Urge the Council to approve our appeal of McDonald’s auto-centric design and keep Temescal pedestrian-friendly

28 Apr

Remember in December when I wrote about the anti-pedestrian design that had been approved by the Planning Commission for the McDonald’s at Telegraph and 45th? Remember how a bunch of us (including many Living in the O readers) joined together to file an appeal of this decision? Well after many months of working with staff and talking to councilmembers, our appeal is headed to the City Council next Tuesday, May 3rd.

I had hoped to write a more extensive post this week to go over the staff report, which recommends the Council reject our appeal and approve the McDonald’s design because apparently to staff, circulation of cars is more important than the pedestrian experience and pedestrian safely. But I just haven’t found the time this week so you’ll just have to wait until Monday for that.

I did want to at least let folks know that the appeal is moving forward, and that we could use some community support for the appeal. About a dozen of us have been meeting with councilmembers about our appeal, but it’s important that the Council hears from many Oaklanders about why the approved design is bad for Temescal and bad for Oakland.

Please email or call the Council before Tuesday to express your support for our appeal. Here are some points you can make:

  • The approved design is the worst proposal McDonald’s initially proposed, for pedestrian experience, pedestrian safety, and the overall look and feel of this vibrant part of Temescal.
  • The approved design creates a moat of cars around the entire lot, placing the drive through directly next to the sidewalk on Telegraph, which has heavy pedestrian traffic at nearly all hours of every day.
  • Advocates do not oppose a redesign of the McDonald’s – we just want to find a design that works both for McDonald’s and the community.
  • Telegraph is designated as a “Growth and Change” corridor in the Land Use and Transportation Element (LUTE) of the General Plan. The approved design does not offer growth (except more cars) and could disincentivize future growth by making the corner less pedestrian friendly and by increasing blight.

For more ideas on what to cover when you speak to the Council, read our appeal. And, for reference, here’s the anti-pedestrian approved design:

The group of residents working on the appeal have not put forward our own design alternative. We’d like to work with McDonald’s to find a design that works for their business and our community. That’s why it’s so important for the Council to provide direction on this issue and to accept our appeal.

If you can, please also plan to speak at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 3rd. The non-consent calendar part of the meeting start at 6:30pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. Our item is first on the non-consent part of the agenda so please arrive early, and know that the item will be done by a reasonable hour.

Here is contact info for the Council:

Rebecca Kaplan, At-Large
RKaplan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7008

Jane Brunner, District 1
JBrunner@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7001

Patricia Kernighan, District 2
PKernighan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7002

Nancy Nadel, District 3
NNadel@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7003

Libby Schaaf, District 4
LSchaaf@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7004

Ignacio De La Fuente, District 5
IDeLaFuente@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7005

Desley Brooks, District 6
DBrooks@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7006

Council President Larry Reid, District 7
LReid@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7007

If you send an email, I’d appreciate it if you could copy me (oaklandbecks at gmail dot com) or better yet, if you could post it in the comments here to inspire others to write. Thanks, and I hope to see you on Tuesday at City Hall!

8 Responses to “Urge the Council to approve our appeal of McDonald’s auto-centric design and keep Temescal pedestrian-friendly”

  1. A Cobbett April 28, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    Dear Oakland Council Members,

    I urge you to support citizens’ appeal of the car-intensive plan for Telegraph and 45th MacDonald’s. Children and seniors walk, bike and skateboard through this intersection constantly. The design allows drivers to speed into the parking lot without seeing pedestrians. This is inconsistent with Oakland’s push to reduce pedestrian fatalities.

    In addition the Temescal neighborhood is a showcase of progressive, pedestrian-centered living in Oakland. A healthy lifestyle includes walking to shops, school and services. The current MacDonald’s proposal sends the message that burgers and fries and driving are more important than exercise and safety. Thank you.

    Yours truly,

    Annalee Cobbett, JD
    Non-profit Management Certificate 2011
    Cal State East Bay Oakland

    • Becks April 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

      Thanks so much – your letter is great!

  2. Diana April 28, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    This is what I sent city council today…sorry, it’s long!

    Dear Councilmembers,

    I’m one of the co-appellants in the Temescal McDonald’s proposed expansion project, and I’m writing to express my hope that you will deny approval of the proposal as it currently stands.

    I live at 44th and Telegraph and have witnessed the extraordinary development that’s occurred along Telegraph over the last several years. At one time, the streets weren’t populated by cyclists and pedestrians, but now they crowd the streets and sidewalks of Temescal. It’s a beautiful thing to see this area becoming such a desirable destination: people come, stay for a while, spend their money, and enjoy life with each other. A 24-hour drive-through, designed expressly for patrons to come to the area for 5 minutes and leave, no longer fits with the character and use of the neighborhood.

    Most opposition I’ve heard to this proposal doesn’t derive from hostility toward McDonald’s, but from the passion we all have for this neighborhood and its wonderful growth trajectory that’s so pedestrian-centric and vibrant. The McDonald’s project as designed does not support the direction of this growth. From the perspective of fulfilling Oakland’s general development plan, this is a critical decision (and a pivotal location) that will affect the area for decades, and will set the course for future development and priorities. The proposed development location almost perfectly bisects the Temescal business district and, if approved, will ensure that a contiguous, pedestrian-friendly commercial stretch will never be realized here.

    Times and neighborhoods change; how people use neighborhoods evolve. The owner states that 70% of his business comes from his drive-through. If this expansion is an attempt to bolster a sagging business, my observation is that businesses must reframe themselves all the time to accommodate changes in the market and culture, creating opportunities for more relevant business models that make a positive contribution to the community and the values it supports.

    If McDonald’s was truly interested in being a good neighbor in Temescal, they would give more weight to the concerns of the residents here. Please value the impassioned voices of your constituents, the people of Oakland who love their neighborhood, over well-connected businesses and lawyers that appear to be serving their own interests to the exclusion of their community.

    Diana Ghermann

    PS. I’m also appalled that code enforcement has for 17 years turned a blind eye to McDonald’s operating their 24-hour drive-through “prematurely” in violation of their CUP. That there has been no penalty for so long, and that McDonald’s is now attempting to leverage the current illegal operation as a means for approval of their new CUP, would seem to push the limits of acceptability in any context. Please don’t reward this behavior by approving the 24-hour operation. Many other local business struggle to comply with permitting and code requirements; it’s unfair to them selectively enforce code violations.

  3. Shannon May 2, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Dear Councilmembers,

    I urge you to support the citizens’ appeal of the car-intensive plan for McDonald’s at the intersection of Telegraph Ave and 45th Street in the Temescal District. As a resident of North Oakland, I see the “middle Telegraph” area from 45th down to 20th Street as a giant, scary gap in pedestrian and bicycle safety. The combination of a wide, four-lane street with parking-lot-heavy building designs encourages cars to speed, which makes it difficult to walk and bike safely through this area. 45th & Telegraph is already a complex intersection because of the branch-off of Shattuck. Allowing McDonalds to proceed with such a heavily car-oriented redesign is inconsistent with our city’s goals of increasing walkability, reducing pedestrian fatalities, and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

    Rather, I would like to see McDonald’s engage the community in creating a design that more appropriately reflects the increasing family-oriented street life in the Temescal District and along Telegraph. New businesses are filling storefronts and creating pockets of walkable destinations – for example, on the east side of Telegraph Ave between 42nd and 44th Streets. In order for Telegraph to be revitalized as both a connector and a commercial destination, building designs must be updated to create a welcoming environment for people, no matter how they get from here to there. The McDonald’s design as approved by the Planning Commission is welcoming to cars only. I urge you to accept the citizens’ appeal and require McDonald’s to put the focus back on the people.

    Shannon Tracey

  4. Oakland Space Academy May 3, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Dear Councilmembers,

    I am writing to request your support of the citizens’ appeal of the auto-oriented proposal for the rebuilding of McDonald’s at Telegraph Avenue and 45th Street.

    That the incompatibility of the proposal with the existing neighborhood, best urban design practices, and Oakland’s General Plan should go without saying or writing. The fact that it isn’t, that this proposal has made it’s way to the Council at all, let alone been supported by Oakland’s Planning Commission and CEDA, represents a huge problem for Oakland. A building on a major commercial thoroughfare in Oakland should be built to the sidewalk with ground floor retail, have a minimum of two stories of offices or residences above, and be designed in such a way that it can be easily re-purposed in the years to come.

    So while I certainly hope you will support the citizens’ appeal, I also strongly encourage you to think about the larger implications of this debate. The fact we are having it at all, in 2011, indicates that we are years, if not decades, behind our contemporaries in our ability to plan for, shape, and construct a good city.

  5. newoaktown May 3, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Sounds like the MCD you guys would like to see is a model based on the Berkeley outlet at University and Shattuck, or the BK in Japantown/Filmore. Nearly all walk-in patrons.

    When gas hits $6/gal will the 45th-Tele MCD still have 70% drive-thru customers?

  6. Irene N May 3, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    Dear Councilmembers Brunner and Kaplan,

    I live at 45th and Martin Luther King in Oakland and am writing to request that the proposal for the McDonalds restaurant 2 blocks away from my house be rejected in favor of a more neighborhood-centric redesign.

    I have owned my house here since 1998 and have seen the changes on Telegraph to bring more small businesses that increase the way the neighborhood caters to nearby residents and brings people from other areas to enjoy the food and community. As someone who lives west of the freeway, on the “other side” of the overpass that cuts the neighborhood between Telegraph and Martin Luther King, I witness daily the effects of poor city planning and how in the space of one block all the amenities can be missing or have trouble thriving because of a traffic layout that makes it hard to build businesses and community.

    As a frequent cyclist and walker at that corner, the car traffic generated by the restaurant already appears dangerous to me, as I have seen and experienced many near-misses as people focused on getting into the drive-in line do not see walkers and cyclists. This area is a prime location for school students walking in the morning and afternoon, and increasing the traffic into the drive-in leaves me worried about safety.

    This neighborhood is beginning to provide opportunities to spend time exploring the avenue and meeting neighbors – I see this new design as hindering the efforts that so many welcome. Please do not allow it to pass, and work for a negotiation between business and neighbors.

    Regards, Irene N______

  7. Madeline F May 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Thank you for posting about this so thoroughly! You made me aware of this, and kept in my mind, and because of that for the first time I went to a city council meeting tonight, where I got to speak on this and say a few things no one else had! It was really inspiring.

    Good luck getting the design changed… I really think the McDonald’s on 66th and San Pablo is an object lesson for builders of McDonald’s why it’s better to have cars away from the sidewalk when they’re stopped at the drivethrough.

    And if there’s a clear, lit path from the bus stop to the McDonald’s, instead of a scary “who knows what could be lurking” thing, that’s got to be good for business… On a web site the tiniest slowness can stop people from buying, and that’s got to be true in the real world with walls.

    …And not to be some sort of strange connoisseur of drivethroughs, but the Burger King drivethrough in Emeryville has plantings all surrounding it, and those bushes harbor wood rats (or at least, one wood rat I saw), and that’s a bit offputting. An open parking lot is much better.

    Anyway, thanks for being on this. 🙂

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