Common woes prompt mayors’ united voice 

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums face similar problems in their respective cities: high crime and homicide rates, a need for more housing and jobs and the potential loss of professional sports teams.

The two mayors were brought together Wednesday morning for an annual breakfast with Bay Area business leaders to discuss the economic future of the two neighboring cities.

Both men talked about the need for more housing, with Newsom boasting that the growing number of residential units recently approved tobe built — more than 6,000 a year for the last three years — is proof that San Francisco is in "the greatest housing boom in our city’s history, save the post-reconstruction era after 1906."

Dellums said he wanted residential growth in downtown Oakland, but also commercial growth that would make the city center a vibrant place to live.

The mayors also expressed frustration over the violent crime that plagues both cities, each also deflecting criticism by noting that most other urban areas nationwide are also dealing with high homicide rates.

Newsom additionally placed blamed on the federal government, for budget cuts that he said put pressure on states and local communities.

"They’re spending $2 billion a week in Iraq. Somehow we have that money, but we don’t have the money for urban America?" Newsom said. "More people are dying on the streets of Oakland and San Francisco and other urban centers than in Iraq. You want to talk about war? It’s in your own backyard."

Another problem both mayors are facing under their watch is the potential loss of each city’s respective sports franchise: the Oakland A's baseball team and the San Francisco 49ers football team.

While Dellums said he felt the chance of preventing the A’s from moving to Fremont were "slim," Newsom was slightly more optimistic, but downplayed the potential loss, vowing to go forward with the promised redevelopment of the Bayview-Hunters Point area, with or without the San Francisco 49ers.

"But let’s put this in perspective. Ten games a year does not make an economic engine," Newsom said. "Our mandate as mayor is so much broader than just to subsidize billionaires, if I might be so crass."

E-mail Bonnie Eslinger at

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