Oakland, California StateoftheCity February 08, 2012

Oakland, CA---“Oakland is on the Rise,” said Mayor Jean Quan in her first State of the City address to the City of Oakland tonight. “It’s been a pretty good year for Oakland, despite a few bumps.”

“Even while recovering from the worst national recession in decades and a constant stream of state and federal cuts, we are making progress in jobs and development. We are undergoing a renaissance in our thriving arts, cultural and culinary scenes that reflects one of the most diverse cities in the world,” she said.

Speaking before a filled Council Chamber overflowing to two hearing rooms, the address was live streamed online and telecast on the City’s television station, KTOP. Among the many guests in attendance were representatives from the City’s more than 30 Boards and Commissions, who were honored at a reception following the address.

“It is your passion for Oakland, commitment to making our home a better community, and willingness to roll up your sleeves and make a difference that makes Oakland beautiful from the inside out,” she noted.

Highlights from the address included:

- More than 5,000 new jobs were generated this past year in high tech, restaurant, retail and construction; unemployment in Oakland went down by 2% in 2011. Even in a flat state economy, Oakland had a slight uptick in new businesses licenses issued, with growth continuing in retail, restaurants and entertainment. “We are working hard to prepare and position Oakland for the recovery and will hold a series of business roundtable events focused on key industries in the coming year. The Port of Oakland became the only US port that exports more than we import,” she said.

- Focusing resources to make Oakland safer: “2011 started with rising violent crime levels that had escalated in late 2010. Through focused efforts, we ended the year with declining violence data. Data analysis defined 100 blocks – just 5% of the city – where 92% of all homicides occur. We are coordinating law enforcement, criminal justice agencies, community, non-profit, and school efforts in new more effective ways.”

- Putting Our Children at the Center of our Dreams for Oakland: “I asked Oaklanders to mentor the youth who need the most help: young people involved in the justice system, chronically absent students, and young adults aging out of the foster care system. This year, approximately 1,000 new volunteers and mentors are working directly with Oakland youth.” The City also established the Oakland Education Cabinet partnership with the School District, Mills College, other government agencies, and education and corporate leaders. The Cabinet will focus on four goals in the coming year: maximizing preschool enrollment, reducing truancy, creating student internships that lead to jobs, and increasing the students going to college by 1,000 students each year.

- Sales tax revenue was up 12.4% this past year - ahead of the state average increase of 8.7%. “We asked residents to spend 25% more in Oakland to grow our local business and retail. More than 80% of Oakland businesses are locally owned, indie establishments,” said Mayor Quan. She added that this year the City supported the Oakland Grown movement and expanded business district cultural events. The City worked with the Oakland Merchants Leadership Forum in December to offer its first two parking holidays.

- Record breaking citizen participation: “Even with a year of many unexpected events, thousands of residents, organizations and City workers stepped up for Oakland,” said Mayor Quan. “Within our first seven months we kept our pledge to hold a Town Hall meeting in every Council District during which 3,000 residents shared their priorities. One thousand residents attended a Community Safety Summit at Laney College. Over 500 attended the first ever town hall conducted in Chinese. More than 500 neighborhoods held annual National Night Out Block Parties, that’s over one hundred more parties and thousands more participants than 2010.”

Mayor Quan noted that she fulfilled the two key mayoral responsibilities outlined y the City Charter:

- Presented a balanced budget—“We started 2011 with a $58 million deficit and few reserves. By June, the City Council approved the budget we presented in the spring by a clear majority; a budget without financial gimmicks and with the first full reserve of more than $30 million in over a decade. This was accomplished partly by eliminating 198 positions and by a 10% give back by all our employee unions including major pension reforms. I cut my pay by 25%.”

She added that after the Court decision to uphold dissolution of redevelopment agencies last month, the City once again balanced the budget for FY 2011-12 and FY 2012-13. “We immediately lost $28 million, cutting over a hundred positions. We have preserved many jobs by instituting a major reorganization of the city – eliminating levels of administration and merging departments to save basic services.”

- Built a winning management team — “The Mayor hires the City Administrator. A solid executive management team sets a standard of excellence for the entire City organization. We recruited one of the strongest teams in recent history, described by the San Francisco Business Times as “the dream team.” Led by City Administrator Deanna Santana, the team is moving to retool the City,” she stated.

“Oakland is a City of innovation, progressive ideas, and resilience. Oaklanders have helped lead many cultural, civil rights, peace, environmental, business and labor movements throughout our nation’s history. While most Oaklanders are passionate about our city; this year the nation also began to see our city in new ways acknowledging the positives,” said Mayor Quan.

She noted Oakland’s recent high rankings among national media: New York Times’ “5th Top Place to Visit in the World;” Sunset’s “20 Towns of the Future;” Bloomberg’s “Top 50 Best Cities in America,” USA Today’s “15th Most Literate City” and Newsweek’s “2nd most Can-do City;”

That “Can-do” spirit ran throughout the Mayor’s address. She highlighted several Oaklanders who are making a difference in the City:

Tim Westergren, Founder, and Joe Kennedy, President and CEO of Pandora Media, the face of Oakland’s burgeoning high tech and start-up industrial sector.

Susan Hollingshead, Vice President of People for Sungevity, the fastest growing residential solar company in the country.

Angela Tsay of Oaklandish, who made an investment in downtown retail this year, Along with Joyce Gordon of the Joyce Gordon Gallery, they have cultivated an artsy, hip retail following and opened a store right on Broadway.

Kehlani Parrish, Dylan Wiggins, Denzel Merrit, Ali-Kahn Lochin, Dillon Ingram and Jaden Wiggins of PopLyfe, local teens who made it to the final four of this year’s America’s Got Talent and who are upholding Oakland’s illustrious musical legacy as they lead the next generation of gifted musicians and artists emerging from the Bay Area.

Andre Ward, the World Boxing Association (WBA) Super Middleweight World Champion, who took time out of his busy schedule last year to encourage our youth to stay in school and engage in sports and other positive activities on Friday and Saturday nights.

“It’s people like these, and hundreds of residents who serve as Board members and commissioners, the thousands of people who volunteer in our schools and with youth, the tens of thousands of people who give back as stewards, such as the Earth Day and Creek to Bay Day volunteers, who are helping Oakland continue to rise.”

“My son said to me, and I think he is right, that the best view of Oakland is from your front steps. This year many of you shared that view with me, city staff and neighbors. Our diverse and opinionated views are what make us a city of buzz, of innovation and new ideas… but we must unify and stand up for our city. “

We will learn from our challenges and mistakes and we will rise. We will dream new dreams to reinvent our city and the world… and we will rise. We will put our arms around our children until they have hope…and we will rise. All of us… we will rise and must rise together.”