Random Thoughts on a Friday Afternoon

13 Jun

Some of these items probably deserve their own posts, but I’m exhausted after a long week so this will have to suffice for now:

Mix It Up East Bay was basically canceled last night. Generally, the bar that it’s held at is fairly empty on Thursday nights so the 60-100 people who come to Mix It Up can take over the place and it’s quiet enough to have guest speakers. But there was a game on last night and it was far too loud and crowded for the event to go on. This is unfortunately the second time this has happened. Anybody have suggestions for an alternative location Mix It Up can use when there are big games happening?

– OaklandNews has a great post up about the plans for the Safeway demolition and rebuilding on College. This whole process has been pretty contentious so the meeting on June 19th should be interesting. Check out the post – it has links to the renderings of the new design. What do you think?

– I got myself into a debate over at A Better Oakland about public transportation. V Smoothe’s post was about AC Transit’s plan to run a ballot initiative to raise property taxes instead of raising bus fares. If you’re a regular reader, you might be able to guess where I stand on this issue, but go over and check out some of the other comments.

– The Christian Science Monitor has a really depressing story up about the FTAs push to ban public school buses. It’s not too long and worth reading, but here’s how this change would effect Oakland:

Oakland Unified School District estimates private busing costs would run into tens of millions of dollars. It already costs $8 million a year to privately transport the district’s 1,500 special needs students – a sliver of the roughly 20,000 students that travel daily by public bus.

“It would mean tremendous and unwarranted expense that jeopardizes access to schools for people from underserved communities,” says Troy Flint, Oakland schools spokesperson. It’s not clear, he adds, if private contractors would provide the same “depth and range of services.”

By piggybacking on an existing transit network, Oakland schools can offer a $15 monthly bus pass to students, giving them the flexibility to stay after school. For Keren, that means the chance to participate in volleyball and the Black Student Union.

“I don’t think a private entity can do that, charging the school zero, and charging the kids $15 a month, and then providing them with not just school transit but all the other transit we do,” says Chris Peeples, board president of AC Transit, which serves Oakland.

– The Towards Carfree Cities conference, hosted by the World Carfree Network, is being held in Portland next week and I really really wish I could be there. Luckily, the SF Bay Guardian will be there and has already started covering it. David over at Brooklyn Avenue already knows the joys of carfree living.

– Yesterday, my girlfriend passed on a link to Forage Oakland, a blog/project that seeks to streamline the harvesting and trading of produce grown in yards around the Bay Area. I don’t have much to share yet, but we’re already reaping the benefits of our hard work in our garden. We’ve been cooking with just about every type of herb, freshly picked. We’ve just started harvesting squash and sweet peas – amazing! And I really don’t think I ever appreciated lettuce enough – fresh lettuce is so tasty that sometimes I just grab it straight out of the dirt and munch on it. We’ve enjoyed a couple blueberries and I picked the first ripe blackberry the other night. Some of the tomatoes should be ready this weekend and in a couple weeks we’ll have more fava beans than we know what to do with. Hopefully I’ll get around to uploading some photos soon and writing a full post about this. Until then, I’ll just continue to cook, eat, enjoy. I love Fridays 🙂

3 Responses to “Random Thoughts on a Friday Afternoon”

  1. David June 15, 2008 at 2:46 pm #

    I feel like I live on a different planet than some of our fellow Oakland residents sometimes. Some of the comments on the AC Transit post at A Better Oakland are one example, and some of the negative reactions to the Safeway plan are another example. Any Safeway is inevitably going to be big and somewhat ugly, but compared to what’s there now it looks like a huge improvement. Yet some people think it’s too obtrusive, apparently because it’s two stories tall and doesn’t have an enormous parking lot in front of it! As I said, I feel as if I live on a different planet, and maybe in a different solar system or a different universe.

    By the way, I meant to include a link in my own post to what you’ve written here about living carfree, but it totally slipped my mind. I can understand your reluctance to ride a bike — it is a bit scary, and I’ve come close to getting hit a few times in Oakland. I’m hoping that if we can get more and more people riding bikes, then car drivers will become more alert to our presence, and they will therefore be less likely to hit us. Safety in numbers, in a sense.

  2. Becks June 15, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    David – I feel the same way. Over the past several months, I’ve begun to understand just how misunderstood public transit and planning are.

    I do have some mixed feelings about the Safeway plan but I do think it’s a fair compromise and was happy to see the parking lot so hidden. We also could really use some more retail in that part of Rockridge. A few things I’d like to see in those storefronts: a hardware store (we really need one of those), a bar, a clothing store or shoe store, another restaurant or two.

  3. Eric June 15, 2008 at 8:00 pm #

    I understand your mixed feelings, Becks. I might guess that our mixed feelings are probably similar. I’m not really a fan of Safeway, in general, though they are a convenient way to get household type things. We do need some large grocery stores around — although, almost exclusively, I patronize local, family-run establishments or farmers markets. There is perhaps a legitimate worry about what effect a Safeway over double its current size might have on local businesses in the area. But the Bay Area is generally pretty mindful of that issue, and I’d hope that the more unique, better quality goods from smaller establishments would still win out in the hearts of shoppers over a larger Safeway.

    That said, I’d like to see neighborhood cooperation with Safeway about this. That parking lot and gas station must go, and it would be great to see several new retail storefronts open up.

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