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Could Oakland Become the Next Silicon Valley?

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Could Oakland Become the Next Silicon Valley?

Michael Layefsky on Flickr

File image of Oakland.

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We've had several reports that Silicon Valley is moving north to San Francisco, but one report asks, "Why not Oakland?"

Oakland is cheaper than San Francisco and easy to commute to and from, argues GigaOm editor Tom Krazit, and despite its problems boasts a central location and a "vibrant" community. Krazit doesn't oversell Oakland, in fact, he mentions it "isn't exactly paradise." However he does tout the culture, restaurants, weather and plenty of vacant commercial real estate.

The main commercial district of Oakland — which for the sake of this discussion we’ll consider the area roughly bordered by Jack London Square, Lake Merritt, I-980, and Grand Avenue — is already home to a few tech companies, including Pandora and whatever is left of Ask.com. But there are an awful lot of spaces that could accommodate a rapidly growing tech company, and a few places — like the old Sears store at Broadway and 20th right above BART — that used creatively could house much larger enterprises.

Krazit offers Oakland as a way to stop the tech sector polarization of San Francisco -- mainly by moving it to Oakland.

While it is true that Oakland would benefit from more businesses, jobs and a bigger tax base, steeper real estate prices and rents may not benefit Oakland residents. At least one article, which appeared in the Guardian (U.K.) told about Oakland residents disliking techies setting up shop. In it, Oakland's Mayor Jean Quan said the city would absorb the new residents to the city even if they were "white people from the Midwest."

The reality, and Krazit only touches on it, is that most tech workers are young and want to be with other young, driven people. San Francisco provides city living and geeky young things, but Oakland also has youth -- and if Oakland isn't enough, Berkeley certainly is close enough, too.
 
Oakland has become a beacon to younger artists and professionals that live there because San Francisco is too expensive, and they have created a youthful culture and vibrant nightlife across the Bay.

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