Tag Archives: oakland

Skyscraper Index: Oakland Edition

Otowers

Oakland, back in the yuppie ’80s or was it ’90s, was to have had erected a 30- or 80-story tower. Right at Broadway and 10th or 11th Streets, or some other street on the Oakland Chinatown village border. Asian money from Hong Kong or nearby was to have funded it.

And after reading about the Skyscraper Index am I ever glad that it didn’t get built! The least of our problems would have been a helpful nudge into Rush Hour II territory: yet more people belching forth onto Broadway, 12th Street BART platform and into shiny people-movers that maximally hold five American-sized adults (legally). But maybe Jackie and Chris would have made a cameo. Oakland should be so lucky. Continue reading

Ratio of power at Oakland City Hall?

I took the old photo of our city “leadership” and pasted in faces of current staff and soon-to-be sworn in councilmembers-elect. I don’t know who the two ladies are with “?” marks but assume one of them is the City Clerk.

What is the ratio of power at Oakland City Hall? Between city departments, city council, mayor and city administrator. (Ignoring for a moment our city attorney and auditor, and all the politically well connected non-profits, unions and developers, lobbying business interests – they are in power by proxy anyway.)

The power ratio is certainly not 1:1:1:1.

It’s probably more like 9:8:1:1. Continue reading

Oakland Voter Guide: Why Oakland Sucks & How We Will Improve It

Oakland has lots going for it, except for a dysfunctional OPD and City Hall. And ultimately, voter ignorance of both. Here’s how you can make a difference and actually change your city.

The short and long answer: spend 30 minutes reading about your city council candidates before filling in your ballot every four years. City Hall affects you far more than national policies will. If you can’t control your own neighborhood and city, what chance do you have to affect national decisions about how the federal government spends our income taxes?

Read up on the people (and organizations backing them) who will be holding power over you and deciding where our tax money goes in Oakland. Is that too much to ask?

* * *

Oakland can’t afford more cops or proper cop training because we’re not paying them, firemen and every other city employee at affordable levels.

OPD pay package: $200-250,000 per year. This is according to the Len Raphael campaign website.

Minority communities don’t cooperate with police partly due to many incidences of actual and perceived police brutality and profiling.

*** We could FIRE repeatedly abusive OPD cops IF city council would repeal “binding arbitration.”

*** We could pay police/fire (75% of city budget*) less and use the savings for better OPD training, and hire more good police, IF city council would repeal “binding arbitration.”

*$170k-250k/year total compensation package for every police and fire guy/gal. Not sustainable! Most other Oakland city employees are overpaid by 10-20% vs other bay area cities too.

With all the savings from actually adjusting pay packages down to Earth, we’d have money to immediately hire more police.

“And this is why we can’t have nice things.”

The city used to publish an internal salary survey on its website, but lately that’s too embarrassing so they removed it in 2009. Sounds just like Deanna Santana’s plan to limit public access to Oakland city council meetings.

* * * * *

What is “binding arbitration”?

It’s part of Oakland’s city charter (our “constitution”) and prevents city council from re-negotiating any city union pay packages or firing Oakland cops for flagrant, repeat abuses. Continue reading

Oakland Crime Rate High, Stays Higher – and not because of any Blue Dream [CrimeStats: Oakland vs NYC, SF, LA…]

photo by Jim OBrien, Ice City Almanac

Oakland Crime Rate High, Stays Higher – and not because of any Blue Dream

It’s been forever since I last posted about Oakland specifically, and I miss A Better Oakland (by intrepid Echa) so here’s a crime brief.

Oakland murders in 2012 to date: 84.

New York City murders in 2012 to date: 299.

So, Oakland has one third of the murders that NYC has and less than 5% of the population. Some will say Baltimore and New Orleans are worse but I don’t want to emulate the bad parts of any city.  And anyway, ex-OPD Chief Batts just landed in Baltimore. (youtubes here)

Oakland: 84/pop x 10,000 = 21 murders per capita, 2012

NYC: 299/pop x 10,000 = 4 murders per capita, 2012

Raw Stats: OAK pop 395,817 ; NYC pop 8,244,910 – Jul 2011, Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Oakland murder figure as of 9/7/12. 84 is Oaktown’s homicide count according to NBC and others. Incorrectly, KGORadio states “the 94 homicides in Oakland this year is one less than all of last year. Last year at this time there were 65 homicides in the city.”

That’s right. Oakland has FIVE as many murders per 10,000 people as New York City.  Okay okay. It would be lower without the Oikos mass shooting by an unhinged person. Yet, less murder is always preferable right?

Unfair? Let’s compare with SF, LA, Stockton, Fresno, Richmond and a few other cities.

City Murders as of 9/11/12 Population as of 2011 Murders per capita
Honduras 82.100
Ciudad Juarez 625 1,300,000 48.077
New Orleans 128 360740 35.483
Colombia 33.400
Mexico City 8851080 24.000
Baltimore 146 619493 23.568
Oakland 84 395,817 21.222
Kenya 20.100
Uganda 17.100
Stockton 46 296357 15.522
Richmond 15 105,380 14.234
Chicago 300 3,000,000 10.000
L.A. 375 3819702 9.818
Fresno 32 501362 6.383
San Francisco 45 750,000 6.000
NYC 299 8,244,910 3.626
San Jose 31 967487 3.204

And I can’t speak to Baltimore/NOLA but Oakland clearly needs 5-600 more poh-leese on the streets. If you have a cop in every neighborhood, s/he can mediate for that neighborhood, help direct people to resources, GET TO KNOW people, people will GET TO KNOW her/him. Real community policing happens with adequate staffing.

No men or women are angels, so we will always need to police ourselves — either internally (social code, customs, tight knit communitas) or externally (police, security).

Is Oakland a “police state”? Hardly. It’s a “thug state” and all current city politicians (and the police union OPOA, higher up OPD who sit at their desks, criminals (underground businessmen), certain neighborhoods and “anti-violence” nonprofits with no-bid city contracts) are happy to let this continue indefinitely.

I hate this game.  More cops will fix it over a 5-6 year period. This November election matters. Vote for city “leaders” who will actually hire up 5-600 MORE cops — at lower salary/pension levels — on November 6, 2012.

The national elections are a sham. But you have a chance to bring REAL policing to Oakland.  Policing where cops know their hood, every hood knows their cop, and we have REAL “bridging the gap” between COMMUNITY and POLICE.  This must happen if we will have a nurturing city for residents — and businesses (ie, “more jobs for people who give a shit in East/West Oakland”).

You pay for security. Your choice is how: police, or private patrol/alarm. Do we all want our own alarm? NO.

data sources: news reports, city websites. (google)

Ospotting #1: Better Bus Bench Ad contest

west o, saturday, 3.31.12

Caption contest. No wait… Better Bus Bench Ad contest. In the advertising industry, people refer to ads you make for yourself when you have no paying advertisers as house ads. And the bench above features one such “house ad.” Sometimes people refer to PSAs as house ads too, even though they are PSAs.

Now, I’m sure you, the smart Oakland blog reader, can come up with a better ad. Examples:

  • Don’t sit here. Moving targets are harder to hit than stationary ones.
  • Sit here. Moving targets are more tempting to hit than stationary ones.
  • Green is clean.
  • I don’t have to bother hunting for a parking spot.
  • Why pay for parking?
  • Sightsee and peoplewatch in Oakland. Only $2.10.
  • Save on gas, buy more greens. [whatever that means for you]

Until the death of online advertising commences, I don’t see bus bench ad agencies getting much business. Since I foresee that happening someday, now would be a good time to get into the bus bench ad business for pennies on the dollar.  Except…for the years of cleaning and repainting the benches while you wait.

On the other hand, this is a HUGE missed branding opportunity for AC Transit. Are you guys asleep at the wheel??  Oddly, I’ve never once seen an AC Transit advertisement for itself a la  SF MUNI or LA METRO.  Maybe the bus bench is the real life equivalent of the468x60 digital banner ad, and no one designs for it anymore…

* * *

On another note, some people recently started publishing awesome photo and transcribed audio interviews taken throughout Oakland. Let’s meet our neighbors, including Gregory and Bird. Thanks Sati and Saskia!

Now show me your engaging house ad concept. Hey DTO510 and Gene and 38th Notes

Repost: Mayor Quan’s 100,000 Block Plan

This just in: Mayor Quan has released full info on her 100 block plan.

It’s really a 100,000 block plan that covers all of Oakland because the Mayor “doesn’t want to be divisive.”

She blamed City Administrator Santana for leaving off a few zeros in the title of the plan.

Mayor Quan took full responsibility for overlooking Santana’s error, saying “Sometimes despite my best efforts, the buck stops here”

Continue reading

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].

Highlights:

  • 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:

http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityCouncil/s/VideoArchive/index.htm

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.

Liveblog:

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…

Continue reading