Oakland in a nutshell?

By Dogtown Commoner | Posted at 1:18 pm, September 30th, 2007 | Topic: oakland

Courtesy of Sunday’s Tribune:

OAKLAND — Subway, one of the few signs of life in the Mandela Gateway retail strip on Seventh Street, was closed indefinitely Friday after being robbed for the third time in a month…

…The armed robberies have scared his workers, causing some to quit, and Tripathi doesn’t blame them. He’s not so worried about losing money, but he is worried that someone will be seriously hurt or killed.

Tripathi was exuberant about the location before he opened for business in August 2006, willing to be the pioneer and feeling confident that other businesses would soon follow him into the two-block stretch of empty ground-floor retail spaces at the Mandela Gateway apartment complex.

He was right about one thing, business is great. But the empty storefronts are still empty. With the exception of the People’s Community Partnership Federal Credit Union, the storefronts are closed and locked, and the street is largely devoid of pedestrian traffic that might detour criminals.

Marcus Johnson, a West Oakland resident and chair of the Prescott neighborhood crime prevention council, said the restaurant’s closure is a blow to the community and highlights the urgent need for community policing and beat patrols.

“He’s been robbed three times. He has cameras and customers, so that tells you that any business is not safe,” Johnson said. “It’s right across the street from BART. It’s busy there. Even with the 99 Cent store and Mandela Foods (both expected to open there next year), how are they going to open there and feel safe?”

All the development in the world can’t help a neighborhood if it remains too crime-plagued for a franchise sandwich shop to stay open for business.