The following top reads from the past week at Oakland Local and Live Work Oakland make up a poignant portrait of a city undergoing transformation. Nothing has been left untouched by the demographic swelling and shrinking happening around us. Here, we try to make sense of these changes before it’s too late to reverse, guide or capitalize on them.

In the midst of the emotionally volatile yet abstract gentrification debates, a document like the West Oakland Specific Plan is tangible and, well, specific. The development renderings depict a West Oakland transformed beyond recognizability. But do neighborhood plans really possess such powers of controlled execution? Here’s what you need to know about the WOSP regarding housing displacement, jobs and retail. Read up, then join the conversation about what’s best for West Oakland.

Khevin LaGrone’s community voices piece, A Blemish on Oakland’s Gentrification, anticipates the effect of Oakland’s influx of higher-income families on our public school system. Has the higher tax base led to a strengthening of OUSD?

Laura McCamy documents the staggering rate at which rents continue to rise in Oakland, outpacing San Jose and San Francisco. Her companion piece, 5 Tips for buying a house in Oakland, is more crucial now than ever before.

The flipside of urban development, always closely yoked, always its inverted twin image, is urban decay. Tech, yuppies and organic produce are not the only things being imported across county lines to Oakland. Guns, the ultimate instrument of desperate urban survival in a time of displacement, map the story of another Bay Area market. Read here to find out where our city’s guns come from.

Lastly, the beacon of democratic society, the Public Library is no longer on sturdy funding ground. This represents a serious case of priority-confusion for a city with growing tax revenues. Read Nilo Gardezi’s piece to find just what we’d lose if we lost the library, and how that fate can be prevented.

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