Oakland business owners threaten to stop paying taxes over high crime: ‘We’re all in the same boat’

Business owners in one California city are fed up with rampant crime and are threatening to stop paying their taxes unless officials do something to turn things around.

Small business owners in Oakland are hoping to pull together to force local government to address worsening crime in the area as a recall effort is also underway for Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao.

“We’re proposing not to pay taxes to the city until you give me the services that we deserve,” the owner of La Perla Puerto Rican Cuisine, Jose Ortiz, told KNTV.

In the past two years, his family-owned restaurant was twice robbed at gunpoint and he has seen business drop by 25% because customers fear for their safety.

“We’re not the only ones,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat all across the city of Oakland. The city needs to immediately, effectively do something about it.”

“The owner is absolutely correct,” City Councilman Noel Gallo told KNTV.

“Why do we keep just elevating taxes, but we’re not providing the services for safety?” he questioned, noting that the council should look into tax incentives for affected businesses.

A spokesperson for the mayor’s office said that businesses boycotting taxes would only be counterproductive, telling the news outlet that positive steps, such as filling police officer vacancies, have been made.

But retired Alameda Superior Court Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte says Mayor Thao “didn’t inherit all these problems. She caused a number of problems.”

“People who say give her more time. More time to do what? She has ruined our city,” Harbin-Forte, who is leading Thao’s recall petition, told KTVU.

Victory Baptist Church Pastor Marty Jenkins is also fuming, telling the station, “Look at the potholes. Look at homelessness. Look at the jobs. Look at the businesses that are leaving Oakland, and I’m mad as double ‘H-E hockey sticks’.”

To get the recall on the ballot by November, organizers must gather 25,000 signatures by July.

“The ball is being dropped significantly due to poor policies and poor leadership,” Citizens Unite founder Edward Escobar told KNTV. “If you’re not providing the services then how can you charge full business taxes to a lot of these businesses that are barely, barely surviving?”

Recently, small business owners in the area considered whether suing the city of Oakland would get the attention of elected officials.

Back in September, over 200 Oakland business owners took part in a one-day “strike” to protest, shutting their doors for a period of time to bring attention to the lack of action by city officials.

Demands that the mayor declare a state of emergency over the crime crisis were met with a dismissal by Taho who reportedly called the efforts, “just political theater.”

Frieda Powers


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