Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and newly appointment City Administrator Fred Blackwell joined KQED’s “Forum” on Tuesday morning to speak about all the good things taking place in the city: increased revenue, a growing nightlife, new developments like the Brooklyn Basin project and, according to Quan, a reduction in crime.
But where crime is concerned, listeners had a very different view.
Quan credited reorganization in the police department and the city’s cease-fire program with major gains in fighting crime. Of the last seven months, Quan said:
“Shootings are down 41 percent, robberies are down 29 percent, residential burglaries are down 33 percent. Even car thefts, which is sort of the problem statewide, are down 14 percent.”
“Forum” listeners pushed back. One listener with the Twitter handle @GonzOakland sent this tweet: “Mayor Quan just told you Oakland is getting safer. It isn’t. The murder rate dipped last year, but it is way up this year.”
Quan acknowledged that murders are up by two so far this year, but hopes that the city can improve on last year, which saw a 31 percent reduction in murder.
“We are going to go for at least another 10 or 20 percent drop this year,” said Quan. She attributed the uptick so far this year to domestic violence, as opposed to gang-related violence.
Another caller asked the city representatives to speak to the continued loitering along Oakland’s 14th Street corridor.
Quan said that “the 14th and Broadway corridor is something we’ve been working on for a long time,” and seemed to suggest that a certain amount of crime is inevitable. “When you have major corridors in big cities, you are going to have a lot more crime.” Quan said that she has seen a lot less loitering, and cited plans ” to try to get a coffee shop that opens late right near that BART station, so that there is more eyes on the street.”
Other issues touched on during the hour included stadium plans for the Oakland A’s and Raiders.
“When I arrived at the city about 2½ years ago, things did not look very good,” said Blackwell. “I mean it looked like all three of the teams had exit strategies that they were trying to execute.”
But Blackwell said the situation has improved. Oakland has “two viable sites” to offer the A’s, he said, and the city is in discussion with the Raiders.
“We are not operating from the assumption that we have the money or the political will to provide significant public subsidy for these private facilities,” said Blackwell. “The way we are approaching all these deals is that the city and potentially the county would be looking at investing in the infrastructure around these areas, but really it would be the teams and private developers that would have to come up with the resources.”
No interview with Quan can be complete without discussing her reaction to the city’s 2011 Occupy protests. Host Michael Krasny asked her what she had learned from those events.
“What I tried to do was to get as much consensus (as possible) so that we could make movement as a city,” Quan said. “That was not an easy thing to do. It’s probably one of the toughest things I’ve had to do in my life.”
And likely something that will resurface in the upcoming election.