What to Expect in Oakland in 2021

a stencil painting that says "free wifi" against concrete backdrop.
Photo by Paul Hanaoka via Unsplash.

Oakland Voices alumna Tonya Shipp offers a humorous yet thoughtful take on what she predicts is ahead for Oakland in 2021.

a stencil painting that says "free wifi" against concrete backdrop.
Photo by Paul Hanaoka via Unsplash.

Looking into my crystal ball, I see a stoic view. It is still, gray, and quiet. There are beautiful trees and gardens, kept houses, it is 65 degrees. The clouds are blue, birds are chirping, stray cats and dogs are about, but little foot and street traffic.

There is a tight community where many children are being home-schooled, where eyes and ears are open for ICE and police brutality. Package piracy is on the rise; homelessness, dumping and other illegal activity prevail. There is a political air and a sense of accountability.

Oakland has gone completely wifi to a project known as Oakland Undivided. Many nonprofit organizations such as the Tech ExchangeAlameda County Community Food Bank, and Roots Community Center, to name a few, have made it their mission for every household to have internet, food and other essentials are successful. Prices are affordable (not including housing) but every household and small business are trying to budget their second, possibly third, USA stimulus payments. People are saving, and investing in commodities such cannabis, and 5G, before the fastest internet speed ever produced is effective.

SNAP benefits will be accepted from many more food markets for grocery deliveries than Amazon alone. Prepared food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, parties, weekly groceries, and alcohol beverages, prescription drugs alike, will be delivered more commonly, growing the driver apps. More restaurants and convenient stores such as Panera Bread and Rite Aid will expand their markets and start delivering in Oakland. Black Angus, 7Eleven, Chevron Extra Mile, and Walgreens recently have — no one will have to leave their homes for almost anything. More companies and business people will offer food gifting (having food delivered to more than one person in the same order) along with e-gift certificates for Zoom Meetings.     

I am personally shivering at the afterthought of driverless cars and drones making deliveries! Apple will at least have a model of their new car. Concerts, plays, art gallery showcases and museums, zoos and exercise studio visits, and parades and other annual free events such as Art and Soul, Muertes De Dios, Black Joy Parade are going to be available online but we will have to start paying for many of them. We will even be able to hit the clubs online. I came close to it on New Year’s Eve with Chicago’s The DJ Firm! More Oakland churches than Allen Temple Baptist Church will hold services online.

Pfizer, BioNTech, and other pharmaceuticals will have created vaccines for the new strands of the COVID-19 pandemic virus. There is a decrease in overall health because community members are being heavily screened for office visits. E-medical or telemedicine services will be on the rise for the middle class than the working class. However, the distribution of the antidote will be in its final stages by the end of summer and health conditions will pan out.  

The air quality will be better due to less driving during COVID. The continual green practices of separating recyclables, growing some of one’s own foods, and consuming less harmful household products will be prevalent. The purchase of hybrid and electrical cars will decline; however, going solar will rise.

AC Transit and BART will continue disappointing riders with higher prices yet decreasing services. Oakland will continue to grow under Mayor Schaaf, with apartment and commercial buildings rising. Since the closing of the 99Cents Only Store in West Oakland, I have been and will still be rooting for a new location in Oakland, along with a Red Lobster! Many other Oakland residents will still desire a BCZ, a Black Cultural Zone Center built in East Oakland, similar to the recently built Restore Oakland Center on 34th and International. Lofts were built in the proposed building at the old Safeway headquarters on 58th and International. Many believe “the Black Panthers put Oakland on the map,” which makes the BCZ a meaningful historical project. Moreover, maybe we’ll get to see some MC Hammer, Too Short, and Kingdom of Wakanda wax figures up in here!

Soon EDD will hire temporary workers and those that have waited on the phones for hours on the days will finally be able to reach EDD to file and collect on their delayed claims. After COVID, unemployment will level out, with jobs remaining telecommute, and many companies closing brick and mortars. I predict Oaklanders will continue to use the Oakland Public Library as their go-to place for entertainment. 

Author Profile

Tonya Shipp is a mother of two and avid supporter of education and development. For the past ten years, she has been freelancing and working through staffing agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area. She obtained an associate’s degree in the social sciences from Laney College and is one class shy of receiving a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. She also served eight years in the Army Reserves before being honorably discharged. She volunteers regularly at the events and offices of nonprofits. Having experienced extensive periods of homelessness, unemployment and being without dental coverage is a strong advocate for the poor.

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