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Photograph by Greg Roden

The Slanted Floor: 'Tipsy' takes on a new meaning at Heinhold's earthquake-altered bar.

A Man, a Plan, a City on the Verge

Will free cappuccinos woo the dotcom crowd?

By Dann McDorman, courtesy of Urban View

Jerry Brown, Mayor of Oakland, was entertaining several hundred technology businesspeople gathered from all around the Bay Area for the first official TechOakland mixer. He held a microphone in one hand, a glass of wine in the other. In inimitable Brown fashion, he was telling the assembled tech-heads why they should move their businesses into downtown Oakland.

"We will reward you," he said bluntly. "We'll reward you with no property taxes, free cappuccino in the morning, and," grinning at the slightly tipsy crowd, "endless celebration."

Luring hi-tech businesses is an essential part of Brown's well-publicized plan to attract 10,000 new residents into downtown Oakland within the next three years. It's a hand-and-glove relationship: All those people have to work for somebody, and no industry has more job opportunities right now than telecommunications and software technology.

Certainly a major portion of the new technology-oriented growth will consist of refugees from San Francisco's bruising real estate market. Cindy Nash is founder and president of Nash Associates, a database consulting outfit that last year moved across the bay from an office in SOMA. "In San Francisco, office space costs $3 to $4 per square foot," Nash explains. "Here in the East Bay, it's $1to $2."

Oakland offers even another alternative to San Francisco: it's a centrally located city not yet saturated by hi-tech business. "Working in Oakland allows me to reach clients up and down the Bay Area," Nash says. "We can pop over and be at a meeting in downtown San Francisco in 20 minutes. That's just a little longer than it took when we were in SOMA."

For more information about Oakland, visit oakland.com.

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From the November 8, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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