How Margot Prado makes time to be a West Javanese dance instructor on top of acting as Senior Economic Development Specialist for the city of Oakland, co-chairing the $5 million Bay Area Regional Prosperity Plan and co-founding Oakland Makers, is one of life’s great mysteries.

Prado does the kind of work you may never have even fathomed existed, but after hearing about it, can’t imagine how you thought cities would have worked without people like her. She has to predict how the city’s industry and job sectors will change in interaction with demographic shifts and market forces, in order for the city to optimally support those changes five, ten, twenty years out. Zoning and land use decisions made by planners (like Prado used to be) and economic analysts (like Prado is today) determine not just how much the city will be able to prosper, but the way in which wealth will be distributed. Prado says that she believes “industrial and commercial land use represents the path to rebuilding the middle class.”

In a city beginning to attract the money-eyed gaze of condominium developers, Prado is one of few administrators defending the industrial use of places like West Oakland. To her mind, the land-use tradeoff is between an SF-commuting gentry or swaths of middle class, blue and green collar jobs.

Read more at Live Work Oakland.

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