Landlords The Real Problem With Gentrification

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. 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.


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Pro Gentrification

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.
They claim white people leaving Oakland ruined Oakland and now white people coming to Oakland is ruining Oakland.

Rent Control
People are not being “pushed out” of Oakland. I have rent control and while everyone moving into my neighborhood is paying $400 to $600 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). Sure some people are 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 but that’s their own 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 10 years.

Eviction Risk?
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.
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.

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.

Crime Rates?
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 wed 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.

Better schools?
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.

oakland unified school district
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.

Foreclosures!
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.
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.

Building recycling
What’s happening in West Oakland and Jack London is kind of awesome. Old abandoned warehouses are being renovated and turned into bars, restaurants, 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.

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 $600. 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.

Update:
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 how ghetto these cities get 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.

Solutions?
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.

Keep Gentrifying

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.

Conclusion?
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. REALLLLY?
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!

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Comments

  1. says

    Interesting argument, but what your analysis lacks is the systemic and systematic slashing of social service programs that provide opportunities for folks to improve their lives and communities for the better. Like you said, you love Oakland, you are second generation, you grew up in and around 'the hood,' but at the end of the day you are still a "tall-ass white dude" who will never no what it's like to be a single mother of three struggling everyday, just like I will never know what it's like to be an undocumented immigrant or indentured servant. No hate, just sayin. :-)

    Sometimes folks forget how much worse it could be….

    • Values rising says

      One gentrifier has written elsewhere, “We were looking to live in our homes & improve the area…”

      That’s a problem when an area is rundown and those living there want to keep it that way. To some extent, “rundown” is a function of poverty — i.e., lack of resources and a concurrent divergence of priorities and personal styles.

      Moreover, what’s this business about people being pushed off their “ancestral land”? — a perverse twist on “There goes the neighborhood”?

      What’s often ignored in many of these discussions is that gentrified neighborhoods in Oakland often remain ethnically, culturally, and racially diverse — if they don’t, indeed, become more so. What ends up lacking is income diversity alone. Those who get pushed out in Oakland are often poor blacks, who wrap themselves in the mantle of diversity, even as they resent the incursion of upwardy-striving Asians and Latinos (and occasionally, pioneering whites).

      By the way, if one shops wisely, it’s possible to eat better, and more cheaply, by buying groceries even at Whole Foods, compared with the overpriced offerings at the ghetto mart!

      How can anyone miss the multiple layers of irony (and Orwellian doublethink) implicit in a static, formulaic class analysis that purports to dictate “social justice” according to an aging laundry list of recognized “oppressions” and exclusionary group entitlements?

      Meanwhile, how does someone get to be a single mother of three? No hatin'; just sayin’. ;-)

      • Guest says

        I enjoyed this article. I’d simply like to point out that Trader Joe’s is relatively inexpensive compared to Whole Foods. They are mentioned together but they aren’t the same. We shop at Trader Joe’s cause there are low cost options for quality goods. We avoid Whole Foods except for limited items.

        I get a kick out of the ancestral lands bit. Unless you are a native american, then this isn’t really your ancestral land.

        You know California was once part of Mexico. So this can be the ancestral land for some latinos. Maybe it is better to accept each other than try to claim some great right over another group.

        • Values rising says

          Trader Joe’s is great for cheese and some specialty items; Whole Foods is actually quite cheap (better than TJs), particularly for other dairy and juices, if you buy the “365” house brand. My problem with TJ’s is that most of what they sell is highly processed industrial product, prepared for the microwave — masquerading as health food. What else would you expect from a chain headquartered in a suburb of LA?

          As for “ancestral lands,” I was born a New York Jew. It took me until I was in my 60s to recognize that (like all humans) I’m indigenous to life. If not, where else? I love Oakland; it’s my home!

          • says

            Yeah most Trader Joe’s stuff doesn’t even have oven cooking instructions on the package and I don’t own a microwave.

            East Oakland got a new massive Food Co that I am going to go check out. I wonder if the options are healthy and affordable.

  2. marc says

    I enjoyed your rant. Actually was well-reasoned. Took me a while to find your site again because I recalled somewhere there was a tally of 2013 murders and felt we had a nice drought lately and so was looking for it. Google must not like you or I search poorly. The irony of “gentrification” is that what people are complaining about is the removal of the reason the area is cheap to live, that is being run-down and crime-ridden. So the people against it are really saying they want the place run-down so lower income people can afford to live there, which may actually be the case for some people. but I think society doesn’t want that. Still, it is kind of sad that the only way to be able to afford to live in some cities is if the area is dangerous, but space is limited so this is a fact of economics.

    • Oakland Mofo says

      All residents in an area benefit from new services.
      This can all happen without proxy landlords like mine who buy the housing and skyrocket the rent prices.

  3. Mimi says

    This is a good article.I must point out that Oakland was a place of mutual tolerance and respect for other cultures as far back as it’s history reaches.When Kaiser brought in the workers, they also UNFORTUNATELY brought ignorant whites from the south too who did not like the fact that African Americans were treated equally here and that they ended up living together in the same neighborhoods.The African Americans found it easier to fight racism in Oakland than they had in the south and they fought back against this.I feel it’s an important fact that gets swept under the rug repeatedly.I am glad that Oakland welcomes all people, we need to remember this and embrace it.We are far from perfection, but we are still better off than most other cities. Lets keep moving forward together and show the rest of the country how beautiful life can be.

  4. ed c says

    I like what you have to say. I too also like the gebtrification that is taking place in W.O. Majority of the new people I meet are either new tp the area or are from S.F. as myself. I am aware people get pushed away from desirable areas. I was one of them. I could not afford a $900k house, all cash so I had to go where I could afford. Its no ones fault except for mine. I dont feel pitty for myself. Can I get another or a different field so i can afford it? Of course. The person that said “well you are not a mother of 3″ or “you are not poor so you dont understand” is making excuses.Stop making excuses. No one I telling people to have 3 kids and not be able to afford them. I had my first child at the age of 35…because I couldnt afford them at an early age. People making too many excuses. It really has something to do with parenting. You had a good parent that taught you right from wrong. You understand that some people have it easier than others but you can have the same things. No one is stopping you except yourself. I am from Mexico, became a citizen of this beautiful country, got a job, attended a University in S.F. with hard work and loans, repaying my loans of $500 a month, got married, had a daughter and bought my home. I am not rich. No one game me a dime. In other peoples eyes I am a minority and overcame hardship BUT I dont see it that way. White, black, asian, latin…same thing. One does not have more power over others in my eyes and I think thats what really made me successful. Sorry about the rant…you just inspired me. Good luck and keep expressing your opinion. Btw….this is not a term paper so excuse any typos/grammatical errors. Pease out #westoakland

    • OaklandMofo says

      Very well said.
      And I honestly do think the difference between myself and the peers I grew up around was parents with values and morals. And of course my drive to strive and struggle to survive. The right way.

    • OaklandMofo says

      Sorry I do know there are many factors that can be blamed on the Government for the residents actions and living styles but that was not the point of the article.
      Just a brief history of how Oakland used to be versus what it turned into over the last 70 years after Kaiser and World War II.

      • John says

        But that history has everything to do with why West Oakland became disinvested and why people think gentrification is the only way to solve it. There was a prosperous black working class in West Oakland prior to the war of porters working on the railroads and port workers. WWII brought a huge influx of workers from the south but the rules were already laid down for where black southerners could move to. So West Oakland began to overcrowd and get run down from lack of funds available for maintenance (not people trashing their nice Victorians). Then between BART, the Cypress and the Grove-Shafter 10,000 homes were destroyed from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, but even though the racist guidelines were modified by law, in practice the people displaced had few options as to where to relocate, and little buying power without much access to credit. Meanwhile, whites did not so much escape Oakland as relocate to new industrial cities like San Leandro, Milpitas, Union City, etc. With the exception of Milpitas, black Oaklanders with some money couldn’t move there, and a lot of these cities had strict zoning codes that prevented the building of multi-family housing (Robert Self, American Babylon).

        So by the time black Oaklanders won control over city government, they had few resources to govern with and very high unemployment throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Even the port’s charter prevents its revenues from entering the general fund, so the city doesn’t see any of that. In this context, the only thing the city can do is encourage gentrification to increase the property tax base, largely at the expense of affordability. And the places where the most money can be made by “proxy landlords” like yours and house flippers are the places that had been black middle class areas with nice housing stock that had deteriorated because of lack of access to credit and low, often fixed incomes.

        Then in the 2000s when predatory lenders, not mortgage lenders working through the Community Reinvestment Act as right-wingers will tell you (http://ccc.unc.edu/contentitems/debunking-the-cra-myth-again/), went after West Oakland and Longfellow, it was often to extend home equity lines of credit to people who owned their homes outright (http://www.frbsf.org/community-development/publications/working-papers/2010/december/mortgage-market-social-networks-consumer-decision/). Hence the foreclosures after house prices fell–if you look at a map of the foreclosures, they are clustered in Longfellow, around West Oakland BART, and throughout East Oakland (http://community-wealth.org/content/who-owns-your-neighborhood-role-investors-post-foreclosure-oakland). The former two areas will flip to middle-class homeowners, the latter will be absentee landlords since gentrification has yet to touch deep East Oakland.

        This is the real context. You can offer examples of people not “living right” and say that bringing in wealthier people will fix that, but it doesn’t fix income disparity, which is increasing. That’s what drives gentrification, not the other way around.

      • P-K4 says

        I’m a black man who actually agrees with a lot of what you said, but you need to realize the impact of redlining and restrictive convenants. When I bought my (uber expensive) house here in Crocker Highlands, I was handed a document from the 40s detailing how only Caucasians were allowed to buy the property. AAs were cordoned off and forced to live in hoods well into the 60’s. Those opportunities for wealth building amongst the black middle classes meant that their children were much more likely to slip into working/lower class-dom. The ability to separate from lower classes and go live amongst people in your actual socio-economic class is huge, and folks were kept in place. Makes for a dysfunctional community.

  5. Khathu says

    This rant is very interesting but really sad. The issue with gentrification based on the definition you used is that it often displaces poor residents. It does displace poorer resident. You stated it yourself that if you lost your place you must likely would be able to afford the current market value rent in Oakland. Also everyone does not benefit from the economic boom and revitalization equally or at all. For a variety of reasons. Increases in property value also results in increases in property taxes. Depending on the amount of tax increase could actually force someone out of their home. In addition, as property taxes increase so does rents, food and other services. This can also lead to pushing out poorer residents.

    There is this notion that long time residents do not want accessible to quality grocery stores, public schools, decent housing, safe community, etc or that they have not been fighting to obtain these things which is downright absurd. All people want access to these things regardless of their race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, etc. Now all individuals might not know how to effectively organize to obtain these things.

    It is people who are creating this situation not just the proxy landlords. If people are not willing to pay these high rents then the landlord could not charge them.

    Keep in mind that developers and investor are mostly to invest in community and neighborhoods that have a demographic with a disposable income.

    • says

      Well, the problem is still proxy landlords.
      Not the people looking to move in and can afford to pay the rents if they have the money. They are getting robbed too by the Orinda landowners.

      Jean Quan herself suddenly announces this problem and a plan to build 10k more houses.
      Also it was said that only 14k lost homes in foreclosures, further proving my points.

      I updated that section with new data from the City of Oakland.

  6. natalia says

    I enjoyed your post! Good job!
    I can relate to it in sooo many ways, and I believe a lot of people with varies backgrounds can too. However, it seems like I got luckier with a proxy landlord (he never acted like an asshole and is actually a nice and helpful guy). My building is very next to the projects on Eddy, Turk, Golden Gate street passed Van Ness towards the ocean in SF. I am not necessarily annoyed, but definitely bothered by the fact that after the sun goes down I can’t go to the left but can only go to the right of the main entrance. The projects are on the way to go left. And then further to the left towards the bay there’s Tenderloin.
    I was always wondering how did the neighborhoods like Tenderloin and other unsafe projects occurred, and why they can never get cleaned out by the city, by cleaned out i mean removed. What’s you knowledge and opinion on that.

    • says

      Honestly I do not understand how a single block can make such a huge difference either. There are invisible “ghetto erosion lines” it seems. I think it has to do with property owners but mostly the tenants. As for the city cleaning them up, it really is the property owners job as far as I know. And if the city spends the time and money to remove graffiti and such, then the residents put it back the same day, it’s their fault and the city should not waste another penny. It should be up to those who live there to respect their hood.
      In Oakland we had a massive sort of famous ghetto project where many rapers like Too $hort, Seagram(RIP) and Yukmouth came out of. The 69 Village. It was torn down and redeveloped into a nice looking place. The tenants are already ruining it. Just read this review on Yelp.

  7. Delorme says

    For those who are forced out of communities because those with excessive disposable income cannot compete with those absence of disposable income through no fault of their own, it is hard to imagine that the definition provided by the author of this article is legitimate.

    Wikipedia defines gentrification as a shift in an urban community towards wealthier residents and or businesses and increasing property values.

    Gentrification can be a toxin or a balm. It the difference depends greatly on the whether the change is fast moving and invasive or natural and humane.

    In an era absent of gentry “high born, noble and the well bred” I think any reference to the process of displacing people because one covets what they have and have the means to do so, smack of plutocracy (the power of wealth) replacing democracy (the power of ordinary people).

    • says

      I see your definition was Google result number one, mine was number two, from the Dictionary.
      Gentrification can mean a lot of things to different people so I just went with the long standing champ, the Merriam Webster Dictionary. I just can’t bring myself to trust that there Wikipedia. What is an urban community anyway? I guess that’s another topic but let’s just say I didn’t make the definition up. It’s legitimate.

      Change has been very slow moving here in Oakland. Most of the new is less than 10 years old but Oakland was an economic black-hole shadowed by San Francisco for a long time.
      I still don’t think people are being displaced by force or in numbers. I can’t find any evidence of that in Oakland.

      I’m not sure if you read the article or just stopped at the definition.

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