America’s cities are “ready to go”

December 8, 2008

….or at least, that’s what the U.S. Conference of Mayors says in their call for a Main Street Economic Recovery. In a report released today, the organization, which consists of the mayors of U.S. cities larger with more than 30,000 residents, outlines 11,391 jobs and infrastructure projects in 427 cities across the country that it says are “ready to go.” In total, the projects would create a $73 billion investment in the nation’s infrastructure, and would create nearly 850,000 jobs in 2009 and 2010.

Here’s a list of the projects Oakland threw into the ring. Together, they represent an investment of  over $87 million in the city, and would create over a thousand new jobs. We’ve seen many of these programs and projects before, and some exist today but simply aren’t sufficiently funded. My personal favorite: the Oakland Community Land Trust, which exists but not with much in the way of funding. (Incidentally, it’s also the only sizable chunk of change Oakland asked for—the city’s requests constitute only a tenth of a percent of the funds requested nationally, despite the fact that we’re the 44th largest city in the country right now. Anaheim, for instance, asked for $406 million, and San Francisco wants nearly $2.2 billion for some of the landmark projects they’ve been studying. This is why we have long-range planning, people—so that when money shows up, you have visionary projects ready at the gate. Obviously some cities are better at this than others.) But back to the land trust. I can’t think of a better step to take as the housing market spirals downwards; a thriving land trust could help forestall the foreclosure crisis in the city’s hardest-hit neighborhoods while protecting affordability in those neighborhoods for future generations. (For a similar approach in another city, check out Boston’s Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and see how it’s weathering the housing crisis.)

Anyway, without further ado, here they are. (Note that I did not write these descriptions, so I am not responsible for sentences that stop mid-thought or fail to explain the purposes of programs for which they’d like tens of thousands of dollars! I’m giving staff the benefit of the doubt and assuming the turnaround on this document was probably instantaneous—and that someone somewhere had the not-at-all-fun task of compiling the requests of 427 different cities, since it does look like other cities encountered the same truncating problem.)

Document Management for PWA: Funding will be used to implement an enterprise-class document management system for records related to environmental remediation of City-owned properties. The project will leverage the City’s existing, successful investment.
$50K / 5 jobs

PWA Equipment Services Technology Learning Center: Funding will be utilized to install networking, computer, printer, projector, and related equipment to establish a Public Works Agency Equipment Services Division Technology Learning Center.
$40K / 5 jobs

Corporate–Community Partnerships:
The project will encourage Oakland businesses and the City government to partner with the Oakland School District and local faith-based organizations to employ and mentor youth on a part-time basis throughout the year.
$250K / 8 jobs

E-Government Network Infrastructure: E-government enables the delivery of information and services online through the Internet or other digital means. The use of the Internet to deliver government information and services will provide benefits.
$300K / 10 jobs

Fruitvale Latino Cultural and Performing Arts Center: Federal funding will be used for construction costs (e.g., structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, seismic reinforcement, elevator, etc.).
$1.0M / 12 jobs

Alternate Computing Facility for Disaster Recovery: The goal on this project to establish a partnership between the City of Oakland and another city similar in size to construct geographically dispersed disaster recovery sites. The City of Oakland will [the sentence in the report ends here….what will it do? Hopefully something!]
$1.584M / 19 jobs

Citywide Curb Ramp Installation Program: Accelerate installation of curb ramps citywide in approximately 2,000 locations.
$5.0M / 60 jobs


Various green projects: FY09 funding is requested to support the following elements of this effort: the East Bay Green Jobs Project; the Oakland Green Jobs Corps; and the Environmental Engineering Technician Training Program.
$3.8M / 45 jobs

Metro Area Green Institute: The Metro Area Green Institute will serve as a clearinghouse for low-carbon economic development efforts nationally. The Institute will compile and disseminate data gleaned through the existing program sand provide technical assistance.
$5.0M / 60 jobs

Oakland Community Land Trust:
Funding will be utilized to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed properties as an initial element of a broader Oakland-based community land trust. Rehabilitated properties will support low-cost housing for Oakland residents.
$20.0M / 240 jobs

Prisoner Transport Vehicles: Since the OPD Jail closure in 2005, police officers shuttle between North County, Highland Hospital and Santa Rita jail. Additional transport vehicles will increase efficiency.
$260K / 3 jobs

Mobile Incident Command Post: OPD currently has two older, outdated Mobile Command Posts. Both Command Posts were due to be replaced three years ago. This incident command post would be used in all hazards response: terrorism, earthquake, fire, civil unrest
$500K / 6 jobs

Oakland’s Special Prosecution Project: Funding will support the implementation of a local Special Prosecution Team as part of the Mayor’s Crime Reduction Strategy. The Project will reduce quality of life incidents and address low-level crimes that are…. [nonetheless bad for neighborhoods?]
$612K / 6 jobs

Automatic Vehicle Locating (AVL) Systems: Funding will be utilized to install Automatic Vehicle Locating systems on all public vehicles.
$1.056M / 12 jobs

Oakland Police Department Data/Voice Network: The project will involve the re-cabling of the network infrastructure, the replacement of the legacy Cabletron and Dec equipment, the refresh of the integrated public safety network segment, and the installation of….[yup, again!]
$1.1M / 12 jobs

Oakland CompStat:
Funding will be utilized to develop, design and deploy a centralized and consolidated criminal data repository system in Oakland.
$1.325M / 16 jobs

Patrol Vehicle Acquisition: Funding will be utilized to increase the police vehicle fleet from 399 vehicles to 429 with Federal funding through the acquisition of 30 additional police vehicles.
$1.74M / 20 jobs

“Grow Our Own” Police Recruitment Program: The City seeks funding to conduct personal recruitment visits, to support technology enhancements intended to streamline the application and to provide for background check processes. These combined efforts signal….[??? a more effective OPD? Please let the answer be a more effective OPD!]
$1.9M / 24 jobs

Replacement Helicopter: One helicopter to replace outdated unit. The helicopter unit provides enhanced observation and tactical support to the Police department. The two helicopters currently owned by the City are over ten years old. [Can they specify that the new one be quieter? Pretty please??]
$2.5M / 30 jobs

311 Citizen Relationship Management (CRM) System:
Funding will provide Oakland citizens a non-emergency response system by deploying the integrated CRM system using email, fax, phone and web.
$3.0M / 36 jobs

Enhanced Public Safety Equipment Program: The City seeks funding to install audio and video recording devices in patrol and specialized vehicles; purchase firearms, holsters, and related equipment; purchase and install Dell laptops for specialized field.
$3.3M / 39 jobs

Information Technology Infrastructure Enhancement:
The City of Oakland requests $3.61 million in federal funding to support vital enhancements to citywide public safety information technology systems. These enhancements include: IPSS Computers [the list ends here but I assume there’s more].
$3.61M / 43 jobs

Oakland Fire Boat: The fireboat responds to water emergencies and provides mutual aid assistance to other jurisdictions. The Port of Oakland is a potential terrorist target. Opening this station enhances our capability to quickly respond to terrorist attacks.
$4.0M / 48 jobs

Surveillance Camera Network: A citywide camera system will be installed to enhance the Department’s ability to respond to criminal activity and investigate crimes. (OPD). Funds would convert space in the Eastmont Police Station into a state of the art [something!]
$5.6M / 67 jobs

Interoperable Communications: Requested funding will bring a master communications site on‐line for the City of Oakland to meet P-25 compliance, and will include simulcasting and other features which will enhance the communications network capacity and….[it’s a surprise!]
$8.0M / 96 jobs

Citywide Sidewalk Damage Repair: Accelerate citywide sidewalk damage repairs in approximately 3,200 locations. [Yay!]
$1.75M / 7 jobs

Street Resurfacing: Complete 65 lane miles of street resurfacing, including sidewalk, curb, gutter and curb ramp replacement. [Double yay!]
$2.0M / 8 jobs

Adeline Street Bridge Repair: The improvements include repair of damages in abutment No. 1 and to provide access behind abutment No. 2, replace bridge expansion joint material, and seal and restripe the bridge deck.
$2.3M / 10 jobs

7th Street, West Oakland Transit Village Streetscape Project: The improvements include construction of bulb‐outs, ADA ramps and installation of bike lanes, construction of medians with landscaping, improvement of sidewalks and installation of streetlights…
$900K / 23 jobs

The Fruitvale Alive Streetscape Project:
The improvements include construction of bulbouts, ADA ramps and installation of bike lanes, planting trees, installation of signs to improve pedestrian circulation, improvement of sidewalks and installation of streetlights….
$2.6M / 25 jobs

Oakland Inner Harbor Tidal Canal Easement: The proposed easement will allow the City to construct pedestrian and bicycle trails along those portions of the waterfront located within the Harbor Tidal Canal property.
No figures attached.

Oakland Inner Harbor Tidal Canal Feasibility Study:
The City of Oakland requests the authorization of $250,000 to conduct a feasibility study as an initial element of a greater effort to undertake improvements to the Federally-owned Oakland Inner Harbor.
$250K / 3 jobs

Cryer Boatworks Site, Public Beach Access:
The Cryer Boatworks Site is currently being developed as a public park, and contains a section of the San Francisco Bay Trail. The shoreline is a gently sloping beach, which is a rare commodity in Oakland.
$3.8M / 45 jobs

That’s the list. It’s worth pointing out that this is a city-specific list, and thus there are a lot of “ready-to-go” regional projects missing from this, especially on the transit front. (Speaking of transit, where is the MacArthur Transit Village?? C’mon, Oakland, get your stuff together before it’s time for the real deal in January!) School projects are also notably missing here, perhaps because in California, school districts are distinct from cities (ours even moreso, as it’s currently under state control—though that may change soon) and therefore not always communicating well with City staff. This report does provide a great glimpse of how other cities are thinking, though. Hopefully Oakland will learn from this and get some of our bigger, bolder dreams ready to roll.

One comment

  1. [moved from About page]
    hi, just moved to Oakland and thinking of starting a similar blog–would love to talk to you, this is a great blog with issues and concerns I care about

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