4 big companies to fund $10M plan for downtown Oakland security measures

Four major Oakland employers said Thursday they are ponying up to fund a $10 million program to step up security for their employees working downtown.

Blue Shield of California, The Clorox Company, Kaiser Permanente and PG&E said they will collaborate and work with local police and the city to improve security through the creation of an Uptown/Downtown Safe Zone.

A breakdown of the plan wasn't available Thursday, but the companies said in a joint release that the program would "complement and augment" recent efforts by local police, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Attorney General Rob Bonta to address serious crime issues in the city.

"The partners involved in this effort saw a need to take quick, meaningful action on behalf of our coworkers and neighbors in Oakland," said Patti Poppe, chief executive officer, PG&E Corporation. "In the months ahead, we'll learn what works and what more may be needed to support our goal of creating a safer, more prosperous hometown for all."

Security measures set to roll out in the coming weeks include "visible and responsive security" in downtown areas, and funding for the Oakland Uptown Downtown Community Benefit District's Ambassador program for on-demand buddy escorts to and from local destinations, including offices, restaurants, or points of interest.

In addition, the venture would provide employee safety training and subsidized transportation for employees to and from work and transit hubs, nearby parking lots and local businesses.

"We chose Oakland as our headquarters and are proud to be a part of this community," said Paul Markovich, president, and chief executive officer of Blue Shield of California. "It's important that we do what's needed to not only protect our people who live and work here but support our community as we work together to revitalize this great city."

Between them, the four companies have thousands of employees who work in Oakland's downtown area. The program will be effective through 2024, and cost an estimated $10 million, to be shared by the four employers. 

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement that she was grateful for the companies' collaboration and called it an example of strong public-private partnership.

"I applaud their engagement as true civic leaders to improve conditions for everyone in the Uptown/Downtown community," Thao said. "Collectively we share a deep love and commitment to this beautiful city and linked arm in arm with the Governor and our top CEOs, I know we will be successful in quickly bringing safety, growth and vibrancy back to our streets."