Monthly Archives: March 2010

Hummingbirds in Downtown Oakland

Nature is great to experience, and even better if it’s in the city.  Even if it’s a sanitized version of nature like the reeds by Temescal Creek in Emeryville as it runs under the Bay Street mixed used development area.

In my case, I’ve been watching hummingbirds sipping nectar from the flowers covering my Yuzu tree.

Here’s the tree-

Almost had no humdinger photo — they’re so fast!

If you live or work on a street in Oakland which desperately needs more trees, get in touch with Urban ReLeaf.  They’re a superb non-profit which has planted as many or more trees as Oakland Public Works’ Tree Section has over the last decade plus.  Not to belittle the city but UR does the same work for much less $.  They just don’t market themselves very well unlike say city council politicians or Ella Baker Center.  Check them out here or call 510-601-9062 to request a tree. There’s no free lunch, so expect to pay some amount of money.  It’s an investment better than any that Wall Street or City Hall might offer — and then take — from you.

Tags: RETWEET, hummingbird, yuzu lime tree

Errors on City of Oakland website

City’s taxi permit application page showcases the following paragraphs with misspelled words, strange spacing and more:

(PURSUANT TITLE 5.64 OF THE OAKLAND MUNICPAL CODE)” [two errors: missing an “i” in Municipal. missing a “to” in between Pursuant and Title.]

“Permittee must , and by this application does hereby agree to , abide by all applicable provisions of the
California Vehical Code , Oakland Municpal Code Taxicab Standards Ordinance , and all other Rules and
Regulations of the Chief of Polce.Public Works Agency and City Admnistrator Office.” [sic: FOUR misspellings plus grammatical errors. most spam is written better!]

I bet if the person who wrote or coded that page had to add his/her name or initials (page made by…) there would be fewer errors.  How embarrassing!

I can’t wait for the day when the city has a majority of competent political leaders, managers and staff.  Maybe then, people who work for the city will actually give a damn about their jobs instead of watching their sloppy, lazy “dead wood” co-workers continue to make a messs of civic governance.

Boo! Franklin Wine Bar closes

Not that I ate there often but I always liked FSWB.

Every part of Oakland seems quite “tapped out” to me as far as drinking establishments… no matter what neighborhood you are in.  Liquor stores and sports bars (Dorsey’s Locker) for the lower class.  Pricier bars and lounges (Mimosa Champagne, Pican) for the languishing “upper-middle” and true upper classes.  Maybe it’s always been this way? (Some people argue there has never been a “Golden Era”, while every society and each generation thinks its past definitely was a Golden Era.)  Drinking is for everyone poor or not.  And undoubtedly, drinking is worse for you than marijuana, but to each his own.

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McGarden checkup [Uptown Fox Farmette]

Checked on my privately-funded public garden late last week.  After reading various commentary on “survival living” today I am changing the name from Uptown Fox Farm to Uptown Fox Farmette.  The additional irony may come in handy.  (All that’s missing in this hood is the white picket fence. ha!)

The A students:

Kentucky pole bean (3 of 3 sprouted)

Flowering tree saplings (2 of 2 alive)

Apple tree seedlings (3 of 3 alive)

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Downtown Oakland needs its rail back

I am posting this today to coincide with V Smoothe’s post at ABO about Streetcars on Broadway.  Was going to add more detail before posting in the future at some unknown date.  On the other hand, I feel very discouraged that this will probably never happen which is why I didn’t post it sooner.  The idea of putting railcars back onto Oaktown streets is not original to me, although I didn’t know of other people’s opinions on this until today.  (Other than say people like Len or Vivek saying it probably wouldn’t happen.)  Streetcars are unlikely to return to Dolores, Valencia and Guerrero either.


I wrote this post knowing that Detroit will rebuild/rebrand itself in the near future by bringing back “railroad tracks” and “trains” on city streets.  It will be a smaller city, but a city with streetcars again.

Downtown Oakland (aka theDTO) experienced glory in no small part because of our intra-city and inter-city rail systems.  We used to have good ground-level trains here. Being close to San Francisco’s earthquake-phobic gold and silver flippers helped as 1906 quake ‘fugees fled to the East Bay, hipster style but for different reasons. The World War Two economy also greatly aided Oakland’s ramping up, with Kaiser’s ship-building yards (yes, that Kaiser) and the Ford plant in Richmond among other things we used to make here.

It is probably more accurate to say Oakland’s glory was due to its strong, productive economy, and that streetcars were a symptom of its largess.

We have the 1R and 72R rapid AC Transit buses which are good, decent terrain for cycling, and BART for working in Fremont or SF, but a street car system would be Ooo-la-la! Much less jerky than busses, supportable sometimes with wind and solar and even those dang BloomEnergy BloomBoxes everyone’s yapping about today[weeks ago]. If Oakland ever gets a BloomBox fuel cell system, it should be installed right in the midst of EBMUD’s sewage treatment plant — plenty of “directed biogas” available there!  But back to today’s topic: Oakland and its former streetcar rail lines.

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Police foundation update

This is by now a bit of old news, but I want to pre-announce that Oakland Police Foundation should be launching this summer. The silent majority will finally have a way to support a properly run PD in light of City of Oakland’s ongoing financial disaster. Stay tuned.

Needless to say, Oakland’s financial descent was brought about by many things including, but not limited to, council member Jean Quan(ficomm head)’s use of budget reserves during tax reveune “boom times.” This left Oakland’s budget without a cushion for inevitable lean times.  Also many CA cities voted for “3% per year worked” retirement salaries in and after 1999, to attract talent.  This exploded many cities’ pension liabilities — the kind of financial issue in which Oakland’s former city workers now retire with up to 90% of their old salaries, in retirement, in perpetuity.

Clearly an unsustainable ponzi/pyramid scheme which will fall any year now.  So why should I worry, anyway? Nature sorts things out eventually.

Sidenote: I definitely wouldn’t vote for Quan as Oakland’s next Mayor — and she’s running. Ditto for Don “No Specific Programs” Perata.  Hopefully Rebecka Kaplan will run for Mayor.

Back to the main point of this post — OPF is working through various IRS paperwork right now and should go live in Q3 2010.