Liveblog: Street and bicycle improvements Lake Merrit BART/Chinatown

What Lake Merritt/Chinatown junction could look like with enough pre-2007 level economic development. Photo by me near Tokyo circa 200?

Since VSmoothe is out to lunch and I’ve also been out to lunch… here’s transcript of tonight’s Planning Commission meeting about the Lake Merritt Specific Area Plan.  Good to see a lot of you Oakland blogospherians at the podium. By the way, this blog is mistitled a bit. It’s about redeveloping the Lake Merritt/Laney College/South Chinatown area, not just putting in street and bike improvements. But I’m not going to change the title now.  My smartass commentary below is inside [brackets].


  • pro-development/ economic boost people
  • safety, transportation and land use are (duh) major issues
  • no big vision other than defining Chinatown properly with Gate, branding, like other Chinatowns around the world. (in itself, a bit of a vision)  renaming Lake Merrit BART Station as Laney-Chinatown station or similar would be a big help.  Connectivity is lacking in the area for pedestrians, though not for cars and buses (the lake physically pushes central – east oakland traffic thru Chinatown, affecting residents)
  • plan should partly heal the scars of 1950s freeway and BART infrastructure “progress” — of which the urban fabric was torn apart, like 980 connector through “black wall street” west of uptown.
  • 880 is a major contributor to air pollution afflicting residents, and its dank underbelly is a block between Jack London and Lake Merritt BART as well as Old Town, Downtown, Chinatown.
  • large actors (Laney, BART) haven’t written strong comments yet except Alameda County, which was critical.
  • development should incorporate and fund community benefits — including pedestrian and cyclist safety (lighting, striping), two-way and narrower streets which nobody doubts, but also affordable housing of which there is contention between regular folks and developers
  • most people in favor of taller buildings for economic expediency, climate protection, fulfulling sb375 TOD growth mandate, funding of community benefits
  • for whatever reason city council wants SAP moved quickly to finish up by end of 2012 (in time for elections?)

Go back in time, live on KTOP:

Tonight’s city hall presentation is a nice follow-up to my previous post from March 2011 about the  Lake Merrit BART Station improvement plan area.


7:20PM: Joint statement by Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce (Alan) and another business group: Plan needs revision to link BART/Laney area with Chinatown. Not be a barrier between the two. Mechanism for growing small biz. Needs to prioritize pedestrian level lighting, not just striping bike lanes. Desiring zoning for a multiplicity of businesses. (multi-use zoning) [completely agree with multi-use zoning] Chinatown Biz Community views development as: CC is vital part of Oakland not just a tourist spot. [agree] Contributes $MM sales tax revenue to city…

Vitality threatened by: economy, public safety, Asians moving to suburbs and developing strip malls (Asian flight). Proposes: high density, mixed use. [agree!!] If people are here businesses will come. Bringing up NYTimes article, downtown. Need residents with disposable income, not “affordable” housing for people with no disposable income.  Create gateway to Chinatown, subsidize Chinatown businesses for storefront improvment, underground parking, no height limits. [all agreed, except perhaps ‘more parking’]

### Planning Commission member: Q: why is Oakland Chinatown so non-descript, unlike SF Boston and other Chinatowns?

CCOC: A: Even London (3 blocks) has a gateway/ identity. Agree a strong identity is good. A cultural marker works also, not just a gate. Statue, etc.

###PC: What about as part of the BART Station?


CCOC: yes, agree. Not part of BART’s plan however. Will make CTown stand out more. We are the center of the bay area… prime location.  Any marker should be unique to Oakland Chinatown. [how about bruce lee?]  [did he just say something about Richmond’s Ranch 99?]

###PC: What about wayfinding signs so people know they’re in Chinatown?

CCOC: Signs to all parts of central Oakland should be in first phase of planning.  Also to rename station “Chinatown-Laney bart station” [like fruitvale station, etc. Agree.]


Entertaining Articulate Chinese Man: We need to think long-term. Mayor Brown was interested in the gateways: had no money.  Henry Chang proposed gateways too, but money issue again. [Is Chinatown too cheap to pay for gateways?]  Chinatown TOD sounds good, he is here to advocate for elderly, immigrants who are not in attendance.  TOD is part of the life of Asian countries: density, transit, retail on top of transit, high rise buildings, creating a customer base and dynamic.  Especially for BART riders, they ride to destinations with something to offer.  With good TOD, will get more BART riding visitors. We have to attract investors.

We need jobs. City staff just received pink slips, morale down.  Construction will create jobs.  [but then what?] Need customer base for business opportunities.  Public safety is a major issue.  Good TOD will bring more “eyes on street.”  Madison Square park mostly contains homeless. They aren’t bad but it creates an atmosphere for bad elements.  Chinese are in consensus to help move the project forward.  Have talked to government staff for two years now, want action.  Raburn, etc.  Take this to city council asap.


Stuart Cheng: lives in a Madison Square building.  44 biz units. Chiropracter, 24 years. Chinatown has been growing since Pacific Renaissance broke ground.  But in last few years [ie, since 2008], Ctown not immune to recession. Crime, slow business climate.  Silver Dragon restaurant closing soon.  Revenues down 40-50%.  [from pre-2008; get used to it.]  Now we see a 3-4 block redevelopment project.  See a great vision for a business district, market-rate housing.  Chinatown has lots of housing, but elderly don’t have money.  Need increased business vibrancy. Make another new Pacific Renaisssance.  Says PC members say it will compete with PR1. Disagrees.


Dr Harry Lin: Oakland main library: pictures from 1930s-40s. Streets full of people. Feel sad today.  Have oppty to make the area a better place.  People with money will travel to Oakland to spend it.


Former Chamber president, current property owner, MSquare Park: Agree with Allen Yee/Jenny Ong of CCOC. Hope PC commisioners will develop area to revitalize Ctown.

Greg Lowe: nervous walking to car at night, dark, not many people around. Bringing mass to area will improve safety for everyone. (white guy transplant)

Stan Wei: biz analyst/engineer: Need to take care of poor people, but without strong economy/high density won’t have money.

Judy Chu: Supports highrise density, foreign investors. Her corner can go to 45′ max in height. Around the corner people can build up to 4-500′. Need to raise height limits of 8th and Oak Streets.


EBBC EastBayBikeCoalition

Talk of density. What is the right amt for Chinatown to balance vibrancy without clogged streets from too much? #oakmtg

Chinatown Coalition: 15minutes to present.

Steve Terasaki. Former board pres of…? At Madison Sq Park. 110 year institution. Area Plan critical to his temple (Japanese?) and neighborhood. Coalition: Local community organizations, religious, business.

1950s: eminent domain for Nimitz Freeway. Church moved from 5th/6th (1927) to new site down Jackson. [see the bay area history book about chinatown for more info!]  Eminent domain destroyed the area fabric. Impact of major infrastructure affects neighborhoods, and did in Chinatown in 1950s. Want to mitigate dev impacts. BART parcels in public domain, achieved thru eminent domain.  New dev should strengthen the neighborhood in the post-RDA era.

Need CoO to be good partner, work with Ctown parties. Thanking Ed for first presentation.


Jeremy Liu: Part of Madison Park Apts management. Wide range of opinions on type of dev community wants to see.  Have heard tonight uncapped height development.  Not afraid of density.  Welcome it. [think Hong Kong, Tokyo]  Density of uses not just heights.  Active retail environments, cultural spaces. Density just one component.  Need public-private-cultural amenities for safety. [SAFETY.] Have to plan for benefits. Excited about Specific Area Plan. Affordable housing and low barrier streets do not get taken care of by “invisible hand.”  Wants revisions of SAP for:

  • Ped lighting as first priority (safety)
  • Mitigate air pollution (from more traffic, not just 880)
  • Budget for mitigating BART impacts
  • Zoning for small businesses
  • Reconvert core Ctown streets to 2-way, not 1-way expressways for cars
  • Housing suitable for families not just smaller DINKs and individuals.
  • Improvements for Madison Park – important to community, pent up demand for better usage

In post-ReDevelopment (econ dev) Agency environment… future confusing.  But planned positive future will be built up over next 25 years and last a century afterward. Can’t afford today doesn’t mean can’t afford over next 20 years. [disagree!!!]  City of Oakland will come back. [not in present form!!]


###PC Q: Expand on comment about “no public monies exist now but will in future” what are you referring to?

Jeremy A: Post-RDA, infrastructure investments important. Mass investments like Coliseum Village only happen thru public tax dollar investments in infra together with private housing developer monies. Following ABAG’s convo around priority development areas (block grants) combining funding sources.

###PC Q: What is your future vision, how is current SAP not taking future funding into account?

Jeremy A: Need to bring question back to Coalition thinkers. There isn’t a winner-take-all-only solution: large vs small biz, family vs indidual, etc.  Need orderly future progression. Not limit ourselves now to current [depression] conditions. [Well then, do phases!]  Yes, phases. Staging. [Like MacArthur and Union City TOD projects.] Crossings 1st phase looks diff from last phase. [Why not build buildings to be multi-use by diff sizes of constituents? True lego buildings.]

BikeBlogChris Christopher Kidd

Jeremy Liu from EBALDC being super vague when commission asking for clarification of views #oakmtg

###PC Q: Wants more specific info about infra benefits/funding sources.

###PC leader: vision for positive future refreshing. Balance between market rate and affordable housing important.


Amber Chan, Asian Development Network: Interpreter for local residents.

Timothy Quinn (speaking in Chinese) via interpreter: Sees plan as most important mechanism for affordable housing. Paying $900 for rent in East oakland. W/o affordable housing mechanism, there won’t be any affordable housing in Chinatown. Will be forced to move out of oakland. Inconvenient to go to school here. Although city staff recognize need for multilingualism, this should be included in SAP. Height density bonuses for community benefits are good. Wants developers to chip in for youth and elderly center(s). Please block the plan until it includes aff housing requirements.


Wu Yin Qin: daughter is a Laney student. Pays $100 [probably misheard] for 1BR apt due to living there 10years+. Cramped but cheap. Worried about aff housing; wants 30% aff housing for median/low income working class folks.

Small homeowner, old man: 10yr resident. Retired. Pays taxes. Supports set-aside of 30% for low(er) income people. House prices will rise.

Woman:  Attends workshops, activites of last two years. Excited that PC commissioners are listening to the public.  Please include affordable housing mechanism into the plan. Not just lip service. A real plan with ways for developers to make money, and for aff housing to be built. [man, nobody said Asians weren’t cheap! I’m part Asian so I can say that right?] [this photo may not match up with the right person]

###PC leader asking for expedited comments.

Jonathan Bair: couldn’t find speaker cards. [almost LOL? poor J!]

High School Senior #1 at Oakland Skyline H.S.: I’m working at the CYC helping to stop violence in our city.

High School Senior #2: I’m also with Chinatown youth center. We need to listen to youth also, as part of this process.


Tam Ho: Oakland resident. Concerned about Lake Merrit SAP. Worry about health. Wants positive health impacts from plan. [what, trees for air quality?] Improve community quality of life/health by implementing traffic solution: move 880/Alameda/Oakland traffic away from Chinatown. [how?? a big dig? take down 880? I’d love that too…there’s also Port of Oakland ships but cold ironing will help slightly] 5 minutes: 100 trucks and cars down the street. Need less traffic and air pollution.

[Strongly agree on need for air pollution reductions.]


Asian Health Services interpreter: Old man: want positive health improvements. [so, tear down 880. that would be massive, like SF Embarcadero, and cut down on # of car lanes in Ctown!] Many of us have chronic health problems – need to walk and exercise. Want Ctown designed in a healthy manner.


Kai Nguyen 15yr resident, Vietnamese(?): SAP was part of Chinatown. BART station area plan should connect to and improve Chinatown. Now, BART connects to Laney College, but no linkage to Ctown and its history.  Should rename station Chinatown-Lake Merritt station and honor Ctown’s history. [agree] Require city staff to include these recomms in the SAP.


Old woman via interpreter: Have lived in Ctown 20yrs. Plan should include 2-way street conversion, community vision (7th, 8th, Harrison, Franklin) and improve ped safety.  [Yeah, so we can walk to Layover easier!]  Ped safety serious issue for community. [agree, oakland has too many cars and car amenities]

We want to feel safe when walking in our community, exercising, shopping, eating at local restaurants, etc.

Board chair WOBO, Jonathan Bair: Priority: create safe and quality bicycle facilities not just for Ctown but to connect neighborhoods: lake, uptown, ctown, oakland. Need full study of traffic impacts of bike lanes and sharrows on 8th, 9th streets. Traffic study of double parking.  Sharrow not safe from double parking. Want transpo elements and lighting made. Worried about uneconomic height limits in a plan funded by a regional smart growth grant. [go dto510!] Want safe and quality bike facilities for people in or transiting the area.

###PC leader Q: does bike master plan support car parkign?

Jonathan: Need bike parking, city supports throughout downtown area as a whole.  Continuing to be installed at merchant request.

###PC Q: In SF we had bike parking in city owned/operated buildings.

JB: City ordinance requires new buildings to have bike parking and shower amenities.

###PC: Bike ped lanes connect the city better?

JB: Like high density bike lanes, sharrows on 8th, 9th streets. If don’t address double parking issue on 8th and 9th, sharrows in right lane will be occupied. Greater safety danger for cyclists to pass cars on left there.

###PC: Q: Explain bike lanes?

JB: Like city regs on bike lane widths: not in door zone, sharrows marked clearly to show bikers can use full lane.


###PC Q: Lady on left: no talk of widening sidewalks. [that would be good] Parking on both sides of street is critical, and buffers peds from traffic. Speak to that?

JB: Disagree streetside parking is always critical. Finding immediate parking not easy. 8th/9th have most potential safety issues. [reminds me of BRT vs parking issue…] Believe ped safety taken into account in plan.

###PC: Why not fill parking area with pavement and draining, outdoor seating [like SF, NYC]…whole use of street.  Trying to think of everyone not just bikes or just cars.  Solutions for everybody.

JB: Agree. City of Oakland doing parklet pilot. WOBO supports ordinance for parklets. But here, addressing delivery truck issue. Converting streetside parking to delivery parking only [like downtown SF] would help.


Hai-yen Wu: Don’t want more traffic. SAP doesn’t include traffic + AQ impact mitigation tools. Include tools before approving SAP for City Council review.

###PCL: getting strict on time.

More local residents: No recommendations in plan for multilingual centers. [community centers? don’t communities build these? depend on religious / biz groups?]


Want to see more public gardening. Could see more biz in Chinatown: make stairs into escalator. Direct people toward Chinatown easily. [like SF bart stations] Elevator goes toward Laney. Make Madison Park more Ctown-flavored. Likes Ctown Gate idea.


Dave Campbell: EBBC Director. Live in LMS Area. Good work on plan. Not perfect but good. Still need to figure out how to transit bikes, trucks through area. Loading/unloading issues. Bike lanes good. This is something the city can deliver on, finance-wise. Lane reductions, better crosswalks, bike lanes = deliverable in 1.5 years by city. Safer for peds, bicyclists. Support studies to remove lanes, add bike lanes.

###PC: hard to get to Jack London from LM/Ctown. [yeah, 880!]

Dave: Access from Old Oak to JLS has been worked on. On record: “adequate.”

Naomi Schiff, Oakland Heritage Alliance: 7th Street API area should be height limited. [no way!]  Keep heights [the man] down. Keep towers away to create a “SF Belden place” type view. Towers = last resort. If moving historic buildings, ID site first. Height workshop never happened. CBD rezoning: upzoning. FAR not just height. (floor to area ratio) FAR now 14-20 from 3-7. More than SF even with CUP (up to 10 FAR). Need to provide community benefits.  Send SAP back to staff.

Rob Raburn, BART Board: Director for 6 of 8 stations in Oakland.  Applauds Ed Menassie and his staff for designing the plan inclusively.  BART Board approved move to lease BART’s land on long-term basis: 2 full blocks. One with HQ, one with parking lot.  Complex built environment: subway underneath, police station and EOC with 60′ screen, toll repair center. MTC Metro Center land owned too, shared with ABAG. 50,000sf. May also be part of RFQ released last week. Want it developed by a team capable of working with the complex environment below and above ground, and complex cultural environment.

Both a pleasure and challenge to take advantage of huge investment of Lake Merritt infrastructure funding.  BART 13min from SF in Chinatown. People not flocking to “world class” Oakland Museum — nothing else around except for donut shops.  Many needs: groceries, restaurants, even a hotel. [how about bowling??] In spring will have a team in place to develop EIR and show community plan for more granular scrutiny.

###PCL: Dragon Train idea.

###PC Woman on left: How to strengthen draft plan to include hotel, restaurants etc?

Robert: All possible with plan. Many commenters on height limits. Need envelope to deal w/ complexities of the site.  To provide real community benefits. 12 stakeholder community meetings so far plus others.  Have met everyone in community to ferret out needs. Madison SQ Park not part of the “opportunity sites.”  Would be great as 4th block.  Need to create a livable environment and give back to cmmty. Want to channel ROI into the park and station connectivity. Worked w/ Chris Peeples (AC Transit) on “Kiss & Ride” line. New shuttle serves LM station from Alameda College. No timed transfer in front of station.

Chris Kidd: Want to raise height limit up to 55′. 55′ limit fits Type V construction. No reason to keep it at 45′. 7th St API at 45′ OK. Other areas, no.  The most transit-rich area of city.  Due to SB375, VisionBayArea2030, etc, need to accomodate future growth in transit-rich areas. If don’t promote density, promote pushing growth out to suburbs with VMT. [VMT VMT VMT. haha! it’s not just VMT but I’m with you.]  Ten feet won’t make a difference in “destroying neighborhoods.”

Lower area near Fwy 880 – usable space just half a block: with 45′ height, precludes height ever being built due to tower setbacks. [ie, One Rincon Hill style] To buffer freeway, 45′ height limit won’t accomplish it.

Chris Peeples, AC Transit at-large Director: Bus transit important.  Almost as complex as subway. Ctown a huge attractor for transit trips. 5th & Webster serves 51 to/from Alameda. Due to mayor quan, put back 58 bus for MacArthur-Ctown corridor.  East Oakland lines go through edges of Chinatown from East Oakland. Need to account for utilization by residents, through traffic commuters, shoppers. Lake pushes transit between downtown and east oakland into Ctown.

60′ bending buses. 40, 1, 1R. 7-min headway. Bus every 4-5 minutes.

###PC: BRT considerations?

Chris: Yes, runs along “1 bus” route. Mixed flow traffic downtown. Tunnel under museum. Mixed flow.

###PC: need balance b/t seniors, youth of Ctown vs speed thru area.

Chris: Agree. Amt and complexity of inbound and cross-traffic not reflected in Lake Merritt SAP.

###PC: Thru-traffic hurts neighborhood. Need to open plan to community.

Chris: Karen Ferris regarding Oakland Navy Base mentioned running BRT under freeway[???] Prob is: 51 bus goes to 7th/8th/Alameda – heavily used by CTown residents. 1s and 40s to East Oakland heavily used also. Check a map.  Lake Merritt is between East Oakland and Downtown… ways to minimize CTown impacts (except 51) could include moving routes up to 10th/11th.  Lots of transit trips from DTO to East Oakland.  We’re stuck on where to put that traffic. [Down Grand Ave and around the lake? On 880?]

Nathan Landau, Corey Levine will write on EIR. [Our people will talk to your people.]


Princess Beverly Williams: housing advocate. A while since rent control established. Need to cover units built post-1983. Most city occupied by renters. Need more renter subsidies. [I disagree.] Need to protect renters from eviction and viscious rent heights…existing protects renters in homes from 1980 or older. Lack of protection causes health hazards. Mold, mildew – asthma, bronchitis. [well, if landlord isn’t getting good rent, they won’t put in improvements.]  Wants mold, mildew added to city regs. [unlikely to happen.]

Chris Huang, WOBO board member: cautions against phases of incremental improvements. Logistically difficult and unsafe. Need full ped/bike facilities. Focus investments on key corridors for connectivity. Visible to public [and connecting Oakland’s many neighborhoods.]  Doesn’t like circulation between LMStation – CTown – City Hall. 2-way connectivity would be helped by bicyling. [agree!!] Find myself wrapping blocks on one-way streets to get around. Not having designated lanes and weaving in and out of traffic psychologically difficult. Loading/unloading issue… sharrows would help.

Dan Schulman, Oakland Landmarks Board: nobody has touched on pg18, section9: an undeveloped site: Merchants Garage. Surface parking lots could support large buildings or skyscrapers but not with “base and tower” config. Downzoning bad. (100′ > 80′ tower bases)

Dude (staffer?): We could go to 120′ base and inconsistent design guidelines if needed.

White woman speaking Chinese, Landmarks Board asked her to speak: Will tailor design guidelines with more fine grain per buildings. Areas of primary and secondary importance. Need to protect historic buildings. Seven points document submitted to staff.

Gary Connect, JLSDA Board: Comparing Lake Merritt SAP to Estuary Plan of yore. In council, EPlan was turned “inside out.”  Please pay attn to our public comments on plan. Repping JLS area between Estuary Planning Area and LMSAP. 1200 res units built in last decade. Mostly closer to LM Station.  MORE people would use BART if I-880 undercrossings were tolerable, well-lit, cleaner, appeared safe.  Bicyclists, pedestrians know what I’m talking about. [Totally. CalTrans should clean up their shit!]  Plan recognizes psychological barrier of 880. Let’s prioritize this in any version of the plan. Please amend plan re: Webster/ Green charette. Connect under the freeway to CTown from JLS – open space rather than [freeway debris and dust] area.  Designate under fwy as open area.


“LAST SPEAKER” James Fan: Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merrit (CALM): Our remarks refer to earlier version of  SAP.  Commend outreach by staff on the plan.  Three points:

  1. Environs connecting to lake. Landmarks Board: triangle between Stanford-Cameron House and County Courthouse – having to fend off proposals for 20 story apartments on the triangle.  It should be extension of park or main library expansion… periodicals room w/ cafe facing lake. Keep open space.
  2. In 2010, Planning staff studied access to/from lake, trib tower, affecting CTown access. Not mentioned in SAP. [Viewcard study?]
  3. 14th Street. Why do boundaries of SAP include 14th Street? Already part of downtown zoning plan adopted by city council.  Staff should look at that. Underpasses: make them attractive. [yes]

[time for second ginger beer…]

Joël Ramos, TransForm: nobody from TF opposed to height limits. The purpose is to capture community benefits when zoning goes into effect at greater heights. This is a TOD. Maximize growth around the station, but NOT at expense of existing community.  W/o mechanisms for affordable housing, plan should not go forward. Put in CUP for community bennies. TOD w/o protective measures will gentrify the area and create a homogeneous area. UCBerkeley Center for Innovation: why city is dead now vs past — household incomes less diverse with gentrification.  [not b/c not enough disposable income folks?] Parking ratios want to see lower – this is TOD. Not 1 or 0.75 parking ratio. Want 0.5 to build Mr Chan’s gate, improve the park, stripe the lanes, fund lighting.  Less parking, affordable housing requirements, TOD is accounted for in the plan.

City of Oakland Planning Department Staffer: Proposed 3-tier height limits not 2-tier as current. 2nd tier would have required CUP, and comm benefits. Economic consultant concluded this would “severely limit actual development.”  [who was the consultant?] Economy already limiting projects as a whole to woodframe construction.  When it starts to improve [hahahahahahaahaha] this area will have to compete with rest of downtown.  Height limits would do that. We should look at whole of downtown not just study area. This is a city-wide issue.  CBD has most permissive zoning.  Adding constraints and costs could hurt an area.

###PC woman on left: Interesting.

###PC old lady in purple sweater: have not visited any community design charettes, began reading SAP 4 days ago. [where have you been?] SAP important to community and city.  Overall gut reaction from not being involved – disappointed.  Not understanding of specific plan.  Thinks it is supposed to be a dynamic plan that reflects what community wants. Reading plan in isolation, don’t see a big idea. Concerned that after chewing on this and brewing a soup, the soup is overcooked with no unifying vision. [that’s america :)]

Where do we go from here? Second impression: Need a community + consultant vision. This hasn’t happened yet. Hearing ppl asking panel to send the plan back to staff. We need to let the chambers of commerce put together a vision together, and not push this SAP through w/o community consensus.  We don’t seem far from getting that.  We’ve gotten excellent suggestions for the report. City Staff and Consultants should look at well thought out comments from Chinatown Chamber, Coalition, CALM, Landmarks Board, EBALDC (chinatown development powerhouse)… make a plan everyone can support. [you’ll never please everyone]

Other “specific” [haha] things: Alameda County letter – they were NOT happy with the plan.  BART comments were extremely cryptic, not on BART letterhead, couldn’t tell it was from BART.  No comments from Laney.  Someone said they’d wait until the EIR.  Why aren’t major actors aren’t making their concerns clear? [they should.]  Those agencies need to be at the table now, not later.  To be part of consensus BEFORE EIR. [sounds right, but maybe they don’t want .]

Transpo: People want two-lane streets. Do we have money now or have to wait 15 years? [how much is it to put in street lights?]

Affordable housing: 30% sounds high to me despite need for it.

Terry Bottomly’s drawings pretty, but more helpful would be one or two typical drawings, fewer specific drawings, and chart to tie them and make comaprative analysis easier.  Need chart for easier analysis and comparison of diff street widths.

Madison park problems: they do exist. Park was designed by resident businessman John Soo in Chinatown, who hired me originally.  Hope we won’t lose everything John gave to the city, who also provided Lincoln Park design.  Berms are a problem, but also a cultural gem of history [of Ctown?]

###PC Bellows Patilis(sp?): Want to cover workshop that didn’t occur.

City Staff: Wasn’t budgeted for or in our schedule.  Need to figure out way to do it, even if hosted only by staff and not consultant. Pre-EIR. No community comments addressed yet. Will direct them in a memo for plan revisions.  Draft stationary plan will be studied in EIR, not current SAP.


###PC Zeishmar(sp?): Plan is good, thanks to city staff.  Lots of community involvement and engagement. Endorses one of the received letters except one piece of it: reduction of lanes.  When BART, 880 were built in 1950s, gave fabric of our neighorhoods over to “progress”; this plan should heal that scar. [agree!]

We have opptys now to encourage vibrancy but also heal the scar. Bring back the value and quality of before in a new way.  What we lost in 1920s, 1930s, was due to street widenings… surface highways and 1-ways.  Single most devastating thing was making this one neighborhood suffer from thru traffic vs most other parts of the city.  Need to recapture scale and fine-grain for benefitting local traffic, not through traffic.

Make the public’s narrower and 2-way street requests seriously. If not doable today, need to make it doable in the future. We should work back from end vision, maybe have 3-4 plan iterations over time to reach the goal.  Plan should present where we want to work toward (the vision).  If we limit ourselves in visioning planning process, we’ll never get there.  Best to put in a (glorious) vision regardless of today’s financing climate.

Interested in BRT studies under freeway. [how would this work?]

Towers: Put in controls now, refine later. We want towers in places like Vancouver.  Base height, last 15-20%… mitigating negative effects of towers [shadows] and corridors [wind tunnels a la SF FiDi].  Supporting heights to capture value if it works economically. [taking money from developers to fund community benefits]

Under 880 benefits: SAP should support it. Coherence and cohesiveness – fine as long as not limiting downtown development.

Robert Raburn: parking ratio.  MacArthur BART Station TOD: No 1:1 parking lot replacement ratio. [good!] Was proposed for 50% replacement [yay], bumped up to 80% [boo].  LM Station: Only 20% passengers using station take a car.

###PC: Should change plan to reflect lower parking ratios. [agreed]

Staffer: not proposing that parking gets replaced at station. [agreeing]

###PC lady on left (LOL): Supports more aggressive parking reduction. Most people in CTown walk, use transit, and we want to support that for practical, cultural, environmental reasons.  Proud to work on a diverse area plan for the city.

###PC gay(?) man in center: cultural sensitivity, parking important. Joel Ramos- important to consider community benefit with height point. Schulman’s point we should look at. On cultural feel: lost connection to our history.  Many famous chinese americans in cemetaries.  Founder of Chinese Air Force, a gold businessman, a Chinese American aviator… really likes the Gate idea, dragon train or dragon bus. Branding is so important in making a community. Gates, signage. Raburn’s point on going to Oakland Museum…incent developers to make a Museum district … bottom floors of their buildings.  One other thing: frustration with not covering same-sex families in the plan. Affordable housing vs housing rate. Same-sex families tend to live in urban areas, including lake merritt. Don’t ever include them in our studies.  LA Westside plan is comprehensive, including aging, incorporation as a city… especially for this plan. Area with concentration of same-sex families.

###PC old lady in purple sweater: Need new staff plan for another community and panel review before approving for city and sending along for EIR.

Staffer: We’d respond to comments with ability to do so within financial constraints. So can we take comments at face value only?

###PC OL: responding to community’s written comments. That 1) revise plan 2) show community revised plan for proof they were heard. Concerned about beginning EIR process on plan w/o community consensus.


###PC Bald guy: We need to talk to CED committee and city council too. Coalesce all that in memo to commission.  Plan will have review daylighting in CED, Commission and Full City Council.

###PC OL: disagree. There are too many unresolved things to simply produce a memo is not adequate to paper over the disagreements.

City Staffer (Mrs Gould): City wants Final plan and EIR by 12/2012. [end of the world]  We don’t have enough time to address everything.  You should take a 5-min break after 4 hours of this meeting.

#PCgay man: We’re processing this plan to death, there are at least two other opptys for public comment.

#PClady on left: We need another Planning Commission hearing. That would help.

###PC bald guy: City Council has final say on draft plan.  It should come to the Commission once for public and commissioners’ comment.  Council will also provide changes to plan, with ultimate decision power. We’ve heard enough from community and you to report on this now to council.  Council may not put in same amount of input as the Planning Commission.

###PC LOL: Do we have ability to revise plan?

###PC baldie: We’ll provide rationale for why comments aren’t addressed in plan, or how we did it.

Staffer Gould: There can be another PC meeting to bring up a final set of recommendations.  We have a tight time schedule, have done huge amounts of community engagement. Lots of consensus.  A few difficult issues, shown in tonight’s first presentation.  You should decide how to balance.

###PCman in center: There are many planning commission voters here.

###PC black lady: many comments. But whether we know there’s a compromise with the community, we can’t push this forward.  We find it hard to approve this with many lacking components. I know we’re working with a short schedule [due to elections? funding sources?]

Staffer Gould: here’s where we’ve had no consensus. We want 90% resolved, let council decide last 10%. We have to resolve this as best we can, or state where the consensus is lacking so council can decide.

###PC gayman: We walked the neighborhood. People came together quickly.  Would it help us to walk for an hour and convene a meeting in Chinatown? We can look at all outstanding issues.  At a community center.

Staffer Gould: You would have to read the full staff report because we’ve already addressed most of these issues.  It’d be a Saturday type of meeting.  I’m trying to be honest about what exists so far.

###PC Patello: Let’s do another workshop to review the memo with proposed revisions, held in Chinatown, possibly on a Saturday, TBD.


City Staffer man: There’s disagreements, but not angry. Spirit of cooperation. We’re listening, and public knows it. I don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver. We’ll find ways to pay for things. We’ve got 25 years.

###PC baldie: is this a formal required meeting?

Sometime in early-mid February.

All commissioners agree to reconvene in February.

Adjourned 10:19PM.


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