Let me start by saying I was born and raised in Oakland and so was my mom. I am second generation Oakland grown and I came from a poor family and lived in lower class neighborhoods surrounded by section 8 apartment complexes patrolled by the Oakland Housing Authority.
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I love what’s happening to my city. It may be the best Oakland’s ever been. But then again I’ve only been around since 1979.
We’ve recently made all sorts of “top list” and places to visit and so on. I’ll touch more on that later.
I actually can’t stand the word and the way people use it.
Now a days when you hear the word gentrification it is often thought of as “white people moving in and pushing out other races of low income”.
The actual definition is as follows:
Definition of GENTRIFICATION: The process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.
So as you see, by definition it is a neighborhood getting better, prettier, offering more options, more places to work, more companies moving in, better housing and so on(all terrible things).
And what I hate even more is the “opposite of gentrification”, white flight.
People claim white people leaving Oakland ruined Oakland and now white people coming to Oakland is ruining Oakland.
People are not being “pushed out” of Oakland. I have rent control and while everyone moving into my neighborhood is paying $400 to $800 more than me right now it did not push me out. My proxy Orinda based landlord abuses these increases too and I have had to appeal via the rent adjustment board.
People are not being evicted or forced to move(without reason, there are a few cases but it is not the standard).
The first wave of people actually left willingly and sold their houses making the current situation possible. People were selling their own homes that they’ve had forever now that the value has increased greatly and choosing to move to other less expensive locations with better school districts but that’s their own personal smart choice. If this is the reason they are leaving in numbers then so be it. They choose to do so themselves and the home has probably been bought and fixed up(usually just painted) adding to the neighborhood.
The rent board laws in Oakland protect you really well from false evictions. My gentrifying proxy Orinda landlord has been trying to get me out since he bought the foreclosing building 3 years ago. I’ve been in this unit over 10 years.
(Update, I moved out of Oakland, screw that guy, more later. keep reading)
I understand some people lose their place unjustly and can not afford to stay anymore but this is not the typical case and not why Oakland’s demographic is changing.
I myself may unjustly lose my place now that I have a new gentrifier landlord.
IF for some reason I got evicted then I would be in a situation where I would have to pay a lot more to stay in Oakland. So in that sense I am at risk and I could be displaced from my home town.
He has tried twice now but Measure EE protects me.
Anyways, what about the people who did not sell their house and decide to stay in the now upcoming neighborhood?
They are getting more options, more places to shop, eat at, work at, drink at etc.
I will also say my neighborhood is untouched, no new options, still ghetto and even has more crime now. I have not “benefited” from close to home improvements but my landlord is still ripping people off.
Price Of Food Going Up?
Not really, sure now you have the option to get a $16 dollar burger at some new hipster food joint that never even existed before, but you can still get the same old $1 burgers from McDonald’s, or microwave burrito from the ghetto-mart.
The $16 burger is just one more new option that wasn’t there yesterday. You’re not being forced to eat there. But it sure is good and you want to!
I have seen the price of my favorite burrito go from $3.50 to $6 and that is just the cost of living and demand. Burrito prices are the same everywhere I go.
I guess I should vent that I really do have a problem with $10 Mac & Cheese or $9 waffles and these people are ripping off Oakland residents, but all you can do is boycott it and not go there. I sure won’t.
Also a lot of food downtown doesn’t even care about Oakland at all. The stores pop up Monday through Friday during work hours, serve the 925’ers who BART in and work in or around downtown Oakland, then they close and go home after work and they do not return on weekends.
Whole Foods is too expensive!
Yeah it is!!!! But no one is forcing you to go to the new expensive Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. But if you do go, you may find some cheaper healthy alternatives on some items.
But before those guys moved in, where did you go? You really have always only had 2 options, Safeway and Lucky’s. So thank those new guys for moving in.
Sitting here trying to think about it I would say there are zero grocery stores in West Oakland. Maybe it needs a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s? And Whole Foods was an abandoned car lot so it didn’t hurt anyone by setting up shop there.
Some say it increased the rents of the area but those people are idiots. Whole Foods does not have a rent increasing committee in cahoots with your landlord. The truth is your greedy landlord, who has no boss, increased your rent because they’re an asshole.
Safeway isn’t leaving……
You always have the limited Safeway and Lucky’s around Oakland whether or not Whole Foods and TJ’s pop up.
If the price of food at Safeway goes up it’s not because the neighborhood got better or “gentrified”, it’s because the cost of living goes up in general. That Safeway has the same prices here in Oakland as anywhere else in the Bay. So, the price of food has not gone up. You just got more options if you want to pay more and eat healthier. And don’t forget all of the new places to work.
And get this, now you can order groceries from Amazon.
I personally have started trying to eat healthier and am thankful for Whole Foods even though it is costing me a lot more. But without it I would be stuck with no options.
What I don’t get is that a city undergoing such a major improvement would usually show a decrease in crime however Oakland’s crime rate is on the rise! Oakland also just made robbery capitol of America 2 years running. The more unsuspecting newcomers to Oakland walking around with their iPhones out, the more targets for the existing criminals to prey on. Crime has gone way up and mostly robberies. So one could say gentrification is helping the “economy” for some? Joking, this has to stop and our city has to get it together and get rid of this network of activity. We need to get the Oakland Police Helicopter flying again(after my article Mayor Jean Quan DID get it flying again!).
The Oakland Police Department has said the increase in robberies is due to the decrease in drug sales. But several months ago they said that with all the large drug bust and dealers off of the streets, the crime rates would go down. So it backfired?
This kind of makes sense, you don’t allow for the usual suspects to sell weed(or other drugs) on the corner and they turn to other means to get money. But did OPD even decrease drug sales or did the booming Oakland Weed Economy decrease drug sales? Buy weed from shady thug on corner, or go to nice weed super store? I think it’s obvious OPD had nothing to do with that.
Local economy and investment in the long run?
One possible outcome is the new local booming economy will provide a lot of tax revenue for the city and local committees and organizations will push for more public safety.
So in the long run crime rates could go down if the City of Oakland plays their cards right.
Lack of police = more private security.
There are already neighborhoods plagued with high crime and robberies that are crowd sourcing and hiring their own private security patrols. Some neighborhoods have reported a sharp decrease in criminal activities since they hired private security.
For some insane reason they have been labeled as racist gentrifiers and ridiculed for this. If the City of Oakland can not provide safety then who will? Why are we mad at people for trying to improve our city for everyone?
Is it only the criminals who are mad? Calling out “whitey” and telling us to go home? What if we’re from here? I have been seeing this spray painted around my neighborhood and Lake Merritt. Part of me thinks some white anarchist that moved here 3 years ago is doing it.
Are there actually hard working “minority families” who don’t mind run down houses, blight and crime in the neighborhood?
How come no one is mad at a bank or taco truck for hiring a security guard? It’s normal to protect yourself and if Oakland can’t and the resident will then that is awesome.
People are upset that some residents have pitched in a measly $20 a month for private security patrols to ensure they won’t be robbed and they ask why can’t they do that for schools.
Maybe they don’t have kids? The real question is why can’t YOU do that for schools. Take action, do something, stop blaming everyone else. You let Oakland get this way and now you combat newcomers with innovative ideas trying to make it better. Don’t be deadweight.
With the neighborhoods getting better and the theory of more community involvement comes the possibility for better public schools, more volunteers, parents getting involved and overall improvement for the Oakland Unified School District. This is much needed. But existing deadbeat residents must get involved too instead of resisting new residents attempts to better Oakland neighborhoods.
This is my class photo from Fruitvale Elementary, 1986. I am the white guy.
I’m curious as to what a class photo would look like now. If you have a class photo from Fruitvale recent years please post it in the comments.
Everyone is crying and blaming the evil banks for foreclosing their homes.
Currently in Oakland there are thousands of vacant homes(most of them in West Oakland) that have been foreclosed.
Why? Well, because people who did not have the money to begin with borrowed money and bought things they could not afford.
Honestly I have no pity for them as they chose to put themselves in the situation. You and I had the option, but did we buy something we knew we couldn’t?
Oh but the banks were misleading and lied to them!
They STILL went and tried to buy something they couldn’t so it was their own decision to buy the home. The banks did not make them buy a home.
I would like to see statistics as to who the people are that bought these homes and foreclosed in Oakland because I still feel that was mostly outsiders and transplants. Not forcing any long time residents out. The likely real story is the long time residents willfully sold their homes at super inflated prices to the fools who are now foreclosed.
When I moved into my last building 10 years ago all was well, rent was only $735. That guy foreclosed and the new evil Orinda guy bought the place. But the foreclosed landlord bought the building from an original Oakland resident who was smart enough to sell when the market was inflated. See? That is the true case example and not the made up Oaklander’s being pushed out.
Oaklander’s are smart, they left like I did. By choice.
Residents were selling their homes and moving out before the crash. That is what made these homes available to buy and foreclose on in the first place.
A foreclosed home actually brings the value of the surrounding property down and increases crime in Oakland.
There are thousands of these abandon houses collecting graffiti, decaying, becoming overgrown and inhabited by people conducting illegal activity.
I guess my problem is these homes have been VACANT the entire time! These vacant homes could be rented out at current market value and that would flood the market driving the cost of rent down.
The city of Richmond is actually trying to use eminent domain and seize the homes back from the banks. I think this is a great idea.
Then maybe they could be sold at market value and again bringing the cost back down.
Like I was saying, I do have a problem with the cost of rent but this is a corporate America greed thing and not anyone’s fault for moving here. In fact people are moving here from San Francisco because the system(not the people) have ruined prices there forcing others to move to run down Oakland neighborhoods that they can afford. If a byproduct of that is fixing the neighborhood up to a livable standard then please, by all means do.
Where is Oakland “Gentrifying”?
This excerpt is from Wikipedia on the subject and actually nails the current neighborhoods being gentriefied and makes sense as to why East Oakland has been left alone.
From a market standpoint, there are two main requirements that are met by the U.S. cities that undergo substantial effects of gentrification. These are: an excess supply of deteriorated housing in central areas, as well as a considerable growth in the availability of professional jobs located in central business districts. These conditions have been met in the U.S. largely as a result of suburbanization and other postindustrial phenomena.
Most of what is happening is near Downtown, Lake Merritt, Temescal, Uptown and West Oakland.
It seems that East Oakland is remaining mostly untouched at this point and could really use some help.
The larger part of Oakland(East Oakland) remains how it has always been. All of the new establishments are in the centralized areas with access to all.
If you ask me East Oakland could use a LOT of help but it may be a while before outsiders start moving into that mess and fixing it up. I predict Fruitvale first because the neighborhood has been undergoing improvements and it’s near BART.
But here is a good example, all new retail and streets being repaved and parking lots and so on for the existing residents. Yet it’s still an bleak economic crime ridden blackhole.
According to a presentation by EPA’s Charles Lee, a longtime leader in environmental justice, the neighborhood’s ethnicity mix is 52 percent Latino; 23 percent Pacific Islanders; 16 percent African American; 7 percent white; and 3 percent Native American and others.
How did Oakland get ghetto?
Oakland actually used to be full of beautiful Victorian mansions, predominantly white and middle to upper class. What changed was during World War II Kaiser(yes the insurance company) built several shipyards around the Bay Area including Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco. They set up shop here mass producing “Liberty Ships” for the war. African Americans were actually allowed to work in these shipyards and moved out here in the masses to escape racism in the South. They were paid more here than they could get anywhere else but still faced racism and lumped themselves together in communities like West Oakland.
This sparked “white flight” and all of the wealthier middle to upper class white people moved out leaving behind a beautiful victorian laced neighborhood that was destroyed and run down by the new residents over the years leaving behind the ghetto West Oakland we now know.
Some people will argue that “red lines” forced the African Americans to live in these areas and would not allow them to move out to the nicer areas like Piedmont and the hills, but that still does not change the fact that the people living in the community there trashed it and set the pace for the future. There is no one to blame other than the actual people left behind living there.
Sure, after the war was over the shipyard ghetto had a higher unemployment rate but that is still no excuse to ruin a beautiful neighborhood. When I am unemployed I do not go out trashing my city. I take that time to work on this site and show love for my city.
The only people to blame for the ugly beat up housing now are the current or in some cases old owners. They made Oakland ugly, no one but them.
I can understand though, if I owned a house I wouldn’t feel like painting it, keeping the front yard clean, taking care of the sidewalk out front, etc. But that’s why I don’t own a house! Stop ruining the city and blaming others. It is YOUR house, fix it up, clean up your neighborhood or sell the house and move to Tracy. But if YOU sell it to a rich guy from Orinda then you know whoever moves in will be paying a lot more. You did this. You “gentrified” by moving out of your ugly unmaintained house for profit.
The dirty neighborhoods of West Oakland.
What’s happening in West Oakland and Jack London is kind of awesome. Old abandoned warehouses are being renovated and turned into bars, restaurants, art galleries, warehouse shared work living spaces and lofts. Building re-use in vacant areas is never a bad thing.
A lot of these become artist communities full of innovation and design.
Victorians that were destroyed and run down are being renovated and brought back to life and sold to residents that will take care of them and keep the neighborhood looking good.
Slowly but surely blight is being removed.
Gentrification, The Real Problem?
Now with that all said the real true one problem is the people who do NOT live in Oakland. The people like my evil landlord who live in Orinda, buying up foreclosed homes here, slapping a paint job on and raising the rent by $400 to $800. This is truly the one only single problem. THEY decide the rent and THEY decide who they rent to. THEY are the ones discriminating and the ones charging way too much and trying as hard as they can to evict tenants like me. Born in Oakland.
They will never live in Oakland and they are only proxy gentrifires. They have to be stopped, rules have to be instated. My proxy landlord makes $130,000 a year on others sweat and tears so he and his wife can travel all the time on my dime. Landlords should have to work for their money and not prey on a busted system while ruining a city.
The City of Oakland is HIGHLY to blame as well. Maybe even mostly to blame. Look around, do you see any new housing going up? I mean we need like big apartment complexes. Sky rises. In my life span I have seen very very little development in Oakland as far as new buildings and structures. You can’t move forward 3 decades into the population booming technology driven future without building massive housing complexes to accommodate the influx of population. Oakland and San Francisco failed to do this and we’re paying dearly now.
I don’t know if Jean Quan was reading my blog or what, but she suddenly confirmed my statements of the real problem(proxy landlords) and says she will be building 10,000 new homes in Oakland. That’s a start, but we need like 50k to even start to catch up.
City staffers are also keenly aware of Oakland’s need for more affordable housing. Margaretta Lin, director of strategic initiatives, noted that city property owners lost about 14,000 homes due to foreclosure during the housing crisis. As the Express has reported, large-scale investors purchased a substantial number of those homes and then turned them into rental properties, and are now charging rents that many longtime city residents cannot afford. “The escalation of rent prices has been extraordinary,” Lin said.
It’s like they came here and rethought the whole thing. And that’s interesting to know that only 14k people foreclosed. Proving that Oakland residents are largely safe and selling their homes on their own free will and moving out to further more affordable suburbs with less crime. Let’s see if these cities get ghetto over the next 10 years.
Google Buses and BART
Of course now you have transplant hipsters in San Francisco protesting Google Buses saying that they are causing gentrification. This is the most ridiculous thing I have heard from a bunch of gentrifiers. The buses are saving the environment by transporting magnitudes of people to work in carpools. They argue that Google caused people to move to SF from Ohio for better jobs taking up the housing from poor people. No, Frisco forgot to build new houses and the future happened.
So then why are people not protesting BART? West Oakland BART is the reason West Oakland has become a hot spot for renters who used to live in San Francisco and still work there. Same with McArthur BART and downtown. Next will surely be Fruitvale.
I guess you should be praising BART and again blaming the city for not allowing for residential expansion and building planning.
Also don’t forget the proxy landowners from wealthy cities that buy the housing up and rent it out for way more than it’s worth.
Do not blame the tenant that works a good job for being able to afford that place. The resident or as you like to call them “gentrifier” is still getting ripped off by the proxy landord.
This is the Google Bus Stop at 21-Hayes between 6:15 and 9:15am.
Amazingly efficient and very needed right? Can you imagine if all those people drove their individual Prius’s to work? The Google buses run like 5 times more frequent than the unused San Francisco Muni bus.
Maybe instead of protesting your neighborhood getting better you should fight for a higher minimum wage?
Fight for laws on out of city landlords? That would be the best option in my opinion.
Fight for laws for out of city employees too.
Every morning I have to ride BART to San Francisco for work because I can’t find a job in my own city. But as I am going down into the 12th Street BART station it is all people from Orinda, Walnut Creek, San Francisco and so on getting off the train and working in downtown Oakland. Which, you know they are allowed to do but if the City of Oakland made employers hire say 70% local that would change everything. For the economy, environment, future and beyond.
Rent It Out!
Sorry, I had to. (How ironic that a few years after this article I moved to Portland, the better city)
It’s not Oakland’s job to stay ghetto, businessless, poor and ugly so that a few people who aren’t doing anything for themselves can live here.
Instead of crying that people are chipping in to provide security because they’re tired of being robbed, maybe you should start a campaign and chip in for what you want. Schools? After school programs? Whatever you think will fix it, do it yourselves. Take action like the new residents are.
I am pro gentrification, whatever that means, and want my city to improve, expand and get better.
I will continue to work hard so that I can afford to live in my city and don’t see it “pushing” me out even if the rates got to San Francisco prices. Again stay where you are and enjoy the rent control.
I am very upset at the housing situation but again, that is the city of Oakland’s fault and the proxy landlords like mine. Not the new residents.
If you ARE dead weight, don’t do anything for yourself or your city, don’t have a job or try to get one, live a life of crime, hate new residents, cry about positive change and are an overall part of the problem in Oakland, I would like to see you “pushed out” ASAP.
You belong in Antioch, Tracy, Modesto, wherever people are being pushed to. Oakland has places to go, people to see.
You do not need to be so close to San Francisco, downtown Oakland, major transportation, real jobs, new food and entertainment establishments and so on.
Don’t make some random persons opinion your facts!
Now about these top list that spread like wild fire. That shows the strong love of Oakland from all the newcomers.
The most recent one was kind of BS and just a great advertising ploy to rise living cost.
This no one site dubbed Oakland the most exciting city in America, but if you look deeper they really just picked the hottest housing markets and linked to all of their houses on the market to pull in a nice commission. Brilliant.
They are not an authority and have likely never been here or to any of those cities. But because of the strong Oakland pride it was mentioned in every local newspaper and posted on all of your friends Facebook. Such a great marketing campaign.
What gets me is how people act as if something on the internet makes it so. I love my city but won’t call it the most exciting city in America because I read it on a commission based site.
Another list dubbed Oakland the 10th most walkable city in the nation. REALLY?
They based it on the stretch of 14th from Broadway to Lake Merritt. Not even actual Lake Merritt, just the stretch before.
Which I walk almost every day.
That sidewalk is so uneven you may break your ankle, it has bus stop benches in the middle of the path with streams of urine flowing from behind them, people get robbed there all of the time, there are no real places you would want to stop, nowhere to sit, relax, hang out and cell phone reception is spotty at times.
Riding your bike down that street is sketch too because you’re so close to the cars and there is no bike lane.
Another BS list that was posted all over the internet by zombies who value the opinion of some random person writing an article.
NY Times(aka one guy who wrote an article) said that Oakland is the number 5 vacation must visit spot in the world? THAT is a joke. I could think of a thousand better places to vacation.
So people posted this all over as “NY Times”. But there are many schmucks who “blog” aka “write articles” for the NY Times. One idiots opinion. You made it a “fact”.
The way I see it the guy came here for a few weeks, gathered some info and was paid by a few local restaurants for a spot in the NY Times. We all know Oakland is NOT in the top 5 must visit cities in the world.
All I’m saying is don’t make someone elses opinion your fact. Think for yourself.
And stop acting like you’re so against gentrification when you yourself moved here recently or 10 years ago. YOU are the force that you dislike. You should be taking it out on the proxy landlords deciding the rent prices.
Let’s go Oakland!
Keep getting better!
I Moved To Portland.
I got so sick of my lame Orinda landlords crazy stunts, crime rising, food being too expensive, public transportation sucking, people being mad at me for being white, the new Oakland residents being so damn weird and cliche, lack of jobs, lack of food options, etc that I bailed on my home city.
I always thought Oakland was so awesome, maybe because I did not know any better? But after one random trip to Portland I moved right away. Best choice I ever made.
As for the show Portlandia? Oakland is 10x more that show than Portland is. I really think all of those people moved to Oakland.
Subscribe for an update and a full lengthed article as to why I left my city and love my new city way more. But whatever you do, STAY there. Do not follow me to Portland.
But really, I will be launching PortlandMofo soon and you can still follow me on Instagram. Because I am saving my photos for the new site it is not as active but will be again soon.
I also still have new articles coming for OaklandMofo. I have lived there my entire life and could write about plenty even from Portland so please do subscribe.
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