Does Oakland Really Care About Economic Development?

Zennie Abraham / Zennie62
Zennie Abraham / Zennie62

Oakland used to have a great economic development effort, but now, in the wake of the death of California Redevelopment, it’s just plain dead on arrival. A search for “Oakland Economic Development” in Google shows a first page that represents Oakland’s program, but as of this writing, it basically tells you we don’t have a program at all.

This is the first thing you see on the page:

Community & Economic Development Agency (CEDA) Dissolved

On December 29, 2011, the California Supreme Court upheld two bills that were part of the State of California’s efforts to close its significant budget deficit last year. In its ruling, the Court upheld ABx126, which eliminated Redevelopment Agencies throughout California. It also struck down ABx127, which would have allowed redevelopment agencies to remain in operation as long as they made payment to the State. The Court’s ruling set February 1, 2012, as the dissolution date for Redevelopment Agencies, and left no mechanism for reinstatement.

For the City of Oakland, the loss of Redevelopment funding created a potential budget gap of about $28 million – approximately $8.2 million in FY 2011-12 (February-June 2012) and approximately $20.3 million in FY 2012-13.

An Amended Policy Budget for Fiscal Year 2011-13 was adopted by the City Council on January 31 which closed the gap through significant organizational restructuring into a flatter, more traditional structure.

That is awful.

Imagine what a manufacturer in Germany who’s seeking to relocate, hears about Oakland, and finds that page, will think? They will believe we can’t help them and don’t have our act together. That page is our ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FACE to the World, and it presents us as for all practical purposes, without a face – dead.

Meanwhile, the Community Development Block Grant Program has an initiative Oakland can use to basically replace Calfornia Redevelopment. Have we used it as of now? Nope.

This is awful.

We have a high unemployment rate, yet our Oakland City Council has done nothing at all to work to reduce it. Nothing. All I get from each Councilmember is a press release about some crime-reduction program. In other words, forget about bringing jobs to Oakland for those who don’t have them and may feel compelled to commit a crime, we will just make sure we can arrest them.

That’s just plain wrong.

Rebecca Kaplan is the current Oakland City Council At-Large Representative and President. She’s also running for Mayor of Oakland. I reached out to her on Twitter to share my concerns, and try to engage her to help change a simple, but important, web page, and she basically said we have to wait until she’s Mayor of Oakland – which may never happen. Watch:

But if you don’t want to displace residents, you make sure there are better paying jobs for those residents – we have not done that. Oakland politicians are consistently drunk on the idea that in order to stay popular they have to repeat words like “tech” or “biotech” and that will do the trick. That’s a cruel joke.

We have enough housing; what we have are people who don’t have good jobs, seeing their lives threatened by those who do, and work in San Francisco or the West Bay. We need manufacturing jobs, and anyone who tells you they don’t exist doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

We continued…

See?

We can’t wait. Oakland should not wait. Moreover, I’m really disppointed that Rebecca keeps thinking it’s about her campaign for Mayor. It’s about caring about Oakland.

I’m convinced there are many people who just don’t care enough to fight for Oakland. Sadly, some of them are our elected officials.

About the Author

Zennie Abraham
Zennie Abraham | Zennie Abraham or "Zennie62" is the founder of Zennie62Media which consists of zennie62blog.com and a multimedia blog news aggregator and video network, and 78-blog network, with social media and content development services and consulting. Zennie is a pioneer video blogger, YouTube Partner, social media practitioner, game developer, and pundit. Note: news aggregator content does not reflect the personal views of Mr. Abraham.

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