EBALDC: Work for the Residents of Eastlake
In April, a busload of mostly Cantonese and Vietnamese speaking Asian American seniors were brought to a meeting of the Oakland Planning Commission. Curiously, they held placards supporting the sale of a piece of public land to a private developer who wanted to build a luxury high rise tower in which none of them could afford to live.
If that seems fishy, that’s because it was. The seniors had been told that there would be senior housing available for them at the site; the plan in April included no such thing. The private developer, UrbanCore, paid for the bus that brought the seniors to the meeting.
Grassroots organizers in the community worked against this illegal sale of public land forcing the city to comply with California law and offer the land to affordable housing developers.
Now, UrbanCore is trying to clean up their image by partnering with the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC). While EBALDC has a history of working with communities to develop affordable housing, UrbanCore is a strange choice of partner for a new project as the plan prioritizes luxury housing.
As of the last Census, the neighborhood surrounding this land was 60% people of color, 40% Asian, 80% renters, and the median income is $38,000. A luxury tower will displace this working class community of color as it becomes increasingly impossible to afford the local rents. The so-called included affordable units are tacked onto the project as a separate tower, as if they’re merely an afterthought, visibly distinguishing the income level of the residents. On the other hand, neighborhood organizers engaged in an extended community process and have developed a design with area residents to best reflect what people want and need.
Clearly, even though UrbanCore promised community involvement, the plan evidences a complete disregard for community input.
We’re calling on EBALDC to stand with the community--and step away from the partnership with UrbanCore. In a time when Chinatowns and other low-income Asian American neighborhoods are being edged out by gentrification, Oakland has an opportunity to set a new trend in community-centered design. EBALDC has an incredible opportunity to be a part of a movement.
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