Flyers are up across the Temescal asking folks to donate $157.50 for a 6 month contract for a private security car to drive by your house 3 times a day to “check in” on your house. Some other neighborhoods have also instituted this crowd sourcing approach as a way to feel better. As much as I understand everyone’s desire (mine included) to be safe, this is exactly the wrong way to go. Pressures to sanitize are predictable when home prices continue to soar, but we are all here to live in a vibrant and urban community. It’s one of the worst scenarios possible for me and some members of the cohousing community where I live. Why do we react so strongly? It’s pitting the haves against the have nots, the neighborhoods in Oakland with mostly property owners who have expendable income against those who don’t. If successful at crowd sourcing, $15,750 that could go to local schools or organizations.
And what does the neighborhood get for the investment? Polluting cars cruising the neighborhood night and day employing folks to do the kind of neighborhood watch we should all be doing and that I do every time I am on my bike or walking the hood. It’s not the kind of Temescal neighborhood I signed up for 17 years ago when I plucked down my blood, sweat and yes all the money I had and then borrowed some more to invest in a cohousing community in a neighborhood with a much higher crime rate than now. At its worst, it’s pushing the area I love and know best toward a “gated” neighborhood where those who aren’t recognizable as “neighbors” are a bit suspect.
Neighbor Sarah Pritchett wrote an excellent blog on the whole issue including this observation: The private security firm isn’t the only thing that lacks transparency in this process. It seems profoundly undemocratic that a few people who can afford to contribute to a crowdfunding campaign are able to decide for the rest of us who live here that private security will make us all safer. Unlike the gang injunctions imposed by the Oakland Police Department, there will never be a public hearing on the issue, no research conducted to determine if private security firms actually decrease crime.
If you think sending your money to private security companies is the wrong way to go, consider investing in our local schools and community organizations. Or feel free to provide your own suggestions in comment area below on how to invest in the Temescal, both by donating and volunteering.
To invest in your local schools and community organizations, consider these worthy causes:
• Donate to Emerson Elementary PTA
• Donate to Oakland Tech PTSA
• Donate to Temescal Street Cinema
• Donate to Oakland International High
*Shootings have plummeted 35 percent so far this year from last year. Homicides are down 18 percent (to 28 as of May 11).Robberies have also dropped significantly. There have been 1,076 so far this year – 38 percent less than this time last year. In 2012, Oakland had more robberies than any other major American city, and 2013 was even worse. Armed robberies are nearly half of what they were a year ago. (SF Gate, May 2014)