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W. Oakland awaits decision on disputed job center

(KGO)
December 10, 2012 5:37:06 PM PST
A plan to create a job center that will help those living in West Oakland has run into opponents who claim it runs counter to their efforts to make the city look better. Backers of the job center held a demonstration Monday night as they awaited a decision on Tuesday.

The demonstration is planned at the site in West Oakland where the job center would be if the city council moves ahead with the funding for it. The West Oakland Job Resource Center would occupy what is now the second floor of the library at 18th and Adeline. Supporters say it would be a crucial asset for a community battling poverty and an uptick in violent crime.

The controversy involves a plan to pay for the job center with funds received from the installation of five additional billboards, several of them electronic, on the old Oakland Army base property near the landing of the Bay Bridge. There are already several there and opponents say the proposed deal between the city and a major Army base developer would ultimately be bad for the community.

"We all want jobs. We all want a job center, but to base it on visually polluting our landscape, if that's the tradeoff, it's just trying to put us against eachother. That's the intention of this," said Karen Hester with Make Oakland Beautiful.

"We didn't ask for billboards. They're going to be there. So since the billboards are going to be there, the revenue, or some of the revenue from the billboards ought to fund the job center," said Brian Woodson with Bay Area Christian Connection.

The amount of money the billboards could generate is between $400,000 and $900,000 a year. Supporters of the job center say it is just a creative source of funding for these tough economic times and they also point out the area's high unemployment rate, approaching 20 percent for young people, as another factor.

The city council's community and economic development committee will consider the funding proposal at a meeting Tuesday afternoon. Supporters planned to hold a candlelight vigil and prayer service at the library Monday evening.


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