Oakland Businesses Threaten to Cut Off Taxes Until City Fixes Crime

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(Headline USA) Business owners in Oakland, Calif., threatened this week to stop paying taxes until the city takes action to combat rising crime rates.

José Ortiz, owner of La Perla Puerto Rican cuisine, said he and several other local entrepreneurs were rallying businesses in the area to agree to stop paying taxes.

“We’re proposing not to pay taxes to the city until you give me the services that we deserve,” he explained.

Ortiz told local outlet KNTV-TV that business has dropped in his restaurant by 25% over the past two years because customers no longer feel safe venturing into the neighborhood. La Perla has been robbed at gunpoint twice, he added.

“We’re not the only ones,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat all across the city of Oakland. The city needs to immediately, effectively do something about it.”

Paul Phan, owner of Dimond Cafe, joined Ortiz’s movement and shared surveillance video showing one of four recent incidents in which his restaurant was burglarized.

“I feel like we need to start somewhere. It’s ridiculous. It seems like it’s getting worse,” he said.

Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo said he understands the business owners’ reasoning.

“The owner is absolutely correct,” Gallo said. “Why do we keep just elevating taxes, but we’re not providing the services for safety?”

But a spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Shen Thao dismissed the entrepreneurs’ concerns, claiming property crimes have dropped in recent months. Thao’s office also said it has been proactive in hiring new police officers to fill existing vacancies.

“My question is where are they? Because I don’t see them!” Ortiz responded.  “I want service. I want police officers to patrol the streets of Oakland. I want the streets to be clean!”

This would not be the first time Oakland businesses took matters into their own hands in an effort to get the city’s attention. Back in September, more than 200 Oakland business owners took part in a one-day “strike” to protest, shutting their doors to bring attention to the lack of action by city officials.

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