Making Downtown Oakland More Family-Friendly

at 11:43 PM

This month, the City of Oakland will launch a planning process to shape the future of downtown. I've already read plenty of recommendations to make it more developer, transit and business-friendly, but I'd like to propose one more for consideration: let's make sure downtown Oakland is more family-friendly.

I moved downtown 13 years ago and for the last six years, my husband and I raised our two daughters and dog in a two-bedroom condo in the Old Oakland neighborhood. We loved it because it's an incredibly convenient and friendly place to raise a family downtown. We could walk to work, small businesses, affordable daycare, parks, libraries, farmers markets and great schools.

Six generations of my family have grown up and grown old in and around downtown and Chinatown, but the unfortunate reality is that while there's always been many family-friendly amenities, there's hardly any family-sized housing options available nowadays. Which is why earlier this year, we -- like other families we know --  reluctantly moved to the edge of town where we could find a little more space for our growing girls.

It's been said that children are the indicator species of urban health and great neighborhoods. So the outward migration of young families from downtown should be cause for concern and action.

So as we plan downtown's growth strategy, let's engage youth and parents in these conversations. Let's encourage the development of more three-bedrooms and a range of housing types to include households of all sizes and incomes.

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As for our public spaces? More stroller parking, outdoor family dining and street art made by youth. And more tiny benches, kid-friendly parklets, urban farmlets and colorful bike racks for kids to play on. And above all, let's make sure downtown Oakland is safe for our children.  

Oakland is rapidly changing, but with leadership and careful planning, we can and should do everything possible to keep our children and youth in the city.  After all, a family-friendly downtown and a family friendly Oakland is in everyone's best interest.

With a Perspective, I'm Tiffany Eng.

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Tiffany Eng is a housing professional working to create more inclusive and equitable cities.

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