It would appear that residents in Rockridge are taking actions based on the assumption that their property is more valuable than the lives of people in "other" (East and West) parts of Oakland. But rather than act with compassion and solidarity, these private-minded residents are feeding a reinforcing cycle of divestment from the public good.
According to FBI crime statistics nationally, property crime has dropped 14 percent since 2003, even though from 2011 to 2012 property crimes in California ticked up 7.8 percent. Property crimes in California decreased 0.9 percent from 2012 to 2013. While crime in fact has dropped, fear of crime seems to be on a reinforcing loop, driven by profit-seeking private security firms since 9/11 and a confluence of three systemic developments since 2010.
The very real eviction crisis in working-class Oakland and Richmond has been largely unfelt by most people in Rockridge, in either their personal or professional lives, which in more than a few cases directly led to the fuller financial crisis. The Occupy movement surfaced very real inequalities between the wealthy and working poor, and in Oakland, we saw the middle class equate property damage with violence. The third development is the increase in smartphone use.
Today, 48 percent of people using Facebook do so through their mobile technology. Locally, a technology bubble emanating from "app" development is driving up rents in San Francisco. This is having a systemic effect of driving tech workers to the East Bay, and in turn, driving up rents in Oakland. Never mind that overuse of such phones alienates potential neighbors from each other. And such smartphones are more valuable than drugs when it comes to resale on local informal markets.
Just a few miles away, also in Oakland, but in "another city," murder rates mainly among black and brown youth remain stubbornly high -- on top of property crime. This is a world removed from 99 percent of the residents in Rockridge, who according to the 2010 U.S. Census ZIP code 94618 were overwhelmingly wealthy and white when compared to this "other city."
So was it really a surprise when, after several morning commuters in Rockridge were robbed of their technology, that an employee of The Tech Company used technology to raise private funds to bring further privatized "safety and security" to Rockridge (see http://oak.lc/1pzJA)? Papers such as yours would have us believe that we should not be surprised that these residents would not even consider the lack of public accountability or transparency in their actions, whatever their intent. Theirs is the type of uncritical enthusiasm that is spawning the App Generation, which acts as if all one needs is the right widget to get the desired, immediate, simple, one-way, result.
Who is this small group of residents setting neighborhood policy? Why do they not put their enthusiasm and money into influencing public policy to make all Oakland streets, not just their own, safe for all children in this city?
There is continuing vast inequality of opportunity and treatment of people across this potentially great city of Oakland. And people with a little more -- and in many cases, with accrued unearned benefits -- are obliged by these conditions and privileges to serve the people beyond their own neighborhood, not just during our market-based holiday seasons, but each day, every day.
Mike Bishop is a seven-year resident of Rockridge.