By Jeff Baker
The legacy of Measure Y depends largely on whom you ask.
Many applaud the inroads Measure Y purportedly made to reduce crime and violence among Oakland’s at-risk youth and re-entry population. Others point to the unfulfilled promise to hire an additional 63 neighborhood policing officers to bolster the ranks of the Oakland Police Department.
Some refer to the annual independent evaluations, its assessment of the programs and the nominal impact of the programs on the reduction of crime and violence.
Given Chief Howard Jordon’s latest pronouncement that property crime and violence crime are presently up 21 percent from last year, what has the city accomplished with the $140 million in Measure Y Funds to reduce crime and violence in Oakland?
$140 million is the estimated amount that already has been expended during the 7-year period of January 2005 to June 2012.
So, what is the real story of Measure Y? We know these facts:
The Measure Y Ballot Initiative passed in November 2004 when Oakland residents voted to tax themselves for 10 years to provide $200 million in financial support for violence prevention programs.
The ballot initiative created the Measure Y Fund, fueled by money collected from a parcel tax and a surcharge on commercial parking spaces. The Fund raises an estimated $ 20 million annually.
The annual Measure Y Fund allocation was divided among three city departments. $6 million annually goes to the Department of Human Services for violence prevention programming to reduce youth violence.
$4 million is directed each year to the Fire Department to eliminate “revolving blackouts” [closing] of stations and to enhance paramedic services; and a $9 million annual allocation goes to the Oakland Police Department to hire 63 neighborhood-policing officers – one assigned to each of the 57 community policing beats.
An upcoming series of articles on the legacy of Measure Y and violence prevention in Oakland will examine the track record of what may be the most controversial public safety ballot initiatives in Oakland’s history.
Jeff Baker, at the invitation on the Post, is writing a series of columns on public safety and community policing. Baker, a former Assistant to the City Administrator and Measure Y Coordinator for the City of Oakland, was co-convener of Mayor Dellums’ Task Force on Community Policing. An expert on public safety and community engagement, he lectures extensively on community policing and consults nationwide on drug mitigation strategies.