On June 11, the West Oakland Specific Plan (WOSP) passed the Zoning and Planning Commission with a 4-2 vote despite debate and protesters disrupting the meeting. The Oakland City Council is set to vote on the plan sometime in July. The plan proposes rezoning parts of West Oakland from residential to commercial and improving streets and parks.

Those in favor of WOSP say the plan could go a long way towards making West Oakland, minutes from downtown, into a burgeoning residential and nightlife destination. Opponents counter that WOSP will fast-track gentrification in the neighborhood at the expense of residents who currently call West Oakland home.

Traditionally an African-American neighborhood, West Oakland has seen an influx of many ethnicities in recent years while its African-American population has dwindled. Opponents believe further development will cement the transformation of the neighborhood into one of rising rents and homogenized demographics.

The photos below show the past, present, and future of West Oakland. The renderings are taken from Appendix A of the West Oakland Specific Plan. These are 2007 and 2014 images from Google Street View, to give a sense of what the neighborhood could look like compared to today if the plan is approved.

Note that the renderings are not exact depictions of what the neighborhood may look like if development is completed. All 2007 and 2014 photos from Google Maps. All “Proposed” photos courtesy of Appendix A of the West Oakland Specific Plan.

5th Street near West Oakland BART Station.

5th Street near West Oakland BART Station

7th Street and Mandela Parkway

7th Street and Mandela Parkway

7th Street and Peralta Street

7th Street and Peralta Street

26th Street and Mandela Parkway

26th Street and Mandela Parkway

San Pablo Avenue near West Grand Avenue

San Pablo Avenue near West Grand Avenue

82 Responses

  1. Groucho Marxist

    Let me see if I understand this: introducing whites and Asians into a monolithic black ghetto constitutes “homogenization”?

    Oh, and poverty is a desirable quality in a city’s population?

    Let’s hear another one!

    Reply
  2. PRE

    You do know that these statements are in contradiction with each other?

    “Traditionally an African-American neighborhood, West Oakland has seen an influx of many ethnicities in recent years while its African-American population has dwindled. Opponents believe further development will cement the transformation of the neighborhood into one of rising rents and homogenized demographics.”

    How does a place become more homoginized after the influx of many ethnicities? If anything, West Oakland is becoming less homoginized from what I can see.

    Reply
  3. Josh

    I’m going to play devils advocate here, but a place can become more racially and ethnically diverse while it homogenizes around another demographic such as economic class. Diversity is not just about color.

    Reply
  4. glump

    Hey everybody, try to be a little bit more empathetic here. Changing west oakland like this and making it into a “destination” (ugh…) does not serve the people who have been experiencing the oppression of poverty for decades in this neighborhood. Making it into a desirable place to live might sound nice to all of the people who don’t already live there, but it’s going to force everybody else who doesn’t have a middle-to-high income out of the neighborhood.

    Basically, when I look at the comments above, i get a little let down, because I see a whole lot of White People getting upset because somebody is saying “Hey! This is what modern racism looks like!”

    Reply
  5. glump

    Rather – a rephrase – making into a place like this will force people out. There’s still ways to make West Oakland more livable without the displacement, but it doesn’t look like this.

    Reply
  6. Oaklander

    Exactly what I thought when reading this bit. Maybe the author intended ‘heterogeneous’ rather than homogeneous. It was homogeneous, it’s rapidly become less homogeneous, which in my opinion is great!

    Reply
  7. Mr Boogie

    Its already a done deal, the rent in West Oakland is now too high for the poor. Sorry but looks like they are headed to Antioch, Stockton, Tracy , Pittsburg and Sacramento. Oh yeah and the high crime rate is headed there with them too. West Oakland is about to be off the hook and the new place to be. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Ye Kennedy-Shaheed

    Homogenized as in socio-economically homogeneous. You all do realize thAt there are severAL housing projects in that area, right? Not only are there families that have lived in that area of West Oakland for generations, but poverty caused by systematic racism/oppression is also entrenched in that community. Do you think the current residents will be able to afford to stay? Do you think that they will WANT to leave the community so many of them have called home for decades? Will the new residents be willing to live side by side with them? Yeah, I don’t think so. This is ONLY a “great” thing for those who plan to move in and cash in their race and class privilege. Keep pretending that the proposed “development” of these neighborhoods is some benign altruistically motivated plan to give West Oakland a “facelift”. The thoughtful and honest among us know that it is NOT. People WILL be displaced, a community with a rich history will be lost.

    Reply
  9. Vwarrior

    As a born and bred Oaklander this is horrifically sad to me. Sure, the plans look great but what about those homes that are seemingly going to be bulldozed down? What about the business owners who’ve been here since day one? We have always known that Oakland was awesome. So what do we get for that?

    Reply
  10. BayMetro

    But wait a minute……

    Aren’t there these types of buildings sitting empty at Jack London Square? Wasn’t the construction of those buildings just a few years ago supposed to bring the type of vibrancy depicted in these images to JLS? Why does West Oakland continue to be a wasteland for gentrifiers when there are so many other parts of the city where a development like this would not completely change the character and demographics like it will in W. Oakland? These developments are going to do nothing more than further the displacement of the existing residents and further isolate the few remaining low-income residents whose only way to stay in West Oakland will be through the unreliable and corrupt Oakland Housing Authority.

    I know some people reading this post are probably thinking: “Oh, I’m so tired of hearing people complain about gentrification. Gentrification happens, blah, blah blah” but to those people I say: WE (meaning the ones against developments like this) are equally tired of talking about our friends and relatives being displaced at the expense of some suburban reared hipster in his/her late 20’s whose plain & vanilla upbringing makes them feel void of culture, so they come to Oakland seeking to appropriate the very culture that they’re driving out. We’re equally tired of people only being interested in OUR city because it’s the next best thing to the city they can no longer afford, San Francisco.

    I’m all for the betterment of Oakland. I’m from Oakland. I love Oakland. But what I am NOT for is the displacement of the residents who have lived here for generations. I am NOT for Oakland becoming an eastern extension of the City of San Francisco!

    Reply
  11. Groucho Again

    Bay Metro, your stereotyping turns my stomach. You rail against “some suburban reared hipster in his/her late 20′s whose plain & vanilla upbringing,” in a thinly-veiled demand to keep West Oakland uniformly poor and black. Of course, brandishing phrases like “appropriate the culture they’re driving out,” it’s unlikely you’re a product of our underfunded schools — and more likely you’re the real wannabe!

    If the folks you claim “own” Oakland (as if by Divine Right) have kept their neighborhoods poor (and getting poorer) for generations, perhaps it’s now time for them to try bettering themselves out in Antioch or Fremont (the latter itself actually a model of working-class diversity). That doesn’t mean all the blacks will have to leave: plenty of African-Americans are just fine with neighborhood improvement, even if it means a mix of others moving in.

    Try counting the significant number of Asians getting on the Google bus, or check out the interracial lesbian couples dining at Flora (and incidentally, note the scarcity of “vanilla” cupcake joints in gentrified Temescal ); then let’s talk about diversity.

    We could meet for our discussion over brunch at Chop Bar (if you don’t mind the wait) and you can prattle on about the condos that you claim “stand empty” around Jack London Square. Perhaps, though, you’d prefer the new eatery attached to the Linden Street Brewery, where you can berate owner James Syhabout about his “vanilla” upbringing. (“The Oakland native was led to cooking by his mother, a chef at a Thai restaurant in Oakland.”)

    Better still, however, we could meet at Venga Paella, owned by Eduardo Balaguer, a Barcelona native who [according to the East Bay Express] says his mission is to demystify the famous Valencian rice dish — to bring it down from its pedestal: “Paella, I think, has been glorified too much,” he says. A wonderful collection of anarchist posters from the Spanish Civil War lines the walls.

    Meanwhile, Bay Metro, what have you done to enhance the quality of life in Oakland lately?

    Reply
    • steve

      Groucho, your comment “If the folks you claim “own” Oakland (as if by Divine Right) have kept their neighborhoods poor (and getting poorer) for generations, perhaps it’s now time for them to try bettering themselves out in Antioch or Fremont (the latter itself actually a model of working-class diversity)” fails to appreciate that impoverishment was caused by capitalism driving down wages. I am an attorney who had a middle, working, and poor clientele. Men who made $13-15 a hour in early 1980s were making $10-11 by the end of the decade and in another few years the only jobs were $7 an hour. I had a couple as clients that worked five jobs to be able to buy a home and take care of their children. Working people have gotten poorer everywhere in the US, and that is most particularly so for people in the bottom half or even worse the bottom quarter.
      There are no easy answers to these social issues or to rectifying a society under capitalism. As the rich classes, the elites, get richer and richer, and more and more international, the working people around the world get poorer.
      Do I want Oakland revitalized? Absolutey, I have worked here since 1977 and lived here since 1984, and I love it. It has immense social problems that can be laid at the feet of our ruling elites who squandered untold resources on stupid aggressive foreign wars like Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Panama, etc, to say nothing of our current wars against Islamic countries. Whatever social contract that existed between the ruling elites and the rest of the country has been destroyed over the last 50 years.

      Reply
  12. JR

    BayMetro-
    JLS is finally starting to flourish as an entertainment destination-even though it took longer than expected. Those empty buildings have tenants upstairs and the ground floor spaces are beginning to be snatched up by wineries, bowling alleys and restaurants. Lots of construction going on. There are many weekly and yearly events in JLS where the place is packed- you should check it out. Here is the reason why- people with jobs and educations are moving to Oakland and making it economically feasible for projects like this to happen. This is a good thing. These people pay taxes so that when you or I call 911 there is a police officer able to respond. You might call them gentrifiers, but I welcome them to my hometown with open arms as my neighbors.

    As far as displacement. If you are a longtime homeowner in an area that is on the way up and you sell it you are reaping the rewards of an increase of equity in your property- an unforced decision. And with strong rent control the renters can stay as well and enjoy a safer neighborhood that is cleaned up and safer. I always hear people claim all this displacement is going on. Is it really displacement or are people cashing out or moving for other reasons.

    Anyways, I wouldn’t be to scared of all these drawings, even if the city wanted to do this it’s too inept to make it happen.

    Reply
  13. Groucho Redux

    Glump, maybe gentrification “is going to force everybody else who doesn’t have a middle-to-high income out of the neighborhood.” First of all, with rent control and rising property values for existing homeowners, not “everybody” will move. Secondly, being poor, by definition, arguably means you don’t get to choose the neighborhood where you live (even if one believes all people have a right to have a roof over their heads).

    Finally, as the neighborhood becomes more (ethnically) diverse, plenty of African Americans will stay (and will gladly live better). So much for “modern racism” — and for one way out of it. How’s that for empathy?

    Incidentally, Vwarrior, if you look closely at those mock-ups, you’ll note that they don’t show the existing houses being bulldozed. They’re still there, cheek-by-jowl with the new (infill) construction!

    Reply
  14. Glump

    Groucho, you’re full of it. This isn’t about “diversity.” Bringing in the high-earning whites and asians isn’t going to make West Oakland some wonderful fairyland where everybody realizes the wonderful-end goal of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech you learned about in diversity week during elementary school.

    Where’s the rent control in the west oakland specific plan? Where mandate requiring developers to build an amount of low-income housing units proportional to the amount of new development coming in? Where’s the requirement that every new business’ employee base must be paid well and be no less than 50% people of color that are from the neighborhood?

    I mean, have you ever READ anything about this exact type of development happening in american cities? This has happened countless times in countless cities over the last 80 or so years. This isn’t some new idea, Groucho. This has happened before, and I have yet to see it result in the way you’re hoping it will.

    You want to make a good WOSP? Give the people who have lived and worked in west oakland for a long time – those in the churches, the schools, the CBOs, the final say. Let them decide what should and shouldn’t be in the plan. They deserve to decide what this change looks like – not people who’ve barely set foot in their neighborhood.

    Reply
  15. Groucho Responds

    “Give the people who have lived and worked in west oakland for a long time – those in the churches, the schools, the CBOs, the final say…. They deserve to decide what this change looks like – not people who’ve barely set foot in their neighborhood.”

    In one word: Why?

    We may have a fundamental disagreement about the nature of empathy or the purview of justice, or even of empathy. Please re-read my remarks on race, and see how this has played out in Temescal.

    Meanwhile, incidentally, some of those churches you mention (not all!) preach homophobia. What if part of the “final say” you champion is, “Keep the fags out”? Just asking, Mr. Empathy… 🙂

    Reply
  16. JR

    Glump-

    Oakland has very strong rent control-and it is a city wide ordinance that is already in place.

    And as for affordable housing, this is just within the last five or so years: The giant complex across from the Coliseum BART station, 18th and Harrison, E 10th Ave and 7th Ave, International and 29th Ave, the new building going up on Grand and Euclid, The MacAuther Transit village has another 90 units going up, Brooklyn Basin has 400 units included in it. About half of those projects already have affordable housing next to them as well. As far as housing the less fortunate, Oakland more than shoulders the load for the entire region.

    The new Army base project has strict local hire standards, maybe even 50%

    We are very generous to those who do not have much, you should try and read about what is going on in town every once in a while before you spout your rhetoric and half truths.

    And about MLK and his speech. How about you judge a person by the content of their character rather than skin color. The people who are moving in are not all bad. The people who have lived here for a long time are not all good either.

    Reply
  17. BayMetro

    Groucho,

    I guess I hit a little too close to home with the “suburban hipsters” comment, huh?

    But anyway, I’ll try to respond to all of your ridiculous rebuttals in the order you presented them:

    1)I NEVER once said that I wanted to keep W. Oakland uniformly “poor and Black” as you’re trying to say I did. As a matter of fact, I’m too familiar with W. Oakland and its history to even advocate for something like that. West Oakland has ALWAYS had significant numbers of Asian and Latino residents in the projects (The Housing Authority owns those projects, you know, and the Housing Authority isn’t just for Blacks, you know). What I DID say is I’m for the betterment for all of Oakland so long as it doesn’t displace and isolate the existing population.

    2)You claiming that I somehow am not a product of OUSD because I “brandished phrases like “appropriating the culture they’re driving out”‘ speaks VOLUMES to how you feel about Oakland’s youth. So you mean to tell me that I can’t be intelligent and a product of Oakland Public Schools? You’re telling me that in order for me to be a legit OUSD alumnus I have to lack basic reading comprehension skills and can’t know words with more than four letters? I’ll have you to know I am a PROUD product of Oakland Public Schools, and some of the most BRILLIANT people I have ever met were the youth of some of Oakland’s most troubled public schools. It’s a shame that you automatically assume that someone who uses a not-so-big word like “appropriate” can’t possibly be a product of OUSD. But it’s no surprise, many gentrifiers feel that way about the residents that live in the neighborhoods they’ve come to gentrify.

    3)Using Antioch and Fremont as examples of places where working-class ex-Oaklanders can “better themselves” is laughable. For starters, the average price of a home in Fremont is around $810,000, so how is it that Fremont is an example of “working class” diversity when most working class people cannot even afford to buy a house there? And Antioch? Don’t even get me started. Antioch is pretty much “little Oakland” now. Some of the same problems that plague East and West Oakland are now problems there. The reason is because a fresh start is not had by changing zip codes (as you’re insinuating). A fresh start is looking at some of the root causes of why violence, poverty, and low quality of life is so prevalent in low-income communities of color and how to address them (which is why people hate gentrification; it doesn’t help employ, educate, or empower these people, it simply tries to erase them altogether). What people like you fail to understand is that shipping the poor people from Oakland to Antioch does not eradicate inequality; it simply moves it more east.

    4)I do not need to count the number of Asians getting on the google bus, because I am not interested in using Asian-Americans as a wedge. Just because Asians get on the google bus does not mean that the Southeast Asians living in Acorn are somehow empowered. Trying to use an Asian-American as a symbol of success against other people of color does nothing more than continue the ‘model minority’ stereotype. (btw, Asian-Americans, too, are being displaced and/or over-policed because of gentrification).

    5)Good job on proving you’re well versed on all the new spots in Oakland that have opened up over the last few years. And even better that you know of a place that wants to “demystify” the pedestal we supposedly all place paella on (??). I mean, everyone knows the most important issue in Oakland right now is the undeserved popularity of a dish coming from Spain, right? How dare I actually MENTION the people who probably are too focused on life to care anything about paella. But no thanks to your invitations, I’m good with grabbing some of the food I grew up on, and from establishments that have served Oakland even when times were tough, like: 1/4 lbs burgers, Merrit Bakery, Everett & Jones, etc. etc.

    6)Well, I’m not one to brag, but I have worked with Trio Programs, a federally funded program that creates pathways for first generation students to attend college; I’ve mentored local students in preparing for the CAHSEE, SAT, ACT, and other placement and exit exams that are necessary to graduate high school and attend a four-year university. Through Trio and other initiatives, I’ve provided financial-aid counseling as well as helped Oakland students enroll in Educational Opportunity Programs at SFSU, SJSU, Cal State Hayward (East Bay), and Sonoma State, as well as guided low-income youth in using application fee-waivers for the CSU, UC, and private institutions (most Oakland youth unfortunately don’t even know of the resources available to them, which in part is the fault of the schools who don’t provide that info to them). I’ve held mock interviews for young men of color, critiqued their interviews and offered tips on what to do, say, and how to present themselves when going into job interviews. I’ve also mentored them on appropriate work etiquette, the importance of timeliness and professionalism, and SAVING! Some may say what I do is small, but I say it’s necessary. I try to empower local youth to empower themselves through education and self-care and appreciation of community. I’ve also encouraged these youth to COME BACK to Oakland and give back to their city once they’ve accomplished their educational and/or career goals.

    So, Groucho, that’s what I’ve done to enhance the quality of life in Oakland. Thanks for asking!

    Reply
  18. You're welcome!

    BayMetro: “Groucho,” here. You didn’t hit close to home with the “suburban hipsters” comment; I’m too old (and too East Coast) to qualify for the sort of vacuous “plain vanilla” upbringing to apply. Nonetheless, the stereotype (along with the overdose of E&J ribs I ate this week, however delicious) still sticks in my craw. (BtW, paella can also be a delicious part of “life.”) 🙂

    I admire (am even inspired by!) the work you’ve done with local youth — but proud as you are to be a product of the Oakland Public Schools, the very need for that work is implicitly an acknowledgement of their shortcomings. With a stronger tax base (i.e., rising property values) — and yes, with wiser and more just allocation of funds — perhaps some of those shortcomings could begin to be ameliorated or eradicated.

    My point about Asians was not to create a wedge issue (I might have anticipated that response!), but to counteract all the phony talk about “diversity” as a dog-whistle for “poor.” That, along with my remarks about the backgrounds of the local restaurateurs, is an indication that diversity takes many forms — and (with all due credit to your approach), so, too, are there many ways out of poverty. Some might even involve paella.

    Reply
  19. Shelley

    Wow it looks like ol’ Oakland Local wrote off African Americans in just a few sentences..
    “Traditionally an African-American neighborhood, West Oakland has seen an influx of many ethnicities in recent years while its African-American population has dwindled. Opponents believe further development will cement the transformation of the neighborhood into one of rising rents and homogenized demographics.”

    But this is what has happened to African American communities here and elsewhere in America. We don’t have choices about where we stay or work no matter how much money we make or how much education we have.
    You are a racist whether you are overtly racist or you benefit from the acts of other racists. Take your pick which one you are.
    http://www.citylab.com/housing/2014/05/the-racist-housing-policy-that-made-your-neighborhood/371479/

    And as far as “bettering ourselves” goes, it’s hard to do when someone’s got their foot on your neck, looks down and sees it AND CAN’T EVEN FEEL IT.

    “A Black Male With A Degree And A White High School Grad Have The Same Chances Of Getting A Job”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/27/racial-education-gap_n_5537530.html

    Save your indignation at the oppressed and people opposed to it and your half ass solutions for a community you know nothing about, a history you ignore and a problem you refuse to acknowledge.

    Reply
  20. Glump

    Yo, JR,
    It’s great that Oakland has some affordable housing complexes. But if it had enough affordable housing, rent wouldn’t be skyrocketing to a point that’s out of reach to most people’s wages. The idea is that we shouldn’t be making people move to Antioch or Fremont when they don’t want to move their.
    I don’t think that just because somebody is poor means that they don’t get to keep their home. I think we’re all better than that.

    Why does America hate it’s poor so much?
    Be an ally instead, and Oakland will be all the better for it.

    Reply
  21. JR

    “It’s great that Oakland has some affordable housing complexes”
    Really? Some? You need to get out some time. That list was just what was built recently, there are thousands more units. Unfortunately they are the hotbed of criminal activity in the areas they reside. There are gangs named after the more senior (time wise) complexes in town. It’s time we cater to bringing in some law abiding people who care about this city and not the next handout. Why should a city like Oakland with no money have to shoulder this burden? It costs more money to take care of these places with personnel and resources, all the while taking away resources away from the rest of the city.

    “But if it had enough affordable housing, rent wouldn’t be skyrocketing” Affordable housing has very little with the market rate.

    “I don’t think that just because somebody is poor means that they don’t get to keep their home. I think we’re all better than that. ”
    With existing homeowners enjoying skyrocketing housing prices and renters living in nicer neighborhoods with under market value rents that pretty much makes this comment an outright lie, something causa justa would like you to believe.

    “Why does America hate it’s poor so much?
    Be an ally instead, and Oakland will be all the better for it.”
    Please, such a comment with no research behind is distorting what is really going on. We don’t hate the poor here in Oakland. It is no ones fault to be born poor. But to stay poor lays some of the blame on the actual person. All of the excuses and blame is hurting the poor rather than helping them. Same goes for public housing- it just creates a group of people that can not survive without the government assistance. Give them some job skills and confidence, not a free handout, that would really help them.

    Reply
  22. MD

    Quite apart from the fact that West Oakland residents would likely be driven from their homes, these renderings are hideous, basically turning the neighborhood into Emeryville! Has anyone bothered to ask the residents of West Oakland what they want in terms of economic development when they came up with this plan? I didn’t think so.

    Reply
  23. Seriouslywhat?

    “Traditionally an African-American neighborhood, West Oakland has seen an influx of many ethnicities in recent years while its African-American population has dwindled. Opponents believe further development will cement the transformation of the neighborhood into one of rising rents and homogenized demographics.”

    An influx of new ethnicities = homogenized demographics? This paragraph is a stunning display of cognitive dissonance.

    The author is being deceitful. The complaint at the root of this article is that large portions of the black community simply do not want non-black people to move into area’s they view as “theirs.”

    So be honest and just say that, but be aware that to any rational human being that sounds like what it is…IE a racialized viewpoint and agenda.

    Reply
  24. Nathan B

    I’m always amazed at the mental contortions people have to put themselves through in the name of defending the urban poor. If you can honestly look at the visualizations of a dense, mixed use development with wide sidewalks and pedestrian-oriented activity and still side with the ‘before’ image of a failed, isolated urban wasteland, I can assure you you’re a vanishingly small minority of humans. The Bay Area is desirable and growing. It needs to get much denser to allow for more residents to accommodate demand. These are the realities. The conversation needs to be: how can we thoughtfully integrate the existing residents into the growing prosperity of the region? That’s the role of government, to protect against the negative tendencies of capitalism while allowing the positive. Presumably someone is going to make a lot of money developing this area. The city needs to step in and say: you can build this profitable thing that is good on the macro level, but have to provide on-site living units for the current residents to provide economic diversity. No displacement and everybody wins. Let’s try to figure out solutions and compromises rather than reflexively railing against all growth and change, or alternatively welcoming all change without condition.

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  25. furface

    I’ve lived in West Oakland for two years, now I live in Adams Point. I remember hella thugs patrolling the streets, gun shots on the reg, a black SUV getting torched, murder, poor children not getting fed before the arrive at school (I’ve been a sub for OUSD for 4 years). I don’t care what races come or go, I just want opportunities for jobs, safety, and respect. If you know the history of West Oakland, you would know that before Black folks, there were Portuguese, Mexican, and other folks who built most of the homes there, and before that, the Ohlone First Nations people. So the point is, lets work toward a safe and economically viable Oakland, racial demographics change, that’s history. I highly doubt that creating more business opportunities = All African Americans move away, that just seems ridiculous.

    Reply
  26. Glump

    Are You sure you don’t hate the poor? Because a comment like that makes it sound like you’ve got no idea what kind of life obsticles people growing up in poverty have.

    You sound like you want to shuffle all of the “undesirable” people out if oakland and get a new crowd in that’s more your speed. That’s a shitty thing to do to someone’s home and you know it.

    I can tell this conversation isn’t going to work – you sound hella neo-liberal, I’m done.

    Reply
  27. Groucho Returns

    The conversation obviously isn’t going to work as long as it’s rooted in ideology (or dogma) and conflicting (therefore, perhaps even incompatible) values.

    Poverty and desirability are arguably polar opposites. The poor (by definition!) don’t get to decide where they live, even if one believes everyone’s entitled to housing itself. Again, look closely at those mock-ups and you’ll note that the existing houses remain — though likely renovated. Is renovation “a shitty thing to do to someone’s home” — even if that means, in the process (though not necessarily in all cases!), that someone else has moved in?

    What’s the source of this belief that poor neighborhoods (or poor people) must remain poor — obstacles or not?

    Reply
  28. Groucho Again

    Glump, this conversation obviously isn’t going to work as long as it’s rooted in ideology (or dogma) and conflicting (therefore, perhaps even incompatible) values.

    Poverty and desirability are arguably polar opposites. The poor (by definition!) don’t get to decide where they live, even if one believes everyone’s entitled to housing itself. Again, look closely at those mock-ups and you’ll note that the existing houses remain — though likely renovated. Is renovation “a shitty thing to do to someone’s home” — even if that means, in the process (though not necessarily in all cases!), that someone else has moved in?

    What’s the source of this belief that poor neighborhoods (or poor people) must remain poor — obstacles or not? And when have you ever met a poor person who says, “What this neighborhood needs are more poor people”?

    Reply
  29. Groucho Again

    Sorry for the double posting.

    The second version is a corrected (more complete) revision, submitted after I’d thought the first one had failed to post. 🙂

    Reply
  30. glump

    Yeah, dude. Kicking and entire community of real people with real lives out of their neighborhood and replacing them with wealthy people is what I would call a pretty shitty thing to do. What, you think that’s nice?

    Putting in fancy blues rock cafes and condos isn’t going to lift the poor out of poverty. Its just going to make them be poor somewhere else, while you treat the place they grew up like your new playground.

    Reply
  31. OaklandNative

    Mr. B:

    I have a few thoughts on your comment.

    Just because a neighborhood is poor and black does not make it a “failed, isolated urban wasteland.” Nor should one assume that only white people make a neighborhood “vibrant” (whatever that means).

    Personally, I prefer to live in a comfortable neighborhood than a noisy “vibrant” one. The young whites who moved near me, with their loud all night parties, are much more annoying that the Blacks who lived there before.

    Also new sidewalks and buildings do not “improve the lives” of the poor. It simply attracts more privileged people who often crowd them out.

    Also being Black and middle class does not mean we become assimilated into white America.

    Reply
  32. Groucho Again

    Hey, there oughta be some pretty cool jobs working at that “fancy” blues club. Sure beats being poor! So much for “late” capitalism.

    Reply
  33. Groucho Again

    “Native’s” lament: “There goes the neighborhood” LOL!

    True, no one should assume that only white people make a neighborhood “vibrant.” No one should assume that only black people (or any other group) makes a neighborhood vibrant, either — or that white people are all soulless “plain & vanilla suburban reared hipsters.”

    You can talk about “a history of institutional racism” until you’re blue in the face, but bigotry comes in all colors. Those white kids partying all night are obnoxious, but so, too, are self-styled ghetto thugs shouting “dis niggah, dat niggah” ain’t no better. Decency, too, comes in all colors — and diversity needn’t mean some sort of homogenized “assimilation.” I’ve lived here for decades, but I grew up in New York. I think I know from vibrancy. You want tranquil? Go live in Walnut Creek! Or on one of the side streets in Temescal (where vibrancy’s in reach, too). Too pricey? There’s always Vallejo — or a job at Kaiser (or that blues club, if it’s for real).

    Or is this about it being a good thing to keep a neighborhood poor?

    I’d still like to know where anybody got the idea that a neighborhood belongs to any group in perpetuity — rich, poor, white, black, or otherwise? Funny how things change when the shoe’s on the other foot!

    Reply
  34. OaklandNative

    Groucho,

    My Black neighbors were not thugs. They did not do “dis n***, dat ***.”

    It’s always interesting when someone (usally white) transposes one race for another and then ASSumes the rest of their argument applies. Your argument that “bigotry comes in all colors” is a perfect example. You’re using that tired argument to dismiss the experiences and statements of other opinions. And you assumed my neighbors, who were nice people, were thugs.

    Reply
  35. JR

    OaklandNative-

    Why is is not all right to say that “bigotry comes in all colors?” No one is dismissing anyone’s experience. I would say the white experience gets dismissed more than anyone else in this town. I’ve heard about white privilege, white guilt, and even that certain people can not be racist. All offensive and untrue to me.

    As far as being a white man growing up and going to school and working all over Oakland, at times I am disgusted by the racism from the traditionally black neighborhoods deep East and West. No judgement there, just what I see from the community. I hear about institutionalized racism and possible reasons for it, but it is just straight up racism to me. Supposedly it is from past experience, but I think it is just wrong. Just about every nationality that has come to the country has come under duress. Some more than others.

    Anyways, probably just offended everyone on this website. Just calling it how I see it.

    Reply
  36. OaklandNative

    JR,

    When you say the white experience is dismissed more than anyone else, are you referring to all the white people calling Oakland “cool” or the new “Brooklyn”? Are you referring to the white people in Uptown or at the Fox Theater? Or are you saying that the assumption of white male entitlement is questioned here more than what you feel entitled to? Are you assuming it is not to be questioned?

    You wrote “I’ve heard about white privilege, white guilt, and even that certain people can not be racist. All offensive and untrue to me.” Did you ask what they were talking about? Or did you assume what they were talking about and dismissed it as racism?

    Have you examined your experience as a white male beyond just dismissing any mention of race?

    Reply
  37. JR

    The discussion I am talking about is pretty much the same way I hear people talk about white people on this site, negatively. As in when white people move into neighborhoods that were not previously white it is a negative thing. If the discussion was turned around as in black people “gentrifying” the hills, how would that be taken?

    I wish that I could dismiss race, but in this city I am constantly being told that I am the problem. When are we all going to agree that everyone has had their problems historically? We can never forget, but we can agree that things happened and not let us hold us down. When is it time to get over that and just judge each other by who they are inside and not outside?

    Reply
  38. OaklandNative

    JR,
    You wrote:
    The discussion I am talking about is pretty much the same way I hear people talk about white people on this site, negatively. As in when white people move into neighborhoods that were not previously white it is a negative thing. If the discussion was turned around as in black people “gentrifying” the hills, how would that be taken?

    This is really simplifying the discussion. If this is all you’ve heard, you have not really heard the non-white people who feel marginalized or pushed out.

    Your last question, “If the discussion was turned around as in black people “gentrifying” the hills, how would that be taken?” like the other statement “bigotry comes in all colors” assumes all things being equal. Do you think racially, all things are equal? Has the gentrification of Oakland benefited African Americans equally? If so, why are so many brag about the declining black population and cover it up with “celebrate diversity”?

    I cannot speak for Latinos or Asians, so I can only speak as one African American.

    Reply
  39. MC

    Such a difficult topic. The before pictures show a desolate urban “wasteland.” Are we saying that poor POC only deserve to live in this wasteland? Could we work with the city and the developers to include the current impoverished residents to be able to move into a new place at the same rent??? They did that in the new development at 7th and Market in SF. Instead of just shouting down any change maybe we could try to integrate ourselves into the change because it is going to happen. BTW, I don’t include myself in this “we.” I live in another area of Oakland but not too far from WO.

    Reply
  40. JR

    Haven’t heard people “brag about the declining black population”. Might be a lot of old time Oaklanders getting out of town while things are on the upside. I’m still trying to understand when people talk about displacement, if you own a property you are able sell, and with strong rent control you reap the rewards of a constant rent while your neighborhood improves. Even in the deepest parts of East Oakland an overwhelming majority of the people are trying to do good. But there are a few really bad apples ruining it for everyone else. Some families might have just gotten sick of all the violence.

    “cover it up with celebrate diversity” Some people might feel the same way when talking about admissions for schools or how about getting a job in the city of Oakland.

    “Do you think racially, all things are equal” Of course I don’t. Neither do Cambodians who came from the “killing fields”, or the Irish during the potato famine, or Jews during WWII. We can argue that for eternity, but it is how the individual deals with it that makes the difference. There will never be a completely even playing field.

    Anyways, thank you for the good discussion and I appreciate your point of view.

    Reply
  41. OaklandNative

    JR wrote:

    “Do you think racially, all things are equal” Of course I don’t. Neither do Cambodians who came from the “killing fields”, or the Irish during the potato famine, or Jews during WWII. We can argue that for eternity, but it is how the individual deals with it that makes the difference. There will never be a completely even playing field.”

    That’s a perfect example of deflection or diversion (I forget which one). The issue is gentrification in Oakland. This has nothing to do with Cambodians from the “killing fields,” Jews during WWII.

    Reply
  42. Groucho Again

    “Have you examined your experience as a white male beyond just dismissing any mention of race?”

    Maybe I have, and have come to a different conclusion than you’d like.

    When Blacks were being offered 40 acres and a mule, my ancestors weren’t even *allowed* to own land. Later, if a Jew wanted to move into Garden City, they were regarded as the camel’s nose under the tent, jeopardizing a “traditionally Gentile” community. Out here, of course, we’re just called “white” (which, I guess, makes us “settler colonialists,” even those of us who reject ethnosupremacism as “liberation”)! Seems one just can’t win.

    My point is not to make this a discussion of Jews or Koreans or Indians or any other ethnic group. I’m not the one driving wedges.

    Disagreeing with Oakland Native’s analysis doesn’t mean that one “lacks” an analysis; it means one might disagree. It doesn’t mean one’s ignorant of history; it might just mean one interprets that history differently, or sees it from a different perspective.

    There’s a broad range of possibilities between whitebread assimilation and ghetto cultures. (Incidentally, no one here has yet taken on my example of Temescal as a promising mix.)

    By the way, Oakland Native, I believe you when you say your black neighbors were not thugs. When I lived at 12th and Market, neither were mine — but if I dared ride the 88 bus up Market Street or the 19 through Acorn to the West Oakland BART, I heard “dis niggah, dat nigga” all the time, and (statistics will bear me out) occasionally I was scared to death.

    (Often enough, a black bus driver, to his or her credit, would pull over and kick the offenders off. And those neighbors — and the churches on the block, with the weekly food giveaways for the poor and the parking lots full of Mercedes — will likely survive gentrification. So much for simplistic analyses.)

    And you’re scared of seeing white people on the sidewalk? Who’re you kidding? Now even the word “diversity” is getting a bum rap here. Get over it!

    No, what Oakland needs isn’t more poor neighborhoods, nor to keep neighborhoods (or people of any color) poor. Some people might say I lack understanding or a sense of history or “an analysis,” but I ain’t buyin’.

    Reply
  43. OaklandNative

    Groucho,

    I asked about today’s experience at a white man. What you’ve communicated in your comment is that Jews (like the Irish) were once considered non-white. But now you say that are white. So you really didn’t answer my question.

    However, you put African Americans in that good black-bad black paradigm. So much for the diversity that you celebrate.

    Reply
  44. Groucho Again

    I didn’t call myself white; I said that “out here we’re considered white.” There’s an old observation that “In New York, there are no white people.” (Some self-serving blacks would disagree, and unfortunately, Rudy Giuliani and his plunger-wielding cops may have proven them partly right.)

    The implication, in any event, is that people can be viewed as comprising a multitude of ethnicities. Again, this doesn’t constitute an ignorance of history (willful or otherwise); rather, it’s about recognizing that history can be interpreted differently from different (ethnic) perspectives.

    (FWIW, when a bureaucrat hands me a form that asks for my ethnicity, sometimes I check “Other” and write in “Jewish.” Having visited my grandfather’s grave in Lodz, where the “Jewish-style” tourist restaurants are run by gentiles [the only people left], I don’t think I’m being disingenuous. If blacks here are due reparations, they should be paid by the WASPs who owned slaves, and not by immigrants who were enticed to come here with no intention of being conned into participating in any “black/white” imbroglio.)

    As for Oakland, and that “good-black-bad-black” paradigm — maybe the shoe sometimes fits; if so, so be it. Wanna be my bodyguard on that bus?

    Reply
  45. Groucho Again

    PS: Regarding reparations, etc… Yes, I know about redlining, and so forth. My contention, in any event, is that reparations shouid be extracted from the perpetrators, not the beneficiaries.

    Reply
  46. OaklandNative

    Groucho,

    The good black/bad black paradigm is part of the failure of the diversity bandwagon you say I should join. It’s a myth.

    You tell me I should embrace diversity, then you defend your good black/bad black paradigm, even after I’ve pointed out that it is both offensive and narrow-minded?

    You have a strikingly limited experience with African Americans despite living among us. So how does that “diversity” work? Your comment on our history is also strikingly limited (40 acres and a mule?).

    You defend your ignorance by getting into a strikingly limited history on race construction in America.

    So why did you even both to move around African Americans in the first place? And based on the ignorance of your comments, I don’t see how you can feel so smug and superior.

    Reply
  47. Groucho Again

    As I’ve repeatedly pointed out, it’s not ignorance; it’s disagreement. It’s about a dispsarity in our viewpoints and interpretations, far more than any quibbling over the facts.

    Meanwhile, you haven’t shown how my story about riding that bus is “narrow-minded,” let alone untrue. As for the paradigm, if the shoe fits, sorry if you (obviously a “good black”) nonetheless find it “offensive and narrow-minded.”

    Reply
  48. Groucho Again

    PS: As for that “40 acres”: I never claimed that (in most cases) the promise was ever kept. The Czar’s prohibitions against Jews, nonetheless, were all-too-well enforced — with a pogrom thrown in here and there for good measure. That’s part of my legacy, boundaries notwithstanding. If you claim that it doesn’t count for anything here in Oakland, I won’t call you “ignorant”; you merely have a different perspective on what’s important, based on your own background.

    Reply
  49. Groucho Again

    “So why did you even both to move around African Americans in the first place?”

    LOL! Because at the time. that’s where I could afford to live, and I had no prejudice against living there! I ended up staying for seven years, loving my neighbors and learning a lot from them (even when we disagreed). 🙂

    So there!

    Reply
  50. OaklandNative

    Groucho,

    You lived among us because that was all you could afford? That makes you essentially one of us. Doesn’t that blow up your whole “good black/bad black” paradigm? Or do you need that good/bad thing to make yourself feel superior? How does that fit in with your “diversity” thing?

    Reply
  51. OaklandNative

    Groucho,
    You wrote that I was “obviously a good black.” What good about it? What’s “obvious” about it? Are you a “good Jew”? Are you a “good white”? Is it “obvious” as well?

    Reply
  52. Grocho goes Queer

    Funny you should ask. This is actually familiar territory. I’m also gay, and we’ve been struggling with this “assimilation” vs. “authenticity” issue for quite awhile now. I think it’s bogus: the real question is the nature and openness of the society & culture into which one assimilates. (Whether and where poverty is a viable or desirable option is yet another question.)

    Come to think of it, Jews have been struggling with this “assimilation” question for even longer. (As you might recall, the very word “ghetto” was invented for us.

    We often couch the question as one of “universalism” vs. “particularism.” I tend to be a fairly extreme universalist. My approach to “diversity” is in that larger context.

    Reply
  53. BayMetro

    “Groucho” is a perfect example of one of the problems people have with gentrification. He has totally tried to take over this discussion, and has replied back to nearly every poster who he disagrees with.

    Groucho, you need to understand that this is NOT about YOU. It is not about what you think, it is not about your philosophies. Sure, you are welcomed to share your perspective, but you are NOT welcomed to take over a discussion where lifelong residents of Oakland are expressing their concern (or even excitement for) how developments like this will affect the future of Oakland. You have already alluded to the fact that you are from the East Coast. While you being an East Coast native may not lessen how much you care for Oakland, you can never have the same deep love and connection for Oakland that people who, like myself, were born and raised here have.

    I would advise everyone to think twice before engaging in further discussion with “Groucho”. He doesn’t seem open to hearing the perspectives of people who have ideas different than him. Instead, he seems like someone whose only desire here is to cause further dissension over a topic that is already a huge point of contention in Oakland. He’s almost troll-like.

    Reply
  54. Groucho OnceMore

    I’ve lived in Oakland for well over a decade, and in the Bay Area for several. This is my home, and I care about the place. Perhaps (for that reason) I’ve become over-engaged in this discussion, but I haven’t tried to silence anyone else. I resent the personal attack. I’m your neighbor. Get used to it.

    Reply
  55. Groucho OnceMore

    By the way, I’m open to all sorts of ideas — but I disagree with the notion that “some ideas are more equal than others” because of where the person in question was born, or that anyone has a right to live here in perpetuity because they were here first. No, this isn’t just about me. Ironic, indeed!

    Reply
  56. JR

    BayMetro-

    As a native Oaklander myself, I find it extremely pompous and arrogant of you to claim that just because you have lived here your entire life that your opinion matters more than someone who has moved here, whether recent or long term. There are other posters on this thread and the website who post frequently as well, but since they share your general opinion I guess it is all right. There was also an anti-Oakland getting better, aka gentrification, article from a council member’s assistant telling me I should say good morning to drug dealers, pimps, and street people. She has only been in Oakland for a few years, is that okay with you for her to state her opinion?

    I welcome and thank people like Groucho for moving into Oakland, especially when he/she(?) did. These people care about this city and are bringing a new refreshing outlook to Oakland that is being noticed throughout the country. I remember the days when the only thing associated with Oakland was drug dealing, prostitution and murder. Now I can’t even keep up with all of the awesome events, restaurants and bars opening up now. People from all over coming to enjoy my town, awesome! Not to mention the neighborhoods that I would never think would be able to turn around are on the come up or flat out nice.

    Now for the inevitable “displacement” argument. Please tell me how people are being displaced when homeowners are seeing increases in their property values and with a strong rent control, renters are enjoying cleaned up neighborhoods at rents that were market rate years ago.

    BayMetro quotes: “Goucho is a perfect example of one of the problems people have with gentrification. He has totally tried to take over this discussion, and has replied back to nearly every poster who he disagrees with.”

    “I would advise everyone to think twice before engaging in further discussion with “Groucho”. He doesn’t seem open to hearing the perspectives of people who have ideas different than him.”

    BayMetro- take a look in the mirror, you just described yourself.

    Reply
  57. bob

    It’s just not going to be as fun anymore. We already hardly hear any shootings around here (used to happen **at least** four nights a week, **at least**).

    The hope is that one force the WOSP will never be able to disrupt is the mattresses on sidewalks. Those things are so cute! They also do wonders to property values – even though I bought my house for half a million, I’m paying taxes on 160K. Moar mattresses, more trash, moar defenestrations, moar!

    Reply
  58. OaklandNative

    JR,

    I’ve read comments on here where newcomers said that they were “cleaning up” a community and making it simply better because they moved in. They claimed the people didn’t care about their homes, etc. because they didn’t cut their grass or paint their houses. They claimed that certain activities that went on in a neighborhood were offensive to them, so when they moved in, they tried to change them.

    If you move into an established community, you should respect the people living there. So yes, a newcomer may not understand why something is a certain way. An old-timer might have been doing something for years because he liked doing it. A community might accept certain activities because they’re used to it. Sometimes, they have become a part of the community’s fabric and the people might know and love them. A newcomer might walk in and offend everyone but that one person.

    That’s why you look into a neighborhood before you move into it. That’s commonsense 101.

    Reply
  59. JR

    I can see someone not being able to afford to do upkeep on their property, but you don’t have to have money to be clean and make your property look presentable. I realize that is in the eyes of the beholder.

    “A community might accept certain activities because they’re used to it. Sometimes, they have become a part of the community’s fabric and the people might know and love them.”
    If you are talking about illegal acts being accepted, I 100% disagree with you. This acceptance of these acts is a huge reason why Oakland has had a hard time getting better. The “no snitching” rule. These types of attitudes make it hard for the majority of the people living in those neighborhoods to have a high quality of life.

    I welcome people coming in and trying to do better for their neighborhoods, no matter what is considered acceptable. Sometimes you need that outside perspective to give you a little help. People have become so jaded here that normal has gone crazy and the level of acceptance of bad deeds has gone over the cliff.

    Reply
  60. R2D2II

    “A newcomer may not understand why something is a certain way. An old-timer might have been doing something for years because he liked doing it. A community might accept certain activities because they’re used to it. Sometimes, they have become a part of the community’s fabric and the people might know and love them. A newcomer might walk in and offend everyone but that one person.”

    Perfectly expressed: the very essence of minds closed to what’s not familiar and ready to react against change.

    If anything is certain, it is change. The powerful social economic forces in the adjoining parts of this region cannot be avoided in Oakland.

    Oakland needs leaders who can open minds and welcome the progression of change. And help our communities grow into the future.

    Reply
  61. OaklandNative

    R2
    Maybe you have a point. Maybe we like our communities and don’t want outsiders telling us what to change when they don’t even know what’s going on.

    Things will change. We can decide when, how and what to change.

    Maybe outsiders don’t like what we have. They don’t have to move near us. We didn’t ask them to move here. So if they really don’t like it, they can leave.

    Reply
  62. OaklandNative

    R2 and Groucho,

    For people who come here to change us, why don’t they change the places they came from?

    Reply
  63. Groucho Returns

    As it happens, I support the “no snitching” rule. Cops are rarely the answer; this (on both sides) is about who gets to live in the neighborhood and determine its ethos, and what sort of ethos (excluding cops) is preferable. So much for closed-mindedness, let alone being a troll.

    On the other hand, how ironic when someone (ostensibly anti-racist) says, “That’s why you look into a neighborhood before you move into it”! I remember the days when prospective home-buyers would cruise the streets, checking out an area — and, at the sight of “colored people,” would decide not to buy there. Do we really want a return to THAT ethos?

    Finally, we have, “You can never have the same deep love and connection for Oakland that people who, like myself, were born and raised here have.”

    Where have I heard that before, as a Jew?

    This isn’t just about me, or about Jews. We’re all indigenous to Planet Earth. Forget about that old “Go back where you came from” bulls**t, or about hanging onto a ghetto mentality. We’re all already here.

    Reply
  64. JR

    OaklandNative

    What kind of changes specifically are you talking about? What kind of actions/conditions are newcomers trying to change? From what you have heard or witnessed.

    Reply
  65. Groucho Gambino

    BtW, there’s something to be said for the notion that even (some) criminals want to keep their own neighborhoods safe. Back East, places like Little Italy were always notoriously tranquil and secure. There are all sorts of ways of doing business, legal and otherwise.

    Reply
  66. BayMetro

    JR,

    Excellent job putting words I never said into my mouth. When did I ever say or even insinuate that my being an Oakland native makes my “opinion matter more than someone who has moved here….”?

    What I actually said:

    Being a non-native to Oakland may not lessen the care someone has for Oakland, and that they are always welcomed to share their perspectives (in case your reading comprehension is lacking, what this means is someone not from Oakland can care a great deal about it and should also be able to share their perspective). But I also said that in sharing your perspective, there is no need to take over a discussion and reply to every poster who shares an opinion different than yours. I practice what I preach. When I did social justice work in Los Angeles, I, though a non-native, cared immensely for the city and for its under-resourced neighborhoods and residents. But by the same token, I knew when to step back and provide space for residents who had been born and raised there. I knew that no matter how much social justice work I had done for LA, and no matter how much I had an affinity for that city, that there were people who were from that city who shared a connection much deeper than I ever could. I shared my perspectives without jumping on everyone who didn’t agree with what I had to say. In other words, I didn’t overtake space in discussions and forums.

    Another thing:

    Your happiness with people like “Groucho” moving to Oakland, and your belief that gentrification is “making Oakland better” was already acknowledged by me before you even posted it. In that same post of mine you’re replying to, I said: “Sure, you are welcomed to share your perspective, but you are NOT welcomed to take over a discussion where lifelong residents of Oakland are expressing their concern (or even EXCITEMENT for) how developments like this will affect the future of Oakland.”

    Did you not read that part? Or did you only nitpick the parts of my post you didn’t like? I clearly made it a point to point out the fact that some lifelong residents, like you, are “excited” for gentrification. But instead of actually thoroughly reading my post, you found it more necessary to jump to Groucho’s defense. The same Groucho who called me an “outsider” because my use of a word like “appropriate” made it impossible to be a product of OUSD. The same Groucho who questioned how I’ve contributed to making Oakland better without asking himself that same question.

    If all you got from what I said is what you replied with, then it just goes to show that you missed the entire point. The point was that none of this is just about YOU, or Groucho, or even me. If you’re for the gentrification of Oakland, that’s your prerogative. But it is not fair to overtake a discussion and basically blast any- and everyone who doesn’t agree with you.

    JR – I just took a look in the mirror. And what I saw was nothing like what I described Groucho to be ;-).

    Reply
  67. Groucho Reciproctes

    Bay Metro

    Thank YOU for putting words in MY mouth. I never called you an “outsider”; in fact, I complimented you for your remaining here and working with local youth to help overcome some of the shortcomings of the underfunded public school system — shortcomings that the very need for such work implicitly acknowledges. On the other hand, speaking of branding people as “outsiders”…

    Please don’t dominate the rap, jack — that’s right, that means you — especially with what’s starting to smell like an all-too-familiar, invented claim to some sort of special entitlement based on “blood and soil.”

    That sort of thinking has nothing to do with diversity, or even equality. In fact, it belongs on the trash-heap of history, along with “national socialism.”

    Reply
  68. Groucho OnceMore

    Bay Metro

    Thank YOU for putting words in MY mouth. I never called you an “outsider”; in fact, I complimented you for your remaining here and working with local youth to help overcome some of the shortcomings of the underfunded public school system — shortcomings that the very need for such work implicitly acknowledges. On the other hand, speaking of branding people as “outsiders”…

    Please don’t dominate the rap, jack — right, that means you! — especially with what’s starting to smell like an all-too-familiar claim to special entitlement based on “blood and soil,” and hostility to “outsiders.” That sort of thinking has nothing to do with diversity, or even equality. It belongs on the trash-heap of history, along with “national socialism.”

    Reply
  69. A

    “Maybe you have a point. Maybe we like our communities and don’t want outsiders telling us what to change when they don’t even know what’s going on.

    Things will change. We can decide when, how and what to change.”

    Too bad (not really) you don’t get to decide. There is a wave that is coming over the whole Bay area that you’re not going to stop or dictate. The question is, why hasn’t anything changed for the past 20 years? You had all that time to decide when, how, and what to change, but now you think you can somehow magically dictate what other people can do to change Oakland? You’re going to disappointed.

    “Maybe outsiders don’t like what we have. They don’t have to move near us. We didn’t ask them to move here. So if they really don’t like it, they can leave.”

    Funny, outsiders do like what you have and they have the means to be here. If you don’t like it, you can leave anytime you want. You try so hard to project that you have privilege being a native, but the reality is you don’t. You’re not special and you don’t get to decide who can live here. It’s a free a country. People can move and live wherever they can afford. Again, you’re going to be disappointed.

    Reply
  70. Groucho Marxist

    “A,”

    Hey, let’s have some mutual respect here. Money ain’t everything, either. I’m against pitchforks-and-torches xenophobia, but if you want to be a good neighbor and expect to be treated in kind, don’t come marching in with a chip on your shoulder. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    See, Bay Metro… Now you’ve seen a real troll.

    Reply
  71. BayMetro

    Groucho,

    Oh, right. You didn’t call me an “outsider”. What you called me was a “WANNABE”, and your justification for calling me that was my use of the word “appropriate”, a word that couldn’t possibly have been uttered by an OUSD alumnus, right?

    So, while you may not have explicitly called me an “outsider”, (as I admittedly incorrectly said you did) your implication was still the same by calling me a “wannabe”. Nice try though.

    Reply
  72. Groucho Responds

    Bay Metro, no need to take this so personally. I’ve already written (long ago), “I admire (am even inspired by) the work you’ve done.” In effect, that’s a “mea culpa.” FWIW (if this wasn’t already evident), I apologize for the “wannabe” remark.

    Nonetheless, you’ve also (deliberately?) disregarded my observation about your “working with local youth [however admirable, being necessary] to help overcome some of the [obviously very real] shortcomings of the underfunded public school system.” In other words, in my ribbing you for your remark about “appropriating culture,” I wasn’t just stereotyping.

    You actually raise some very interesting questions, though they may stem from an ideological disparity between us (a disparity that’s also arisen between others in this discussion) involving two related issues.

    One of these issues (though I’m aware I oversimplify here) is whether poverty is best addressed by (class) mobility or by (class) solidarity — to which the answer will largely depend on the extent to which one believes capitalism is merely flawed or irredeemably and inherently unjust — indeed, the extent to which one considers “class” an immutable identity at all. I would submit that there is room for legitimate differences and disagreement regarding such questions. (Please note, however, that unlike “A,” I don’t subscribe to a “class war” scenario and merely take the side of the rich — a position I consider both cruel and grotesque.)

    Moreover, even if one subscribes to a class analysis and believes that capitalism is unreformable and irredeemable, it’s pretty pathetic to watch this play out as a war between the lumpenproletariat and the petty-bourgeouisie — while meanwhile the 1% go laughing all the way to the bank.

    The other set of issues here, however, revolves around the question of “indigenousness” or nativism — a term historically used to refer to anti-immigrant sentiment, but one that has far broader and deeper implications. On such questions, I’m far less open to disparate viewpoints.

    When confronted by the allegation, “you can never have the same deep love and connection for Oakland that people who, like myself, were born and raised here have,” I hear the voice of the German gauleiter, or of much of France during the Dreyfus affair. (Though this may come as a surprise, in both instances such xenophobia was coupled with anti-imperialist rhetoric and grievances: in France after the loss of the Franco-Prussian War, in Germany after the loss of World War I.)

    We could easily become mired here in a discussion of race in America, or even of Zionism and its opposition, but suffice it to say that (as I wrote earlier) I’m a universalist — and that while (evidently unlike “A”) I believe deeply in being a good neighbor (and have made my home in Oakland for well over a decade), I cannot countenance fear and resentment of outsiders having a place in any would-be solution.

    This leaves us with a very real and very interesting question (as a microcosm of both our agreements and disagreements) in terms of education. Would we truly be better off continuing with an underfunded, “troubled” [your word!] school system ameliorated by home-grown mentoring efforts like your own, or with Oakland becoming more of a middle-class town that demands a school system to match?

    I don’t claim to be an expert on such questions, but I believe that this is, indeed, a matter of philosophy rather than of expertise. Perhaps it shouldn’t be seen as an either/or question. Wasn’t it some black guy that asked, “Can’t we all get along?”

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  73. OaklandNative

    Groucho,

    Metro and I are looking at Oakland through growing up here. You’re debating Oakland through abstractions and theories that I may not agree with (where does Oakland’s significant middle-class African American population fit into your argument). I may not even think some of your theories/abstractions apply (i.e., your comparison to French and German history). I think universalism is a myth and naive. I am a capitalist. Thus, I am personally disconnected from the Oakland you describe. Perhaps that helps answer your use of Rodney King’s “Can we all just get along?”

    In some ways, that might sound like I would be defending “A.” He is speaking from his (limited) experiences, thus he is a product of that environment. But as he has repeatedly stated, his experiences have been very limited. His experiences often have nothing to do with what he writes about.

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  74. Oakie

    Groucho,
    That’s quite a tour de force. Bravo. Welcome to our city and thanks for your contribution.

    Reply
  75. Hope

    A different perspective from someone who has worked in planning: Don’t get too hooked by what the drawings show. Regular folks are not the primary audience for official plans and their renderings. They are really targeted toward property developers and other real estate interests, because the city is hoping to attract their capital to leverage private investment to gain public good — infrastructure upgrades that the city can’t afford (financially or politically) to do by itself and commercial activity that the city can only encourage, not provide (legally governments can’t intervene in commerce – now don’t smirk). Also, if the city doesn’t have a specific plan that regulates FUTURE development, we all risk getting crap development you can’t do anything about, if/when private capital sees a money-making opportunity in WO and starts building whatever they want.

    So the problem isn’t really this particular OSP — even though it seems like it. The drawings become a target, of course, for one of our big civic arguments — “Who gets to decide what my city will be like?” We’re never going to agree 100% on that. However, there’s a lot of things that should be in a specific plan that may seem obvious yet can be lost if not required: different sizes and types of of parks distributed in relevant places; bike lanes that connect to transit; safe intersections and cross-walks that are located where people want to cross; landscaping that won’t cost too much in maintenance; small blocks and small lot sizes for relatively affordable property; street parking as well as parking lots, etc. (Housing and other policies go in another set of regulations that apply citywide.) It has always seemed to me that the best neighborhoods and areas are the ones where people in neighborhoods are involved (face-to-face) in planning the area that will support their lives and hopes, and they work with each other as a community to get to know and tolerate their differences and find their common ground. If we want to leave the city planning up to the love/hate relationship between government planners and big-pocket property owners and developers, we’re going to be presented with competent, corporate visions of the future, not “our” more tailored, individualized vision.

    You see the problem — small-scale community planning takes a lot of time and unpaid interpersonal effort by members of communities. Not popular, not highly visible. It doesn’t help also that it feels to some of us like we’re actually “doing something” to post an anonymous message that few people will actually read and that will become irrelevant within minutes. Many people who are working “in the trenches” to better their own communities might just not have the time to read comment streams like this one. I dunno.

    For the record, I admire anyone and everyone who is working at the individual, family and neighborhood level to plan their city and especially to empower people who are poor, whether they are financially poor, spiritually poor, mentally poor, physically poor, poor in role models, etc. If we want to sustain a democracy, this is the fundamental maintenance work. It’ll help us plan better and understand plans better, too.

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  76. Groucho Marx

    Hope,

    You’ve indeed added an interesting, worthwhile, and down-to-earth perspective to this discussion!

    I wonder, however, about something you say toward the end, about admiring those who work to “empower people who are poor… whether they are financially poor, spiritually poor, mentally poor,” etc. Should we be looking to empower them *as* poor, or seeking to encourage and equip them to lift themselves out of their (financial, spiritual, mental) poverty?

    Do we really want to (further) empower those who are “spiritually poor” — i.e., lacking in compassion? Don’t the Koch Brothers already have enough power? 😉

    Reply
  77. Lo Gotti

    Have you ever made a 911 call? Those mfkas don’t ever come. All I am going to say is: I think those who are NOT against it do not understand the systemic issues involved.

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  78. madasHamlet

    No, Groucho. Living in Oakland for “well over a decade” is NOT the same as being born and raised here and living here through the 80s and 90s. Not even effing close. I’m glad you like our town. But you are not a native; you, I’m sorry, are not one of us. You are, for lack of a better term, an implant. Please realize that. You might live here, but you are not OF here.

    Also, you did do exactly what the previous poster said–you rode into the discussion, tried to hijack it and make it all about YOU. This discussion is about OAKLAND. And your “good Black/bad Black” comments? Racist, actually. You might want to check yourself and come to a different conclusion than the one you did at first.

    Reply

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