Weekly comments: Weatherization First; JLS Update

What Jack London Sq looks like today: 1989 SF Ferry Plaza

  • Oakland’s “Cali First” solar incentive funding program to begin June 2010
  • Jack London Square coming up roses… at snail’s pace. (perchance what they mean by ‘slow food’? 😉

KenO Reporting from Uptown…

I read today that City of Oakland has finally approved city-financed residential homeowner solar installation. Whoopee, we are finally up to par with City of Berkeley’s BerkeleyFIRST solar residential loan program.

I want to stress that while I love wind-solar-geothermal, these are not the cheapest energy programs available.  The cheapest home heating/cooling energy we have is Conservation.  That means, adding foam insulation with high R-values to apartment and SFH walls, roofs, caulking and taping leaky doorframes and electric outlets, and adding double-pane windows. (A prime candidate crying for implementation of this is the up-in-the-air Thai restaurant Sawooei in El Cerrito. Their slumlord won’t fix the front door which doesn’t shut all the way, right next to a gas-burning furnace heater, not to mention install 2-pane windowage. Comedy for energy nerds!)  The point is to avoid needing to use energy in the first place.

All these energy conservation items fall under the term “home weatherization.”  As it’s hella cold this winter (for once!) I’m sure a lot of property owners (or at least their tenants) are thinking about this nut a lot. The BerkeleyFIRST program should have “first” funded WEATHERIZATION.  Not expensive as hell solar panels with super long-term payback periods. But unlike Berkeley, Oakland may default on its muni bonds before then, so maybe we’re on to something!

Thankfully our city has not fallen completely for sexy, or fallen short on financial common sense here. As noted in the article, “OaklandFIRST” also covers homeowners retrofitting their 1920s Craftsman or other old housing with energy efficiency projects. Hooray.

Today’s other commentary involves Jack London Square.

As everyone knows, endearing City of Oakland Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan helped spur an effort to get a free downtown shuttle mozying again.

Main grant funding for the Uptown-JackLondon shuttle is from our lovable SpareTheAir bureaucrats at BAAQMD-SF. The shuttle will start service this spring, likely in April.

Unless the freeway falls down by OPD’s office, the city and JLS CBD should install some MacArthur BART-like under-highway lighting to spruce up the main connection between the square and the rest of Oakland.

I have ridden on the one “legal” lane under the I-880 overpass between JLS and downtown many a time on bike or in my pedicab, and it’s always very dark at night.  The overpass remains a formidable deterrent to out-of-towners at the Marriott or Courtyard who’d probably like to visit JL.  Reminds me of SF’s Embarcadero-Ferry Plaza area when a double-decker freeway still existed there.

Check out photos and more here:

Anyway, with more lighting and better signage for visitors, the area should perk up more.  If anyone wants to have a blogger lunch or hap hour at Miss Pearl’s Jam House let me know or DM me via twitter!

The street that is parallel to the Amtrak rails also needs a major overhaul.  You can’t walk, bike or drive on it too safely. Volcanic pavement makes biking the area difficult to say the least. If Oakland can give that main drag (perpendicular to Bway) a facelift with more pedestrian space that would really help.

Something else that could elevate the area: start direct ferry service from Marin County. Right now JL only gets one ferry to and from SF’s ferry building.

Cheers,

Ken O

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