Mixed-income development celebrated amidst criticism

(KGO)
May 16, 2012 5:03:30 PM PDT
A notorious Oakland neighborhood is now a place a lot of people are proud to call home.

A grand opening ceremony was held Wednesday at the new Lion Creek Crossings apartment complex just east of the Coliseum complex. Still, some are saying the city needs to do more to make everybody there feel safe. The most recently developed section of Lion Creek Crossings is only steps from BART, but it's miles away from making everyone who lives there happy.

"The drug business that was going, people on top of roofs, it was a scary place to drive through," Gertie Barlow-Hill said describing what the stretch of 69th Avenue was like before "Related Companies of California," city officials, and Oakland Housing Authority teamed up to clean up the area. "It has changed. I can't believe it's the same 69th Village," Barlow-Hill said.

And, that is exactly what developers want to hear. On Wednesday, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of new units in the mixed-income housing project. "I think without the community support, you simply can't do these things," said Bill Witte with Related Companies of California.

On the other hand former resident Elsa Russaw says, "Safety is not what it should be." The development hasn't been without its critics. Russaw used to call Lion Creek Crossings home. She has since moved. She says the high-tech cameras and security gates are only an illusion of safety, and complaints to management from her and other low or fixed-income residents would often fall on deaf ears. "Of course, I don't speak for everyone, but I speak for most people. Most people have not enjoyed their stay here," she told ABC7.

There are other charges ranging from the displacement of more than 100 low-income families to not enough jobs connected to the project for the residents of this community, all claims the housing authority flatly denies. "A lot of tenants that grew up at Coliseum Gardens did not want to come back by the time they were able to come back," said Eric Johnson with the housing authority.

It is important to note that Oakland Housing Authority does not handle security at the property. That is the responsibility of Related Companies of California. Also, there were 40 full-time and part-time jobs created by the new development and there is another wing yet to be built. And, despite claims that there are not enough low-income units, there are now 400 such units, more than double the number there before, but they are only available to those who qualify.


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