West Oaklanders want to keep the streets free & clear
on June 16, 2009
Nuisance parking—cars left, abandoned or parked indefinitely—was most on the minds of the dozen or so residents who joined two Problem Solving Officers, and the new patrol supervisor at the West Oakland Senior Center Tuesday night for the joint Neighborhood Crime Prevention meeting.
Residents who came live in the areas covered by Beats 2 and 5, which include most of West Oakland, a neighborhood in transition with an on-going crime problem and one of the city’s highest concentrations of lovely Victorian homes.
Over the two hour meeting residents worried about dogs running free in DeFremery Park and the city’s budget problems that could leave Oakland with fewer police officers, but it was mostly nuisance parking that took up the evening.
Problem Solving Officer Robert Gerrans suggested they the non-emergency number to get any car that appears abandoned tagged for towing. His advice came with a caveat.
“Once the car is tagged the owner will have 72 more hours to move the car. They could move it across the street and be safe,” he said.
A woman asked, “So they don’t have to move it a mile away?
“No. It’s not necessary,” said Gerrans.
Cars that are clearly inoperable, however, can be cited for immediate towing.
Recreational vehicles with an occupant asleep inside can also be cited.
A woman and her perturbed tween came to the meeting so she could complain about an 18-wheeler with a trailer that idled in front of her house. It blocked her driveway making her and her son late for work. The tween sat with her back facing the front and sighed loudly while her mother spoke.
“He was just sitting there for 20 minutes. He wasn’t asleep. I don’t know what he was doing,” the mother said.
When asked if she called the non-emergency line or spoke to the driver of the truck to find out what was going on the woman appeared flummoxed.
“I didn’t want to call and then have someone show up after he was gone. So I just watched and timed him.”
She added that she planned to come to today’s meeting to complain.
“Okay, well do you feel better?” Cannon asked with a smile.
“Yes! Yes I do!” said the woman and laughed. Much to the relief of her bored tween, they soon left.
Highways 880 and 980 border West Oakland. Apparently long haul truckers are exiting and taking rest stops in residential neighborhoods.
The street nuisance issues didn’t end there.
The 95th block of 21st Street has become the convening place for a large group of loiterers. Problem Solving Officer Louis Johnson drives by often, but there isn’t much he can do,” he said.
“They aren’t breaking any laws. I know them all by name. I’ve cited only one for an open container. I drive by to say hello and tell them to keep the sidewalk clear,” said Johnson.
Blocking city sidewalks is a citable offense. He said the loiterers are careful to leave a wide berth around the sidewalk.
There is another large group of loiterers on Filbert Street between 8th and 10th Street that that neighbors suspect of being involved with drug dealing activity.
Co-chair Barbara Montgomery seemed particularly perturbed by them and applauded loudly when Johnson said he would drive by more.
Johnson cautioned Montgomery to temper her expectations for what could be done.
“They have look outs on bicycles with cell phones. They always know when we are coming,” he said.
Montgomery wasn’t convinced, “If one approach hasn’t worked then we use another.”
Sergeant Inez Ramirez, the newly minted patrol supervisor said he was making the rounds to as many of the 57 neighborhood prevention meetings as he can.
“We want to supplement their efforts,” he said referring to the problem solving officers who work with the neighborhood groups. “Knowing what’s going on can help us accomplish a bit more. I push them to think of the box and show them how to approach issues. We use the S.A.R.A. model”.
The S.A.R.A. model is a problem solving method that stands for: scanning, analysis, response and assessment. It encourages police officers to be rational when tackling a problem instead of emotional.
Residents bought up the concern that the city’s budget problems will mean fewer police.
Oakland agreed to pay more taxes in 2004 year to fund Measure Y, a parcel and parking lot tax that funds additional officers, fire services and violence prevention programs.
“We advocated for Measure Y. Now your elected officials want to cut 140 officers. What’s going to happen to that tax money we agreed to pay? Let them know you’re not pleased,” said the spry co-chair Aleta Cannon who has lived in West Oakland for 35 years.
One of the last issues addressed during the meeting illustrates the culture clash happening in West Oakland as the area gentrifies.
Many residents expressed exasperation with “all the people who moved to the neighborhood” who go to DeFremery Park and let their dogs romp around without leashes.
DeFremery Park has signs that say dogs are not allowed.
Lisa recently moved to Linden Street from San Francisco and was the only Caucasian present at the meeting.
“As a responsible dog owner I feel I should speak up so we don’t end on a negative note,” said Lisa . “ There is no place in the area for owners to exercise their dogs.”
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