Oakland Mayor Jean Quan today called on Occupy Oakland protesters to designate official representatives to negotiate with the city and take steps to limit violence at future protests.
Quan issued a statement today saying that the encampment, which city officials say now includes around 180 tents, is hurting local businesses and stretching an already tight city budget.
The statement called for a dialogue with representatives of those camping at Frank Ogawa Plaza to "move toward a peaceful resolution," and encouraged individuals and organizations concerned with the encampment to reach out directly to protesters. She also asked protesters to ensure that further demonstrations are peaceful and that violent protesters are "isolated."
Quan said Oakland is a "city of the 99 percent," but the protest is costing it jobs. On Friday the city issued a statement that the encampment and protests had cost the city more than $1 million as of Oct. 28.
"Local businesses are hurting because of vandalism and reduced patronage," Quan said. "Neighborhoods are hurting because city services already stretched by budget cuts face additional demands responding to emergencies downtown."
"While we support the call for broader participation in political and economic democracy, we cannot ignore violence, property destruction and health and safety issues in Frank Ogawa Plaza," she added.
Quan's statement echoes one issued by the Chamber of Commerce on Friday, which stated that sales have dropped 40 percent at some businesses due to the Occupy Oakland protests. Customers, employees and clients reported feeling afraid and harassed downtown, chamber spokesman Paul Junge said.
The Chamber met with Quan on Friday to discuss its concerns, and said in a statement that it would "hold her responsible for the peaceful and successful resolution to this encampment."
City Administrator Karen Boyd also issued a statement Tuesday asking members of the public to step forward with any evidence of vandalism or destruction of property on the morning of Nov. 3, as the city is "preparing to take appropriate legal action."
The city released a list of problems with the encampment including tents placed on public walkways and hardscaped areas, numerous fire hazards, and sanitation problems with food waste, cardboard and inadequately
maintained portable toilets. Public works employees have been cleaning up graffiti and vandalism on a daily basis, and the city has provided homeless outreach services at the encampment twice a week for the past three weeks,
"The City of Oakland is concerned about conditions deteriorating during the time that City offices will be closed for the upcoming mandatory business closure day on Thursday Nov. 10 and Veterans Day holiday on Friday Nov. 11," Boyd said.