In the mid 1990s, Oakland’s EastLake District, then known as “New Chinatown,” was the site of a string of arson fires targeting Asian Groceries. The fires were a dramatic set back for a struggling commercial district. As Director of Neighborhood Economic Development for the East Bay Asian Local Development Corp., I oversaw the development of a revitalization strategy in the wake of the fires. The Strategy involved organizing a multi-ethnic merchants association, and coordination of an ongoing program of targeted business assistance, promotion of a new more inclusive image for the district (which was never predominantly Chinese), and a series of capital improvements. The EastLake Main Street Strategy outlined overall goals of this effort, identified key stakeholders whose support would be essential and spelled out a 3-year workplan and budget. The document led directly to multi-year funding commitments from the City of Oakland, the Local Initiatives Support Corp. and two foundations.

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