Let’s think Big. The general strike was impossible, but it happened.
Occupy the Oakland Municipal Auditorium
(The big EMPTY white building over by Laney and Lake Merritt)
Neighborhood Reclamation Proposal
Re-Open the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center for the People of Oakland
Re-Open the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center for emergency shelter, social services and educational purposes, and convene a People’s Convention for a grand assembly on next steps for the Occupy Wall Street Movements.
OCCUPY OAKLAND, SEIU1021, ILWU10, IFPTE21, OEA, and other participants in the General Strike which shut down the Port of Oakland Invited to Join
Located across from Laney College near Lake Merritt and the Estuary at 10 10th St Oakland, CA 94607 the Oakland Municipal Auditorium (a.k.a. The Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center) includes the 1,900 seat formal Calvin Simmons Theater, and a multi-purpose arena, which seats up to 4,500 people. The Oakland Municipal Auditorium was opened in 1914 has been used for everything from the provision of emergency medical services in the Flu pandemic of 1918, to Grateful Dead and Oakland Ballet performances to the Black Panther Party Black Community Survival Conference and the Green Party Presidential Campaign of Ralph Nader.
Mayor Jerry Brown closed the auditorium in 2006, allegedly because of a slight operating deficit, but more likely in an attempt to set up the sale of the property in the booming real estate market of the time. The Convention Center was one of the few large venues staffed by Union workers and many labor unions and left political groups used the hall because it paid the workers decent wages. When Brown closed the hall 20 workers lost good paying union jobs and the community lost a locale for everything from high school graduations to AC/DC concerts. The supposed annual budget savings were $300,000 a year. (City staff recently estimated that in the intervening five years $5,000,000 to $9,000,000 worth of decay had occurred in the property. ) Jobs, public service and economic stimulus of a vital downtown jewel were destroyed due to property speculation. (Even the Citty’s 1% were hurt—the Oakland Ballet which used the Calvin Simmons Theater in the Center became homeless and went out of business for over a year.) The property has been left largely vacant, except for some isolated event rentals since then. In 2011, in a paperwork shuffle the City of Oakland sold the property to its the Redevelopment agency (the City Council is the board of the Redevelopment Agency).
All this might seem to be completely unrelated to current events in Oakland, a city in the grip of a foreclosure crisis, double digit unemployment that approaches 50% in some neighborhoods, thousands of homeless people on the street and a political crisis sparked by Mayor Quan’s attempts to evict the Occupy Oakland encampment in front of City Hall.
Connecting the Dots
But there are number of factors that link these circumstances.
- The real estate speculative boom of 2000-2007 was what spurred Jerry Brown to close and attempt to sell the property back in 2006.
- The crash of that boom is what has driven the economy into near collapse.
- The City Council and the Mayor are still trying to sell the property.
- It is the largest vacant publicly owned space in downtown Oakland.
- The Mayor and the City Council want the Occupy Encampment moved away from steps of City Hall.
- The Occupy Oakland GA has endorsed neighborhood reclamation efforts.
- The City has justified the sale of the Convention Center to the Redevelopment Agency under its mandate to buy blighted properties in order to “facilitate[e] the rehabilitation and reuse of a large and prominent vacant, underutilized, and inadequate public improvement”
- The city is currently accepting proposals for a realtor to recommend the best re-use and rehabilitation of the Center.
- This is the only vacant public space sufficiently large and centrally located to maintain Occupy Oakland ability to continuing shelter for the people now camping and others without homes, to promote and sustain the educational and organizing efforts that have been underway, and the space is large enough for assemblies where workers, residents, students and interested parties can meet to discuss and formulate the next steps for the Occupy Wall Street movements.
- The Occupy Oakland Encampment should move indoors for the winter in the Oakland Municipal Auditorium (A.K.A. Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center).
Edit 11:42 pm.
RFP for Realtor to market the property
City Council Resolution Approving Sale to Redevelopment Agency (see below for plain text) http://oakland.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=1400194&GUID=616442EF-EA65-46FD-BDAE-4DD1680E7A9C