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.)
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.]
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:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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!);
- 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
- 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]