Question: “Can (or, more accurately, will) Oakland grow its economy without displacing low-income residents?”
The whole methodology of “growing” a city’s economy through development of industry and/or real estate is not at all about the people who live in that city.
The growth that both liberals and conservatives suggest has to do with bringing tech companies in- who will only come because they are given money in the form of tax breaks and are not forced to hire the people that already live here. This only develops Oakland if you think of Oakland as a geographical territory that is not attached to the people there. So that geographical territory now has more jobs, but those jobs are filled with people who didn’t used to live there.
City administrators knew this way back when they gave $11 Million- when Oakland still had a majority Black population- to build an ice skating rink INSTEAD of a roller skating rink. Not many Black folks in Oakland ice skate, and all the roller skating rinks had been closed down years before because of fears of the Black youth that hung out there. They built an ice skating rink for the new population.
It’s not that people in Oakland aren’t hired because they don’t have the skills. There have been umpteen training programs for IT jobs over the last 25 years. To train for an entry level IT job is a short process, we have had many skilled for those jobs for a while. They don’t get hired. Look at Pandora. Headquartered in Oakland. Oakland is known around the world for it’s Black musicians, and has been known for that for 40 years. I think Pandora has one Black musician there. So- the problem that forces people out is “development of the local economy” itself- that IS the driving force of gentrification.
Is the economy growing if the residents that were there at the beginning of the process still make the same amount or less, but live somewhere else now? No. It hasn’t grown at all in that case.
If you want to actually change the material wealth conditions of the people of Oakland, we’re going to have to make the jobs that they do have- whether it’s service sector, other unskilled labor, or otherwise- pay more. That has to be done though the organizing of a militant labor movement that does so through strikes and work stoppages. This will drive up wages, and if done in a militant enough manner, can drive up wages while negotiating to keep prices down.
Many liberals, progressives, and even radicals get caught up in “bringing in jobs” as the answer to poverty. That never has been the answer, can be proven to historically not work for the people in that area, and is focused on because the left has been ignoring actual class struggle for a while now.
Who does “economic development” actually benefit? Surely not the people of that area.