Skip to content

Increased blight in Oakland, here we come

An excerpt from the city’s estimate of how proposed budget cuts would affect the Public Works Department’s ability to provide services (“FTE” stands for “full-time equivalent”):

Key Impacts and Mitigations
• Park Maintenance: No routine maintenance at 212 locations (mini-parks, neighborhood parks, special use parks, parking lots, plazas, medians and streetscapes) Remaining 60.27 FTE will provide routine maintenance at 104 “priority” locations.
• Tree Services: Pruning, planting, watering will only be done in emergency situations. Remaining 15.0 FTE will remove hazardous tree conditions.
• Litter Enforcement Program: Remaining 3.0 FTE will be assigned to each Police Area. Activities will continue but to a lesser extent.
• Street Maintenance: Speed bump installations will be eliminated. Remaining 47.0 FTE will continue activities at reduced levels—base repair, pothole repair, crack sealing, guard rail repair, fending, sidewalk repair.
• Traffic Maintenance: Street signs and striping will impacted. Remaining 20.0 FTE will continue activities (street sign repair and replacement, and street and curb striping) at reduced levels.
• Designated Downtown Cleaning: Elimination of manual sweeping and hand/power cleaning of sidewalks will increase visibility of litter, dirt and grime. Remaining KOCB crews will continue street sweeping, litter container service, illegal dumping removal and graffiti removal.
• City Facilities Custodial and Maintenance: Painting of city facilities will be limited to graffiti abatement. Some minor CIP will be eliminated and remaining function will be centralized with CEDA/Dept of Engineering and Construction. Custodial services at Civic Center will be reduced, including fewer daily cleanings and elimination of office move support.

The picture is pretty similar when you look at the list for the Parks & Rec department, libraries (my local branch is likely to only be open 2 or 3 days a week), etc. A pdf copy of the slides detailing the proposed budget cuts by department, which were shown at a budget town hall on Wednesday evening, is available at the indispensable A Better Oakland.

I’m not necessarily criticizing these proposed cuts—I haven’t yet read and thought enough about the options to know whether they are the best solution to our budget woes—but it does paint a pretty dramatic picture of how screwed Oakland’s government is.

For anyone who has driver a car or ridden a bike down, say, 12th St. near Harrison, reading that street maintenance activities will continue “at a reduced level” will send a shiver up your spine—or more accurately, will knock your spine out of whack and send you hobbling to a chiropractor.

As for “no routine maintenance” at about 2/3 of the 300 neighborhood parks, medians, streetscapes, etc., I have said several times here before before that since we can’t rely on City Hall to keep Oakland looking clean and nice, it’s more important than ever for residents to take matters into their own hands by adopting vacant lots, median strips, local parks, etc. Studies have shown that a little bit of blight removal can yield a lot of benefits.