Scroll down to the “Save Our Local Indies” Letter Template.
We Need to Save our Oakland Indies
We wrote a blog in July about the plight of Oakland independent proprietors. It was an impassioned plea for action straight from our Localist hearts to save our Oakland indies. Happily, we discovered that there are so many Localists who share our deep concern and want to do something to help our Indies.
Our beloved merchants face insurmountable challenges daily to survive. The list is long: from skyrocketing rents to byzantine city processes and everything in between.
As such, it’s getting more difficult for them to do business in Oakland. Many have closed their doors forever. Worryingly, many more are straining to stay open. No doubt, it’s an important issue for Oakland and our future.
“Everything is to lose if we don’t act. We’ve seen what happens as many cities before us have died a Corporate America death. We’re at risk of becoming a city-burb devoid of a soul. Corporations, national coffee chops, retail and restaurant chains, and big box retailers will overtake our neighborhoods.”
For Anybody Who Wants to go to Battle for Oakland Indies
- Let’s pledge to live, act, and spend locally just a little more often. To be sure, this doesn’t mean every purchase and everyday. But the effects of spending $10 or $20 or $100 more each month will make a big difference for everyone.
- We must demand that The City of Oakland take action to address the short and mid-term problems immediately. And, we have to compel them to prioritize Oakland indies in their vision, plans, and policies. It’s quite clear that the City has no political will at this time to address the dire situation. Nor do they deem it important to design a vibrant future.
To that end, we have written a letter that we can all send to our Mayor and/or City Councilmembers. To make it really easy, we’ve provided all the contact information so that you can email them or send your letter via the USPS. See information below.
Let’s do this! Of course, please feel free to comment to let us know you sent a letter. We’d love to hear from you.
Save our Local Indies Letter Template
123 Your Street
Oakland, CA 946XX
Xth September 2019
Mayor’s name or Councilmember’s name
Mayor of Oakland or Councilmember, District X
1 Frank H Ogawa Plaza 2/F
Oakland, CA 94612
Dear: (CHOOSE: Mayor Libby Schaaf or Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan, Dan Kalb, Nikki Fortunado Bas, Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Sheng Thao, Noel Gallo, Loren Taylor, and Larry Reid):
Re: Take Action Now to Save our Oakland Indies
I am part of a growing and determined group of Oakland citizens who strive to think and act locally just a little more often. As self-proclaimed “Localists,” we’re motivated by the knowledge that spending our hard-earned money locally is an investment in ourselves and in our communities. Certainly, a robust Oakland indie community, at minimum, enriches our own lives and the lives of those around us.
Despite all the upsides and their importance to Oakland, many indies are struggling. The challenges they face daily are almost insurmountable. We are disturbed by the recent trend of merchants closing up shop forever. The situation is critical and more are sure to follow.
No doubt, we all know what will happen without a thriving independent small business community. Oakland will lose its soul. We’ve all seen this scenario play out in cities and towns across the USA. I’m sure we can all agree that this is not our dream for Oakland. It’s not why we all choose to live here.
We cannot let this trend continue
But, we don’t have to stand by helplessly and watch Oakland transform into a glorified city-burb. Contrary to popular belief, this outcome is not predetermined. And it’s a myth that indie problems are borne out of a lack of small business competitiveness.
Instead, many of the obstacles are caused by planners and politicians that don’t take into account the needs of the indie community–or it’s potential. At worst, many government policies–at all levels–are designed to favor big business.
So, there are things that we can all do to rectify the situation. Obviously, we Oaklanders have to be more disciplined about spending our money locally. We know that’s on us. But local government must also intervene. Indeed, you must play a major role in shaping a successful future for independent businesses.
What we want the City of Oakland to do
First, we urgently call for action to help local merchants deal with their short and mid-term challenges. You know them well: skyrocketing rents, construction that reduces foot traffic, and lack of affordable parking, to name only a few.
Here are some specific ideas that can be implemented immediately to make an impact:
- Give indies a voice in local government
- Ensure small business participation in the political process
- Create an “Emergency Task Force” to identify the current obstacles and address solutions
- Consider “Emergency Funding” for Small Businesses in crisis
- Launch a City of Oakland “buy local” purchasing policy
- Leverage social media to promote a “shop local” mindset
- E.g. Post stories about Councilmember visits to local merchants
Secondly, we demand that our politicians, like you, do more for indies in the long-term. We encourage you to be brave and imaginative. But, most importantly, we urge you to firmly establish them in the vision, strategy, and planning of Oakland’s future. No doubt, they’re an important constituency.
After all, their success is essential to create a diverse and equitable economy, build strong and vibrant communities, and reduce our impact on the environment. In short, indies must be prioritized over large corporations, national retailer chains and restaurants, developers, landlords, and other businesses that do not substantially contribute to our community.
Finally, we will cheer you on to carry out the vision, enforce the policies, and fight opposition when necessary. Indeed, only then can we ensure that we will all have a city that we can be proud of.
City of Oakland Contact Information
Mayor of Oakland
Libby Schaaf Mayor
City Of Oakland Councilmembers
Rebecca Kaplan Councilmember-at-large
Dan Kalb District 1
Phone: (510) 238-7001
Nikki Fortunado Bas District 2
Phone: (510) 238-7002
Lynette Gibson McElhaney District 3
Sheng Thao District 4
Noel Gallo District 5
Loren Taylor District 6
Larry Reid District 7
Institute of Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) for extensive information about important local topics.