Mayor Jean Quan gave her State of the City report at Oakland City Hall Thursday night, outlining her administration’s achievements while forging ahead, speaking like a candidate with new goals.
Mayor Quan shared a blueprint for a new “10K 2” plan announced earlier in the day that would bring in another 10,000 residents to Oakland and build some 7,500 housing units, modeled off of former Mayor Jerry Brown’s plan that revamped Downtown Oakland and Jack London Square. Quan said her plan will be city-wide, with a focus around BART stations and transit hubs. While many of the projects are still in the pipeline, the Brooklyn Basin, which will break ground next week, is on track to open up 3,100 apartments.
Heading into the “Year of the Horse,” Quan said, Oakland is building. “Last year, I said we were rising. Well, now we’re booming.” Earlier in the afternoon, she had attended the opening of Anna Linens at the new Foothill Square shopping center in East Oakland. With a Ross and a Foods Co. grocery store to follow, it’s the first big store expansion to the neighborhood in nearly 20 years. Slowly but surely, Quan said, the city was closing in on food deserts and this was proof.
The recovery process, the chance to re-energize a community like this, “happens once in a generation,” Quan said. “There’s no excuses.”
But who are the new 10,000 who will occupy the new housing? Mayor Quan said her 10K 2 plan would offer some affordable housing and stave off gentrification. “We’re not San Francisco,” Quan said, “we don’t have to push anyone out.” The new housing will instead build up, she said, and responsibly increase housing density.
Quan pledged up to 25 percent of the spaces would be integrated and workforce housing. She championed Oakland’s diversity, from new immigrants to activists–the city’s “drum majors”–but believes it needs and deserves the city’s protection. “We’re not going to be a city of rich and poor,” Quan said.
Quan was a guest at the White House for President Obama’s launch of My Brother’s Keeper, a program President Obama kicked off with support by business and civic leaders to reverse trends for young black men. The message hit close to home for Quan, who reported that 50% of students in East Oakland are not graduating high school and that overall young men of color are hired less and are six times more likely to be murdered.
There are encouraging signs these numbers are shifting. Crime, from burglary to homicide, is largely flattening or trending downwards.
“We’ve turned the tide,” Quan said. She credited Ceasefire, a program which brings in the”tough,” most violent offenders and offers drug rehabilitation, housing options, and job training. There’s room to go further, with new regulations on kill switchs to prevent phone theft and measures to make policing more constitutional and effective.
But a major part of helping the lives of young black men in Oakland is jobs. Quan said her office would renew efforts on the Mayor’s Summer Job Program, with the goal of creating 2,000 summer jobs in 2014 for 16- to 21-year-olds everywhere from the Port of Oakland to the emerging tech sector.
Quan also said the city must take pride in its schools, with stricter monitoring of attendance and reading levels. “I’ve sat in your seat,” Quan, a former school board president, said to educators. “Your job is more important than being mayor.”
Photos and video by Howard Dyckoff. See an album from the evening here.