Several basic recommendations were made including a public information campaign to educate the public about the blight ordinance and shoring up the appropriate City departments that respond to blight complaints by making sure they are full equipped and staffed to handle the complaints in an efficient and expeditious manner.
We are not aware that any of the recommendations were taken to heart or that any specific outreach efforts have been undertaken by City staff. It is unclear to us why the City has not made a more concerted effort to invest in blight reduction. The reduction, control and/or elimination of blight is a significant missed opportunity for the City to invest in the stabilization and improvement of neighborhoods and reap the financial benefits. Relatively small investments in blight reduction by ensuring appropriate and efficient staffing and enforcement could have big dividends. Blight costs the City in significant ways. This includes:
- Lost investment opportunities. When looking to relocate prospective tenants, homeowners and businesses do not want to locate in areas that are rundown with blight and may choose other communities over Oakland;
- Foregone property taxes. Blight has a downward pressure on property values and the amount of property taxes the county is able to collect for blighted properties and neighborhoods is limited;
- Foregone transfer taxes. Blight has a downward pressure on property values and when properties transfer the properties are discounted because of blighted conditions;
- Increased costs to fight crime. Blight and crime inextricably linked and blighted conditions in our neighborhoods reinforce and support criminal behaviors and lawlessness that requires more significant crime suppression activities;
- Increased costs to fight fires and provide other city services. Blighted properties that are used as crack dens, homeless encampments and other illegal activities require more service calls to put out fires, clean up garbage, and eliminate graffiti;
- Lost tourism dollars. Many of those living outside of Oakland perceive our City as blighted and overrun by crime. Consequently, they choose to take their tourist dollars to safer, cleaner communities; and
- Lost shopping dollars. Many residents, despite recent private investments, see downtown Oakland as dirty, blighted and unsafe. Consequently, they choose other easily accessible shopping opportunities in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Concord or Marin that have more pleasant shopping environments.