Tag Archives: urban planning

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…

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Bitter Tea and Tasty Sandwiches: Yesterday’s MTC “You Choose Bay Area” Workshop and “Tea Party” Eruptions

Attended MTC’s second Oakland spring workshop for Bay Area future planning and visioning tonight, May 24th, 2011.  The visioning process is called “You Choose Bay Area” which is part of ABAG and MTC’s “One Bay Area” project.  You can “vote” on the type of sub/urban future you’d like to see at the YCBA site. The workshop was from 5:30-8:30pm with basic box sandwich dinners provided.  Ham, roast beef, tuna and chicken. Tea was also provided…though not by MTC. I’ll dive into that later.

The purpose of this event (like the oversubscribed May 19th workshop I missed) was for residents of Alameda County to tell the MTC what they’d like their future to be like: Business As Usual or new and different.  How to prioritize land use and transportation options, policies and incentives and tax money.  Everyone did that quite well, though some less civilly.

The night’s most memorable negative feature was the sizable and obnoxious contingent of all-white* folks mostly from Livermore, Alamo, Dublin and other 680/580 suburbs. Some people might call these people “Tea Partyers.”  They were variously very dismissive, distrustful, extremely rude/shrill/loud/uncouth, (think Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin and ten of their dittohead friends in a room), ignorant about fossil fuel realities and were completely “antiMTC, public mass transit, planning, taxes, regulations and density. By re-arranging the letters in WASP, we get SAWP, or Super Angry White People. That’s what they were.

[*5/28/2011: At this point, let’s take a break and discuss race. I couldn’t help but notice that all the people who were loud, or anti-MTC/transit, happened to be white.  Does that mean the tensions in the room were due to race issues? In some people’s minds it very well could play a strong part. In a better read of the situation, it really boiled down to who was from newer  suburbs/exurbs, vs who was from older suburbs and urban cities.  Urban workshop participants were also largely white, but far more racially mixed (Asian, black, etc) given the more mixed demographics of the urban Bay Area.  I’m leaving the text as I wrote it, but keep this in mind. It’s more of a “inland vs coastal” sparring match. In microcosm, the US coasts vs the “heartland.” You can see charts of this I commissioned in 2008 for a city sustainability study.

Inlanders from the 680 valley were defending their car-based single family home way of life against decreased funding for them (which they’ve enjoyed for decades mind you), and increasing funding for less car-based, more “dense and convenient” ways of life.  I also have to note, based on the Bay Citizen story this week, that it is self-serving for Tea Party efforts to be led by a sales commission-based realtor… but still the main tension is over “The Economy, Stupid.” Also, there are no black UN (US) helicopters forcing people out of their SFHs and cars back into cities… economics alone do that. We’re in the “maturity and death” part of our society cycle right now. A new society will be born in the US by 2030. Now back to original post…]

You could say they were the ultimate version of that group of NIMBYs in North Oakland and Berkeley who frown upon any buildings taller than two stories or  Bus Rapid Transit. From talking to other people who tried to engage with them, and seeing their actions and hearing their words, I could see that they were there to get their point across to MTC (fine) but their manner of doing so was extremely rude. “Ghetto” would not be far from accurate. They were a riot. The irony! Continue reading

Breaking: Groundbreaking: MacArthur Transit Village parking garage

Are any of you going to this?

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345 Spear Street Suite 700 | San Francisco, CA 94105 US

When: Monday, May 23, 2011 from 1:45PM to 3:30PM

Where: 544 West MacArthur Blvd, Oakland

What: Groundbreaking for IKEA-style car filing cabinet in the sky. Will be prefaced by saying good-bye to the low-income Sleepy Hollow Motel and Rio Motel on the southern edge of the existing (massive) BART parking lot. I have lots of good memories of MacArthur BART having lived in Temescal for a while.  I won’t miss these motels much.

If you’re going, maybe I’ll see you there.

Let the Return of the Jedi, er Gentry, continue… I just hope that Union City’s BART station T-O-D redevelopment continues apace too… it’s slowed a bit lately. Continue reading

Thursday event: Greening Project to Break Ground in West Oakland Neighborhood

Reposting…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact Name: Demetria Pope / Jane Wardani

Email:info@urbanreleaf.org Phone: (510)776-3865

PRESS ADVISORY

Greening Project to Break Ground in West Oakland Neighborhood

WHAT:

Urban Releaf will lead a street demonstration of its groundbreaking new research project along two blocks between Market Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in West Oakland, where tree canopy is currently non-existent.

UC Davis scientist, Dr. Qingfu Xiao will showcase innovative tree wells using special rocks and soil that save water. Community leaders, state and local, are scheduled to participate in the demonstration.

WHEN:

Thursday October 21, 2010, 11:00am – 1:00pm

WHERE:

Corner of 31st and Market St., Oakland CA

BACKGROUND:

Urban Releaf continues its groundbreaking research on the water benefits of urban forestry. Following the success of our Ettie Street watershed research and evaluation projects funded by the statewide CALFED Watershed Program, we are launching a cutting-edge research and demonstration project with Dr. Qingfu Xiao, a water scientist with UC Davis Department of Land and Water.According to the Center for Urban Forest Research, trees in urban areas mitigate air pollution, beautify the neighborhood by adding greenery and shade, save on heating and cooling costs, build a sense of community, and provide opportunities for green job training — all in addition to saving water.

“We are looking to spread the word and demonstrate the myriad water benefits of our city’s trees. Cities all over the world are facing water crises and are seeking water- sensitive tree well design and approach to urban forestry like this,” says Kemba Shakur, executive director of Urban Releaf, the Oakland nonprofit leading the project.

The state Department of Water Resources Urban Drought Mitigation Program provided funding for this project to educate local residents on California’s water shortage and the importance of conserving water. The project also received funding from the West Oakland Project Area Committee Neighborhood Projects Initiative Program. Other partners include the City of Oakland, West Oakland Greening Project and UC Berkeley. We are always open to collaboration with other partners!

To get involved, or for more information, please contact Jane Wardani, Urban Releaf Project Manager, at (510) 601-9062.

Our state partners include the following: – The Dept of Forestry and Fire Protection (CALFIRE) has been a longstanding

partner of Urban Releaf’s work in the past few years, supporting the planting of thousands of the trees in the project area and throughout Oakland.

– DWR Calfed Watershed Program has also funded water quality research in the Ettie Street Watershed in West Oakland in partnership with Center for Urban Forest Research and UC Davis researchers. Our research and modeling established that planting 1,800 trees in the watershed would prevent 9 million gallons of contaminated runoff from entering the San Francisco Bay. More info on this project is on our website.

– We also have an active contract with the DWR Watershed Program to conduction evaluations on the socio-economic and environmental benefits of urban forestry in this historically disadvantaged, environmental justice community of West Oakland.

Are cities really sustainable?

One of my colleagues recently presented on sustainability and urban planning in Vancouver. This led me to think of what I’ve been reading lately. Not libatious poetry about cities or google eyed narratives in Next American City magazine, but some naysaying.

I’ve read a bit of city naysaying recently. One critique of cities is that they absorb quite a bit of bio capacity from other areas, requiring transport. Meaning, we cannot have Hong Kongs every 100 miles. Not at HK’s current scale.

For Rome in 2,000 years ago this would have meant moving food and lumber from outlying areas, France and even Africa back to Rome. Intercity trade without capital flight can be good, but ecologically speaking if there is one metropolis pulling in resources from everywhere, that probably cannot last long before exhaustion from human population growth and increasing resource use per capita.

This reminds me of something one of my friends said once, that urban is the conceit of stretching (bending) natural limits. I agree that urban constitutes the “extend and pretend” that we are separate from nature. Apart from wilderness.

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