Chapter 1. Oakland- The Bay Area's Premier Waterfront City
Most of the world's great cities are on waterways
because transportation is critical to a city's economic vitality.
Historically, a site on a major river or bay
created a point of access between inland goods and distant markets. Port
cities eventually became manufacturing centers, due to the convenience
of assembling components obtained from several different locations.
Trading also made the early ports into commercial and banking centers
and major cultural influences on their hinterlands. The location of the
early American cities was also dictated by access to global markets, and
these cities also quickly emerged as the nation's first manufacturing
and commercial centers.
Manufacturing and banking activities no longer
gravitate to modern ports as they once did. Efficient ground
transportation has reduced the need to locate manufacturing operations
adjacent to port terminals, and advances in communications allow trading
to occur at distant locations. Modern ports now serve as intermodal
gateways, where products and materials are drawn from wide areas and
transferred between water and land-based transportation.
Oakland's position among waterfront cities is
especially advantageous. Not only is it situated on one of the Pacific
Ocean's best located and protected bays, but Oakland also holds the
premier position on the bay. Hence, although San Francisco housed the
region's first port facilities, they soon moved across the bay due to
Oakland's superior land connections. Oakland's port facilities are
complemented by the Oakland International Airport, offering
opportunities to link water, ground and air transportation. This nexus
has attracted regional distribution centers, including the United Parcel
Service, Federal Express and the United State Postal Service facilities.
Oakland is one of America's most important gateway
cities. In 1990, port facilities transferred nearly 15,000,000 revenue
tons of cargo between water and land vehicles, and the airport conveyed
457 million pounds of air cargo.
The conjunction of transportation modes at Oakland's
Waterfront is vital to our nation's ability to compete in international
trade. However, as crucial as our Waterfront is to mining in Nevada,
pulp producers in Northern California and the farms of the heartland; it
is less clear how the advantages of being a Waterfront city can be used
for the betterment of Oakland.
Tapping Our Waterfront's Full Potential
It is estimated that the Port of Oakland's maritime
activities support nearly 300,000 jobs in the region. Few of these jobs
are from operation of the Port. Most are with industries which rely, to
some degree, upon the availability of transportation facilities. It is
not clear how many of these jobs are within Oakland.
The two military installations on the Waterfront are
also sources of employment. Last year the community organized to oppose
closure of Bay Area military bases, including the Naval Supply Depot
consisting of over four hundred acres in the marine terminal area. The
Oakland Army Base, while not on the current base closure list, may
ultimately also be threatened. Given the threat to these bases and their
great potential for a variety of other uses, is not too soon to consider
the alternative uses of this land for the benefit of Oakland.
As the first step in planning for the future, we
must develop better information about how the Waterfront impacts
Oakland's economy. This would include such information as:
What are the types and relative numbers of jobs
provided by Waterfront transportation facilities and the industries
which rely upon these facilities?
What major businesses and industries reside in
our area due to the availability of Waterfront transportation
What small business opportunities exist due to
We also need a clearer understanding of the
competitive advantages derived from Waterfront transportation facilities
and how we might use these advantages in our economic strategic
planning. For example:
What types of industries have a reed to locate
near intermodal transportation facilities such as on Oakland's
How can we attract and accommodate enterprises
for whom the Waterfront offers a competitive advantage?
How can education, training and apprenticeship
programs be designed to increase the likelihood that Waterfront
industries would hire locally?
How can we increase local, small business
opportunities associated with the Waterfront?
Finally, there should be discussion of public access
to Oakland's shoreline. Along the nineteen miles of shoreline in
Oakland, there are few points at which the public can reach the water.
Housing is virtually excluded from the Waterfront, and recreational
opportunities are extremely limited. Oakland is a waterfront city, but
is virtually locked from contact with the shore.
Rediscovering Oakland's Waterfront
As Oaklanders we are justifiably proud of our
harbor. However, in our fascination with the mighty cranes and the
modern container vessels, we have lost sight of the many other
opportunities which a Waterfront offers.
Of all the Bay Area's cities, Oakland has the
longest and most varied shorelines. Oakland's heritage as a Waterfront
city has also been lost, and with it the recognition of the historic
role which Oakland has played in California.
The following chapters explore these many
dimensions, including its history, economic potential, recreational and
cultural opportunities. The report also attempts to address
institutional opportunities and barriers, and describe the Port of
Oakland, City/Port coordination of land use decisions and the future of
the military bases.
A lack of space and time limits the contents of the
reports to definition of issues and general discussion. However, it is
the hope of the committee that by treating the many dimensions of the
Waterfront in a single booklet, we can begin to recognize the full
potential available to Oakland as a Waterfront city.
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