shit that goes on here. Period. The children of Oakland deserve BETTER than what the community, city government, police, and NGO’s have created.

    So if “gentrification” means building a stable and thriving city with a low enough cost of living that single mom’s (don’t even get me started on the subject of young men that cannot seem to figure out wtf a condom is) can raise their children in peace and parents can have a reasonable expectation that their kids won’t get shot on the way home from school…then you need to SERIOUSLY reevaluate your priorities.

    As for the obsession with yelling about artisan markets and suchlike, go put your fingers in the holes left in a door by bullets that took the life of an 8 year old girl when some peice of human waste pumped her grandmother’s apartment full of bullets over a bullshit street beef. Then come talk about what the real problems in Oakland are…

    Now go ahead and call me nasty names all you want. Everything in this post is the truth, and anyone who is actually active on the streets and in their community knows it. Black, white, latino/a, asian, man, woman, trans, gay, lesbian, straight, anarchist, liberal, gentrifier, squatter, police, activists, politicians, business owners, from goddamn Phil Tagami to the poor lost souls that help each other shoot heroin into their necks on my block…they know.

    This is Oakland, and you had better approach it with open eyes.

  16. Holly

    All the people contradicting this article seem to be unaware of one thing. Priviledge. Some people get to choose where they live and some get pushed around. Sure you have every right in a free country to open whatever business you want to. God forbid your rights get denied. But how about you consider others for just one moment first? As long as you only care about your behind, you will be the only one protecting it. Ok. Maybe it was an Italian-American neighborhood before but did they get pushed out or get upwardly mobile by being accepted into the “white” person category?
    You don’t want to talk to “threatening” people? Good. Neither does anyone else but I have learned that these people might have your back with just a daily smile. Just an acknowledgement of humanity and not that you approve their behavior. One question. Why are they threatening? A lot of crime is opportunistic in these areas. Do you have your ipad, iphone, ipod, etc out in plain view? Its not right at all nor does anyone deserve it but put that college degree to work and put your crap away!
    I work with kids every day and they don’t owe me anything but at least I know I am trying to make a difference.

  17. stopfrontin

    The second someone is threatening you with physical violence and/or death in order to obtain material goods from you, any conversation about “privilege”, “oppression”, “colonialism”, “racism”, etc is over. Period. Over.

    There are plenty of folks who place the value of property over the value of people and are quite willing to do harm or take life in order to obtain it. This requires the willingness to respond in kind. The police are incapable of “protecting” anyone in this town, for a plethora of reasons that are pointless to go into.

    Treat people decently, with respect, and as human beings…but the second someone threatens you with violence make it VERY apparent you can and will respond in kind. That is the way of things, and if you deny that then you are simply denying what life in Oakland is really like.

  18. Holly

    So African-Americans, Native-Amercans, and Latinos should stop complaining because they are benefitting from all the “good” things wealthy people have contributed? Maybe you didn’t mean it that way but thats how it sounds.
    What has historically happened when people of color moved into white neighborhoods? Persecution and sometimes violence. Welcome to our world. It shouldn’t happen to anyone but stop trying to act like your “rights” are available to everyone. All we want is people to reflect on the fact that everything you have was brought on the backs of others. Maybe it was your parents or maybe people fighting for civil rights. Compassion is the word.

  19. Jonas

    Dear Oakland,

    I moved into one of your West Oakland neighborhoods last year. Am I a “gentrifier”? Well, I cleaned up the run-down house I moved into. I cleaned up the front yard. I planted a small garden and did some landscaping in the backyard, I also did (and do) more than that. I clean up tons and tons of trash every single day. Not just trash directly in front of my house, but trash up and down the entire street. As soon as it’s cleaned up, there is more trash there the next day. I even see my neighbors littering right in front of their own homes. My neighbor will park on the street in front of my house, finish his McDonalds, and then throw the wrappers and his empty soda container onto the street before walking into his apartment. Nice. Classy. Way to take pride in your neighborhood.

    So am I a “gentrifier” for moving into “your” neighborhood? For cleaning up the house I moved into (and I don’t even own the house, I rent it)? Am I a “gentrifier” for fixing up the backyard? Am I a “gentrifier” for doing basic upkeep on my front yard, for cleaning up the street not only in front of my house, but up and down the entire street? So I say this to other people thinking of moving here: please, move into my neighborhood. If the result is better grocery stores, cleaner streets, fixed-up houses and cleaner apartment complexes with a paint job and some basic landscaping and general up-keep…well GREAT! Instead of complaining that new residents are part of the problem, take a look at the original residents of the neighborhood. Are they doing THEIR part?

    I am not rich. I am not wealthy. I am not even middle class. I would fall into the lower middle class rankings. I have 3 roommates in this house. We all work hard. We get by, but by no means are we “well off”. But we do what we can, and we take pride in our little house. We take great pride in the street we live on. We have enormous pride in the greater neighborhood that we now call home. I do not disrespect the folks that lived here before me (some of them have lived here for over 30 years). I smile. I always say hello (nobody ever says hi back). I refuse to live in this neighborhood afraid or ashamed. I want to live in a cleaner, safer neighborhood, and our neighborhood seems to heading in that direction. I hope they build nicer grocery markets in the area. I’m glad to see a couple of nicer restaurants have opened as well. What I don’t like is the fact that a lot of people who scream “gentrification” refuse to take any pride in the neighborhoods they’ve lived in for decades. Something as simple as cleaning up the trash, or planting some flowers, or calling the city to come pick up that mattress that always seems to get dumped down the street (I call all the time. It takes a few days, but they always send someone out to pick it up. Unfortunately, it’s a cycle that repeats itself every few weeks).

    I am proud to live in Oakland now. I am proud of the little improvements I have made to this old house, and for taking pride in my new neighborhood. I will continue to smile to my neighbors and say hello. Maybe someday they’ll say hello back. I will continue to clean up trash on our street. Maybe someday, my neighbors will decide to stop littering as they walk down the street. Maybe my neighbors will decide that it’s not courteous to their neighbors to blast the stereo as they speed down the street at 90mph at 7 in the morning. Gentrification? This has more to do with respect, pride, common courtesy, and working together to make things better regardless of age, race, economic status, or how long we’ve lived in “your” neighborhood. It’s “our” neighborhood, so let’s all do what we can to make it clean, safe, and enjoyable for everyone who lives here.

  20. CWM

    I definitely think that people should be nice to their neighbors—of course!—but the way to stop gentrification is by stopping evictions, strengthening rent control laws, building protections against predatory banks, funding the Oakland Community Land Trust, etcetera. These are things that will stop the displacement of poor people and it kind of doesn’t matter whether you’re really mean or really nice. Gentrification is about the political economy of the housing market—not about having the right attitude.

    • Martha Wallner

      Yup, ditto to all that. Gentrification is systematic displacement supported by public policy – how individuals behave is just a symptom. I know it’s hard, but imagine if we lived in a state that actually valued community as much or more than the enrichment of the very very few. I do imagine and work for that everyday.

  21. a student

    Obviously there is no lawww preventing you from doing that – but should you? I hope that your sense of what is appropriate, or of the “right thing to do”, goes beyond your own personal desires. People would benefit from all sorts of things that as a community we do not condone – a lot of laws reflect this. So — obviously you cannn open a place like that, but you would disrupt a community in doing so. It’s not an issue of who has what right to whatever — really, really, it’s not about rights — it’s a matter of respecting people, as people. If you don’t have even that basic level of respect for the community that you are a part of, then I don’t know what to say, except that you shouldn’t demand ANY respect from anyone else.

  22. Stopfrontin

    “b) Depending on your demographic profile, you’ll still be a “gentrifier” even if you do every single one”

    Absolutely true, if you are a cracker ass honkie white man you can do the “fighting oppression” tapdance til you’re blue in the face but to a large portion of folks in Oakland you will always be a dirty gentrifying colonialist.

    Its absolutely pathetic.

  23. Marisa

    I think this is a great public service message. Gentrification means many different things to different people, but clearly in this case it means, “a privileged and antisocial attitude that breeds resentment.” Obviously there are a couple people who just don’t get it. But I think plenty of people do and will. And I love that the author is working towards people co-existing together happily. Thank you!

  24. OK4Oakland

    Y’know, there was a city where this fellow’s prescriptions were followed.

    It’s called “Detroit”…they have a football and baseball team too!

    If it wasn’t for fools willing to settle in Oakland, Detroit is what Oakland would look like.

  25. OK4Oakland

    And all of THOSE things is how Oakland came to be ripe for gentrification in the FIRST PLACE.

    So you want to do MORE of them?

    If you want a nice and safe Oakland, insist on respect for the Sanctity of Private Property,(even if it belongs to someone else),

    All else follows from this simple ideal.

  26. OK4Oakland

    “All the people contradicting this article seem to be unaware of one thing. Priviledge.”

    Uhhh, you better “check your OWN ‘Privilege'”.

    (Can’t even correctly spell the word she wants to use to beat people over the head with!)

    You must be on the Oakland School Board

  27. williams

    stopfrontin, if you think the endgame for developers, real estate flippers, and incoming rich white people in oakland is to create a market where a single black mother will be able to afford an apartment then you’re devestating naive.

  28. Catherine Montalbo

    The ignorance, arrogance, and naiveté in this piece is breathtaking. I simply don’t know where to begin. Perhaps with this: “Shop local and small. Go to the dive bars, hole in the wall restaurants, and small markets as often as the upscale restaurants, swanky bars, and boutiques.” You do realize that many if not most of these “upscale restaurants, swanky bars, and boutiques” that you sniff at ARE local and small, right? Or this: “Hire someone who has been formerly incarcerated. Train some folks. Forgive them for not understanding the ins-and-outs of the workplace as quickly as you would like. If it doesn’t work out, clearly explain to them why and suggest some job training organizations that could help them develop the skills they need for the next job.” So let me see, as a business owner or hiring manager, I should hire someone with little or no job skills and if it doesn’t “work out,” fire them but do it in a nice way. Do you understand how irresponsible that approach is? And how dare you presume to speak as though you and your point of view represent all of Oakland. Who is this “we?” Your “we” does not include everyone, including me. The attitudes displayed in pieces like this only serve to contribute to the divisiveness in this City, and it’s profoundly disappointing to know it was written by someone who works for Councilman Kalb.

  29. Kanye Oberst

    There is no such thing as a ‘gentrifier’. Gentrification is an unstoppable capital process that’s bigger than any one person. Contrary to what is written here, the mere act of moving into a neighborhood undergoing gentrification is indeed contributing to the process. But, if you hadn’t done it, someone else would have.

    Urban apartments turn over. Rent goes up. There are more dollars chasing housing in the bay area than there were last year. You are not going to change that.

    Be happy about the fact that you can pay higher rent, sustain more expenditures on ahi tuna, and have more cash left over to start a business than whomever previously lived at your residence. You’re deluding yourself if you thinking you are obligated to or even capable of preserving the character of the up-and-coming neighborhood you live in. To presume otherwise is mere wankery.

  30. Seiji

    Thank you for this. It’s a thoughtful and helpful piece for people in Oakland – and cities around the world.

    I’m in deep agreement with almost everything in here, especially the overall tone. The framework of valuing community over transactional value is critical and far from inevitable. Thank you for championing it.

    Small quibble with #3. This doesn’t seem to allow space for the sex worker who is her own boss because it is the best available income she can earn. While I think we agree that many men and women would prefer other sources of income if available, I think it’s important to allow that sometimes sex work is the best available alternative.

  31. Rosa

    It is important to remember you have a CHOICE. You can decide not to live in that neighborhood where drug dealers stand at the liquor store or in Oakland at all. That may not be true for the neighbors you look down upon, as they may not be affordable to live elsewhere.

    Live in a place where you feel comfortable, especially if you can afford it. There are honest families living in these neighborhoods and they would like to have a home, period.

  32. Ben

    One of the most disturbing things about this piece is the misleading bio at the bottom. Dannette Lambert is, in fact, the ‎Community Services Coordinator at the City Council’s District 1 office. She’s a government official in councilman Dan Kalb’s office who is supposed to help solve community problems and help people in District 1 access city services. I live in this district, and she’s the person I’m supposed to contact if I have a problem. I have to wonder how Dannette Lambert’s responsibility to impartially work for ALL residents of this district could possibly square with her two-tier vision of city residents — the worthy citizens and the unworthy newcomers who need to stop complaining and just smile and be grateful to pay their taxes and fines. How many years do I have to live in Oakland to be eligible for Dannette Lambert’s first tier? If I want to open a business in District 1, should I check to make sure my business is acceptable to Dannette Lambert and Councilman Kalb? If I’m the victim of a crime, will she have more sympathy for me or the perpetrator?

  33. Dave

    There should be a competition for who can open the most obnoxious, snotty, insular, white business possible. Cat massage is pretty good.

  34. Catherine Montalbo

    (I posted a similar comment about an hour ago, and it was deleted, so I will try again. Editor, if you decide to delete my comment once more, you have my email address, so an explanation would be appreciated.)

    The ignorance, arrogance and naivete displayed in this piece is breathtaking. I don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps here: “Shop local and small. Go to the dive bars, hole in the wall restaurants, and small markets as often as the upscale restaurants, swanky bars, and boutiques.” You do realize that many if not most of the “upscale restaurants, swanky bars, and boutiques” that you sniff at are also “small and local,” right? Or this: “Hire someone who has been formerly incarcerated. Train some folks. Forgive them for not understanding the ins-and-outs of the workplace as quickly as you would like. If it doesn’t work out, clearly explain to them why and suggest some job training organizations that could help them develop the skills they need for the next job.” So let’s see, as a business owner or hiring manager, I should hire someone with little or no job skills or experience, and if it doesn’t work out, fire them, but in a nice way. Do you realize how irresponsible this approach is? And how dare you think you can speak for all of Oakland. Who is this “we?” Your “we” in this article does not include everyone, including me. Pieces like this only serve to contribute to the divisiveness in Oakland, and it is profoundly disappointing to know that it was written for someone who works for Councilman Kalb.

  35. Matt of West Downtown

    Jonas and Ben said it all for me. This racist, classist protectionism BS is just encouraging nice, community oriented light skinned people to sell, making way for the return of the absentee owner slumlords. By the way if Jerry Brown hadn’t championed investment in downtown, then the 84 year old man I bought my house from would have died in the squalor he survived for 40 years instead of the assisted living home he moved to with the proceeds of selling his house. He wanted to leave, his kids moved to Hayward as soon as they got good jobs.

  36. Thomas Branson

    I moved to Oakland last year. I’m more than happy to help the drug dealers, prostitutes and other assorted criminals on their journey to find an filthy, unprivileged hell-hole they can call home (preferably prison) without worrying about being made gentrified or civilized by calling the police on them whenever I see them committing their criminal activities.

    I will smile and say Hi to them as the police carry them away in the back of a squad car. But not before. They have no right to be on the streets of these United States, much less the streets of Oakland or anywhere near me.

    Oakland is finally changing for the better and all of us can help by getting the criminal element off the street and somewhere else.

  37. Who Cares if I want to fix my house up?

    People who throw out the word “gentrifier” seem to possess an arrogance that comes from thinking that somehow they are better than other people, especially those who are new to settle to an area. And Dannette is reeking of this arrogance. Just because you have lived in an area longer does not mean you are afforded special rights and privileges.

    And from the sound of Dannette’s smugness she is not practicing what she is preaching and “smiling at her neighbors” that have recently moved into the neighborhood. Sweety, it’s time for a reality check. You do not have more rights and privileges because you arrived in Oakland before others. Most of us are immigrants. And if you go back and check your history books the area you live in was predominantly white and wealthy when this city settled in the mid to late 1800’s until the white flight began. At some point African- Americans, Latinos and Asians were “gentrifiers”. Our neighborhoods were thriving with many options for supermarkets and restaurants and services. And now that they are all returning you grab your baby bottle and cry that it’s not fair. Give me a break!

  38. wolfonakayak

    I would like to share this with my community, with my neighbors who are trying to bridge between poverty-stricken black people from Chicago and retired white people from Wisconsin. Would you object to a reprinting in the local newsletters? This is everything I have thought, but I am a white woman and you have the advantage of speaking with the voice of a Latina-African-American, AND you’ve nailed down the “gentrification” problem that I fear might happen in my neighborhood.

  39. mark

    Im not sure if this article is serious or not, the picture isn’t even Oakland, there’s snow on the ground. Anyway, as a 5th generation Oakland resident, I welcome ALL the new people, ideas and ways of life that have come into the best city, in the best state with the best weather in all of the bay area….it has been getting ruined by thugs, drugs, hookers, pimps and a general decay which has been like a cancer on Oakland since the 60’s

  40. nico

    my friend it is laudable what you have done, but you have to consider it’s all according to YOUR definition of “pride,” which involves cleaning and updating something to make it look and work nice. I agree with you, I also prefer things as such. But consider for a sec that people with another culture might not have that as a priority. Do not assume that because someone doesn’t share your values that theirs are bad or wrong. If people are throwing trash on the ground and do not value a trash-free neighborhood, maybe it’s because a lot of nasty stuff goes down in the streets that they can’t control –violence, dumping, crime, etc. Maybe they take pride in other places, like perhaps in their homes, or in their children, or in their relationships — things they may have more control over. Or maybe some people have been so fucked over by this society that they don’t take pride in much. And if you stop to think about it, maybe you’ll understand why that is, and that in the same circumstances you might act the same way.

  41. Amado Guzman

    Replace the words homeless, drug dealer, and prostitute with the word neighbor?
    All poor people must be outlaw?
    This article is plagued with misconceptions and stereotypes.
    It is just adding more wood to the fire!

  42. nico

    I think the point of this article is that “gentrification” is not some cold, indifferent market-driven fact. Gentrification stems from historic race-based inequalities in income and access to resources. A critique of gentrification is really a critique of these inequalities, that affect not just neighborhood demographics but many many other things.

    The most one can hope for from wealthy people moving in to historically poor neighborhoods is that they be aware of these inequalities and in some way work to shift them, because they are indeed benefiting from a system that hurts others.

  43. Paul Lentz

    Well written article Dannette. You asked for a lot (they say to aim high when making requests of people). Seriously, I get all of what you’re trying to say, Dannette.

    My only contention with what you asked for….was having some “gentrified” folks just walk up to a dope dealer and say “hey pal of mine, how are you today”, lol! I somehow dont know if that would be the “wisest” course of action. Those guys are there to do business, and they dont want some stranger coming up to them distracting them from plying their goods….especially when their awareness has to be very high, given that law enforcement is always on the lookout for them.

    But other than that, I really like how you wrote this article Dannette. Keep up the good work……however expect some blowback and resistance to your proposals. Still….I’m sure that some dialogue will come from this…which is a plus. Rome wasnt built in a day….got to start from somewhere.

    Take care Dannette! It would be nice for us to hook back up on Facebook again! I’ll wait for your invite. Hope married life is treating you well!

    Paul Lentz

  44. Jono

    Huh. The whiny, entitled techies seem to have discovered this post’s comments section. And like everything else they discover, they’re completely ruining it.

  45. rodney tallymo

    Where in history do you draw that line when “these” or “those” people were the true and entitled residents of any place? The closest I could think of is Native Americans (although according to Danette, a vague reference to us black folks having ancestral roots in Oakland!)

    In my humble opinion, gentrification is a greater force of economics that is too complex to blame it on “these” or “those” people. And the articles and discussions on so-called gentrification is really just a way to get us all riled up against each other, like so many other things.

    Every person is responsible for their own shit. White folks, you are responsble for any disrespect you put out to people of color and/or your own or ANY HUMAN OR LIVING THING. So yeah, I agree with showing kindness and not fussin over loud music. But my people are also responsible for shootin each other up and all sorts of other shit that make it hard to make a fuss when the ‘hood “changes”. And enough people won’t hear it when it come to ‘single moms’ in exchange for less bullets flying around.

    So stop pointing your finger at anyone but YOU. Also, Danette, if you wanted to write an article TO white people FROM black people, just say that shit. BC all this ‘you’ and ‘them’ without sayin it out right makin you sound more like one of them… And you don’t speak for all of ‘us’… and you work for the government?!

    AND I should be happy to pay my street sweeping tickets when the potholes of these fucked up ass roads ruined my car shocks?! SMDH

    Read something called Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars and re-write this damn article… smh

  46. Jay Porter

    @Ben –

    Interestingly, I had a remarkably parallel experience to your hypothetical. I recently moved to Oakland , in order to open a business in the Longfellow neighborhood. As part of getting to know the neighborhood, I made an appointment with Councilmember Kalb’s office, and it turns out that the community representative for our location was Ms. Lambert (the author of this piece). We met about an hour, and she was very supportive and helpful about our hopes to open our business and contribute something unique and positive to the neighborhood, even though I am a newcomer and even though the kind of business I’m opening could, through a certain lens, be looked at as a “gentrifying” force. (That said, it is our intent to be a positive thing for everyone in the neighborhood.)

    Based on my experience, I would say that Ms. Lambert is in fact committed to her responsibility to representing all members of her district. With that in mind, I think in this essay she’s just trying to encourage all of us in Oakland to be respectful to and supportive of each other, and to consider each others’ different backgrounds and viewpoints before drawing conclusions about what’s best for everyone.

    Jay Porter

  47. You are all being played

    And yet here we have another debate on gentrification, a term that is thrown around all too frequently and carelessly these days for anyone who wants to better their neighborhood. I would much rather have someone move in next door to me who fixes up their home, takes pride in it and the neighborhood and seeks to better the community for all than some bitter individual who wants to gripe that some new person is moving in and driving up their rents by adding value to the neighborhood.

    Newsflash! Neighborhoods do change over time and new people will be moving in replacing the ones moving out so if that is going to crush your precious little world then you might want to pack up and leave now. Dannette you don’t own Oakland so learn to find a way to get along with all your new neighbors or get out.

    And Shame on Oakland Local- they are loving all this drama and they are purposely stirring up the pot. They bait unknowing people to write articles they know will get online readers to attack like piranhas and sacrifice them like raw meat. Don’t any of you be fooled if they ask you to write a community piece.


    I think everyone in Oakland should take these wise words to heart, interacting and learning about the richness and goodness of the prevailing culture for the betterment of all.
    Therefore: I propose that all the current citizens of Oakland learn about the people who constituted 80-90% of the city’s population back in the 40’s and 50’s – working class and middle class Irishmen.
    Learn about their culture, its value and its goodness, and you will have a city worth living in – not the sewer that it is now.

  49. Jane

    So many of the people commenting on this are so basic and clearly did not READ the article..theres more to gentrification than putting in an upscale boutique or cleaning your yard (wow good for you, want a cookie!?) the point of it is that gentrification ruins communities…you shut out the people who make up these areas and then turn around and say well I was taking better care of it now so there…do all the Oakland and Berkeley natives and just go back to wherever you came from. You all are NOT welcomed.

    p.s Fuck these hipsters, they’re like culture leeches. *throws up

    • Gay Chiappetta

      All for driving out drug dealers, pimps/prostitutes and criminals. What are we supposed to do? Let Oakland deteriorate into a no-man’s land? What a bunch of crap – ‘hey crack dealer! Won’t you be, won’t you be, won’t you be…my neighbor?? NO!

  50. wow

    Wow! The author’s horse is so high I’m surprised she can even see Oakland from up there. I’m definitely in awe. I agree with a number of the ideas in this post, but the attitude? No no. Where do you get off with all your assumptions and self-righteousness?

  51. Oaklander4life

    Damn this article makes my blood boil!
    Many people in comments section have said what i wanted to say mainly “Stopfrontin”, “a person with an opinion” , ” Jonas” and few others.

    i have been an Oakland resident for the past 18 years (Most of my life).I love this city very much and i think it has great potentials. I am in my early 30s.
    I am NOT White and I am NOT Rich.

    I actually like my new neighbors. i don’t have to worry about them robbing me at a gun point because i got an iphone or laptop….I don’t have to worry about them breaking into my car. they don’t gangbang or do drivebys. they do push up the rents in Oakland but that doesn’t faze me. i bought my little piece of Oakland in 2008 when the real estate market crashed (frankly, that was the only way that i could afford being a homeowner). these newcomers also do crowd my favorite hangout spots and restaurants from time to time but i guess thats good for that restaurant or bar owner so its ok.
    Most decent Oaklanders that i know don’t mind the changes that we are witnessing. streets are getting cleaner, there are more shops and cafes and more job opportunities for people who want to make honest living.
    Nobody likes drug dealers, gangbangers, pimps and violent criminals . they are not my neighbors! i don’t have to respect them! nor should the newcomers respect them. they are pests who are sucking the life and safety out of Oakland.
    Let me ask you this Ms. Lambert, who has done most positive work for Oakland in the past 50 years? huh? Jerry Brown , thats who.
    because he injected new life and new money and new pride into Oakland. because he cleaned up the city hall and police department . and guess what? he was a rich white guy. was he gentrifying too!?!?
    I think instead of telling the newcomers how to behave, you need to focus your energy on helping east and west Oakland dig their way out of poverty .
    lets teach these folks how to be better residents of Oakland, how to take pride in good things in Oakland not negative stupid things. how to make money and flourish in legal ways , how to become educated , how to work and function and communicate with people from another race or different socioeconomic class. I am hopeful and excited about Oakland. change is coming and Oaktown is going to change in good ways ..

  52. Jessica watkins

    I am surprised to see so many negative comments because this is a really thoughtful article with a lot of good points. A general theme seems to be that some people just don’t care if they are gentrifying Oakland… because people have done it before… This naive attitde reminds me of this amazing web site and this logical fallacy in particular:

    It is easy to not accept responsibility for our actions and attitudes, and especially easy to point to how things were worse in the past. That is cowardly and unproductive. Be a member of your community. Understand your community. What else is there?

    If the only response you have to this article is to attack the writer, you have missed the point. And frankly, you could use some cultural sensitivity training. Like the author said, if you aren’t going to contribute to the solution keep your complaints to yourself.

  53. Sue Taylor

    I wonder, given her position in Councilman Kalb’s office, if Ms. Lambert was one of the facilitators of removing police presence from a stop sign near my home. In neighborhood traffic safety organizing, OPD agreed to train new officers at the stop sign because so many people ignore it – as in traffic deaths, auto accidents, and pedestrian danger. Many people received tickets. Then those same people – entitled, affluent, “connected” residents – who really didn’t like being held accountable for abiding by the law, called their City Council rep and the police were pulled out of the area. Now we deal with gunpoint robberies, home invasion, and massive auto theft and break-ins…and arrogant media articles about how to act in Oakland…oh, and “give back to Oakland; hire private security.” Good grief, get real and honest and have some integrity. This article is disturbing on so many levels.

  54. peter

    What a beautiful piece. I love your analogy. And I appreciate your speaking out for the underdog. You are using your privilege to give a voice to the voiceless. And you are being very fair and loving about it. No judgmental or “overly radical” claims. Cheers!

    I love, “We are not SF and we don’t want to be”. How true. I bet most recent immigrants to the O have no clue about the complex, groundbreaking and unique history of Oakland and the historical importance of it. I am not from Oakland, but I am a Bay Area native and I have always been fascinated by the history of activism and radicalism we are famous for. Thanks to Oakland for being a huge, unique part of that. Not to mention the purely literary contributions of Oaktown. Oh, yeah, ART, too. I’m almost embarrassed to say music, as if anyone didn’t realize that. But I bet many don’t know.

    Thanks for this,

  55. peter

    best comment I’ve read so far. Great recommendations, but no one should be pointing fingers. It’s true.

  56. Doreen

    I don’t agree with all of these but most of these. And I do agree that this is basically a “Since you’re white and moving here this is the least you could do” post. But how many times have POC heard that.
    You’re black the least you could do is

    – not ever get mad, even with good reason…angry black people are scary y’know
    – not wear ethnic hairstyles…those aren’t “professional”
    – calm down when the police pulls you over…I mean black folks all look alike


    You’re Asian the least you could do is

    – (if you’re new to the country) Speak English whenever when you’re in public. This is ‘merica!
    – Be okay with the fact that racism still exist all the while they take “affirmative action ” away from you (certain groups at least)
    – Be all those wonderful gender stereotypes that white folks love so much.

    I guess it’s not so easy being on the other side of things. As a blasian that’s all I can speak to. Oakland is the oddest city I’ve ever lived in. The racism here is insane. And this is coming from a woman who was born and raised in the South. As much as I like Oakland, I know that eventually I’ll go back home. I see why the blacks here are so angry and cautious. Too many times of having whites get scared and clutch their purses and click their car alarms a half dozen times when I walk down the street, in khakis and a polo. One too many times whites calling the police on me because I “stole a car” (i.e I went to my zipcar reservation.) and honestly too many whites asking me about my “black struggle” or “how did you learn to talk so well?” or “you’re part Asian that’s why you’re smart!” and then getting disappointed that I come from a middle class family like most of them. I’ve never felt uncomfortable around white people in my life. Most of my boyfriends have been white, allot of my friends are white. But since I moved here, I feel nervous for the first time.
    I left for Oakland a blasian 3rd generation college graduate from the burbs and arrived a n****r.

  57. Sarah

    Well. It didn’t take long for the hypotheticals and straw man arguments to commence. If your first response to reading this wise, compassionate piece was to get defensive, ask yourself why. Perhaps you are noticing some of your privilege?

  58. chris lee

    “No, of course not. You get to know each other, decide if you get along, and, once your host has decided you can stay, you ask politely if there is space to put your stuff. So why do you think you can move into someone else’s neighborhood and start making it over as your own? Why do you think you can move into someone’s ancestral land and start taking it over, evicting them from their homes and pushing out their businesses?”

    because, you know, you need a formal letter of approval from tribal elders to move to a new locality

  59. chris lee

    The best way to NOT be evicted is to pay your rent or mortgage..problem solved

  60. Lisbeth

    Dear white disrespectful people commenting on this article,

    FU and once again the horses you rode in and destroyed everything on. How dare you speak disrespectfully about the author and the points that she is trying to make in her article.

    The responses I see from you people perpetrate racism and just goes to show the motives you have once you move into Oakland. You have no regard for anyone else but yourselves and your greed. Do me a favor MOVE into Oakland as a matter of fact there’s a perfect spot for you called high street and this on area in East Oakland called the “dirty thirties” move your cat massage parlor in there and see how welcoming the people from the neighborhood welcome you and your bullshit change.

    The native americans suffered a genocide because of your gentrification yet you want to put it in our face to shut up and put up? What right do you have to come in a neighborhood and take take take from the people who made Oakland, Oakland?? The revolution will reign…and hopefully the guillotine will come in to play.

  61. Lucia

    Why move into a neighborhood with people that sicken you. I am sure there a many neighborhoods that fit the needs of each person. Why move into a neighborhood where you are scared of the people who live there and hate how they are living there life! Sounds like a personal problem to me!

  62. Tonya Love

    I was going to address the responses to this opinion blog aggressively and ready to defend my friend, Dannette, because some of these comments ticked me off and I’m a believer in social justice but after marinating on the posts for awhile I feel that all of them had some lessons that we can learn from.

    Yeah I said it! ALL of you make some valid points that we can learn from. If not literally in the words expressed, then in the feelings of the opinions shared. Shocking huh? From those who feel they are being attacked for wanting to improve their community, to those who feel they are being erased by newcomers forcing change on them, to those who aptly acknowledge ALL of the parts that we ALL play in gentrification. It’s all informative to me. I would encourage you all to read each other’s comments carefully and think about what you can learn from each other.

    One thing I would like to stress though: yes, Danette works for Dan Kalb, but she is NOT speaking on his behalf. If Dan Kalb wanted to share his opinion on something I’m pretty sure he knows how to do so.

    She is responding to another blog post that was on this site earlier, but later deleted because the author could not face the criticism leveled at him after declaring himself savior of a neighborhood he is trying to “make better”. For technicality sake, as an employee of Oakland, she has every right to share her opinion as long as she is not speaking in behalf of the city (govt). This is probably why she didn’t put her title.

    However as the community liaison, I think she is doing part of her job (off hours) by sharing a voice in the community that is often ignored when higher level planning decisions are made. Let’s keep it 100, when it comes to development in the community, certain voices aren’t as readily considered when it comes to bringing in local $$ or creating safe and vibrant neighborhoods. She is asking that the general population of new residents to consider the thoughts and feelings of residents that currently live in Oakland. She may no be speaking to YOU or about YOU in particular, but she is speaking for many.

    I ask that you consider that (and Dan Kalb too if he is reading all the comments) should you decide to resent her or Dan Kalb because of this post.

    Maybe not all of her suggestions are practical..but she IS sparking a dialog that needs to be had, no matter how many times it’s been had before. As this post and the countless posts before this can attest: we as human beings STILL can’t master how to deal with change.

    If you think it is divisive to have a conversation, ask yourself why you feel so and if there is anything you are doing (or about to do) that contributes to the division.

    What is clear: Oakland is an AWESOME city, diverse in culture and opinions. However, it will be difficult to move forward if we don’t listen to each other.

    Happy Debating!

  63. Lucia

    White flight was the problem in the first place! They didn’t want to be neighbors in the first place and it looks like you don’t want to be neighbors now. When gentrifies come in their way is the only way and everyone else should hit the road if they don’t conform. Get real and educate yourself about gentrification. How the name came about and what it means.

  64. Ben Waldman

    Thanks for taking the time to share you thoughts Dannette. It is much appreciated.

  65. chris lee

    “7. Recognize most of the perpetrators of crime in Oakland have also been the victims of a system you have benefitted from disproportionately.”


  66. 10DollarLiberty

    As someone who’s hopefully going to be moving to Oakland after working in West Africa for the past two years, two things.

    One – thank you for writing this article, I can feel your desire to help people establish peaceful and respectful relationships with one another across divides. Hopefully we will cross paths, I think much of what you wrote here applies to working in the global south. (Avoid gated compounds and mingle locally, etc.)

    Two – many of the commenters on this article are revolting and I hope I am not associated with your type, even though I know I will be. you have no idea how entitled and gross you people sound, like you have every right to disrupt local culture and even going so far as to call black folks “gentrifiers” as their neighborhoods used to be Italian or whatever. How fucking stupid and clueless of history could you be – its like you don’t even want to ATTEMPT to understand where people are coming from. I get it, its easier to call the cops and try to adapt your environment to your tastes, because hey, it’s capitalism, right. I can see a lot of the grosser aspects of California culture in many of your comments and I look forward to publicly clowning you and making you see how others see you as frequently as possible.

    PS drug dealers are human beings too. fuckin closet Mitt Romney voters.

  67. Andrew

    As a guy who has deep roots in Oakland; I agree with most of the points in this article and very few of the comments made about it.
    Here are a couple points of my own:

    The issue of race is not a simple one. Yes, Oakland is a city full of racial diversity. This diversity includes white people too; it always has. I’m not going to say, “boohoo people don’t take me serious because I’m white.” I try to use my advantages to help others. I do ask you to not assume that I just got here because I’m white. Do not assume that your giant tech dollars are not displacing me too.

    My family got here in the 1930s. That doesn’t give me any extra rights except that I will still be here next to my ancestors bones when some other city becomes the new Portland, Austin or Oakland. I am invested emotionally, historically and financially to this place. My community college educated self will still be an underpaid nurse at the local clinic.

    Since you moved across the country or to this country to buy a house here, you are the definition of gentrification. Please just don’t be a jerk.

  68. Jason

    Gentrification is a sociological process, not an individual choice. Respecting others and being kind are individual choices we all should make, new and old Oakland alike.

    This article seems to confuse the two.

    Furthermore, the real problems, the rampant violence, in Oakland come from “old” residents. They’re the ones shooting guns and mugging people. The other legacy residents of my neighborhood who long for safer and more peaceful streets can see “gentrifiers” like me as an ally to that end. We can use our privilege to compel the City, and OPD, to shape up and work to achieve safer streets. Something that, for many complex reasons, old Oakland has been unable to realize. In the last few years violent crime is apparently on the decline, however, ten shootings w/in 2 blocks of my house in 2013 is unacceptable.

  69. No Noise

    This all sounds great. But my neighbor is a noisy neighbor. And, for 7 years now no one can solve my noise problem, not LAPD, not my city councilmember, not the LA City attorney, no one.

    The reason? My noisy neighbor is a catholic church. Divine Saviour Catholic church, 90065. The part of the reason they do not solve my noise problem is because of the law, Los Angeles Municipal Code Chapter 11, Article 5, Section 115.02b. But the real reason is the city has put “churches” above the law. The city refuses to do anything to stop the noise from a church.

    I lived in my home before they put up their amplified sound system that blasts out of 4 loud speakers 6 times a day everyday. It is a nuisiance. The church does not care that one of their neighbors wants their noise stopped. They have refused for 7 years to stop their noise.

    After I did an interview with ABC7 (google, “ABC7 what’s bugging you noise?”) the priest took me to court in retailation. It was a SLAPP (GOOGLE IT). He lost, I won. But that is not a fair fight for one person that stands up for a message to be taken to court for no reason other than to shut a person up because they do not like their message that I do not like their noise.

    A church forcing their noise into ones home is against the US Constitution. It is against the establishment clause. When the government allows forced church noise into your home the government has established a religion.

    Good neighbors keep noise to themselves.

  70. beautifulwestoakland

    This enabling mentality that is shared by City employees like Danette is what ultimately convinced us to move from West Oakland — while she might be an individual voice, she’s also the person I’d turn to for resolution and most folks in this position are as disdainful of me as they think I am of them. Ironic.

    But, we’re as happy to be gone as Nancy Nadel was to see us leave, I’m sure… However while I was in Dogtown, (1) I paid my taxes (and then some… committing hours of my life on neighborhood crime issues and working redevelopment councils like WON and WOPAC); (2) obeyed the most basic social laws (like not selling crack to teenagers and not robbing my neighbors); and (3) tried to leave a place in better condition than I found it (a la fewer needles on the sidewalk and an extra tree or two). Sadly, the folks held up as “locals” by the anti-gentrification crowd rarely do any of the three.

  71. James Miller


    While I share your enthusiasm about debate (and this one in particular) I do have to chime in on one point you make.

    I think asking readers to divorce Ms Lambert’s writing here from her job as Dan Kalb’s aide is stretching credulity. It’s not like she’s writing about vivisection, or homophobia at the Winter Olympics, or North Korea or some other political issue that has nothing to do with her day job. She has chosen to write a (I think it’s fair to say) provocative piece that intersects directly with her professional life, and the direct responsibilities of her and her boss: land use, housing, community development, etc.

    It’s not reasonable to expect people to suspend disbelief that these views somehow dont reflect how she approaches her work. It would, in fact, be even more disturbing if there actually were a huge difference between how she lives her life and how she does her job. I assume she means what she says here and I assume she’s not a hypocrite. Dont you?

    Also, her POV is particularly important because she is in a position to push for public policies that can help mitigate this situation. This may be a “privilege” she should maybe “check” and consider exploiting somehow. There’s also the possibility that her failure or the failure of her boss to do their job is actually making this situation worse.

    The fact that it appears that she thinks the solution to gentrification has nothing to do with housing policy, development, the strength of rent regulations and eviction protections, or any other policy, but is rather a question of people being nice and respectful to each other, has actual ramifications in the community because she is in a position to actually take some action.

    Besides, its Political Aide 101. Ask any (and all) of the City Hall folks you know: one of the parts of the job is that you no longer enjoy the luxury of expressing your own personal opinions in a public setting. You have a public role now; and you cant just leave your thoughts about city matters “at the office.” It doesnt work that way.

  72. OaklandNative

    Your comment reflects a major part of the problem with gentrification.

    You’ve told us the problem you had with us. Now we’re telling you the problem we have with you.

    If this is how you see us, you are not my ally. You are no more my ally than the criminals–no matter how you see yourself, that’s how I see you.

  73. Steve Kopff

    A few days ago I wrote an article about my experiences as a new comer to Oakland and I was torn to shreds. I asked that it be removed because we were receiving personal threats and several of the comments were spreading libelous mis-information. Dannette herself wrote a scathing comment on my article and I should take the dagger she stuck in my back and stick it in hers.

    But I am not going to- what will that accomplish? Will that really make Oakland a better place? I have one thing to say to all of you- Enough is enough! Don’t any of you pretend that you know Dannette and you certainly better not pretend to know me. She doesn’t deserve these personal attacks nor did I. She had well intentions as I did in writing my article.

    The one thing I took from my experience was that it was wrong to automatically make assumptions about other people. People calling me a gentrifier have not idea the person I am. If they knew me they would know how I’ve made a point to immerse myself in the community and ask them what they want and my voicing those concerns were to help them. The one agenda I do have is to beautify our city streets as it is something I am passionate about.

    For the people who are automatically assuming that new comers are bad, stop it! Take the time to get to know them instead of giving them the cold shoulder. Welcome them into the community and let them know where you are coming from and the issues that are important to you. See their point of view and share yours in a non-confrontative manner.

    I don’t support displacing people and kicking them out just because you want to move in. SO for the new comers that truly do have that attitude and trying to rape Oakland for your gain, you are never going to be part of our fabric so you don’t matter. For the rest of you new comers like me, take the time to meet your neighbors and understand them. Help them out. Have no shame in fixing up your home or bettering the neighborhood because we all belong here. We might be of different income levels, colors, sexual orientation or whatever may divide us but be all belong here. Don’t forget that.

    Take opportunities to bridge the differences and understand each other. Stop using words like “gentrify” whenever you fear that someone is bettering the neighborhood. And we do need to start a conversation on how we can help prevent people from being displaced who want to be here and have.

    I have been humbled beyond belief the last few days. You all need to look in the mirror and see what ugly beasts you have become by pitting yourselves against each other. Stop this madness and find a way to heal the situation. Otherwise this incredible place that, yes, to me, I just “discovered” will be torn apart. I lived in SF for 16 years and didn’t bother coming over because all the SF people spoke of how dirty and crime ridden it was. So for me to see that it is not that way was such a “discovery”. I meant nothing condescending. I am no savior of the neighborhood. I am just some stupid idiot with my heart in the right place trying to feel out neighbors on what is important to them and get discussions going to help them. I was naïve enough to walk into a spider web of built up resentment amongst all these factions. I was insensitive to watching the manner that I spoke not realizing that some people would prejudice my words because I am a new comer.

    Please, all of you, reflect on all of this. Make partnerships with other people that are different than you and with city members and businesses. Find common ground. Be inclusive. I can guarantee there will be a lot less resentment if you put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you make judgments.

  74. Dannette

    Hi all,

    I don’t think I have the time to respond to all of the critiscm, but I do want to make a few clarifying statements.

    People have been saying that the article makes it seem like this is an us vs. them article. That was not my intention, and I apologize if my writing was unclear about that.

    For full disclosure, I moved into Oakland 6 years ago. I’m a gentrifier, too. This article is as much for me as it is for you. And I don’t do all of these perfectly. Sometimes I have to make a hard choice between reporting a bad neighbor to the authorities or talking to the neighbor directly. I’ve done both depending on the circumstances and severity of the situation. A lot of people have been pointing out that this is still written from a position of privilege and fails to look at the plight of the people who are gentrified. They are right. I’m pretty sure someone with less privilege could right a better article telling me 20 ways I could be better in this situation. Somebody already mentioned that my comment on changing your thinking about prostitutes assumed a lack of agency on the part of the woman. It did and that was an insensitive oversight on my part. I welcome the chance to educate myself and learn from their perspective.

    Rather than an us versus them argument, I see this as a competition versus community argument. If you think with a community mindset, you might find a different answer to the same problem. One gentlemen here mentioned buying a home from an older man who otherwise would have died in squalor, but was able to move into an assisted living home because you bought his house. I guess that’s a good outcome.

    But what if, instead, you started a crowdfund and invited the neighbors to help clean and fix his house? Then maybe you could get a young person from the neighborhood who needs a job trained as an in-home care giver for the elder, so he can stay in his home. Then you buy the home down the street from someone who isn’t living under duress (for slightly more money, but then again, you could save on renovations). In the process, the elder gets to keep his home, you’ve built community and beautified the neighborhood, and you’ve found employment for a youth who might have become at-risk otherwise. This way, the entire neighborhood is enriched and you have basically the same outcome for yourself. A better outcome, actually, because you have increased the safety and security of the community while still enriching yourself.

    I understand that a lot of people coming from San Francisco and other places are being gentrified as well. This is a part of a global trend of wealthy individuals making the choice to move into big cities. If you are not a part of the 1%, you don’t have much agency in this process. You have to move and, of course, you are going to move into the neighborhood you can afford, feel the most attracted to and comfortable in. You may be replacing people who have had to leave for the same reasons you did.

    But if you move into the neighborhood with a sense of disdain for the current residents and then start organizing without including their voices, that’s not fair. People in Oakland have wanted it cleaned up and the crime gone for a long time. But a lot of people lack the time, knowledge of how to navigate the system, or financial resources to make it happen. It’s incredibly cruel to watch other people improve the neighborhood to their liking, not include everyone in the decision making process, and act as if the previous residents didn’t do those things simply because they didn’t care. They do care, they just haven’t had the means to make it happen, yet.

    Living with residents with more institutional knowledge and financial means could be a big boon to a low income community, if everyone behaves as a community. Grocery stores tend to show up in food deserts. More businesses move in and there are more places to meet people. Residents who know how to navigate the system can teach others how to advocate on their own behalf. We can plan community events and neighborhood clean up days. We can find ways to help homeowners who can’t afford renovations, or improve the look and operations of already established businesses. We can improve the health of the entire community, not just one sub-section of it.

    My point is, there is no us or them. There is only Oakland. Let’s stop the exclusivity and sit down to find creative solutions together, and work a little harder to include all people. That’s all I’m asking.

  75. chris lee

    Danette..I think people take issue both with the tone as well as the practical advice. This is the US of America..since WHEN has moving to another locality been met with so much formality and melodrama? Also, why do people have to do make special concessions in their expectations on law enforcement, peace and quiet and hiring standards?

  76. henry

    You know what ‘entitles’ you to live in your freakin neighborhood? If you can you pay the freakin rent.

    So it turns out the West Coast has the same annoying, moralistic high-horsed dopes we have out here in New York. Thank god I read the comments and found out you also have a majority of sensical people who sound like great neighbors.

  77. Kristy

    Just because I am white does not mean I have privilege and is by no means an excuse to judge me based soley on my skin color.

    Not all whites moving to Oakland are rich and into trendy restaurants. Some of us appreciate the existing culture. Some of us even have our black/Hispanic/Asian neighbors accept and welcome us (the friendlist people I’ve met have been here). Some of us are old, some mixed race, some like me still struggling even with a full-time white collar job to live in the increasingly expensive Bay area.

    Why should I have to apologize or feel guilt for being white ? For using my hard earned money however I choose ? For caring enough about my new neighborhood to want to open a new business ? For expecting those around me to take responsiblity for their own lives and stop playing victim ?

    You can’t cure a problem through hate and prejudice.

  78. Mike

    Lets be real. Are Chinese people gentrifying Fruitvale? Are Mexican people gentrifying East Oakland? Are East African people gentrifying upper North Oakland? We don’t ever hear that. Why is that? There have been very large populations of these ethnic groups moving into these areas. Nobody ever says those areas have been “gentrified”. Can only white people be gentrifiers? And what some “Oaklanders” call gentrified is hilarious. The ever famous king of supposed gentrification Temescal is still a mess. Last time I was going to dinner at Pizzaiolo there was a syringe on the ground in the Walgreens parking lot. In fact, there was murder in that parking lot about 5 years ago. And there have been numerous strong arm robberies in that exact parking lot too. And this is gentrified? Only in Oakland….

  79. needa bee

    I love this article….and due to the fact that i dont deal with the gentry class im shocked at the negative responses and its always remarkable to me how blind, arrogant and entitled people with privledge are.

    I think a there needs to be a common understanding at what exactly gentrification is due to tthe comments it appears we dont have the same understanding. Heres a shot: the systematic and deliberate removal of low income, poor and working class people (which prior to the onset of gentrification in 2000 was 85% of oakland according to us census data, and majority black) to systematically and deliberately make room for and offer incentives to the gentry class (middle and upper class people with financial, resource, education, networking ie who they know and are related to privledge and tend to be white but come in all hues including black). The systematic and deliberate displacement of the less finacially affluent people occurs thru the use of tax payers money to create and enforce a series of laws to remove us: inceased drug laws, blight laws, restrictions on housing, gang injunctions, stop and frisk, restrictions on businesses, making our socializing illegal, profiling laws. In turn tax payer money is also used to create and execute a million dollar marketing campaign to advetise oakland to the gentry class thru advertisements. Nope theres no money for schools, librarie or rec centers but have you seen the rows and rows of gllossy full color advertisrment magazines on the 2nd floor of city hall that get mailed to potential gentrifiers? Or seen any of the advertisrments for oakland the city takes out on web pages and magazines the rich read? And to further ad insult to injury even more tax payer money is used to market and offer business incentives to gentrifiers who dont live ….yet. For example the city if oakland offers prospective business six months free rent, free signage and 50%marketing and advertisrment costs to encourage people to open business here. I found out about this incentive and went to apply (mind u i have been running a business out my home for 20yrs, i live below the poverty levelnd i have been hussling food and art i make on the streets forever. Raised two younger siblings alone, took in and raised three additional children not mine, and one child i did birth). For four months i wasgiven the run around and told the incentive does not exist. Finally i got the appplication i do not qualify for the incentive cuz i have to be worth $100,000 to get the free shit. So no not eveyone is a.grntrifiers. The black families who came from the south in the 30s @ arent gentrifiers. The latinos who migrate here facing death are not gentrifiers. The poor white familues who have been here for generatipns arent gentrifiets. The native americans who were collected across the u.and litterallt dumped in east oakland are.not gentrifiets. The generations of homeless, poor and working class families who have come to oakland for the.past 100 yrs arent gentrifiers. The refugees from cambodia to somalia to el salvador are not gentrifiers. Middle class and upper class people who have.benefited from our removal are. Why is gentrification bad? Cuz whether gentrifiers know it they are here and thriving cuz we the poor people have been deemed disposable, eraseable, and unworthy. Clearly oakland needs revitaluzation and economic stimulus. But why is gentrification the model being used nationwide? Why do we not have a say in this process and why are we not in the vision of oaklands future. Oh wait. My bad. We are. As maids, nannys, and gardeners. Excellent article. This needs to be printed and postered up on the streets if gentrified oakland!!!

  80. H. Bucket

    Wow, I have to agree, this is an absolute blind rant.

    Here’s my opinion to add to others.

    I was board at what is now Children’s Hospital Oakland 50+ years ago. My grandparents moved to Fruitvale in 1942; the bought the house cheap because the previous owners where afraid of being bombed by the Japanese. My grandmother lived there until she died at 98, several years ago.

    There were a lot of people who moved in — and didn’t ask her permission. Had they, she would have smiled politely and told them she didn’t wish to live in a slum. No one owns a neighborhood. This mentality is the number one problem with gangs — TURF!!!

    I now live, and have to many years, in Laurel. As far as “smiling and saying “hello” to the criminals — would that be the same criminal who held me up at gun point not more than 15 feet from my front door at 9:30 on a Tuesday night and got $1.00 (no phone, don’t own one)? Oh, and I loved the police officer’s response “what were you doing walking down to the store on MacArthur at night? Blame the victim… nice job OPD!

    Would that be the same criminal that busted my car window, only got get NOTHING, because there was nothing there? Would that be the same criminals that robbed my neighbor next door, my neighbor across the street and the old couple two houses down… twice?

    Oh, and the response noting the throwing of fast food bags into the street — add with that the “ladies” who park in from of my house and throw the feces filled diapers of a 4 year old out, because they can’t take the time from their drug induced haze to actually toilet train the kid they never should have had.

    Pardon my language here but “F**k” the criminals, their associates and families. I’m not smiling and saying hello to them — if I could spit better I would.

    Gentrification has been a long, long time coming to Oakland. Some of the ancestral residence have been the problem all along and most who live here know it. I only wish that along with Gentrification that the city would vote to have the name “Oakland” retired and a new city name applied. “Oakland” has been sullied beyond repair.

  81. Tonya Love

    Hi James Miller 🙂

    I don’t believe I said that people should divorce the idea that she works for the city, just to consider her intentions (which she further explains eloquently above) and to understand why she didn’t name her office.
    What they do with this consideration is up to them.

    Dannette has clearly stated in her rebuttal that she is interested in working on behalf of low-income populations. I’d like to believe that she was honest with Dan Kalb about her intentions and that he did the relevant background research to know what her goals are. He probably knew who he hired, and probably had reasons for doing so.

    I think both she and Dan Kalb are aware that deep meaningful change includes making policy decisions. As a matter of fact Mr. Kalb has already shown himself to be a champion for low-income residents. For example it was his work that helped make sure that City Council devoted General Fund $$ to ensure affordable housing after Redevelopment Agency Funds by the ‘heroic’ Jerry Brown. I wonder who had Dan Kalb’s ear to make that happen?

    Now if D1 voters don’t like that they have a somewhat progressive City Council rep who hires progressive staff, then feel free then they can so come Nov. 2016, or via email and what not.

  82. pgroot

    I think you and the people saying smart-ass comments like “u have to be native american for Oakland to be your ancestral land” are missing the point and focusing on the details. It’s not assimilation, it’s moving into a neighborhood in a respectful manner. As someone mentioned above this isn’t really negating your direct gentrifying effect on the housing market but it is being respectful and by supporting local business and community organizations you are putting money back into the community.

    Community is something that’s being lost in many urban areas – and replacing an existing community with a new one isn’t cool. Even you don’t see that a community is there (which may be because you aren’t involved) it’s more decent to create a community that involves everyone rather than just the people who look and think like you. Yes you should treat your neighbors like neighbors and respect the values and existing community that you come into – anything else is being an ass.

  83. Oakland the nonprofit

    Oakland is not a charity case as the author’s comments suggest. Part of the community is motivated to change the city for the better, while many others have no hope for its future and will change their attitude when they are ready. With an incompetent leader like Quan setting back the outlook and safety of the city and its citizens, it is going to take a lot more than saying hi to your neighbor to progress.

  84. James Miller

    Building deed restricted affordable housing does nothing to ease displacement of people who already have homes, who already live here. which is the real issue people have with gentrification. New affordable housing admission is decided by random lottery.. It does not guarantee housing to those vulnerable to displacement and it does not add to the market supply to ease pressure on existing housing. Affordable housing is good for many many other reasons; as a response to gentrification, though, it’s not the answer.

    So, no, the Councilmember has not done anything on this issue. She notes herself there are opportunity costs to this work, and her boss has chosen to ignore this issue.

    Ill go out on a limb and say that neglecting poor people will do him no harm at the ballot box. He got Oakland Rising’s endorsement, but I dont expect any accountability. He talks right and is a good Democrat. That’s all that’s required of an incumbent around here.

  85. Tonya Love


    Well I didn’t say he was totally progressive..just somewhat. Lol. I also don’t think affordable housing will solve gentrification, it’s just part of a package of policies to assist low income communities.

    But I think you understood point in making those statements..

    Thanks for your comments tho. 🙂

  86. chris lee

    “displacement of people” does anyone care about how people were displaced by crime and dysfunction in the Oakland of the 60s and 70s?

  87. Chris Vernon


    Thanks for your comments, it’s the conversation that Oakland needs to have. Might it be possible to look at the basic humanity of all involved? Hipsters, hard working middle and working class folks of all colors that may or may not have scraped enough money together to buy a little bungalow in the flats, the poor, unemployed, those that have fallen into criminality, techies that ride the bus to Googleland, everyone else in between?

    Am I willing to see the humanity in the guys who just chose to take part in a running gun battle down my street endangering my neighbors, friends and family? Yes, but what they did was entirely wrong and dangerous. Would I be saddened if the police are able to find them and remove them from Oakland? Hardly. Would I like to see them sent to a prison that was more about reform and retraining rather than punishment? Yes. But I do want them gone for the time being. I like knowing I won’t be shot when I walk down the street.

    Do people that walk down the street in Oakland and drop their trash here, there and everywhere deserve a pass because they’ve grown up in squalor? No. At a minimum they need to know this isn’t OK. But, good luck not having a face full of abuse thrown your way if you politely suggest that this might not be the best thing to do for the city you know and love.

    How is it wrong for people to open exciting fun new businesses in Oakland? This increases our tax base and makes it possible to pay for better services for all our residents, makes us an even more attractive place for other new businesses. Can’t we think along the lines of making the city wealthier and then using that money wisely to benefit all who live here? Yes to better funding for schools, pre-K, afterschool programs, Parks and Rec, gardeing programs, subsidized housing – but all of this costs money. The alternative, the status quo, is pretty dismal.

    I agree with you that it’s a good policy to say hello to everyone you see on the street even if you’re a bit afraid of them OR think they are WAY too preoccupied with their smartphone, earbudded to the hilt. Often you’ll get a somewhat surprised and pleasant ‘hello’ or ‘whassup’ or a grunting nod. YES to treating people as people with unconditioned initial respect.

    But no one should expect that they can disrepect their neighbors and community members, new or longtime, young or old, wealthy or poor, uneducated or not. Whether you’re the idiot SF financier who just compared ‘persecution’ of the 1% to Kristallnacht and the Nazi persecution of the Jews or a member of the at-risk who has decided that prostituting young women, robbing the elderly, or firing off weapons indiscriminately is a way to move forward in life. Both of those are inhuman responses.

    We need to find a middle way. We desperately need the new lifeblood moving into the city but don’t want to see that destroy what’s great about what’s already here. As to a decrease in criminality – I won’t miss that at all.

    Thanks for putting this out there.

    Chris Vernon

  88. concerned non-oaklander

    the amount of white guilt esque comments littered here are crazy. People, stop being so defensive your place in oakland and nitpicking on every analogy the author made. The point of the article is to promote kindness and respect in the community. THATS IT. If you are trying to defend your place in oakland, you’ve probably committed some of the disrespect this article is trying to mitigate.

    Be kind to one another, even on the internet.

  89. a black "gentrifier"

    After reading Danette’s comment, it seems like this article is her venting her resentment over some residents of North Oakland’s attempts to improve their neighborhood.

    I just don’t see how she can hope to be a builder of bridges while being so divisive, attacking and stereotyping one type of resident while venerating another type – her opinion seemingly based solely upon how long a resident has lived in the neighborhood (as evidenced by her calling herself a gentrifier because she moved to Oakland 6 years ago).

  90. DontDisplaceMeWitUrPrivlege

    Some nice points made but after readin the comments im even more convinced there is a 21st way to not be a gentrifier …

    #21) Keep the fk out with ur privleges that jus tear up peoples ability to survive! … those with the funds/ability to pack up and unpack as they wish possess a clear privilege and when they do just that by moving into a low income neighborhood they might create a shift in the community where things “get better” but the question is for who? Too many locals get pushed out one way or another with only a handful of OG residents to “enjoy” the “improved” community. And even then that is temporary as the cost of living in the hood rises, soon the last residents in the hood are forced out.

    The #1 way to not be a gentrifier is to help local peoples in the hood improve their hood, before any folks with privilege move in, that allows them to assert their own vision to briong wealth and stability to their lives. To increases the strength of their roots vis-a-vis the scandalous institutions of capitalism and government that work together to push OG poor locals out to satisfy the voracious appetite of hipster-ISH peoples for new real estate options.


    Recognize ur layer(s) of privilege! … even when u oppressed u may possess layer(s) that contribute to gentrification. When u got options then u got privilege cuz folks in the hood often got no options … where they live, where they work and how life rolls may be the only game in town for them so when “visionaries” step onto the scene, with good intentions or not, all that may fall apart.

  91. EO

    They absolutely have more claim to the city, because they have already worked to contribute to what it is. Ignoring a city’s existing culture and history is a great way to become hated. She is not giving out a list of “have to’s” but she is giving us great ways of approaching each other in a way that doesn’t create so much friction. We can all just act selfishly and do as we please, but we won’t build a community doing that. And what most people like (LOVE) about Oakland is that there IS a sense of community and active involvement.

  92. chris lee


    ..( face palm )

  93. mark

    Victim blaming is rather logical… because having desirable goods is the culprit.

  94. Styl023

    Stopfrontin’on nailed it. I wish he would turn that comment into an op-ed that gets published next to this one.

  95. anybody

    i grew up in poverty so I know what hopelessness feels like.
    it’s about hunger, embarrassment, shame but most of all it’s about giving up and learning not to care. When I drive by garbage strewn streets today, I see it quite differently from someone who has never experienced the bondage of extreme deprivation. The logic of middle class standards will not assist you when attempting to understand why someone would throw garbage out their car window. This is not an excuse. It is simply a reminder that a willingness to listen, compromise and respect other peoples opinions are vital to any discussion.

  96. Matt in West Downtown

    Dannette, so many good points but then, “I guess that’s a good outcome.” Would you like to talk to him, because I did. He didn’t want the house anymore, it was too big, and too much upkeep, and the community you speak of wasn’t there for him. They didn’t come together when the sewer broke and flooded the basement. The community didn’t come together when the roof caved in over his room. The community didn’t come together when someone set the house on fire. He came by twice after I bought the house and praised the restoration work, and hoped I kept it up. He and I are happy, it’s the other people that seem to be full of judgment, resentment, and fear.

  97. (facepalm)

    “The #1 way to not be a gentrifier is to help local peoples in the hood improve their hood, before any folks with privilege move in.”

    Who’s gonna [sic] pay for that?

    Oh right, gentrifying taxpayers.

  98. Marilyn

    Just know that if you did only employ white 20 year old hipsters, you’d get sued so fast for racial discrimination, it’d make your head spin.

  99. Joseph Bourelly

    OK, while I think the spirit of this article is a good one, the tone is a little off in my opinion. Yeah, comparing outsiders moving into a community as some kind of invasion is not a good one, nor is the implication that dining out at a fancy restaurant is some kind of activity that should be shunned because others are having trouble eating at all.

    Additionally, although people moving into a neighborhood should not be viewed as some kind of economic threat to existing residents, I do want nice places where I can eat, shop and socialize in my community. I also do want neighbors who can maintain the upkeep of their homes and themselves in terms of their own well being. If that means rising property values and a safer, more enjoyable community, great! And having this kind of community does not necessarily have to result in driving out longer-term, poor residents.

    I am not interested in having drug dealers, prostitutes, junkies, thieves and graffiti artists doing their thing around me or my family and destroying the fabric of our community.

    Anything wrong with my thinking?

  100. JR Oaklander

    I moved to East Lake over 11 years ago because I could afford the rent and I liked what the neighborhood had to offer. I liked that there was an Albertson’s (now Lucky’s), a Walgreens, the Parkway Theater, and countless options for eating out within walking distance. It somewhat reminded me of the neighborhood where I had lived in the mid to late 90’s in Chicago before it gentrified overnight.

    I came here to go to grad school and I had no intention to stay here after graduation. To be honest, I found the Bay Area to be the most unfriendly place in which I have ever chosen to live. I grew up in the Chicago Area (suburbs) and the culture of “neighborliness” was so different than what I encountered here. Here, people were so suspicious and wary of one another. It was very difficult to make friends and it took a lot of time to fit into the social fabric of the area. Sometimes I still feel like an outsider after all these years.

    I had to learn an entirely new language (way of speaking) and a new way of relating to others that was quite foreign to me. I never expected people here to accommodate my culture or way of speaking. I knew I had to learn how to get along in a place where people had a different social culture than the one in which I was raised.

    I used to get very angry at what seemed to be the coldness and rudeness of my neighbors and I often felt hurt here during my first few years. I didn’t feel very welcome here at all. I never understood why back then.

    Then I learned that people were not being rude or cold. They just had a different way of relating to one another. And I had to learn that appearing to be a white male had certain baggage that went with it whether or not I fit a stereotype. I also had to learn what privilege was and that I had (have) privilege because I am seen as white here. I have to say that it surprised me because I wasn’t always seen as white growing up where I grew up.

    Once I learned to go with the flow of things socially, I started making friends and I started to appreciate and enjoy the neighborhood even more.

    Then the neighborhood started changing around me as often neighborhoods do. I started noticing the signs of gentrification and I became alarmed instantly. I have been through gentrification in Chicago and that was extremely painful. The neighborhood got to be so expensive that I couldn’t afford living there and people who grew up there had to leave because they couldn’t afford to live their either.

    I am still having flashbacks of that sad experience as I watch this neighborhood change. I am privileged, yes it’s true. I work for a non-profit and while my income isn’t very high as a result, it is higher than many of my neighbors. I am finding this neighborhood becoming more expensive to the point that I don’t know how much longer I will be able to afford to live here. If that is my truth, what must my neighbors be facing who don’t have the same privilege I have?

    I would have to agree that to a certain extent, I am a gentrifier. I may be part of the problem. And if I am part of the problem, how do I become part of the solution? Do I simply move out of here? I don’t think that’s the answer especially since I’m not sure if I can afford move now.

    My rent just increased for the first time since I’ve lived here and it will eat up the entire raise I can expect at my current job. I consider myself very fortunate that I went so long without a rent increase. And I am worried that this is a sign of what is to come and I do wonder if I will be able to afford yet another possible rent increase next year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my rent increased at a time that the pace of gentrification is increasing in the neighborhood.

    If this is what I am facing, what must my neighbors be facing? And what can be done about it? I just don’t know.

  101. Sayeed

    I honestly find the police to be extremely helpful when talking to my neighbors. Sometimes my neighbors are armed, diseased, and wish harm upon me. Not everybody came to Oakland because we “hella love it”. Some of us have families to support and move to where we are able to find employment. I have a nine year old daughter. If my daughter is ever raped in Oakland, I’m not just going to re-frame what happened in my mind as “my neighbor raped my daughter because his family has been systematically oppressed for generations, and he is the victim for not having the education to know that raping nine year olds is wrong.” If one of my neighbors breaks into my house while I’m there with my children, I’m not going to say hello… I’m going to shoot them in the chest, and then in the head once they are on the ground. So, neighbors, be grateful that there are people like me bringing money into this dilapidated but improving city and stay away from my property unless you want to be greeted in a most unfortunate way. Howdy, neighbors!

  102. deebeazy

    Yes, Rockridge and Temescal were once Italian-American neighborhoods. Yes, they are gone now. But the process by which they dispersed to San Leandro, Hayward and other Bay Area suburbs has NOTHING to do with gentrification and everything to do with upward mobility.

  103. CP

    While this article doesn’t say it outright, it does have several condescending implications. For one, that the people who move into Oakland have oodles of time and money to invest and no idea about the people who currently live here. (Many of those people are being displaced from other areas.) Two, that the people who live here are victims of their color and history and not of their behaviors.

    I get that the article aspires to promote respect. But it does so disrespectfully and, in my opinion, does more harm than good. Oakland has a lot of problems that have nothing to do with gentrification, and that are not exclusive to Oakland. Writing about these issues with an “us vs. them” perspective is incredibly narrow-minded, prejudiced, and counterproductive. It typecasts thousands of people into two groups – the powerful and the helpless – and makes impossible demands of the former without acknowledging their limitations, meanwhile making few demands of the latter, effectively overlooking or dismissing the power that those people have over their own potential.

  104. Jason

    Oakland Native,
    In my comment I advocated being kind and considerate of other people, and using the privileges associated with money and “whiteness” to encourage OPD to start protecting Oaklanders rather than terrorizing them. I’m not sure why that is a problem of gentrification.

    You imply, by saying “us”, that you think you speak for a unified pre-gentrified Oakland population. I assure you you do not. Many families in my neighborhood are tired of the decades of violence they have endured, burying their children before they’re grown.

    If you replied to my comment personally trying to start an argument so I’d start cussing you out making racist comments and the like, you won’t find that here.

    If you disagree with me so strongly, I give you the floor. Explain why I’m wrong for advocating peace, civility, and an end to violence on the streets of our communities. Please explain what I should do with my privilege, other than use it to benefit others.

  105. OaklandNative

    There is more to a community than having “cool restaurants” and pretty yards. What about the relationships of children growing up and going to school or church together?

    One of the problems I have pro-gentrification argument is that the neighborhood was just crime before they got here. They don’t try to fit into the community, but try to change it.

    It’s like that Stephen K. essay. He wrote as if he had moved into a blank canvas and he created his dream world. He wrote as if he were the Great White Hope.

    Yet, he is not the only gentrifier I’ve heard making such an clueless statement.

    LIke I said before, we’ve heard his point of view. Now, it’s time for him to hear ours.

  106. OaklandNative

    You wrote the following:

    “Furthermore, the real problems, the rampant violence, in Oakland come from “old” residents. They’re the ones shooting guns and mugging people. The other legacy residents of my neighborhood who long for safer and more peaceful streets can see “gentrifiers” like me as an ally to that end. We can use our privilege to compel the City, and OPD, to shape up and work to achieve safer streets. Something that, for many complex reasons, old Oakland has been unable to realize. In the last few years violent crime is apparently on the decline, however, ten shootings w/in 2 blocks of my house in 2013 is unacceptable.”

    As an “old” resident, you’re stating that “rampant violence” comes from me. We’re the ones shooting guns and mugging people.

    Then you wrote:

    “In my comment I advocated being kind and considerate of other people, and using the privileges associated with money and “whiteness” to encourage OPD to start protecting Oaklanders rather than terrorizing them. I’m not sure why that is a problem of gentrification.”

    Are you our Great White Savior? Why should I have to rely on your white skin entitlement to save me? Since you moved into our neighborhood, I doubt that you have have much more than we do. Are you suggesting that police give you special consideration? That is no defense for gentrification. It an argument to improve the race division between African Americans and the police.

    As far as your sense of privilege, I say that African Americans need to work on getting some of that. We don’t need to rely on yours.

  107. Mariah E

    Seriously? Where does this author get off deciding who belongs and how perceived “newcomers” should behave? So many assumptions! Guess what, there is actually no such thing as a right to keep “your” neighborhood the way you like it. Change happens, so grow up and stop trying to control people. Oh and not that it matters but my family has been here four generations so, what you might think is a newcomer might not be at all.

    I will never look at “Oakland Local” the same way, knowing they chose to publish this drivel. I’m embarrassed my taxes help pay for the author’s salary.

  108. Jane Dough

    I’m sure there are exceptions, but most of the “gentrifiers” moving to the Oakland flats are just white people who don’t make enough money to live anywhere else. Like me. If I could afford to live in Rockridge, I would. But I can’t, so I’m here. Don’t hate me.

  109. Waylan Greene

    First if you want the real history of Oakland from its very beginning, read this:

    Secondly, when you consider that most of the inhabitants of Oakland from the beginning to the middle of the 19th century were in fact “the gentry,” and not the crop that would supplant them in the later half, then you could say “the gentry” are merely returning from whence they came.

    Consider also that in the 1960’s alone the city’s population dropped by roughly 100,000 people, approximately 1 in 3 citizens departed with their businesses in tow. Now they’ve returned and are again providing jobs to the so called oppressed. Neighborhoods where crime was a norm for “decades” have seen the return of people who are capable of writing actionable letters and pursuing the authorities to actually do their jobs, rather than collect a paycheck and head to home to San Leandro at the end of the day, because the schools are betters and taxes are less.

  110. xicana at war

    wassup with the segregation though. Its about building communities, if you disagree why not come up with a.good suggestion or.idea. Its.about starting a change.within ourselves by simply being nice to our neighbors, the way we treat eachother reflects the.respect we have.for.our.selves and

  111. Mike

    I am a white guy who has lived in, and loved Oakland almost 10 years. I was very pleased to read this article, after reading Steve Kopff’s article that has since been taken down. To me, gentrification is a horrible process of displacing and excluding people who live in a low income neighborhood, in the name of “improving” it, or “cleaning” it up, “redeveloping” it, or “making it safe.” When everyone has their basic needs met, we will be safe. Inequality and white supremacy make us unsafe.

    I can’t help being a part of gentrification because I am a white professional who has (unintentionally) helped make my neighborhood more comfortable for other more privileged people to move in, but I have been trying to do things that this article suggests since 2005 as a way to show basic respect to my neighbors (all of them), to mitigate the effects of gentrification, and help make sure my neighborhood stays affordable and keeps its character so the people who were here before me can afford to stay. I also strongly agree with those commenters who pointed out that we need to remember to not focus on individual actions or attitudes, but keep pushing for larger systematic changes (this is article just say 20 ways, not the only ways) that will preserve and expand affordable housing, support public education for our youth, foster more healthy and affordable food options, and ensure economic opportunities for all Oaklanders. Keeping a positive, open, non-judgmental attitude as this article suggests is part of that, probably the first step.

    I am shocked and disgusted at the attitudes of the commenters who got so defensive about this article. You call the author arrogant and self-righteous, but she was only making suggestions for how to have a more respectful and non-judgmental attitude towards your neighbors. Might as well be hearing commenters on fox news or the O’Reilly Factor the way people talk. Do these people really call Oakland home? That is scary to me! I hope they’re not my neighbors!

    We all make choices and have to take responsibility for our choices, and we all have to do what it takes to make ourselves feel comfortable and safe while respecting others, but we should all try to refrain from judging others because none of us are without faults. If we had less inequality, better schools and economic opportunities, there would not be as many people who have to resort to selling drugs or other activities that happened to be currently labeled as crimes. But to the people who suggest we need to just call the police, kill, and/or lock up everyone who does something you find unpleasant, you are perpetuating the inequalities and broken system that is helping no one.

  112. xicana at war

    ben, what u don’t realize is the bigger picture, one of.the.goals is to help train others.with jobs so that they can move forward in life and help maintain their families. Have u really wonder why they do it? 1.criminal record 2.LacksSkills 3.SingleParents you.don’t know. there’s many reasons!. This.falls into our community lacking resources! All of our actions reflect up on our community!

  113. Rob

    *Also : remember the police will not come if you call them over your car being broken into or a myriad of other things including your neighbor playing his music too loud or any other trivial thing. They have better things to do.

  114. xicana at war

    dear Deannett Lambert,
    I truly appreciate your time and great effort writing this piece to help improve our community. I want to let you know that being a.part of my community has always been my pleasure. I am tired of the.injustices,.lack of resources and parents, Homelessness is.also something that be.improved. Instead of more.buisness and boutiques, why not help build a homeless shelter where people can learn from.the outcomes. I’m just another.youth.from Oakland craving for help improve Oakland where my hearts is at.

  115. Justin

    The author seems to put more of a premium on making old residents feel better than to reduce crime and actually improve the neighborhood. Advocating for the neighborhood by calling police for crime,organizing cleanups, and disproving of prostitutes on the corner are the first steps to improving the neighborhood IMO.

  116. Jason

    Thank you, truly, for your response.

    “There is more to a community than having “cool restaurants” and pretty yards.” I totally agree, the relationships of adults as models for children, and them seeing each other as peers and equals, respecting their ways of speaking, food choices and all that–these are the ways of living together.

    When I say that violence is coming from “old” Oakland, I mean it’s coming from young African-American men shooting at each other, at least in my neighborhood. None of them would be accused of being a gentrifier. I don’t mean to imply that the violence is coming from you, unless it is. If you’re attacking people, you’re right, I’m not your ally. Other than that, if you’re interested in putting a stop to violence, we’re on the same side, even if you don’t see it that way.

    And, no, I’m not the great white hope. Nor do I claim to be. I’m not arriving in a wasteland, molding it to my own liking with the ease of a god. I never intended to say that, but given racism, I can see how you lumped me in with Stephen K. I think your anger with him might be directed a little me here.

    I came to Oakland because I want to live in a city where there is a living vibrant culture, where I arrive and enjoy what is already here, and one that I contribute to as a new member OF that community. Because that’s how it goes. Yes, there was white flight in the 60s when white folks were scared of what the black folks might do to them. I’m not them. I’m not afraid of black folks, or brown or red or yellow or whatever “color” line you want to draw. I’m actually afraid of what I’ll do if one of these stray bullets hits my wife or child. That’s why I brought it up.

    And, do police departments give special consideration to groups of organized white folks with money…you know damn well they do. And for poor black folks they shit on them. So, why on earth should I stand by and continue to watch people kill each other in my neighborhood? Just so black folks can try and get some of that privilege, and then do something about out? Come on, you can’t be serious…

  117. Steve Kopff

    Dear OaklandNative- I extend my sincere apologies once again for angering you. I ask that you read my post much further up in this chain as you may have missed it.

    Since my posting the article I have made the effort to reach out to others to clear up misunderstandings and to work together to solve problems. I ask that you do the same.

    We win no arguments if we don’t take the time to put ourselves in the place of the ones we argue with. I have taken that opportunity to reflect and to change. If you fail to take this same opportunity then your battle will be lost.

  118. Patty Mundea

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful article! I am sorry about all the unpleasant comments 🙁 Why can’t people disagree with some points without disrespecting?!
    It really is about awareness of our privilege!!! We can all play a role in at least slowing gentrification-personally & by joint political action.

  119. Simon Says

    White people move out?


    White people move in?


    Pick a lane and stick to it ladies.

  120. Sue Taylor

    I posted a comment yesterday. OaklandLocal edited my comment without my permission, and took out my objection to the author of this article failing to disclose her position in Oakland City Councilman Kalb’s office AND OaklandLocal’s failure in editorial integrity by not disclosing the author’s affiliation.

    TAKE DOWN MY COMMENT OF 1/30/2014.


    Have some integrity to your readers, to proper journalism ethics (which I know you are taught at UC), and to your personal ethics (get some if you do not have them now.

    • Susan Mernit

      sue, we are not the UC Student site. I am the editor and I am checking to see if a new intern edited your comment without my awareness. Our policy is not to edit comments..if they do not meet our guidelines, we do not publish them and let the author know the reason. I will follow up as soon as I learn more. Best, Susan Mernit

  121. Susan Mernit

    Steve I…please use your own name when you post. And I don’t appreciate your attacking oakland local for publishing a piece you wrote.

  122. Steve Kopff

    Sue I have had the same issue with Oakland Local’s lack of integrity. They failed to follow their own guidelines in exercising their own published policies.

  123. OaklandNative

    You wrote an essay essentially congratulating yourself for “discovering” a community. You wrote how you changed the community. Some people who were directly hurt by those actions called you out.

    Now, you’re the victim?

    You wrote the essay. You published it. Stand by it. You can’t tell readers how to respond to it.

  124. Tim O

    Steve. Where exactly is the jack of integrity? You wrote a piece an offensive piece that got a negative response. That is no nobody’s fault but your own. Community voices are often contentious articles, please take a look at the four or so pieces on gentrification posted in April of last year for evidence. That being said, by your admission you wrote a hurtful piece. That you didn’t intend to, only serves to highlight that privilege is something we all take for granted. Anyways if you are truly sorry instead of saying that the author of this piece (who doesn’t work for OL) stabbed you in the back by disagreeing with your article in the contents, and Oakland Local has integrity issues for not protecting you commentors, just own up to your mistakes and move on.

  125. Edward

    Blah blah gentrification blah blah *sips coffee* blah blah privilege yadda yadda *sips coffee* awareness ramble ramble home *sips coffee* ruminate thoughtful quiet moment GENTRIFICATION *shakes empty coffee cup* *gets more coffee*

  126. Jason Berry

    This is such an asinine argument to make. We are the children of slaves. This history is our history, this is the only home we’ve ever known. We didn’t come here to take land, we were taken from ours and forced to work this one. Not Ellis, but Goree. Yeah man, Oakland is our home. Word up to Huey and Bobby.

  127. Matt

    From wikipedia: “Gentrification is a shift in an urban community toward wealthier residents and/or businesses and increasing property values, sometimes to the detriment of the poorer residents of the community.”

    From the article: “What people don’t seem to realize is it isn’t the mere act of moving into a neighborhood that makes you a gentrifier; it’s what you do once you get there.”

    The author’s just wrong. Actually, moving there is *exactly* what makes you a “gentrifier”. The influx of wealthy people in to a neighborhood is gentrification, but the fact that they are often un-empathetic, detached and hostile is _not_ gentrification. This article addresses the latter, which is great, but it does it under the guise of making you “not a gentrifier” and that really bothers me. These things they suggest do not solve gentrification, but by titling this piece “how to not be a gentrifier,” they most certainly are claiming their 20 bullet points _do_ solve gentrification.

    If this article was called “how to be a respectful neighbor when you join a new community” I would have said “hell yes! These are great pieces of advice!”. But if every single person in Oakland did everything on this list ,gentrification would not go away. It would make Oakland a better place, and that is valuable! But people would still be getting pushed out.

    Gentrification is a complex issue, and there are a lot of communities struggling with it. To simplify it down to a solution in the form of bullet points is enormously disrespectful to the community leaders and members who are trying to figure out how to handle the disappearance of their residents and culture. To make it worse, I don’t feel that this article even helps address those issues. _That_ is why I find this piece so disrespectful.

    So if we want to talk about “how to gentrify in the most respectful way possible” then I’m happy to, I think that’s a really good conversation to have.

    But if we want to talk about “not gentrifying” then this article has nothing useful to provide. I assumed we were talking about “not gentrifying” because that’s the title the author chose.

  128. Ta

    There is a lot here that is hard to process and take in. The most damaging attitude that is seen through these comments is the idea that “I can do anything I want, and for somebody to say something about it is racist/etc.” This goes for the upscale restaurant owner to the drug dealer.

    I don’t care what race you are or what background you are from, if you are “privileged” or not. Everyone is part of the community. Therefore, everyone should not just be thinking about “I have the right to do x, y, and z,” but rather about how your actions affect yourself and your community. This means not just considering your own values, but listening to the needs and values of the people around you. That is where even the most noble of intentions can go wrong.

    I appreciate this article as it calls for thoughtful community building. But, as seen in the comments, you can’t expect to throw around judgements (gentrifier, criminal, privileged, etc) and see positive community changes sprout from them. Yes, do point out the inequalities in our society and figure out ways to change it for the better, but polarizing the situation or ostracizing anyone in the process can do more harm than good.

  129. oaklander

    My thoughts as well when reading the op-ed’s intro. Moreover, when I move into a community, it becomes my community as well; I’m not a guest invited by the host, I become one of the co-hosts.

  130. Woah

    I think the thing about this is that we have all these white people moving to ‘the hood’ these days in all sorts of cities in all sorts of ways. But these hoods and all of their problems weren’t just voluntarily created by the residents (as some evidently assume). Ghettos have been created and perpetuated by racist systems that have existed since this country was founded. People have been holding on in these places and making it work somehow despite the fact that being black and living in a ghetto stacks the cards against you before the game even starts and you have to deal with violence and unstable households and drugs and prostitution whether you like it or not because that’s just what poverty is in this country.

    So when, all the sudden, white folks decide it’s cool to live in the hood, or they just want to find someplace cheap, or they see that white folks are moving to a “up and coming” neighborhood and they take the opportunity to start a business that caters to white folks it is an affront to the folks that have lived there for years struggling to survive. It’s easy to see crime and say that things need to change but are you really helping the situation by bringing money into the neighborhood? How does what you’re doing help the PEOPLE living there? It may help the infrastructure or the overall crime rate of the place but is that just because folks are getting displaced and moving (which is much more difficult for those living in poverty) to another further out suburb?

    As evidenced by the comments here, white people don’t like ‘crime’ when it’s in their field of vision. But the same folks don’t give a shit about poverty which is the root of crime in cities. They just want the scary black people to go away so they can open cheesy businesses and dominate the landscape as is their right as white people.

    I think the author of this article is being pretty soft with us whiteys actually. She could have said it all in two helpful rules (not optional tips– fucking rules): 1. DON’T MOVE TO THE HOOD IF YOU DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN THE FUCKING HOOD. 2. DON’T LIVE IN A PLACE IF YOU DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ALSO LIVE THERE AND YOU JUST WANT TO TURN IT INTO YOUR OWN FUCKING URBAN PLAYGROUND.

    That’s simple enough to understand right?

  131. A

    You’re wrong because I’m not white and I thought the article was filled with a lot of useless dribble. Fact is, you, me, and the other posters can comment all we want about it, but the reality is that the Bay area is getting more expensive to live in and people who can’t afford to live here are going to get displaced. It’s NOT a matter of IF but when.

    Also, to think that all the newcomers are white is plain silly. It’s as if they’re aren’t other people who are moving here looking to make Oakland their home.

  132. OaklandNative

    One does not have to be white to uphold white skin privilege. Even during American slavery, some African American slaves put white people above African Americans. In fact, several slave insurrections was sabotaged by African American slaves telling white people.

  133. Paul Lentz

    Look, let’s be real here. 10 years from now, 100 years from now….our descendents are going to be having this same discussion….with little meaningful change coming from it.

    Why? Because as long as narcotics are illegal….the gang element that plagues mostly poor black neighborhoods….WILL NEVER GO AWAY. Why?….because of the money! Just too much money to be made from the sale of drugs.

    You can have all the creative, after-school programs, daycare, job training, midnight basketball, etc. known to man fully funded in black neighborhoods…however NOTHING WILL CHANGE until ALL DRUGS are made legal. Gangs….and the violence that comes with it….are caused by the competition for huge illicit profits AND efforts to stay one step ahead of law enforcement…which wrecks havoc on these neighborhoods.

    From 1919 to 1933…Prohibition was the law of the land in America. It’s amazing that people continue to REFUSE to learn from history. Make drugs legal..regulate it…tax it….cut off a HUGE SOURCE OF FUNDING for gangs. Use ALL THE TAX REVENUE that legal drug sales fund rebuilding poor neighborhoods. That’s THE ONLY EFFECTIVE WAY that you’re going to bring about TRUE CHANGE in poor black neighborhoods.

    Here’s a news flash: Alcohol is legal..not everyone drinks. Tobacco is legal….not everyone smokes. If you make drugs legal……not everyone will choose to get high. People who want to get high..are going to get high REGARDLESS of whether it’s legal or not. Why not tax it..and save BILLIONS on law enforcement…and have safer neighborhoods?

    We can either continue to do the same old ineffective BS that only leads to the back and forth banter that pits black against white, male against female, rich against poor, etc….OR…..we can try to do something NEW that brings about true, effective change.

  134. Ed

    The article is absurd. People carry with them the values, culture and mores they received from their upbringing where ever they go. The “gentrifiers” have a more civil culture than the people living in these slums. They prize order and things working correctly. If they don’t work they think of ways to fix them as to

    Oakland is one of the most violent places in America why anyone thinks the status qua is worthy of protection is beyond me. If you really want to slow gentrification maybe you can get San Francisco to let go of some of its housing supply constraining policies.

  135. Nathan Barley

    I’ll be nice to the people who are nice to me. I’ll live wherever I please, assuming I can pay the rent. Maybe I’ll complain about crime. Maybe I won’t. Not any of your business, really. If I feel like being a part of a “community” I will. If I don’t, I won’t. If that means I’m “entitled” or full of “privilege,” well, that’s just your opinion, man. If you want to dislike me because I’m white, go ahead. That’s your problem and your issue; doesn’t bother me. I’m not a techie and I’m not wealthy, but if it makes you feel good about yourself to believe I am, okay. I’m going to do whatever and so are you. Maybe our paths will cross and we can share a laugh. Or not. Whichever. If Oakland can teach us anything, it’s that life is short and times can be hard. Do whatever makes you happy. If that’s hating me, go for it, buddy. I’m going to the gym now. Because that makes me happy. Tomorrow I’ll go to work. That’s not quite as fun.

  136. Matt

    I moved to Oakland after having lived in DC, which is going through a lot of the same changes but managing it a lot better than we are. I don’t think gentrification was as focused on particular places and overwhelming as a result. In DC gentrification follows the subway, and because the city has good public transportation and is investing in more of it, there are more options for newcomers with money. Oakland only has like 7 Bart stations and AC transit runs like 10 miles an hour. DC’s metro system also got suburban areas to allow dense development around new stations, which Bart still struggles to do effectively- just look at the berkeley Bart stations. So long as our public transit agencies don’t prioritize ordinary people who live closer to job centers, and so long as the low density areas with good transit reject more development, gentrification will overwhelm the few places that are desirable outside of SF, like Temescal and Rockridge.

  137. Len Raphael

    Matt, valid points about mass transportation making Rockridge and Temescal (and West Oakland) attractive to commuters. It does explain some of the displacement of poorer residents in sections of East Oakland close to transportation. In the long run residents with massive chronic unemployment are getting priced out of housing by mostly white but also others with jobs who can pay higher rent or afford to buy homes in East O.

    Gentrification is mostly a effect not a cause.

  138. Jonathan

    weeeellllll…I think ‘ancestor’ actually starts at your parents…although the term ‘ancestral homeland’ does suggest something far grander…

  139. Jonathan

    p.s. that was supposed to be a reply to @Tim up top…not a general reply…

  140. Jen-

    As a longtime Oakland resident I think the author has some points especially the one about finding out what is already happening before starting your initiatives. The whole 20 point manifesto thing is a bit much.
    As for the “rule” from a commenter about “don’t move to the ‘hood if you don’t want to live in the hood”… Sometimes life doesn’t give you much of a choice. Trust me nobody is moving to East Oakland to be cool, we have been priced out of other areas. It was either keep our jobs and move to the hood or basically, move out of state and start over. We are trying to “tread lightly” but it’s very disheartening seeing the ongoing prejudice and resentment towards people who are seen as different.
    What’s that saying? “Most people believe they are thinking, when they are only rearranging their prejudices.”

  141. CaliLibby

    I’ve lived in Oakland on and off since 1988. I’ve lived in the city, then Oakland, the city, oakland …you get the picture. My family has been in both cities for 6 generations. I am a white woman who used to be dirt poor and now I’m solidly middle class. My experience with the “say hello” to your neighbor even if they don’t say hello back? Uh-uh. Don’t do that. That’s a pretty hostile, aggressive thing to do. A lot of people of color are raised to hate white people so much, there is no way they will ever accept them. Saying hello a second(3rd, 4th, 5th) to that man on your corner who already stared you down the first time you did it? Stupid. No, they do not want us here. All this articles about “if the newcomers would just do A,B and C” are pointless. It’s not true for everyone, but for the vast majority of the long time residents of color in West and East Oakland, the incoming white people will be viewed in one negative, invasive light and there’s nothing they can do about it.

    so they might as well build places for themselves like coffee house, gourmet stores and cute little shops. And don’t struggle with, “am I serving these people who struggle financially in this neighborhood and are getting displaced?”. There’s no way the landlords and the city are going to make it remotely affordable for you to do that. Seriously, has the author of this article ever tried to run a small business in the state of California? The reason businesses cater to the monied is because that is the only way to stay open.

  142. OaklandNative

    I love how some of the white commenters on here re-write history so they are the victims.

    According to their versions of the story, we African Americans moved into white Oakland and caused the housing prices to rise. White people moved out because they could not longer afford it here. Then we justified it by making up the phrase “white flight.” White flight is just a myth African Americans made up to price white people out of the homes and communities.

    Another version of the story is that African Americans are “raised to hate white people.” Such negative feelings are totally baseless. We made up our experiences and history. After all, if just one white person says “hi” to you, that proves that your history and experiences were just a part of your imagination.

    This version of the story is especially interesting because if a white person says he is your ally, that is a statement of fact. We cannot question it with our own experiences or facts. If you question it, you have an “attitude” and you are not growing. You are not working towards his comfort.

    If a strange African American tells me that he’s my friend, it means nothing to me. I don’t know him. But if a white person says he’s my friend, I’m should accept his friendship unconditionally–even though his actions and words irritate me.

    Wow, gentrification has really opened my mind. Thanks.

  143. Dr. Detroit

    OP’s suggestions only make gentrification more civilized, they don’t stop the fundamental price pressure that will tend to drive away the longtime neighbors.

    Stopping gentrification is easy. Make your neighborhood look like junk. Paint nothing except with graffiti… trash everywhere… have actors pretend to be pushy panhandlers, prostitutes, drug dealers etc… use abandoned homes for God knows what. That has stopped gentrification cold in Detroit. Unlike Detroit, I wouldn’t burn down any abandoned houses, because then someone rich will buy the lot and build a new, ugly apartment.

    OH WAIT! You want to live in an affordable community that is ALSO NICE. Sorry, that is not possible. If your community is nice, its value will be high, and you will have to “ante up” to stay there. How much is decided by the regional economy, and there is the nut of the problem. Right now you have a growing economy, more wealth, more people and NOT more housing stock in desirable areas. The value of the housing stock is going up in proportion. So if you want to stay in THIS housing stock, you need to learn to grow your own wealth in proportion. No, it is not easy, but nothing worth doing is. Fortunately the gentrification “problem” also implies you are in a boomtown, and that creates more opportunities.

    You need to make your value to the community (i.e. Earth’s citizens) greater than it is now, in a way that actually brings money to you. Fortunately, today, there are more ways than ever to do that, from becoming a Youtube personality to making $3 cupcakes for these very gentrifiers. Hey, rising tide floats all boats 🙂

    And you say the gentrifiers must engage you, ok, how about you engaging them, and make them desire mutually favorable transactions with you? Like that $3 cupcake. Social media makes that far easier than ever. Who are you and what do you bring to your community?

    Note how much of this is your choice and your initiative. And that’s on you, exactly where it should be.

  144. Donna

    The response to this very calm, measured, reasonable column is embarrassing, and incredibly depressing. Fellow white people, how about shutting up, dialing down the nearly sociopathic defensiveness, & just listening for 2 or 3 seconds? It won’t kill you. I promise.

  145. chris lee

    “According to their versions of the story, we African Americans moved into white Oakland and caused the housing prices to rise. White people moved out because they could not longer afford it here. Then we justified it by making up the phrase “white flight.” White flight is just a myth African Americans made up to price white people out of the homes and communities.”

    White, black and otherwise have abandoned many American central cities because the mostly black underclass have made it uninhabitable. We can argue about the “whys” but do you deny this? I am curious to hear your reply.

  146. Vin

    Excellent post.

    What is suggested is pretty much the opposite of what happened in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as that neighborhood underwent a dramatic transformation – and what is taking place in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn right now.

  147. Jonatton Yeah?

    I am nice to people who are nice to me. I will live wherever I feel, assuming I can pay the rent. If I feel like joining with the greater community, I will. If I don’t, I won’t. If I want to talk about crime, I will. If I don’t, I won’t. If you feel like disliking me because I am white, okay. If it makes you feel better to think that I am a techie or that I am wealthy despite me being neither, go for it, buddy. If you don’t like Swan’s Marketplace anymore, I’m sorry to hear that. I like it. I think it’s vibrant. I go there sometimes. I don’t go to the African-American barber down the road. I don’t go to the Chinese restaurants across Broadway. But other people like them. So I don’t begrudge them. If you think I am entitled or come from privilige, well, that’s just your opinion, man. If Oakland can teach us anything, it’s that life can be very short and life can be hard. I am not going to worry about people who dislike me. If it wasn’t my skin color; if it wasn’t how long I’ve lived in Oakland; if it wasn’t how much money I make or don’t make; it would be something else. People who hate hate and they make up reasons to fuel their hate. I am simply going to keep living my life. Because that’s all any of us can do. I consider myself a good person. I have nothing to apologize for. In fact, through my work running HIV treatment programs for the un- and under-insured, I do more for the poor and more for communities of color than most the people who sneer at me on the street. And that’s fine. I don’t do it to impress anyone. I don’t do it for the money, that I can assure you. And I have nothing to prove. You’re certainly not going to convince me otherwise. Especially on a message board. In all, maybe we’ll run into each other on the street. Maybe we’ll share a laugh. Or not. Whichever. Life goes on until it doesn’t.

  148. Alan

    Wow what a TERRIBLE foot to start off on for productive dialogue. Everyone should be treated equally. Whether you moved in 20 years ago or yesterday you have the same RIGHT as an American to live anywhere in this country. We SHOULD especially respect the wishes of those who have lived somewhere longer because they know the area better and have earned a say through their commitment. BUT we should do it within the context of respecting everyones right to have opinions and live wherever they want.

  149. Tonya Love

    Wondering why so many are taking these points so seriously and as gospel.

    Not all or even some of these points apply to you random white citizen that just moved here. Or random white citizen whose grandma was born here. Or random white citizen who bought a house and is a good neighbor. Or random black citizen who is bougie and proud of it. Or random other ethnic group that doesn’t want to roll with the gangsta homies.

    Take a step back and think about the overall message that is trying to be conveyed here. A voice that just hasn’t been heard in the gentrification struggle for awhile. That’s all. Consider it, reflect on it, learn from it. Don’t make it too much about’ll be less offended by it. I promise.

    Relax. Relate. Release.

  150. chris lee

    This is the internets. We’re not hammering out an international treaty. It’s entirely appropriate that people’s comments are all over the scale. It’s ultimately a town hall meeting, not a legally binding discussion. Venters should vent. Chillers should chill. Academes should academe. And Street talkers should street talk. The important thing is that people communicate and have a free open discussion.

  151. m.dozer

    my skin is very white, i am very blonde. i have lived in low-income housing in texas, chicago, new orleans & many cities in the bay area- san jose, richmond, san francisco & oakland twice.
    i grew up with a single mother on welfare, then when she kicked me out as a teen, my single father on government assistance.
    i do not know financial privilege but i am looked at as though my whole life has been easy because i am “the golden child”.
    it has not been easy.
    the term “gentrification” is simply a cleaned up version of racism- “you” judging “me” because i look a certain way or am the newbie & i want to shop in a market that has fresh produce, is cleaned regularly & doesn’t cater to drug dealers lurking at the door or in the parking lot.

    there is judgement on skin color. there is fear of change. there is envy & bitterness for choices made, opportunities passed-up & this misplaced sense of entitlement is so frustrating.
    all of this is ridiculous. stop pointing fingers because you are disappointed with your own life.

    in some places i’ve lived, the long-term resident’s are the ones who allow the neighborhoods to fall apart- it is not newcomers, new residents bring fresh eyes.
    oakland, do you want trash allover your streets? prostitutes on your corners? drug dealers ruling the hood? guns. guns & more guns?

    bitching & moaning will get you nowhere. clean up your act.

    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -mahatma gandhi

  152. Aishah B.

    Most of the comments from this article represent “white entitlement” at its best. and it is disgusting and saddening all at once.

    Lets reframe the article and replace Oakland with Piedmont or North Berkeley or Orange County(and please no smart-azz detractors saying Piedmont is Oakland). Now replace gentrifier with working or middle class African American, Latino, African, Samoan, Cambodian, etc. etc., etc.

    Now let those people move into one of those aformentioned places and not follow any of the aformentioned rules, such as:

    We all know that if these things were not done or done if one moved to Piedmont, there would be problems, council meetings, petitions, etc. etc.

    White entitlement – the rules that apply to you dont apply to anyone else, because you can do what you want, when you want.

    Look it up.

    PS. To the author, I do have to say that many, many of the “neighbors” in these neighborhoods that are being gentrified, are not crack addicts, prostitutes, drug dealers, etc. and by asking gentrifiers to tolerate that, in my opinion, contributes to thier disturbing and non-chalant attitude. Because the reality is that I (as a black woman) do not want to tolerate that either.

    Within these same neighborhoods are families, business owners, students, religious leaders and spiritual communities, artists, craftspeople, healers, activists, teachers, grandmothers and grandfathers, who have will always be a part of Oaklands landscape.

    Bottom line, as a HUMAN BEING and as a newcomer moving into a neighborhood, RESPECT the people who were thier before you, who work hard everyday to keep thier homes and neighborhoods a place to rest, work and play.

    But then again, maybe thats asking to much; treat your neighbor as yourself. do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

  153. James Miller

    @ Tonya

    I appreciate your call for calm, but I must simply disagree that the perspective in this article is “a voice that just hasn’t been heard in the gentrification struggle for awhile.”

    In my opinion, many of the concepts communicated here–that newcomers have a different responsibility to the community, that it’s just so incredibly important to say “hi” to people on the street, to be decent is good, that people should not call the police on criminals because you have to consider their circumstances–are common and, in some cases, overrepresented here in Oakland.

    The only difference I can see here is that there is no room for public policy. That’s rich, coming from a public employee who works for a policymaker.
    I suppose her comment that she basically resents working for “wealthier” residents is new, too.

    But on the substance: equal points recycled, enabling and common sense. Not new though.

  154. metropony

    While I agree with parts of this article / checklist, I think the greater focus should be in helping the community at large take advantage and benefit from the growth and investment happening in the area. Assist qualified locals in getting loans for new businesses, provide employment training for those who lack the necessary skills, educate home owners on how to best profit from rising property values and come together as a community to be welcoming to those who are looking to improve while also working to get rid of those who are a drain on the area (in particular, criminals and drug dealers).

    Give people an honest chance to help themselves, maybe even a few chances, but you have to have a line in the sand. At the end of the day, if someone isn’t willing to actively be a part of improving their community and take responsibility for improving their lives, they are simply standing in your community’s way of progress and don’t deserve a say in what happens.

  155. Tom

    I enjoyed your article. Rarely do we get to hear from those who are having their neighborhood gentrified, but often from those trying to advocate for people like you and often sound like they are against progress development and diversification.

    I’m an urban planning student in Cincinnati and have seen a similar story happening in a neighborhood called Over The Rhine. I appreciate your love for your new neighbors and that they want and like things that are different from your tastes, and that there should be space for both groups to live in a way that is comfortable for them. Growing up as a white suburban kid, the first time I had a conversation with a homeless man while living in the city center, I was sure that I was going to be shot and robbed at any moment. While there is nothing wrong with being cautious, this was completely a product of prejudice. 5 years later, I’ve had many great conversations with my blue collar black neighbors about their kids and enjoyed a few great discussions with homeless men about how often they are in an out of service homes. I’ve met 7 figure earners and people who dream of what 7 figures could do to save them and everyone in between in my city center and its beautiful. I love my high scale bars; I also love a hole in the wall place I found that serves cheep bear and is great for darts. The great thing is that both serve a purpose.

    Gentrification happens when people and culture are forced out of a place. Gentrification is NOT when white people move in and bring some cute stores and bars with them. Existing businesses and residents can live side by side comfortably, and it can enrich the experience of both parties, help liberate the prostitute from her vocation, clean up the drug dealer, and give the convict hope for a real job. This recent urban resurgence has great things to offer the lower income, socially marginalized, and racially oppressed, but only if these people approach with the humility to seek to understand a place before they seek to make a place understand them.



  156. dee

    lol at all the commenters who didn’t even care to process and understand the point of this whole article. like “oakland doesn’t belong to anyone” yeah it does. it belongs to the people already living there and who live there for a reason. people who had to live there and within their means and you coming in with your yarn store is gonna affect them. have a problem? move. you move though. don’t expect it to be the other way around. bc it shouldnt be.

  157. Tessa

    “have a problem? move. you move though”

    wrong! Have a problem? Address the problem, preferably with your neighbors. “Like it or leave it!”.. Isn’t that a dated type of mentality?!

    Like it or not , current residents of a city don’t get to dictate where other people move or live.

  158. Cali Libby

    By the way, to the author:

    This thing about not saying “hi”, not getting to know your community. Go to the Mission or, even better, go to Pacific Heights. Get a cup of coffee and sit and watch the people—especially the people you identify as “gentrifiers”, ie: white, usually young, somewhat to very much monied. Watch their behavior amongst themselves. They don’t say “Hi” to one another, they are not involved in their neighborhoods, they close and lock their doors and don’t “hang out” outside talking with neighbors. They tend to go about their business wherever they work and live with blinders on, very myopic. They don’t show their feelings to the outside world and rarely in the inside world. That’s just not part of their culture, that’s not how they grew up. There’s a variety of reasons for this (you’ll notice absolutely no one says hello on the streets of Paris or London either). Good or bad, right or wrong, some of what you are experiencing is cultural. You may not like it, but should you be allowed to expect the newcomers to change themselves to reflect your culture?

  159. Davis Silver

    What an inspiring article! Not for the content — that was useless drivel. But for the comments. I sometimes worry that the people who live in oakland are a bunch of dizzy whiners — that’s why our schools suck and we are #1 in the country for armed robberies (and pretty much up there for every other sort of heinous crime).

    But most of these commenters are level-headed, serious, tolerant, thoughtful and humorous — I simply love the people Oakland.

    We’ve got problems to solve — some way or another we’ll get it done.

    And PS – please move to Oakland — no invite needed. We would love to have you.

  160. OaklandNative

    Dee On,

    You bring up a good point. It’s our home. It’s our community. Yet commenters hijack it and tell us that our home does not belong to us.

    Many commenters come on here defining our home for us–and even some defining who we are. They tell us what Oakland is. Uh, you moved here and now you tell me what my home is? Especially when the Oakland you want may not be the Oakand we want. Then they tell us we have to change (read Steven’s essay) to make them more comfortable and so they can attract more people like them?

    By the way, African Americans didn’t “take Oakland away from white people.” White people moved out because they wanted to. That’s white flight, not gentrification.

  161. OaklandNative

    By the way, Oakland needs a new slogan “Like it or leave it.”

    Tessa, if you don’t like that “dated” slogan, leave it.

  162. Tessa

    Oakland native – love it because so am I. Born here, raised here, raising my three kids here, and not leaving. Sorry.
    You missed the point which is “America – love it or leave it” is a right wing saying. That what we want for our city?
    I am in favor of all who wish to be part of Oakland and work for positive changes.

  163. Paul Lentz

    The drug dealing, loud music, littering, prostitution, etc. were all occurring in these neighborhoods way before the so called “gentrifiers” moved into. So to come in and try to clean up the neighborhood…..would be like a woman marrying a philander….and trying to get him to change his ways! Both expectations DEFY LOGIC, LOL!

    Most people DO NOT want to change. We are like dogs…once we reach a certain age, we’re pretty set in our ways. Are there exceptions? Sure…however the exception to the rule DOES NOT make it the rule, lol!

    Many people “say” that they want to change…but actions speak louder than words. My point is that white gentrifiers who come into these type of neighborhoods….shouldnt be surprised when the residents of these neighborhoods act in manner that they deem uncivilized. And if you’re a woman who marries a womanizer…dont act all surprised when he fools around on you with other women.

    With that said…when all is said and done….the gentrifiers will get their way. Money talks. Dannette makes some very valid points. However, when the smoke clears…..the rift raff (the unsavory types that the gentrifiers want moved out) will eventually bite the dust. The developers and business investors who have pumped money into catering to white gentrifiers…..only would have done so if they knew that the politicians had their back.

    I’m not condoning the above actions, just calling it like I see it.

  164. LibbyCali

    ” the Oakland you want may not be the Oakand we want”

    What exactly is the Oakland you want? The one with the high crime rate? What about the people who have lived here for generations who want to see improvements especially in public safety? A less corrupt local government that isn’t besieged with nepotism? That would be me and my family and many, many people we know that also go back many generations.

    Not ALL the white people left. And when did that happen anyway? 40 years ago. Who cares? The white population in Oakland has been consistently between 32 and 35% for over 35 years. There is no “white” influx now, so quite panicking. For every 20 something, white couple that moves in, a family moves out seeking a bigger house and better schools. What is happening is African American families are leaving and not being replaced by other African Americans. But those families, they are leaving for the same thing: bigger houses, better schools. Oh, and one more thing: safety for their children. Compare the demographics of Antioch and Pinole over the last 20 years. And less you believe that is because they were forced out because it’s expensive here, the African American middle class was growing at a faster pace than any other up until the crash of 2008 (none of us are growing now).

    So what do you want “your” Oakland to look like? Devoid of white people? Only white people you approve of that behave in a way you think you want them to? I really am curious about these expectation people think they can place on others moving from someplace in America to someplace else in America. That’s a lot of self declared entitlement.

  165. metropony

    Generally speaking, opportunity breeds opportunity and it would be wise to help the community take advantage of said opportunities rather than fighting them.

    There is also something to be said for the fact that some people aren’t willing to be helped and will only continue to be a drain on the community at large, no matter how much “eye contact” or neighborly love you give them. “Hi Neighbor! I know your son and his friends tagged my fence again, you enjoy drinking beer and smashing bottles until 5AM every night and I’m pretty sure someone is selling drugs behind your house, but can please turn your music down? I don’t want to be a gentrifier”

  166. Aishah B.

    Again, whats seems to be the prevalent theory is that 1) the neighborhoods that are being moved into are useless, disfunctional, crime ridden desolate places filled with people who are equally useless, browke down, incabable of living thier own lives and in need of help; and 2) the gentrifiers are the upright, well-financed, model citizens who will come and save the “natives” from themselves.

    Yes, Oakland does have pockets that represent that but why not quote the models of success, of people and neighborhoods happy and peaceful.

    Oakland has ALWAYS been a very diverse city and there are many black, asian, latino and WHITE people who dont like the attitude of the so-called “gentry.”

    2nd, MANY of the so-called white hipsters moving in, are themselves (well-financed) crack adicts, drug dealers and prostitutes. Just ask my neighbors about the young black man and woman who had 6 officers hold guns on them for having an arguement outside while two houses down, there lived about 8-9 white hipsters who did nothing but get high, pass out, fight, sell and use drugs ALL day long.

    Im sick of hearing the same unquestioned narrative about what Oakland was BEFORE the whiteness moved in and saved us all.

    Look in the mirror and fix your own lives.

  167. Jonatton Yeah?

    OaklandNative you are, as you appear wont to do, talking out of both sides of your mouth. You demand respect while giving little. You cherry pick specific comments and then ascribe them to a boogie-group you yourself have created. You complain of arrogance while claiming this is your home and people who move here are hijacking said home. You reference assumed racism while posting some of the most racist comments in the thread. You seem to think you are a spokesperson for the poor while speaking nothing to what you are doing for this group you seem some concerned with. No, posting on here is not doing something. You complain that people are telling you what your home is while you tell those same people what they’re thinking and feeling based around peculiar conjecture and personal anecdotes. You paint broad strokes while accusing others of doing the same. You care about Oakland. That much is obvious. But you only care about part of Oakland. That much is obvious to those of us you assail against based around skin color and choice of coffee shop.

  168. David Banks

    “Oakland has ALWAYS been a very diverse city..”

    The census data is readily available online and that is not the case at all. Census 1940 95.3%. 1950 75.6 %.
    I’m not saying it’s good, bad or anything else, just that was the reality. Talk to your parents, your grandparents – mine were here then and remember the racist clauses written into housing titles. Times have changed. And will keep changing. Fact.

  169. transparency

    he (Steven Kopff) has deleted his article. as he deletes all voices of disagreement. but thank you oaklandlocal for reposting the responses from his neighbors…
    (please be aware that his “oakland’s brooklyn neighborhood beautification project” is his rebranding propoganda tool out for as much PR and as many photo ops as he can get. his M.O. is quantity over quality when it comes to “beautifying” )

    the responses to his deleted article:

  170. OaklandNative

    Jonathan Yeah?

    As I said, this is Oakland. Love it or leave it.

    If you’re going to talk about “making Oakland better,” then I ask who decide what is “better”?

    Is it someone who moved here because they couldn’t afford otherwise? Then we have different ideas of what a better Oakland is.

    And yes, a better African American community has nothing to do with coffee shops. My idea of a better African American community might be different than yours.

    And yes, I’m keeping race in the conversation.

  171. Jonatton Yeah?

    And I am talking about an Oakland that you choose to ignore. Love it or leave it. I made no mention of “better.” All I speak to is actual. There are white people in Oakland. They exist. That’s me bringing race into it. If that offends you, that’s you being, once again, racist. I, personally, am not offended by people. Maybe that’s me being priviliged; privileged with the honor of treating people like people. White people going to coffee shops is not racist. It’s not. It’s people getting coffee. I have no idea what a better African American community is. I have no idea what a better White American community is. I certainly don’t pretend that I speak for either. Because I’m not arrogant. Or entitled enough to think such. As before, your rhetoric is all over the place. You have made up your mind about what you think this city is and you’ll cookie-cut points in order to create this insular little reality. Here’s a reality: Oakland was here before you; Oakland will be here long after you’re gone. That can be said for all of us. Nice job addressing none of my points, by the way. Especially the one about what you’re doing to help the community you seem to hold so high while many of us, the Evil Ones, actually do.

  172. a person with an opinion

    To Aishah B. — Your assertion that Oakland has “ALWAYS been a very diverse city” is simply incorrect. Just prior to World War II, around 75 years ago, roughly 3% of Oakland residents were African American. The vast majority of the rest of Oakland’s residents were white.

    But please don’t jump on the white-hating bandwagon so prevalent in the comments and assume that I would prefer for diversity in Oakland to return to pre-WWII levels. I don’t want that at all.

    The comments (and the article) have opened my eyes to one thing. There are a surprising number of people in Oakland who hate white people because of the color of their skin. I find that abhorrent.

    In the 11 years I’ve been in Oakland, and the 13 years I lived one block from the Oakland border (in the flats of Berkeley), the majority of my neighbors have been African American. Myself, my family and friends have been the victims of numerous crimes at the hands of African American men. But I don’t hate African Americans, far from it.

    And to counter the criticism about my previous comment regarding hiring “white 20-something hipsters” —
    The point was that I will hire whomever I choose, white, black, gay, transgender…. You don’t get to choose who I hire in my business, and I feel no need whatsoever to seek your approval. The first person I hired in my business (not cat massage!) was an African American woman.

  173. OaklandNative

    You are right, I did not bother to address your points (whatever they were by the way). It was a distraction from my point–whether you can understand it or not.

    I am making sure that my African American perspective (note, I do not speak for anyone but myself) is included in this discussion on the gentrification of Oakland.

    And I realize there have always been white people in Oakland. However, this hipster discussion is not the same thing.

    And if someone moves to Oakland, complains about it and talk about a “better Oakland,” they should not define this “better Oakland.” They should include us.

  174. Chad

    You’re missing the point a bit though. Employing affluent 20 somethings is, of course, allowed. But you’d undoubtedly be a gentrifier. The point of the article is how to avoid being one.

  175. chris lee

    Oakland Native question to you was..don’t you feel that the crime and dysfunction, was what drove people out of Oakland in the first place. True not ALL of the poor working class are at fault, but in social studies discussions it’s necessary to paint with a broad brush….isn’t it a “better Oakland” an Oakland where there is stability, respect for private property, civility, cleanliness, and higher standards of living?

  176. rayon

    I suspect that the behaviors Ms. Lambert objects to don’t really exist. Welcome to Oakland. You have been lectured.

  177. Michael Patrick

    I find the argument on privilege compelling, especially Holly’s comment that “some people get to choose where they live and some get pushed around.” Newcomers and old-timers can make positive changes to the neighborhood or city, but, if those changes impose unlivable difficulties on a community of people who cannot vote with their feet or dollars, hindered by economic or cultural reasons, those changes might not be as positive as they seem. Change can occur, but it must be conscious of privilege or lack thereof.

  178. OaklandNative

    Chris Lee Son,
    Your questions are based on the faulty premise that poor blacks are dysfunctional, etc. You assume most, if not all poor blacks are negative elements. You’ve written it more than once.

    When blacks, poor or not, have the opportunity to leave those negative elements, we do. That does not mean we stop being black.

    The point of gentrification is not to benefit poor blacks. It is to take advantage of the negative elements to make money. If some poor blacks benefit, that is secondary.

    Based on your comments, you believe it is good to move out poor blacks because of those negative issues you list. Thus, you believe gentrification is good.

    That’s part of my criticism with your gentrification. It’s what I hear in justication of gentrification.

  179. Minh

    i get the sentiment of this piece, but i had a negative reaction to this part:

    “Instead of “that prostitute was out all night selling her body” think “my neighbor (insert name here) was forced by her pimp to stand out in the cold all night and have sex with multiple men she didn’t know.” See if that doesn’t change your opinion of her.”

    i don’t see how that’s a better thought, as it’s just as condescending and demonizing of sex work. nobody wants your pity. people want respect. judgement veiled as cursory kindness isn’t respect.

  180. chris lee

    “Your questions are based on the faulty premise that poor blacks are dysfunctional, etc. You assume most, if not all poor blacks are negative elements. You’ve written it more than once.”

    thanx for that correction..Camden, Newark, Detroit, Gary, Atlanta, Birmingham….Oakland in the 60s-80s

  181. chris lee

    the issue isn’t to shame individuals or indulge or excite enmity to anyone undeservedly, but it’s to look honestly in the context of larger trends and be able for a unflinchingly tell it like it is.

  182. tim

    As with the Latham Square debate, Oakland Native wants Oakland to stay frozen in time at some ideal point for him (2010? 2000? 1990?). It’s a losing battle, as it should be. Cities are not museums and they are not sociological preservation parks. They should, and will, change. Americans shouldn’t have abandoned cities 50 years ago, but that’s not a reason to stay out of them now.

  183. OaklandNative

    Chris Lee
    Your mind is closed and misinformed on the issue of poor African Americans. It’s not worthwhile to engage you in that conversation.

    I was out near Latham Square Saturday night. Some guy on Telegraph Avenue was trying to make a U-turn. The street was too narrow to make it cleanly. It was a mess. He held up traffic.

    The street was full of traffic–meaning drivers use the area.

    I thought our city officials should see that mess.

    Before you or your minion Chris Lee jump to any conclusions. I was not in the traffic. I watched from the sidwalk. Also, the driver was not African American–particularly a poor African American.

  184. Ben

    So Dannette Lambert has admitted to living here less than HALF as long as I have — and apparently has a graduate degree from one of the country’s top universities — and she’s going to lecture me about gentrification. Amazing. One of the few things Dannette Lambert initially said that I agreed with was about the need to sympathize with prostitutes — so of course she takes that back in her comment above. Oakland has one of the worst child prostitution problems in the country, but Dannette Lambert has to toe the party line of regarding this despicable, exploitative industry as a facet of women’s empowerment. This, by the way, from a CITY OFFICIAL who is supposed to help solve all of us in Councilmember Dan Kalb’s district solve this city’s problems, including the crime problem that’s killing kids. You know those guns tearing apart young lives, Dannette Lambert? Where do you think the money comes from to buy them? Prostitution, drug dealing, and other “neighborly” activities that you believe we’re supposed to greet with a smile.

  185. drippingwithsarcasm

    Dannette and select other commenters —

    Thank you oh thank you for this great gift of wisdom which you have so beneficently bestowed upon me. I have followed your 20 commandments, and I am now cleansed of my evil ways! Though I am but a white person of means, and not native born, thanks to your learned doctrine I am no longer a gentrifier!

    My ascension from lowly and despicable gentrifier to the ranks of the anointed few who may call themselves “real, true Oaklanders”, has brought great relief to my troubled soul. Previously, for the years that I cleaned the trash on my street, weeded the unkempt median strip, and regularly painted over the graffiti in my area, I could sense the disapproving and disdainful looks from the native born in my area. “How dare he pick up trash! Who does he think he is!”, they said.

    Having followed your 20 commandments, and being now a real and true Oaklander, I shall assume the role of those who have commented before me. I am now a victim, just like you! I can’t tell you how good it feels. Just today I walked past a new business and looked upon their success with scorn. “Your tax dollars shall bring ruin to my city!”, I shouted, as I tossed my low-fat macchiato cup on the ground and marked my territory on the nearby utility box using a bold, red sharpie.

    And as you prescribed, I said “Howdy neighbor!” to my local meth dealer. His response, profane and threatening, was like music to my ears. I have arrived, I thought.

    And to my former cohort of wretched gentrifiers I have this to say. I now see you for who you truly are, devils in disguise. Your new businesses — flush with fairly paid employees, riven by moderate success, drawn by the guilt that accompanies fair trade coffee — are but the minions of the coming apocalypse. You can’t fool us, the real and true Oaklanders. We know that your intentions are to subjugate and drive us from our homes.

    Though I am newly chosen, I’m haunted by my past as a gentrifier. “Out damned spot, out!”.

  186. Steve Kopff

    Dannette and I both wrote pieces with different perspectives and it has ignited quite a debate. Dannette called me a few days ago and we both took the time to get to know each other and dispel misunderstandings, and realized we were very alike in so many ways. Even more insane is that we are now starting to work together to see how we can find solutions to get both our “visions” met. Me, the “Ultimate Gentrifier”, admires Dannette Lamber. XOXO

    People, stop attacking each other. Both sides have valid arguments. Seek to understand your opposition and put yourself in their shoes whether or not they are willing to do the same. Form partnerships with them. Work together.

    Put some of this energy that has gone into this debate into making Oakland a better place, which includes helping the long time residents who need the help so that they can better themselves and not be displaced. We all belong.

    There is so much power in communicating and empathizing. Try it…you might be pleasantly surprised.

  187. Jonatton Yeah?

    I was on 280 once. There was a fender bender. No idea what race the person was who caused it. It was a mess. It’s obvious that 280 was a bad idea from the start.

  188. chris lee

    “2nd, MANY of the so-called white hipsters moving in, are themselves (well-financed) crack adicts, drug dealers and prostitutes. Just ask my neighbors about the young black man and woman who had 6 officers hold guns on them for having an arguement outside while two houses down, there lived about 8-9 white hipsters who did nothing but get high, pass out, fight, sell and use drugs ALL day long.

    Im sick of hearing the same unquestioned narrative about what Oakland was BEFORE the whiteness moved in and saved us all.

    Look in the mirror and fix your own lives.”

    the Many, Many…LOL

  189. OaklandNative

    Whatever you and Dannette decide to do, I hope it benefits, not displaces, Oakland’s African American communities.

  190. Steve Kopff

    OaklandNative- I agree with you, we need to look at how we can move forward and bring improvements to Oakland yet making sure we are sensitive to not displacing African American, Latinos, Asians, Whites and other ethnicities that are at a economic disadvantage. I do have all the answers but am now focused on trying to find them.

    The things that come to mind are working with the big businesses and development projects that do come and set up business here and partner with them to hire locally- train the people most at risk of being displaced to have new careers so they can be elevated with Oakland as it gets better rather than being pushed out. Have those businesses and developers set up grants and loans to new small businesses of locals so that people within the community can have the opportunity to start their own businesses.

    I’m not saying that these ideas alone will do the trick. I am saying that I have been giving it thought and that I think if all of us work together we might be able to find solutions that do work. We don’t have to take the same path that San Francisco is. We are Oakland and we can show them a thing or two to learn by. Yay Oakland!

  191. rayon

    OaklandNative, “Whatever you and Dannette decide to do, I hope it benefits, not displaces, Oakland’s African American communities.”

    I’d like to point out that, according to census data, Oakland’s African American population has been declining for a least a decade. The same has been happening in Richmond. My feeling is that the people leaving are mainly families who want to live in less expensive places, and maybe want better schools and a better environment for their children.

  192. rayon

    Example, Oakland’s lost about 1/4 of it’s African American population between 1990 and 2000 from 142,460 to 109,471. In 1990, there were 163,526.

  193. OaklandNative

    Declining or not, we’re still here. As you might have read, there is some animosity towards “poor African Americans.” I would like to make sure that decline is not due to such animosity.

  194. rayon

    CORRECTION: Oakland’s lost about 1/4 of it’s African American population between 2000 and 2010 from 142,460 to 109,471. In 1990, there were 163,526.

    The change has been happening for more than 20 years.

  195. James Miller


    One of the reasons so many of us are impatient and seemingly mean is that we are sick of hearing about how terrible gentrification and gentrifiers are is that this is, at least for me in my 15 or so years, the third major wave of apoplexy on this topic. Yet gentrification has not been widespread in any meaningful way: the city budget is still in the toilet, the schools are terrible, unemployment and poverty are disproportionately high, many many neighborhoods are absolutely terrible and, oh yeah, there’s a lot of crime. There are still plenty of low income people and most of the city is essentially a patchwork of communities of color.

    Oakland has not gentrified in decades. West Oakland has been in fear of gentrification far longer than it was ever the “Harlem of the West.” Whether Oakland somehow “resisted” gentrification or the feared gentrification has never really happened, the fact remains that the status quo is unacceptable, substandard, bad, whatever word you want to use.

    If you dont like investment and new money and people coming in, then just face the fact that the last ten years have been your golden age. It’s like the people who dont want more cops: you should be totally happy with Oakland right now, because we barely have any cops.

    The problem with Oakland is not that there are too many rich people, too many corporate titans, too many hipsters, or too many yuppie families. Talk about “not being San Francisco.”

  196. Steve Kopff

    I hear you James Miller. I’ve heard accounts from many in our very diverse neighborhood of how we used to have three major grocery stores and many restaurants and shops that have all moved out in the 70’s. The African American family next door to us and whom we adore have been in their home for 50+ years and the matriarch and patriarch grew up in the neighborhood. They were married in our home. They share tales of when the neighborhood had small bakeries, diners, and mom and pop businesses on most street corners (if you drive around you can see lots of what used to be). And they left their front doors unlocked. They want that back. They want their streets to be safe again. They are part of the fabric of this neighborhood and I am glad to have them as neighbors.

    I know it’s hard but let’s start trying to take “race” out of this issue. Dana King, an African American woman, announced today that she is running for city council in our district (District 2). Don’t vote for her because she is black…. or because she is half white. She has lived here for more than a year and is a gentrifier herself. But does that mean she is bad? I think not.

    I know her on a personal level. I must acknowledge that I am the Treasurer for her campaign so I don’t mislead anyone and don’t vote for or against her just because I told you to.

    Find out what she and other candidates are about. Most importantly- get involved as it is your civic duty. If you have an issue that is important to you then express that to your local representative and forge a partnership with them. Become part of the system and you will have a voice and a better chance to shape how our city is run.

    Be all inclusive. Our personal concerns are as important as others’ so let’s find ways we can bridge the divide and help each other. I am a gentrifier- I own that now. But I can find ways to get both my desire for more variety of services that are targeted towards me (without trying to displace any other businesses) as well as try to find solutions to help those who are afraid of being displaced (like job retraining and job credits to encourage businesses to hire local residents). How can you become part of the solution?

  197. OaklandNative

    Why should we take race out of the discussion? Let’s place race at the forefront.

    I think it belongs in the discussion.

  198. OaklandNative

    Let me elaborate on my last comment.

    An earier commenter admitted that he associated poor African Americans with dysfunction, etc. That’s his perception of African Americans, it is not my place–or interest–to change his mind.

    If one shares his perception, I understand wanting to take race out of the discussion.

    However, since I do not share his perception on race, I don’t have that need to take race out of the discussion. It is not because it is hard or easy. It is because I believe it belongs in the discussion.

    I like being African American. I love Oakland’s African American history and culture. And despite some of the problems, I love the communities.

    So I have no need to leave race out of the discussion.

  199. jim

    We are all arguing with one another here, which is exactly what the likes of the Koch brothers and other republicans want. They have tirelessly worked since the 60s to roll back all progress made on so many fronts. If you wonder why our educational system sucks so much, maybe it’s because of tax avoidance and measures like proposition 13. Maybe if our schools were not under so much pressure, young minorities could get an education, land those google jobs and “gentrify” their own neighborhoods. Instead we get prop 209, making it even harder for minorities to go to college.

    No matter what your skin color is, Howard Jarvis, mssrs. Koch and yes, even Ward Connorly are the ‘white’ people we should all be worried about.

  200. Winston

    Thank you Dannette for the guidelines. Most people here are confused about a lot of this so I summarized it, and now I feel like I understand it even more clearly. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Dannette Lambert is the author of this guide and works for the City of Oakland on the City Council Staff. She would like to be included any of my meetings I have about my neighborhood and I should enquire with her on any plans I may have about opening up a high-end market in Oakland. And everyone should know that when you go out and eat at a fancy restaurant she is struggling to find a cheap meal.

    a few how-to’s for avoiding the gentrifier label in Oakland:

    1. Smile at everyone in your neighborhood. Don’t take offense if they don’t smile back.

    2. Everyone outside should be referred to as “Neighbor” including Homeless, Prostitutes, and Drug Dealers. This would exclude anyone who travels into into my neighborhood to purchase drugs and sex because they don’t technically live around here.

    3. If I describe any of my said “Neighbors”, I do so in a nice way rather than a literal fashion. Instead of saying “that Neighbor is selling drugs”, I can paint a more flattering picture by saying “my Neighbor is so generous, he is giving away drugs”

    4. I am grateful that I can afford to pay my parking tickets.

    5. I shouldn’t call the police on my Neighbors even if they are doing something illegal. If the police show up the Neighbors could react in a negative way because they hold dear to them Oscar Grant and Alan Blueford. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome could also erupt.

    6. Most Oaklanders have hundreds of years of historic trauma on their minds.

    7. The system I have benefitted from is the same system that perpetrators of crimes have been victimized by. (BTW I don’t know what system this is..)

    8. I shouldn’t complain about a problem in Oakland unless I can contribute to the solution.
    —- I would like to call the police on the Neighbor who is selling drugs but according to No 5 that is a bad idea. I will simply walk over and ask him to stop dealing drugs at the times of day when I am home.

    9. Add capacity to low-income communities of color.

    10. Shop local and small. Go to less fortunate places that would be considered a “Dive Bar” or a “Hole In The Wall”. I am sure to run into my Neighbor who hands out drugs and the Neighbor who gives $50 scalp massages in the back seat of a car.

    11. If I open a store I need to base my prices on my Neighbor’s salary and what they feel comfortable paying.

    12. I need to hire someone of color who doesn’t know anything about my business. When it doesn’t work out I should let them go in a polite way.

    13. I can’t try to make Oakland into San Francisco. And If I eat a burrito I won’t experience any sort of culture until I introduce myself to the chef. This stands true for Pizza and Chinese food.

    14. I should tell low-income folks to start a crowd-funded campaign so they could afford to buy a computer which will allow then to find out what’s happening in our community.

    15. Identify my Privilege. The lighter my skin and more educated I am, the more Privilege I will have over others. When I am in a situation and these act in my favor, I should use my Privilege to enrich myself and others.

    16. If I create a neighborhood organization I will include people with different perspectives and people who don’t speak my language.

    17. If I do any major projects in the neighborhood I will make sure I check with my Neighbors first.

    18. I must engage with the City Government on behalf of the residents of Oakland.

    19. I should learn all I can about Oakland culture. I can start by talking to the old black man in the park, he should be treated as a cultural asset.

    20. I should enjoy Oakland as much as Dannette Lambert does. She has been a resident and an Oakland cultural expert for a few years.

  201. Megan

    Gonna space this out so it’s easier to read:

    I think the problem is that we all use ‘white’ like it means ‘rich.’

    A lot of white people aren’t rich.

    What they are, though, is significantly less oppressed from the get-go, sometimes, or at least have been way less likely to have had family and ancestors who’ve been experiencing hardcore systematic oppression for hundreds of years in this country.

    I don’t understand why white people have such a hard time understanding this, or why when it’s all around us we can’t see how race and class are intimately related. We can’t just exclude race from the conversation, because it’s part of our conversation historically, and we can’t exclude ourselves from history, which is actually The Present because we’re living out our legacies as we carry on this necessary conversation.

    It’s an economic recession, hence uncomfortable mixing in poorer areas, especially because we not educated about how to understand our communities in this country. It is sad how incapable we are of empathizing with those who have a really hard time.

    Have you ever thought about how terrible it would be to be homeless? People don’t just become poor and involved in crime just because they made a choice to be, just as you don’t have some divine power to pursue a glittery American dream and be the perfect human.

    Victims of circumstance, we are! Some much worse than others!

    Figure out where you fall into that. And if the time comes when you feel good enough to get out your own ass, then do what you can do to help!

  202. Grace

    When truth is spoken, nerves get rattled!

    Cheap Land Available In Oakland. “Natives” Relocated (Indian Reservations Experiencing High Population Growth).

    PS. Choice is relative.

  203. chris lee

    “White” people are also the most identified and conversant with the structures and workings of stable societies. America though, as a project is the dignity of mankind regardless of race, creed, gender or color. “Race” has been an issue in America and Europe for that matter since the beginning of sea exploration. The issues facing are and are not about “race”. They are about building and maintaining stable, safe societies. All are welcome who want to and can sign on to that project.

  204. OaklandNative

    Word choice is very telling. He wrote:

    The African American family next door to us and whom we adore have been
    in their home for 50+ years and the matriarch and patriarch grew up in the neighborhood. They were married in our home. They share tales of when the neighborhood had small bakeries, diners, and mom and pop businesses on most street corners (if you drive around you can see lots of what used to be). And they left their front doors unlocked. They want that back. They want their streets to be safe again. They are part of the fabric of this neighborhood and I am glad to have them as neighbors.

    Since Steve moved next to them and they’ve been there over 50 years, shouldn’t he be glad he moved next to them? Shouldn’t he be glad to be their neighbors?

    As written, he suggests it is his neighborhood and he is welcoming them.

  205. Charle

    I’m hella ambivalent about Oakland. It seems to me that this article belies the sad truth which is that crime here is actually much greater than reported because the prevailing attitude is tolerant of anti-social behavior. It seems to me that all these comments are a sign of hope, that people actually care deeply about how we treat one another. The long-time residents of Oakland, many of them older, relatively poor and generally soft-spoken, in my neighborhood, I’m sure would be heartened to hear that the thuggish treatment they are accustomed to is no longer acceptable. Sadly, despite the title, the displacement of lower-income people i.e. gentrification, and all the concomitant problems, isn’t actually addressed in this piece.

  206. Steve Kopff

    Let me be a little clearer- It is their neighborhood and it is my neighborhood. We are all part of the fabric and all belong. Neither has more of a right. Enough said on this.

  207. James Miller


    I dont disagree with nearly any of your posts, but I dont see what you’re seeing in the statement. It’s a bit quaint, and sappy/nostalgic, but it’s clear he realizes they were here before him.

    I think one important tidbit from him is above: his being Treasurer of Dana King’s campaign. She’s under a little heat for running for Council after a 2 years of residency. Makes Dan Kalb’s mere 7 or so years look deep

    Say what you want: these particular newcomers are playing for keeps.

  208. OaklandNative

    “Enough said on this?” No it is not. I have more to say.

    It is their neighborhood before it is yours. You are the newcomer.

  209. Diana

    I’m white. I’m not rich. I moved to Oakland after college last year, after graduating, because I could afford it and I was sick of Berkeley.
    I don’t think every white person is a gentrifier.
    I don’t like that if I wear plaid tights, ride a bike, and enjoy local art, I’m an entitled hipster, but if a black or brown woman does, she’s just being a “local.”
    How about we stop enforcing the racial divide by saying “you white people” or “the black people,” and accept everyone has a different experience and opinion. I don’t like being judged by the color of my skin anymore than anybody else.

    The relationship between the public and the police is not going to solved by white people moving in or out of Oakland.
    I think there is a lot of racism in Oakland. And I recognize we live in a world of white privilege.
    But I noticed two things about Oakland when I initially moved here: Number 1, the homeless people were nicer, and number 2, that many of the “native” black people don’t like white people, and they don’t want to. I get a lot more resentful stares than I give. And it’s not like the cops are handing me friggin flowers.

    I think people who are saying the author is telling you to love and accept your criminal neighbors are misreading. She’s not saying that. She’s saying appreciate their situation. Be a human. No one WANTS to be a prostitute or a petty criminal. Just think about it.

    But, I’m also going to say no one is allowed to say “ancestral land” here except Native Americans. Slow your roll.

  210. chris lee

    Oakland Native..that’s where you are wrong. It’s just as much his neighborhood as theirs by virtue of him signing a lease or purchasing a deed. Imagine the tables were turned and a black family moved into a predominately white neighborhood and tried to pull that crap. You’d be up in arms.

  211. chris lee

    Oakland’s HIS neighborhood by virtue of him leasing an apt or purchasing a deed to a home. If a black family moved into a predominantly white neighborhood and someone said to THEM what you are saying you would be up in arms.

  212. Veronica

    Oh my gosh this response is awesome! So glad to see you guys are finally standing up to this mentality. Stand strong. Keep it up!

  213. Veronica

    I find it oddly funny that these people complain of “gentrification”, yet when white people complain about crime and blight imported into their neighborhoods by section 8 types……we’re “racist”. Enough is enough.

  214. LivefromLowerBottoms

    Wow, I think most of the comments here prove most of what Danette has said. Yes, you are entitled to do anything you like in good ol’ capitalist USA.

    That pretty much entitles anyone to call you an asshole. Get over that! I’ve lived over 15 years in two major sites of gentrification (DC and Oakland). My family lives in Park Slope, NYC. The consensus is that gentrifiers = opportunists (usually whites from elsewhere) who are also jerks. Who don’t play nice with the locals. Your language reflects the same arguments of Europeans who conquered the globe: Thanks for nothing.

    Try not being a naive, entitled asshole and maybe people will stop complaining about gentrification.

  215. oakland born

    A few things that struck me about all of commentary:

    Gentrification was originally about money/class, not race. It comes from “gentry.” More recently it has become about race. So, you can’t apply the term to describe the way the neighborhoods changed hands in the 1800s in the same way that you would apply it now. Accept the plasticity of language.

    “Hipster” is a commodity, not an accurate way to describe an individual. The perpetuated broad use of the term is only furthering the marketing efforts of Urban Outfitters.

    It’s not a competition about longevity – its about making sure that people who have no where better to go aren’t getting pushed out. If how you can prevent that is by getting involved in your neighborhood in the ways innumerate in the above list, then by all means do what is in your power to do.

  216. Gentrifier

    Aw, that’s cute–author thinks she owns Oakland and everyone must conform to her. If there’s any place on Earth that is overdue for gentrification, it’s Oakland. It’s a good thing in this case.

  217. don warble

    Wow, what an intelligent, well thought out comment. You changed my mind with you eloquent argument and grasp of the English language. You are the reason I have faith in Americas public schools.

  218. Nemimi

    And what happens when the neighbors (in my case a local car audio business) laugh at you or ignore you when you try to talk to them? In my last neighborhood I got regular threats for politely asking my neighbors to turn their VERY loud music down to a dull roar at 10pm on a weekday. What do I do when I have a pimp shoving a 14 year old prostitute against the front fence of my recently purchased home late at night? Do I assume he’ll be polite to me if I politely ask him to stop harassing his underage “property”? And how about the tricked-out Lexus doing doughnuts at the intersection of my small street (multiple times). Do I go politely stand in front of the car & ask him to stop being a menace to my children & the neighborhood cats?
    Seriously. There are some things that aren’t ok. I know for a fact that we’re improving the neighborhood by moving in. We’ve cleaned up our house & yard, painted over graffiti on our fence and we’re trying to figure out how to make our neighborhood better. We’re not trying to whitewash the place- half of our little family is Latino, so shouldn’t we be “allowed” in our neighborhood without having to kiss the local drug dealer’s ass?
    I understand the anger behind gentrification, but there’s an ebb and flow to neighborhoods. People move in & people move out. Some people stay & some don’t. Very few individuals or families are gentrifying in the way you’re describing. Investors gentrify in the way you’re describing. You want real gentrification? Look at what’s happened to St. Mark’s Place in NYC in the last 10 years. THAT’S gentrification. It also had nothing to do with the people you normally blame for gentrification.
    Instead of asking people to make friends with pimps & dealers, why don’t established members of the community welcome newcomers & work with them to try to make their neighborhoods a safer, better place to live? Have some pride in the positive things in your neighborhood rather than forcing people to accept the negative.

  219. dee

    a lot of you say this happens in any neighborhood and that its not anyones responsibility to be nice to a “pimp” or a “drug dealer” but stop and think how this doesnt just happen…people dont just move into neighborhoods and change the whole structure “naturally.” realize theres a deep, deep historical reason for gentrification and because you moved somewhere for whatever reason doesnt mean it came naturally or as a coincidence. even when it comes to drug dealing in an urban place that doesnt just happen bc black people decided it. theres a root cause to this y’all really are missing. and its not even that relevant to this article. because the author is trying to accomodate you gentrifiers anyway! but im really sleep.

  220. Pearl

    So this article is basically saying that it’s a very bad thing to clean up your neighborhood? That leaving it a dirty, dangerous cesspool is preferable because the people who made it a dirty, dangerous cesspool are entitled to live there and do what they want? I’m not buying it. Every year things get more expensive. I have no idea when, or if, I’ll ever have enough money saved to retire. I will probably have to leave the bay area in order to afford all of the expenses of retirement. That’s reality. If you can’t afford to live where you want to live, you have to move. No one is entitled to live here. Cry me a river if criminals who made a neighborhood unsafe are forced to move.

    The entire premise that gentrification is bad is just silly. Crime is bad. Litter is bad. Run down properties with boarded up windows are bad. Class by itself is not bad. Low class people can still maintain their properties and take pride in their neighborhoods, many, many do. The idea that it’s preferable to keep an area dirty and dangerous is just ludicrous.

  221. OaklandNative

    Are you suggesting that your neighbors approved of the crime?

    If not, why do you think your moving into the neighborhood suddenly makes it unacceptable?

  222. chris lee

    Oakland Native..she is saying in MANY instances, not all..her neighbors WERE the crime..or responsible for she supposed to put up with that or accept that SHE is the problem?

  223. OaklandNative


    I believe most of the community members were not criminals. They were likely the victims of the crime.

    I doubt they liked being the victims of crime. I doubt they accepted it. I doubt they approved it.

    Nemimi, whether she likes it or not, is part of that community.

  224. Nemimi

    Chris Lee is correct. In many instances my neighbors were the crime or responsible for it. In fact, by your logic, the pimps & dealers are my neighbors, so they are absolutely responsible for the crime. The underage prostitution is especially heartbreaking- I had no idea it was such a regular thing literally at my doorstep. I’d do anything if I could safely help those girls.
    I knew my neighborhood wasn’t a perfect little Stepford community, but this kind of crime is unacceptable. Period. My presence doesn’t have anything to do with it. These are not victimless crimes- even the cars doing donuts in my tiny intersection or somehow hitting 45mph in a two block strip of a residential neighborhood is not ok. My car has already been nearly totaled in a hit & run (in broad daylight- the vehicle had been stolen, hotwired & abandoned immediately after slamming into my parked car) and I’m constantly seeing squished cats on the street- many more than one would normally see. I’m afraid it’s going to be me or my kid getting squished next.
    I’m willing to embrace my neighbors & neighborhood, but I don’t see why I should have to do all the embracing or all the hard work. I’ve already purchased a family home & committed to being a good neighbor. I’m not going to accept unacceptable behavior just because it was like that when I got here. You shouldn’t either.

  225. chris lee

    OaklandNative..we get it..not all the people in Oakland are criminal nuisances..did ANYONE say that they are? Why do you feel the need to insist that people are identifying ALL poor people with crime?

  226. Nemimi

    I should clarify- I don’t think all of my neighbors are criminals. The majority of my neighbors are sweet & wonderful & welcoming. Many of them have been there for decades. They’re not any happier with the crime than I am, but they’re resigned to it. We’re still new & in love with our little house & neighborhood, so maybe a family like mine is actually exactly what the neighborhood needs.

  227. Clinton resident of many years

    ha. no. It is NOT “enough said on this” Steve Kopff. Please everyone, remember that this article is a response to Steve Kopff’s OL article that he deleted after one day. You can find the thoughtful comments from his neighbors here on oakland local. You are not the lord of our land mr kopff. You are new to our fair neighborhood and we love it here. You do not get to tell us when to end a discussion on the fate of our neighborhood.

  228. brooklyn

    I live in the neighborhood of Knopff. To me it seems that the garbage dumping that occurs is like some strange cleansing. the sad reality of our society causes some people to consume despite themselves. power and debilitating intimidation destroys my ability to move above the horrible stream of sickness that grips our society on every level. even the 1% is sick from the system that shackles our nutritional needs, and aspirations for community. When I see dumping and killing and violence and passivity, it is one more example of the shackles. In the case of dumping garbage, and the newly moved in happy go lucky patriots getting pissed off about how their neighbors are so dirty and me it’s like a huge bowel movement. people get evicted or they have to move due to economic or social reasons. pushed from their (by definition) transient homes to another more affordable place. The garbage of their lives (mattress, furniture, wet rug, broken stroller) is a display of \frustration and sadness due to walls in society. Every single person on this website has the privilege of a warm bed and keyboard and coffee and laptop and a memory of being slighted. oh, the 99% so terrible. so slighted. the very fact that these electrons are moving and you can see them is proof of hypocrisy.

    righteous is the keyboard tapper (myself included.. how many people do we think are represented here… really? or will oakland local delete this too? )I preach about rights and what is wrong with the next person’s point of view. this is not a debate. it is a cleansing. I need knowledge of what the media and world wide barrage of information that corrodes our souls…. why race and social issues consume us when the discussion should be about growth and family and love. but that doesn’t lead….

    one thing that unites all of our visual world is an image of freedom in personal choice. the coffee drinkers. and if you think for a moment that you are not one of them, then you are lying because you read this comment in the first place. I, you…have a choice to live a life because , I, you.. woke up and chose it. It has nothing to do with class or race or economic orientation. life is only here for a moment. like this post.

  229. Salish

    As part of the .03% Native population in Oakland, I think it’s time to I spoke up about gentrification, since my people have been mentioned a few times as the original land owners. I live in Fruitvale in East Oakland, which used to be called Chochenya or Ohlone tribal lands before the Brooklyn landed in 1846 and it was first “gentrified” by Mormon settlers. In 1872, it was annexed to the city of Oakland and “gentrified” again, changing its name to East Oakland. It was also called Brays, then Fruit Vale and now Fruitvale. Point being, people migrate and move and neighborhoods change. Now, I have accepted the white man’s ways and have purchased land and a home here, trying to reclaim native lands from the long history of squatters and re-developers. Since, I am assuming Dannette has no native blood in her and has only lived here for 6 years, this make her also a squatter and a gentrifier. In Native traditions, we also believe in being a good neighbor, a policy going back the winter of 1620-1621 but as we quickly found out, this isn’t always the case. The position Dannette defends says that if I don’t “give respect” to my local sex slave and her pimp, then I’m being a bad neighbor. I like my neighbors, most have lived here for 20+ years on our street. I don’t like the CRIMINALS, who think our street is a great place to discipline their 14 year old sex slave or the driver’s that think stop signs and speed limits are optional. Or the BART riders that think my street is their free parking and I can’t park my car within blocks of my house. Bad neighbors are people that leave trash on my street, that BREAK the law, that feel entitled that the rules don’t apply to them due to “feelings of oppression”. You want to pull that card, Danette? How about genocide since the first boats landed? How about being forced to live on the worst tracts of land known to man, until something of value was discovered on them and your people were forced to move again? How about growing up on a reservation and dealing with 3rd world conditions in your own country? Did this cause me to become a criminal due to “bad feelings” about the history of my people? Or my starting point in life? No. I went to school. I got a job. I worked hard. I moved up in my field. I bought a house in the Bay Area. Your argument of “oppression” is invalid and I find it offensive you call me a “gentrifier” because I don’t tolerate the pimps that put kids on the street or the thugs that rob people of their hard earned comforts or the broken windows or graffiti. You ma’am, have been here all of six years. Stop making people that want to live in a neighborhood with lower crime and better schools apologize. I bet you ask anyone in East Oakland if they wanted that, they would say “Yes.” Regardless of race, class or economics. Making neighborhoods safer and better helps everyone except the CRIMINALS. So, from your article, I can only assume you are for the acceptance of crime and criminal behavior in Oakland and that is far worse that a Cat Massage Boutique with Herbal Teas and Vegan/Soy/Hemp Clothing shops any day, any day, any day.

  230. OaklandNative

    But are criminals the only ones being displaced/overshadowed by gentrification?

    Also, the people blasting music and smoking weed in front of my building are the white hipsters. I never saw African Americans doing that.

    White hipsters leave furniture on the sidewalk when they move. Right now, there are two mattresses on the sidewalk. They’ve been there for weeks (I saw the hipsters move out).

    The lady on the corner had a beautiful lawn for years. The hipsters used her lawn for their dogs. She put up signs saying to keep dogs off and no defecating on her lawn. The signs were ugly. However, I saw the signs broken on her lawn. Her lawn is now brown and dead. I still see hipsters walking their dogs EVERY DAY to her yard.

    How many times have I been awakened by white hipsters leaving the clubs drunk and yelling down the street?

    When whites do these things, it’s called “vibrancy.” When African Americans do it, it’s called “blight”?

  231. GoodNeighbor

    Salish, thank you, thank you! Finally someone who can speak with kindness, authority, and honesty about the conditions of their land.

  232. Nemimi

    No, dude. It’s called bad behavior. It doesn’t matter WHO does it. I don’t know what neighborhood you live in, but in mine it’s Latino men blasting music & smoking weed in front of their shop. It’s African American pimps shoving their very young girls against my fence & littering in my yard. The worst thing the “white hipsters” (I’m guessing you’re lumping a lot of white kids together there- they all look alike to you, right?) do is form incredibly long lines outside local taco trucks & walk around with an air of probably undeserved artistic superiority.
    Have you BEEN to the Coliseum neighborhoods? Have you been to Fruitvale? Even West Oakland? You can’t POSSIBLY blame all the bad behavior on a bunch of white kids. Some of it is theirs, I’m sure, but be willing to see the problems in your own community.

  233. OaklandNative


    I detailed what I saw in my neighborhood. The bad behavior has been mainly white hipsters.

    But as for your neighborhood. Are the Latino men “bad” for blasting their music? Are white kids “bad” when they blast theirs?

    And if the rest of the neighborhood is okay with the Latino men playing their music, is it “bad”? When you first looked at the house, were they blasting their music? Did they just start blasting their music after you moved in?

  234. Nemimi


    They’re not necessarily “bad” for blasting music and they don’t live here. They run a car stereo business across the street that supposedly closes between 6pm and 8pm in the evening. They’re pumping music & doing stupid, dangerous car tricks directly in front my house between 10pm and midnight. Do you think that’s neighborly behavior for a local business in a residential neighborhood? Do you think it’s a good way to improve the community? Do you think I should have hung out on the street corner until midnight on a Tuesday to make sure I was ok with the way employees of this business spent their free time after work or do you think it was reasonable of me to assume that a local business (that isn’t a club, bar or venue) would usually be somewhat quiet on a weekday evening?
    It’s not good behavior if anyone does it. It’s especially bad behavior when you can’t even politely talk to them about it and explain that their partying is keeping your baby awake.

    Also, I noticed you said nothing about my l

  235. Nemimi


    They’re not necessarily “bad” for blasting music and they don’t live here. They run a car stereo business across the street that supposedly closes between 6pm and 8pm in the evening. They’re pumping music & doing stupid, dangerous car tricks directly in front my house between 10pm and midnight. Do you think that’s neighborly behavior for a local business in a residential neighborhood? Do you think it’s a good way to improve the community? Do you think I should have hung out on the street corner until midnight on a Tuesday to make sure I was ok with the way employees of this business spent their free time after work or do you think it was reasonable of me to assume that a local business (that isn’t a club, bar or venue) would usually be somewhat quiet on a weekday evening?
    It’s not good behavior if anyone does it. It’s especially bad behavior when you can’t even politely talk to them about it and explain that their partying is keeping your baby awake.

    Also, I noticed you said nothing about my local African American pimp. I suppose that one is ok with you?

  236. OaklandNative

    Earlier I wrote that when people defend gentrification, they focus on the removal of criminals. I asked about the non-criminals who were being marginalized.

    There are two sides to every story. We have yours here. So I can only question your version.

    As far as the Latino men’s behavior, are you suggesting they should now stop just because of you? If it was a problem before, they could have stopped before you moved there. Why not? I can’t say, perhaps some of the men do have roots in the community–i.e., grew up there, have family there or grew up in the business there, etc. Does the shop owner live in the neighborhood?

    Perhaps it has been an accepted part of the neighborhood. They’re not bad and are probably connected, if not loved, by people in the community.

    If not, I wonder why the neighbors didn’t stop it before. Are you suggesting that the men came out of nowhere and selected your street? They have no connection or history with the community? That’s a stretch.

    You have an awful lot going on in front of your street. Why didn’t you see anything when you moved into the house? I can’t imagine there were no warning signs or hints when you looked at the house. Sorry, but that’s reality.

    And let’s be real. Oakland has a reputation. You street surely must have had one. Didn’t you do your homework?

    If anyone’s committed a crime, perhaps you should call the police. That includes having the pimp arrested, not just relocated from outside your house.

    However, simply offending your sensibilities is not a crime.

  237. Nemimi


    So sorry I didn’t get the chance to read all of your comments. In any case, people are focusing on crime because quite frequently when so called “gentrifiers” come into a neighborhood, they tend to want to make their new home a better place. I don’t think there’s a concern about criminals being marginalized. Actually, my major concern in this discussion is about the sweeping generalizations being made about entire groups of people. Don’t you just HATE it when people make sweeping, negative generalizations about a group of people which you happen to be a part of?

    Regarding the behavior of the local business in our neighborhood- I talk to my actual neighbors. They complain about the noise & the dangerous driving too. I know for a fact that the people who hang out at this business are not well-loved by the people who live here or by other local businesses. Unfortunately, several of them are undocumented and/or elderly and do not want to make waves. A few of them have lived here for decades and just don’t want to deal with it. I can’t say I blame them. We’ve tried and failed too, but that doesn’t mean we’re ready to stop trying. Again, I have spent plenty of time in this area, so I didn’t come into this blind. As I said before, it just didn’t occur to me to hang out on the street corner at midnight to make sure I was happy with the noise level & underage prostitution level of our immediate area. Have you ever purchased a home? You look at school ratings, reported crime, transportation….NOBODY thinks to scope out the car stereo shop on the corner to make sure they’re not too loud in the middle of the night. Be realistic.

    I’ve done my homework on Oakland. I didn’t move here from Mayberry. I moved here from Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. Before that I lived in East Harlem. Guess what? The locals were MUCH friendlier, MUCH more accepting and people could actually occasionally talk to each other if they had a problem.

    We’ve called the police about the pimp. Have you tried calling the police in Oakland? NYPD would have been there in a heartbeat. I’ve had police show up in a timely manner (or at all) once. That was because I told them that the still-running, stolen, hotwired car that had just slammed into my parked car was blocking traffic in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. Even though they had a description of the two guys who ran away from the scene, nothing was ever done and I ended up with a severely damaged car that my insurance only partially fixed.

    I never said it was a crime to offend my sensibilities. There are noise laws, however, and the folks who hang out at this shop break them constantly. They also are breaking NUMEROUS traffic laws with the speeding & doing donuts in our intersection. It’s not like I’m complaining about their wardrobe. I know when to pick my battles and anything that potentially harms my child is going to be a battle.

  238. scross58

    The author assumes all ‘movers in’ to Oakland “want to fit in”. Don’t try to lecture folks from so many different personal histories that they need to adapt to the situation. That is why most folks of means get out of that environment and into a place of like minded, where one doesn’t have to defend their very existence on a daily basis. The author is silly in the demands others make.

  239. OaklandNative

    You wrote that the neighborhood had these problems for awhile. You also wrote that the neighbors didn’t like it but had resigned to it. So how does your being new give you more cache to fix things.

    Even if the old neighbors had become “comfortable” with the things you don’t like, that’s acceptable. That’s their choice.

    Other neighbors might like it. Once again, I’m only getting one side of the story.

    Also, damichix and scross,
    The problem is when new people come in and decide to “fix” things. Just because someone bought a house and pay taxes (as much as the previous landowner did), does not mean the neighborhood should give into that person’s idea of “fixing.” They might like things the way they were.

  240. Nemimi


    And it’s my choice to try to improve my surroundings. Moving into a neighborhood actually does give me the right to do that. In fact, being a human in general gives me the right to work hard to try and make my life and my family’s life better and more comfortable in general. That’s part of being human. If you choose to live in crime-ridden squalor because “it’s how things have always been”, I find that sad, but also your choice.

    I don’t think many people actually like their neighbor’s loud music late at night or pimps hanging around their homes.
    At this point I’m going to assume you’re just trolling and let someone else argue with you. I’m bored now.

  241. Salish

    From your comments Oakland Native, I would guess your occupation to be in the criminal arts since you don’t seem to want to reduce crime and instead badger Nemimi over their views that crime and idiot behavior that shouldn’t be acceptable. Some people due to marginalization don’t feel they can stand up against crime without revenge measures being taken. They accept that’s the way their neighborhood is and by non-action permit it. For example, see most fascist states. I applaud Nemimi for saying “this isn’t acceptable”. Maybe her neighbors feel the same and will join her instead of telling her she’s the problem. If you are an Oakland native, tell me what tribe you are from or admit you are as much as a part of changes to this land as Nemimi.

  242. OaklandNative

    You obviously are not psychic.

    If the people in the community risk revenge, why wouldn’t Nemimi? If the people in the community could not get police support before, why should it now?

    Also, I’m sure doing the offensive behavior have some connection to the community. I doubt they just pop up there every weekend. As she stated, there was a garage in the community that attracted them. It was there before her, are they going to stop only because of her?

    You say maybe some of her neighbors will agree with her? Maybe some of her neighbors will agree with the men.

  243. OaklandNative


    In other words, just because Neimimi doesn’t approve of some actions in the neighborhood, doesn’t mean other people don’t approve.

    Neither you nor I have the whole story. Before you or I can make any conclusions, we need both sides of the story.

  244. Salish

    Nice attempt at Troll baiting Oakland Native. I’m done playing as well. Enjoy the silence.

  245. KD Smith

    I have lived in a “gentrifying” neighborhood of Chicago for 22 years. The outskirts of the old Cabrini Green Housing projects. I bought new construction on the site of an old factory 17 years ago. Across the street from historic public housing, HUD and Section 8. I knew that and have no intention of getting it closed or moved. I liked the diversity of the neighborhood, both economic and race. And I can relate to so many of these comments.

    I have done so many of the things this author has suggested and at first most people never said hello or they were bothered that I interrupted their drug deal or dice game, or their conversation when I patronized their business. I was greeted with cool suspicion but rarely hostility.

    Which leads to a simple question; What does it mean to be a neighbor, better yet a good neighbor? Can all sides of this argument agree on some basic level of respect in a congested urban area?

    Is allowing gang members to deal drugs out of your public housing apartment ok? Is fighting and screaming on the street after 10 pm ok? Is shoveling your garbage out of your car into the gutter ok? (There is a garbage can 75 feet away) How about ridiculously loud music blaring from your car, or sitting outside someone’s building honking for them at 4am? Dice games (and illegal gambling) that block the sidewalk?

    Maybe if we could all agree on what is acceptable and respectful. I have experienced horrible behavior and great kindness from neighbors on both “sides” of the argument. And I would note, Halloween seems to bring out the neighborhood and bring out the best in the entire neighborhood – maybe because it’s about the kids? I wish we had more opportunities for that. WE are currently trying to create spaces besides the local magnet school where all neighbors can come together around common interests. Hopefully this will continue our progress.

  246. LivefromLowerBottoms

    The Internet: The last place white people can be honestly racist. So little to prove with all these disgusting comments about thugs and criminals and welfare moms. Guess the only people who can own shit is you. You stole First Fridays, now you think you own me, again. Stop claiming a philosophy or right… you are just an asshole.

  247. Jonatton Yeah?

    If that’s all you got from this very long thread, livefromlowerbottoms, you’re utterly a lost cause. I also believe you’re the first person to mention welfare moms and First Fridays so not sure what your point is there. And there is plenty of racism here. You got that right. Not all from evil white people though.

  248. Leetai

    Ms. Lambert sounds pretty idealistic. These are all great tips to fit in one’s newly adopted neighborhood. However, so much of it is ridiculous and I would challenge her to live in one of the hoods where she would make nice with her friendly neighborhood drug dealers and pimps. She lives all of four blocks from the lake. You can look that up online. When she goes home, I doubt she fears for her safety like so many of us do, who actually live in the flats and don’t even flinch when we hear gunshots. Idealism and reality are very different. She would not be so tolerant of the danger and violence if it affected her directly. Also if I shopped and ate locally, all I would eat is mcdonalds and KFC, and all my clothes would come from one store, rainbow. That’s because my area sucks for business, it is a desert. So there ms. Lambert, give it a shot. Seriously, move in to a different neighborhood, one that goes through this shit every day, and see how you like it.

  249. chris lee

    all the rational points have been made..Livefromlowerbottoms is just representing with the “irrational emotional spiteful” angle

  250. Nemimi

    I like how LiveFromLowerBottoms assumes we’re all white. Is it the homeownership or the fact that we don’t want our babies surrounded by crime?
    Brown people can be educated & successful too. One look at my family will tell you that.

  251. Nemimi

    KD Smith- Beautifully said 🙂

    Dee- That’s a sweeping generalization. What exactly makes us all terrible people?

  252. Lucy

    Re: “Unless you’re Native American, Oakland is not your ‘ancestral land.’”

    That’s actually untrue. There are families who have lived in Oakland for generations and are just as much a part of this place as any Native American who lived here before the invaders came.

  253. OaklandNative

    Lowerbottoms is making a point that others are dancing around. When our city talks about “gentrification” or making Oakland a “vibrant” city, are we marketing to African Americans? Are we asking how to get more African Americans to Oakland? Do we measure the “success” of Oakland by the number of African Americans moving in or out?

    mainly, but not always, gentriifcation markets to whites. They may move into a community that may have different values. Generally, when we move into a new neighborhood, we try to fit in or we move into a neighborhood that is already what we want. Gentrifiers feel the neighborhood should change to accomodate them.

    For example, N moved into a neighborhood with certain values. The Latino men don’t agree. She approached them. There is a conflict. Whether or not we agree with their actions, they were there first.

    Race is the elephant in the living room here. The unspoken assumption is that white is right. The people of color should be glad to accomodate and change for the comfort of the new, generally white, person. While N has mentioned her family is “half-Latino,” the argument still applies. So it is a racial undertext in the discussion. Lowerbottoms just brought it out.

  254. Robin McStay

    I don’t live in Oakland. I live in a rural, mountain town in far Northern California. It is almost all white. There is virtually no racial tension in our community. However, there are professionals who buy houses, fix them up, keep their yards nice and do everything they can to improve and upscale our community.

    And there are people who leave garbage piling up in their yards along with rotting furniture and broken down cars. CPS is always investigating them, and there is traffick in and out of their houses all night, presumably because they are dealing drugs.

    Most don’t consider them good neighbors community members, most people regard them as white trash…These people are judged on their conduct, and because the culture isn’t imbued with racist undertones, the “gentrification” argument is a non-starter here…even though, by the true definition of “gentrification,” it is happening…gentrification isn’t white culture destroying black culture, it is a higher socioeconomic class coming in and raising property values, and gradually pushing out the lower socioeconomic class.

    No one here would argue that I am being elitist when I call the police to report a drunken brawl in the front yard of my neighbors’ house…why should skin color make it so? There is nothing about being black that makes drug dealing a socially or legally accepted norm.

    Crime is crime, and everyone is entitled to report it. A good neighbor of any race keeps his side of the street clean…

  255. Jonatton Yeah

    OaklandNative you are a textbook example of someone who relies on logical fallacies in their attempt to make a point. Every post is so laden with straw men there’s not even any point in quoting them. It’s too rampant. You confirm your own bias constantly; often relying on conjecture and lame unprovable anecdotes to do so. You repeat the same points over and over and over again as if that somehow makes them right. When you get called out for the aforementioned you claim it’s someone trying to silence a community nobody asked you to speak for. That is so transparent. I’ve asked you a few times now to tell us what you do to help the poor, the disenfranchised, and communities of color you seem so concerned with (other than ranting all day on here and probably other sites). I, as others, have said what we do. Given you not addressing this I’ll assume you do nothing. At all. As others have said, you are just another silly Internet troll. A racist one at that.

  256. OaklandNative


    I did mention earlier that “bad neighbors” are not a color. It’s an attitude. N mentioned the Latino men who blasted music in her neighborhood. I mentioned the white men who blasted music in mine.

    When some young white men moved in my neighborhood and blasted music, my neighbors and I squashed it immediately. If they were making that noise before I moved in, I would not have moved here. That’s why I question N on the young men blasting music in her neighborhood. Why didn’t the neighbors squash it before? Why didn’t she move somewhere else? Did it make the neighborhood more “vibrant”? I don’t know, I don’t know the other side. She did say the young men brushed her off.

    As I’ve written before, the low cost grocery store and clothing store in Foothill Square are great starts for Oakland. I don’t consider that gentrification. I consider them to be serving the community–much better than upscale coffee shops.

    I also want to remind many of these commenters: not all poor people are bad; not all black people are poor; not all white people are good; not all black people are criminals. Poor people of any race are not always privileged to have beautiful yards and painted houses. So defending Oakland’s African American communities and culture is not the same as defending criminals.

  257. Nemimi

    Oh for chrissake.
    For the last time- other neighbors DO complain about it and I didn’t move here for the “vibrancy”, I moved here because it seemed like a safe-ish, quiet, affordable neighborhood with good amenities nearby. Nothing has been done about the complaints and they’re not “young men”. They are grown-ass men in their 30s & 40s who should know better.
    I spent plenty of time in the neighborhood, but I did not hang out until 10pm or later to make sure the local business that closes at 6pm doesn’t party until midnight on a weekday or spins donuts in their cars front of my house.

    Selective hearing much?

  258. Salish

    Doesn’t seem like race is the issue here with N. Whether or not they’re being a-holes is. Oakland Native, who are you speaking for? I think you have the issue of gentrification confused. It comes from the word “gentry” and is the displacement of class. Class has nothing to do with race. Class is about economics. People of similar economics generally have similar values. That is why you can have mixed race neighborhoods in various economic means. Clearly, there is less perceived and actual opportunity by the lower class, leading to behaviors that are focused on their immediate needs and desires. This includes seeking and participating in behaviors that allow them to exude perceived control and/or power over those with perceived or actual higher economic status or class. Basically, people act like assholes and/or break the law because they feel powerless to change their lives. This is not the fault of those that have struggled hard to buy homes, pay taxes and expect to live in relative safe and peaceful neighborhoods. Stop blaming everyone else.

  259. N

    “What people don’t seem to realize is it isn’t the mere act of moving into a neighborhood that makes you a gentrifier; it’s what you do once you get there.”

    I don’t think that word means what you think it means….A gentrifier is someone who moves into an area that is at a lower income than them. Oakland isn’t gentrifying because the people who move there like boutique coffee shops, have fixie bikes, and the lil mustache tattoos on their fingers, it’s gentrifying because (a) supply is exceeding demand for housing in San Francisco combined with increase of income inequality between upper and middle class due to national trends and local tech booms is pushing the middle class across the bay – aka Oakland is gentrifying because San Francisco gentrified and (b) the subsequent increase in property values in Oakland combined with a series of foreclosures due to the effects of the collapse is opening the opportunity for investment companies to buy up properties in bulk and then rent in bulk, allowing them to control (read:increase) average rents in entire areas, creating a ripple effect that further raises home prices and rents. So not only are gentrifiers for real gentrifiers, whether or not they are d-bags, they’re more a symptom than a problem themselves.

    Oh yeah, and for 5, sorry I’m not sorry I know D.C. has some crazies but it does not have crazies like the Bay Area, you give those people a wide berth.

  260. chris lee

    I go all over cyberspace, trying to find conversations on this topic. We as Americans are still searching for a language to get at these issues. NO ONE wants to be called “racist”, because language which we have inherited from the past doesn’t provide access to today’s phenomena. Heritage is important, we take it for granted, we think certain habits, norms and expectations are universally acquired , shared and deployed. They are not..yet they are critical to outcomes and we don’t normally grasp that, just there effects.

  261. OaklandNative

    With great pain, I have to type these words “I agree with Chris Lee’s last comment.”

    What is applauded as “gentrification” to one group, might be considered a racial attack to another. It’s based on our experiences and realities. It’s in the language and well-meaning intent. Simple name-calling does not change that reality.

    During the “Oakand Renaissance” I saw many things I considered racializing marginalizing. A white person never thought about it until I brought it up. Even some African Americans had chosen to ignore it

    I’m never surprised when a white person is caught saying something racist. However, I wonder why whites react as if they’re surprised.

    In fact, there was a classic way of dismissing race in one of the comments. One of the commenters mentioned how she lived in a small all-white town. She dismissed the racism in Oakland’s gentrification, because she equated it to correcting the behavior of misbehaving whites in her community. This trivialized the real discussion of race. She was comparing apples and oranges.

  262. chris lee

    Thanx for agreeing Oakland Native..thanx also for misunderstanding it..I was saying that we are all searching for a language to get at these phenomena, but are saddled with antiquated linguistic habits. “White” people have a heritage that allows for our norms of civility, and comfortable modern living. We are painting with a broad brush of course as there are anecdotes that could be cited to contradict that..but largely speaking they carry with them and are carried along by practices and habits that make for better city living.

  263. Nemimi

    Thanks for posting that Douglas!
    That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about in my neighborhood. The donuts & other stupid, dangerous car stunts. The noise is bad enough, but the dangerous behavior is completely unacceptable. As the video shows, cops aren’t always (if ever) helpful. I can’t see how that is acceptable behavior to anyone.

  264. OaklandNative

    It’s not that Douglas or I find it acceptable or not. The bottom line is that you moved there.

    You assume you’re right. The men seem to think otherwise. Neither Douglas or I have any control in the situation.

    They may not agree with you that their behavior is unacceptable. You wrote that you spoke to your other neighbors but you are unsatisfied with their responses.

    You can fight the men or you can try to befriend them and work with them. If you push, they might push back.

  265. Nemimi

    Did you actually watch that video?
    Do you seriously think that behavior is ok?
    Do you think the people in that video think that behavior is ok? It’s a dangerous & stupid display of power by people who clearly feel powerless.

    And, again, I spent plenty of time in the neighborhood and have friends who have lived here for years. I did not hang out on the street late at night on a weeknight to find out if that kind of thing was happening.

    Try actually listening to what people are saying. I’m willing to do my part. You don’t seem to feel that anyone with darker skin than you assume I have should have to do their part.

    Your comments are ignorant and blatantly racist. Try encouraging positive behavior in your community instead of defending the behavior in that video & blaming everyone else.

  266. a

    Oakland Native,

    N is right because the law says she’s right. Those men who are flagrantly violating the law might think otherwise, but it doesn’t mean it’s right or lawful.

    The bottom line that you seem to overlook, whether intentionally or ignorantly, is that those are illegal activities and should not be tolerated by ANYONE. Your excuse that “Because they were here first” is straight BS. Let me ask you, who was here before those people? Being a native or long time residents doesn’t entitled you to any special privileges to break the law like those people in the video are.

    It’s that type of apathy/attitude that prevents Oakland from ever becoming it’s full potential. And before you come back with your usual ” Who’s potential and does it include African Americans” line because that seems to be all you care about, yes, that would include everyone in Oakland.

    As mentioned by other people, I easily rather deal with gentrification than these people in that video. Also, like I said before, it’s not a matter of IF but when…

  267. Salish

    Please try to use an argument that makes some sense, Oakland Native. Do you live in the jurisdiction of your local, state and federal government? If you can answer yes, then acceptable behaviors have been codified for your convenience. This code of laws is applicable to you even if you find the laws within unacceptable. Examples of defined acceptable behavior found within these laws are not stealing other people’s things, not murdering people, obeying predictable patterns while using your motor vehicle, not destroying or marking other people’s property, not pimping underage girls. There isn’t enough space here to list them all but I hope you see the point. Acceptable behavior has already been defined and argued within the realm of social contract. By your presence within the boundaries of your local, state and federal government you are automatically entered into acceptance of these rules.

  268. Nemimi

    Thank you, a on and Salish, for providing a more articulate response than I could. I’m so frustrated & tired of being told (oddly, always by people who don’t actually live in my immediate neighborhood) that I don’t belong in my neighborhood after finally purchasing my first home. I think I’ve become too emotional about it & have lost the ability to respond quite as intelligently as you two just did. 🙂

  269. OaklandNative

    A and Salish,
    Did you two read N’s comments? Do you really live in a fairyland?

    You can sit here behind your laptops and criticize them, but she has to live with it. She moved into their community.

    It’s not about whether or not their actions are legal. It’s not about whether or not we like it.

    She cannot address it here online. It does not matter if we agree with her. Someone’s typing on her laptop doesn’t like it, doesn’t change it.

    It was THEIR community. They’ve been doing what they like. She should not have moved there, but she did. Now she has to deal with it.

    I don’t accept the unsafe driving, but I also don’t accept someone’s moving into a neighborhood and thinking they’re going to change everyone to fit into their ideals. I would not move into such a neighborhood.

    I would not put up with a new neighbor telling me to change my lifestyle.

  270. Nemimi

    So I suppose I shouldn’t have painted over the graffiti on my fence either? That’s weird. My non-hooligan neighbors (the people who actually LIVE here, not the pimps or future convicted vehicular manslaughter inmates) THANKED my husband and me for finally cleaning up our house. Apparently it’s been an eyesore for years until we moved in.
    And it’s MY neighborhood too. It’s not THEIRS alone.
    You have a seriously skewed sense of ownership.

  271. Robin McStay

    Wow…that video is truly shocking and disturbing.

    My concern is that if the anti-gentrifiers want to say that’s “black culture” or “Oakland culture”, they are doing an extraordinary disservice to blacks who are really trying to overcome stereotypes and find success and acceptance.

    What I saw was criminal culture, and displacing it with law abiding communitarians of any race is a good thing.

    Finally, I have to point out, those boys are driving expensive cars…clearly they have the funds to clean up the neighborhood if they considered it a priority.

  272. OaklandNative

    I have a skewed sense of ownership? You moved into a neighborhood without doing your homework. I can’t believe the neighborhood was that bad and you had no clues. What did the years old graffiti on the side of the house tell you?

    I saw a beautiful house for sale across from a beautiful park. It was quiet in the day time. Then I saw the graffiti on the side. I kept going.

    You say its YOUR neighborhood. Well, it’s THEIRS too. You are having problems because your beliefs are different from theirs. Well, guess what, you have to work with that reality. Their beliefs are as valid as yours.

    They are your community. You live with them and you have to work with them.

    What do you think your name-calling will do to them? Obviously, you don’t respect them. If they sense it, do you think it will help your relationship with them? Do you think that will make it easier for you?

    And before we racialize any of this. I had some white men move into my neighborhood who thought they had found party town. We squashed that immediately.

    However, today I saw some white people move out down the street. They left furniture on the sidewalk. I guess they don’t know that a soft soaks in water during the rain–just like the other one down the street (and the mattresses).

  273. OaklandNative

    For the record, most of the men who did the sideshow on I-880 were not African Americans.

    As far as Black people committing crime doing a disservice to me–that’s only in the eyes of someone who sees us all as being the same.

  274. Robin McStay

    As I said, it’s criminal culture, and should not be attributed as black culture.

    I don’t care who did it, and I don’t care what their race or color is…the whole bunch needs to be rounded up and charged, and their cars impounded.

    This is not an conduct that anyone, regardless of their position on gentrification, should seek to protect as part of existing culture.

  275. Nemimi

    Robin- I don’t assign race to this behavior. People of all races, genders, nationalities & income levels break the law. It’s a shame that people see that video and attribute it to specific cultures. Just wanted to clear that up! 🙂

    OaklandNative- You’re impossible to talk to. You don’t want a conversation, you want someone to blame. I explain my side of the situation and you tell me I’m wrong. I tell you I’ve done my homework and you tell me I haven’t. You tell me I don’t belong here and that I have to adjust my entire way of life and accept crime because I moved somewhere I don’t belong.
    How is that any better than a white person telling you to move to the back of the bus?

  276. Salish

    So far on this thread every time someone mentions not accepting illegal or unacceptable behavior the automatic defense is racism. IF YOUR experience is that all criminals you know are a minority that’s YOUR perception not MINE and not the automatic assumption of people wanting to rid their neighborhood of crime. No one OWNS a neighborhood unless they OWN as in BOUGHT every parcel of land. People move and buy property where they can afford. This has nothing to do with race either. Saying someone shouldn’t move somewhere due to the color of their skin is a thin argument in the 21st Century. You want someone to blame Oakland Native, blame yourself. All you are doing is perpetuating racism. The oppressor is yourself. You are keeping your neighborhood full of crime and trash, you unwillingness to accept others or change is the same mentality that keep Jim Crow laws on the books or systematically allowed genocide.

  277. Holly Rogers

    My partner and I bought a Victorian in West Oakland in 2006. Thus far, our neighbors have defecated on our front yard, shot bullets into our house, stolen our roses out of the ground, sold drugs in our driveway, stolen our water repeatedly from our spout, turned tricks in broad daylight and walked off with anything not nailed down. When we first moved in and our neighbors asked for money we offered them work. They declined. We called the cops, again and again and again and we will will call them all day and all night if need be. We are tax paying citizens. We have a right not be shot at, robbed or literally shit on. We knew this was not Piedmont or Beverley Hills. It was what we could afford and we knew we could make it better. We are becoming a neighborhood now of people of all color, age, income level and experience. I am FED UP with people romanticizing poverty or how damn liberal they are. All citizens benefit from people obeying the law, schools improving and stores moving in and providing jobs. I don’t care what color you are, how much money you earn or what car you drive. I care about clean streets, good schools, orderly polite interactions between people and obeying the law. The mention in the article about respect galled me. Respect is a two way street. Why must I offer those men dealing drugs in MY driveway respect? I’ve had it. If they respected me they would get the hell off my property with their illegal actions and all the nastiness it brings. Gentrification is not a four letter word. If it takes people with means who are motivated to seek change to better neighborhoods than so be it. Should we not move here? Let it stay infested in poverty, trash and drug dealers? No!! Oh, and I am a local business owner. I will not hire the formerly incarcerated!!! Hell would freeze over first.

  278. Nemimi


    It’s about time we stop apologizing for working hard, buying homes & wanting to rid our neighborhoods of crime.

  279. holly rogers

    In all fairness I feel I must also comment on the many people in our neighborhood who are not doing to above mentioned actions. Like us, they go to work, do their thing, raise their family. Some of whom have lived here for many generations. They have been welcoming and nice and we have been in return. I can’t even count how many people have thanked us for fixing up our house, working on our yard, and daily sweeping up all the trash. Once a woman driving a car with a zillion kids in it turned around and pulled up to the house. She was effusive in her thanks to us for caring enough to fix up the neighborhood. She said she’d lived there all her life and no one had ever cared. The people behind us have 3 generations living in their house. We share a common fence and have always been friendly and kind to each other. While we have at times experienced some resentment I think it is maybe that our action of moving here confused some people. When we made the effort to be nice and show that we wanted to better the neighborhood the reception was much warmer. Bottom line, criminals do not have more rights than citizens regardless of their difficult background. For 3 years my partner was unemployed after we first moved here. When crime spiked in Oakland and people said, “It’s tough, people are out of work so they rob.” HUH? My partner did not pick up a gun and start mugging people. Are you nuts??? We struggled and still do but we are making it. Within the letter of the law we expect all others to do the same.

  280. GoodNeighbor

    While watching this (cough) discussion (?), I really wonder how many White people ON has spoken to about their perceptions of race, power, and migration. He doesn’t have a clue about why MIDDLE CLASS White people move to diverse neighborhoods at such a fast rate, let alone why these same people are responsible for less diversity in the same neighborhoods they joined.

    The phenomenon of gentrification is a MIDDLE CLASS function, as this is the one demographic group actually believes in the American Dream. They work hard, play by the rules, and firmly believe that if they “do good” good things will happen. This is the social stabilizing force that both upper and lower economic strata need to maintain economic stability, hence the government’s current focus on building middle class.

    ON, you should be HAPPY these gentry exist, for they will provide for you during your later years through their stability, taxes, and optimism needed to address (fix) societal failings.

  281. Nemimi

    That’s been our experience with most of our neighbors too. They’re wonderful, welcoming, hard-working people who have mostly lived here for a long time. When we moved here I was 7 months pregnant & my husband had been out of work for several months. We worked hard & saved money & lived off very little and we still do. We don’t rob people. We don’t shoot guns or stop freeway traffic because we feel powerless. We work harder to stop feeling powerless. We try to improve our lives a little at a time and something as small as cleaning up our yard or painting our fence gives us a sense of accomplishment & control over a small part of our lives. We do things to make our lives better & hopefully make things more pleasant for our neighbors. They’ve noticed & shown appreciation.
    Kinda makes me warm & fuzzy knowing someone else is in another neighborhood, improving their home & connecting with their neighbors like we are.
    Things will get better a little bit at a time as long as we’re willing to work at it 🙂

  282. OaklandNative

    N and H,
    This is different from gentrification. You have both acknowledged that your neighbors loved and respected their communities. You acknowledged that they wanted to get rid of the crime and blight. They were glad that the crime and blight would be replaced by people who appreciated their homes. They were glad to have another household on their side to rid their neighborhood of the problems.

    Gentrification does not acknowledge these neighbors. It paints the whole neighborhood as the blight to be removed. It places upscale coffee shops before low cost grocery stores and housing. It places expensive restaurants before improving the schools.

  283. Nemimi


    Surprising to hear that considering a few comments ago you were saying I didn’t belong in my neighborhood because I didn’t do my homework.

    It doesn’t really matter how long you’ve lived here. It’s not your place to decide who belongs here and who doesn’t.

  284. OaklandNative

    Actually, I was going to type that your portrayal of your neighbors had evolved.

    Initially, you portrayed your neighborhood as a hellhole at night. The few responsible residents lived in fear, but they were “resigned” to nightly terrorism. You were the “new” neighbor who would lead a crusade to clean up the neighborhood.

    If that’s the way you feel, you should have done your homework and not moved in. I think at some point, you even called yourself a “gentrifier.” As your last comment shows, you are not.

    In your last comment, you mentioned that your neighbors were glad you were replacing the blight. That’s reasonable and to be expected. However, they were not “resigned” to the problems any more than you would have to be. Even though you still focused on the criminals, you better acknowledged the responsible residents that you were joining. My last comment noted that your portrayal had evolved–though you could have better acknowledged your non-criminal neighbors.

  285. The Dude

    You’re all guilty of hyperbole and intellectual dishonesty in your logic and reasoning, but it’s damn sure fun to watch!

  286. Nemimi


    I don’t really need your approval. I mentioned several times that my neighbors appreciated the fact that we bought one of the more run-down houses in the neighborhood and are trying to fix it up. I mentioned several times that my neighbors were unhappy with the same issues we’re unhappy with. I never said I was going to “lead a crusade” to clean up the neighborhood. You chose to ignore large portions of what I said. I didn’t call myself a gentrifier. I said I’d been CALLED a gentrifier.
    There are two major problems with my neighborhood- dangerous disregard for traffic laws and underage prostitution. I’ve already been directly affected by the dangerous driving as my parked car was nearly totaled by a hit & run driver. I’m going to do what I can to improve my home an that includes going to city council meetings and calling the police if necessary.
    My viewpoint has not “evolved”. You just finally decided to pay attention to something I’ve repeated more than once. Am I supposed to thank you for that?

  287. Redlink

    I was born and raised in Oakland and a 3rd generation Bay Area California resident. I continue to live in Oakland. Everyone posting comments are sounding sanctimonious on both sides of this “conversation” (aka: lectures) especially the author of the article.

    Here’s three things I know after living here 62 years:

    1. All things change including the communities where we live.
    2. Oakland is unsafe replete with daytime robberies and shootings.
    3. Oakland has a long history of incompetence in the police department and at city hall.

  288. Jack

    This is the dumbest blog I’ve ever read. It must have been written with the sole idea of stirring a reaction to get blog hits. No one could be that stupid.

    You say “hire people of color.” Everywhere I look in Oakland most of those small businesses are owned by people of color, whether they be Asian, Hispanic, or Middle-Eastern. Yet none of that would keep me, a white guy, from frequenting such places.

    If someone buys a home, or a building, or starts a business in any neighborhood, that right there goes to show an investment in the community. Who wouldn’t want the best for their community?

  289. Cman

    I don’t live in Oakland. I’m actually planning to move their with my family and close friends this summer. We want to serve the people of Oakland, help the people of Oakland and love the people of Oakland – all because Jesus has loved, helped & served us.

    The people in Oakland May be different than the people in San Francisco or Walnut Creek – but they are all PEOPLE. People who need to be treated as created by God, even in all their brokenness.

  290. sickofit

    Right. On. So damned sick of high & mighty telling other folks how not to be high & mighty. Mind your own business.

  291. O.

    Firstly, the many comments about how the author needs to “get off of her high horse” are mere steps from calling her an “uppity nigger.”

    Secondly, if you want to move to Oakland then how about moving to a neighborhood that is more reflective of your bank account and income level. People want to talk about fixing up neighborhoods. Would it not be easier just to move to a neighborhood that is already to your liking? If you don’t like the culture of Oakland, why did you move here? If you don’t want pimps and drug dealers outside of your bedroom window then why did you move into the cheap apartment in West Oakland (or wherever you’ve decided to set down) where pimps and drug dealers have already settled under the window? That doesn’t actually make any sense. That is as if I moved into the apartment of person who smokes, knowing that she smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day, and me complaining that she smokes cigarettes. It’s illogical. If I do not want to live with a smoker then I just wouldn’t move into a home with a person who smokes–that’s logic.

    It’s as if it doesn’t make any sense to some people why it would be frustrating to have someone move in next door to your cardboard box and then complain about how your home is an eye sore. Why would someone who survives on less than $1,000 be upset that you’re the reason why their landlord is raising rent is because you’ve moved in and parked your Mercedes in the driveway? Maybe because you could afford to live somewhere the rent is a little higher and it is important to the survival of my family that rent stays at a reasonable level where I have been raising my children for the last fifteen years.

    Lastly, if you show up to a deserted island with a suitcase full of food, water, and sunblock, without any intentions of sharing, you should EXPECT those who have been stranded on the island for the last month, without any supplies, to do what they feel they must to survive–even if that means taking what you’ve brought with you.

  292. Khathu

    As a native of Oakland, I agree with some of the points in the article. Some of them are very valid. Others not some much. With that being said, some of the comments are downright asinine like comparing the force removal (through violence) of Native American or white flight with gentrification. Really??? These are totally two separate things.

  293. Sil

    I was really hoping to feel proud about being an Oaklander, after reading this, as many articles do. This read lacks. I’m born and raised Latina Oaklander, 43yrs and counting. How obvious is this article about black and white? You’re putting alot of responsibilities on newcomers. I agree with some of your suggestions, but this just doens’t feel solid and realistic. You’ve been here a few years? That may not constitute one that can relate. A few newcomers will add up year after year, but it could never be enough to change the Oakland spirit, that generation after generations of Oaklanders that continue to multiply over the years, can sustain. That’s us. That’s me.

  294. Jeff T

    I think the metaphor is apt, because the newcomers don’t seem to realize that there are already people living here. Or, more like it, they just don’t care. So, the analogy of not moving furniture around in a shared house, works for me. Especially if you consider all the cases of developers building shiny new condo towers right next to restaurants and clubs that have been here for 15+ years. Of course, the units in the shiny new tower are really way out of the range of people that currently live in the neighborhood. Let’s face it, they were developed to A.) fatten up the already bloated developers and all their suck-butt friends in the real estate industry and/or city government and B.) provide housing for hyper-privileged new-comer techies. So, after moving in, the techies suddenly discover that, “look, there’s a restaurant here that actually has to vent it’s exhaust.” And, “oh wow, there’s a club called “Slim’s” just around the corner and man that is loud.” So, just as they start paying their private HOA dues to their douche “associations” – they also start organizing to get rid of the restaurants and clubs that were there. They can’t help themselves and yes, they do see themselves as that entitled, because, after all, they did give a butt-load of money to a developer or real estate weenie and they are paying outrageous fees to some douche management company or association. So, they should get everything in their new neighborhood to go their and screw the locals or what was here. “I pay too much to have to put up with … (fill in the blank) … .” So, that’s what the write is talking about. And, it’s really what sets this current wave of gentrifiers apart from those that arrived before – no respect. Others never arrived in such huge waves, with so much money, and such a total disregard for everything that was already here as they are now. Dot.con one point 0 had a built in terminus – it was mostly speculation. So, they threw a ton of money around … a lot of people were evicted … San Francisco changed. But, then, it ended. So, the transformation wasn’t quite so complete. There was still some wiggle room … some locals had actually toughed it out and managed to stay. This time, it’s just continual pressure. It’s a pressure that is building up … a pressure that is so complete that barely anything local will be able to remain. Mademoiselle Fifi is here to stay this time.

  295. livegreen

    I agree newcomers should be responsible citizens.

    So should current citizens.

    Existing citizens -or- newcomers, nobody should have to put up with hard core drug dealing, burglaries/robberies, assaults, rapes, murders or other crime. & if Dannette wants to shake hands or say hello to the perpetrators of these crimes, then that’s her prerogative. It’s presumptuous of her to say that others should do that too (just as it would be if a newcomer told her or their neighbors how to act).

    Yes, newcomers should be neighborly and conscious of the existing community they move into. And if they want to help contribute energy to improving it, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    People move in & out of neighborhoods all the time. As someone mentioned earlier, many neighborhoods which are predominantly any race now contained other races before due to succeeding waves of migration (often immigrant white, before that hispanic, before that native americans – if native americans see/saw this, they must be wondering “what the f__ about us”?).

    The problem is, unless we are going to restrict the rights to own & transfer private property, all neighborhoods will continue to change. The only other thing that can be done, a half measure if you will, is to help current residents buy property. As we know from the Great Recession, if we do that, it has to be done carefully in a way that is sustainable & responsible.

    It is not an easy issue. It never will be.

  296. Kristin

    Bleh… come on, people. If you can’t see the simple logic behind the community development strategies in this article, or find it in any way offensive, you are simply uneducated. I mean, if you don’t know why it’s important for employers to higher locals that have been, for generations, dis-proportionally targeted by cops and incarcerated, then you aren’t comprehending a white person’s privilege in this society up until this point, or how we can take small steps to undermine such institutionalized racism.

  297. FrHTL

    “Why don’t you move to a neighborhood more suited to your income?”
    Um that is exactly what we did. You do know a 3 bedroom house in an upscale part of Oakland costs $600k+ right? there are plenty if middle class families of any color that do not earn a combined $200k a year that would make that possible. Do you think my partner and I scraped together fund for 8 *years* to purposely move “downward?” The flatlands are all we can afford and then just barely. You seriously can’t expect we moved in rubbing our hands gleefully at our “bargain digs.” It was the only option.

  298. 510ish

    The basic sentiment of the article amounts to nothing more than “try to be nice to people and have some compassion” — I have no issue with that. It’s actually sad and a little condescending that the author feels like we need to be reminded, or that the author assumes that people who have money and/or are otherwise more middle-class lack those values.

    But, I also have to say that the article contains silly points and frankly, some dangerous advice.

    *** I’m sorry, but my courtesy doesn’t extend to criminals or people who are obviously dangerous. And please, spare me longwinded speeches about prejudice and “not judging a book by its cover”, etc., it’s called basic urban awareness and you’ll see similar advice in pretty much all travel guides regarding personal safety in urban areas: don’t f*ck with or catch the attention of people who you think are likely to cause you trouble.

    *** I don’t understand why in so many anti-gentrification pieces, it’s the newcomers who are suddenly tasked with improving the neighborhood: what about the responsibility of the original residents and their elected officials over the last thirty years? Oh yeah, they failed miserably, so let’s just shift responsibility to the newcomers, instead of asking ourselves why we’ve failed all these years to solve our own problems and/or wonder how it is that we assume newcomers have so much more free time to devote to the neighborhood than we did in the last thirty years.

    *** Not sure how it’s even possible to attempt to rationalize behavior such as blatant and thoughtless littering, like some responders have on here. I have heard some pretty ridiculous things but this was just so silly. I would really like to hear a so-called Oakland native explain why his/her life experience has taught him/her that throwing garbage anywhere you want is considered okay.

    *** Most articles about gentrification in Oakland tend to assume a total lack of social awareness amongst so-called “newcomers”. This is both a mistake and insulting. Guess what? I totally get that the way the neighborhood is the way it is has a deep history. I totally get that the criminals weren’t born that way and that socioeconomic circumstances have a strong influence on these things. I can even understand the resentment (“They didn’t care about what happened in this ‘hood until white people started moving in.”), but such deep structural issues are not unique to Oakland or the fault of newcomers. These are existing problems which have not yet been solved by the original residents and are now also being taken up by newcomers with some enthusiasm. Do you think newcomers are so ignorant as to not understand the relationship between “safer streets now” and “better schools/programs to reduce future crime”. How about we stop apologizing for it and work on fixing it?

    *** Let’s say we stop the so-called gentrification of Oakland (we won’t), would anything change from what it has been the last thirty years? Well, I guess now that boarded up storefront will stay that way. Houses will continue to be abandoned or fall into total disrepair. But hey, at least we don’t have a damned cat massage place ruining the rich heritage of general hopelessness and despair. Drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, rotting housing, trash in the streets — yeah, these are all signs of a vibrant and functional community that’s just on the verge of pulling out of a tailspin.

    *** There’s a reason why it’s been cheap to live in certain parts of Oakland. Because some parts of Oakland have a history of being frickin’ dangerous and most people wouldn’t live there unless they were ignorant or had no choice. Bay Area housing is constrained and Oakland is in such a geographically convenient location that any improvement in any neighborhood is going to naturally increase the value of the housing, whether or not that improvement is perceived to be internally or externally induced.

    *** Finally, I really, really fail to understand how wanting safe streets, clean streets, and working infrastructure are not more or less universal values? Why are these desires attributed to so-called newcomers and considered an imposition?

    BTW, I’ve lived in and around Berkeley and its bordering cities for almost 20 years, so don’t pull your OG card on me.

  299. Larry

    This just sounds like black people don’t want to be around the new white folks. Well maybe there needs to be Black Flight! Bess move on to the black suburbs. Oh No white folks are moving in next door THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD! The racism has been reversed! Why did blacks even bother marching for segregation in the 60’s? Should have just stayed at home and watched My Three Sons on the TV.

  300. OaklandNative

    This is all you got out of this discussion? Or is that all you WANTED to get out of this discussion?

  301. Khanh Ho

    To all you entitled newcomer mother$%%^%rs who are pissed at some simple guidelines for decent behavior: I can’t wait until you are displaced by the Google Bus crowd.

  302. James Brown

    I advocate for the robbing of (white) hipsters. I am also for putting bricks through the windows of their new businesses. We have to make Oakland more dangerous so the yuppies don’t move here…

  303. SHANE YEE

    Most people who just HAD to move to Oakland didn’t really HAVE to. They did it to save a quick buck for themselves.

    “I HAD to buy a house in Oakland”
    -No you didn’t, really. Be honest with yourself. If you’re able to buy a house you have a hell of a lot more mobility than most Oakland natives.

    “I’M cleaning up the neighborhood”
    – …because the black people can’t do it themselves…. I finished your sentence for you. I think that’s what you were implying. We should all worship the ground you stand on.

    “They (black people) are selling drugs on MY driveway”
    -In reality, this probably never happened. And even if it did, you probably moved into a place they had been selling drugs for years. Moreover, people sell drugs out of desperation, not greed. Greed is you buying a house in Oakland for cheap and hoping that property values will go up once you remove all the poor, dangerous people so you can be filthy rich in 5-10 years. You want to make Oakland your own little San Francisco, but you don’t want to have to pay for it.

  304. Helen

    Sorry. Not these days.
    Or rather not only these things. In this, author is right in naming gentrification: people getting evicted because someone buys out where they live. While it’s always happened, it’s an infection that’s coming Oakland’s way from San Francisco where it’s epidemic.

  305. Oaktown357

    SHANE YEE you are being racist.

    I bought a house in 2011 and it has appreciated because the economy improved since the big bubble burst. My house has not appreciated because white people moved into my neighborhood. My neighbors are all the same. You are delusional AND racist.

    There is a problem in this city where people like you, and a lot from this site, think they own this city and have rights to it and white people, labeled as “privileged”, are the enemy. Wake up and stop being racist. White people are a part of Oakland. They have been long before you lived here. Some of the original settlers were German. They are not claiming they are entitled or writing about how people of color are ruining this city. They contribute to Oakland in many ways. They are artists, chefs, creative people, they love this city and want to see it become even more beautiful. Why don’t you embrace it them as brothers and sisters who are on the same team. Then try turning your focus on the ugly: crime.

    We need to stop bringing hate and racism into this city. It’s 2014 for christ sake.

  306. Carol Wyatt

    I continuously read these stories and while most of them make good sense, we have to remember that crime is still crime. As a black female born and raised in Ocean Hill-Brownsville/East New York Brooklyn which remains one of the poorest communities in the United States, it really bothers me that people in Oakland rationalize crime. It’s not normal. Prostitution is the worlds oldest profession but the crackheads and chickenheads here are people who are in pain, They don’t need your sympathy, they need to be captured and rehabilitiated. I’m not going to sympathize with someone slinging drugs in front of my house. I’m calling the DEA, since OPD doesn’t give a rats tail about resolving this apparently (especially since I just witnessed drug deals tonight and was shunned by our PSO about a protest downtown). Please understand. I love all people, but needles in the streets of West Oakland, people defecating and urinating (and these are adults, not children), don’t get my sympathy. You can have transition without displacing folks. Just ask the hundreds of families that live here that have not sold their homes or tried to live large. The ones like me who pay their mortgages, sit on their smart investment and make sure that the gentrification balances with the community.

    So I agree with you on most of these, but let’s lose the yuppie guilt about sympathy. That behavior isn’t to be sympathized. It’s to be cured and we need to do more to direct the resources to the problem that we pay taxes to solve them. Let’s make sure people do the jobs we pay them for.

  307. Dan

    So in your mind its ok for blacks to move into a white neighborhood and destroy the value of everything and drive out whites with high crime and filth but its wrong for white people to move into a place blacks have destroyed and try to make it livable by civilized people again

  308. Jerry

    Gentrification is just another code word used by the left that is aimed to discriminate and ostracize whites. It seems that the only whites accepted by blacks when it comes to sharing neighborhoods is white women, families, males and especially gays need not bother. Isn’t diversity wonderful?

    It’s okay if minorities call him a “pushy colonizer with a “white settler mentality.”, but it is racist if whites say things about minorities moving into their neighborhoods. How would it go over if a black person tried to move into an upscale white neighborhood and the neighbors said he was “an uppity so and so with a ‘ghetto mentality’? Either one is, of course, racist. But only the pretzel logic of guilt-ridden white liberals allows for this double standard to exist.

    Blacks lost their right to live in black neighborhoods the day whites lost their right to live in white neighborhoods.

    It’s interesting that an ‘historically black neighborhood’ must be preserved at all costs but an ‘historically white neighborhood’ must be destroyed by federal law.

    Blacks incessantly complain that white folk don’t care about their communities. But when whites move in and improve the quality of the neighborhood, blacks throw a hissy fit.

    When it comes to blacks it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You can’t win with ‘these people’ (and by ‘these people’ I mean blacks). When dealing with blacks it’s always lose-lose.

    It’s pointless trying to help people who won’t or can’t help themselves.

  309. Carol

    These comments are really wrought with racism and guilt. As a West Oakland resident, the score is trying to balance here. Yes, the people who can afford to move to WO are doing it, but what folks don’t seem to associate is that wealth in this case, more than not equals white. And what many don’t realize is that not all whites can live in WO. They can, but they live behind locked gates and security systems that may work or may not.

    The blacks in case you were not aware are people who were generationally here throughout the times that were prosperous and not so. Gang-violence, which is a mentaility of survival in itself, was not curried by the police department; in fact, there are many historical West Oakland stories that include you corrupted police officer.

    The deal with this neighborhood is that the community is working hard not to engage the yuppie mentaility…Yes, there will be a few, but most of the white people I know and live near are significant to the equation because while they may be white, they’re not racists against the community that was there before they arrived. They recognize that there is a underclass that has been allowed to advance since the 1980’s crack epidemic, and many even recognize that the experimentation curried during this time is exactly what we’re now seeing as the result of that experiment.

    This is what happens when 30% of a population exists and based on economic as well as racial substances, 60% of that population ends up in prison. Whether a violent or non-violent crime.

    All I know is that I’m black, I’m proud, I live in the WO and anyone that really and truly feels that they want to become part of the community, needs to accept ALL OF THE COMMUNITY, the parts you love and the parts you don’t. I can assure you many of the parts I love come in all colors, and many of the parts I don’t are really remnants of a society that was really abused and mistreated, thereby distrustful of the societal responses to these ills.

    As far as the community at large, the schools in Oakland are still abysmal. What can you blame that on? I don’t think that this is an issue of race sir, it’s an issue to economics. And while he who has the most money, may end up living in a community, I’m happy to report that the white people I know in West Oakland get the same levels of disrespect, lip-service and pandering that the black folks do.

    Some things, we can always count on!

  310. Mike

    Wow. How will any of these points do ANYTHING except making gentrifiers feel better about themselves?

    Guys, gentrification is about making areas unaffordable to people who live there, driving them out. You bros being nice to poor people and hiring them to work for shit at your little shop isn’t going to stop the moving-in of higher income residencies and businesses in Oakland or anywhere.

    Did you really need a who article and 20 points to say “don’t be a pompous asshole of a person”?

  311. Concerned Parent

    This is a very disturbing article with good intentions. The most disturbing part is that this comes from a city staffer and several other staffers including a staffer for the Mayor supporting in the comments section.

    I don’t want sexually exploited minors as my neighbor or violence and crime magnet drug dealers. But the city council and mayor staff want you to get used to it! They want you to stop complaining about the drugs and sexually exploited minors on your street – you’re a gentrifier if you call the police! Enough is enough! Shame on the city government! Now this writer is a campaign manager for a leading city council candidate. Stop the lawlessness!

  312. What "Brooklyn neighborhood"?

    Steve K. lives nowhere near Brooklyn Avenue, and that neighborhood is traditionally called China Hill or Funktown.

    Steve’s house is in the Twomps, a.k.a. the Murder Dubs. And what in hell does he have against Lucky grocery store? If he wanted to live near a Bi-Rite, whatever that is, then the most logical plan would have been to buy a house near a Bi-Rite, not to move into a perfectly good neighborhood with plans of disrupting the flow.

    A great way to avoid gentrifying Oakland, btw, is to NOT come in here and agree to pay $2000, or $3000, or $5000 a month for apartments that, for years, have been renting for $700 and $900 and $1200 a month. You’re not “helping Oakland” by wasting your money that crazy way. You’re only lining the pockets of property developers who wouldn’t be caught dead living here.

    But if you are stupid enough to pay those crazy rents, don’t magically expect to live in a $2000, $3000, or $5000 neighborhood, because oh oops, a lot those old, old, old apartments do and will have leaking pipes, rusting radiators, barking dogs all over the block, and car thefts up and down the street. Your new landlords are doing a lot of cosmetic repair to lure you in, but some of them are woefully inept at fixing the underlying structural problems that longtime residents have coped with for years, so oops, suck it up when the roof leaks or the lobby smells like garbage. Heh…and gods help you in the next big earthquake. If some of you have never heard of a soft-story building, then before you move in here you should really read up on what happened in the Marina district of SF during the quake of ’89.

    And don’t hold your breath waiting for lily-white hipster ambiance to take over, because a lot of boutique coffee shops have FAILED here over the years, and a lot of the existing residents aren’t going any damned where. Ha.

  313. Ada

    Hey Oakland Local, couldn’t you have used a local picture of Oakland instead of a stock photography shot of Toronto? (hint: Area Code 416 on the Chinese restaurant awning= Toronto)

  314. Olivia

    Thank you so much for this great article. I think your discussion of privilege is really right on. I am a white mother and I am going to share this with my children. I think they’ll be better people for reading it.

  315. plantlifebilly

    These are all great things to do but the vast majority of them will have no impact on the hard economic reality that white people returning to cities en masse and treating the earlier poverty and disinvestment as a set of “opportunities” consistently (eventually) leads to rising property values that displace people of color who have been rooted there longer either because they weren’t part of white flight once upon a time or because they moved into these neighborhoods when they were still cheap. Gentrification may even be somewhat unstoppable but let’s please get real that no matter how kind and tolerant you try to be towards those who came before you, if you’re white and well-to-do, for better or for worse, you simply are the active force behind gentrification. It’d be far more helpful to really own that than to mask that in some white liberal perfume.

  316. Barbop

    This article is malarkey. “How not to be a gentrifier” is a ridiculous statement. You ARE a gentrifier plain and simple. Nothing you do will change that. Sure if you move here to Oakland you shouldn’t pretend and act like it is an extension of San Francisco. Additionally if move here than become a part of the community instead of being terrified until enough people like you move in to make it appear safe. The real insult is that Oakland has enjoyed for such a long time and history of freedom and diversity that has developed from the incredible insightful and wide range of people who live here. The current wave of people who are moving here do it because they have to after being priced out of SF. Now they read articles by bad writers(Like Dannette Lambert) saying how cool Oakland is… well it was cool all along. In the past there had been a scorn and debasement of Oakland by hipsters and the like who lived in SF – they felt Oakland was ghetto and stupid. This video is a classic example of this Those same people are running around saying how cool it is. It makes me want to vomit on them. You can’t stop people from moving here and not everyone that moves here form SF is bad but articles like this one take that stupid naive approach that assumes people in Oakland are hateful and won’t say “hello” if you address them. Or that you will have to call the police because Oakland sooooo dangerous. Why wouldn’t you recognize the people outside your home as your neighbors??!!! How else would you see them? Honestly! this is a terrible piece of writing and a clear indication of how ignorant the latest wave of new residents are. If you move – just be normal and don’t read stupid articles like Dannette Lambert wrote. This is such a distasteful piece of writing, I don’t know how anyone could be so clueless.


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