Saturday, March 12, 2011

Time to Roll Up the Tents...

It's time to roll up the tents and move on to other endeavors. After much thought and deliberation, We Fight Blight has decided to shut down its blog...

For the past several years we have dedicated a significant amount of time to fighting blight in North Oakland and South Berkeley and empowering residents with the tools and information to address blight on their street, block or in their neighborhood. We have worked with the City of Oakland to remove 127 abandoned and inoperable vehicles, clean up 87 blighted houses and commercial sites, and publicize the tough battle over the Nic Nak Liquor Store. With 117 postings, our stories covered many topics including litter, drug houses, potholes, graffiti, liquor stores, crime, community murals, Caltrans' right-of-way, BART, street trees, and the mismanagement of Oakland Public Works. Perhaps no other story garnered so many comments, interest and controversy as did the fight against the Nic Nak liquor store. Change is difficult and sometimes tumultuous.

We operated on the basis of the "broken window theory" and attempted to fight crime by reducing and eliminating blight. Along the way, we encountered many articulate and passionate members of the community who are striving to make Oakland safer for all residents.

Oakland has a tremendous amount of potential that is being realized in fits and starts. North Oakland and South Berkeley are seeing significant rejuvenation and reinvestment fueled by demographic and socio-economic changes, as well as location. These trends will only continue into the foreseeable future. We have been pleased to report on these trends in the 94609/94608/94703 zip codes, which we affectionately term the "donut hole".

In fighting blight, we could not avoid weighing in on larger political issues--such as the City's budget morass and the decided lack of support for the Oakland Police Department. As we have consistently noted, the City of Oakland cannot be all things to all people. Rather, the City must focus only on core services--police, fire, infrastructure and economic development. If the City wishes to reduce the reality and perception of crime and provide fuel for economic growth and revitalizing Oakland, it must provide far more police and work far more diligently to address the high cost of blight. It must also address the problems of transparency and accountability among its elected Officials and City staff.

For those who write blogs, you know the power of the Internet and the ability to make your voice heard on issues that you are passionate about. But you also know this is really hard work and it takes a lot of time and effort. We respect those, such as V. Smoothe at A Better Oakland, who have been at it a long time and continue to put out insightful, relevant, and uniquely Oakland stories. Thank you.

While this is goodbye, it is not farewell. Those of us who have labored over the We Fight Blight Blog will continue to be invested in making our communities safer and more livable for everyone.

Thank you all for indulging us and listening to our stories.