Tag Archives: STAND

August 17-23 Oakland Political & Community Events

17 Aug

Tuesday, August 18th – Community Meeting on Transit Corridors Hosted by STAND

STAND is hosting a meeting on Transit Corridors, asking what are they and how do they affect you. The focus will be on bus rapid transit (BRT) and transit corridor development. STAND nearly always opposes dense development so this should be a, well, interesting event. I encourage people who are pro-BRT and pro-transit oriented development to attend. The event will be facilitated by Jane Kramer (STAND) (Standing Together for Accountable Neighborhood Development), Mary Oram (BBTOP) (Berkeleyans for Better Transportation OPtions), and Dahn VanLaarz (STAND).  Invited Guests include AC Transit Board Members Greg Harper & Chris Peeples. The event will be held from 7-9pm at Temple Beth Abraham Social Hall, 327 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland.

Thursday, August 20th – Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. This month’s agenda covers Kaiser Hospital bike access issues, bike/ped safety, and the planning of an international delegation to Oakland by bike planners and elected officials. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-7:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Friday, August 21st – 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 Swing.

Saturday, August 22nd – Oakland’s Second Kidical Mass

Hosted by Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, this will be an opportunity to get to know families who get around Oakland by pedal power. Bring the kids on the the trail-a-bike, the trailer, the Xtracycle, on their own bikes or however you happen to make it work. No kids? No problem! Come out and share the joy of a casual social ride. Ride meets at Frog Park (Hardy St. & Claremont Ave) from 10-10:30am with expected departure about 10:45am. Destination is Lake Shore Park. Ride is about 3 miles – expect a leisurely pace and relaxed atmosphere. For more info and to RSVP, check out the event’s Facebook page.

Saturday-Sunday, August 22nd-23rd – Oakland Chinatown Streetfest

On August 22 & 23, the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce (OCCC) will be presenting its 22nd Annual Chinatown StreetFest. In celebrating the Year of the Ox, the Chinatown StreetFest will attract thousands of people from all over the Bay Area to come savor the taste of Asia, and to experience the traditions that Oakland’s Chinatown has so diligently preserved. Consisting of more than 200 booths, the festival will span nine to ten blocks of Chinatown. Every year small businesses and community organizations from all over California come to showcase a myriad of delicious foods, unique Asian products, and special services. There will be arts & crafts, entertainment on three stages, and a Cultural Village presented by the Oakland Museum of California. The two-day event runs from 10AM to 6PM and is free to the public. Find more info at the event’s website.

Sunday, August 23rd – Oaklandish Radio Regatta

This summertime party is located at the Lake Merritt Sailboat House and includes DJ’s, food and beer, and free gondola rides. You can also go out for a spin on the Lake on other half-priced boat rentals. Bring your radio, because the event also features an FM microbroadcast so you can listen to the music while out on the water. This event is free for all ages and runs from 1-7pm.

Community & Planning Commission united in calling for urban, pedestrian friendly Safeway development

16 Jul

So I was planning to write about the Public Works Committee hearing on the Oakland Airport Connector today, but that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow because I’m fired up after last night’s Safeway EIR Scoping Session at the Planning Commission.

During the public comment section, I was sure I had entered an alternate universe where ULTRA, STAND and RCPC agree on almost everything. If it had been April 1st, I would have suspected it was an April Fools joke. Seriously, can anyone point out to any project ever that all of those groups have agreed on? Probably not. (For those not in the know, STAND and RCPC oppose most dense developments in North Oakland and ULTRA embraces urban density.)

Of course, the groups didn’t all say exactly the same things. RCPC members, for example, had to take the opportunity to take jabs at the College Safeway project, but overall, the groups and their members expressed a similar vision. Here are some of the ideas and concerns that were brought up:

  • Pedestrian/bike/transit access & safety: This was the number one theme of the night. Everyone agreed that the current layout and Safeway’s current plans are unappealing and dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. As for transit, Larry Meyers from ULTRA pointed out that the 51 bus stop on Broadway is 1/4 mile from the Safeway! To make this space more friendly for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders, people suggested moving Safeway to the corner of Broadway and Pleasant Valley, moving most stores up to Pleasant Valley, hiding parking behind the stores, using parking structures instead of a surface lot, adding bike parking, mandating free transit passes for employees, having a free shuttle from BART, and extending streets and sidewalks so they go through the plaza.
  • Creating a connection between neighborhoods: Many speakers agreed that this plaza was partially responsible for a disconnect between Temescal, Piedmont, and Rockridge. Tom Dolan from ULTRA recommended extending the street network through the plaza, much like in Eric’s fantasy plans, to make the plaza feel like it was a part of these neighborhoods. He also recommended creating a civic space within the plaza, which he argued would bring more customers to Safeway. Others focused on architecture, expressing concerns that the current plan does not fit in with the architecture of any of the surrounding communities and explaining that Safeway has many relevant architectural styles to choose from.
  • Housing: I’m sure the commissioners expected ULTRA to call for housing to be added to this project, but having STAND and RCPC call for housing was very powerful. Everyone agreed that this is one of the best places for dense, urban housing and retail in all of North Oakland. Several speakers made connections between housing and the environment, arguing that people living in this new housing would walk to the retail below and therefore would not be contributing as much to greenhouse gas expansion. Others brought up the Conley Report, and how it recommends housing in this plaza.
  • Traffic flow: Several speakers were concerned about traffic flow, particularly around the Pleasant Valley and Broadway intersection. Ronnie Spitzer from RCPC said her son was hit by a car a couple months at that intersection and was concerned the increased traffic this project would bring would make it even more dangerous and congested. Stuart Flashman from RCPC recommended studying charging for parking, to discourage driving. A STAND member recommended studying parking usage at different times of day on different days of the week and also suggested “smart parking” – having an electronic sign that shows how many spaces available so cars don’t just drive around and around.
  • More community discussion needed: It seemed that nobody besides Safeway was happy with how their open houses went a few weeks ago. Speakers called for further meetings with the community to solicit input on the project. One speaker specifically called for Safeway to meet with residents of the senior housing complex across the street.

When the public comment ended, the commissioners spoke, first commending the speakers for sticking to talking about what the EIR should cover and not just complaining about the project. They all seemed extremely impressed by the community’s presentation and I wondered how it must have felt for them to have all of these groups who disagree on every development project finally come together on something. Annie Mudge said, “It’s remarkable that STAND and ULTRA agree on anything.”

The commissioners agreed with public sentiment about pedestrian, bike, and transit access, housing, tying the plaza to the community, and the need to create a more urban project. Several of them brought up SB 375 and the General Plan, and suggested that Safeway’s current plan might not comply with either of them. Oh, and practically all of them said that this Safeway is their primary supermarket and that they shop in this plaza often.

Sandra Galvez said that Safeway should keep in mind that this project will be here in 20-30 years, “not 20 years ago.” She thought the EIR should be very inclusive and broad because the project would “probably be drastically altered.”

Madeleine Zayas-Mart agreed that alternatives should “think big” and specifically recommended looking more closely at the Conley report. She argued that Safeway should make this more pedestrian friendly, which would attract more customers. She said she curently shops on College because it’s more pleasant to walk down, but that she would shop in this plaza more if it was more attractive to pedestrians.

Blake Hunstman said that this is a “jewel of a site” and an opportunity for mixed use alternatives. He didn’t understand the orientation of the site in Safeway’s current plans and thinks that they missed the opportunity to make Safeway and the other stores part of the community by bringing them to the street.

All of the above commissioners had strong concerns about the project but they all were a bit reserved in their comments. All of them until Michael Colbruno spoke, that is. He immediately said the current proposal feels like a “big mall” and that this is an opportunity for Safeway to “do the right thing.” He said he didn’t want to see Joyce Roy walk 1/4 mile for a quart of milk (in her comments she had said she has to walk through a sea of cars just for milk) and that he currently sees pedestrians walking in fear with their groceries. Colbruno argued that the pedestrian, bicyclist, transit user component should be key to Safeway’s project.

Colbruno continued, explaining that this development should look like Oakland (the crowd clapped), as Whole Foods has managed to do. He then said that the storefronts should face the streets directly (more clapping). Colbruno said that Safeway’s current plans were not a good corporate decision and that the project as is would fail for the corporation and the community.

As a model for what could be done with this development, Colbruno brought up the Target development in West Hollywood, which includes housing. He said this development produces a significant amount of West Hollywood’s sales tax (though that’s really not saying much since West Hollywood is tiny). He ended by saying that locally grown produce is very important to him, especially after seeing Food, Inc. and that he wondered if the EIR could study the effects of bringing produce from afar rather than from local sources. I care a lot about locally grown produce and buy nearly all my produce at the farmers market, but this request seemed a bit absurd.

After last night’s hearing, I imagine that Safeway and its representatives understand what the community and the Planning Commission wants to see, which is nothing short of scrapping the project and starting over. It was inspiring to see so many disparate groups come together for something more important, and it seemed to have worked. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what the EIR shows and what new plans Safeway comes back with.

Previous posts on this project:

Quick Updates on Prop 8 Lawsuit & the Creekside Project

22 Nov

I’m thoroughly enjoying DC and Maryland (except for the biting cold wind), but I thought I’d take a moment for some exciting updates on the meetings I posted about last week.

On Tuesday, in a closed session, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to join the lawsuit calling for the repeal of Proposition 8. Thanks so much to everyone who contacted the board or spoke at Tuesday’s meeting!

Then on Wednesday, the California Supreme Court announced they would review the case. Be_Devine has the details over at Calitics:

One early indicator of the way the Supreme Court sees the issues in any given case is to look at what questions it certifies for review.  Here, the Court certified three questions:

(1) Is Proposition 8 invalid because it constitutes a revision of, rather than an amendment to the California Constitution?

(2) Does Proposition 8 violate the separation of powers doctrine under the California Constitution?

(3) If Proposition 8 is not unconstitutional, what is its effect, if any, on the marriages of same-sex couples performed before the adoption of Proposition 8?

The Court allowed the Official Proponents of Proposition 8 to intervene in the litigation.  This means that they can file a Respondent’s Brief along with the Attorney General’s office.  The Court denied a similar request filed by the Campaign for California Families.

Some more good news is that the Planning Commission unanimously approved the Creekside project on Wednesday night. I heard that several neighborhood members spoke out in support of the project, while a few members of STAND spoke out against it. Via an email from an ULTRA member:

What was most rewarding was hearing each Planning Commissioner who spoke (Huntsman had no comments) echo what ULTRA has been saying for years –
General Plan = The Law
Higher Density = Economic vitality
Higher Density = Lower cost housing
Transit Oriented Development = Less need for parking

I look forward to seeing this project built and to getting rid of that empty parking lot.

I unfortunately have no update on Rebecca Kaplan’s victory party, though I do know that dto510 made a great mixtape for the party. If you attended, I’d love to know how the party went.

Time to get active & to celebrate!

16 Nov

Over the last week, I’ve felt a bit antsy. It’s a bit strange to go back to a life that doesn’t consist of working, phoning, sleeping, working, phoning, sleeping (oh, and lots of meetings in between). This week, there are several important meetings and events that would be filling my time, except that I’ll be heading to DC on Tuesday morning. I hope some of my readers can fill in for me and take some time to get active in Oakland politics and celebrate our victories.

1) Tuesday, November 18th: Call on Alameda County to Stand Up for Equal Rights

At yesterday’s rally, a speaker spoke about the lawsuit that advocacy groups have brought to the California Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn Proposition 8. Dozens of legislators have signed onto friend of the court briefs in support of the case, and several counties have joined them in support. But Alameda County has yet to show interest in supporting the case. The speaker said he had called the supervisors and was surprised at how tepid their responses were.

So on Tuesday, at the regular Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting, advocates plan to speak out during the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting to urge the County to support the lawsuit. It’s something the supervisors can vote on and make happen very quickly and easily so there’s really no excuse for them not to act.

I really wish I could make it to this meeting. Please take some time from your day and head down there. I’ve spoken before the supervisors several times, and it’s not nearly as intimidating as speaking before the Oakland City Council. Plus, you’ll be joined by many other equal rights advocates making the same simple request.

Unfortunately, public comment happens at the end of the meeting so even though the meeting starts at 10:30am, you shouldn’t expect to speak until several hours later so bring a good book! Just make sure to fill out a speaker’s card right when you arrive.

Tuesday, November 18th at 10:30am
COUNTY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING
SUPERVISORS’ CHAMBER
1221 OAK STREET
FIFTH FLOOR, ROOM 512
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

2) Wednesday, November 19th: Planning Commission Hearing on Creekside Project

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog post arguing that the North Oakland portion of Telegraph is ready to grow:

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 arguments I wrote then are even more compelling today, as business booms in Temescal and we’re even closer to making BRT a reality. The Creekside project, which would be located on the lot of the closed Global Video and its huge parking lot, fits well into this vision for a denser, more lively North Oakland. The project is a mixed-use development with units for sale and for rent, coupled with retail on the ground floor. V Smoothe wrote a post about this project in January complete with renderings and maps, which I encourage you to check out if you’re interested in this project.

Since January, the project has been downsized from 120 to 102 units, mostly because of the opposition to the project by STAND, a group that would be happier if the the project was not built at all. STAND sent an email out today encouraging its membership to attending the planning commission meeting to speak out against this project. ULTRA, on the other hand, is encouraging its membership to attend the meeting to speak out in support of the project.

This project reminds me a lot of the Safeway rebuild. We have two options here – we can be left with this ugly building with a huge parking lot or we can look forward to a much needed project that improves the pedestrian experience and enlivens the neighborhood.

If you agree that Telegraph is ready to grow, please attend this meeting and voice your support for this important project.

Wednesday, November 19th at 6:00pm
Oakland City Hall
One Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Hearing Room No. 1
Oakland, CA 94612
See the agenda here.

3) Thursday, November 20th: Celebrate Rebecca Kaplan’s Victory!

Rebecca’s hosting a party this Thursday to celebrate her huge electoral victory. This party should be tons of fun, and it’s a great opportunity to meet our City Council Member-elect if you haven’t had a chance to do so yet. Also, I’m guessing this will be the final event at the Democratic headquarters, which is such an incredible space. So head down there on Thursday night and give Rebecca a big hug for me!

Thursday, November 20th, 2008 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm
1915 Broadway (@19th street), Oakland
Suggested contribution, $50 (sliding scale).
To register or pay online, CLICK HERE

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?