Building on over a year of collaboration with those who live, work and play in Oakland, the Oakland 2025 Vision Plan team presented drafts of the recommendationsat five community meetings this past April and May. This “traveling roadshow” of the plan gave stakeholders from all sections of Oakland the opportunity to hear the recommendations while still in draft form, view maps that illustrate the long-term vision for the community, and give one final round of feedback before the team finalizes the document this summer.
The planning team worked for months crunching numbers, conducting analyses, and including all the feedback participants contributed at the dialogue sessions, workshops, walkshops and public meetings. The result is a set of strategies that fit into five distinct but interrelated areas:
- Housing: Provide innovative, sustainable housing choices for diverse new generations of residents who choose to live where they work. Do this through rehab, conservation & innovative new housing choices and financing incentives.
- Transportation: Develop a multimodal transportation network that incorporates “complete streets” principles (accessibility and safety for pedestrians, cyclists, automobiles and transit) and connects all parts of the neighborhood.
- Business and Development: Maintain local, unique and diverse businesses that grow from Oakland’s innovation economy and support the neighborhood health.
- Open Space and Art: Weave green infrastructure (trails and parks) and public art into all economic development initiatives.
- Community Building: Reinforce neighborhood identity and increase social capital through community consensus, advocacy, social networks, stewardship, gathering places, and increased connectivity.
The plan includes new ideas that sparked lively discussions at each meeting. One of the recommendations is to encourage large institutional employers to develop employer-assisted housing programs that would help employees become full-time residents in Oakland. Another strategy calls for development of bus rapid transit (BRT) along the Fifth-Forbes corridor, linking Oakland with downtown and eastern neighborhoods on a system with many of the features of rail transit that uses existing roadway and bus infrastructure. The plan also includes urban design recommendations for Oakland’s major transportation corridors and gateways into Oakland from the north, west and south.
North Oakland resident Jonathan Robison said he was “shocked” to learn that only 3% of people who work in Oakland also live here. He appreciated the thoroughness with which the plan addressed this and other key issues like transportation, housing, and new development, while staying within parameters of what’s realistic for the neighborhood. “It’s a wonderful plan,” he said. “I’ve lived in Oakland since I came to town in 1968 and I’ve seen a number of plans for Oakland. This is the best.” A long-time advocate for public transportation, Robison believes that the “complete streets” model will lay the groundwork for an Oakland with less traffic and congestion.
Parkview Avenue resident Andrea Boykowycz said she appreciated how the planning process brought differing community constituencies together across divides that existed in the past. “People got to hear from students and students got to hear from long-term residents in ways that were not antagonistic,” she said. “The plan did a remarkable job of helping people see that Oakland residents, whether renters or long-term homeowners, have much more in common than they have difference with one another. It was a good community-building exercise in that respect.”
Liz Gray, an Ophelia Street resident who served as a facilitator for last year’s neighborhood dialogue sessions, supports the recommendation to green the Boulevard of the Allies, which she believes would create a more attractive physical environment and slow down traffic, making it safer for pedestrians. “It’s been really educational for me to be involved,” she said. “It’s great to see that we are headed in the right direction—that we have a unified vision, despite our diversity. To me, that diversity is our community’s greatest strength.”
Boykowycz, Gray and Robison all concluded their interviews with the same sentiment—that what happens in the next phase is crucial. “We have to follow up with local elected, business and institutional leaders to make sure the strategies come to fruition,” Boykowycz said. “It’s up to us to make sure the community’s vision is implemented.”
“I’m looking forward to the next steps—implementation,” Robison said.
So are we. Stay tuned to our website as we continue to finalize these strategies and engage the community in seeing the plan through to the end.