Oakland introduces new initiative to support safe in-person shopping this holiday season

BySuzanne Phan via KGO logo
Thursday, November 24, 2022
Oakland prioritizing safety for shoppers this holiday season
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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff announced the Shop Safe Oakland initiative to bring people back to the town for safe, local in-person shopping.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A big push is underway to bring people back to Oakland's neighborhoods for local in-person shopping.

On Wednesday, Mayor Libby Schaff announced the Shop Safe Oakland initiative. It means money and support for commercial districts across Oakland.

Store owner Viviana Rodriguez-Smith hopes you'll check out her business - E-14 Gallery in Old Oakland for one-of-a-kind gifts that are locally made.

"This is jewelry from Asadeh. She is a resident of Berkeley," said Rodriguez-Smith.

Mayor Schaaf has announced new plans to increase safety for people who visit Oakland.

"People have felt unsettled. And we want you to know the city is here to welcome you back to enjoy your shopping," said Schaff.

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The city is offering a total of $315,000 in neighborhood commercial safety grants. The money will pay for more ambassadors, among other things.

"It's going to pay for physical safety improvements. In some cases, more security cameras to complement programs that are already in place. It's going to pay for rapid window repair in the event that someone's window is broken," said Schaff.

Grant money will also go to more than a dozen different districts in Oakland to help them pay for additional safety measures. Those areas include Chinatown, Little Saigon and Jack London Square.

"I think those things are really helpful. The more people are out in the community, supporting local, the less likely crimes are going to happen," said Rodriguez-Smith.

Margaret Layman will shop locally in Oakland again for this holiday season.

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"It's so important to support small businesses since they've been through such a terrible hard time in the past few years," said Layman.

As part of small business Saturday, Gallery E-14 says it is sponsoring an artisan market Saturday. It'll feature more than 20 local artists.

Many say shopping small, shopping local, shopping in Oakland, is worth it.

"Local community artists making their stuff -- not corporate. It doesn't go into Amazon trucks and pollute our planet. And, it's a groovy place to walk around," said Naomi Adelson in Oakland.

"Shop small, shop local, because the money stays in the community longer because we do that," said Rodriguez-Smith.

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Local business leaders and Chamber of Commerce leaders applaud the efforts to make Oakland safer.

"Our businesses have been hit hard, not only because of the pandemic but also because of the issues we've had surrounding crime," said Cathy Adams is CEO of Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce. "This grant will lift us up. It will make us feel safer to come out. You are helping our community. You are helping our economy by shopping and keeping the dollars in Oakland."

"These businesses not just in Downtown Oakland, but across the city of Oakland in Fruitvale, Black Cultural Zone, Little Saigon, Chinatown - these are places where businesses are anchors for the community. We understand this grant is going to be something we are really proud of coming together. But it's only the beginning steps. By doing this, we are ensuring that our businesses are heard, that newer people are going to want to set their roots here in 2023," said Jenny Kim-Anh Tran with Oakland Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce.

A special session of Oakland City Council will be held to approve the "Shop Safe Oakland" grants for the city's commercial districts.

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