root - Posted on 01 September 2003

Poor, artists and Oakland residents protests Mayor Jerry Brown’s housing policies

by Kathleen Kirkwood/Staff Writer, OAKLAND TRIBUNE

OAKLAND – Mayor Jerry Brown, loyal supporter of the arts, wasn’t applauding Wednesday’s live performance from his balcony seat at City Hall.

Two dozen recently evicted artists and supporters set up a temporary tent city outside City Hall to Illustrate their concerns about the “Jerry-Fication” of Oakland.

Costumed artists carried signs, others played bongos and one sat in the corner of a painted cardboard house.

They were protesting what they see as Brown’s support for gentrification of Oakland’s low income neighborhoods, where live- work lofts were once both cheap and easy to come by.

Some went face-to-face with Brown over his policies in a heated exchange in the mayor’s office, during a press conference.

“There are a lot of artists that have nowhere else to go,” Lisa Garcia, a recent evictee and founder of POOR Magazine, told the mayor. She urged him to use his clout to promote just cause eviction laws, saying Oakland tenants needed protection from the surging real estate market.

Brown countered that he didn’t favor such “rigid” laws. “I don’t think someone should stay somewhere 30 days and be allowed to stay there for the rest of their life.”

At one point Brown told a protester, “The city is not going to be slumified – it’s going to be improved.”

Someone asked him, “You think low-income housing is slumifi- cation?” and Brown replied, “No.”

The mayor asked Garcia to provide him with a list of recent evictees, saying he could see whether there was any way to help them.

The mayor said the city is preparing to roll out an affordable housing strategy in coming weeks, amounting to $100 million from several sources of funding.

The performance and tent city lasted about an hour before being dismantled. City officials didn’t intervene or confront the protesters.

Most of the artists wearing “evicted” labels at the event are residents of a 10-unit building at 1255 26th St. in West Oakland. Those residing in three of the units were recently given 30-day eviction notices to be out by the end of the month.

Others are worried they may be next.
John Protopappas, whose property management company, Madison Park, manages the building for owner Mak Siu Shuen, said the reason for the evictions is that the three units are being repaired.

But Nils Frykdahl, a musician who has lived in a loft here for 10 years, said the repairs had been needed for years. Many artists fixed up their lofts, he said.

Frykdahl and others suspect the owner is fixing up his property because West Oakland has become more desirable of late.

Frykdahl was wearing a styrofoam cube on his head – fitting into his painted cardboard house.

Although he looked in Oakland, Frykdahl said he couldn’t find anything affordable. He’s considering moving into a converted stable in San Leandro, he said.

“I don’t think it’s possible to stop the march of money into his area.” “I voted for Jerry because he said he would support artists. I don’t want to move.”


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