Tag Archives: dto510

League of Women Voters Honors Oakland Bloggers with Making Democracy Work Award

6 Apr

A couple months ago I got a call from Helen Hutchison of the League of Women Voters of Oakland. My first thought was that my membership with the League must have lapsed because I couldn’t think of any other reason Helen would be calling me. I couldn’t have been much further off. She was calling me to inform me that the League planned to give Oakland bloggers the Making Democracy Work award at their annual luncheon.

I was ecstatic and I’m pretty sure a few tears welled up in my eyes. Much as Vsmoothe wrote in her blog post about the award yesterday, I never expected this blog to help make democracy work, and I certainly never expected to receive an award for that. I started this blog mostly as an outlet to write about my growing love for Oakland and never knew a substantial number of people would read it. Continue reading

Do you want more City Council coverage?

22 Sep

As I was writing the weekly listing of Oakland events yesterday, I realized that I was spending almost as much time writing the part about tonight’s City Council meeting as I was writing the rest of the post. I also realized that it was nearly impossible to say everything I wanted to in just one short paragraph. I could have easily written an entire post about what the Council will be talking about tonight.

I got to thinking that maybe I should be writing posts like that preceding the Council meetings so people would know what the Council will be discussing and might be more likely to attend or at least watch. Or maybe I’m too optimistic – I’m not going to get more people to go to Council so I should just write up the Council meetings after they happen. Way back when, V Smoothe used to do this at NovoMetro (now OakBook), and I loved it. She of course still covers specific Council issues at A Better Oakland, but there’s nowhere in the blogoaksphere or in the news to find a good round up of what happens at meetings.

So I’ve created a poll below that I hope you’ll take a few seconds to fill out. I’d be happy to put some more time into Council write ups, but only if you’re interested in reading them.

Oh, and if you need something to entertain you during the not-so-exciting parts of tonight’s Council meeting, when looking through the OakBook archives I found this awesome 2006 debate between V Smoothe and dto510 about condo conversion. Check it out while you put Sanjiv Honda on mute.

Follow Port Commission OAC hearing today on Twitter

2 Jun

UPDATE: The OAC funding item was just pulled from today’s Port Commission agenda and will be discussed at their June 16th meeting instead. Why? I can’t tell you yet, but I’m trying to find out.

So there were lots of ups and downs at yesterday’s Port Commission Aviation Committee meeting. The short story is that they passed the item on to the full Port Commission, which meets today at 4:30. At this meeting, they’ll be further discussing whether to apply to use passenger fees to pay for $70 million ($44 million in project funds and $26 million in interest) to help fund the Oakland Airport Connector. They’ll also be discussing whether to mandate that BART study a rapid bus option before the Port will provide funding, or as Stuart Cohen from TransForm said, “No study, no money.”

I won’t be able to make it to today’s meeting, but you can follow the meeting live via dto510 on Twitter. Tomorrow, I’ll post a probably extremely lengthy post about both meetings.

The power of the blogoaksphere

6 May

Last night the blogoaksphere won the battle over the surface parking lot. The Council voted unanimously in support of Ignacio De La Fuente’s resolution, “To spend the next two weeks confirming a plan to use the subject lot for a temporary public art installation space at no additional cost to the Redevelopment Agency…”

V Smoothe saved me the trouble of recounting the long struggle we engaged in to get to this point so if you’d like to read the history, head over to A Better Oakland. Her post was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever read and it brought tears to my eyes. Thanks V!

Reading her post this afternoon helped me reflect on the process. Going into this fight, it really did seem hopeless. When dto510, Joyce Roy, Naomi Schiff and I spoke out at that first meeting, we thought the parking lot was a done deal. But we did it anyway. And throughout the process, no matter what the Council and RDA threw at us, we responded.

You know why? Because that’s how activism works. When you truly care about something, you have to keep trying, even if it seems like a lost cause. The hard part of activism is that sometimes you try your hardest, rally as many people as you can, do all the research needed, and you still lose. That doesn’t mean that you should stop trying or that you didn’t make a difference.

Because once in a while, the hard work pays off, and you win BIG. Just think about this for a minute. Our win means that instead of having to walk by an eyesore of a paved lot filled with cars, worrying about one of them running into you, you’ll instead be able to gaze at gorgeous, large-scale artwork. Like these great pieces by Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito:

Part of an art piece by Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito, two of my favorite artists who create their recycled metal based work in Oakland.

Another figure in the same art piece.

And when you sit in the Uptown park or on the second floor of the Den and gaze out at these beautiful art pieces, you’ll be able to think: WE DID THAT! The blogoaksphere came together to fight an uphill battle, and we won. That is the power of activism.

Thanks so much to everyone who spoke at a meeting, sent an email, made a phone call, or wrote a blog post. Your voices made a profound difference.

I want to especially thank Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito. Not only did they come to the City Council meeting last night to speak, but Dan guided us through this process, offering advice and figures on displaying large scale public art. His expertise was a huge help in showing the Council that an art display was a viable option for the space. So thanks!

I hope this is only the beginning of wins from the blogoakshpere and that you feel as empowered as I do from this experience. We made a difference and can continue to do so. Tomorrow, I’ll be asking you to join me in taking action once again on the Oakland Airport Connector, another battle that everyone told me was a lost cause. Well if we work together, it won’t be.

Until then, continue daydreaming about what this art space will look and feel like. Almost two years ago, I wrote a post about how Oakland’s a lot like Black Rock City. And soon it will be so much more similar…

Previous posts on the Uptown surface parking lot saga:

Telegraph is Ready to Grow

21 Aug

Yesterday, I read a great post by dto510 about zoning on Telegraph in North Oakland. The planning commission will soon be considering updating zoning in Temescal, including raising height limits on buildings:

To fulfill the goals of the General Plan, it is absolutely imperative that the city bring its zoning in line with what private-sector developers want and need. Currently, every single project in the area requires a Conditional Use Permit to be feasible, primarily because developers need at least five stories to make money. A Conditional Use Permit requires at least one public hearing, and every such permit can appealed to the city council at a minimal cost to the appealing party. That creates huge uncertainties for developers, massively increasing delays and other “soft costs” that are then passed on to the condo-buyers…

The solution to this problem is to raise the allowed building heights at least up to what is already been approved, which is 57 feet. Ideally, the heights would be increased to 75 to 100 feet in at least some areas, which the market might build and would be appropriate for the 100-foot-wide streets throughout the area.

This got me thinking, and last night, as I walked down Telegraph from the bus stop, I realized just how odd the 1-2 story buildings looked. The disproportionality of the building heights to the size of the street is astounding.

Beyond aesthetics, Temescal’s businesses are rapidly growing, and Telegraph has become a major transit corridor, thanks to the new rapid bus line. This is only going to increase, once Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is developed. If Oakland wants to become a more environmentally sustainable city, it makes so much sense to build dense housing in neighborhoods with established services and transit.

The real question is, why are groups like STAND fighting against smart growth, when it seems so clear that the neighborhood I’ve lived in for years is more than ready denser housing and more mixed use buildings?