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Why hundreds of Oakland businesses are striking Tuesday

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Ryan Dixon, a general managing partner at Calavera, said that frequent break-ins, coupled with the Bay Area’s nightmare perception of Oakland, are crippling his restaurant. 

Yelp/Shayla B

Over 200 Oakland businesses plan to participate in a strike Sept. 26 to demand support from city officials amid rising crime. 

“If you don’t do anything, it’s pretty much a do-or-die situation for our businesses,” said Carl Chan, president of Oakland Chinatown’s Chamber of Commerce, who is organizing the strike. “Public safety is impacting our small businesses, and customers are afraid to come out.” 

Businesses are striking to demand that politicians provide direct assistance to lower crime rates and offer public safety resources, and subsequently prevent the closure of more businesses, according to a flyer distributed for the strike. A press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Le Cheval, an Oakland Vietnamese restaurant that is closing after 38 years at the end of this month due to crime in the neighborhood, according to the owners.

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Carjackings and burglaries at local businesses have steadily risen in the past five years, according to Oakland Police Department crime statistics, although data shows that car break-ins are less frequent compared with pre-pandemic years. Still, 150 small-business owners recently signed a petition demanding that local and state legislators boost security and provide operational relief across the city, as reported in a recent SFGATE story. Property crime and security expenses, as well as a decline in revenue from customers choosing not to venture out, have “brought us to the brink of existence,” the September letter to government officials read.

Ali Albasiery, the owner of Shop Rite Supermarket, said he plans to close his grocery store for the whole day Tuesday in support of the strike. He said part of his decision to participate was because his business was broken into four times within the past eight months. 

“Crime is out of control, and we just have to stand up,” Albasiery told SFGATE. “It takes the community; it takes business owners; it takes politicians. They have to hear our voice, they have to understand we exist, and they have to change the laws.”

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Last Tuesday, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution directing the city administrator to recommend actions on how to expand the city’s violence prevention efforts, hire and retain 911 dispatchers and police officers, and create a grant program to fund security cameras for local businesses. The recommendations are due in December, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (the Chronicle and SFGATE are both owned by Hearst but have separate newsrooms).

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao also recently announced a program called Activate Oakland investing $400,000 in grants for events to increase the city’s foot traffic.

“I appreciate that folks are frustrated — I’m frustrated,” read an emailed statement from Thao on the strike provided to SFGATE. “But we are working aggressively to make our communities safer and we’re going to keep doing that. We welcome the opportunity to meet with any business owner that wants to work on collective safety solutions alongside our office.”

Nigel Jones, the owner of restaurants Kingston 11 and Calabash, said he will participate in the strike as well. His restaurants aren’t open to the public on Tuesdays, but he is suspending Kingston 11 lunch catering activities Tuesday morning. 

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Ryan Dixon, a general managing partner at Calavera, said that his restaurant cannot afford to close for the entire day but will participate in the strike by closing for two hours in the morning Tuesday. Dixon recently told SFGATE that frequent break-ins and the poor public perception of Oakland are hurting his restaurant: Business is down 25%, and Calavera has cut its staff nearly in half. 

“If all of us leave downtown, we are the core and the heart of Oakland,” Dixon said. “We are the small businesses, and our staff and our families are the core of what makes Oakland thrive. … If all of these small businesses leave, what do all the residents and guests to downtown have to come for? Nothing.”


Ryan Dixon, a general managing partner at Calavera, said that frequent break-ins, coupled with the Bay Area’s nightmare perception of Oakland, are crippling his restaurant. 

Ryan Dixon, a general managing partner at Calavera, said that frequent break-ins, coupled with the Bay Area’s nightmare perception of Oakland, are crippling his restaurant. 

Yelp/Shayla B

Over 200 Oakland businesses plan to participate in a strike Sept. 26 to demand support from city officials amid rising crime. 

“If you don’t do anything, it’s pretty much a do-or-die situation for our businesses,” said Carl Chan, president of Oakland Chinatown’s Chamber of Commerce, who is organizing the strike. “Public safety is impacting our small businesses, and customers are afraid to come out.” 

Businesses are striking to demand that politicians provide direct assistance to lower crime rates and offer public safety resources, and subsequently prevent the closure of more businesses, according to a flyer distributed for the strike. A press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Le Cheval, an Oakland Vietnamese restaurant that is closing after 38 years at the end of this month due to crime in the neighborhood, according to the owners.

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

Carjackings and burglaries at local businesses have steadily risen in the past five years, according to Oakland Police Department crime statistics, although data shows that car break-ins are less frequent compared with pre-pandemic years. Still, 150 small-business owners recently signed a petition demanding that local and state legislators boost security and provide operational relief across the city, as reported in a recent SFGATE story. Property crime and security expenses, as well as a decline in revenue from customers choosing not to venture out, have “brought us to the brink of existence,” the September letter to government officials read.

Ali Albasiery, the owner of Shop Rite Supermarket, said he plans to close his grocery store for the whole day Tuesday in support of the strike. He said part of his decision to participate was because his business was broken into four times within the past eight months. 

“Crime is out of control, and we just have to stand up,” Albasiery told SFGATE. “It takes the community; it takes business owners; it takes politicians. They have to hear our voice, they have to understand we exist, and they have to change the laws.”

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

Last Tuesday, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution directing the city administrator to recommend actions on how to expand the city’s violence prevention efforts, hire and retain 911 dispatchers and police officers, and create a grant program to fund security cameras for local businesses. The recommendations are due in December, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (the Chronicle and SFGATE are both owned by Hearst but have separate newsrooms).

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao also recently announced a program called Activate Oakland investing $400,000 in grants for events to increase the city’s foot traffic.

“I appreciate that folks are frustrated — I’m frustrated,” read an emailed statement from Thao on the strike provided to SFGATE. “But we are working aggressively to make our communities safer and we’re going to keep doing that. We welcome the opportunity to meet with any business owner that wants to work on collective safety solutions alongside our office.”

Nigel Jones, the owner of restaurants Kingston 11 and Calabash, said he will participate in the strike as well. His restaurants aren’t open to the public on Tuesdays, but he is suspending Kingston 11 lunch catering activities Tuesday morning. 

Advertisement

Article continues below this ad

Ryan Dixon, a general managing partner at Calavera, said that his restaurant cannot afford to close for the entire day but will participate in the strike by closing for two hours in the morning Tuesday. Dixon recently told SFGATE that frequent break-ins and the poor public perception of Oakland are hurting his restaurant: Business is down 25%, and Calavera has cut its staff nearly in half. 

“If all of us leave downtown, we are the core and the heart of Oakland,” Dixon said. “We are the small businesses, and our staff and our families are the core of what makes Oakland thrive. … If all of these small businesses leave, what do all the residents and guests to downtown have to come for? Nothing.”

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