Tag Archives: parking

October 5-11 Oakland Political & Community Events

4 Oct
Monday, October 5th – Commercial/Corridors Technical Advisory Group Meeting

Thus far, the TAG has reviewed a framework for ten new zoning districts for the City’s corridors and commercial. The TAG has also reviewed detailed activity tables and design regulations for each of the proposed zones and a framework for appropriate height limits. At this TAG meeting, staff will present a conceptual map showing the proposed location of these new zones and a methodology for determining the location of the different height areas. The next meeting will be devoted to a discussion of a proposed map of height areas. The meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, in Hearing Room 4 (this is on the 2nd floor). For more information, visit the Zoning Update website.
Monday, October 5th – Title IX: Gender Equity in Sports & Educational Programs 37 Years Later, We Still Have a Way to Go

Diane Milutinovich had served as a coach and athletics administrator at California State University Fresno for 22 years when she was told her position was being eliminated due to budgetary reasons.  Yet in the next 2 years, the university’s athletics budget went up $2 million, and they added 17 new positions.  Spending per male athlete went up $17,000; for female athletes, $8! It took 5 years, but she won her gender discrimination lawsuit.  Diane will share her experience and paint a broad picture of the state of compliance today.  While she will focus mainly on sports programs, she will also discuss the other areas Title IX covers including admission to universities, sexual harassment, and discrimination due to pregnancy or marital status. This event takes place from6-7:30pm at Buttercup Grill, 229 Broadway at 3rd Street. The event is sponsored by the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Tuesday, October 6th – Oakland City Council Meeting

After the last Council meeting, I posted a poll asking if you’d like to see more in depth coverage of Council meetings either before or after them. More than half of you said you’d like to see coverage before, so I’m going to start that feature tomorrow or Tuesday and will cover the full Council agenda in depth. But so you can plan, the two most contentious items of the night are the rollback of parking meter hours to 6pm and a resolution opposing the Oakland Airport Connector. It should be a very long night again for the Council. See the full meeting agenda and check out my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 7pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Wednesday, October 7 – Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Meeting

Every month, the Central Committee meets to discuss party business and to make plans for the future of the Democratic Party in Alameda County. This month’s program sounds extremely interesting and informative – “Eye on Alameda County Water Boards” featuring Andy Katz from EBMUD and Marty Koller from Alameda County Water District. If you’re interested in getting involved with the Democratic Party, this is a great way to do so. The meeting will be held from 7-9pm in the San Leandro Main Library, Dave Karp Room, 300 Estudillo Ave., San Leandro, CA 94577.

Thursday, October 8th – Rebecca Kaplan’s Birthday Party

Celebrate Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s birthday! Join us for a “happy hour’ reception (with great food and birthday cake) to celebrate Rebecca’s 39th birthday!   Socializing, fun people, and time to share in the events of the past year, and hear about Rebecca’s plans for the coming year. The party takes place from 5pm – 7pm atJoyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th Street (Next to Geoffrey’s Inner Circle), near the corner of Broadway and 14th st in downtown Oakland. Suggested contribution, sliding scale $390 – $39. Visit Rebecca’s website to contribute, or to RSVP, contact Earp Events & Fundraising at 510-839-3100 or laurie@earpevents.com.

Thursday, October 8th – Mix It Up East Bay

Join us for a monthly happy hour bringing together young activists, organizers and leaders in the East Bay. The challenges of foster and former foster youth impact communities across the Bay Area. Come out and hear (brief) presentations on the range of local work supporting foster and former foster youth by:

  • Letitia Henderson-Souza, Casey Family Programs
  • Kevin Bristow, Renaissance Scholars Program, Cal State University East Bay
  • Reed Connell, Alameda County Foster Youth Alliance

Mix It Up East Bay is held every 2nd Thursday of the month from 6-9pm at Shashamane at 2507 Broadway. It’s accessible by 19th Street BART station or by AC Transit lines 1/1R, 51, 59.

Thursday-Sunday, October 8th-11th – Big Sale at Bookmark Bookstore

The Bookmark Bookstore, operated by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library, will have its 30% off fall sale October 8 – 11, 2009 (Thursday – Sunday). The Bookmark will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day this sale is happening. The Bookmark is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Bookmark is located at 721 Washington St in Old Oakland. When you shop the Bookmark, you are supporting the Oakland Public Library! Call 510-444-0473 for more information, or visit the Friends online.

Friday, October 9th – Special Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board Meeting

LPAB is holding a special meeting this Friday to discuss a proposal to “Develop more restrictive Demolition Findings based on Historic Preservation Element.” This is the first step to address demolition findings that along with view corridors were omitted from the recent passage of the downtown Oakland Zoning Update rules. The meeting will be held at 5pm in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Hearing Room 2.

Friday, October 9th – Estuary Art Attack

First Fridays are not the only day of the month to check out art galleries. Jingle Town and Alameda artists have joined together to start the Estuary Art Attack, a monthly event held on second Fridays to showcase the area’s galleries, restaurants, and bars. The Art Attack will be held from 6-9 pm throughout Jingle Town and Alameda. Check out their website for more details.

Saturday, October 10th – Oaktoberfest

Oakland’s Dimond District hosts this one-of-a-kind Fall Festival, welcoming thousands with entertainment, arts, and ecology. The Dimond continues a tradition as an entertainment destination, begun in the early 1900’s when Beer Gardens and German vacation resorts lined the boulevard. Oaktoberfest will bring world-class beer to the giant tented beer hall, serving steins of traditional German flavors regional brew pub favorites. Highlighting this years festival will be a traditional Biergarten, the Eco Fair, a Kid’s Area with Root Biergarten, a homebrew competition, and vendors from around the Bay. Celebrate Oktoberfest, Oakland style, in the Dimond at Fruitvale and MacArthur. The festival takes place from 11am-6pm on MacArthur Blvd. at Fruitvale Avenue. Visit the Oaktoberfest website for more information.

Saturday, October 10th – Life is Living Festival & 3rd Annual Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle

Life is Living is a FREE concert and caucus to affirm urban life through hip hop, intergenerational health, and environmental action. Activities will include a concert featuring Phroahe Monch, Kev Choice and Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, Mighty 4 B-Boy Battle,the 3rd Annual Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle, youth town hall on health care sponsored by President Obama’s non-profit wing, Organizing for America, the Official opening of Town Park featuring Hood Games, a Skate and Bike competition, environmental Service Learning project with The Natural Builders, writing, visual Art and fashion Workshops, health screening for elders, healthy food/ healthy planet models presented by the Oakland Food Connection, City Slicker Farms, Food and Water Watch, and The People’s Grocery, and much, much more. The festival takes place from 11am-5pm at deFremery Park, 1651 Adeline St. For more info and to RSVP, see the event’s Facebook page.

Saturday, October 10th – Jane Brunner’s October Community Advisory Meeting: Meet Oakland’s New Chief of Police

This Saturday, Council President Jane Brunner will be introducing Oakland’s new police chief, Anthony Batts, to Oaklanders and he will be there to answer your questions. This meeting will be held from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon at Peralta Elementary School, 460 63rd Street. To learn more, call 238-7001.

Sunday, October 11th – Sundays in the Redwoods – Ledisi

This free concert features Ledisi. Bring sunscreen, hats and water– it can get very hot in the sun. Gates open at 1:30– concerts start at Woodminster Amphitheater in Joaquin Miller Park, 3300 Joaquin Miller Road. To reserve a picnic table, contact Renee Tucker at 238-4720. Find more info at the Sundays in the Redwoods website.

After a two month long recess, the Council is back in action this week and this first meeting is full of important and contentious issues. Among many other items, the Council will discuss and vote on an emergency moratorium on nail salons and laundromats, the Public Works Agency performance audit, the City Auditor’s whistleblower program report, and the authorization of incoming Chief of Police Anthony Batts’s salary. That is, they’ll be discussing all of those items if they can get past the most contentious topic of the night – parking. Pat Kernighan, after being targeted by a pro-parking mob, has proposed rolling back meter hour to 6pm from 8pm. The problem is that this would blow a $1.3 million hole in the city’s incredibly tight budget. Kernighan’s solution is to crack down on disabled placard parking fraud, but staff recommends not rolling back the meter times and Rebecca Kaplan sent the Council a copy of Donald Shoup’s presentation on “The High Cost of Free Parking.” See the full meeting agenda and check out my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 7pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

A more rational business approach towards parking enforcement changes

30 Sep

The common refrain in Oakland recently is that businesses are opposed to the meter rate increases and the metering time change from 6pm to 8pm. Several business owners, led by Allen Michaan of the Grand Lake Theater, have spoken out at Council meetings, expressed their concerns to the media, circulated a petition threatening to recall the Council if the parking changes weren’t revoked, and posted a cartoon depiction of what Oakland looks like after the parking changes.

But other businesses are accepting the changes. Instead of scaring customers off by screaming to the media that customers will get ticketed if they come to Oakland (great job Michaan!), they’re educating their customers about the changes so that they won’t get ticketed. Spice Monkey, one of the few reasonably priced restaurants in downtown Oakland that stays open for dinner, put this sign up in their window:

spice monkey parking

If you can’t read that, it says:

NOTICE TO CUSTOMERS: Please be aware of the City of Oakland’s new parking meter guidelines!

Street parking is now $2.00 per hour and enforced until 8 p.m.

We apologize for the inconvenience. Feel free to ask us if there are other parking alternatives available.

Imagine how different the conversation would be if businesses throughout Oakland had taken this tact instead of following Michaan’s lead. Oakland wouldn’t have gotten all this terrible media coverage, and maybe people wouldn’t be so irrationally scared to come here. And yes, this fear is irrational, because people are much more likely to get ticketed in San Francisco and basically every Bay Area city charges for parking and enforces parking violations.

So go to Spice Monkey, buy some food (I highly recommend their salads and grilled cheese sandwich), and thank them for taking such a rational approach to the parking enforcement changes.

September 21-27 Oakland Political & Community Events

21 Sep
Tuesday, September 22nd – Oakland City Council Meeting

After a two month long recess, the Council is back in action this week and this first meeting is full of important and contentious issues. Among many other items, the Council will discuss and vote on an emergency moratorium on nail salons and laundromats, the Public Works Agency performance audit, the City Auditor’s whistleblower program report, and the authorization of incoming Chief of Police Anthony Batts’s salary. That is, they’ll be discussing all of those items if they can get past the most contentious topic of the night – parking. Pat Kernighan, after being targeted by a pro-parking mob, has proposed rolling back meter hour to 6pm from 8pm. The problem is that this would blow a $1.3 million hole in the city’s incredibly tight budget. Kernighan’s solution is to crack down on disabled placard parking fraud, but staff recommends not rolling back the meter times and Rebecca Kaplan sent the Council a copy of Donald Shoup’s presentation on “The High Cost of Free Parking.” See the full meeting agenda and check out my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The non-ceremonial parts of the meeting start at 7pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Tuesday, September 22nd – Walk Oakland Bike Oakland Meeting

Since attendees of past Volunteer Meetings have asked for more speakers on local bike/ped issues, expect to see more “special guests” at WOBO’s monthly meetings. We’re kicking things off with speaker Joel Peter, the Measure DD Coordinator, who will get us up to date on the Measure DD projects. We’ll also talk about the status of WOBO campaigns in progress and leave time for announcements from attendees (just let us know before the meeting that you’ve got an event or info to share). As always, there will be snacks and lots of bike parking.This meeting will be held from 6:30-8:30 pm at Bay Area Wilderness Training, 2301 Broadway, Suite B – enter on 23rd Street. For more info, visit WOBO’s website.

Wednesday, September 23rd – Public Hearings on AC Transit’s Proposed Service Changes

AC Transit will hold public hearings to present its proposed Service Adjustments Plan and gather feedback from the public. If you’re concerned about losing your bus line or just want to hear more about the extensive service adjustments, these will be important hearings to attend. In October, the Board will likely make its final decision on the service adjustments, taking into consideration all public comments received. The Board could accept, modify, reject, or defer each of the proposed changes. If service adjustments are adopted, they likely would be implemented in January 2010. Take the bus: All lines serving downtown Oakland (also BART to 19th Street). The workshops will be held from 2-5pm AND 6-8pm at the AC Transit offices, 1600 Franklin Street, 2nd Floor Board Room. Find further info at AC Transit’s website.

Wednesday, September 23rd – League of Women Voters State Budget Forum

From the League’s website: “At the kick-off meeting on September 15 we will have heard about budget issues from a local perspective. What is the state perspective? We will have a resource person from Assemblymember Sandré Swanson’s office to bring us up to date on the latest information on the state budget. Come learn and talk about what you can be doing to make things happen both here in Oakland and in Sacramento.” The forum will be held from 6:30-8 PM at Lincoln Court Senior Housing, 2400 MacArthur Blvd. (corner of Lincoln and MacArthur).

Thursday, September 24thSpecial Meeting of the Public Ethics Commission

The Public Ethics Commission will be holding a special meeting to discuss proposed amendments to Oakland’s lobbyist registration act. The commission will discuss 1) whether registration and reporting requirements should be limited to paid, professional representatives of an organization or include volunteer representatives as well; 2) should persons who lobby City officials have to communicate a minimum number of times or devote a certain amount of their time to lobbying before triggering a registration requirement; and 3) should people be except from registering if the communications they make are a) made in writing or at a public meeting or, b) made on behalf of certain non-profit groups that operate on City property and provide a public service.These proposals sprang from a commission hearing in May at which John Klein had launched a complaint against Carlos Plazola for not registering with the City for certain lobbying activities. For background, you should read the account by Max Allstadt of the initial hearing and the lengthy discussion that followed it. The meeting will be held at 6:30pm in Hearing Room 2, City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. You can read the meeting agenda here.

Thursday, September 24thWellstone Democratic Club Meeting

The Bay Area Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club will present and discuss”Americans and the Climate Crisis: Attitudes and Social Change” featuring Aaron Pope, Director of Sustainability Programs, California Academy of Sciences. The meeting will be held from 6-9pm at the Humanist Hall, 390 27th Street in Oakland. For more information, visit the club’s website.

Friday, September 25th – Dancing Under the Stars at Jack London Square

Due to the success of Dancing Under the Stars, Jack London Square will offer an additional four-event series of free outdoor dance classes on select Friday nights through the end of September. Singles and couples alike can practice their sizzling salsa moves, learn new Latin dances like the Cha Cha, or do the Hustle while listening to disco. Live bands will add a new level of entertainment to the program. Novices and experienced dancers are all welcome to spend the evening dancing outdoors on Oakland’s celebrated waterfront.  No reservation is required, and all ages are welcome. Dancing Under the Stars will begin at 7:30 PM for professional dance lessons and 8:30 PM for open dance  at the foot of Broadway. This Friday, they’ll be teaching Rumba and Cha Cha.

Friday, September 25th – Fourth Friday Summer Nights: A Little Princess

This summer, the Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate is hosting free movies on the fourth Friday of each month. This month, they’ll be showing Finding Neverland. Via V Smoothe, “The grounds open at 6 PM for picnicking and wandering. Music is provided before the movies, which begin around 8:30, once the sun sets. And if you don’t have a car, no problem! AC Transit line 45 drops you off maybe a 10 minute walk (or less, depending on how fast you walk, I guess) from the Estate and runs until midnight.” The estate is located at 2960 Peralta Oaks Ct.

Saturday, September 26th – Love Your Parks Day

Each year, in the fall, Oakland Parks Coalition (OPC) conducts a city-wide survey of Oakland parks to determine their condition. This year the survey is more important than ever due to the maintenance cutbacks. We need lots of volunteers to ensure that all parks are surveyed. The data from our annual surveys is used as a basis for an OPC annual report, 2007 Community Report Card on the Maintenance of Oakland Parks, which is presented early each year to the Life Enrichment Committee of City Council. The written report and a Power Point Presentation are tools used by OPC to advocate for improved and enhanced maintenance services in Oakland Parks. Meet at 8:30am at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland. After a continental breakfast you’ll be sent out in teams to survey 3-5 Oakland parks. To find out more information and RSVP, visit OPC’s website.

Saturday, September 26th – Democratic Unity Dinner

The Democratic Unity Dinner is the county’s largest party fundraiser. This year, speakers include Attorney General Jerry Brown, Lt. Governor John Garamendi, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and Board of Equalization Chair Betty Yee. The Party will be honoring ACDCC long-time member Maggie Gee for all her hard work on behalf of the Democratic Party over the years. The Oakland United Democratic Campaign (UDC) will receive the 2009 Democratic Club/UDC award recognizing co-chairs Elizabeth Echols and Rodney Brooks in particular for their success. The monies raised for this event helps support our six county UDCs for 2010. Cocktails at 6 pm and dinner at 7:30 pm at the Oakland Airport Hilton, One Hegenberger Road. Find more info and purchase tickets on ActBlue.

Sunday, September 27th – Rockridge Out and About

The Rockridge District Association organizes its annual street festival to attract residents, visitors and new businesses to College Avenue.  For one magical afternoon, 10 blocks are transformed into a street fair featuring live music, cooking demonstrations, artisans and food booths, arts, crafts and kids activities. I’ve always enjoyed this street festival, but this year they’re adding an awesome new feature – a Cookbook Exchange! Bring a used cookbook and exchange it for another (remaining books will go to the Rockridge Public Library). The festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on College Avenue from Claremont to the Rockridge Library, in the Rockridge shopping district. Find more info at the festival’s website.

Sunday, September 27th – Sundays in the Redwoods – The Oakland Symphony

This free concert features the The Oakland Symphony & John Handy. Bring sunscreen, hats and water– it can get very hot in the sun. Gates open at 1:30– concerts start at Woodminster Amphitheater in Joaquin Miller Park, 3300 Joaquin Miller Road. To reserve a picnic table, contact Renee Tucker at 238-4720. Find more info at the Sundays in the Redwoods website.

How to win at the City Council (and how not to): Reflections on the pro-parking campaign

6 Aug

Over the past couple of weeks, some excellent blog posts have been written about the raising of meter rates and extensions of metering time, and about the movement against these increases. I’m not going to rehash any of that, so to catch up, you’ll have to head to Fragmentary Evidence and A Better Oakland.

This fight though has presented the perfect opportunity for me to write a post that I’ve been meaning to write for many months about how to successfully pass or defeat an item through the city council. Allen Michaan, owner of the Grand Lake Theater, has led a very loud campaign, but he has conducted it in essentially the opposite way that I would have (besides the fact that I’m on the other side). So I thought I’d reflect on what he could have done better, in hopes that others will learn from his mistakes.

1. Make your voice heard early & often: Ideally, you should attend the first committee meeting when the item is proposed. Where the pro-parking people were a few months ago when this was initially proposed at Finance Committee, I have no idea. If you don’t get in at the committee level, it’s going to be much more difficult to convince the entire council since details are often hammered out at committee. If you can’t make it to the committee meeting, find an ally who can or at least email the committee members to voice your concerns. Even if you lose at the committee, come back to the full council. Once the council has approved something, like raising the meter rates, it’s so much more difficult to convince them to revisit the issue. Your best chance is to fight the issue from the beginning.

2. Escalate tactics: There are a myriad of tactics you can use to influence the council, and you’ll have to pick and choose based on the particular campaign and your resources. But the most important thing to remember when choosing tactics is to escalate over time. For example, threatening to recall the council and to shut down businesses for a day is a pretty advanced tactic – it makes no sense to start with these tactics. Start with the basics, like writing emails, making phone calls, and setting up meetings with council members. If that doesn’t work, move onto press conferences, sign on letters, and community meetings. Now if all of those don’t work, it might be time to move onto a more aggressive media campaign and possibly protest. But never, ever start a campaign with your most aggressive tactics – elected officials won’t look kindly on it, and if those tactics don’t work, where do you escalate from there?

3. Choose council targets strategically: Threatening to recall the entire council will probably almost never make sense in any situation. Why? Because you should target specific council members in different ways. Some councilmembers are never going to vote with you on an issue, others will likely vote with you, and still others may be on the fence. For those that will not vote with you, it doesn’t hurt to email and call, but don’t waste too much time with them. Spend a lot of time focusing on your allies, and ask them for advice on how to sway the fence sitters. Most of your campaign though should be focused on the fence sitters – in the end, you need five votes. So if you have three solid allies and three fence sitters, you need to convince two out of those three to vote with you. Figure out what issues are important to them in relation to your issue and speak to them about those issues.

4. Don’t exaggerate: It’s easy to get worked up about something you care about, and it’s perfectly fine to be emotional. But don’t get so caught up in your campaign that you lose sight of the facts. Be truthful in your statements and don’t fall into hyperbole. For example, calling the parking rate increases a “death sentence for Oakland businesses” is probably going too far. Instead, talk about the real impacts of the issue, like the fact that people might have to run to their meters in the middle of a movie. From my experience, our council is open to listening to concerns and constructive criticisms. You don’t need to shout or exaggerate to get their attention.

5. Roll out your campaign strategically: Sometimes this isn’t entirely within your control, but it’s important to think about timing when planning tactics. Some tactics are naturally tied to a date, like a committee meeting, but tactics like protests or community meetings need to be planned strategically. For example, planning the peak of your campaign during council recess is pretty much the worst thing you could do. That doesn’t mean you should sit and twiddle your thumbs during recess. Instead, spend some time researching council members, meeting with them and their staff, reaching out to community members, etc. Then, when the council returns from recess, you’ll be prepared to make a real splash.

6. When opposing, offer alternative solutions: If you’re opposing a council proposal, you’ll often fare better if you come up with an alternative solution. That is, an alternative solution that meets the council’s goal. So Michaan’s “solution” of charging even less for parking – $.50 per hour – is no solution at all, since the council’s goal was to close the budget gap. When we were fighting the surface parking lot in Uptown, we came up with the alternative solution of a large-scale sculpture garden, which met the council’s goals of not having that space remain an empty lot. In the end, I’m not sure we’re going to get the sculpture garden (another post coming on that soon) but we were able to stop the lot because we researched and presented a viable alternative solution.

I’m sure there are many other lessons that can be learned from Michaan’s campaign and others, so please feel free to share those as comments below.

Previous posts on parking rates:

Oakland Updates: Election, Budget, OAC, Parking, and ACT

25 Jul

Though a ton has been happening in Oakland this week, I’ve unfortunately been mostly unable to write about it, since I flew to LA after the MTC meeting and have been absurdly busy ever since. Luckily, others have covered the important stuff, so I thought I’d take a few moments to highlight what’s been going on.

Oakland passes all four election measures: Unless you’ve been out of the country for the past week, you know by now that all four measures passed overwhelmingly. I’m not going bother linking to any newspaper stories, but you should check out Brian Leubitz’s blog post about how Oakland’s election and other municipal elections show that Californian’s are ready to embrace new taxes when they make sense.

But state budget means there will be deep cuts to services Oaklanders depend on: During the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jean Quan announced the election results and the Council seemed please. Unfortunately, they’re going to be back to the drawing board because the state legislature approved “borrowing” money from municipalities. V Smoothe has a good round up of state budget coverage, but I have to warn you that it’s depressing.

The OAC saga drags on: After hearing dozens of speakers explain why the Oakland Airport Connector makes no sense and urging the MTC to hold off on voting until after the Oakland City Council had weighed in, the MTC approved the $140 million in funding anyway. The most maddening part was that several of the commissioners who voted in favor of the funding explained that this project is terrible, but that it’s too late to change it, and anyways, it’s BART’s responsibility, not the MTC. The fight is still not over though. The OAC will be going before the Public Works Committee as an action item on September 15th so mark that on your calendar and see if you can go into work a bit late to attend the meeting. I’ll have more details and info about how to get involved next week.

And now we have the parking saga to keep us busy too: If you drive, you’ve probably noticed that meter rates have been raised to $2 an hour and the meters run until 8pm. I love this new policy, and not just as a transit user, but also as a driver. Last Saturday night I went out to dinner in Rockridge, and it was easier than ever before to find metered parking. Fragmentary Evidence wrote a very compelling piece about why it makes sense to raise parking rates. If you’re going to read anything today, read that. (Which reminds me, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned here how much I love Fragmentary Evidence. If it’s not on your regular reading list, it really should be.) For a different perspective on the parking rates, take a look at the Grand Lake Theater owner’s commentary in the Berkeley Daily Planet, which argues that the raise in rates is a “death sentence for Oakland businesses.” The Oakland City Council discussed this issue in depth on Tuesday (I’ll have a post up about that next week), and something tells me that we’re going to hear much more about this in the days to come.

Ride ACT shares two videos: Another excellent blog is Ride ACT, and in the past couple weeks they’ve shared a couple of YouTube videos that area worth watching. The first is a beautiful piece about the 54 line:

The second is a promotional video about AC Transit that I must admit is a bit cheesy, but still enjoyable:

Debunking driving & transportation myths

1 Feb

I read a lot of transportation blogs (there used to be so few, and now there are too many to keep up with!), and over the past few weeks I’ve read several posts that debunk the myth that driving a car is the best way to get around. I ditched my car about a year ago, and maybe these posts will convince you to do the same.

Myth 1 – Cars are faster: 295bus, down in the South Bay, tells a story of opting for his car instead of his bike because it was raining. He thought it would be quicker, but it turned out to take longer.

Myth 2 – Driving is the best way to clear your mind: Readers at The Overhead Wire share their experiences of relaxing while walking and doing deep thinking on the train or bus.

Myth 3 – Widening freeways makes traffic move more quickly: The Pedestrian debunks this myth, explaining that car drivers are actually better off driving on city streets. Freeways are congestion magnets.  This post is followed up by another detailing success stories of removing freeways in the Bay Area.  Anyone up for some freeway removal in Oakland?

Myth 4 – BART sucks: Well, I’m not always a BART defender, but 125 BART employees spent their Saturday cleaning up downtown Oakland, and I can get behind that.

Myth 5 – For business people, driving is the most efficient way to get around: Now that it’s illegal for drivers to text message and to use cell phones without a headset, it’s easier to get work done on the bus or train. And soon, BART will be offering wi-fi access, for a fee. One day, when high speed rail is built, hopefully they’ll offer wi-fi too.

Myth 6 – Public transportation is too heavily subsidized: This couldn’t be much further from the truth. Driving is subsidized much more heavily than public transit is; if the funding was even close to equal, I can only imagine what our transportation systems would look like. Eric details how the funding breaks down in the MTC’s regional transportation plan, and Yonah at The Transport Politic details the breakdown in the federal stimulus bill (which has changed since this post was written, but still heavily favors highways).

Myth 7 – Life would be so much better if there was more free street parking: Debby at Today in Montclair got a parking ticket and wondered whether parking on the streets in Montclair should be free, but her readers respond and argue that it would make much more sense to walk or bike. Debby must have been convinced because she followed up with a post about biking to Montclair Village.

Why the East Bay is Better than the West Bay

8 Jun

1. The Rent
Umm… yeah… I’ve seen all your tiny apartments in SF that you pay double what I pay for my
huge place. You just can’t argue this one. It’s cheaper to live in Oakland.

2. The Food
OK… I know I’m going to get a lot of shit for this one, but I’m going to argue this anyway. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some good food in SF, but we still win here. When it comes to cheap eats, Oakland easily wins – I eat lunch for $6 or less almost every day in downtown, and the food’s incredible… mmm… vietnamese sandwiches, 8 pieces of sushi for $2.50, the lunch line at Golden Lotus…

And when it comes to the nicer restaurants, SF may have some more well-known places, but that’s what’s such a pain. I’m not down to wait an hour for a table – at most of the nice spots in the East Bay, you can just walk in and get a table in under 15 minutes. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the most annoying part about nice places in San Francisco – they are so much more pretentious. In the East Bay, you can walk into any fine dining establishment in jeans and a shirt, but in SF, you’ll at least get stared down if you do this, and you’ll probably get crappy service. And Chez Panisse is on my side of the bay – without Alice Waters, Bay Area eating would not be nearly so sublime…

3. Hyphy Music
Yup… this is where hyphy was born… for all you outside of the bay, go check out
Mistah Fab and Keak da Sneak. Watch out, cause hyphy’s blowing up and the East Bay will blow up with it…

4. Driving & Parking
If you know the streets out here, you’ll never get stuck in traffic, and I can’t remember ever spending a HALF HOUR looking for parking in the East Bay, but I can remember several times doing this in the West Bay. And once you do find a parking spot in SF, you better check five times because there’s street sweeping 4 nights a week, your wheels better be turned all the way towards a curb, and don’t even think about parking a half inch into a driveway, or you’re going to get a parking ticket (and they’re not cheap).

Also, the street addresses in San Francisco never make sense. In Oakland, 1226 Webster St. means Webster St at 12th St, or if the address was 326, it would mean at 3rd street. But in the West Bay, there is no such correlation, which makes finding a location that much harder. If you got a car, the East Bay is where it’s at.

5. The Weather
Another one you can’t argue with. It’s always 5-10 degrees warmer here, and we actually get to enjoy sunny days during the summer. I know this is probably a shocker to those of you living in SF cause you never cross the bay, but I spend my summers basking in the sun at farmer’s markets, parks, just walking down the street, or hiking through the hills.

6. Downtown Oakland vs. Downtown SF
I gotta say that I’ve fallen in love with
downtown Oakland, so much so that I’m planning to move there within the next couple years. It’s surprising, but downtown has a small-town vibe. I walk down the streets and can’t help running into people I know. All the folks who work at the restaurants and stores I frequent know me by name – Ichiro at my sushi place even asks how my sister’s doing when he hasn’t seen her in a while! Downtown SF is stiff, boring, and overpriced. Suits and cell phones – I’ll pass that up any day… and watch out, cause downtown Oakland nightlife is about to explode once all those new apartments and condos open…

7. The Quiet
You know, everybody goes on and on about how San Francisco’s so much fun and there’s so much to do, but at some point, I just want to relax. I want to be able to take walks down my street without seeing even one person. I want to be able to lay down in my bed at night and not hear the thump-thump of the club next door, or the cars rushing by, or the drunk 20-somethings leaving the bars and falling over each other. Yep – sometimes I just want quiet. And that’s pretty easy to find in the East Bay. Don’t get me wrong – there’s plenty to do here and I’m still in walking distance of a great gay bar, cheap eats, fine dining, several markets, and some of my favorite places to shop, but I’m also in a quiet neighborhood. If you like relaxing, the East Bay is where it’s at…

8. City Planning… We Have it, They Don’t
OK… this sounds boring and unimportant, but it really is EXTREMELY important. The East Bay pretty much exists on a grid and streets tend to do what you think they’re going to (except for the hills, but I could do a whole other blog about why the flats are better than the hills). And there aren’t a million places where you can’t make a left turn. Seriously, it’s pretty hard to get lost or very off track in the East Bay and I just can’t say the same about SF. I mean, I’ve lived here for more than 6 years (and SF was my second home for 2 years before that), and I’m just now starting to find my way around the West Bay! And I recently found out why SF makes no sense from the Bay Guardian: “The reason that the north and south of Market grids don’t connect very well is that the mayor couldn’t decide which bribes to take and thus split the job between two architects who hated each other and didn’t speak.” Hah! Pretty appropriate… yup… so that’s why it will never be easy to get around SF.

9. Even Historians Agree…
Yes, way back when before there were any cities in California, the people settling the Bay Area thought the East Bay was more inhabitable. In 1796, Don Pedro de Alberni studied the Bay Area under the orders of the governor, and claimed that San Francisco was “the worst place or location in California” for a town! It was barren and cold, and the only reason it ever became such a large city was because in the craze of the Gold Rush, people rushed off the boats into SF and needed the amenities of a city quickly. Conversely, writer Richard Henry Dana described the East Bay in 1840: “The abundance of wood and water; the extreme fertility of its shores; the excellence of its climate, which is as near to being perfect as any in the world; and its facilities for navigation, affording the best anchoring-grounds in the whole western coast of America – all fit it for a place of great importance.” What am I trying to say here? The East Bay was always better, and it probably always will be. If you want to find out more, check out
Oakland: The Story of a City, by Beth Bagwell.

10. We know how to cross the bay…

This last reason might seem counterintuitive, but just listen… People in the West Bay don’t know how to cross the bay (ok, I’ll admit there are a FEW exceptions) so they never get to appreciate the fruits of East Bay living. But us East Bayers don’t think we’re too good for SF – we cross the bay all the time. So we get all the benefits of the West Bay with few of the downfalls. If I want to party all night, I go to SF. If I want to see some of my friends, I hop on BART. When there’s a festival, I cross that bridge. And then when I get tired of the exhaustion that is San Francisco, I go home to the East Bay and get some rest.