Sunday, August 17, 2008

NCPC picks up ball dropped by Dellums

Last Fall, our City leaders announced with great fanfare that Beat 06X (including the area of JAMMI south of 40th St) and another beat in East Oakland had been selected for a special focus to fight crime and improve the neighborhood. Under the direction of the Mayor, City departments were to coordinate resources and work together to solve entrenched problems with a smorgasbord of City services. A committee (which included no community members) was said to be working on implementation. After a few months, nothing more was heard of the program.

The Beat 6 Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council has initiated what Mayor Dellums and his department heads seemed unable to do. On August 14th, the NCPC led a tour of Beat 6 for staff from various agencies. Along for the ride were representatives from CalTrans, Code Compliance, Public Works, OPD, the Alameda County Probation Office, Councilmember Nadel’s office, the Oakland Housing Authority, the West Oakland Project Area Committee and West Street Watch. (The Mayor’s Office was invited to send a representative, but no-one came.) Everyone piled into a van and took a two-hour ride, block by block, through most of the beat.

The group slowed or stopped frequently to discuss problems with individual properties, including graffiti, trash, illegal uses, weeds, crime, toxic contamination, vacant and boarded up conditions, untended yards, loitering, nuisances, potholes, dumping, abandoned cars, noise, stray animals, nonfunctioning streetlights, liquor stores, homeless encampments, litter, broken sidewalks, overflowing dumpsters, theft of recyclables, and the many other characteristics that blight our neighborhood. Participants were given clipboards to take notes, in the hope that the agencies represented would start to address specific conditions under their jurisdiction.

The fact that the leadership is coming from volunteer community members rather than paid elected leaders in itself is a sad comment on the current paralysis in Oakland City government.

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