Monday, April 30, 2012

An Open Letter to Mayor Jean Quan, City of Oakland, CA

Dear Mayor Quan:

I'm sure you have received a "gazzilion" opinions about your job performance since you were sworn is as the first Asian American Mayor of Oakland.  First off, because you benefited from the 1st Mayoral "Choice Balloting" election held in Oakland, many citizens questioned the validity of your candidacy.

Please allow me to introduce myself and why I'm typing this entry.

My name is Jarrett Chin and I was born and reared in the city the voters entrusted you with.  I am a product of the Oakland Unified School District. (Glenview Elementary, McChesney Jr High, now Edna Brewer Middle, and Oakland Senior High; please note that as a student of Oakland Unified, the teachers went on strike 3x's; then again you should already know about that considering you served on the Board)  I received a BA in Ethnic Studies (Asian American Studies Option) from California State University, Hayward.  I also considered one of your fellow activist as a personal mentor. (Richard Aoki)  Currently I am a San Francisco Bay Area-based actor and performer. 

Throughout my lifetime, I remained as a registered voter within the City of Oakland until 2005 even though I may have resided in San Francisco, Monterey Park, El Cerrito, and Gardena.  I kept my parents' Glenview neighborhood address as a permanent address over those years.  In 2005, my mother passed on, and my sister and I eventually sold the Oakland home and I've resided in San Mateo county ever since.

The reason why I'm typing this blog piece is because of the discussions I've had with friends and family over the past five years.  Those discussions pertained to whether or not I would return to living in Oakland.  After all, though I reside in San Mateo County, I am often in Oakland dining at my always dwindling favorite eating spots, serving as a board member for Oakland High's Alumni Association, visiting my deceased family members at Mountain View Cemetery, and catching my Oakland Raiders games.  If anyone is familiar with my numerous blogs, they know I have my heart that's out and open towards Oakland.  So many times I'm often asked over and over again...

So why don't you just move back to Oakland?

I often share with people that the main reason why I have not moved back to Oakland is because of the time required of me in San Francisco, and the uncertainty of traffic due to the ongoing construction of the Bay Bridge.  However, that's only a partial factor.

That same year that I moved from Oakland to the Peninsula, I visited my close friend in Singapore.  I totally fell in love with that country and with the people who reside there.  Though there are documented restrictions out there such as a ban on chewing gum, I was thoroughly impressed with the nightlife out there.  Actually I was culture shocked.  So many neighborhoods and locations throughout the city-state were opened AND SAFE to walk around, even at 3am.  It was not uncommon for people to walk around at 3am and not be harassed, let alone attacked.  In fact I spent 2006-08 intensely looking for employment and moving opportunities specifically over there.  In addition to the overall low crime rate and safety, Singapore is an extremely clean country.

I'm sure you've heard the expression, "a dog would never return to bones after eating steak."  I'm sure you're getting a good idea of where I'm going with all of this.  Why would I return?  Why should I return?  Granted, San Francisco's nightlife has more of a transient alcohol-driven nightlife, but at least a nightlife exists.  Upon my visits to Oakland, I'm lucky to find a spot open after 9pm on a given night, and even if I were to find such a spot, would I be safe enough to walk from my car to the venue?  I'll admit, had blogging existed during my teenage years, I'm sure someone would blog to the then current mayor (Elihu Harris) about how unsafe they felt at Lakeshore and/or near the now-defunct Henry J Kaiser Center because of the malicious teens based on my past behavior.  I'll be the first to concede that I was not a complete angel growing up in Oakland.  

Last week, I was shocked to learn that the nephew of one of my schoolmates was tragically shot and killed.  I do not know what official number count he is on your city's homicide list, yet are you aware that such a list is increasing by the moment?  So much for your "100 Block Plan,"  Oakland consists more than a hundred blocks.  I want to remind you that you are responsible for every block within the Oakland city limits, not just those 100 you singled out.

Over the years, my biggest concern as an Oaklander was making sure we kept our professional sports teams.  Now after leaving the city and adapted as an outsider looking in, I cannot blame the respected owners for looking elsewhere to play.  Aside from the Raiders whom Mark Davis has actually publicly stated his interest to remain in Oakland, the owners of both the A's and Warriors deserve no more a$$-kissing from you guys.  The Warriors has played in Oakland for 40 years now and has NEVER considered themselves as THE OAKLAND WARRIORS.  It's clear that The Warriors want to drop "Golden State" in favor of "San Francisco."  If Coliseum City still insists on building a large capacity arena to accompany a stadium, then I highly recommend negotiations with the Sacramento Kings instead of the Warriors.   As for the Athletics, as long as Mr Wolff is in charge, Oakland should not negotiate (ie, BEG) with them.  I think Coliseum City is a wonderful idea, just not for the current owners of those two specific franchises.  Speaking of Coliseum City and the speculation on how it's going to be possibly funded, cleaning up the immediate 3 mile radius of the proposed Coliseum City both literally and figuratively (violent crime) would boost the probability tremendously.  If there will be a reliance on foreign investors to build CC, then Oakland International Airport needs to include flights in and out of other countries besides Mexico and Canada. "International" goes beyond North America, y'know.  (edit note: Now aware that there are regular flights going in/out of some Scandinavian countries via Oakland Int'l Airport 10/2013)

Have you looked at a map of California, more specifically The San Francisco Bay Area recently?  Have you looked at an almanac?  Oakland has been top rated regarding climate.  The City of Oakland, YOUR city is located in the most centralized prime location in the Bay Area, yet it's one of the most avoided cities not just in the Bay Area, but the entire Northern California. (If it's not already THE MOST avoided city)  Just the Coliseum area alone, BART, Amtrak, 880, and the airport are within reach, but the concentration of homicides dominate the perception in regards to that area.  In any other city with similar transportation access, such an area would be prime real estate, prime development.  Yet we still need to wait another year for a friggin EIR?  Meanwhile as I type this, the likelihood of another shooting happening within 2 miles from the aforementioned area is highly likely.

Please don't blame the economy and/or lack of funds.  That is a catch-22 that's been created in Oakland.  Funding comes from revenue and taxes, but as long as businesses don't feel safe to operate in Oakland, bye bye revenue.  I have an idea: next time instead of overspending to accommodate a group of outsiders like Occupy Oakland, how 'bout using that money to protect the citizens and businesses within your city.  I have news for you: Oakland "AINT" San Francisco.  Let San Francisco handle the visitors, outsiders and tourists, that's what San Francisco is good at.  Oakland needs to take care of Oakland and Oaklanders.  Isn't that a concept?

And if I begin to see Oakland taking care of Oakland, maybe I'll feel safe enough to return and live there.


Jarrett Chin

PS, going back to the fact that you were the 1st Oakland Mayor of Asian descent and the other fact that my undergrad work was in Asian American Studies, for the record if I was still a voter in Oakland, you would not have received my 1st or 2nd choice vote for mayor.  Just sayin'...

No comments:

Post a Comment