OAKLAND -- Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who met her District 4 constituents Saturday at Bret Harte Middle School to discuss "the State of the District," offered an honest accounting of her first two years in office.
"I made campaign promises to you, and I felt I owed it to you" to give you an update, Schaaf said. "It's a mixed bag. There are always things to celebrate, but there is still a lot to fix."
Schaaf can point to successes including playing an integral part in saving Moraga Canyon from Piedmont development; to taking back High Street; to the creation of mosaics and murals around the district; and making progress filling the many potholes affecting neighborhoods.
Schaaf's promises included: to reduce and prevent crime; build a thriving economy; support the schools; and to "make government more responsive and responsible."
Schaaf said reducing crime is a work in progress.
"I'm sorry to say, but we have we have not achieved this yet," she said. "Crime has taken its toll on this city and its residents."
Serious crime is up by 23 percent citywide in 2012, ranging from 16 to 26 percent higher in hills police beats, according to police statistics. Schaaf has been at the forefront of looking for solutions to mitigate Oakland's understaffed police department, including the Schaaf-Reid proposal and the consulting contract for William Bratton, which were both approved by the City Council last week.
District 4 has more neighborhood watch groups than any other district in the city, according to Felicia Verdin, supervisor of the Neighborhood Watch Division.
"There is a dichotomy between the police and crime prevention programs that is holding the city back. They must work together," Schaaf said.
"This city didn't become a dangerous city overnight, and these strategies will not yield results overnight," she said. "But if we have the political will to stick with them and not (continue) to try the flavor of the month, we could see results in a year or two."
About crime, Eugene Lynch, of Maxwell Park, said, "I am ashamed of the youth today. They look at you like they want to kill you. I think our thinking is off-track. We are too educated and overthinking the situation. We must get the guns off the streets. We've got to get tough. If you aren't doing anything wrong, there is no reason to fear cameras. Sometimes people only understand a strong approach."
News was a little brighter on the economic front. The city brought in $449.5 million. Unemployment dropped 2.4 percent and sales tax revenues increased 4.5 percent, contributing to $34.8 million over budget forecasts.
Schaaf has arranged broker's tours to help fill vacant store fronts in the Laurel, and a parking study is under way in Montclair. In her new role as the chair of the Finance Committee, Schaaf anticipated that she will play a significant role in passing next year's budget.
Schaaf feels that some progress has been made on making government more responsive and efficient and cited that 79.5 percent of the district's 4,881 service requests were filled.
Public works filled 1,470 potholes in the district, 404 more than in 2011. In addition, Mountain and Lincoln boulevards were repaved as well as other streets throughout the district. The Piedmont Pines undergrounding project in conjunction with PG&E has begun and is running on schedule, Schaaf reported.
The city of Oakland has won a grant for Code for America, which will provide further government transparency by providing the community data about various aspects of their government. Schaaf has partnered with schools, offering event tickets for fundraisers and supporting after school programs.