I was meeting with clients on 85th Avenue bordering International Boulevard, which consists of a series of warehouses, mixed-use spaces, and affordable housing projects that some consider the industrial parts of East Oakland. Coliseum City has the potential to be a monumental transformational project for Oakland for many reasons.

Light Industry Helps Because the Area is Prime for Manufacturing of All Types

I sell commercial spaces at times. I am a witness to the lost industrial buildings that have been sitting empty for decades. I see the urban sprawl and the deep side of Oakland that begs for revitalization, but this project is bigger than Jean Quan’s stoplight issues and the ineffective leadership of the City Council.

If we bring in the right partners to Coliseum City, we can rebuild a large subsection of East Oakland. Please listen, I am not just talking about new buildings or new BART stations; I am talking about human beings who need new jobs and new training.

Jobs Help Lower Crime Rates

Coliseum City could be a huge “job training” program for thousands of inner city people, and by bringing in organizations of all sizes and shapes to help recruit, train, and build up the people, we would be lowering our crime rate. This is a long-term dream. This is not an overnight project: this project would require serious consideration from the rich guys who eventually will front the money for the project.

New Job Skills Lift People Out of Poverty

However, Oakland city leaders have never been great about creating innovative work training programs for the ‘hood. But just think if they could marry the rich guys that own the Raiders and A’s, then bring in Federal Government support, then bring along some of our cool tech titans just 20 minutes south to help. This project could train thousands of men and women in Oakland who need the skills to prosper in the 21st century.

New tech has a place in the area because of its close proximity to San Francisco. Silicon Valley is close by and transportation is the best in the Bay Area.

Some people don’t care about Coliseum City. I understand that, but when you add in the benefits of restoring, rehabilitating, and helping poor folks get new skills, then this project quite frankly becomes transformational on all levels. And that, my friends, requires thinking bigger and being Jobs-like in mindset.

Coliseum City is similar to FDR building Highway 1. Decades later, it is the most popular drive in the world, and if Coliseum City had the right minds behind it, we could put people back to work and retrain people out of poverty and crime at the same time.

Put More Pressure on the NFL and Roger Goodell

Sounds crazy, huh? Not really, because American sports’ best athletes come from the ‘hood. Oakland’s Marshawn Lynch, star running back of the Seattle Seahawks, is a product of Oakland. Investment from the NFL not only helps the shield (i.e., the logo brand of NFL), but it puts the NFL in the position of giving back to a city that has been giving to it for many decades with one of the most loyal fan bases in the nation.

I have listened to city leaders complain about lost money stemming from the A’s not paying their fair share of taxes. I agree that cities should not foot the bill for billionaires, because when normal people start their businesses, nobody gives them billions of dollars in entitlements. What would be incredible, though, is if leaders talked about rebuilding those lost souls, unemployed minorities, and youth who have no future right now.

I do think when you look at poverty-stricken conditions in a community, whether it is Oakland or any other community, people need skills and jobs. By building up Coliseum City, we have the opportunity to train a workforce from the ‘hood while at the same time helping to raise some people out of poverty.

Jails and more police cannot accomplish that—those are deterrents. Changing people’s lives through education, training, and the skills needed to compete in the global workforce are transformational.

It’s time for Oakland to act more like a power player instead of a procrastinator. As a lifelong resident and now a businessman, I say it is time for Oakland to make a smart business deal to help change the future.

Jonathan Fleming runs a full-service real estate services firm in the Bay Area. His company handles sales, leasing and management of residential and commercial properties throughout northern California. He can be reached at (510) 250-0946 or (800) 892-1755, extension 7.

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.
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6 Responses

  1. Oakie

    First off, jobs do not correlate to lower crime in Oakland, no matter how much you want to believe it. New York City lowered their crime rate by 80% in the 1990’s (nationwide crime went down 40%, in Oakland crime did not go down at all) and their employment rates did not change. Crime goes down when there’s a suitable policing strategy such as what Bratton brought to New York. Nothing else has worked nearly as well, if at all (Ceasefire is mostly smoke and mirrors, almost entirely delusional on the part of the True Believers Who Can’t Stand Bratton).

    Furthermore, if jobs are created, and they’re well paying, people from all over the Bay Area will take some if not most. Most East Oakland residents will likely not because they do not have the skill sets required or motivation (nor are the billionaire owners going to pay for what is really needed in the schools, nor are they proposing it).

    Those that do already compete effectively for all the jobs in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Creating a fake “job creation” spectacle will not change things beyond the self-delusional cheering squads of said True Believers ready to stand in front of the TV cameras.

    The main slight of hand I see here is the admittance, initially, that Oakland taxpayers should not give money away to the billionaire owners of commercial gladiator sports teams.

    And then the “but…” abrupt change of topic to the poor, the “lost souls, unemployed minorities, and youth who have no future right now,” and jails, etc.

    If it is not apparent to everyone, the billionaire owners of these commercial gladiator spectacles don’t give a damn about anything but their own profits.

    They are perfectly happy to manipulate the intellectually challenged politicians we call our leaders. They certainly come forward to protect their profits by playing moral leaders when their flock of overpaid over-drugged brutes get caught illegally abusing steroids and other methods of performance enhancement, beat their women into unconsciousness, beat their children, etc. while obfuscating the clear impact of concussion caused CTE necessary to ensure the sparkle of the gladiator spectacles, drugs allowing their injured employees to continue to play long after what health experts would advise, etc.

    Is the flim flam not obvious?

    Not one more cent of taxpayer money or special privileged variances allowed by our government to these less than honest billionaires and their shills.

    Reply
  2. OaklandNative

    I like the writer’s argument that building the community is important. People in that community pay taxes too.

    I would like to focus on income inequality and empowering the existing community. Crime is only a secondary issue, from my experience.

    Reply
  3. Nikki H.

    One the one hand I am not a sports fan, especially not football for that matter, and I don’t like the idea of taxpayers giving special incentives and footing the bill for billionaires, etc.

    On the other hand, I live in Oakland, and I just don’t see how building up the Coliseum area isn’t a necessity at this point. The fact is that the stadiums are already there, and if the teams leave what will become of them, more blight..

    I am embarrassed when people visit from out of town and see a Raiders game and want to go grab some dinner after and I have to tell them to take the BART elsewhere because there is NOTHING around the Coliseum to keep people around spending their money. I had one couple “walk” around the area looking for a restaurant or coffee shop and I had to direct them to walk across 880 to Hegenberger Rd. since that is the ONLY thing around there and a Walmart parking lot Starbucks and Wingstop aren’t bringing in the type of economic activity and amenities one would expect close to major sports stadiums.

    I have also worked with some of the industrial businesses on Edgewater Dr. and I know of some employees who live in Alameda to be close but don’t feel safe living in that section of Oakland, or want to be around more “activity” such as having shops and restaurants to go to. Also these people go to Alameda for lunch since there are not many restaurants around there. How great would it be if current residents could get some jobs close by their place, and prospective employees of new tech or manufacturing businesses could feel ok living close by?

    My take is even if some rich cats get richer doing this, it will also elevate the quality of life in the area, bring some much needed economic activity and jobs, and encourage other types of investment as development often does. As much as the current residents are more important than sports, they don’t have the $$ to build anything or bring business to their hood.

    There are always two sides of a coin, but I just don’t really see how the alternative of either the status quo or further deterioration and blight is the better way to go.

    Reply

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