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My letter to Nancy Nadel about her Housing vs. Jobs Forum

edited somewhat to remove details about my employer.

Councilwoman Nadel –

I am writing to you because I am unable to attend your district 3 townhall, “housing vs. jobs,” but I wanted to give you my input on the subject.

I won’t be able to attend your forum because I’ll be at work. When I got my first downtown position in my profession, 2 years ago, there was literally only one employer in this field, and it was incredibly lucky that I was able to secure this job. At that time, we were struggling to survive. We operated with what can only be described as a skeleton staff.

As downtown has become more vibrant, and more residents have moved here and into the Jack London Square area, I am pleased to tell you that we are consistently busy, and stay open 2 hours later than we used to. We have doubled our nightly staff. We have grown successful and saw a profit for the first time last year. We are employing more people, for longer hours, and paying everyone more. In addition, if I wanted to leave, I now have other options. Where before there was no other place for me to work, I now have 4 or 5 other options where I could find a job in my profession downtown and I personally know of several more that will be opening within a year.

Many of my friends work in the service industry, and have similarly benefited from the explosion of opportunity downtown has seen in the past 2 years. Development downtown has created opportunities for them to open businesses of their own, and given them jobs to support themselves while they work to realize their dreams. Furthermore, the renewed vibrancy of this area has created a market for the work of the many artists I know who contribute so much excitement and creativity to this city.

Your juxtaposition is ludicrous, and as someone who has seen firsthand the benefits of increased residents in the area, I can attest to the fact that housing creates jobs. You claim on your website that entrepreneur opportunities are one of your top 3 priorities for Oakland. But how do you propose do offer a market for the businesses those entrepreneurs dream of starting without providing residents to support them?

The new housing being built is not replacing active industrial space. Surface parking lots and long-shuttered warehouses and factories are a blight on this city, and I applaud efforts to restore life to spaces that sat vacant for years. And empty warehouse provides no jobs, but a new housing project in that space offers construction work to many people, and augments the market that small business owners need to support their work when it is finished.

I would also like to tell you that, as someone who earns below median income, I am strongly opposed to your proposals about inclusionary zoning. I have witnessed the effect of such policies in neighboring cities like San Francisco, where the “affordable” housing goes to a lucky few, and in order to subsidize those below-market units, all other housing becomes prohibitively expensive, pricing many would-be residents out of the city. I fear that your inclusionary zoning plan would have this same effect in Oakland.

Furthermore, as industrial land preservation and inclusionary zoning are the foundations of your Mayoral platform, this event strikes me as much more of a campaign rally than a townhall, and I find it inappropriate for you to be marketing it as such.

V Smoothe
District 3 resident and worker

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Posted in california, development, housing, iz, nadel, oakland.


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