The West Oakland Planning Council (WOPC) (Dec. 1967 - ???) was a key force in increasing community representation in the decisions affecting the West Oakland community in the late 1960s and 1970s. Its stated aims were to "establish a city within a city."1

Led by Ralph Williams, WOPC acted as an umbrella organization for a number of West Oakland community, religious, and political groups. The group's main purpose was to increase the power of West Oakland residents in affecting City decisions with the potential to affect West Oakland. Within a year of its founding, it had over 165 member organizations across West Oakland1. WOPC was the West Oakland branch of the Oakland Target Area Advisory Committee, which was the citizens' committee set up to provide citizen input into Oakland Redevelopment Agency activities3.

In the late 60s [when???] WOPC made a series of aggressive demands for local control over distribution of funding and planning of West Oakland redevelopment. The group made demands for

"control over the appointment of the Model Cities program director, direct access to the city council; the channelling of all model cities funds from the city council to WOPC, which would act as the neighborhood planning council for Model Cities; and the right to veto all Model Cities programs."1

Unsurprisingly, City Council, the mayor, and the Oakland Tribune were opposed to the plan. A compromise proposal involved

"an independent Model Cities Policy Committee on which WOPC had 51 percent of the votes. It allowed the Model Cities director to be appointed by the city manager from a list of nominees submitted by a six-man panel, three of whose members would be appointed by WOPC. Study committees would be appointed for the areas of health, education, housing employment and economic development, and police-community relations, with WOPC having 51 percent of the members of each committee. Finally it was agreed that both the city manager and the WOPC would be able to veto Model Cities proposals for bloc grants which originated with the agency and City Council."1

After the success of this compromise, WOPC lobbied for an extension of the dual-veto plan to money covering the entire "Model Cities area, not just over those bloc grants initiated by the city," with the reasoning that Model Cities money was intended to coordinate existing services in the West Oakland project area, not just to initiate new programs. The original West Oakland Model Cities planned area included the downtown Civic Center area, port areas, and some funds for the police department. However, WOPC lost this battle as the revised 1968 Model Cities proposal submitted by the City did not include the downtown and port areas (they were moved to other Model Cities areas, outside WOPC's control). In response, WOPC shifted to negotiating directly with agencies involved in distributing funding in West Oakland, including the port authority, school board, county welfare department, and others.



  1. Hayes, Edward C. Power Structure and Urban Policy: Who Rules in Oakland? McGraw-Hill, Inc.: 1972. 123-5.
  2. Oden, Robert Stanley. From Black to Brown and Beyond: The Struggle for Progressive Politics in Oakland, California, 1966-2011. University Readers, Inc.: 2012. 114-5.
  3. Douzet, Frédérick. The Color of Power: Racial Coalitions and Political Power in Oakland. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press. 2012. (Originally published in French in 2007, English edition released in 2012). p. 50.