Does Gavin Newsom Know Or Care About Oakland? Steve Lowe Blog

While I too spent a bunch of time in San Francisco’s Marina District, Union Street and Cow Hollow – my family lived just three or so blocks up from the Balboa Cafe on Fillmore – I never got to know California Governor Gavin Newsom or “GovGav” at all, having moved on to Marin back in ’65 and not returning much at all during those heady times when he took over what had up until then been a rather moribund soda fountain.

I guess, Zennie, without that kind of deeper relationship that you forged with Gavin, my own feeling is that he does indeed need to change – and the sooner the better!

I’ve never gotten all fuzzy that he knows or cares much about Oakland other than that it’s on the other side of some bridge leading from the Emerald City where obviously everything of great moment happens – yet, without Oakland here to do the heavy lifting at the Port and fill in as the crossroads of the Bay Area, could San Francisco continue to claim credit as the grand capital of the “Strongest Regional Economy in the World?”

Oakland sacrificed its once thriving neighborhoods so that a giant Maze and other monolithic supports could be built to feed that over-budget bridge, that which separates us from all the glitter and glitz across the Bay and creating in the process enormous shelters for the homeless and destitute with so little in return for those who had no choice but to move on – or stay and watch their neighborhoods and social infrastructure deteriorate.

Can our new Governor, who seemed pretty much oblivious to Oakland during his stints as San Francisco Mayor and Lieutenant Governor, now take an interest in Oakland as the epicenter of an emerging Bay Area metropolitan mega-city?

If that’s about to happen – the same kind of sprawling mutual governance that defines LA – as it inevitably must someday, will Gavin Newsom be there to help it come together seamlessly; or will he be endlessly traversing the State drumming support and dreaming of what’s next for a guy with charisma enough to burn and a substantially less-than-perfect, Herb Caen-like understanding of why Oakland even exists?

I think our recent changes on Council and Libby’s reelection leaves Oakland primed to take a united position of leadership in the move toward the magnificent megalopolis that the Bay Area needs to be, but it’ll take strong support from a Governor whose vision extends beyond the perimeters of San Francisco and the power politics that have so far kept Oakland from becoming Northern California’s Grand Central Station for High Speed Rail, headquarters for a much-needed Regional Port Authority – or even headquarters for the recently-decamped Metropolitan Transportation Commission! – and all of that latter debacle at an astoundingly higher price tag, economically and ecologically, than if located here at the very center the region.

Will that change in our brand new some Governor happen so that Oakland’s vast economic potential can at long last be realized, or will the Bay Area continue to grow with so many challenged residents here subjected to the same old rules and regulations, prejudices and protocols that Herb Caen rather mercilessly used to push out there every day in his happily Frisco-centric columns?

I’ll gladly relinquish my dog-eared copy of Jane Jacobs’ “The Economy of Cities,” if you thought it’d help him or one of his wonkier aides appreciate the supreme value of Oakland as the essential centerpiece for our otherwise uber-wealthy Bay Area – San Francisco included.

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