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November 2014 endorsements: Libby for Mayor, Abel & Annie for Council, and more

31 Oct Libby pumpkins

It’s been nearly two years since I’ve written anything here and nearly three years since I announced a “hiatus” for this blog, but as I was writing my endorsements to post on Facebook, I thought I should post them here as well. This will probably be my last blog post for a very long time, but if you’d like to keep up with my thoughts on Oakland, BART, transit, land use, and plenty of other issues, I tweet regularly and like to engage there. Follow me – @RebeccaForBART – or if you’re not on Twitter, follow me on Facebook.

Now, to the endorsements… You might have noticed that there are a LOT of competitive races and ballot measures on the ballot this year. So I have not endorsed in all of them, just those where I feel the most strongly. I’ve offered some resources below that cover many of the other races.

Oakland

Libby with familyOakland Mayor – Libby Schaaf: I’m so excited that Councilmember Libby Schaaf is running for mayor. I’ve long supported her (and worked on her council campaign), and I’ve been incredibly impressed by her time on the council. I’m supporting Libby because she is the smart, creative, and effective leader that Oakland needs as mayor. In one term she’s accomplished so much, and many of her accomplishments have been hard fought and on controversial issues. One example of this is the compromise she led on tenant and rent protections earlier this year. Tenants advocates and landlords had been at odds over this, and Libby was able to get them to compromise on real reforms both sides could agree on. This is just one of many examples of Libby’s ability to listen to all sides, consider all opinions, and to find solutions to difficult policy problems. Libby recently released policy papers on all of her major priorities, which include what she’s done on these issues and what she plans to do if elected mayor. I highly recommend reading them, especially if you’re still undecided in the mayor’s race.

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Uptown Art Park grand opening this Friday night!

3 Apr bike bridge 2

Four years after several Oakland advocates, bloggers, and blog readers saved the space from becoming a surface parking lot, the Uptown Art Park is opening this Friday night! Thanks to hard work by staff in the City’s Public Art Program and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, Oaklanders and Uptown visitors will soon be able to enjoy several sculptures by local artists. (Read more about our advocacy for the art park in the many blog posts listed at the bottom of this post.)

Here are the details for the grand opening event:

Uptown Art Park Grand Opening!

What: Nine Sculpture Art Pieces by Local Artists, Music, Tours, Food Trucks

Where:  Telegraph & 19th Street

When: Friday, April 5th from 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/events/170069043142598/

Get There: 19th Street BART Station or Free Broadway Shuttle… or bike there from West Oakland with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and Bikes4Life: Riders of all ages gather at 5:30pm at Bikes4Life, 1600 7th Street @ Willow in West Oakland (take BART to the West Oakland station) for 1.5 mile ride to the event. Free bike lights courtesy of the City of Oakland (limited supply –arrive by 5:30pm). Bike valet parking provided by Richmond Spokes.

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Daniel Schulman – What Matters a Taco Bell

18 Dec planning-area

This guest blog post was written by Daniel Schulman, who first moved to Oakland in 1984. Following a multi-year break for graduate school and career, he returned to the city in 2001 where he has lived since. During that time, Dan has worked to improve Oakland’s livability while maintaining its unique character. He is a founding member of Oakland Urban Paths, a voting member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and currently serves on the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board.

Before jumping into Dan’s blog post, I wanted to mention that on Thursday I will be sworn in to the BART Board of Directors. I invite you to join me at the swearing in at 9 am and the celebration from 6 pm – 9 pm, both in downtown Oakland. You can find all the details and RSVP on my campaign website or on Facebook. – Rebecca

                                                                                                                                              

The third item on the agenda for the December 19 Planning Commission is for the demolition and re-build of the Taco Bell on Telegraph at West Grand. This item was originally scheduled for October, but it was pulled due to unanticipated community objection. Originally, the applicant wanted to rebuild at the same location, but staff convinced them to move to the corner so as to minimize the “auto-orientation of the building” and “give the restaurant a greater street presence.”

While staffs’ goal of increasing the urban-feel of this highly visible intersection is laudable, their solution left a lot to be desired. In order to accommodate the drive-thru facility, a corner location would have required stacking the cars parallel to the West Grand sidewalk. While myself and others had a number of objections, the poor pedestrian experience afforded by being sandwiched by cars was our primary concern. In December of 2010, a group of activist successfully raised over $1,400 to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision on the rebuild of the Telegraph McDonald’s for precisely this reason. Continue reading

The Uptown art park Bike Bridge sculpture on the horizon

28 Sep bike-bridge-student-web-293x440

This guest blog post was written by Josie Schimke, the Program Development Associate for the Black Rock Arts Foundation. Through her administrative and program support over the last five years for BRAF, Josie has had the privilege of watching promising art proposals mature into exceptional achievements of public art.

The Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) is close to fulfilling a dream and needs the community’s help. We have art. We have a place to put it. We have 12 extraordinary young artists worth celebrating. All we need now is a few more dollars to make it happen!

Donate to the Kickstarter campaign for The Bike Bridge!

If you’ve been following this blog, then you’ve heard mention of The Bike Bridge. We can’t say enough about this project, and it’s so close to becoming a reality. The City of Oakland has approved the installation of the sculpture in a new park on Telegraph Avenue, between 19th and 20th Streets, adjacent to the beautifully renovated Fox Theater. Continue reading

Josh Sonnenfeld: After 143 years, Oakland’s Lake Merritt Reunites with the Bay

20 Sep Lake_Merritt_Circa_1800_Map

This guest blog post was written by Josh Sonnenfeld, Campaign Manager for Save the Bay. This post is cross-posted from Save the Bay’s blog, one of the handful of environmental blogs I read regularly. If you care about the Bay, you should be reading it too.

A gem at the heart of Oakland, Lake Merritt has been many things – the nation’s first wildlife refuge, beloved waterway, sewage-filled cesspool, and even the rumored home to a lake monster. There’s one thing that Lake Merritt has never been, however – and that’s a lake.

What we now call Lake Merritt has for most of the past ten thousand years been a tidal lagoon where the waters of several East Bay creeks met the brackish tides of the Bay. Ringed with mudflats and tidal marsh, this lagoon was home to an abundance of native wildlife, including hundreds of species of birds.

This changed dramatically in 1869 as Oakland Mayor Samuel Merritt dammed the channel connecting the lagoon to the Bay. Later becoming the 12th Street Bridge, the lagoon’s water was forced through narrow culverts on its way in and out of the Bay, significantly reducing circulation and largely disconnecting the waterway from the rest of our great estuary. Continue reading

Uptown art park to open this fall, City puts out call for art

7 Sep glowing balls

Throughout my blogging hiatus this year, I’ve many times been tempted to blog about things happening in Oakland (particularly upcoming decisions at the Planning Commission and City Council). I’ve stopped myself because I just don’t have the time to start blogging again while I’m campaigning for BART Board and maintaining my full-time job. But I came across news on Facebook yesterday that was far too exciting not to share, since this blog, other Oakland blogs, and dozens of blog readers made this news possible.

The Uptown lot that we saved from becoming a parking lot back in 2009 is finally becoming a public arts space!

I know, I know, I’ve shared this news a couple of times here already. Unfortunately there were major delays due to funding issues after the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency. But now it really is happening. And by now I mean that construction should start this month, and if construction stays on schedule, the art could be installed as early as mid-late October.

The City of Oakland Public Art Program has put out a call for art, with applications due on September 18th. With such a short timeline for submission, acceptance, and installation, they’re currently looking for existing artwork, to be displayed for 6-12 months. After that, they might commission some new artwork. From the call for art: Continue reading

Exciting news & Sierra Club City Council candidate forum

6 Jul Sierra Club candidate forum

Last night my wife was cleaning out some boxes that we hadn’t looked through in years, and she found a box that was full of a bunch of papers from my high school years, including some sweet hand written letters from friends and my sisters. In this box I found several drafts of the personal statement I submitted to get into UC Berkeley, full of hand written notes (no tracked changes) from my mom and dad. Reading my personal statement made me realize that though I have changed quite a bit since my senior year in high school, my values were very similar. (My writing issues apparently haven’t changed much either – my dad’s notes on one draft say “too many commas” and “too many transition words”.)  Here’s one paragraph from a draft of the statement:

Once issue that I have felt strongly about since childhood is ecology. In elementary school, our classes held an annual fund-raiser to buy and preserve several acres of the rain forest. I also participated in my school’s ecology club during eighth and ninth grade. Each year we organized an ecology fair and disseminated information covering issues ranging from vegetarianism to fuel conservation. We also instituted a recycling program, which the school still uses.

Being a longtime environmentalist, I was so excited this week to receive the news that the Sierra Club had endorsed my candidacy for BART Board. The decisions made in the next decade at BART are crucial not just for BART, but also for the Bay Area’s environment for decades to come. I’m just as eager as I was in elementary school to address the environmental challenges we face.

The City of Oakland also faces a myriad of environmental challenges, and next year we will have at least two new city councilmembers to address these issues. The Sierra Club and the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) recognize the importance of the open seat races in districts 1 and 3 so they’re holding a forum on Monday featuring nearly all of the candidates running for these seats (a few couldn’t make it). From the Facebook event description: Continue reading

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