Tag Archives: McDonald’s

Living in the O’s Fourth Birthday

8 Jun

Four years is a long time.

Four years marks some significant milestones in my life. I went to UC Berkeley for four years. My wife (then girlfriend) and I lived in our last apartment for just over four years. And as of today I’ve been blogging for four years.

During all of these four-year time periods, much has happened and I’ve grown so much. My years at Berkeley were marked by my evolution into an activist, my years in our last apartment by my growing love for my then girlfriend and my growing love for Oakland, but these four years blogging are a bit more difficult for me to define succinctly.

So I thought I’d mark them here with the blogoaksphere successes that stand out for me. These victories could not have been won without the help of multiple bloggers and blog readers. There are many more blogoaksphere successes, I’m sure, but these are the successes that mark my four years of blogging at Living in the O: Continue reading

Temescal McDonald’s appeal: A victory for the community, appellants & the business

18 May

As I wrote on Monday, last week a group of the appellants of the Temescal McDonald’s plan met with the owner, Ed Smith, to negotiate a compromise plan that everyone could support. We were successful, and last night, in a unanimous vote, the Council approved the compromise plan.

Both the appellants and Smith were so on board with the design that the 18 of us who had signed up to speak agreed not to speak once the Council signaled they would approve the plan. Smith and appellant John Gatewood spoke briefly to thank the Council, staff, everyone involved and to say we were all on board. Everyone in the room (particularly the hundreds of people waiting to speak on the gang injunctions) seemed pleased and grateful that we had found a solution.

So after raising more than $1400 for the appeal, writing the appeal, spending months meeting with staff and councilmembers, generating dozens of emails to the Council and turning out many people to speak at two Council meetings, what exactly did we get? Continue reading

Bye-bye drive-through on Telegraph: A pedestrian friendly solution to the Temescal McDonald’s redesign

16 May

You might be wondering what happened after the City Council directed the Temescal McDonald’s owner and the appellants to meet to try to find a compromise. Well, I have some very good news to share.

The applicant and McDonald’s owner, Ed Smith, met with a small group of the appellants last Thursday and came to an agreement on some design issues. The details are still being hammered out, so I don’t have a design to share here yet, but, most importantly, the drive-through will no longer be next to the Telegraph sidewalk – it will be moved to the back of the building. Continue reading

Thanks to you, we have the opportunity to find a McDonald’s design that works for the community, pedestrians & the business

4 May

As you might have heard via Twitter, last night’s Council hearing on our appeal of the Temescal McDonald’s redesign went quite well. After hearing from many appellants and community members about why the design is inadequate and doesn’t fit the neighborhood, Councilmember Jane Brunner (who represents the district) moved to continue the hearing for two weeks to give the appellants and McDonald’s a chance to meet and work out a solution that we can all support.

This was a great result because ultimately I and all the other appellants want the McDonald’s to succeed. Nobody likes the current building and rebuilding and redesigning it could be a huge plus to the neighborhood. But with a moat of cars surrounding it, as in the current design, it will be a deterrent to growth and will interrupt that vibrant, pedestrian oriented part of Telegraph Avenue.

I am confident that as long as everyone comes to the table with an open mind, we can find a solution that works for the community, pedestrians, and McDonald’s. Continue reading

Staff report fails to recognize that appellants want to improve McDonald’s, not destroy it

2 May

As I mentioned last week, tomorrow night the Oakland City Council will be voting on our appeal of the Temescal McDonald’s redesign. I had planned to go through the staff report point by point today, but upon re-reading the report, I realized that such a blog post would be repetitive, long, somewhat boring, maddening, and useful to probably only a couple dozen people (including councilmembers and their staff). So instead I wanted to focus in on a couple of points.

But before I do that, I’d like to share some diagrams that one of my co-appellants created. It’s very difficult to visualize the traffic flow of the new McDonald’s design by looking at the diagram provided by staff, and if you’re not familiar with the current site, it’s hard to visualize the flow there as well. Here is a diagram of the current flow: Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Thanks to your help, we’re appealing the pedestrian-unfriendly McDonald’s redesign

15 Dec

As you might have seen on my updates of the last post, we met our fundraising goal, raising $1407 to appeal the redesign of the McDonald’s on Telegraph and 45th. The incredible part to me was that we raised the vast majority of the funds in 26 hours! I was a bit concerned that it might be difficult to raise funds online after the successful crowdfunding efforts of The New Parkway and Awaken Cafe, but I think the success of all of these fundraising efforts show how invested Oaklanders are in our community and that we’re willing to financially invest as well.

Over the weekend, Max Allstadt and Josh Thorp drafted the appeal and did a very thorough job of it. Thanks to them and to John Gatewood, Christopher Waters, and many other ULTRA members for providing edits. Thanks also to John Gatewood for stepping up as the official appellant (and to the many co-appellants).

The appeal was filed on Monday. I encourage you to read the appeal in full, but if not, there are some highlights about why the redesign not only makes no sense but also does not comply with the General Plan and specifically the Land Use and Transportation Element (LUTE):

As stated in the General Plan Analysis of the Planning Commission Staff Report of December 1, 2010, the drive-through element of the current facility is acceptable only because it was established before the LUTE element of the General Plan was enacted. What is not addressed, however, is why it is acceptable that the property be redesigned to highlight this feature in particular—the new design insulates the entire property on all sides with drive-through lanes, making it impossible to enter on foot from either Telegraph Avenue or 45th Street without crossing one or more interior vehicle drives. It is not surprising that the proprietor would want to increase visibility and capacity of the drive-through element—at the December 1, 2010 meeting he estimated that drive-through traffic accounted for 70% of his business. What is surprising is that after meeting with select local groups including ULTRA (Urbanists for a Livable Temescal Rockridge Area) and in full light of current General Plan guidance, the Planning Commission has approved a new design that is actually more antagonistic to pedestrians, increases drive-through impacts on the neighborhood, and weakens the concentration and continuity of the shopping frontage. The appellants feel that this signifies a lack of discretion on the part of the Planning Commission on the most basic level.

Nicely said – not much to add there.

The appeal goes through several required findings by the Planning Commission and explains why their findings were inadequate. These are all worth reading, but I especially appreciate this one that focuses on how this decision will impact the future of the area:

Section 17.136.070 (B)-Regular Design Review Criteria, Nonresidential Facilities:

Required Finding

2. That the proposal will be of a quality and a character which harmonizes with, and serves to protect the value of, private and public investments in the area.

Adopted Planning Commission Finding of December 1, 2010

The remodeled project will enhance Temescal neighborhood’s appearance compared with to the status quo. The improvement will retain a restaurant business which draws customers to the Temescal retail area, providing an improvement in quality of materials, design and landscaping from the existing 1977 restaurant design.

Inadequacy of Planning Commission Finding

The character of the proposed design is inherently at odds with the goals of private and public investment in the area. Effectively, the design is a do-over of an existing use of the parcel which is in conflict with current LUTE element of the General Plan, which explicitly calls for pedestrian-oriented development in the area.

Telegraph Avenue is a “Growth and Change” corridor under the LUTE designation, but the proposed project does not offer significant growth. In fact the project presents a long-term liability for growth by allowing major investment in new construction of a design which is out of step with long-term goals for the neighborhood. There are long- term consequences for permitting this level of investment in a project which is profitable but underutilizes a 3/4 acre lot. Particularly, it can be expected that this low-density anti-pedestrian design will persist many decades into the future while the rest of the neighborhood grows around it in ways more consistent with the LUTE. In short, the project amounts to complete reconstruction of an anachronism.

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed by writing or editing the appeal or by contributing to the filing costs. The Council will hear the appeal sometime in the next couple of months and we’ll need your help again writing emails and speaking at the Council meeting. Until then, enjoy reading the appeal.

Keep Temescal pedestrian friendly – help appeal the auto-centric McDonald’s redesign

9 Dec

Over the past several years, Temescal has become one of the most vibrant business districts in Oakland. Whether it’s Monday or Saturday night, the restaurants and bars in the area are packed and as long as it’s not pouring rain, there are plenty of people walking or biking up and down Telegraph. Initially, most of the excitement happened between 51st and 49th, but more recently the Temescal energy has moved South (and a bit North) along Telegraph, all the way to Aunt Mary’s and Remedy Coffee at 43rd.

This area is very pedestrian oriented, with fairly wide sidewalks, buildings right next to those sidewalks, not too many curb cuts or surface parking lots, and plenty of pedestrian crossings. Unfortunately, McDonald’s occupies a huge space on Telegraph next to 45th with parking taking up most of its lot and a pretty ugly, outdated building occupying the rest.

So when I heard McDonald’s was planning to remodel, I thought that could be a very good thing. I’m sure the new building will be much more attractive and inviting. However, the new design, which the Planning Commission approved last week, sacrifices the one good quality of the current design – the building is almost right next to the sidewalk (with some landscaping in between) and it’s very easy for pedestrians to enter.

When I used to take the 1 daily, I often saw people hop off the bus and walk right into the McDonald’s. It’s also one of the main restroom stops for AC Transit bus drivers, and I’ve seen dozens of drivers stop there.

The new design would make this pedestrian access much more difficult and dangerous as the drive through will now be right next to the Telegraph sidewalk, with the building in back of the drive-through and the pedestrian entrance to the building on the far side of the lot:

McDonald’s reps explained at the Planning Commission hearing that this design works best for the flow of cars, and I’m guessing that’s true. But an auto-centric design like this has no place in this pedestrian friendly neighborhood. It’s a very similar issue to the problem with the initial Safeway on Pleasant Valley design, which had all the buildings set far back from the street and a sea of parking next to the sidewalks. (Thankfully Safeway’s revised proposal, after the community and Planning Commission expressed concerns, places many of the buildings next to the sidewalks.)

It seems like McDonald’s is saying they do not want pedestrian customers, as the building will be walled off on all sides by car lanes and car traffic. It’s an odd business choice, since there are schools nearby and the students travel there by foot, and there are plenty of bus riders that frequent McDonald’s.

But I’m not worried about McDonald’s bottom line. What I’m concerned about is the overall pedestrian experience in Temescal, and it’s clear to me that this design will detract from this.

Unfortunately, the Planning Commission did not see it this way – except for two commissioners who dissented, Galvez and Zayas-Mart. So now it’s up to the community to appeal the decision to the Council.

About a dozen of us, including many ULTRA members, are working to file an appeal, but unfortunately appeals are not cheap. The appeal, which must be filed by this Monday, December 13th at 4pm will cost us $1,352. This may sound like a lot of money, but it’s a small price to pay to ensure Temescal remains a walkable, vibrant neighborhood. Plus, it’s not so much if we all chip in. I and several others have already chipped in, and so far we’ve raised $575, almost half of the total.

If you agree that the pedestrian experience in Temescal is important to preserve and improve, please chip in. Whatever you can afford will make a huge difference!

Once we file the appeal, I’ll provide updates on the progress as the appeal is only the first step. To convince the Council to call for a new design, we’ll need to email councilmembers and show up to speak at the Council meeting. We’ve done this before with the surface parking lot in Uptown and I’m sure if we all chip in we can succeed again!

UPDATE 1 (Friday at 1pm): We’re less than $40 away from reaching our goal! Thanks to everyone who’s chipped in, and for those of you who were considering contributing $5, $10 or $20, now’s the time to do it.

UPDATE 2 (Friday at 1pm): We’ve reached our goal! There are some fees associated with fundraising, so we’d still appreciate contributions.