Joyce Roy: City to decide fate of Film Center on Army Base

5 Apr

This guest post was written by Joyce Roy, with an introduction from me. As a retired architect, Joyce has raised her sights (or sites?) to the whole city of Oakland and so has been active in advocating for better transit, the right development in the right place and the reuse of existing structures.  She is an active member of ULTRA.

The Army Base’s development, whose main objective is the creation of good jobs, is on tonight’s (4/5) City Council agenda. It.is voting on changes in the Exclusive Negotiation Agreement (ENA) with the potential developer group AMB/CCG, lead by Phil Tagami. These changes are:

  1. Extend their ENA until April 22, 2012
  2. Allocate almost $18 million for planning the infrastructure.
  3. Eliminate the requirement to accommodate the Oakland Produce Market and the Oakland Film Center on the base.


As an architect (retired), it did not make sense to me that one would design the infrastructure for a project before you even had a Master Plan, which isn’t expected for a year. And from my experience with the development process, allocating funds for a project before a Disposition & Development Agreement with a developer, was incomprehensible.  But it seems the infrastructure to be designed is the big stuff that needs to be done on the site regardless of a Master Plan or approved developer. The funds are not going to the developer himself, but to the firm designing the infrastructure.  I am told the money will not come from the city’s general fund or redevelopment.

BUT, the City should be supporting creative, job-generating businesses like the Oakland Film Center instead of making them fight to stay here. The Tribune has a good write-up on the Film Center.

The City puts a lot of effort into attracting business but little to retain and expand existing businesses. I dare say, if the Film Center were not already in Oakland, they would be offering them good deals to relocate to Oakland.

There are huge warehouses on the Army Base that are perfect for businesses like theirs because they provide covered space for trucks near freeways. Since the uses on the base will primarily be port related and industrial, their reuse is the green thing to do.

I do urge people to come to the City Council meeting tonight and, at least, speak up for the Oakland Film Center. The non-consent calendar part of the meeting start at 6:30pm on Tuesday evening in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. It is the last item on the agenda: S-17 Subject: Exclusive Negotiating Agreement Amendment.

If you cannot come, you can send an email:

4 Responses to “Joyce Roy: City to decide fate of Film Center on Army Base”

  1. Joan Lichterman April 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    At the economic development breakout during the District 1 town hall on Saturday (4/2), several people spoke of the need to encourage the arts as an important contributor to Oakland’s economic development. A failure to accommodate the Oakland Film Center and the Produce Market on the base is counterproductive. And I don’t understand why the developer or the city would even need to act on this now.

  2. Joyce Roy June 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    A rather belated follow-up:
    Before that Council meeting, an agreement was reached between the Redevelopment Agency, Phil Tagami, and the Oakland Film Center to endeavor to keep them on the Army Base by including them in the Master Plan development.
    But, now the Film Center is faced with another threat. Film Office’s elimination is in mayor’s budget script. See:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/06/09/BA7D1JOF16.DTL
    This office smoothes the path for producers by navigating the labyrinth of permits needed by media producers. It is a major reason that Oakland a good location. After San Jose closed its film office, producers found acquiring permits so burdensome that few now film there. In fact, a scene in one film that was set in San Jose was actually filmed in Oakland.
    If Oakland eliminates the Film Office, it is like saying to the Film Center, we’ll give you a space on the Army Base but we will cut you off at the knees.

    • Joan Lichterman June 11, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

      Cutting them out of the budget would be sooooo shortsighted. (Though the city would be following in the footsteps of the Pres. and our new Gov. But that’s another rant.) As to the staff funding, however, this is a great opportunity for a public-private partnership. Are there orgs or individual donors in or devoted to the film industry who could provide support for at least a while, to enrich the economic bait? And if they’re not doing it already, the film industry also has a great opportunity to involve local organizations that are working with talented young people, like the Ella Baker Center. You’d think Jean Quan would lend support to such efforts . . .

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