Letters to the Editor (12/1/2017)

Last week’s article, “What You Told Us: Neighborhoods in Need of More Housing,” invoked some strong responses. Please note that these views are the authors’ own. 

Here are some of the letters we received about last week’s article:

“We young black males need an education, as well as job and business training to become business owners in our communities. We need housing because there is a lot of out-of-town housing offered, like in Sacramento, but we do not want to leave Oakland. Because of re-gentrification, we need jobs to survive outrageous income inequality and the lack of housing that is affordable in Oakland for young black men.”

-----E Fran, Oakland resident

“Walking the length of Telegraph on a Tuesday night is an enlightening experience. It's bustling and vibrant, full of young, mostly white people, who share some barely tangible, but very noticeable commonalities. They dress like each other, a uniform of Patagonia expressing affluent separation. They sound the same, shrill in a way that would once have raised eyebrows anywhere in Oakland. Now it’s the norm. They share the look of open horror at having to pass Oakland’s indigenous black working-class residents in the street. Normal now.

“Yelp is open on most phones as it's dinner time, so people need be told where to go and what to eat when they get there. Social media acts as conductor to this atonal orchestra of leisure activity discussions. Whether it's food, art, entertainment, these people are on the hunt for Oakland's culture. Depressingly, this is the upside of the monetizing of Oakland's culture. At least they are paying for dinner.

“A cynically unpaid debt to local culture comes in the cost of housing across the town. Property developers have taken Oakland's culture and wholesaled it to wealthy migrants. There seems to be this perfect moment in the gentrification process where enough black and brown people have been displaced that it as an area can be deemed safe, but their cultural ghosts remain, so it’s still hip.

“That sanitized parody of Oakland is now some of the most expensive real estate in the world. The value-add to this real estate is cultural heritage. That heritage is being taken without permission, and sold without remuneration to its owners.

“If nothing changes, it will all soon be sold, its creators forced out of their homes, and the new residents left wondering why Oakland is pretty much the same as everywhere else. Which is, honestly, how they wanted it when they moved here.” 

----Stefan Walters, Oakland resident

“I don't pay a lot of attention to this kind of thing, but anybody would notice how, over the years, Oakland and Berkeley have become enormous. The last straw was the construction of huge apartment houses on Shattuck Avenue, completing the process of making that street undriveable between Alcatraz Avenue and Rose Street.  

“I am wondering on what statements like, ‘The nine-county Bay Area region is building an average of 20,000 housing units each year, but it needs to add 30,000 to 35,000 to keep pace with demand,’ are based on? Whose demand? If I wanted to move to the Bay Area and found there was nowhere to live, I’d go somewhere else, thus relieving the area of one more body/car/source of noise and pollution.

“But, really, who’s demanding the housing? It wouldn’t be the developers, would it? Those people who can’t bear seeing a patch of grass just lying open to the sky, uncovered? Surely not! In fact, as we know, those people never sleep, never cease pressuring communities to expand their city limits, raise their height restrictions, ease their environmental standards, overlook the traffic studies.

“The upshot is this: The Bay Area will continue to bloat until it reaches down the coast to merge with Los Angeles, and every aspect of coastal California that made it an attractive place to live will have been obliterated. Have you taken a look at Florida recently?”

-----Alden Jenks, North Oakland