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Where Are the '100 Blocks'?

Oakland's mayor refuses to release key information about her crime-fighting plan

Santana, Quan and Batts Occupy Presser Oct. 26

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is refusing to reveal the location of the crime-ridden blocks that make up her "100 block" strategic crime-fighting plan, despite repeated requests from City Council members and The Bay Citizen.

According to Quan, the plan focuses police department operations and social services in the streets where 92 percent of the city's violent crime occurs. But Quan refuses to say exactly where those 100 blocks are, leaving city leaders and residents in the dark about whether the plan is actually working.

Although many city departments have been privy to the specific blocks, the mayor's office officially declined The Bay Citizen's repeated requests for such information on Monday, citing a public records act exemption that allows “law enforcement intelligence” to remain under wraps from the public.  

“We haven’t given it to anybody,” said Sue Piper, the spokeswoman for the mayor’s office. “We’re working in these areas and right now, if we were to release something specific, it would jeopardize what’s going on.” 

Some City Council members are demanding more transparency from the mayor's office. They cite a new report they received Sunday, which shows that crime has increased 14 percent in Oakland from this time last year. 

“This is baloney,” said council member Ignacio De La Fuente, who said his office had made repeated requests for the location of the blocks. “There is an increase in crime in some areas of the city, and it’s totally irresponsible of this mayor to not provide information.”

Others said they never got a chance to vet the plan. “The council was not consulted on the 100-block plan, and we were not given specific details of the plan, and we did not authorize it,” council member Rebecca Kaplan said. "I want to make sure we’re keeping our promise to the communities and maintaining the public safety in all of our neighborhoods."

Since Quan officially announced the strategy at her public safety summit in October, details about the plan have been sparse and often inconsistent.

During her presentation, Quan said her office and the police department had identified the 100 blocks through an analysis of crime data. The plan, she said, would focus multiple city departments and other agencies “on the 5 percent of the city where 90 percent of shootings and homicides occur.” She outlined a broad strategy involving deploying more police to high-crime areas, collaborating with other law enforcement agencies, and prioritizing city services, including blight abatement, in the 100 blocks.

“Not surprising, these same 100 blocks have some of the highest joblessness and school dropout rates,” a leaflet from the mayor's office reads. “Many of these areas straddle economically depressed commercial corridors that attract prostitution and open-air drug markets.”

According to Piper, the police department, the city Public Works Agency and the Office of Parks and Recreation know which blocks are part of the mayor's plan. These departments have been told to work together to address problems in those blocks, without waiting for complaints from residents.

Piper said Monday that the value of the plan is in facilitating communication between different city departments and law enforcement agencies already operating in the area.

“It’s a different way of thinking,” Piper said. “The problem is, people were working in their own silos. Now everybody has in their mind, ‘We really need to think about what we could be doing differently. What we could do better.’”

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