May 25, 2007 at 6:45 am (mirepoix)

If you were re-routed through West Oakland via West Grand Avenue soon after the collapse of the MacArthur Maze you may have seen posters stating “Welcome Thru West Oakland” and “Enjoy Our 53 Liquor Stores”. This witty street humor took advantage of the heightened traffic along West Grand Ave to point out a critical and humorless problem in West Oakland.

Not only is West Oakland overrun by an inexorbitant amount of liquor stores… the number is growing. A 1998 community food security assessment of West Oakland conducted by the U.C. Cooperative Extension found that, at that time, there were 43 liquor stores scattered across West Oakland (Farfan-Ramirez, 1998). Now, as evidenced by these clever posters targeted at unsuspecting commuters, the number of liquor stores has actually risen in the last 9 years!

It seems odd that, despite all of the attention and noise that this issue has generated in Oakland, the count of liquor stores is still on the rise. What will it take for our city leaders to stop supporting policies that benefit and expand liquor stores and intervene in the crisis of health and the disparity in healthy food access that this growing trend indicates?


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