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Oakland transit planner taking photos of bike racks held at gunpoint by luxury condo security

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Kenya Wheeler helped design Oakland’s plan for the Broadway/Valdez area, only to find it suddenly unwelcoming

Senior government transit planner and longtime Oakland resident Kenya Wheeler says he ended up in a tense confrontation outside of a new luxury apartment building near Broadway and Webster, seemingly just by walking down the street.

While walking near Uptown at night, Wheeler stopped to photograph some bike racks and, per his account, which was posted on Twitter, encountered an alarmed security guard who accused him of photographing parked cars and demanded he stay put until police arrived.

A second guard who arrived at the scene drew his weapon.

“I was shocked as I turned toward him to see that he had drawn his firearm,” said Wheeler, who is black.

Although he says the guard put his gun away quickly, the display unnerved him to the point that he felt afraid to leave.

Wheeler also notes that a manager from the Alexan Webster apartment building at 2330 Webster Street apologized to him, saying that building security was anxious because of recent break-ins.

Wheeler contributed to Oakland’s Broadway Valdez district plan, only to now end up accosted in the very same neighborhood.

The security company that hired the guard to protect the apartment building was fired shortly after the incident. “They were let go because they confronted someone on a public sidewalk when there was no reason to confront him at all,” a spokesperson for the company told KTVU.

Following the incident, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called the interaction “unacceptable” and promised to speak to the building to “ensure their teams conduct themselves in a manner that reflects our Oakland values.”

The 230-plus unit Alexan Webster opened its doors to tenants in November. The building, which advertises itself as “luxury apartment homes...just minutes north of the dynamic Uptown/Downtown district,” offers homes starting at $2,710 per month for a 600 square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment.

It also features 36 affordable homes priced as low as $889 per month. Nobody from Alexan Webster has yet responded to requests for comment.