Gawker’s got a piece running this weekend with the headline Scared Gentrifiers Crowdfunding Money for Their Own Private Cops that talks up the three crowding projects Rockridge residents have going as a way to get short-term private police patrols going in the area (Note: 2 of them are almost 100% funded). Reading their dish on the efforts to fund “Lower Rockridge South/West,”  “North/West of Lower Rockridge,” and a third that’s “Lower Rockridge plus the hills above Roanoake Street” is moderately interesting (most of the article is taken from an earlier piece that ran in Tech President and invokes Ethan Zukerman, co-head of the MIT Media Lab and all sorts of policy wonkery)–but the real great read is from the Oaklanders (and others) in the 150-plus comments.

Mayor Quan, Joe Tuman, Bryan Parker, other mayoral hopefuls  and the whole city council should be reading these comments, because they underscore the anger, desperation and scorn that thousands of Oaklanders are feeling about the state of the city (the comments also track with the September 2013 poll done for the Oakland Chamber covered here).

Here’s some of the comments from what seem to be locals that resonated with me:

“Even news crews need armed guards in Oakland, since it’s common for all of their equipment to be taken at gunpoint, sometimes even while they’re on the air! This isn’t about some scared yuppies; Oakland has no leadership and an ineffective and severely understaffed police force.”

“I moved to Rockridge earlier this year and the number of robberies are skyrocketing, and totally overwhelming the already understaffed police force.

When robbers get brazen enough to hold up at gunpoint 20 people waiting to head to work at 9am in the morning, something is very essentially broken. The security patrols are expected to simply observe and report to Oakland PD as they are simply unable to patrol the area enough to deter these robberies.”

“It’s it sad that it’s come to this? Absolutely. Residents are at a loss of how else to create a safe environment walking to and from work.”
“oakland isn’t nyc or sf. government & the police dept are a mess.
i live in oakland, and i see a lot of potential in the city. but we are far and away the #1 city for theft/armed robbery, and i dont blame people for taking safety into their own hands.”

“Not surprised at all. Oakland’s police force was gutted a few years ago. They are about 200 officers short of their staffing requirements. People are going to do whatever they have to do to provide some sort of protection for themselves since the police are so understaffed and violent crime rates are way way up.”

 

“The problem is that the mayor recently laid of 80 cops in a city already seriously underpoliced and then directed the remaining cops to only serve a single square mile in the center of town. That caused response time in every neighborhood outside of the city core to jump to 20 minutes or more. Gentrified or not, every neighborhood in Oakland is fucked. A poll released the other day revealed that only 6% of Oakland residents would vote for the mayor again in the next election. She’s toast.”

“As a former resident (up until 3 months ago) of the “Lower Rockridge South/West” area described in the second CrowdTilt link, I can tell you that this area is not full of terrified techies but rather mostly families with lots of small kids. The area is also not gentrifying because Rockridge has been a well-to-do area for decades (both upper and lower, just with bigger houses in the hills). I’m not sure why the author adopts the dismissive tone implying the residents are being overly dramatic.”

“Man, I know lots of people who live over there. Cops won’t even come out for anything less than a violent assault, and even then, it can be at least a day. Car stolen, house broken into, or anything of the kind? Forget about it. You’ll never hear from the Oakland PD… they’re too swamped.

I’m all for more government, better policing, higher taxes, and similar commie shit, but sometimes you just want to keep your shit from getting jacked.”

“That’s a pretty offensive title for your article. I guess that’s the point? What do you have against a group of people trying to stay safe in their own neighborhood by hiring private security to monitor the neighborhood while we’re at work? I’m not sure where you live but you may be aware the Oakland should have around 800 cops for a city our size, we have 600. Our police resources are stretched too thin to cater to home robberies and muggings, when the police are called they don’t come. Our city is a 5-10 years (optimistically) from being whole again, most of us are in it for the long haul but also want to be safe walking home from Bart at night. You seem to feel like you need to make this about fear when in fact its about taking control and supporting our neighbors, its about being honest with our situation and responding in a way that makes sense.”

Once again, our city is mocked in the mainstream media for its problems–are we  all just idiots–or do we need to find a way to fix this mess?  Thoughts–please.