Dellums: Deal Is Near for Oakland Neighborhoods

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 11, 2008 - 09:46:00 AM

The administration of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums says it is close to completion of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, establishing a state-city partnership to revitalize close to 500 blocks of Oakland’s most depressed neighborhoods. 

Dellums announced the proposed MOU agreement, which has been in the works for several months, at a standing-room-only Tuesday night Brotherhood Bible study meeting in downtown Oakland. At the meeting, a regular weekly event sponsored by Oakland’s Word Assembly Baptist Church specifically for ex-offenders, Dellums was honored for his administration’s efforts in establishing re-entry programs in the city for formerly incarcerated individuals. 

Dellums has made the attraction of outside resources—including state aid—a centerpiece of his Model Cities program to rebuild Oakland. 

Dellums released few details of the proposed revitalization MOU on Tuesday night, except to say that in part it may involve agreements by the California Department of Transportation to set aside jobs specifically for Oakland ex-offenders. In past discussions, administration officials have said that the proposed project will not involve direct grants of state money, but will include an intense, targeted influx of state aid and programs. 

The Oakland revitalization program will be modeled, in part, on Neighborhoods@Work, a $25 million public-private partnership between the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Urban League to revitalize a 70-block area surrounding Crenshaw High School in East L.A.  

A December 2007 Los Angeles Sentinel story on the unveiling of the Los Angeles program said it would involve a simultaneous partnership between several agencies besides the City of Los Angeles and the Urban League—including the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Police Department, the offices of several state legislators, and the University of Southern California—to provide a simultaneous, focused initiative in the targeted community in the areas of education, public safety, employment, health and housing. 

In the past, Dellums has said that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had been considering instituting small model state-city partnership programs similar to Neighborhoods@Work in several cities around the state.  

The mayor said that he had been arguing with the Schwarzenegger administration that such an effort would be diluted and ineffective, but that combining all of the state’s attention and resources in the program into one city—which Dellums strenuously argued should be Oakland—would reap benefits that could draw in private money and resources and could then be replicated in other areas.