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.

6 Responses

  1. R2D2II

    Reports like this are likely to be much more credible, not to mention interesting, when a dose of reality is injected from time to time.

    A piece that sounds pretty much like a mayoral candidate’s campaign launch couldn’t be more of a yawn.

    Wouldn’t take a lot of research to blow a few holes in Quan’s claims about how far Oakland has come during her reign of error.

    For example “crime is flattening or trending down.” Lots of informed people would disagree strongly. In fact murders are up 25% thus far this year from last.

    Or, “we’re not going to be a city of rich and poor.” But we are a city of really rich and really poor. This isn’t going to change with a promise of 2000 minimum wage summer jobs for youngsters.

    Best would be some caveat that Quan is almost never forthright, never takes responsibility for her role in ongoing problems, and always has problems with relationships with people who can think for themselves like City Administrator Santana who is on her way out.

  2. Len Raphael

    Never ceases to astound me that city officials equate summer jobs programs with encouraging the kind economic development which provides permanent, decent paying jobs with benefits for people instead of just for software engineers, lawyers, accountants (that’s me), real estate developers, and anti-violence program counselors.

  3. Len Raphael

    Mustn’t forget that other major employment success claimed by city officials: jobs as food servers and cooks in fancy restaurants.

  4. Tim

    Don’t mock food service jobs. Those are the jobs we have and those are jobs that don’t require a college degree or any particular fancy training. The factories aren’t coming back and neither are the big department stores downtown that employed thousands in the old days. If oakland actually were booming, we’d have a lot more construction jobs – also relatively well-paying jobs not requiring a degree.

  5. Len Raphael

    For all the fury over fast food restaurant low wages and no benefits, we should also find out how much fancy restaurants pay and the working conditions before we congratulate ourselves on our economic/job growth in Oakland.

    How many of the nicer restaurants started here because the rent was much lower than SF and there was no health insurance requirement?

  6. livegreen

    Actually there are a # of manufactures in Oakland. A lot of it is around food and metal fabrication. There’s also art fabrication & installation, sculptors, and design companies that have expanded beyond their “makers movement” origins.


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