Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
What has happened to Oakland?
I was raised in the East Bay (Richmond to be exact) and the current mess in Oakland has set my memory cells awhirl.
Oakland once was a beautiful city, actually a great walking city. I am now and always have been a walker/hiker and walked and hiked all over the East Bay hills and its cities. I would go to the library in Oakland and to the Grand Theater, and sometimes ate in one of the restaurants nearby.
I used to use the old Key System bus when I didn’t walk. As a girl and young woman, I could walk around Lake Merritt on a date or with my friends. Later I took my children to the zoo and the little theme park. I shopped in downtown Oakland, including buying my wedding dress there. We went to the movies in Oakland or Berkeley or Albany as well as Richmond. We didn’t cringe in fear or disgust. When my 2-year-old daughter needed surgery, we were referred to an eminent surgeon in Oakland on ‘Pill Hill,’ which was known for its excellent medical professionals.
Later, my husband and I and some friends bought season tickets for the TGIF series in the restored Paramount Theater. Oakland was getting a little iffy then but not impossible. We also were season ticket holders for several years to the summer play series “Woodminister.” Jack London Square was always a great place to go when I was a teenager and young adult. If you didn’t have enough money for a great dinner in any one of several restaurants, you could walk around and enjoy the ambience.
What ambience is Oakland offering these days? One day a couple of years ago, we walked around downtown Oakland intending to have lunch, we will never go back. At what point does one realize that what is now being done isn’t working? For years, Oakland has been in decline andit is time for an honest evaluation of her problems and an honest approach to a solution. What has been done for decades hasn’t and isn’t working. I read somewhere that to continue to repeat a process with the same results and expect something different next time is one of the descriptions of being crazy. Is Oakland crazy? What would most people say? I think it is extremely sad. Think of the gifts the Bay Area and Oakland (Richmond too) has - the setting is world-famous for its beauty; the climate is wonderful, only Hawaii is better in my opinion, a huge bay open to the ocean and its shipping lanes, ports, airports, railroads, an immense and young population to feed the need for workers; universities and colleges - how in the world could this happen? How can we change it? What more do you need to work with?
You have everything you need for success, all the tools, certainly brain power at one time existed in Oakland, and skills necessary to fill the need for workers, I think a good first step would be to honestly look at your history and learn from it. What did your founders do that made Oakland successful? All of my children have left the immediate Bay Area. Most of them do. Maybe that is a place to start - what makes people leave Oakland? How can we get them to stay and attract others? We, here in Manteca and all of the Central Valley, also have to take note so that Oakland’s present is not our future.
Nov. 5, 2011