The corridor from Jack London Square to Downtown Oakland was once touted as an up-and-coming area that would lead Oakland to new prosperity. But it has not turned into the vibrant neighborhood entrepreneurs wished for. While 2008 marks the initial unraveling, those setbacks have been compounded by recent events.
But as downtown business owners, they have been on a never-ending roller-coaster ride through the recession and the impact of high city unemployment rates, a series of high-profile protests and the disruptive demonstrations, and now Occupy Oakland, with its two tear-gassed melees in a little more than a week.
For a downtown that held such promise just a decade ago, it’s been painful journey.
Can a golden age for Downtown Oakland ever come about? Only when all parties — the mayor, police, business leaders and community — get behind a shared vision, will we believe that Downtown Oakland can complete a turnaround.
The tasks are daunting. It will take leadership to ensure all parties make concessions. It will take building what families, diners, shoppers and tourists actually want in a Downtown. And it will take a tireless commitment to see it through. Yet all the public sees are finger pointers, naysayers and a police department that can’t, or won’t, work effectively with the people it’s supposedly protecting.