Dear Mayor Schaaf

1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
3rd Floor
Oakland, CA 94612
phone: (510) 238-3141
fax: (510) 238-4731
TTY: (510) 238-3254

Dear Mayor Schaaf,

I’m leaving Oakland.

After two years in Oakland, CA, I’m leaving. My time here has been horrendous and I’d like to tell you about it, since this isn’t a part of Oakland you’ve probably experienced.

I moved here from Hayward, CA to find a home I could afford to buy. I was warned about the neighborhood but I literally couldn’t afford to buy anywhere else. The house was a 100-year-old California bungalow that had been nicely flipped. It seemed like a bargain. The house is not the problem; the neighborhood is practically third-world.

Even tho a city street cleaner plows through here every Thursday, the streets are filled with trash: bottles, paper, bags of human feces, discarded furniture, piles of black garbage bags – refuse dumped by nearby businesses in the night (read food trucks). It’s not unusual to have to drive around a stray grocery cart filled with the meager belongings of a homeless person, the cart, unattended, having rolled into the middle of the street.

Even tho California has a housing crisis, with rising rents and home prices forcing citizens like me to leave, my neighborhood is filled with empty buildings and abandoned houses. Whole blocks have been left vacant and now serve as more places to dump garbage and for “day laborers” to congregate. They sit on the abandoned furniture, drinking beer all day. (NOTE: I wrote this BEFORE the infamous ghost ship fire, but I drove by the place daily. I was not at all surprised by this tragedy.)

The many children on my street are left to play unattended in the street, riding bikes, skateboards, hoverboards, until 10 pm at night. I’m talking children as young as 3, running barefoot and screaming. It’s like living in the middle of an unsupervised playground. These children have learned to avoid the cars, but it makes backing out of my driveway an everyday ordeal.

The house across the street has broken windows that people climb in and out of; I’ve no idea how many young people live there. Fights, loud music, and impromptu pot parties often break out in front of the house.

Do I even need to mention the Fourth of July? I stood in my front yard for hours (as did other neighbors), watering the dead lawn, fearful that the constant fireworks and embers falling from the sky would catch fire. It was a war zone, bombs (M-80s) so close by they set off the car alarm of every car parked on the street. I left and checked into a hotel for the next 2 days to escape, and was afraid to come home.

Three times I’ve had to call the police to deal with fireworks close by. Never once have they responded. I’m sure they have more important things to deal with in Oakland, but in a civilized country, I expect the police to respond.

I pay $4,600 a year in property taxes for the privilege of living in this paradise. I have no idea where this money goes, because it isn’t spent in my neighborhood.

I could go on and on, describing the horrific things I have seen since moving here; stray dogs that roam the neighborhood in packs. I was afraid to walk my own dog here, and drove to Mills College for our daily walks. Prostitutes staggering home as I was on my way to work — my god, they looked so haggard and horrible after a hard’s night work! “Side shows” that block the intersections.

Anyway…. There are many beautiful places in Oakland, but there are many abandoned ones as well. Just keep that in mind. And if you’re brave enough, come to International and 54th, and check it out.

It’s horrible.


Pamela J. Cole

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