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Oakland Mayor's Pothole Repair Plan Prioritizes Underserved Neighborhoods

OAKLAND - The City of Oakland finally has the money to start paving its potholes, but residents are split on how to divvy it all up.

The Department of Transportation is pushing to prioritize low-income neighborhoods and underserved populations. That means Fruitvale and East Oakland will get the lion's share of the funding.

"We have to recognize that traditionally many of these neighborhoods have been under-invested in," Mayor Libby Schaaf said.

Under the $100 million dollar plan, East Oakland and Central Oakland would get the biggest cut, $15 million. After that, Fruitvale and Eastlake would receive $14.5 million. Neighborhoods in the Oakland Hills would receive $5 million.

"Yes, places that have not been prioritized should be prioritized but my bigger question is where is the tax money going?" Kimberly Stokes of Montclair said.

"We live in California, it's one of the most taxed places you can live, what do you mean there's not enough money to pave our roads? Can we see the books?" Stokes added.

"People from every neighborhood are frustrated with the road conditions, they should be," Schaaf said.

Mayor Schaaf argues the equity-based model is "defensible and will have the most impact."

The equity model takes density into account. There are more people per mile in East Oakland and Fruitvale compared to more affluent neighborhoods.

"The impacts of a broken axle or flat tire are devastating to a low-income family that might have to choose fix your car or pay your rent," Schaaf said.

Historically, funding for road repairs in Oakland has come from the state. Schaaf says under state law the city is required to spend that money on major thoroughfares which is why local roads have suffered.

This $100 million comes largely from Measure KK which is why the city can allocate that money to local roads. According to The Department of Transportation 60% of local roads in Oakland are in poor condition.

"Everyone will see an improvement in this plan," Schaaf said.

The City Council still has to approve the funding plan. It is scheduled for a vote at the end of April.

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