There is a large divide between quality of life ratings from Oakland’s Black residents and the city’s white residents, according to a public poll conducted by the city.
The poll results were presented at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to indicate which issues residents felt deserved the most financial attention as the city enters a new budget cycle.
One of the findings was that people living in East Oakland (Districts 5, 6 and 7), and African Americans were the least happy with their quality of life in Oakland.
Meanwhile, white residents and those living in North Oakland and around Lake Merritt said they were most pleased with their quality of life.
Similar disparities were also found when respondents were asked whether they felt the city government is doing a good job in providing services to residents.
Those most displeased by the city’s job were East Oaklanders, Black, Latino and long-term residents who have lived more than 20 years in Oakland.
Councilmember Noel Gallo, who represents District 5, says he didn’t need a poll to give him that information.
“Look at where the most crime, illegal dumping, housing affordability issues and education problems take place,” Gallo told the Post.
Councilmember-at-large Rebecca Kaplan offered some solutions to the disparities.
“The disparities in Oakland are significant, with some neighborhoods, predominantly Black and Latino, receiving less of what is needed in the community,” Kaplan told the Post.
“This is one of the reasons I am fighting for some of the upcoming marijuana revenue to be used to fund these kinds of under-served needs, so that the hardest-hit neighborhoods can’t continue to be ignored, and have access to direct allocation of funds,” she said.
Kaplan also criticized the city’s “complaint-based system,” which responds more often to problems in affluent communities where people have the most time and access to make complaints.
The budget priority poll also indicated that for the first time in city’s polling history, housing costs vastly outpaced public safety and education as top concerns.
Almost 50 percent of respondents said they would pay significantly more to improve housing affordability.
The poll also revealed that up to 70 percent of Oaklanders are much more willing to invest in job training and employment programs, a significant increase from 2015.
Last year’s budget revealed that the city government’s top priority was funding the Oakland Police Department, with half of the city’s budget (over $220 million) going to police while less than $6 million went to human services.
Tulio Ospina is the assistant editor of the Oakland Post and editor-in-chief of El Mundo.