Tag Archives: Lake Merritt

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

April 12-18 Oakland Political & Community Events

11 Apr

Tuesday, April 13th – Public Works Committee Hearing on Bus Rapid Transit

After years of mostly Berkeley meetings about AC Transit’s bus rapid transit (BRT) project, Oakland is finally discussing it’s locally preferred alternative. If you support BRT, please come to this meeting or submit comments ahead of time – this project is incredibly important to the future of Oakland. The Public Works Committee hearing will be held at 9:30am in Hearing Room 1, City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza and the full agenda can be read here. You can read more about the BRT proposal in the staff report and at OaklandBRT.com.

Wednesday, April 14th – Lake Merritt BART Station Area Plan Community Workshop #1

The City of Oakland, BART and the Peralta Community College District, through a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, have come together to prepare a Station Area Plan for the area around the Lake Merritt BART Station. The Plan will consider land use, buildings, design, circulation, BART improvements, streetscape improvements, parks and public spaces. It will identify actions the City and the other public agencies should take to improve the area, and it will establish regulations for development projects on private property. This is the first community workshop, to identify community goals and key concerns. The meeting takes place from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Metropolitan Transportation Commission Auditorium, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland. Find out more a the Lake Merritt Plan website.

CANCELED – Wednesday, April 14th – East Bay Democracy for America Meetup: Single Payer, PGE’s Grab &  OFA

Come to the April Meetup, co-sponsored by East Bay Young Democrats. It’s time to start thinking about where to put energy for the June primary and for the November election. There are lots of places where energy will be needed. Now that the Congress has passed a healthcare reform bill, its time for California to pass single payer. It’s still possible for us to make the changes here and show that single payer is the best solution for the rest of the country. We’ll also look at Prop 16 – PG&E’s the sole funder for this proposition that will make it much harder for municipalities to create their own power systems. If this proposition does not pass PG&E’s share of the electricity market will likely shrink and they’ve vowed to spend $35 million to pass it. Obama for America organized lots of phone banking to help pass healthcare reform. We’ll hear from the local OFA organization about how grassroots activism is still desired by the Democratic Party. The meeting will be held at 6:30 at the Rockridge Library, 5366 College Avenue. RSVP here.

Wednesday, April 14th – AC Transit Board Meeting

At this week’s meeting, the Board will mostly be addressing financial issues. They’ll also receive a report on on-time performance and will vote on a resolution to honor Jim Gleich, who passed away last month. This meeting will take place at 6pm in the 2nd floor board room, 1600 Franklin Street. You can read the agenda and see the relevant memos here and you can listen online here.

Thursday, April 15th Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-6:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Thursday, April 15th – Vehicle Registration Fee Initiative Public Workshop

The Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (ACCMA) is considering placing a transportation measure on the November 2, 2010 ballot to provide a Vehicle Registration Fee (VRF) of $10 that would be used for local transportation and transit improvements throughout Alameda County.  The opportunity for a Countywide transportation agency to place this fee before the voters was authorized last year by the passage of Senate Bill 83, authored by Senator Loni Hancock (Oakland). This workshop provides an opportunity for the public to weigh in on what the funds generated by this fee should be used for. The workshop will be held from 6:30-8:30 pm in Hearing Room 3, One Frank H Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. For more information, visit the ACCMA VRF website.

Saturday, April 17thEarth Day Cleanup Events Citywide

On Saturday, Earth Day clean up events will be held throughout Oakland. Oakland Earth Day is the time communities, neighbors, acquaintances, relatives, friends and people from all walks of life come together to show our appreciation, celebrate and give a little something back to earth. Join Oakland community members from 9am-12pm to help beautify Oakland. Check out the City’s PDF listing of dozens of events – you’re sure to find something near you.

Kay Taylor: Lake Merritt Walk for Women of Africa

25 Aug

This guest post was written by Kay Taylor, MD, OB/GYN, Executive Director of Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer (PINCC), based in Oakland. She is a Board-Certified Obstetrician/Gynecologist whose dedication to providing high-quality health care to women around the world has led her on medical missions to Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras and inspired her to found PINCC.

PINCCCervical cancer is the #1 cancer killer of women in Africa, and in most of the developing world. 300,000 women die of it worldwide, every year; that’s 800 women a day! Yet cervical cancer is completely preventable, with screening exams and treatment. PINCC brings care, training and equipment to clinics and hospitals in 8 countries, screening and treating poor women and those with HIV/ AIDS.  In a single visit, we can find and treat the signs of developing cervical cancer, with  90+% cures!

PINCC is a non-profit, volunteer organization based here in Oakland; our Director, Dr. Kay Taylor, and many of our volunteers are from this community.  We take teams of volunteer doctors, nurses, and non-medical people to poor and rural communities in Africa, Central America and India, to train and equip public health clinics.  We continue our training visits until the staff is competent and the program is independent, thus establishing self-sufficient cervical cancer prevention programs that will continue to screen and treat women for many years to come.  In the four years we have been working, our volunteers have trained hundreds of doctors and nurses to provide this life-saving care.

In June 2009, PINCC began the training of 47 doctors and nurses in 5 new health centers, in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.  Women in these rural areas have never had a pelvic examination; they don’t even know what this disease is called, though they all know someone who has died with the painful symptoms of this disease. We need to raise $10,000 for our return mission next January, to supply the equipment for treatment and complete the training process.  We have a team of volunteers who are ready to donate their time and pay their own way.  We are holding this Walk for Women of Africa to raise this money.  We are not supported by any government funds or grants; it’s the generosity of caring people that has allowed us to perform this sustainable service. We encourage you to sign up to walk, or to support a walker, on our website, www.pincc.org.

HOW MANY LIVES CAN YOU SAVE?

PINCC Walk for Women of Africa
Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer

When: August 29, 2009, 10 am to 1 pm
Where: Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA
Meet at the Pergola, near Lakeshore and Grand. Distance around lake is 3.5 miles; there’s prizes for most miles walked and Most money raised. Free t-shirt for donors and participants.
How Much: As much as you can raise!  Only $15 can save a woman’s life by providing screening for cervical cancer.

August 24-30 Oakland Political & Community Events

24 Aug

Thursday, August 27th – Walk Oakland Bike Oakland Meeting

Please note that this month’s volunteer meeting breaks from the normal schedule. Instead of being on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30pm (as next month’s meeting will be), the meeting will be on a Thursday at 7:30pm. Why the change? People have been asking to get out and socialize after meetings, so we thought we’d help make that happen. The meeting will be all of 30 minutes. We’ll talk about the status of WOBO’s campaigns, with a focus on the Urban Paths and Oakland “Sunday Streets” projects. After the meeting, attendees will have the chance to socialize at some nearby walkable/bikeable watering holes. Which ones? That’s up to those who show. It’s democracy in action! (NOTE: The meeting is an official WOBO event, but the socializing afterward is unsponsored.) This meeting will be held from 6:30-7:00 pm at Bay Area Wilderness Training, 2301 Broadway, Suite B – enter on 23rd Street. For more info, visit WOBO’s website.

Friday, August 28th – Fourth Friday Summer Nights: A Little Princess

This summer, the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate is hosting free movies on the fourth Friday of each month. This month, they’ll be showing A Little Princess. Via V Smoothe, “The grounds open at 6 PM for picnicking and wandering. Music is provided before the movies, which begin around 8:30, once the sun sets. And if you don’t have a car, no problem! AC Transit line 45 drops you off maybe a 10 minute walk (or less, depending on how fast you walk, I guess) from the Estate and runs until midnight.” The estate is located at 2960 Peralta Oaks Ct.

Friday-Sunday, August 28th-30th - Eat Real Festival

Street food, fresh summer fruits and veggies, live music, handcrafted local beers, ice cream sold from the back of a bicycle. Come find it all and more at Eat Real, a free festival, taking place August 28-30 at Jack London Square. Buy from your favorite street food vendors, pick up a ticket for the Beer Shed and sample from among the 40-something microbrews, or shop in the Market for local produce and artisanal snacks. In between the good eats, enjoy the non-stop entertainment and activities that include chef demonstrations, dance performances, bands, films, food competitions, and lots more, for free. Proceeds from the event benefit People’s Grocery, La Cocina and Community Alliance with Family Farmers. The festival takes place on Friday 4pm-9pm, Saturday 10am-9pm, and Sunday 10am-5pm. Find out more info at the festival’s website.

Saturday, August 29th - GhostTown Farm Tour, Food and Demo

Via Novella Carpenter: “I’m really excited about the Eat Real Festival to be held in Oakland August 28-30. There’s going to be sustainably-raised meat taco trucks, dinners held at restaurants that feature produce from urban farms like City Slicker and People’s Grocery, ice cream cones and a beer garden. A lot of people have emailed me to say they’re coming to town for the festival and they’d like a tour of Ghosttown Farm. So I figured, hell, let’s make a whole day of it, with demonstrations, tours, bookselling, and a campfire where I burn all the wood and branches that have accumulated on the property. And it’ll be a good excuse for me to clean-up the damn place. And you can all laugh at my pink and red house (thank you my landlord).” This free event will take place from 10am-10pm at 665 28th Street at Martin Luther King. Find out many more details and exact times of demonstrations at Novella Carpenter’s blog.

Saturday, August 29th - Prevention International: No Cervical Cancer (PINCC) Walk for Women of Africa

This Saturday, walk around Lake Merritt to help prevent cancer. Distance around lake is 3.5 miles; there’s prizes for most miles walked and most money raised. Free t-shirt for donors and participants. Raise as much as you can! Only $15 can save a woman’s life by providing screening for cervical cancer. The walk takes place from 10am-1pm – meet at the Pergola, near Lakeshore and Grand. Find out more about PINCC at their website and look for a guest blog post here tomorrow about the event and the organization.

Saturday, August 29th - Sistahs Steppin’ in Pride

The 8th Annual Sistahs Steppin’ In Pride March and Festival will take place at Lake Merritt and Snow Park in Oakland, California. The celebration honors the rich history and remarkable presence of the East Bay’s diverse lesbian, queer, and bisexual women’s community. Sistahs Steppin’ festivities offer a day of community, celebration and fun, with a pride march around Lake Merritt, and a “Sistah Village” featuring entertainment, food, games, arts & crafts vendors, and community organizations. MARCH: 11am – Gather at Astro Park, at the corners of MacArthur/Grand Avenue/Lakeshore (55 El Embarcadero) in Oakland. The march will begin promptly at Noon. With drums, banners, and the voices of hundreds of women, we will take to the streets loud and proud! FESTIVAL 1pm – 5pm: The free celebration continues from 1pm to 5pm at the Sistah Village in Snow Park located at 19th & Harrison Streets, Downtown Oakland EVERYONE is invited! Eat good food, meet great folks, enjoy talented performers, check out local artisans, and receive useful information and resources. There’s also a special family and elders’ space to enjoy. Come spend the day with us! Sorry, but pets are not allowed at Snow Park. Find out more info at the Sistahs Steppin’ website.

Saturday-Sunday, August 29th-30th - Eat Real Bike Tours

Join a tour for two-wheeled foodies! Begin and end at the Eat Real Festival at Jack London Square.  Peddle along Oakland’s waterfront and meet local culinary artisans, learn their specialties and taste their creations. Meet local purveyors of sustainable chocolate, tea, beer and wine. Members of East Bay Bike Coalition or Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and readers of this blog receive $10 off cost. Bike rentals available from Bay Area Bikes. The tour runs from noon-4:30 on Saturday and Sunday and costs $40 ($30 with the discount). Read more about it in Karen Hester’s guest blog post and register online.

Sidebar

17 Feb

My Valentine’s Day was filled with scrumptious food. In the morning, we headed to Berkeley and made a huge brunch with my girlfriend’s parents, complete with mimosas made from fresh squeezed orange juice from their trees and freshly laid eggs from our chickens. In the afternoon, my girlfriend and I made Tagalongs from scratch, and though it took forever, they were well worth it, far surpassing the Girl Scout versions in taste and quality. And in the evening, we made our way down to Lake Merritt to dine at Sidebar, which had opened the previous weekend.

I’ve been looking forward to the opening of Sidebar since early January, when I read about it over at City Homestead and learned that it was a creation of the Zax Tavern team. Zax used to be my favorite Berkeley restaurant. The atmosphere was laid back and very comfortable, and the food was simple, yet refined. I mostly ordered small plates there and found their creamy soups to be flavorful and warming (and always vegetarian). They were very well known for their goat cheese souffle with apple and fennel salad, which paired perfectly together. And the desserts, well, let’s just say there were at least a few times when my girlfriend and I stopped at the bar just to grab a drink and share one of their exquisite sweet treats. My favorites were the mocha pots de creme and the seasonal rhubarb tart.

Needless to say, I had high expectations for Sidebar, and I’m happy to say these expectations were easily met.

The decor of Sidebar is similar to that of Zax. Lots of warm colors, dark woods, and very comfortable seating. The main difference is the open floor plan (Zax was divided into three rooms), with the bar taking center stage. The very large bar is square shaped, with bar chairs and soft light surrounding it. When we arrived, the bar was already packed, though the tables to either side were mostly empty. We were seated next to the front window, where we could gaze at Lake Merritt.

My girlfriend and I took quite a while perusing the menu because we wanted to order half the items on it. We finally settled on starting off with the tomato soup, and then sharing the baked pasta, polenta, and greens. The tomato soup was tasty, but not exactly what we were hoping for. I had expected something creamier and was a bit surprised by the seeds left in the soup. Luckily, we were distracted by our glasses of Savignon Blanc and Syrah, both local choices from the varied wine menu.

The rest of the food blew us away though, and we quickly forgot the tomato soup. The marscapone-manchego polenta was rich and flavorful. It paired well with the greens of the evening, which was chard sauteed with shallots. The baked pasta shells were filled with ricotta and topped with tomato sauce, eggplant, and bread crumbs. My girlfriend usually hates eggplant but loved this preparation of it, as it took on the flavor of its sauce.

Though the savory part of our meal was satisfying and warming, the dessert might have been my favorite part. We split the Almond Joy, Sidebar’s take on the candy bar, which consisted of chocolate pave, topped with coconut ice cream, whipped cream, toasted almond slivers, and caramel. The flavors all worked perfectly together and none of them were overwhelming.

The food was the star of the show at Sidebar, but the service was great as well. Our waiter always was available when we needed something and the food came at perfect intervals. One of the owners came by to talk to us halfway through our meal, and it seemed that the staff genuinely liked working there.

I can’t wait to return to taste the rest of the menu items that called to me and to sit at the bar and sip a cocktail once they get their full liquor license.

Check out Artemis’ review of Sidebar at City Homestead. Coincidentally, we were seated next to eachother on Saturday evening.

Replay 8/17/07: Geese Crossing

31 Aug

I’m reading Blues City: A Walk in Oakland, by Ishmael Reed, and in it, he does an interview with Malcolm Margolin, author of The Ohlone Way. Here’s part of what Malcolm has to say about why birds keep coming back to Lake Merritt:

Along the northern Pacific coast the watersheds that supported migrating geese have been taken over by city populations… It’s hard to tell geese that after millions of years, that’s not your land anymore… the geese population at Lake Merritt is not a result of the offspring… It’s actually a result of the geese trying to find a safe place before they lose all their flight feathers for six weeks and become land-bound.

Reading this reminded me of a night earlier this year, when I was driving a friend of mine to his apartment east of the lake. As I slowly pulled up to a red stoplight, a family of stark white geese waddled in a single-file line from the lake to the other side of the street, using the cross walk. They didn’t make it across the street before the light changed, but I’ve seen pedestrians do worse.

It was a beautiful sight and one of those Oakland memories that I’ll never forget. It’s sad to know that birds have few safe places to land, but I’m glad to know that Lake Merritt is one of those safe spaces.

If only I could join Oaklandish at Lake Merritt this Sunday…

15 Aug

Instead, I’ll be digging through playa-dust encrusted boxes of supplies, getting ready for Burning Man. That shouldn’t stop you though. Here’s the info via an email from Oaklandish:

3RD ANNUAL LAKE MERRITT RADIO REGATTA

This Sunday, August 17, 2008 from noon to 5pm @ the Lake Merritt Sailboat House

We will be chillin’ and drifting lakeside… Take advantage of: 1/2 off boat rentals! Rowboats, sailboats, kayaks, and paddle boats. Free pontoon rides & gondola service! (space limited). Linden Street Brewery will be pouring their famous Common Lager to quench your thirst!

Live FM micro broadcast featuring: DJINTI, BLACKHEART, BOBBY PERU, DJ MarMar and DJBASTA spinning some summer jams. ((BYO radio)) to listen in while boating!

Also, our 2008 Innovators Award winner, Youth Spirit Artworks (YSA), will be celebrating the end of their semester by hosting an exhibit and silent auction of their furniture art throughout the event. YSA seeks to empower and transform the lives of homeless and at-risk youth through art, job training in furniture painting, and community art making.

Come out to see old friends and meet new ones! ** FREE FOR ALL AGES**

Map and directions

Email us at volunteer@oaklandish.org if you’d like to help out with decorating, signing people up for boats, handing out water, etc. Thanks!

If you’re not convinced yet, check out some of these pictures from the event last year:

It sounds pretty amazing, and if only I wasn’t swamped with Burning Man prep, this is how I’d be spending my Sunday. If you make it out to the lake, let me know how it goes.

Geese Crossing

17 Aug

I’m reading Blues City: A Walk in Oakland, by Ishmael Reed, and in it, he does an interview with Malcolm Margolin, author of The Ohlone Way. Here’s part of what Malcolm has to say about why birds keep coming back to Lake Merritt:

Along the northern Pacific coast the watersheds that supported migrating geese have been taken over by city populations… It’s hard to tell geese that after millions of years, that’s not your land anymore… the geese population at Lake Merritt is not a result of the offspring… It’s actually a result of the geese trying to find a safe place before they lose all their flight feathers for six weeks and become land-bound.

Reading this reminded me of a night earlier this year, when I was driving a friend of mine to his apartment east of the lake. As I slowly pulled up to a red stoplight, a family of stark white geese waddled in a single-file line from the lake to the other side of the street, using the cross walk. They didn’t make it across the street before the light changed, but I’ve seen pedestrians do worse.

It was a beautiful sight and one of those Oakland memories that I’ll never forget. It’s sad to know that birds have few safe places to land, but I’m glad to know that Lake Merritt is one of those safe spaces.

Emeryville – the Bane of Oakland?

12 Aug

Tonight I went grocery shopping. Sounds pretty innocent, right? Unfortunately, unless an Oaklander wants to frequent Safeway or the corner liquor store, it’s pretty impossible to do this in Oakland.

So I hopped in my car (my first guilt-ridden act of the night) and drove to Emeryville (my second) to shop at Trader Joe’s. Yes, it was worth the guilt, but it really got me thinking.

Oakland’s a great city, and I manage to spend a good portion of my money here (hell, even the management company that owns my apartment is located in Oakland), but it’s difficult to buy groceries or (much) clothing in Oakland. So where do I end up going? Berkeley or, dare I say it, Emeryville.

Seriously, Emeryville’s a weird place that seems only to exist for high rise apartments, condos, and shopping, shopping, shopping. The closest I’ve gotten to a cultural event in Emeryville was when I saw a jazz band playing at Bay Street – a brief distraction from the lure of dozens of chain stores and restaurants.

I really don’t want my hard earned money going to Emeryville stores. And even more so, it’s not right to have to hop in my car just to buy groceries. But I can only buy so much at the farmer’s market, and I just can’t afford to shop at Market Hall in Rockridge, the only decent grocery store in walking distance from me.

Beyond groceries, I can’t think of even one decent priced shoe store in Oakland. And besides a few boutique stores and a couple used clothing stores, there’s not a realistic place to buy most of my clothing. Preparing for Burning Man over the past couple weeks, I haven’t spent a single dollar in Oakland on my various playa gear.

Luckily, this will be changing soon, as two Trader Joe’s are planned for Oakland – one near Lake Merritt and one in Rockridge, a nice walk from my apartment. And there’s the Whole Foods near downtown, but I’m not holding my breath for that, since the opening date keeps getting pushed back.

Oakland’s working on bringing more businesses to the city, and the changes are slowly making a difference. There’s even a entire blog dedicated to promoting Oakland businesses.

But in the back of my head, I begin to worry. Is Oakland trying too hard? With all the new apartments and condos being built and stores being wooed, might parts of Oakland begin to look and feel like Emeryville?

Bay Street, Emeryville

I hope Oakland never looks like this ↑. Photo courtesy of Cool Town Studios.

Ultimately, I’m not going to get too worried about this. Oakland has a lot of history and style. And I’m confident that enough Oaklanders have similar concerns to stop this from happening.

And when TJ’s finally opens, I’ll just be happy to have a grocery store I can walk to.

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