OAKLAND -- Continuing a whirlwind first week at the city's steering wheel, Mayor Jean Quan introduced plans Thursday for a personal outreach effort this weekend in one of Oakland's toughest neighborhoods, a visit to China later this year to help court new business to the port and a partnership to improve the city's public image.

In her first public presentation since Monday's inauguration, Quan spoke to several dozen members of the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club, taking questions and outlining some of her plans.

Most immediately, on Saturday morning Quan will head a team of volunteers joined by Oakland police Assistant Chief Howard Jordan going door to door in police beat 33. Comprised of several blocks in the area around International Boulevard and 82nd Avenue, it is an area known for its troubles with violence.

The door-knockers will be spreading the word about several projects, Quan said, including:

  • Recruiting neighbors for a street cleanup to happen Jan. 15 and Jan. 17;

  • Announcing the return of problem-solving officers to the city's reorganized beats;

  • Drumming up awareness of the city's "baby college" program for struggling parents and pregnant women; and

  • Letting neighbors know about the opening of a health center at Madison Middle School and a new library at Acorn Woodland Elementary School, both scheduled near the end of this month.


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    One of the major goals of the outreach, Quan said, is to establish an active Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council in the area. The councils have gotten attention in the last year, particularly in Chinatown, where organizers rallied after a handful of high-profile crimes shocked the community. Results in that neighborhood included a coordinated security camera program and an educational campaign aiding crime victims to overcome language and trust barriers in reporting crimes to the police.

    Quan also announced plans to accompany local business leaders on at least one trip to China later this year, though it hasn't been scheduled. The mayor has set herself an early deadline for proposing the city's next budget, offering to submit it by the end of March, and said that will be her priority for the time being.

    Omar Benjamin, executive director of the Port of Oakland, publicly invited Quan in December on an upcoming trip to China, hoping to capitalize on publicity there about her being the first Chinese-American woman to lead a major American city.

    "She's definitely a bit of a celebrity over there right now," Port spokesman Robert Bernardo said Thursday. "It would be a good opportunity for the Port of Oakland and for Mayor Quan to get more business to Oakland."

    Seventy percent of the port's trade comes from Asian countries, Bernardo added.

    Quan also announced a coalition of local public relations professionals -- from both city agencies and locally based businesses -- to establish "a conscious strategy" for improving Oakland's public image.

    The partnership is in early stages but Quan said she hopes to capitalize on the opportunity the publicity abut her is providing.

    "We got a chance for the world to take a different look at Oakland," she said.

    For information on Saturday's volunteer outreach, go to www.oaklandnet.com or call 510-238-3141.

    Contact Sean Maher at 510-208-6430.