Dimond Improvement Association
As a non-profit public benefit corporation, the Dimond Improvement Association (DIA) strives to represent everyone in Oakland’s Dimond District including residents, merchants and visitors. We work together on issues and projects ranging from street-scape improvements, business development and crime reduction to beautification and community celebrations. Through the DIA, the community has a unified voice to advocate for improvements with the City of Oakland.
History of DIA
The DIA was established in 1953 as a non-profit community association in response to a neighborhood crisis, the slide of McKillop Hill, which resulted in the destruction of several homes. The DIA was successful in lobbying the City of Oakland to stabilize the McKillop landslide area near Sheffield Avenue and build William Wood Park. Early DIA projects included securing funds for the Dimond Branch Library, and establishing free parking under I-580, and at Dimond Avenue and Bienati Way. The continuing mission of the DIA has been to make Oakland’s Dimond District a vital, safe, and attractive place for everyone.
History of The Dimond
The Dimond District is named after Hugh Dimond, a young 20-year old with three children, who made his money in the Gold Rush. In 1867, he purchased the acreage that included the area now called Dimond Park. However, he was not the first European to own the land.
Our very own 12-acre Dimond Park, was part of the Peralta family’s ranch, back in the days of the Spanish land grants. The family’s 1821 adobe, described in a book called “Oakland Park and Playgrounds” as the “first substantial house built in Oakland,” stood for many years until it burned in the 1950s. When visiting the park , search for a small, difficult-to-read plaque that sets forth a bit of local history. According to the plaque, the utility building across from the restrooms has incorporated adobe bricks from the 1897 Dimond cottage, described as a “playhouse” for the Dimond children, although a brief history on an Oakland Parks Department map references the adobe bricks as being from the Peralta home. Visit the old bricks that encircle the door, set aside from the rest of the blank wall of the building. Adjacent to the plaque is an 1896 bell, which originally hung in a streetcar barn, which later became the volunteer headquarters for the Dimond Volunteer Fire Department.
In 1917, the city purchased 12 acres at Fruitvale and Lyman streets from the Dimond estate for $24,000–today’s present park. Exploring the Dimond district can be filled with surprises. Finding out where the German Beer Gardens once stood, will bring out the true adventurer in you.
DIA Accomplishments and Current Activities
Dimond Branch Library
Closure of Hillcrest Motel
Dimond Public Safety Council / 22X NCPC
Dimond Gateway Garden & Beautification in Dimond
Keep Dimond Clean
Dimond Park & Dimond Canyon
The Dimond List Serve and Website
DIA – A Nonprofit 501 (c) (3) Organization
As a non-profit and charitable organization, the Dimond Improvement Association (henceforth DIA) strives to represent everyone in the Dimond District including residents, merchants and visitors. We work together on issues and projects ranging from streetscape improvements, business development and crime reduction to beautification and community celebrations. Through the DIA, the community has a unified voice to advocate for improvements with the City of Oakland. The extensive volunteer work conducted by the DIA improves conditions and quality of life in the Dimond District and provides services that the City of Oakland is no longer able to provide.
Serving on Our Board
The Dimond Improvement Association has many wonderful committees and projects to benefit the community. Please read through all our projects, on the PROJECTS PAGE, that the DIA is involved in and find which committee or project you would like to participate in. There are opportunities to volunteer from once a year to once a week.
If you are interested in becoming a board member or a director please email our Record-Keeper Victoria Wake at VictoriaW@DimondNews.org and ask to be put on the April ballot.
- Our board meetings take place the second Thursday of the month at the Dimond Branch Public Library at 3565 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, CA 94602 from 7-9pm. Committee meetings take place as voted on by the individual committees.
- The public is invited to our board meeting and if you would like a item or topic added to the agenda please email:
- Our secretary posts the board meeting minutes usually within a week of our meeting. See below for access to our minutes starting in 2015 when we became a nonprofit.
Board of Directors 2017
Farouq has lived in the Dimond for more than 20 years. The Alawdi family migrated from Yemen and established their presence through their community market, opened in 1987. Farouq’s upbringing in the neighborhood ignites his determination to improve the Dimond district. He attended local schools and pursued his undergraduate studies at UC Davis, going on to become a pharmacist. He is now a pharmacist at the Dimond’s Safeway. His passion to give back to the community stems from his older brother Abdo, who sponsors and contributes numerous hours for Two-Star Market’s annual Thanksgiving dinner.
Farouq’s vision is to start an annual health fair oriented to families and encourage business owners and neighbors to get involved. He would also like to establish a DIA scholarship program for high school students.
Zandile has been a resident of the Dimond for 22 years and has served on the DIA board for five years. She has participated in many efforts and on many committees, including Finance, Oaktoberfest, Membership, Database, Crime & Safety, Dimond Public Art, Art in the Street, and Keep Dimond Clean.
Zandile’s vision is to have the Dimond be clean and safe for all and to maintain the district’s charming characteristics.
Craig has lived in the Dimond for ten years, has been a DIA board member for three years, and has served as co-chair for the last 18 months. One of his main accomplishments has been to spearhead the creation of an annual planning budget this year. Craig is a Political Science professor at CSU-East Bay and at Laney College, and a union organizer.
His vision for DIA is that it: (1) represent the Dimond business district and its surrounding residential neighborhoods more effectively in advocating with city elected officials and agencies; (2) hold local businesses more accountable to be responsible community partners; and (3) incorporate local schools and youth more in the economic development of the District. He sees a key to all this in organizing DIA’s financial protocols more efficiently so that it can enhance its revenue streams and opportunities.
As a three-year resident of the neighborhood, Katherine hopes to renew her commitment to community service through the DIA. Her past board-level service includes the Bay Area Organization Development Network, a professional membership organization, and Arts After School, an arts-based after-school care program. Through her training as an organization development consultant, she has meeting facilitation skills to contribute. She has also been successful as a grantwriter and would be pleased to offer this skill as DIA works toward a shared vision for the Dimond.
Katherine envisions the Dimond as a place where everyone is engaged in the community, whether they live here, work or go to school here, or are passing through to shop or change buses. Through engagement, she imagines people will invest in keeping the Dimond vibrant, clean, and safe.
Robert and his wife Pat moved to the Dimond in 1984 when he was teaching geography and urban planning at SJSU. They liked the transit service, Creekside trail, and commercial district that included three produce markets. In 1992, he drew redistricting plans for Hispanic voters in New Mexico and Illinois, and volunteered with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition—a group he led until 2010 when he successfully campaigned for the BART Board of Directors. Robert joined the DIA board in 2004 to promote building Fruitvale Alive! ($4M bicycle, pedestrian and transit streetscape improvements) and open Farmer Joe’s. Robert maintains the DIA membership records, removes litter, and helps organize the Dimond Picnic and Thanksgiving feast.
Robert’s vision for the Dimond is to complete the $1.36M Park-n-Ride improvements, open a “Firehouse Grill,” install gateway artwork, and improve access to Dimond Park.
Jennifer Joey Smith
Joey has lived in the Dimond for five years and has been on the DIA board since 2013. Before moving to Oakland, Joey was on the board of her local neighborhood association in Pittsburgh, Penn. (Friendship Preservation Group), working in real estate, economic development, and neighborhood preservation. Joey earned an MA in History from San Francisco State University, and worked as an archivist from 1999-2003. In 2003, she made the leap to real estate in New York City. She works regularly with landlords, property owners, and investors in our business district to facilitate developments appropriate for our community.
Joey’s vision for the Dimond is increased community participation in local improvements and a thriving business district that better reflects the diverse demographics of the neighborhood.
JoAnn has lived in the DImond for nearly six years. Before moving to Oakland, she was a board member at-large on the Ocean Avenue Revitalization Collaborative in San Francisco for seven years and helped form a successful Community Benefits District. She has been on the DIA board for nearly five years and is one of the leads for Keep Dimond Clean. She also serves on the Dimond Public Arts Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Nominating Committee, and is managing the development of the DIA’s new website, scheduled to launch by summer.
JoAnn’s vision for the Dimond is to see a more vibrant commercial area, stronger unity between the DIA and the merchants association, and a safer environment to explore food and art in the Dimond day or night.
Ahmad has lived in the Dimond since May 2016. Before moving to Oakland, he served as a board or affiliate member with these community organizations: Bay Area 2000, West Contra Costa Child Care Council, West Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau, Habitot Children’s Museum, and Order of the Golden Bear. He currently serves on the KPFA Local Station Board (Treasurer) and Pacifica National Board (Audit and Governance committees).
Ahmad’s vision is to enhance our relationships with Dimond neighbors and the commercial community, and ensure a stronger and unified voice at City Hall.
Fran is a local realtor who lives, works, and plays in the Dimond. She’s been a Dimond homeowner for nine years and a DIA board member for eight years. Fran is active on the DIA’s Finance and Oaktoberfest committees and in Keep Dimond Clean administration. Previously, she’s been involved on the Business Development Committee, Membership Committee, and in working to develop marketing materials. A long-time fan of the Dimond, she has represented many in our community both as buyers and sellers. She enjoys dining, hiking, and meeting up with friends in the area.
Fran’s vision is to continue the mission of the DIA to beautify the neighborhood through public art; develop a safe and vibrant business district, drawing new businesses and bringing variety to the community; invite new customers and residents to our neighborhood; and continue to serve our community.
Julie was born in Oakland and is a 21-year resident of the Dimond, where she raised her two daughters. She loves Oakland and working to benefit our community. Julie has been a DIA board member for 10 years and is currently Treasurer, Dimond Public Art Committee chair, and a Finance Committee member. She’s also been active on the Economic Development Committee. Julie works as finance department head at Ray’s Electric, where great jobs are provided for many Oakland residents. Her hobbies include masters swimming, gardening, hiking, travel, cooking & baking, sewing, decorating, and paper collage.
Julie’s vision for the Dimond is a thriving business district with a variety of cool offerings, including interesting retail and dining experiences. She would love to help usher in more public art and is passionate about retaining some of Dimond’s architectural aspects from the past.
Marion has lived in the Dimond since 1985 and started her volunteer activities picking up litter in the upper Dimond. She was a board member and secretary for the NCPC 22X for eight years, serving as chair of the beautification and bylawsrevision committees, working on fundraising, and organizing a pros & cons forum on city measures. She’s been on the DIA board since 2014 and serves on the Panhandling & Homeless and Beautification committees. She also leads a weekly litter group in Dimond Park.
Marion’s vision for the Dimond is to make it a more attractive place to live through beautification projects, eliminating panhandlers and homeless encampments, and working with city agencies and the community. She wants to increase the community’s knowledge of DIA with the hope that more people will join and volunteer to add greater strength to our endeavors.
Ryan moved to the Dimond in 2016, after three years working in Oakland and living in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. Originally from Washington state, Ryan has worked in education, technology, real estate, and community development, including as Executive Director of the Pioneer School Community Association and the Pioneer Square Business Improvement Area (now the Alliance for Pioneer Square) in Seattle. Ryan is currently Executive Director for the western US at the Oakland-based national nonprofit, Education Pioneers, and sits on the Board of Directors for Oakland Unity Schools, a charter management organization that operates two high-performing schools in East Oakland.
Ryan’s vision for the Dimond is a robust, safe, and highly walkable commercial district, increased mixed-use development that brings more residents to the transit-rich neighborhood, and a DIA that is an engaged and responsive voice of the community.
Daniel has served on the DIA board since 2005. He is executive director for two Oakland-based non-profits and Business Improvement Districts (Laurel and Montclair). He is also vice chair for the Oakland BID Alliance and a member of the city’s Small Business Task Force. As a past DIA chair, Daniel worked to modernize and grow the organization to best address community issues and communicate effectively with residents and merchants. He helped found the NCPC 22X, worked aggressively on business attraction, and was a founder of Oaktoberfest in the Dimond—the principal fundraiser for the DIA and Dimond merchants association. He is currently managing director of Oaktoberfest and a member of the DIA Public Safety Committee.
Daniel’s vision for the Dimond is to see positive, progressive solutions for the challenges that currently face the Dimond District and the City of Oakland.
Victoria is an East Bay native and 15-year Dimond resident. She recently retired from AC Transit, where she managed the agency’s service information, marketing, and outreach programs. Her long-time interests—the environment, public transportation, and history—have guided her career and volunteer life. She joined the DIA board in 2006 and has been the Recorder for the past several years. She enjoys working on organizational issues and has helped develop and lead DIA general meetings on Dimond history, water conservation, and transportation. She currently serves on the Commercial Area Tree Committee.
Victoria’s vision for the Dimond includes people walking more and driving less, knowing each other better, and spending more time patronizing our businesses and enjoying our magnificent park. She would like to see a safer, more beautiful, and culturally vibrant Dimond where everyone contributes to a positive community spirit.