During the 10 years of what we will call the “Terrible Teens,” the East Bay’s political and cultural tastes changed at a breakneck pace. At the outset of the decade, unemployment was widespread, with Alameda County’s 2010 jobless rate rising to 10.9 percent three years after the onset of the Great Recession. By the end of the decade, unemployment was just 3 percent and the economic good times had been rolling for years — but not for everyone.
Indeed, the region’s decade was bookended by economic despair. The Great Recession gave birth to the class-based grievances of the Occupy movement, which targeted Oakland with a vigor seen in few other American cities. One decade later, the very people who willingly pitched tents in front of Oakland City Hall during the Occupy protests may now be reluctantly sleeping in tents at one the still-proliferating homeless encampments that decorate Oakland and other parts of the East Bay.
As the progressive movement spread from its traditional enclave of Berkeley to flourish in Oakland, Richmond, and Alameda, more and more lefties seeking solutions to the supply side of the housing crisis found common cause with housing developers — once predictable foes. Construction cranes sprouted across Oakland and its neighbors like mushrooms in the wake of the first winter rains. But the building boom followed the employment boom by more than a half decade, so rents soared to atmospheric levels as new residents flocked to cities all across the country in search of jobs, community, and urban lifestyles.
While the Terrible Teens began amid a full-blown housing crisis focused on the foreclosures of single-family homes, the current housing crisis has come full-circle and surpassed the pain of that trauma. An inadequate supply of housing of all types is unquestionably the number one issue facing the East Bay at the outset of the ’20s…