Potholes Don’t Discriminate, but a Plan to Fix Oakland Streets Reveals Stark Divides in the City

The city has a plan to tackle its pothole problem that it says is equitable. But, some residents say it isn’t fair.

1 minute read

April 8, 2019, 9:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink

Oakland Hills California

Basil D Soufi / Wikimedia Commons

A three-year plan to repair decrepit streets throughout Oakland, California, was developed using an equity framework that would not leave out parts the city that have been neglected in the past. But residents in the city’s wealthier Oakland hills neighborhoods are not happy with the proposed distribution of $100 million of funds, which will provide bigger investments to lower-income areas in the flatlands, such as East Oakland and Fruitvale. 

"The department weighed two factors equally to decide how to dole out the money: how many miles of poor roads lie in each zone, and how many households qualify as 'underserved' — meaning they are low-income, people of color, non-English speakers, elderly or young," reports Rachel Swan.

Oakland hills residents say that the vast majority of the funding comes from taxes they pay, and roads in their neighborhoods are dangerous and in need of repairs.

"Still, the urgency is greater in low-income neighborhoods, where the cost of fixing a popped tire or a broken axle could drain someone’s livelihood," says Swan. In addition, an analysis of streets in poor condition shows many more residents along each mile of roadway in East Oakland compared to streets in the North Oakland Hills.

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