Monthly Archives: April 2009

Today’s RDA/CCEDC Meeting (2pm) re Uptown empty lot

Make sure to review these papers before calling the committee members to give your views on a parking lot vs alternatives in the empty Uptown lot.

Agenda
http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/meetings/2009/4/5689_A__Concurrent_Meeting_of_the_Redevelopment_Agency_and_Council_Community___Economic_09-04-28_Meeting_Agenda.pdf

Legislative Background (context: present/future claims on the space)
http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/attachments/21585.pdf

CEDA Recommendation (pro parking lot)
http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/attachments/21702.pdf

And as much as I’d love to see one there, unless people are willing and able to pay for it, we should not be promoting more park space. Even as much sense as it makes to us. Context is important: the city can’t afford to maintain its current parks, not to mention build/maintain a new one.

Bring your good ideas and push for alternative uses! Thanks.

A Better Empty Uptown Lot

As most of you know from discussion at ABetterOakland and Living in the O, our city government is choosing to shoot itself in the foot by letting the empty lot between FOX and Uptown become another ugly parking lot which won’t even pay for itself. (See this GoogleMaps satellite shot of what used to be in the Uptown.)

uptown21

Uptown circa 2005. Large green boxes: ForestCity's Uptown Apartment complex. Small green box: the park FC built and gave to City of Oakland. Purple: empty lot, which should NOT become a car parking lot!!! Image via google earth.

The council is completely against park space — well, hello, look at what removing the Embarcadero Freeway did for San Francisco’s Embacadero district: property values went up 300% after the city tore down the freeway! And now we have the beautiful Ferry Building and whole streetcar-palm tree strip by the bay to enjoy. But I understand this is supposed to become more condos/buildings in 3-10 years from now, so let’s drop the big-park-idea for now.

So, here’s what I recommend the city do with the space between FOX and Uptown:

  • 1/5 lot: Allow area residents to set up a demonstration community garden and temporary park — next to the existing small park. Development is great, but we need more green spaces. As mentioned this area should be next to the existing new public park at Rasheeda Muhammad and William Streets.
  • 1/3 – 1/2 lot: Allow farmers market, prepared food and other vendors to set up a weekly Thursday evening  night market. Or perhaps a week-round night market. This will bring in tons of people. Think, SF Chinatown at night. Or better yet Bangkok, Thailand at night. The vendors will pay rent to use this space.
  • 1/2 lot: A little dirt never hurt. Let people play soccer (and other sports) on this dirt field! I played plenty of soccer on dirt fields while living overseas.
  • Put a sign on this whole area called “Temporary Uptown Community Plaza”

There are many good ideas out there. Here are some I like from other blogs’ comments:

  • Naomi Schiff over at ABO: “Really what we need there is miniature golf.
    • [This is really unique, and a great draw! Prob is, to do it right like SVGL/MGL, you need lots of space, and it might not go away. Plus, some people might get hit by a ball…. but sounds like a good idea and low capex barrier to entry!]
  • Ralph over at ABO: “right now the best thing that I can of is some type of rotating art that highlights the area and could possibly be incorpoarted into the new bldg”
    • [Art is great for temporary spaces–see Uptown’s “RAW” exhibit at the next Art Murmur!]
  • Karen Hester over at LivingInTheO: More bicycle parking
    • [Yes! The bike racks, trees and tree-protectors are always COMPLETELY FULL on happening music nights!]

The city council CED committee members who are voting for MORE PARKING (the city already owns and operates several vertical parking lots in the area–just EXTEND THEIR HOURS!!)… include the below:

Council President Jane Brunner, District 1
JBrunner@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7001

Patricia Kernighan, District 2
PKernighan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7002

Ignacio De La Fuente, District 5
IDeLaFuente@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7005

Larry Reid, District 7
LReid@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7007

Email them to complain. And email ForestCity/Uptown to complain. I’ve already sent an email, so now it’s time to call.

Will add photos later. [4/25/09 11:40pm: see photos below from early april. Photoshop your own design ideas and post up online!! -Ed.]

empty3-p1070971

click pictures for full size version!

empty2-p1070972

empty1-p10709731

—-

My email to the CED committee, dated 4/20/09:

Dear CED committee members:
Please do NOT approve of a surface parking lot in the Uptown district. A parking lot would completely ruin a good thing district in this city, which needs all the good residential/commercial districts it can muster.
Reasons NOT to introduce a parking lot:
  1. There is a GREAT amount of public transportation availability: 19th/12th St BART stations, AC Transit’s bus terminal, taxis, and of course bicycle taxis;
  2. I live at the Uptown apartments in Nancy’s district now (D3) and completely oppose more auto parking – we have plenty of parking nearby it is. We have highway 880 as it is – so a parking lot here would be redundant. Most importantly, it would greatly reduce the quality of life here at the Uptown apartment complex, hurting Uptown’s potential tax payments to the city due to falling rents. Plus, I’d make sure people here and elsewhere knew who had a hand in approving more surface parking, Robert Moses style;
  3. More parking is NOT GREEN. Cars are not a form of sustainable transportation, here or anywhere. If Oakland is serious about its own sustainability – environmental, social, economic and otherwise – it should avoid rewarding more auto driving and parking. People like me are moving here from suburbs partly in order to avoid driving. Oakland’s rankings in national “green city” indexes would not be helped by additional automobile accomodation;
  4. Parking encourages more car driving – and cars are not safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. Telegraph is already a 4-lane thoroughfare for cars. This runs counter to the city’s recently updated Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plans, which encourage more walking and bicycling, along with statements by some city executives about how green they want this city to become;
  5. There are better ways to monetize this space which both ADD revenue to city coffers AND rejuvenate downtown further, making Oakland an ever more attractive magnet for richer people to come here, spend money and move in. This will do more to boost the city’s budget short-term and long-term. The last thing Uptown needs is a big, useless parking lot along with attendant evaporating, carcinogenic gasoline fumes from all the parkedcars. It is a poor use of space in a hip, urban setting (people hang out in WalMart parking lots for fun in the boring Midwest. We can do better!);
  6. Asphalt parking lots are not water permeable, and thus cannot filter rainwater or urban runoff to the bay. Parking lots worsen groundwater quality and Bay water quality; and
  7. The Uptown Apartments are built on what were three large surface parking lots up until 2007. What did these parking lots do for the vitality of the City of Oakland? I would answer: nothing. Look at what is here now. Much better than a parking lot! Been there, done that, we can do better.
Thank you for listening and I look forward to your NO vote on ANY automobile parking here now or in the future. If you’d like to know what the community wants, why not hold a design charette in the Uptown district to receive public input?
[snip]
Why Parking? Money talks, lack of imagination

I guess being against car parking spaces is extreme and enviro-wacko of me or anyone else. The sole party to benefit from this would be Sears. Maybe FOX, Flora and Bibliomania too. Old rich white people from Lafayette, Orinda and San Ramon after all, would much prefer to drive here than BART here. And they’ve still got some money. And they can barely walk.
You people talking about how we have car parking in the area forget that these city-owned lots are too far away to walk to. People with a suburban/exurban must-drive-my-own-car mentality are only willing to walk at most 1-2 blocks to destinations. Because that’s how it is in Walnut Creek. Or San Ramon. Or Fremont. Or Marin. Park and shop.

Oakland receives $3.9MM in DOE grants

This is old news but probably no one in Oakland knows about it.

Remember the Feb 17th Stimulus bill that Obama signed, with a grab bag of Easter goodies for everyone?

http://www.energy.gov/news2009/7110.htm

Below, see my calculations on what each city will receive, per person. 
 

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program funding recipients
City Pop (src: CDF) DOE grant $ per resident Delta
Sacramento 475,743 $4,708,000 $9.90  
San
Francisco
824,525 $7,739,300 $9.39 -$0.51
San Diego 1,336,865 $12,541,700 $9.38 $0.00
Anaheim 347,428 $3,254,800 $9.37 -$0.01
Stockton 291,428 $2,728,700 $9.36 -$0.01
Oakland 420,183 $3,919,200 $9.33 -$0.04
Riverside 306,240 $2,850,600 $9.31 -$0.02
Bakersfield 329,562 $3,040,700 $9.23 -$0.08
Santa Ana 355,128 $3,267,500 $9.20 -$0.03
San Jose 989,496 $8,840,600 $8.93 -$0.27
Long Beach 494,048 $4,397,500 $8.90 -$0.03
Fresno 488,714 $3,151,300 $6.45 -$2.45
Los
Angeles
4,045,873 $15,412,400 $3.81 -$2.64
         

Since the U.S. Conference of Mayors helpfully deleted the proposed stimulus bill funding requests by city, I don’t know what was in Oakland’s bag of requests for energy projects. Anyone know?

Context for City’s CBD Zoning Proposal tomorrow tonight

Here’s some “context” for readers over at ABO’s post today about the downtown zoning (what are we allowing and encouraging people to build in that space) proposal. Click on each image for full size eye candy.

 

CDB map mashup

 

Satellite photo version:

cdb-map2

 

City meeting calendar here.

http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/calendar/#current

The macro picture

as much as i’m (and you’re) interested in local politics, development and events, we’re also all interested in national and global trends. so, i thought this article was just too juicy to not pass along to Oaklanders.

I love the attributed-to-mark-twain quotation “history doesn’t repeat, it rhymes” – same shit, different names. The above inspection is uber historical and definitely vibes with our “modern” day.

Also reminds me of Mike Ruppert saying in November that Mumbai signaled the “end of modern industrial civilization.” Thanks to writings like this, by James Lovelock (revenge of gaia), Jared Diamond (guns, germs, steel) and others, I tend to believe that.

Nature has its cycles. Individuals grow and die. So do communities. So do nations and civilizations. We (america/global urban civilization) are not any more special than the previous umpteen nations and civilizations of the past. Just the biggest that we know of to date. Happy monday!

ps: check out Dr. Housing Bubble’s California budget and May’09 propositions update.

Who do YOU bank with? [Bank Local!]

Governator’s “Bank on Oakland” promotion revealed by Mayor Dellums – great, if people avoid big evil tapeworm banks

Mayor Dellums has proposed that all Oaklanders who use check cashing services switch over to BANKS. Good idea, but we should all say, FUCK the big tapeworm banks! They take our income taxes and report “surprise” profits; they launder drug money from our now-wrecked communities; they charge high fees. Isn’t enough, enough?*

banksters

Dellums further encourages Oaklanders to bank with some of the very criminal banks which have taken our tax money through these various keep-rich-people-from-losing-money schemes: TARP, TALF, AIG’s fradulent $100 billion bailout, Federal “loans”, Obama/Geithner’s PPIP toxic crap for taxpayers program, etc. And WTF Dellums now encourages us to reward these same gnome banksters by opening up accounts there:

You’ll note plenty of drug money connections above.

You probably have no idea that the CIA has funneled thousands of tons of drugs into our own country to finance foreign policy excursions. There’s even a GNN video about it on YouTube – also available at GNN.

If you can’t get your mind around the drugs, nevermind that for now.

From a Year Ago: Oakland City Atty Russo Claws Back a Few Million from Banksters (good preview of our current national situation, no?)

http://eon.businesswire.com/portal/site/eon/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20080423106526&newsLang=en

April 23, 2008 07:37 PM Eastern Daylight Time
“OAKLAND, Calif.–(EON:Enhanced Online News)–On Wednesday, April 23, the City of Oakland filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against national financial firms such as AIG Financial Products, Bank of America, Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Chase, Wachovia Bank and others.

“City Attorney John Russo held a press conference to announce the lawsuit, which charges the companies with conspiring to gouge taxpayers in Oakland and other American cities through illegal price fixing and bid rigging.”

 

If only Top Cop Eric Holder (Obama’s DOJ AG) and the FBI would go and Arrest and Jail these iBankster CEOs!!! But no, he and Geithner and Obama only do a post-Enron-style prosecution of little fish Madoff and AIG execs. Give me a break.

*To Dellums’ credit, there are many local banks and credit unions participating as well. There may be a few solid institutions there who we should support — after reviewing their annual financial statements and knowing who the managers are. I’m surprised Mechanic’s Bank, a regional bank is not on the list.

I bank with Cooperative Federal Credit Union on Ashby Ave in Berkeley. It’s not the greatest – their ATM machine was down last night, they’re closed weekends, someone keeps hacking their database such that I keep needing to get a new debit card… but it’s cheap ($1/month for checking w/o DD) and local. They aren’t doing sub-prime crime in hand with Fannie, Freddie and HUD. COOPFCU sucks less than any big tapeworm bank but I don’t recommend joining them. There are better CUs, such as SF Fire, which even pays ATM fees you incur at other banks’ ATMs. Do your homework and find a good local bank or CU.

Organic foodies say “eat local” because it’s better for you. I say, “bank local” because it too, is better for you.

Here’s more revelation about The Bezzle care of Bill Moyers:

So, who DO you bank with? I doubt anyone who banks with BofA or Wells is going to admit it in the poll below, but let’s see.

If YOU bank with Wells Fargo-Wachovia, BofA, WamuChase or any other gigantic banking tapeworms, you need to switch. Join a local/regional bank or credit union. Fast: Here’s how.

And, join the April 11th protest against ongoing bankster fraud and corporate bank welfare! I’ll be at the SF FRB protest.

Read more about our banking fiasco at Solari Financial Intimacy, Market Ticker or at Culture of Life News.

“As Americans prepare our tax filings, the tensions around bailouts and corruption grow and the truth about the intentional nature of the financial fraud emerges.”

“Ready to print your own currency?”

[Update: This is a state program and Oakland is a pilot city. On the other hand, as already noted by artemis, check cashing shark joints charge insane fees up to 300% per year, so banks are definitely better. (These sharks are essentially mafia without the assassins, yet.) We definitely want to work with all the reputable small banks and credit unions on the site here, after researching their backgrounds!]

A New Local Currency in Oakland: Oak Leaves

I’ve been wanting to start a new local currency in Oakland for a while now. I just need to get around to a few businesses who will accept the money, and a local bank or CU who will print up the money.

USAToday today reports on the number of local currencies being created around the US. The WSJ or NYTimes also reported on this a month or two ago. Ithaca Hours in New York have been around over a decade. Towns in Thailand are doing it.

Read about the benefits above at USAToday. You’ll find them obvious. So what do we name ours? Vote!

I’ve kept sarcastic names out of the running.

Local money may seem like monopoly money to you, but will keep more money in our local economy, which can only be a good thing – depression or not. All money is just magic anyway. Please leave naming suggestions in the comments or in the above poll.