Coliseum Developer Aims to Bring 30K Living Wage Jobs to East Oakland

Oakland city leaders announced their vision Thursday for the Oakland Coliseum site where they see 30,000 more residents employed as the site is redeveloped. 

The leaders led by Ray Bobbitt, founder of the African American Sports and Entertainment Group, announced their "30K 4 O-A-K" plan at a news conference Thursday morning. 

The AASEG has the exclusive right to buy and develop Oakland's 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex. The other half is owned by the Oakland A's. 

"At a time when our community is being severely impacted by increasing homicides, public safety issues, retail theft, health and wellness inequalities, lack of meaningful employment, and rapid housing displacement, there is a huge need for our community to come together in unity and step forward with real solutions," Bobbitt said in a statement.

The "30K 4 O-A-K" plan is "an early stage employment and job training initiative," to "create 30,000 living wage jobs in Oakland," Bobbitt said. 

He said the plan will provide jobs and gainful wages for many Oakland residents, including the most disenfranchised members of the community.

Jobs will pay a minimum of $15 per hour. At least some will go to Oakland teenagers to give them the opportunity for "meaningful work."  

The plan also includes permanent, salaried jobs at cost-of-living wages for the Oakland area. 

Jobs will be in a variety of disciplines including construction, the service sector, engineering and maintenance, security, and retail. 

The plan has the support of at least three city councilmembers who spoke at the news conference. All eight city councilmembers voted to give the AASEG the right to buy and develop the city's stake in the Coliseum complex. 

Councilmembers said that the community work by the AASEG was the reason they were given the opportunity to buy the city's stake. A group led by former Oakland A's pitcher Dave Stewart also sought to buy the city's stake. 

Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan, Councilmember Treva Reid and Councilmember Noel Gallo were at the Thursday morning news conference. 

"More jobs equal more safety (less crime)," Kaplan said as Oakland grappled Wednesday with the report of the 132nd homicide of the year, a record number stretching back more than 10 years.

The city has also been grappling with caravans of people robbing pharmacies, cannabis businesses and other stores in the city and shooting at police who respond to stop them. 

“Nothing stops a bullet like a job," said John Jones III, a partner with the AASEG and whose role is community outreach. 

That's especially relevant for the area where the Coliseum is located, which is East Oakland. Most of the homicides and shootings this year have been there. 

Reid said East Oakland lost over 500 businesses this year. She's hoping the AASEG plan will bring 60,000 jobs. 

"This is a rope of hope for this community," Reid said of the plan. 

She is hoping it will mean opportunities for generational wealth for many African American families. 

Gallo said the vision set forth by the AASEG is a strong one. 

"There is a need for jobs in Oakland," Gallo said.

Growing up in Oakland, he added "it was the job that taught us and gave us hope."

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