Jack London Square businesses face struggles due to crime

People come to Oakland’s Jack London Square for the sense of community, the food, and the beer.

However, small business owners are dealing with a complicated obstacle.

They tell KTVU the crime is out of control.

"This place could be a vibrant community but it [isn’t] right now," patron Kevin Ledbetter said.

At Tiger’s Tap Room, owner Brian Chan explained part of the problem is people choosing to avoid the area.

"Crime has gone out of control and just the cost of everything. I mean, all my inventory has gone up." Chan said. "Your groceries have gone up, so it’s kind of insane right now."

Chan is slashing inventory and cutting employee hours, and recently raised prices.

"This last year, I’ve drained through our savings," Chan said. "I literally almost closed down October 1st."

With Chop Bar going out of business recently and Irish pub Slainte announcing they will close for good on Halloween; the options are drying up.

"Yeah, it’s turning into a ghost town."

Nahirika Hammon lives in the neighborhood, where restaurants and breweries within walking distance are a big draw.

The Oakland Police Department's crime stats show violent crime is up 23% compared to last October and burglaries are up by 9%.

Hammond said she keeps witnessing cars being broken into in broad daylight.

"You can’t do anything, and no one seems to be stepping in," Hammond said.

Third-generation co-owner of Everett and Jones Barbecue, Dorcia White is worried about whether she will be able to hand down her business to the next generation.

"We’re in jeopardy of, you know, possibly not making it," White said.

Business is extremely slow, down a thousand customers at the BBQ joint in September after dealing with two recent break-ins.

"We have to make sure the public feels safe when they come out and if they don’t do something immediately, we’ll just be a bunch of boarded-up businesses all through Oakland," White said.

When asked if the city was doing enough to keep people safe, Ledbetter told KTVU, "Apparently not. People are afraid to come down here. So, what needs to be done? I don’t know. Hire more police? Defund the police? That don’t work." 

Entrepreneurs like Chan and White are hoping they won’t have to close their doors for good.

The office of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao told KTVU that reducing crime is a top priority for the mayor.

According to the Mayor’s Office, the city is doing that by funding more police academies to train new officers, bringing back foot patrols, and going after car burglary suspects which recently led to several arrests.

Chan told KTVU, that if he ends up having to shut down, he will not set up shop in Oakland again.