When Mr. Jerry Brown was sworn in office in 1999 as Oakland mayor, one of the first steps which he took was to unveil “Economic vision 10k” for the residents of Oakland. He laid down the vision and implementation road map for the residents of this region and promised that their living standards would have a positive change.
After 15 years, his vision is bearing fruit with major investments on new housing units, commercial shops, restaurants and cinemas halls coming up. Oakland which was a sheepish town 15 years back has suddenly turned into a hub of commercial activities. During the past, the places around Oakland would do well economically but this place would never grow. But this time it has changed for the better, according to Fred Blackwell Jr., an assistant city administrator and the chief architect of the city’s development efforts.
Couple of big projects which have attracted investments for more than $ 100 million is the under construction housing project which has 1000 units. Couple of government projects under approval is the Brooklyn Basin project on the Oakland waterfront which has housing, retail and theme park included. Private investors who are keen on investments in office space and commercial activities have pumped in more than $ 2.4 billion.
Revenue from business, hotels and other properties have risen to a new high in 2013 and this phenomenon was not witnessed in the pre-recession era. The political establishment has reasons to be pleased looking at these new economic indicators. The extra funds are being pooled to the city’s general fund budget.
One of the impediments to fast growth was the high crime rate which was always historically was a black mark attributed to Oakland. This problem has also divided the political establishment. It still remains a problem in the east side of the city where six homicides occurred near Lake Merrit. Over the past six months stricter implementation of security protocols, things are changing but still it is early to draw any conclusions, according to interim Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent.
Shooting and robberies in the city have dropped almost 30% compared to last year which is a very positive sign and this is a positive trend, according to Sean Whent, but still the numbers are high compared to any other developing city. There is still plenty of scope for improvement according to the Police Chief.
Fred Blakwell normally is very cautious in his judgments about growth stories and since this is the election year he is weary about these numbers. Despite his cautious outlook he has to confess that seeing the sheer volume of investments this year, he can say that this has not taken place by accident.
According to him, the residents are reaping the economic benefits of the “Vision 10K” initiatives that Mayor Jerry Brown had undertaken a decade ago. These projects have generated huge employment opportunities which have changed their lives. The new multi cuisine restaurants, Fox Theater and the improvements made around Lake Merrit has made Oakland an attractive destination for business and tourism.