OAKLAND -- Despite a tumultuous few months punctuated by a fresh round of city layoffs and unyielding protests, Mayor Jean Quan said things are looking up for Oakland in her first State of the City address Wednesday night.
"This has been an amazing year with lots of turns and more than our share of bumps along the way," Quan said. "But Oakland is a city that faces crises and comes back stronger."
The mayor didn't outline any new major policy initiatives or address the Occupy movement during an upbeat and often lighthearted 55-minute speech inside a packed council chambers filled with supportive city commissioners, city workers and elected officials.
Quan made light of her rough-and-tumble time in office, praising Oakland as one of the most "livable and opinionated" cities. She also trumpeted leading businesses, such as Oaklandish and Pandora, as well as the city's thriving restaurant and art scenes that have garnered national attention.
Quan listed several accomplishments during her first year in office, including twice balancing a budget with a $30 million reserve, enlisting 1,000 new volunteers to work with Oakland youth and recruiting a well-respected management team to run the city's daily affairs.
Quan touched on numerous economic issues, including efforts at boosting trade with China and increasing business at the Port of Oakland.
She also said Oakland was moving forward with plans to redevelop the Coliseum complex and keep all three major professional sports teams in the city.
When it came to crime, Quan said that the city was working to fully implement its 100 Block strategy that coordinates law enforcement and other agencies to better police the 100 city blocks that account for 92 percent of Oakland's homicides.
The initiative began last fall as Oakland was coping with a shrinking police force and increasing violent crime and homicides over the previous year.
Quan told reporters earlier Wednesday that in addition to law enforcement efforts, her administration was working to provide jobs programs and summer camp opportunities to youth in the 100 blocks that are primarily located in several sections of East and West Oakland.
During her speech, she urged people to volunteer with students in the 100 blocks.
"If we do it, we will change the cycle of violence in the city forever," she said.
Quan said Oakland was emerging out of the recession, with an economy that generated 5,000 new jobs and saw a 12.4 percent increase in sales tax revenue -- nearly four points above the state average.
Looking forward, Quan said the city would work hard to find new funding sources to help eliminate blight and build affordable housing now that the state's redevelopment program has ended. She also noted that a city grant was in place for new police officers.
"I want to say to Oakland tonight that we are on the rise," the mayor said. "And we will rise together."
Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, who has emerged as Quan's biggest critic on the council and a potential recall election candidate, said the mayor should have addressed Occupy Oakland.
"Not to mention Occupy when it's the issue that's draining resources left and right, that's not reality," said De La Fuente, who did not attend the address.
"The reality is that Oaklanders are not blind and not stupid. They know that last year was the worst year in the last five when it comes to homicides, and this year is looking even worse."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.