Mayor Schaaf recognizes anxiety of Oakland's housing loss: 2 Investigates

- Mayor Libby Schaaf says she is not waiting for the results of the recent Alta Waverly construction fire investigation to fight the perception Oakland is vulnerable to possible anti-development arsonists. She met with more than a dozen local developers Wednesday to take their concerns and analyze suggestions. 2 Investigates Candice Nguyen shares her one-on-one interview with the Mayor about concerns for existing construction projects and how she plans to bring possible criminals to justice.


Nguyen: Mayor Schaaf, you just had a meeting with several local developers worried about their projects after these fires. How’d it go?

Schaaf: It was very positive. I sent the initial invitation out on Friday on the day of the fire. I wanted to assure people with other construction projects like Wood Partners that we are not waiting for the results of the investigation.

Nguyen: What if it’s arson?

Schaaf: We did talk about the possibility of arson and one of the things we can all do is bring to justice this individual that we know cased the arson on the San Pablo project. We recognize there is a period of construction that’s considered higher risk, and so we are developing a list of what our priority sites are and ensure both our police department and our fire prevention bureau is aware of those priority projects so we can be proactive.

Nguyen: In your eyes, do you think Oakland development is being targeted?

Schaaf: I have to prepare and prevent the possibility that Oakland development is being targeted.

Nguyen: Not that most people would condone arson, but what do you say to people who are angry about development of housing – housing they can’t afford and fear will push them out?

Schaaf: The anxiety of losing housing is absolutely real and people have good reason to be angry and frightened because of the housing pressures. The way to address the escalating rents in Oakland is to build more for every income level. I always say that I am not going to be like Donald Trump. I’m not going to vilify outsiders or newcomers. I’m not going to build a wall around Oakland.

Nguyen: What is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF’s) role in all this?

Schaaf: ATF brings in national expertise to uncover the cause of the fire. Fire investigation is a highly technical field, and we appreciate we are going to have access to the nation’s best experts. We have to get to the bottom of what caused this fire and whether it was intentionally set by an arsonist or accidentally set.

Nguyen: Are you concerned for current projects under construction right now in light of these fires?

Schaaf: The reason why we had this meeting today is because we are concerned for all the construction projects. We need them to move forward. We need their investors to feel confident their projects won’t be subject to this type of destruction.


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