Reading about the O: Blogs

9 Jan

Last week I reviewed three books about Oakland and promised that a review of my favorite Oakland blogs would be forthcoming. Well here it is.

When I started blogging about Oakland several months ago, I was pleasantly surprised to quickly find that there were at least a dozen others taking on the same task. I was even more pleased to find that though there were so many of us doing basically the same thing, we all have different points of view, different political positions, and hone in on different issues. I soon found my niche, writing often about transit issues, organic food and farmers markets, urban planning, medical marijuana, and the community I live in. Read on to find out the angles of other Oakland bloggers…


A Better Oakland (fka Great Expectations)

What can I say? V Smoothe kicks ass. It seems like she attends just about every important city hearing and manages to keep up with dozens of issues, while never losing cite of the larger picture. Her About page sums up her perspective nicely…

I love this city. I know that Oakland has problems, but it also has an incredible amount of potential. I hope that we can become the “model city” that Mayor Dellums has promised. Unfortunately, we have a very long way to go, and many of our most politically active residents and elected officials seem to be more interested in feel-good nonsense than real solutions…

Though she covers just about everything, I highly recommend reading through her housing and public safety archives, where she really shines. I do have to warn readers though, while I greatly appreciate it, V Smoothe is not here to be warm and fuzzy – she tells it like it is, which sometimes isn’t pretty.

Dogtown Commons

Maybe it’s that we share political views, or that we have a similar sarcastic sense of humor, or maybe I just feel solidarity towards Dogtown Commoner because we started our blogs around the same time, but I love reading pretty much everything on this blog. DC has a broader frame but often writes about Oakland, picking up on some quirky, sometimes overlooked issues, like anti-pedestrian signage, a Rockridge homeowner complaining about schools, and how Oakland functions as an ecosystem. So go check Dogtown Commons out, and if you don’t laugh (or at least smile), you probably won’t think I’m very funny either.

Transbay Blog

Here’s another blog that’s not about Oakland, but I still think Eric provides indispensable information and perspectives for Oaklanders, especially anyone who uses public transit. Whether you ride AC Transit or BART, Eric has probably covered the issues you’re having or the dreams you envision for Bay Area transit. I especially loved his East Bay Subway Dream post, where he literally maps out what could be the future of BART if we put more funding into transit. Also, make sure to take a look at some of his gorgeous photography of buildings in Downtown Oakland. I really look forward to seeing what Eric dreams up next…

Oakland’s Future & The DTO

Both of these blogs are written by dto510, and though they have different focuses, both blogs have a similar feel. The DTO, unsurprisingly, covers everything that is Downtown Oakland, with a heavy focus on development and housing and a bit of everything else. I especially liked the post that mapped out the DTO, dividing particular neighborhoods within – it gave me a new perspective on how large and diverse Downtown is. Oakland’s Future also delves deeply into development issues and has taught me a lot about the development process in Oakland. The essential post I would point to here explains how Oakland is planned, covering zoning and the planning process. It’s a bit long, but go read it if you ever hope to understand this city.


This is a very utilitarian blog, especially if you’re somewhat new to Oakland or have not explored many neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking for a restaurant that delivers or a new place to shop, you’ll probably find it here. Buying locally is great for Oakland’s community and economy so I’m glad to know there’s a blog that encourages just that.


NovoScene is a newer edition to the Oakland blogger family, but they’ve been doing something similar on NovoMetro for a while now. I always pop over to NovoScene if I’m looking for something to do. They have a round up every week of the best weekend activities, and often catch events I wouldn’t have know of otherwise. Whether you want to look at art, listen to music, or hear a lecture, you’ll probably find out about it there. Thanks to NovoScene for diversifying my social life.

6 Responses to “Reading about the O: Blogs”

  1. Eric January 9, 2008 at 11:03 pm #

    Thanks for the link, I’m glad you enjoyed the dream subway BART map. Building out that map would be so expensive, I can’t say it would be the best use of limited funding — but, if nothing else, it helps to highlight the corridors that need more attention. In the next couple of weeks, I hope to finish putting together the bus rapid transit version of those dream maps, and that should definitely be built.

    Posts these past few months have been fairly SF-centric, but I’m hoping this year to expand into covering more regional issues. There are some more Oakland posts in the pipeline, so hopefully they’ll maintain your interest. 🙂

  2. Dogtowner January 10, 2008 at 2:17 pm #

    Thanks for the kind words. I don’t usually set out to be humorous, but as Elvis Costello said, “I used to be disgusted/Now I try to be amused…” I’ve been out of town and neglecting the poor blog recently, but I’m sure I’ll find something new to be tongue in cheek about soon enough…

  3. Becks January 10, 2008 at 11:25 pm #

    Eric – yeah, the BART map is mostly just fun to imagine, but I agree that it makes more sense to invest in BRT. After a hellish week riding the bus, I’m longing for something more reliable.

    Dogtowner – often the funniest people are the ones who don’t try hard. Glad you’re back to blogging… I enjoyed the link to the NYT story about China’s environmental issues.

  4. AlexG January 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    Katy Murphy, the education reporter at the Trib, has an excellent blog about Oakland schools over at Inside Bay Area. Its style is closer to traditional newspaper reporting, but her thoughtful posts seem to draw an equally thoughtful readership.

  5. V Smoothe January 23, 2008 at 2:35 am #

    All the blogs you mentioned here are excellent (as is yours). Dogtown Commons and Transbay Blog really stand out as having consistently interesting and thought-provoking content.

    And I appreciate the shout-out, of course. You made me blush!


  1. Those who don’t know history are doomed… « FutureOakland - December 30, 2008

    […] there were many excellent entries about Oakland’s past, present and future. This year, the blogoaksphere expanded many times over: my favorite new blogs include City Homestead, 38th Notes, Oakland Space […]

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