The following is a tirade by AzN and does not reflect the overall feelings of all BcB writers. Past and present.
Let me start by saying, I really like working in Oakland. I enjoy the warm, sunny side of the Bay, Monday-Friday. 9AM-6PM. Sometimes 9-10PM. But I gotta say, I’m not a fan of much else. I realized that this weekend when I was at the Apple Store in southside San Jose. Right before walking over to another part of a mall to watch a movie in the theater. My realization: Oakland is just so damn difficult. Everything is difficult. Its not easy to live in Oakland. You gotta LOVE Oakland to live in Oakland. Props to folks that live in Oakland, cause they really are down. Great to be you, I’m so proud. But for me, it would be hard.
Why? Oakland has the worst attributes of a suburban city and ALSO all the side effects of an urban city.
Suburban problems: suburban tract homes, dependency on cars, poor public transit, disconnected neighborhoods with separated land uses, long commutes to work (cause you probably don’t work in Oakland), fast food stores everywhere, things to do in general, and highways/highways/highways.
Urban problems: access to conveniently located stores (1/3 a TARGET doesn’t count), parking, traffic, crowded/ill-timed buses, crime or perception of crime, Race Wars!, rioting, downtown Oakland after 11PM, active parks, and Piedmont (need I say more?).
You wanna go shopping? Oaklanders drive to Emeryville. Wanna go see a movie? That’s in Alameda. Wanna work? Take the ferry to SF. Nice romantic dinner for two? Better hop on BART to Berkeley. Eventually wanna raise your kids up in a good public school? That’ll be Albany. Wanna take the kids to the mall? BART over to Union Square or Hilltop (if you’re adventurous). Wanna see Doug E. Fresh or De La Soul perform, oh wait, you can stay in Oakland for that and head to Yoshi’s in Jack London… Oh Shit, they’re not performing at Yoshi’s in Jack London, they’re at the new Yoshi’s in SF… damn.
I’m not saying Oakland isn’t a great city, I’m just saying it doesn’t have any the benefits that a suburban city provides a family and it ain’t got the benefits that an urban city provides it yuppie DINC couple (dual income no children). Sure, Oakland has San Jose and San Francisco beat when it comes to diversity cause there aren’t many Black folks in those other cities. But what about that couple from Germany you run into when you’re in SF or that family from Japan that’s on a 1 year contract to work in San Jose? I consider that diversity as well.
So I’m not sure what any of the counter arguments will be, cause I’m sure I’ll see some. But all I can say is for now, while I’m single and looking for an urban environment, I’m happy in The Mission. I can walk to cafes, bars, grocery stores and BART. And when I want to settle down and get coerced by the missus to move to the suburbs, I’d go to San Jose where I can shop at Target and CostCo and take my kids to soccer practice, all without leaving my car. I’m not saying I would actually want to do any of this, mind you, cause I f’n hate the suburbs. But I’m just sayin’, Oakland is going to attract the folks that want a little urban/suburban mix. But getting a little of both means you’re getting both sides of a shitty coin. And the look in my friends’ eyes after happy hour in Oakland when they have to ride AC Transit or hop in their car (usually drunk) to go back home while I hop on BART to continue the party in the Mission. That shit is priceless and I’m glad I’m walking those steps to BART and not waiting for the #18 to never come on Broadway.