I grew up in housing projects in the barrio in East Los Angeles. Though the majority of my community consisted of hardworking people from strong nuclear families, gang violence was common, poverty was ubiquitous and drug addiction was a destructive force.
These social ills are not unique to the community that produced me, however; they are pervasive in Oakland as well.
Good fortune has smiled upon me, though. Through God-given talents, perseverance, support from loved ones and luck, I've been fortunate enough to overcome the aforementioned ills.
Life's been good, but it wasn't easy. I was the first in my family to graduate from college and moved to Oakland with the promise of a better life.
As a whole, I've been fortunate and feel blessed to have experienced and accomplished what I have so far.
Since moving here, I launched a career in public policy, I met my remarkable wife, earned an MBA from UC Berkeley, and now work in Silicon Valley. We've grown our family and even purchased a home in Oakland. Yet despite all these blessings, I'm still wondering whether Oakland is a good place to raise my children.
We currently live in what I first deemed to be a quiet community with a majestic natural landscape in an urban environment, an upgrade from the harsher neighborhood south of Highway 580 where we previously lived.
However, since moving here late last year, this new community of ours has shown me some of the worst Oakland has to offer:
Illegal dumping is as common as the weekly Waste Management pickup. Home-invasion robberies seem to be the norm here, and if you include break-ins when people are not home, the number swells to six in six months in a two-block radius.
I've lost my peace of mind and spend countless sleepless hours contemplating the worst while fearing the safety of my family. I don't remember ever feeling this way in my barrio -- and that was a barrio.
I'm seeing myself beginning to transform from a progressive, open-minded optimist eager to improve the world to a bitter, angry, frightened and narrow-minded man. Oakland has done this to me. For every time I have opened up my heart to Oakland, it just disappoints me.
I used to want to embrace this community and make it my own, especially since the Bay Area has given me so much, but it seems that with every great thing the Bay Area rewards me, Oakland takes something away.
I used to think I could make a difference, but now I am largely indifferent. Right now, I really don't care how much Oakland deteriorates. Problem is, we live here.
But as my children begin to enter school age, I have zero interest in exposing them to an upbringing that defined mine. I had no choice, but they do. I don't have to raise them here.
There are other communities that are better suited for raising children where you don't have to expose them to the elements that have prevented Oakland from becoming a world-class city.
Unfortunately, I can't say goodbye to Oakland yet, but I look forward to doing so.
Hector Preciado is an Oakland resident.