By rights, Oakland should be a Bay Area destination of its own accord. Indeed, skyrocketing rents over in San Francisco have pushed many newcomers to sleek condos that have sprung up downtown, as well as to now-trendy older neighborhoods like Temescal. Yet whatever gentrification means for Oakland, it has not led to increased safety. This remains a city where police times are so slow, groups of locals have taken it upon themselves to hold classes about how to administer first aid to gunshot victims. Old divisions, meanwhile, still exist: Residents of the affluent Rockridge area have floated the idea of hiring their own private security force, rekindling concerns that growing numbers of wealthy Oaklanders live with one set of services while a marginalized majority are left to tend to their own. Mayor Jean Quan, who assumed office in 2010 with community activist bonafides, was supposed to change all that. But she’s faced criticism for her handling of Occupy Oakland, and her poll numbers for reelection next year are dismal. Reporter Sarah Goodyear sets out to see if the city could finally gain a new sense of leadership to move forward, or if it will continue its tepid acceptance of a troubled status quo.
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