Following is an OPED from Miss Sherry, an Oakland United and CJJC member. EBASE is part of Oakland United, a coalition of residents, workers, faith leaders, community organizations, and unions invested in the health and economy of Oakland. Collectively, we represent tens of thousands of people who believe that if done right, the Coliseum City project has the potential to transform East Oakland by creating good jobs, affordable housing, accessible transit, and a healthy environment
By Towanda Sherry, Oakland Tribune My Word
© 2016 Bay Area News Group POSTED: 02/03/2016 11:52:44 AM PST
San Francisco is beaming with pride as the site for the Super Bowl. On our side of the bay, we are proud, too — for our Oakland teams, but also for the pride we take in our good union jobs at the Coliseum and Oracle Arena and for the East Oakland neighborhood surrounding the stadiums.
Part of Oakland’s pride is the rich cultural diversity of our people. And if we don’t develop the stadiums and the surrounding area properly, we risk losing that.
The Raiders and the A’s are threatening to leave if we don’t build new stadiums. Fans desperately want to keep them. And our elected leaders are walking a fine line between protecting taxpayer dollars and losing part of our Oakland identity.
I want the teams to stay, the stadium workers to stay, and longtime East Oakland residents to stay. That means that any development deal needs to include good union jobs, affordable housing, accessible transit and a healthy environment.
But there are those who want to exploit the community and workers, and say that the 200 or so acres of prime public real estate we are talking about is virtually worthless if the development has to have those benefits. They say it’s too expensive, and they can’t profit.
We say, who’s going to have pride in the teams if the fans who have stood by the Raiders and A’s through thick and thin can’t afford to live here? And who’s going to have pride in providing fans with service at the stadium if workers are paid poverty wages and are exhausted from working three jobs just to make ends meet?
I’ve lived in East Oakland for almost 30 years, and I have seen firsthand how low-income people of color, families and children are being pushed out of the neighborhood as rents have tripled.
People are being forced to move hours away or they are bouncing from one friend’s house to another. I’ve seen workers struggle with low wages and unable to put healthy food on the table. And I’ve seen the rich cultural diversity of our community change to the point where I hardly recognize it.
Oaklanders have pride that our city has always been a place where people from all walks of life can afford to live and work and that’s as important as the pride we feel in our teams.
The Coliseum development project is of value only if stadium workers get to keep their good union jobs; that new jobs have the same or higher standards; that we have affordable housing so that we are not displaced; accessible transit so folks like me can get around; and clean environmental standards so our air, land and water are not polluted.
Oakland residents and workers also must have a seat at the table so that our future is not negotiated behind closed doors by millionaire team owners, wealthy developers and elected officials.
The public needs to be involved. It’s public land, public money, and the public needs to ensure the project serves the public good. We’re proud of our teams, and it’s time for our teams and our city to show the same pride in the workers and residents who support them.
Towanda Sherry is an Oakland United Coalition member and East Oakland resident.