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Yay! AC Transit is getting rid of my bus stop

17 Aug

In March, I wrote about the 30th Street northbound 51A bus stop that is the closest bus stop to my home. Though it is incredibly convenient to me, I almost never get off of the bus there because the stop is very redundant – there’s a stop half a block before it and another a block before that one. Those two stops are heavily used but my sad bus stop is only sparsely used. Since I know that the bus pulling over just for me to get off adds time to its trip, I get off a half block early and walk.

I wrote in that post that I wanted AC Transit to get rid of the stop:

Why? Well, a couple years back AC Transit did a thorough study on the 51 line. They found that the 51 was so slow because it spends only 50% of its time actually moving, while 20% is spent in dwell time (stopped at a bus stop) and 30% is spent in delays (i.e. stuck in traffic). As I wrote back in 2009, one of the major causes of delay is bus stop spacing:

If you’ve ridden the 51, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the bus stops are incredibly close together. It seems that every time I take it down Broadway, we stop at every block, which of course takes forever and makes me crazy. According to ACT, the ideal amount of space between bus stops is 800-1300 feet, yet on the 51 line, 87 bus stops (more than half of the stops) are less than 800 feet from the next stop. This slows the whole route down because pulling over, picking up passengers, and getting back into traffic at all of these stops takes a long time.

So you can imagine how happy I was when on my way home from work yesterday I saw this: Continue reading

Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit grant applications

26 Jul

Since several of you seemed to enjoy my report on a recent AC Transit meeting, I thought I’d share some of what happened at last week’s Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting. Though there were several interesting items on the agenda, some were a bit too complex for a quick report or were just brief reports so I’m going to focus here on one agenda item – Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) grant applications.

From TransForm’s website, here’s a description of the SR2T regional program:

The Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) Program awards $20 million in grants to facilitate walking and bicycling to regional transit. The program is funded by Regional Measure 2, and is administered by TransForm and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. By improving the safety and convenience of biking and walking to regional transit, SR2T will give commuters the opportunity to leave their cars at home, and reduce congestion on Bay Area bridges. Learn about the creation of SR2T...

To date nearly $12 million has been awarded to over 30 capital and planning projects.

SR2T funds may be used for:

  • Secure bicycle storage at transit stations/stops/pods
  • Safety enhancements for ped/bike station access to transit stations/stops/pods
  • Removal of ped/bike barriers near transit stations
  • System-wide transit enhancements to accommodate bicyclists or pedestrians

The application deadline for the fourth cycle of grants out of five cycles is approaching, and Oakland Senior Transportation Planner Bruce Williams told us last Thursday about the applications Oakland is submitting. Since SR2T doesn’t fund projects all the way from conception to construction, the first project is a capital project and the other two are planning projects (though Oakland could ask for capital grants for these two projects in the next funding cycle. Continue reading

Check out the Freedom Bus this Friday night

22 Mar

Have you heard about the Freedom Bus Project? It’s a collaboration between AC Transit and the Alameda County Office of Education that aims to celebrate the 55th Anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama via an art competition for students. The winners of the art competition will have their art displayed, not in a museum or a government building, but on buses!

From the press release:

Elementary, middle and high school students in the AC Transit service district, which spans Alameda County and West Contra Costa County, have submitted social justice-themed artwork to be considered for the Freedom Bus Project’s mobile art exhibit. Starting in April, four of the winning entries will be displayed in over 200 buses in the AC Transit fleet, allowing AC Transit riders to participate in the Freedom Bus Project. The mobile art exhibit will be on display until April 30, 2011.

Continue reading

Abel Guillen: Reflections from Berkeley City College

18 Mar

This guest post was written by Abel Guillen who was first elected to serve on the Peralta Community College Board in 2006 and is immediate past president of the board. Guillén, who represents Oakland’s Temescal, West Oakland, Chinatown, Downtown and Adam’s Point neighborhoods, is vice president of Caldwell Flores Winters Inc., where he has helped raise more than $2 billion in bond funding for public schools and colleges throughout California over the past 10 years. The first in his family to graduate from college, he has a Masters of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and a B.A. in Sociology, also from Cal.

At this evening’s Board of Trustees meeting, I heard powerful testimony from our students.

A student who grew up in East Oakland passionately described his childhood.  He told us he would wander the streets because he would fear going home.  He dropped out of school and had run-ins with the law and got caught up in some drug cases.  He tried Merritt College – “just to give a shot” – after his last arrest.  As a result of the Disabled Students Program & Services, he was tested and qualified for services.  He is now achieving in his studies, and last semester achieved 4.0 GPA.  He also proudly told us that he serves as president of Merritt College’s honor society. Continue reading

AC Transit – please, get rid of my bus stop

2 Mar

I’m sure AC Transit board members and staff get all sorts of requests. Riders ask for lower fares, longer hours, more frequent service, and better buses. Some people who aren’t as fond of buses ask AC Transit to stop running buses in their neighborhoods (yes, a North Berkeley group does this). People ask for bus stops to be moved to be more convenient. But my guess is that AC Transit receives few requests like mine, as I want AC Transit to get rid of my bus stop on the 51A line.

Yes, I would like to walk further from the bus to get to my home. Continue reading

Arreguin killed BRT for Berkeley & possibly North Oakland

18 Jun

Last week I shared the exciting news that BRT could be saved in Berkeley and North Oakland. Councilmember Jesse Arreguin had agreed to bring the BRT LPA up for another vote next week, but at the last minute, with no advance notice to advocates, he pulled the item. Through this action, Arreguin killed BRT in Berkeley for at least several years and BRT in North Oakland is in severe danger. (So you can take the June 22nd Berkeley City Council meeting off your calendar).

I’m deeply disappointed by Councilmember Arreguin’s actions. I can respect (but not fully understand) that he disagrees on BRT, but his actions were incredibly disrespectful to the many environmental and transit advocates who were counting on him. I guess NIMBYs are a more important constituency to him.

My friend Reuben has an excellent and thorough piece up on his blog explaining what happened and why Jesse’s wrong:

Somewhere along the line, you would think that the constant barrage of facts and studies would prove some point.  Whether you are for or against something, the general train of thought is that the “correct” argument is the argument that has the most support (data, literature, etc) behind it.  Bus Rapid Transit is a positive thing for the neighborhoods and cities it serves.  There are numerous examples of BRT all around the country and the world.  BRT is nothing new and has been around for decades.  So you would think when Berkeley was asked to consider studying the construction of a fully tricked out BRT system they would take to heart all these examples and past literature and data to make an informed decision.  But Berkeley has its own rules and so does Berkeley City Counciman Jesse Arreguin.

Not since John Kerry’s infamous flip-flop during the 2004 presidential campaign against George W. Bush have we seen an example of moving back and forth on the same issue as we see with Councilman Arreguin on BRT in Berkeley.  Except in this case, Councilman Arreguin first didnt vote for anything, then indicated he would vote for it before finally voting against it.

To be completely fair, Councilman Arreguin and I have more often than not been on opposite sides of the development and planning spectrum.  I tend to be rather moderate in my politics and favor development projects, especially dense development near transit, such as in Downtown Berkeley.  But you would think that me and Councilman Arreguin would actually be on a role reversal on the subject of BRT.  You would think that better public transit would actually be the priority of the once endorsed candidate of the Sierra Club vs. myself, a self described pro-development, never-going-to-completely-give-up-my-car guy.  But oddly enough, we are where we are.

Please click through and read his full post for the whole story and an explanation of what this means for Berkeley and North Oakland.

Berkeley City Council coming around on BRT

10 Jun

Last night, I did something that I never thought I’d do – asked AC Transit to delay a vote on bus rapid transit (BRT). Don’t worry, I haven’t caught the Berkeley NIMBY bug. Along with about a dozen other transit advocates, I implored AC Transit to delay the vote just two weeks because there’s been a very exciting development in Berkeley, which you probably remember voted against even studying dedicated lanes.

Eric explains at Transbay Blog:

Berkeley Councilmember Anderson, who was not present at the April 29 meeting, has indicated that he would support full BRT.  Councilmember Arreguín, who abstained on April 29, has also indicated that he would support full BRT.  If so, the 4-4 vote on April 29 would become a 6-3 vote endorsing BRT.  The agenda has not yet been set as of the time of this writing, but the current plan is for Berkeley to revisit BRT at its June 22 meeting.

The AC Transit Board of Directors intended to adopt an LPA for the whole project on June 9, incorporating the local preferences of the three cities.  However, the Board continued the item and delayed its decision on BRT until June 23, just one day after the Berkeley meeting.  This will give the Berkeley City Council an opportunity to reverse its prior decision.  The way forward is not crystal clear if that vote gets delayed, or if Berkeley insists on substantial changes, but the process should be straightforward if Berkeley promptly approves the build alternative on June 22.

And why should Oaklanders care if Berkeley’s included in BRT? One reason is that many people ride the bus from Oakland to Berkeley. If BRT turns around at the Berkeley border, all of those Oaklanders will have to transfer, which could negate much of the time savings from BRT.

Just as importantly, many of us North Oaklanders are extremely concerned that if Berkeley’s not included in BRT, AC Transit might turn BRT around in downtown Oakland. That would be a huge loss to North Oakland, and though it wouldn’t be fair to us, I can understand why AC Transit would consider this if Berkeley isn’t willing to support BRT.

So please put the evening of Tuesday, June 22nd on your calendar. Though the votes are there, it’s important for many of us to show up to support the councilmembers who may change their votes. I’m sure there will be plenty of people screaming at them about how BRT would ruin Berkeley, so it’s important that we balance this with reason. I’ll post further details about the meeting when I have them.

Joel Ramos: Car enthusiasts Kill BRT in Berkeley

12 May

This is the second in a two-part series of guest posts about Berkeley’s vote on BRT. Today’s post, by Joel Ramos, focuses on what happened and what’s next, particularly as it relates to Oakland. Yesterday’s post, by Reuben Duarte, looked at BRT through an environmental and planning lens.

This guest post was written by Joel Ramos, who grew up riding AC Transit and is now a Community Planner at TransForm. He began working in Oakland in 1998 when he worked on getting community input for planning projects in the Fruitvale. He has been conducting outreach to community groups along the proposed BRT corridor for the past four years.

April 29th was an unfortunate day for “Green” Berkeley, and East Bay transit riders as a whole.

Despite support from the Sierra Club, the Alameda County Building Trades Council, UNITE-HERE Local 2850, TransForm, Livable Berkeley, the UC Berkeley Graduate Student Union, the East Bay Young Democrats  and others to study a Full-Build BRT alternative with dedicated lanes, Berkeley City Council members Jesse Arreguin, Gordon Wozniak, Susan Wengraff, and Kriss Worthington would only vote to study an alternative that had not yet been considered. The alternative that was approved would be similar to existing 1R service, but with bulb-outs, proof-of-payment systems, and traffic signal priority – but no dedicated lanes – as the build alternative.

The outcome of this vote and the comments made by the councilmembers made it clear that logic lost and mob-rule reigns in Berkeley. The public comments made just before the vote made it clear that a majority of the opponents had been mis-informed, and were led to be convinced that the project would “kill Telegraph” and had “no environmental benefits”, despite any legitimate sources or studies, and in denial of the success of every other BRT project that has been built in the U.S.

While most transit advocates expected nothing less from Councilmember Kriss Worthington, it was Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin and Gordon Wozniak that were most surprising.

Wozniak (who often claims to be a “scientist”) openly stated that even if studied, he wouldn’t vote for the build alternative on account of (unfounded) fears of traffic impacts to his district. Jesse Arreguin (who won the Sierra Club’s endorsement in his election campaign) abstained from the vote for a study of dedicated lanes, despite the Sierra Club’s consistent support of the study of dedicated lanes for BRT. Councilmember Susan Wengraff was the least informed (and apparently most ignorant of the thousands of riders who opt for the 1/1R everyday and DON’T ride BART), and said she was against the project because she thought it duplicated BART. She then abstained from the vote for a study of the Full-Build Alternative with dedicated lanes. Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Gordon Wozniak were the only two who voted “No” for the motion made by Daryl Moore to study the dedicated lanes as part of a BRT system, but the motion failed anyway.

It  was an eye-opening Public Hearing for BRT in “Transit First” Berkeley.  The transit advocates in the meeting were validated by one speaker’s efforts who asked every opponent of BRT to raise their hand. When the opponents did, he then asked them to keep their hand up if they voted for Measure G (Berkeley’s recent ballot measure to commit to reduce greenhouse gases). Nearly every opponent’s hand was lowered again. The speaker then pointed out that 80% of Berkeley’s voters had voted for Measure G, and that clearly, the BRT opponents were not a representation of Berkeley overall.

Nevertheless, the City Council voted to validate the radical skepticism of the car-centric opponents, and their rude, uninformed resistance to change of the fossil-fueled status quo in Berkeley.

What This Means For BRT in North Oakland

Unfortunately, the approved alternative is not expected to deliver the same amount of reliability that dedicated lanes would give, and to run BRT outside of dedicated lanes for long stretches in Berkeley could cause a delay in the overall system, reducing the overall capacity for shorter headways. It remains unclear if what Berkeley did vote for would even be worthwhile for AC Transit to pursue, as opposed to simply leaving Berkeley out of the future project altogether. If Oakland (upon study of the impacts of a full-build BRT system in a Final Environmental Impact Report) decides to move forward with a full-build BRT system, AC Transit could decide to have BRT “turn around” before going to downtown Berkeley (i.e. at the Uptown Transit Center or Macarthur BART).

As such, BRT supporters who live in North Oakland should see this as a “call to arms” for BRT in the Temescal, which may now be left out of the scope of the project if AC Transit decides not to build anything in Berkeley, and instead opt to turn BRT around at either Macarthur BART or at the Uptown Transit center.

To help in that fight, join a group of North Oakland BRT supporters by contacting Joel Ramos of TransForm at or contact Councilmember Brunner yourself ( and let her know of your continued support for BRT with bike lanes and dedicated lanes in the Temescal.

Reuben Duarte: Why Berkeley is Wrong on BRT

11 May

This is the first in a two-part series of guest posts about Berkeley’s vote on BRT. Today’s post, by Reuben Duarte, looks at BRT through an environmental and planning lens. Tomorrow’s post, by Joel Ramos, will focus on what happened and what’s next, particularly as it relates to Oakland.

This guest post was written by Reuben Duarte, who serves on the board of East Bay Young Democrats, is a Waterfront Commissioner for the City of Berkeley, and is a transit advocate and planning enthusiast. This post was originally posted on the East Bay Young Democrats website.

Two Thursdays ago, the Berkeley City Council voted on the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) plan for AC Transit’s East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.  The Council essentially had three options: 1) “Full Build”, as recommended by the city staff, which would mean dedicated lanes running up Telegraph Avenue and “island” bus stops, where passengers could board the bus in the middle of the road, much like you see in San Francisco on Market Street. 2) A “Reduced Impact Alternative” as prepared by Mayor Bates and other councilmembers, which was a watered down version of the Full Build option, but still included dedicated lanes and islands.  3) A so-called “Rapid Bus Plus” (RBP) option which, in essence, is a no-build option because it removed all dedicated lanes and made no lane reconfigurations on roads.

After impassioned, and sometimes theatrical testimony by the public, the Berkeley City Council succumbed to NIMBY pressure and rejected any elements of full-build and endorsed only option three, the so-called, “Rapid Bus Plus” plan.

Before I go into the issues of BRT, let me quickly address the importance of the LPA and why you should be upset that Berkeley has practically killed the BRT project for everyone else.  In very simplified terms, the way a project like this goes is that AC Transit puts together an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on how they want the project to run.  In this case, they give their preferred route for a BRT system from San Leandro to Oakland to Berkeley.  This is then sent to each city for review.  Each city then decides what they believe is the best alternative for their city, the LPA.

You need to understand that the EIR is a legal document and can’t really be changed once submitted.  For example, Councilman Kriss Worthington of Berkeley was critical of the BRT system because he believed it should connect to the Berkeley Amtrak station down University Avenue.  Now, regardless of how you feel about adding a University Ave. section to BRT, because AC Transit did not study University Ave. in its EIR, it legally cannot study implementing it as an option now.  It would have to start a brand new EIR that included the University section, essentially starting all over.

Some will argue that BRT isn’t dead because the vote passed was a vote on a study of BRT and not the actual construction of it.  But because it’s a regional project, BRT needs a decent amount of consensus among the cities to be implemented.  Because Oakland City Council has endorsed the study of a full-build option and Berkeley has now rejected full-build in favor of no-build, if AC Transit went ahead and built the system as Oakland and Berkeley want, what would happen is that you would have dedicated lanes in Oakland along Telegraph Ave. until you reached the Berkeley border where it would switch to normal configuration from dedicated lanes to non-dedicated lanes.  This would also affect regular traffic because drivers would need to merge into one lane going each way on Telegraph once entering Oakland.  The result would be a less reliable and slower BRT in Berkeley where buses and cars would clump at the border and would cause ripple affects to the entire system, thus making the entire system less feasible.

Having said the above, there were several key issues that opponents used to fear monger and get their way.  The key issues were over parking and business along Telegraph. However, these and many other concerns over BRT are unfounded.

BRT is Consistent with the Passage of Measure G, the City’s Adopted Climate Action Plan and the Defeat of Measure KK

At the Berkeley City Council meeting, you would have thought half the city was up in arms over the proposed project.  However, this would be a miss-perception, as one intrepid public speaker pointed out during his public comment.  In 2008, Berkeley residents overwhelmingly rejected Measure KK, a city ballot initiative that would have required voter approval before any agency dedicate a street lane for higher-occupancy vehicles (i.e. buses).  But because of Measure KK’s thunderous defeat, the speaker pointed out it would be a mistake to construe the opposition in attendance as a true representation of the opinions of the city as a whole, and he would be right.

In 2006, Berkeley residents overwhelmingly approved Measure G, setting an 80% reduction target in greenhouse gasses.  Last year in 2009, the City Council approved Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan where a goal of the plan is to ensure “public transit, walking, cycling and other sustainable mobility modes are the primary modes of transportation by residents and visitors.”  BRT would have allowed Berkeley to achieve this goal and Telegraph Ave. is just the sort of corridor that should be tailored for use by transit-riders and pedestrians rather than private automobiles.

BRT Would Reduce Greenhouse Gasses

A better public transit system means more transit riders and fewer automobiles on the road.  With the projected number of 50,000 daily riders by 2025, BRT could eliminate 10,000 daily auto trips.  Not only does this help to mitigate the lower auto-capacity on Telegraph Ave., but it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the use of private cars pushed into the atmosphere.  Improved transit that is faster and more reliable would encourage drivers to take the bus to jobs in Downtown Oakland and San Leandro and vice versa into Berkeley.

BRT Would Improve Conditions for Cyclists on Telegraph

One of the groups speaking in favor of BRT was the cyclist community.  They recognize the resulting reduction and calming of traffic conditions along the Telegraph corridor will allow for improved bike lanes with better bike access and rider safety, thus promoting an additional alternative to the automobile.

BRT Would Have Brought More Customers to Vendors

Opponents of BRT made grandiose arguments suggesting that BRT would kill businesses, especially the street vendors on a four block stretch of Telegraph between the UC Berkeley campus and Dwight Street.  They implied customers would not patron if there were no private automobiles.

I found this argument odd because as a former student of UC Berkeley, I can say that the primary patrons are 1) students and 2) those that walked or took the bus to Telegraph.  Very few people actually drive to Telegraph then park, largely because there isn’t any parking nearby already.  So the street vendors eager to suggest the death of their business as a result of BRT would have actually increased their customer base had BRT been implemented because a faster, more reliable transit system would encourage more people to use it.  That is, unless street vendors exist off the fuel exhaust of private automobiles.

Further, BRT would not have removed parking on Telegraph Ave. in this four-block area because there isn’t any parking to remove.  The only available parking on Telegraph itself is a few loading-zone areas that would have remained under Berkeley’s Staff LPA. The rest of the parking is in existing lot, garage or street parking on adjacent streets that would have remained unchanged under the plan.

BRT Could Spur Economic Development on Telegraph

While many opponents hailed BRT as the end of civilization in Berkeley as we know it, they failed to point to any tangible example of civilizations end as a result of BRT.  On the other side, however, almost every single proponent of the BRT project pointed to an example, either in the US or abroad, where BRT existed and actually improved the streetscape and local economies.  For example, a city like Cleveland, OH had implemented a similar BRT system connecting their downtown core to one of its universities.  The corridor they chose along Euclid Avenue was largely seen as an underutilized area.  But after BRT was built in 2008, at the height of the economic recession, the area experienced an economic boom of $3.3 billion in new developments and economic activity.

Also, a common example was down in the often transit-criticized city of Angels with Los Angeles’ Wilshire BRT project.  Compared to AC Transit’s project, LA’s Wilshire BRT project called for dedicated lanes along the curb of Wilshire Boulevard but only during peak commuter hours.  I bring this up because it was briefly suggested by Councilmember Kriss Worthington at the meeting on whether a “peak-hour” lane could be used instead of 24-hour dedicated lanes.  This, I personally don’t have too much of an issue with and would have supported, had the council been willing to actually look at anything more than a no-build option.  But they didn’t so… I guess it doesn’t really matter now.

Majority of Shoppers, Workers and Residents Don’t Drive Into Downtown.

A friend of mine made an interesting argument against BRT in an attempt to explain why councilmembers representing areas far from the BRT corridor would oppose it.  He suggested that residents in the hills and in North and West Berkeley would lose the most with BRT because they are more likely to drive into Downtown Berkeley and Telegraph, thus, would need readily available parking.  This is a good argument only if you can prove that the majority of customers in Downtown Berkeley drive in.  However, this isn’t the case.  In 2002, Berkeley City Council requested a UCB Dept. of Urban & Regional Planning studio study to look at this very issue of parking.  The study showed that over 60% of workers in Downtown Berkeley take non-auto modes of transportation and only 37% said they reach downtown by car.  Further, 70% of shoppers use non-auto to get to Downtown while only 20% drove.  In 2007, there was a second UCB study that confirmed the findings, showing 63% of visitors used non-auto modes of transportation to Downtown while only 34% use a private car.

The studio study determined the problem with parking shortages in Downtown Berkeley are in large part the result of visitors who stay in excess of parking limits, facilitated by broken meters and meter “feeding”.  While it is easy to say that this study focused on Downtown Berkeley vs. Telegraph Ave., the overall issue of parking, as addressed in this study, should show that eliminating parking is not a death blow to Berkeley businesses since most customers don’t drive to shop.

In the end, the Berkeley City Council chose to stick with a more auto-oriented Telegraph Avenue.  It is disappointing when a city that claims leadership in the fight against global warming and the use of alternative transportation and shown all the clear benefits of BRT; when given the option to truly lead by example would cave to the pressure of anti-development NIMBYs who just don’t want to build anything anywhere near anything.  Residents, in Berkeley and in the other cities that would be served by BRT, should be ashamed when a city like Los Angeles is showing more attention and progressive thinking towards public transportation than Berkeley.

Guide for last-minute holiday shopping in Oakland

21 Dec

A surprising number of people have been reaching my blog in the past few days by searching for “oakland holiday gift guide” or something similar to that. The problem is that all the events in my Oakland holiday shopping guide have now ended, and it’s clear many people are still looking to shop locally.

At this point, you might just be tempted to do all your shopping online or head down to a big box store, but there are still many opportunities to finish (or start) your holiday shopping in Oakland. Here are a few of the places I recommend.

Rockridge Home

Last year, I didn’t manage to write about Rockridge Home until after the holiday season, which I regretted because it’s my favorite place to buy presents. As I wrote last year:

And soon I realized Rockridge Home was one of the best places in Oakland to go gift shopping. They have a little bit of everything there – art, kitchen tools, books, music, toys, and all sorts of random fun things that you really want to buy for yourself but can’t justify spending the money on. Whether your budget is $5 or $500, you’ll be able to find something that’s just right. You can feel good about spending money there, as they recently became a Certified Green Business.

So whatever you’re looking for and whomever you’re looking to gift to, chances are that you’ll find something at Rockridge Home. And gift wrapping is free so you don’t need to worry about having time to do that yourself.

5418 College Avenue, Oakland
Open 11am-8pm everyday
Accessible by Rockridge BART or the 51 bus


There are tons of incredible Oakland-focused t-shirt artists, but only one of them is setting its truck up this Tuesday and Wednesday to help you finish your last-minute shopping. You can buy t-shirts, hoodies, and tote bags that celebrate Oakland for people of any age and size – from infant to adult. Head down to their truck tomorrow or Wednesday to support local artists while completing your shopping.

Piedmont & Pleasant Valley
Tuesday & Wednesday from 12-7

Awaken Cafe

Awaken Cafe is not just a great place to get a cup of coffee or an excellent chai, but also a perfect place to snag a few gifts for that coffee-lover in your life. Swing buy for an Awaken Cafe t-shirt or travel mug, coffee-brewing supplies, coffee beans in gift boxes, and more. While you’re there, drink a cup of coffee to fuel the rest of your holiday shopping.

414 14th Street (between Broadway & Franklin)
Monday through Friday: 7 am to 6 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8 am to 5 pm
Accessible by 12th Street BART station or many AC Transit buses

Gift Certificates to Oakland Stores & Restaurants

If you struggle with ideas for gift-giving, gift certificates are a great option. Just call your favorite Oakland store or restaurant and ask if they have gift certificates available. You’ll be supporting an Oakland business and could introduce someone you know to one of the great places Oakland has to offer. My favorite place to buy gift certificates is Piedmont Springs, since most anyone would appreciate an hour in an outdoor hot tub, a massage, or skin care treatments.

Telegraph Holiday Street Fair

This isn’t in Oakland, so I didn’t mention it in my last post, but the Telegraph Holiday Street Fair in Berkeley does feature many Oakland artists. If you can brave the crowds, you’ll find plenty of jewelery, glass art, clothing, ceramics, metal-work, and just about anything you can imagine. And this is one of the few places where you can buy gifts on Christmas eve, so if you’re a super-last minute shopper, this just might be the best solution for you.

Telegraph, between Dwight & Bancroft in Berkeley
December 23rd & 24th from 11am-6pm
Accessible by the 1/1R bus lines