Where’s Oakland’s Green Economic Development Strategy Beyond “No Coal”?

Does Oakland really understand what an economic development strategy is?

Just a moment ago I shared an article on Facebook that is in The Atlantic Magazine and about New York City Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s idea for a Green New Deal climate policy that’s as much about economic development as it is environmental regulations. First, I thought, “about time someone said that other than me,” then I remembered that Van Jones was the one who had that idea something like 11 years ago. Then, President Obama appointed Van “Green Jobs Czar” in 2009.

Then, as I was about to blog about what Van Jones came up with, and wrote a best-selling-book about back in 2007 that got him the Obama White House job, it occurred to me that the City of Oakland (where I currently live and have since 1974) doesn’t have anything close to a “Green Jobs” or any kind of economic development strategy that’s openly focused on acting beyond the reactive “no coal in Oakland” protest chant.

In the last mayoral election, not one candidate actually presented and touted the kind of approach I’m writing about. Yet, the programs and policies that could make it work, whatever form it takes in detail, largely already exist.

Tom Steyer (photo courtesy ABC News)
Tom Steyer (photo courtesy ABC News)

For example, did you know there was an assistance program for low-income California residents to buy low-emissions cars? Yep, right here. Guess who started it? Tom Steyer. Yep, THAT Tom Steyer! So, why don’t we have a campaign to list car companies in Oakland that sell those cars, make a sign that promotes them, and add a city incentive matching program?

And why not extend that to low-income housing? Make the Oakland flatlands an area where tax-increment-finacing can be used in special zones to invest in low-income housing that has electric car fueling stations? So far, we have more of a housing plan than an economic development plan (because we need a lot of cheap housing as part of this), but bear with me.

Oakland Needs A Comprehensive, Big Vision Green Economic Development Plan

This, what I’m presenting, is a big vision, comprehensive, Green Economic Development Plan. The next step is to establish a green-manufacturing plant, and I propose that both the Army Base and The Eastmont Town Center be the locations for a new facilities that makes electric SUVs, or the Schaeffler Bio Hybrid Bike Car that’s going to be at CES Las Vegas 2019.

Get Phil Tagami to help and work to compensate him for dollars lost in the way Oakland screwed up the Army Base Development Project (The one where the City knew coal was going to be part of the plan before it met Tom Steyer’s cash? Just saying. Bottom line is the Army Base should not be used for more market rate housing. We need to create jobs to offset the economic downturn we hopefully don’t see, but seems eminent.)

And who should Oakland go after? Well, it just so happens that Volkswagen is scouting a plant location in North America for a new production factory to build electric vehicles, CEO Scott Keogh told the media on November 29th. “We are 100 percent deep in the process of ‘We will need an electric car plant in North America,’ and we’re holding those conversations now,” Mr. Keogh said at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

I’d bet no one from the City of Oakland’s Office of Economic Development or the Mayor’s Office bothered to call Scott Keogh. Heck, when I represented Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris as his economic advisor, calls like that were habit for me. And no one had to tell me to do it, and I didn’t wait for Elihu to give me the OK, I just called.

Where Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf can step in is in calling Governor Gavin Newsom to help via State of California grants. And she should get President Trump’s help, too. He needs the positive vibes, all things considered.

Someone in Oakland, call Volkswagen. Heck, I’ll make the call.

Stay tuned.

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