The Jack London News Archived Content
For a number of years this was the official site for The Jack London News
News for and by the community of Jack London District.
The Jack London District is Oakland's vibrant and historical industrial working waterfront.
Content is from the site's 2004 and 2011 archived pages providing just a glimpse of what this site offered its readership.
To learn more about the Jack London District go to: https://jacklondonoakland.org/.
News for and by the community of Jack London District.
Get Jack London News! Circa 2011
We regret that Jack London News is currently unavailable as a print edition, as of January 2008 only online articles are being published.
You can download archived print editions as a PDF from the download links below. Please note the files are large!
If you're new to the neighborhood, it's a good time to re-register to vote. You have until October 20th to register.
When you get your voter information for the November issue, be sure to look at where you'll be voting. Last week a new polling location was approved at 3rd & Jackson in the empty space adjacent to the Allegro Apartments gym. Hopefully it will cover a good majority of the District.
After the last election I asked as many people as I could if they voted. I don't care who or what you voted for, just that you voted. I can't tell you how many people told me that they hadn't voted! And the variety of excuses was interesting. A good majority of the excuses were that they didn't know where to go to vote. Some thought that their polling location was still at the Port Building in Jack London Square, which it hasn't been for at least two or three elections. Others were confused by the location in Chinatown.
So this time around, check your booklet when it comes if you're not voting by mail. Hopefully you'll find a very walkable polling location right here in your neighborhood.
(Note to Phoenix Lofts & others on the "other side of Broadway" - not sure where your polling location would be, so do be sure to check your booklet.)
Jack London District Association vs Jack London Mail
I'm originally from the east coast - Baltimore, MD to be exact. I came here to meet a deadline in a former job. I had never had to move my stuff so far so fast, so it was a stressful task to even find the right moving company. But I discovered that there are great service providers if you just look hard enough. In any case, this family owned Baltimore movers service got me here on time and with zero damage to my stuff! Can't believe I was so concerned about just getting here. Anyway, Baltimore is a memory now and I'm in love with my new surroundings.
I heard one of the most silly things ever yesterday and in a day full of frustration regarding the Jack London District, this one thing in particular took the cake.
I own a business here in the neighborhood. I know it's a convenient spot for people to come in to ask about neighborhood stuff, but it's still a business. I know I'm here most of the time, so it makes me an easy trap for people to ask questions or pass along news. But just keep in mind that it's a business (sorry to keep repeating) and that even if I don't have customers in the store at that moment, it doesn't mean I'm not working on something for a customer who isn't physically in the store.
I can't tell you how frustrating it is every day to be asked the same two issues repeatedly. Parking can be an all day subject full of drama and disagreements as to whether the current permit scheme is the right thing to do or not. For the record, I believe it is the right thing to do, but too late in happening and not a whole lot of hope of it lasting past the first year since it's doubtful that the City will sell 1100 permits at the $150 price. The history is worth reading, but I'm not going to tell the tale again here. Go back and read old issues or blog entries. Please, whatever you do, don't ask me about it in the store. I need a time out from the subject.
The other issue I get asked about daily is the grocery store. I've said it so many times that I feel like a broken record. No, there is currently no signed deal for a grocery store here in the District. The ground floor of the Amtrak parking garage being built is, in theory, where a grocery store will go since the developer was required to put in retail space on the ground level, but it's not a guarantee that a grocery store will go there. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think it will happen anytime soon. I'd love to be wrong because of how much I'd love for a grocery store to be right there. But I'm a fairly logical person and logic tells me that with new construction are big costs, which equate to high rents. When you further look at it from a grocery store's standpoint, they need super low rents because they have a relatively low margin (even in high end grocery stores) compared to overhead costs, so I just don't see it. Like I said, I hope I'm wrong. I would really love to be wrong.
So out of about a dozen people that came to see me before noon yesterday about non-business stuff, one person shocked me partly because he wasn't asking about either of these two most popular issues. He was asking about something completely different. When I suggested going to JLDA to discuss the issue, I was given some wierd answer about how JLDA is a "waste of time" and that they're only interested in the Waterfront Warehouse District.
You could easily have knocked me over with a feather. How is it that people have this perception? The JLDA Call is providing more info on JLDA than I provided back when I printed the Jack London News. Certainly the most recent issue I read of the JLDA Call had no articles that I can recall on the subject of the Waterfront Warehouse District. Parking seemed to be the biggest topic.
When asked why this person felt the way he does about JLDA, he said that "even the colors on the website were the same colors as on the WWD signs". Uh, yeah, but how does that make it all about the WWD? I just looked at the site and the National Night Out event info (it's TONIGHT!) is on the front page with other articles on Kimball's withdrawing a cabaret license request for a new space they had been considering, the new waterfront access map, and a report on the District 3 candidate forum. There are links on the left side which point people to specific subjects such as development, the community calendar, parking, crime & safety, etc.
So how do people have that perception? Because this person told me that most people he knows seem to feel the same way. Is that true?
I was a founding member of JLDA. I gathered a group together to form into the new JLDA so that it wasn't just about a "neighborhood", but about the entire district. JLNA (Jack London Neighborhood Association) had disappeared a few years earlier and rather than resurect that, a group of us decided to go for a broader name to include the businesses in the area, not just residents.
JLDA has monthly meetings that ANYONE & EVERYONE is welcome to attend. You should, as a courtesy, let them know that you will be going so as to make sure there are enough chairs/space. The next meeting is Monday, August 18th at 7pm at the Egghouse - 229 Harrison at Third Street. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you will be attending. Go! Find out for yourself what they are talking about and working on. See if you can provide some help. If you have an issue you want to discuss, let them know. They're an easy group to talk to. I, however, am NOT on the Board. So talking to me about stuff that they need to know about isn't the way to go. I realize that this sounds pretty harsh, but it's true.
Getting involved in your neighborhood is an investment in your home, business, or whatever else brings/keeps you in the neighborhood. Expecting someone else to get involved for you is unfair. It's the organizing of the masses that creates change. This District has slowly been evolving in that direction and I hope that evolution continues. But it won't happen if people go out trying to get things done individually - because our voice isn't as loud as individuals as we are as a group.
Need a notary, to ship a package, or to rent a mailbox? Come on down to Jack London Mail.
But if you need to talk about the neighborhood, want to get involved, or ask questions about the neighborhood contact JLDA or go to their next meeting August 18th. Trust me, it won't hurt a bit... well, maybe a tiny bit, getting through some of the required bureacracy, but only by getting involved can you expect anything to change.
I'm going to keep taking a break from events and meetings. It's someone else's turn to get involved!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
MoNO Back In Business
Not even a week after a minor fire, MoNO is reopening tomorrow for lunch and dinner.
Show them some support and go by for a drink, if not a full meal. I especially recommend the Agua Fresca and the Peach Martini's...
Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday 11:30am-2pm.
Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday 5:30pm-9:30pm.
You can also make reservations via OpenTable.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Story Index for the old 2006 print issues
This is mostly for my own benefit - I need to be able to search on the stories I wrote for Jack London News' print editions. The online issues don't have the best graphics, so if you need a high resolution electronic copy, let me know and I can see if there's a way to get it to you. (Hopefully no one will need or want one!)
Volume I, Issue 1 - January 2006 - 2 pages [pdf]
- Mingles Cabaret License Hearing
- 288 Third Street Webcam Online [it's not anymore, but you can see the monthly time-lapse videos at http://jlda.org/webcam/ - it takes a while for the page to load because it's trying to access a camera that is no longer there]
- Developer Meeting 1/19/05
- Neighborhood News Goes to Print [online started in Feb 2008]
- Proper Disposal of Hazardous Waste
- Free Vacinations for Pets
- District 3 Town Hall Meeting
- Jack London District Survey Results
- Someone Took the Trashcans [for refurbishment]
- Save the Date - Sunday, April 23rd Neighborhood Clean-up (aka Trash Bash VII)
Advertisers: Sierra Salon, Jack London Mail, Sierra Deli & Market, Red Hanger Kleaners, Prime Smoked Meats, Subway, World Ground, Peerless Coffee, & Cuckoo's Nest
Volume I, Issue 2 - February 2006 - 2 pages [pdf]
- JLDA Announces Membership Drive
- Zazoo Cabaret License Hearing
- Mingles Makes News
- Silk Road Opens
- Winter Beauty Tips
- Jack London District Restaurant Survey
- Holiday Food Drive Nets 799 Pounds
- Jack London Square Update
- Construction Updates
Advertisers: Yoga & Pilates Classes, Jack London Mail, Sierra Salon, Prime Smoked Meats, Oakland Library Benefit
Volume I, Issue 3 - March 2008 - 4 pages [pdf 1001.73 KB]
- Mingles & Zazoo's Update
- First Group of Repaired Trash Cans Return
- Restaurant Survey Results
- Neighborhood Clean-up Day April 23, 2006 9am-1pm Free BBQ (for all) to Follow
- Get Fit Locally With Yoga & Pilates
- Sierra Salon Gets New Pedicure Spa Chair
- Editorial: Support Local Merchants
- JLDA Membership Benefits
Advertisers: Yoga & Pilates Classes, Urban Bay Properties, World Ground, Silk Road, Heinold's First & Last Chance, Sierra Salon, Prime Smoked Meats, Century 21, Waterfront Action, Creative Effects, Jack London Mail, Subway, Sierra Deli & Market, iSmile Dental, Peerless Coffee & Tea, and Caldecott Properties
Volume I, Issue 4 - April 2006 - 4 pages [pdf 1.34 MB]
- Boom! Boom! Boom! More Noise Coming With Amtrak Parking Lot Conversion
- Mingles & Zazoo's - The Latest Update
- CORE: Preparing for an Emergency
- Neighborhood Clean-up Day & Free BBQ for All Sunday April 23, 2006
- JLDA Elects New Board of Directors
- Possible I-880 Changes Affect District
- Great Wines Close to Home
- Jack London Square to Pilot Flexcar Car Sharing Program
- Jack London District Historic Trivia
- Editorial: In the Know
- JLDA Fundraiser May 3, 2006 - Oakland A's Baseball
Advertisers: Yoga & Pilates Classes, Caldecott Properties, World Ground, Sierra Salon, Jack London Mail, Waterfront Action, Prime Smoked Meats, Heinold's First & Last Chance, Century 21, Saf Keep Storage, London Real Estate & Loan, Subway, Sierra Deli & Market, iSmile Dental, Urban Bay Properties
Volume I, Issue 5 - May 2006 - 4 pages [pdf 1.92 MB]
- Volunteers Clean Up Neighborhood
- Mingles Cabaret License Hearing Set
- City Phone Numbers Worth Knowing
- Oak to 9th Avenue: Lessons for Democratic Community Planning
- JLDA Receives Money from JLNA
- New Market Lofts Residents Petition Cell Antenna
- Quarter Century of Preserving Oakland's History
- Jack London Aquatic Center: Happenings on the Waterfront
- Neighborhood Clean-up Photos
- JLDA Fundraiser - Oakland A's Baseball
Advertisers: Jack London Mail, Aqua Via, World Ground, Sierra Salon, Waterfront Action, Prime Smoked Meats, Markus Supply Ace Hardware, Century 21, Saf Keep Storage, Studio 8, Sierra Market & Deli, iSmile Dental, Joan Morrow Prudential Realty, Caldecott Properties
Volume 1, Issue 6 - June 2006 - 4 pages [pdf 1.83 MB]
- Developments Making Progress [photos, including model of the Ellington]
- Time for Pro Arts' East Bay Open Studios
- Mingles Cabaret Hearing Report
- It's Bing Season at the JLS Farmer's Market [typo!]
- Oakland-Alameda Ferry Offers Relaxing Ride
- Oakland Opera Theater Presents: "X, The Life & Times of Malcolm X"
- JLDA Parking Committee Report
- Editorial: So Much More to Say
- Oakland Cleans Up
- JLDA Fundraiser - Oakland A's Baseball
Advertisers: 1st Metropolitan Mortgage, Aqua Via, World Ground, Sierra Salon, Markus Supply Ace Hardware, The Fat Lady, Jack London Square Farmers' Market, Saf Keep Storage, Studio 8, Joan Morrow Prudential California Realty, iSmile Dental, Mignonne, Sierra Deli & Market, Oakland Public Library, Jack London Mail, Prime Smoked Meats, Century 21
Volume 1, Issue 7 - July 2006 - 8 pages [pdf 5.21 MB]
- Oak to 9th Project Approved
- National Night Out Ice Cream Social
- Crucible Fire Arts Festival
- Cell Antenna Moratorium Approved by Council
- Two Allegro Buildings On Track to Go Condo
- Letters to the Editor
- Crime & Safety Meeting
- Map of Jack London Square Redevelopment Plan [2 page spread with photos - someone today was asking about the Amtrak Parking Garage, aka Site G, and the rendering is here]
- New Dining Opportunities
- Waterfront Warehouse District Walking Tour
- Commuter Corrections
- Trees Saved From Becoming Parking Lot
Advertisers: 1st Metropolitan Mortgage, Aqua Via, World Ground, Sierra Salon, Oakland Public Library, The Fat Lady, Jack London Mail, Miramonte Company, Soizic, Tamarindo, Joan Morrow Prudential California Realty, iSmile Dental, Mignonne, Sierra Deli & Market, London Real Estate & Loan, Century 21, B Restaurant & Bar
Volume I, Issue 8 - August 2006 - 8 pages [pdf 3.83 MB]
- Senator Boxer Moving Into the District
- Parking Proposal Goes to Committee in September [typo!]
- Oak to 9th Avenue Project Faces Lawsuits
- Jack London News Now Available Via US Mail
- JLDA Receives 501(c)(3) Status
- Construction Meeting Provides Updates
- JLAC Junior Women's Rowing Holds Open House
- Letter to the Editor
- Restaurant Review: Tamarindo Antojeria Mexicana
- Green Zone
- Community Design Input Sought [re: 377 2nd St]
- Notary Public Information
- You Ask Questions, We (try to) Find Answers
- Paul Robeson Multimedia Exhibit
- OHA Walking Tours
- More COA's for Mingles
- Crime & Safety Meeting
- Chinatown Streetfest August 26-27, Free
- Flexcar Offers Flexibility
- August is National Peach Month: Quick Peach Cobbler Recipe
Advertisers: 1st Metropolitan Mortgage, Aqua Via, World Ground, Sierra Salon, Markus Supply Ace Hardware, The Fat Lady, Jack London Mail, Miramonte Company, Teresa Jenkins Main Attorney-at-Law, Jessos Seafood, Flexcar, Soizic, Waterfront Action, Prime Smoked Meats, Tamarindo, Oakland Public Libary, iSmile Dental, Fenton's Creamery, Jack London Mail, Sierra Deli & Market, London Real Estate & Loan, Century 21, B Restaurant & Bar
Volume I, Issue 9 - September 2006 - 8 pages [pdf 6.58 MB]
- National Neighborhood Day Sept 17th
- Recent Greeno Burglary is a Reminder to Lock Up
- Libary Seeks Support for Measure N
- Support the Mixed-Use Permit Parking Plan
- Construction Meeting Sees Turnover
- JLDA Fundraiser - Oakland A's Baseball
- Rants & Raves
- Safety Committee Meeting Postponed to September 28th
- JLDA Seeks Director for Board
- Yoshi's Announces New Exec Chef
- Quotes from Jack London
- Local Spotlight: Eric Cheng
- Over 25,000 Support Referendum [re: Oak to 9th Ave project]
- Getting Rid of "Stuff"
- Mingles Gets New Landlord
Advertisers: Sell Smart, Aqua Via, World Ground, Waterfront Action, Jack London Square Farmers' Market, The Fat Lady, Sierra Salon, Miramonte Company, Teresa Jenkins Main Attorney-at-Law, Jessos Seafood, Flexcar, Soizic, Tamarindo, 1st Metropolitan Mortgage, iSmile Dental, FasTrak Covers, Jack London Mail, Sierra Deli & Market, London Real Estate & Loan, Century 21, B Restaurant & Bar
Volume I, Issue 10 - October 2006 - 8 pages [pdf 13.96 MB]
- Clowning Around on Neighborhood Day
- Measure N Will Help Libary Infrastructure
- Another Mingles Shooting
- Crime & Safety Meeting
- Prevention Institute Moving Into the JLD
- Letter to the Editor
- Yet Another Oak to Ninth Lawsuit
- Mixed-Use Parking Permit Plan
- Partners In Preservation: Vote Daily
- Remember When? [old postcards]
- Local Spotlight: Adison & Gerry Garzon
- Halloween Festivities
- Lawsuit Delays Lake Merritt Plans
- Benefits Abound for Local Non-Profits: Party Time For Giving
- Jack London Aquatic Center
- Wardrobe for Opportunity
- CALICO Center
- Oakland Fund for the Arts
- Pro Arts Gallery
- Covenant House Construction Making Progress
- October is Caramel Month - Recipe for Sadie's Crunchy Caramel Popcorn
Advertisers: Sell Smart, Aqua Via, World Ground, Waterfront Action, Oakland Public Library, The Fat Lady, Sierra Salon, Miramonte Company, Teresa Jenkins Main Attorney-at-Law, Jessos Seafood, Flexcar, Soizic, Blue Moon Temple, Tamarindo, 1st Metropolitan Mortgage, iSmile Dental, Jack London Mail, Sierra Deli & Market, London Real Estate & Loan, Century 21, B Restaurant & Bar
Volume I, Issue 11 - November 2006 - 8 pages [pdf 6.26 MB]
- Tree Lighting in the Square Nov 24th
- Permit Parking Plan Making Progress
- Warehouse Bar Gets Cabaret License
- Jack London District Construction Updates
- Editorial: Benefit Parties
- Local Spotlight: Lonely Planet
- What was the Oakland Mole?
- Open House for Local Wineries
- Lake Merritt Redevelopment Plans [renderings included]
- Jack London District Restaurant News
- 2006 Box Art Benefit Auction at ProArts Gallery
- Turkey Q&A
Advertisers: Sell Smart, Caldecott Properties, World Ground, Waterfront Action, Jack London Square Farmers' Market, The Fat Lady, Sierra Salon, Miramonte Company, Teresa Jenkins Main Attorney-at-Law, Soizic, Macy Movers, Blue Moon Temple, Dashe Cellars, Jack London Mail, Kincaid's, A Lucky Dog, 1st Metropolitan Mortgage, iSmile Dental, JC Cellars, FasTrak Covers, Sierra Deli & Market, London Real Estate & Loan, Century 21, B Restaurant & Bar
Volume I, Issue 12 - December 2006 - 12 pages [pdf 9.97 MB]
- Mingles Closes Doors After Fatal Shooting
- Holiday Food Drive in High Gear
- Permit Parking Plan Delayed to January
- Old Oakland Gets Store For Denim: "Drift"
- Oakland's Fox Theater Gets Amex Money
- Editorial: One Year of Printing
- Old Postcards from Oakland
- Holiday Gift Guide
- Jack London Mail Quick Tips & Frequently Asked Questions
- Visit Old Oakland
- JLDA Year in Review
- What Makes a Vibrant Nightlife
- Important Phone Numbers
- Killer Eggnog Recipe
Advertisers: Prime Smoked Meats, Caldecott Properties, World Ground, Waterfront Action, Jack London Square Farmers' Market, The Fat Lady, Sierra Salon, Miramonte Company, Teresa Jenkins Main Attorney-at-Law, Flexcar, Soizic, Mignonne, Tonya Perme Pet Photography, ProArts Gallery Store, Swarm, Peerless Coffee & Tea, Jack London Mail, Macy Movers, Blue Moon Temple, Dashe Cellars, Tamarindo, A Lucky Dog, Kincaid's, iSmile Dental, Oakland Public Library, Heinold's First & Last Chance, Saf Keep Storage, Sierra Deli & Market, London Real Estate & Loan, Century 21, B Restaurant & Bar
Waterfront Access Map
I was just reading another Oakland focused blog and figured readers here could use a reminder that we have a really great park a nice bike ride away. While Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is often cold and windy, it should be spectacular with our current heat wave. So get out your bike and go for a spin.
Another nearby waterfront park to visit is Union Point Park, just down Embarcadero just past the Coast Guard Island access road.
This great map has both parks on it as well as info on the Bay Trail. Posted 7/09/2008
Yahoo Group Created for JLD
Patti Beadles of Fourth Street Lofts has created a Yahoo Group for local residents:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jacklondonneighborhood Click on the link and give it a whirl!
Code Complaints Filed With The City
The follow complaints have been faxed to the City of Oakland Community & Economic Development Code Compliance hotline.
1. FAILURE TO GAIN ENCROACHMENT PERMIT. 288 Third Street
All on-street parking illegally blocked for 3 days at this point. They should have instead purchased an encroachment permit. It does appear that they still have a fair amount of work to do.
2. BLIGHT. Lot on 2nd Street between Webster and Franklin (adjacent to Port of Oakland parking lot at 2nd & Webster), including Mingles club on Embarcadero & adjacent building.
Homeless encampment behind what used to be Mingles and boarded up area facing 2nd Street has been breached/broken. The weeds are knee high and the owners have been notified several times by the neighborhood association. There is feces in the front entry area along Embarcadero and many windows have been broken and the vent facing the 2nd Street side has been removed and it looks as though someone may have entered the [vacant] building.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Brown Sugar Kitchen
If you can grab a chance to head to work late, I highly recommend a stop at the Brown Sugar Kitchen on Mandela to grab some breakfast. BSK is also open on Saturdays from 7am-3pm, but with a different menu. I've also heard that it is crazy busy from open to close on Saturdays.
Today I got to head over to BSK, which is owned by Tanya Holland who used to live in the Jack London District. Some of you may remember when she had her book (New Soul Cooking) signing at Barnes & Noble.
BSK is awesome. I'm not a huge fan of waffles, but I swear the one I had this morning was the lightest I've ever had. It melts in your mouth! And fried chicken? Also not a favorite of mine - it was divine! The space is a bit unassuming on the outside, but incredibly welcoming on the inside. Tanya has done an awesome job with the decor, food, and ambiance.
We are so lucky here in Oakland to have so many great new (& newish) restaurants popping up - MoNO, Wood Tavern, Flora, Camino, B Restaurant & Bar, Levende East, etc. Not to mention all of the old favorites here in the District.
Support these independently owned restaurants - the economy and time of year is hard on them.
More info on Brown Suguar Kitchen Check it out!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Legally Defining 4-Hour Parking
I've had at least a half dozen people stop by to complain that they have gotten tickets within the 4-hour zone, even though they moved their car before the 4-hour time limit had passed. Some have moved their cars across the street from where they were initially parked, while others have moved their vehicle to a completely different block.
Dan at Monohan Paper was nice enough to do more research (well, he's the latest one to get a ticket).
The violation number on the tickets that I have seen is 10.44.120 - it is a $70 ticket.
Here is the applicable text of 10.44.120:
A. It is unlawful and shall constitute a violation of this chapter for any person to stand or park a motor vehicle, without a current residential parking permit properly displayed, at a curb within a residential permit parking area for a period of time exceeding the time limitation established by the City Council for such area. Motor vehicles identified as used by disabled persons meeting the requirements of Section 22511.5 of the California Vehicle Code shall be exempt from this subsection.
Ouch! That completely goes against what the Parking Committee was told. On the other hand, a case could be made that this is not a RESIDENTIAL permit area.
I'm passing this info on to the current members of the Parking Committe & the JLDA Board for them to follow up with City Staff. If/when I hear more, I will pass along that information.
In the meantime, it appears that moving your car is not an option. (cringe - please, no hate mail! Or at least not directed at me.)
UPDATE 6/25/08 1:47pm PST:
Gary Knecht of JLDA informs me that 10.45.120 Violations & Penalty says, "The violations and penalty provision set forth in Chapter 10.44.120 shall apply to the Jack London District mixed use parking permit program. He also says that when he has asked parking enforcement about this, he has been told that it IS okay to move and you won't get a ticket. That goes against the above law and what two different parking enforcement officers told me and Dan today.
That answers that question, but here's another:
What about the 2-hour parking spots that are not open to permit parking? Can you move your car within those spaces without getting a ticket?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Committee Approves Increased Fees; Holds Boundary Decision
Today City Council members approved the increase of visitor parking fees. It will still go to full council for final approval. I caught KTOP just as they were trying to decide what to do.
On the plus side, Council Members agreed that Staff should meet with JLDA in the next week to discuss increasing the boundaries. This has to happen before they can bring it to Council. At best, they're looking at Sept 16th for a second reading at council before the ordinance can be amended.
If you need visitor permits, get them now before they go up in price!
Get Jack London News! Circa 2011
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Feature report: The Crimes of Jack London District
New comers to the Jack London District, especially those looking to purchase property, are often given to wonder how safe it is living here. Long term residents know that even if our streets are sometimes dirty, noisy and in places appear more like an industrial wasteland (aka. "improving" to realtors), we do enjoy the reputation of being the safest area in Oakland. Considering Oakland's propensity for making the news due to its high murder rate this information should be of some comfort. After all we do host Oakland's number one tourist draw (Jack London Square), the Oakland Police Department's headquarters are just the other side of 880, and until last summer even Mayor Brown lived right here next to the Amtrak Station.
Having personally lived in the neighborhood for ten years now I have witnessed little more than a few auto accidents, late night ruckus from our visiting club goers, and the occasional rumor of worse things that happened. Naturally during those ten years I've seen the OPD out in force on many occasions and for a time a few years ago our streets were enjoying heavy policing almost every weekend night. Some local merchants are not happy to see visible police presence as it can scare away some nervous customers, after all if you have no crime why would you have a need for blocked streets and patrol cars at each intersection? Others are happy to see them as they know the OPD are just out there doing their job and keeping us safe.
However this weekend I personally experienced the consequences of a criminal act when my partners car was broken into on 3rd Street. Thieves had apparently tried their best to steal her car but thankfully failed. Ultimately they made off with the radio, a few components from under the hood and left a "thank you" of slashed upholstery, damaged sunroof and dashboard. While I've seen many a pile of broken glass on our streets over the years, having it affect someone you know always brings the ever present risk of crime in our society to the fore. Indeed after this event I was given to wonder just how safe the safest neighborhood in Oakland is.
To answer this question I used the Oakland Police Department's CrimeWatch crime statistics web page, which can divulge information on every reported crime in Oakland since early in 1999 when it was launched. Figures can be further filtered by police beat allowing those particular to our district to be extracted since it largely coincides with police beat 1X (see the OPD beat map).
So far I have found that while Oakland as a whole may be exceeding the rather shocking figure of 100 murders annually (more than 25 per 100,000 cf. 63 per 100,000 in the worlds most dangerous country, Columbia), our little district has seen only 2 in the nearly five year period that statistics are available for. Of course the Jack London District includes just a fraction of the total population of Oakland, but psychologically that figure feels good. Violent and personal crimes of all kinds (including assault, robbery and rape) currently average about two a month and appear to be on the decrease since a peak in late 2001 to mid 2002.
Indeed there seems to have been a general decrease in crime overall since that period when property crimes of all kinds peaked as well bringing a record 52 crimes of all kinds reported in November 2001. Since then the average of all reported crimes has declined to the 20 to 25 per month range. While crimes against property (auto theft and breakins, vandalism, burglary and other theft) contributr the vast majority of the total we still see a few drug related crimes (almost entirely possession - I suspect due to our many visiting party goers) and other miscellaneous crimes (such as abandoned shopping carts and the like).
Of the aforementioned violent personal crimes, using the mapping function of the crime statistics site it is possible to show the approximate location of all the reported crimes. Broadway and areas close to it do seem to be a focus for the personal and violent crimes reported since 1999. Anyone who is alarmed at our statistic of 20 such crimes in 2003 and 28 in 2002 should realize that the national average was around 20 per 1,000 of population in 2003. Even a conservative estimate of the district's population, neglecting workers and visitors, is certainly much higher than that. So inspite of Oakland's bad rap as a whole it does appear that we are doing better than average, and possibly much better for a major urban city.
The only other conclusion I have managed to draw from the crime statistics is that property theft, in particular auto related theft, may be on the increase since Spring of 2004. June, July and August all saw 10 or more auto related thefts and breakins, and also 10 or more non-auto thefts and breakins - both of which are approximately double the monthly rate earlier in the year. I have not been able to compare this with Oakland property crimes as a whole, or in particular our neighboring police beats 3X (Chinatown), 3Y (Old Oakland) and 2X (West Oakland). So we maybe "enjoying" the consequences of an overall rise in Oakland crime, or this could be a particular local effect - either way its something to watch and act on if possible. Jack London News plans to provide an update on the trend in our local crime statistics on a quarterly basis.
All the crime statistics for beat 1X from 1999 through August 2004 are available as monthly and quarterly charts or as a spreadsheet for those of you who would like to do your own number crunching.
In the mean time you can find full contact details for our local beat 1X law enforcement team at http://www.oaklandpolice.com/youroff/beat1x.html. As of writing our police service area commander is Lieutenant Ed Poulson (510-238-7146), the problem solving officers are Linda Slaughter (510-238-7511) and Everett Peterson (238-7511) and our neighborhood services coordinator is Saundra Sanders-West (777-8720). For non-emergency police reports the number is 777-3333, otherwise call 911. Remember that unless you have no alternative it is always better to call from a landline instead of your cellphone. This enables the 911 people to locate you quickly and accurately so they can direct local police resources to your assistance as soon as possible.
Story by Simon Waddington
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Jack London District turns out in force out to celebrate National Neighborhood Day
The Jack London District celebrated National Neighborhood Day on Sunday with a community sidewalk sale in the morning, and barbecue and street party in the afternoon.
Inspite of a chilly start due to our traditional Bay Area morning fog, the sidewalk sale was judged a great success with early risers snapping up many bargins. Some sellers finished the morning with virtually nothing left to sell and look forward to returning for the next sidewalk sale.
After the sidewalk sale over fifty people gathered for the barbecue on Alice Street outside of the Egghouse building. The morning fog obligingly lifted and the sun shone while the community enjoyed the feast of burgers, hotdog, baked beans, fruit and cake with a keg of beer thrown in for good measure. Master Chef for the day was Joanna Adler who slaved over a very hot party sized grill to keep the food coming throughout the afternoon.
Before cutting the cake, Wendy Tinsley and Joanna Adler announced the newly formed Jack London District Association and encouraged attendees to suggest and participate in future community activities and events.
The Jack London District Neighborhood Day events were organized by Joanna Adler of Tower Lofts, Wendy Tinsley from Fourth Street Lofts, Gary Knecht of The Egghouse with assistance from many others, donations of fruit by Bay Cities Produce, refreshments from Adison and Gerry Garzon and cakes from an unknown donor. Many other people made donations to help pay for the days festivities and joined in the cleanup activities. The event was underwritten with funding from Jack London Mail.
Story by Simon Waddington, 9/12/2004
Major Changes in Jack London Square
Jack London Square has been busy recently with lots of new tenants coming in, old tenants moving out, and one tenant changing their name.
If you haven't been to the Square in a while, it's worth checking out. The changes started quietly back in March with Time Out for Fun & Games departing, and then at the beginning of summer Heartsong Audio & Olga's Russian Gifts opened. More recently, Lan Vie opened across from Olga's with a lovely selection of women's Asian apparel, shoes, and handbags. Scotland Gifts has closed and reopened as A Taste of Asia with a large selection of Asian foods and spices. Subway opened next to Ben & Jerry's, while El Torito closed rather suddenly last weekend amidst restructuring of that restaurant chain and with construction on 66 Franklin coming in November. On September 1, Kendall's New York will open in the old Time Out space, featuring women's fashions. Next to leave is TGIFridays, set to close October 26th.
Another big change for Jack London Square is the newly added Twilight Tuesday Farmer's Market from 4pm-8pm (Tuesday's) with free parking until close in the Washington Street Garage. Twilight Tuesday's will continue through October 26, so support the farmer's and check it out!
The scaffolding in front of 66 Franklin has some interesting architecture being exposed that is a hint of what might be to come with restoration of that building. Check out the concrete arched window behind the scaffolding. It looks like thereâ€™s a beautiful building underneath all the metal siding, so it will be interesting to see how that project progresses. Rhonda Hirata, of Jack London Partners, says that they can see a W and an A, so they think it might say WAREHOUSE on the side.
All these changes tie in to the construction coming to Jack London Square as part of their Redevelopment Plan that was officially approved in July.
Story by Joanna Adler, 8/27/2004
Resurfacing on Third Street
We have just received word that the City will be doing street resurfacing on Third Street July 26, 2004.
From the City:
Dear Oakland Resident or Merchant,
The City of Oakland has contracted with McGuire & Hester to repair
streets in your area.
Street resurfacing typically occurs in three phases: base repair,
grinding, and final overlay. The approximate dates for the
construction on 3rd Street are:
Base Repair: 7/26/04
While the reconstruction work is underway, parking on your street
will be temporarily restricted. "NO PARKING" signs will be posted
prior to commencement of the work. For your protection and in order
for work crews to properly repair the street, please adhere to these
restrictions. A City inspector will be on site to ensure that the
work meets specifications.
Please note that rainy weather sometimes causes delays. In that
event, signs will be adjusted as quickly as possible.
Our goal is to make Oakland a more beautiful and safe place to live,
work and play.
If you have any questions or problems while the repair work is being
done, please call (510) 777-8395 from 8am to 4:30pm. Please refer
to the ACTIA Resurfacing Contract (C234930).
Story by Simon Waddington, 7/17/2004
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
City unanimously approves Jack London Square redevelopment project
Last night the City Council unanimously approved the three resolutions relating to the Jack London Square upheld the developer's appeal relating to fast food ordinances, partially upheld Gary Knecht's appeal and most importantly approved the 15 year developer agreement with Jack London Square Partners. A second reading of the resolutions will occur on July 6th however that is now just a formality.
Early in the two hours of discussion it was clear that the councilmembers had already made up their mind and were mostly going through the motions of hearing public comment. This was most unfortunate as the public had turned out in record numbers for this meeting to express their opinions. While a half-dozen or so business people spoke giving unconditional support for the project, most had clearly been called into action by the developer as many had business relations with them or the Port of Oakland. However the great majority, approximately another twenty or so, took time to explain that while they support development the existing plans still left them with several concerns.
It is important to realize that the local community has never outright rejected the notion that development at Jack London Square is a good thing. In fact by dedication literally hundred, if not thousands of hours to analyze and comment on the EIR and plans they have at all time actively support it. As several people stated, "whenever the community got involved the project got better".
Indeed thanks to unanimous comments from the community the council managed to get the developer to effectively exclude the Site G garage final design from the approvals. The scope of the design review for that sites design can fully encompass all issues that normal design review addresses, rather than being limited to strictly finish, materials and other details, or the design guidelines. Additionally the developer will no longer get unconditional latitude to deploy fast food restaurants in the development. There is a cap of 40% for "national chains" with the remaining 60% being local and regional entities.
As a bonus the developer also decided to withdraw final design plan variant for 66 Franklin Site (where Spaghetti Factory and El Toritto now stand) that would have required demolishing the structure. This appears to indicate they either will not develop this site or will go ahead with renovation of the building intact with an intent to restore it to its original warehouse style facade.
Finally all buildings will go through a further public design review process even if the designs are substantially unchanged from the current final design plans that were submitted to and approved by the design review committee. However the extent to which the designs can be critiqued and challenged in the future is strictly limited to minor architectural issues for designs that have not changed substantially, and to conformance with the established design guidelines for the project for those that have changed (except Site G as previously noted above).
While the city council did ultimately unanimously approve the project a few dissenting comments were heard. Our local representative raised concerns about the validity of parking mitigations that are based on excess parking supply figures determined in 2002. She briefly alluded to the fact that the council had only recently expressed it intent to drive daily parking in the greater Jack London District off streets and into off-street parking. Unfortunately she failed to drive the point home to the rest of the council and later claimed she already knew the developer had refused to concede to re-calculating parking supply and demand figure at the time building permits are granted.
This came as a great disappointment to many community members who had lobbied the city council to listen to their wisdom on this issue. As the parking supply in the district has changed dramatically even in the last two years, and is about to change dramatically again with introduction of 4-hour parking on the streets, it made no sense at all to allow development to assume spare off-street parking spaces based on numbers counted back in 2002 only months after the events of September 11th 2001 - clearly a time of very low commercial activity. With such changes occurring in only 2 years and a looking forward to a 15 year development entitlement period, many community members believe we'll endure a parking space shortage created by the project. This shortfall will be borne by our local streets, and cause a dire shortage of day parking for local businesses that will further fuel the exodus of non-retail businesses from the district.
Also clearly unhappy with the funding for public art required by the development agreement, council member Desley Brooks made a motion to add an amendment requiring a minimum of 1% of the project's value to by spent on public art. Normally developers would be required to spend 1.5% of the value on public art, however on Port of Oakland land the figure is only 0.5% with a cap of $150,000. Thus the developer is able to limit their expenditure on public art to one tenth of the figure that individual entitlements would require. Hal Ellis, in good faith has always maintained that they will spend "more than $150,000" but has always maintained that he could not say how much more. He would not even say "substantially more than". He claimed that setting a higher figure was not acceptable because it could force them to spend more than was necessary to bring an acceptable amount of public art to the development.
At that point Desley Brooks mentioned that she was not merely talking about expenditure on "pop art as is the current vogue" leaving it unsaid that she was referring to spending money on inappropriate sculptures throughout the project as has already occurred in Jack London Square. Clearly the $3 million spent on public art a 1% commitment would have brought could have opened up opportunities for incorporating many artistic improvements that would definitely assist in hallmarking the project as "world class" as the developer has always said it will be. Unfortunately Hal Ellis was unmoved by Brooks' appeal and no other council member was moved to support her motion.
After some concluding an mostly congratulatory remarks from the remaining council members votes were taking and each part of resolution 14.4 was unanimously passed 8 ayes to 0.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The regular attendees of the city meetings on this project would particularly like to thank the many additional community members who took time to turn up and speak at this meeting. We sincerely hope you can find time again to join us again as all the final design plans for this project come up for design review in the coming months and years! In particular we hope there will soon be a design "charette" with the architects VBN. This will be to gather further community input on what the exterior of the Site G garage (on the current Amtrak parking lot) should look like. Unfortunately we will not have the latitude to change its height or other dimensions, but we may be able to influence other aspects of its architecture to enhance its appeal and hopefully help disguise what otherwise will be an ugly 8-story concrete box in our back yard.
Please refer to the calendar at the Jack London District website for further announcements.
Story by Simon Waddington, 6/16/2004
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
5 to 3 vote at City Council approves 4-hour parking in district
This evening, after an at times dizzying and confusing discussion, the City Council voted by 5 ayes to 3 noes to approve the Public Works Committee proposal to adopt 4-hour parking throughout the majority of the Jack London District, but without any mixed-use permit scheme. After the vote community members in the public audience expressed their dismay audibly with boos before leaving.
Prior to tonight's meeting the four person Public Works Committee had been unable to find majority support for the mixed use permit plan proposed by the community based ad-hoc on-street parking improvement committee. Eventually the Nadel and Quan moved that the committee approve four-hour time limited parking in the district but without the permit plan. The hope was this would at least get the issues in front of the city council and give a chance for other council members to add support to the community's desire for a mixed-use permit scheme.
In the debate at city council our local district representative Nancy Nadel lead out with justifications why she believed the city should consider a mixed-use parking permit plan in the district. Nadel cut down "transit first" arguments with the fact that bus services to the area had been reduced in recent times from three to one, and that many of our workers come from areas not served by transit. This added to previous public comments that the reason residents were parking on the streets was because they were sometimes or always taking public transit to work, hence preventing daily resident parking would actually have the reverse effect of encouraging residents to drive to work!
Nadel also addressed the parking meter revenue comparison arguments used by Brooks by arguing that there are many areas in Oakland where parking meters had been introduced and are unused all day. This is because they are in areas where no one can meter parking or even if they can is able to leave work several times a day to feed them. Without a strong base of hourly parkers frequenting the district there is no justification at all for introducing hourly charged parking, or pricing based on a comparison with hourly parking. "Its comparing apples to oranges", said Nadel.
Jean Quan seconded Nadel's motion to support the original Ad-hoc committee's mixed-use permit plan. She emphasized that the plan sunsets after three years and addresses the needs of a neighborhood in transition while protecting the city from copy-cat resolutions for other areas where the same conditions simply don't apply. Quan also whacked at transit-first arguments by citing how Oaklanders are finding its easier to take a bus to San Francisco than to their own downtown. Clearly transit first doesn't just mean anti-car, it also requires active investment in making transit a better alternative.
Unfortunately the four members of City council who are not on the public works committee were unable reach a consensus.
While councilmember Larry Reid made no comments at all, Danny Wan quizzed city planning commissioner Claudia Cappio. Being concerned that four hour permits would leave workers with no place to park he asked Cappio if there was sufficient off-street parking. Cappio could only answer that there "was availability" and that neighborhood lots were "not at saturation". With 1700 or more workers in the area and probably several hundred residential cars on the street this was a vital question.
Unfortunately Wan did not pursue Cappio to find out how many spaces were available and at what price which was lucky for Cappio because this information is not known. However it is know that the Jack London Square redevelopment project if banking on taking all the excess capacity from the Washington St. garage, our neighborhood's lot with most excess capacity, currently estimated at 350 spaces. That project will also require a seven level 1000+ space garage on the site of the current Amtrak lot which will be completely utilized by planned developments.
Wan was also very concerned that approving a permit scheme in our neighborhood would set a precedent and "open up Pandora's box". Eventually he concluded he had no problem with residential only permits but believed that business employees must purchase spaces in off-street lots. Wan also said that if parking meters were the proposed alternative then he "could see the problem". "I don't see parking meters proposed anywhere here as an alternative", he said. In doing so he ask Cappio if that was the case and was told no parking meters were being proposed. While it is true that in front of the council was no such proposal, such a statement was in direct contradiction to the original proposal by the city to local residents of parking meters everywhere that prompted the formation of the Jack London District ad-hoc parking committee.
Councilmember Brunner asked a lot of questions about the specifics of the proposed permit plan. She then pointed out how Rockridge already has a permit scheme that allows businesses to have parking permits. Although only one permit per business is allow she believed this meant there is a problem (business parking) to be solved everywhere in Oakland. Brunner said she believed any permit scheme must not be subsidized and hence must be revenue neutral or positive. Although Rockridge already has business permits she believed that the mixed-use permit plan proposal is precedent setting regardless of any 3 year time limit because so many neighborhoods are wanting just such a thing concluding, "Once we do it it'll be here forever and everywhere".
Ignacio De La Fuente concurred with Brunner that a mixed-use permit scheme would be precedent setting, but went on to raise many issues supporting such a precedent. In his district he had teachers struggling to feed meters for parking near their schools and such a scheme would clearly benefit them and many other workers. While thanking the community for their hard work in formulating such a solution he noted "we have to be careful" and cited problems of businesses with lots of money buying all the permits and stopping residents from getting any. He also cited his personal experience that at 7:30am when he has meetings at the local Cuckoo's Nest restaurant there always seems to be lots of parking. This error which was thankfully corrected by Nadel - by 8 or 9am all parking is gone leaving retailers and visitors with nowhere to park.
Councilmembers Desley Brooks and Henry Chang trotted out their same old objections expressed in the public works committee. Chang reiterated that a mixed-use plan was clearly against the transit-first policy and that the city could not subsidize parking. In the same breath he contradicted himself by saying he had no problem at all with a residential permit scheme in the area indicating he believes "transit-first" only applies to businesses, something it clearly does not. Brooks choose not to hear Nadel's earlier arguments and again cited her comparison of the ad-hoc committee's permits costs with meter revenues.
In a second round of comments Jean Quan emphasized the revenue aspects of the communities proposal and how up to $60,000 in profit could be made from it which included hiring 1.5 extra city staff for administration and enforcement. She also noted that staff's analysis and no ones comments failed to take into consideration loss of revenue caused by established businesses with hundreds of employees leaving the district. Del la Fuente suggested the Public Works Committee 4-hour proposal should be accepted with a provision that City Staff go and work on solving the issues of a mixed-use permit scheme for the various districts of Oakland.
Jane Brunner took the opportunity to call Planning Commissioner Cappio on an earlier statement. She asked why the permit scheme is limited to three years to allow time for additional off-street parking if there was already sufficient off-street parking. Unfortunately ah-hoc chaos prevailed and no answer was forthcoming from Cappio even though Brunner has clearly hit on an important issue in staff's arguments about the permit plan. Concluding Brunner emphasized that clearly our district's problem of parking an business retention is one widely shared and that there was definitely a need to find solutions that work throughout Oakland. "Ultimately", she said, "we either want to keep these business, or we don't".
Eventually the original public works committee proposal for 4-hour parking was moved with a rider that at a later date City staff investigate mixed-use parking permit plan solutions that could be applied throughout the city. A vote of 5 to 3 for was quickly passed. Nadel, Quan and Brunner dissenting preferring that the mixed-use permit plan be solved first before introducing 4-hour parking.
What happens next?
It seems likely the next step will be for the City to follow through tonight's motion by:
a) implementing the time limited zones in the Jack London District through a City Council resolution; and
b) draft a resolution to amend the City's budget by revising revenue expectations and increasing appropriation (omitting reference to the permit parking revenues and decreasing staff time to account for the elimination of the permit parking system administration)
This will give district residents, workers and business owners additional time to lobby their councilmembers and also to turn up at City Council to speak when future resolutions are voted on. Currently there is no indication of how quickly this will happen, and what the chances are that the community can sway the opinions of another two councilmembers to back its permit plan, or reject the 4-hour parking resolution until something better is proposed.
To express your opinion to the three councilmember who might still back a Jack London District mixed-use permit scheme contact:
Danny Wan, District 2; 510-238-7002; email@example.com
Ignatio De La Fuente, District 5, President; 510-238-7005; firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Reid, District 7; 510-238-7007; email@example.com
Those that would like to give thanks to those councilmembers that did support some kind of mixed-used permit plan, and perhaps encourage them to continue to lobby their council collegues, contact:
Nancy Nadel, District 3; (510) 238-7003; firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Quan, District 4; (510) 238-7004; email@example.com
Jane Brunner, District 1; (510) 238-7001; firstname.lastname@example.org
Story by Simon Waddington, 6/1/2004
Thursday, April 29, 2004
Public Works Committee deadlocks over locally proposed parking permit scheme
On Tuesday (April 27th) the Oakland Public Works Committee discussed the locally originated proposal to introduce a mixed-use parking permit scheme in the Jack London District. This scheme was one of many proposals that the neighborhood based Ad-hoc on-street parking improvement committee came up with last year in response to the City's proposal to blanket the entire district with parking meters.
Key to the improvement committee's proposals were the introduction time-limited parking all currently free areas, ranging from 1 hour to 4 hour, plus the mixed use permit scheme. The permit scheme is designed to give local residents and business users access to the on-street parking in the neighborhood by allowing them to park in 3 and 4 hour zoned spaces. Initially the improvement committee suggested the first permit was in the $78 to $100 per year range, and additional permits would be $100 per year each. Permits would be available to each residential address and each business in the Jack London District.
After review by City staff and in response to comments by the Public Works committee at a previous meeting, the proposal has now been modified to be $100 per year for the first permit, and $200 per year for each additional permit, with a cap of 600 permits for the entire area. Additional permits would only be available to businesses.
However it appears that even with these much higher costs to permit holders, two of the Public Works committee members feel that the mixed use permit scheme would be in conflict with the City's "transit First" policy. Citing an AC Transit pass cost of $60 a month, and local off-street monthly parking rates of $60 per month (or more) they feel that at $16.67 per month ($200/12) represents a massive subsidy. This subsidy would discourage people from taking public transit or using local parking lots at market rates. When a parking meter can earn the City $8 per day on average why should the Jack London District residents park for just 54 cents a day?
Of the two dissenting committee members, Henry Chang (who is also the City Council at-large member) was adamant that he could never support such an anti-transit scheme. He explained that in Chinatown there is no such scheme and transit is so good in this area that only 25% of parking spaces in Chinatown residential buildings are used, allowing the remainder to be leased out commercially. Our District 3 representitive, Nancy Nadel, who chairs the Public Works Committee was quick to point out that Jack London District has poorer transit links, and bus services to it have even been cut in recent times.
The other dissenting voice, Desley Brooks (District 6) expressed the opinion that she could only support the permit scheme if convinced the price was not establishing a subsidy. She felt the current prices were arrived at in a somewhat arbitrary fashion and a more reasonable non-subsidizing price could be established. Since Nancy Nadel and Jean Quan (District 4) were in support of the scheme the committee was unable to get majority support for the motion to approve it and instead agreed to re-consider it in two weeks allowing time for further discussion about the permit pricing issue.
The Ad-Hoc On-Street Parking Improvement Committee urges you to attend the next Public Works Committee meeting to express your opinions and support for the mixed use parking permit scheme. The meeting will be held 12:30pm on Tuesday May 11th in Meeting Room 1, City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Place. It is recommended those who attend read the original ad-hoc committee's improvement plan on the Jack London District page, and also the two most recent City staff reports from April 27 2004 and March 9th 2004.
Story by Simon Waddington, 4/29/2004
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
City Council Workshop on JLS redevelopment raises too many questions to answer
Oakland residents made a strong showing for the City Council workshop tonight which was devoted entirely to the Jack London Square Redevelopment project. The developer led out with an update on the project by Hal Ellis and a presentation from lead architect Steve Worthington. As borne out by later comments, the council was clearly struggling to comprehend the mass of information being presented and even had to ask the developer to slow down.
The developer began with his usual claim to have attended over twenty public meetings, a hundred other meetings and numerous one on one meetings communicating the project to the community. However this was the first time that the public had ever seen the three dimensional architectural model (see right - click image for a larger view) displayed at the meeting. The model was clearly the most valuable communication tool seen in the six months since the plans were formally released to the public as part of the Draft Environmental Impact Report.
Around twenty public commenters spoke for up to three minutes each, touching on a wide range of outstanding issues. Many asked the City Council to reject the proposed design of Site G (the massive seven storey 74' parking garage destined for the Amtrak parking lot) and require something more compatible with the beautiful train station next door, while others pointed out the ominous presence of alternatives ("variants") in the proposal that would allow the developer to build large amounts of office space rather than retail, restaurant, and entertainment spaces. Other speakers asked Council to pay attention to issues regarding open space use, the design review process, and many unresolved environmental impact problems including traffic and off-street parking.
Several public speakers, notably all from the Oakland Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the project. Two were unable to give any input other than that the chamber full endorsed the project. It was surprising that in a $300M project they could not find a single area that could use some improvement from the point of view of future Oakland merchants who might occupy it. One spoke at some length about how those in opposition had sometime contradicted themselves and that clearly the project could not be redesigned around personal preferences instead of been driven by good design from the developer. Ironically the councilors later showed it wasn't just the public who were able to express contradictory opinions.*
To round out the public comments Sanjiv Handa of East Bay News, laid to waste all the complaints by the developer about the number of meetings it had attended. He pointed out that in the 6,000 person city of Emeryville, Kaiser had held over 120 public meetings for their hospital project that was half the dollar value of the JLS redevelopment project. He raised a laugh throughout City Hall when he extrapolated that by comparison Hal should have held over a thousand public meetings by now to keep up with Kaiser.
As the City councilors weighed in with the comments two things became clear. Firstly some had done their homework on the project and some were still drowning under the volume of paper work it generated, and secondly that this was clearly not going to be a slam dunk rubber stamping exercise for the developer.
Our local District 3 representative Nancy Nadel produce a very impressive list of questions, comments and concerns for the developer and City staff to answer. Nadel demonstrated she'd read a good deal of the paperwork in detail, and had clearly been following a good deal of the input from the local community. Raising red-flags about parking, the design for sites F2 and G, environmental impacts and standards, and lack of transit enhancements she set the standard.
The rest of the council followed and in general added to and strengthened the concerns raised by Nadel and the community at large. Repeated themes in their comments included:
- Dissatisfaction with the design of the garage on Site G
- Desire to see variants not visualized
- Must not have a mostly office space alternative developed
- Have more discussion of transit and parking issues
- Require widening of the Bay Trail around the hotel at Site F3
- Why no residential mixed use?
- Need more design consideration at all times to ensure quality
- Thanks (often at length) to the community for their continued and hard work
- Require the developer to build something of quality within six years if approvals are granted
- Concerns about consequences of a fast food major variance
- Lack of linkages to downtown and neighboring communities (Chinatown)
- Issues with the size and complexity of the project that made it difficult to comprehend and understand
The Jack London District website now has a detailed list of the comments made by the city councilors.
In fact the council raised so many questions that both Planning Director Claudia Cappio and the developer elected to provide their responses in writing to the council rather than at the meeting. However Hal Ellis could not stop himself commenting on the notion that they might develop an "office park" on the site (as alluded to by several commentators, and a recent Oakland Tribune article). He stated that he was ready to entertain mitigations to ensure that didn't happen.
Jack London News would like to extend a big thank you to all those who have been involved in help shape this project to serve our community instead of just a balance sheet bottom line somewhere. As ever we encourage all our readers to get involved and even if you don't speak to please come along to any meetings that you can, or at least watch them on KTOP, our local government access cable station!
*Danny Wan wondered why the developers own calculations showed they were building excess parking capacity, and De La Fuente chimed in with the belief that there would never been enough parking no matter how much was provided.
Story by Simon Waddington, 3/31/2004
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
SoNiC appeals Planning Commission decision
The South of Nimitz Improvement Council (SoNiC) announced Monday that it has filled an appeal against the actions taken March 17th by Oakland City Planning Commission. Gary Knecht of SoNiC stated, "We decided the parking issues were too important to leave to the good will of City Council". After a frantic effort SoNiC paid the $863 filing fee and submitted its appeal almost at the last minute on Monday. "[By doing this] we think we forced City staff to address some of the issues SoNiC has been unable to get anyone (except Michael Lighty) to pay attention to.", said Knecht.
The appeal contests decisions made by the planning commission regarding the environmental impact report, issuance of a permits that could allow unconstrained use of space for fast-food restaurants, design review, the development agreement, rezoning and conditions of approval. In addition to contesting specific points, the appeal also cites the wealth of feedback given by the local community over the last six months of City meetings. The full text of the appeal is available from the Jack London District website.
SoNiC would welcome contributions to help defray costs of filing the appeal. Anyone interested in making a donation should contact Gary at email@example.com.
Story by Simon Waddington, 3/30/2004
Sunday, March 21, 2004
A date for your diary - March 30th
On March 30th there will be a City Council Workshop dedicated to the JLS Redevelopment. If there is one meeting you attend to find out about this project, this is the one. So come look, listen and have your say at the first City Council meeting regarding the JLS Redevelopment project.
This very important meeting will include a 3D model of the project site along with plans and drawings galore so we can all get a good look at how it is shaping up. Please, please think about attending - its never too late to start exercising your right to participate and fulfill your civic duty to contribute to your own community's development.
The meeting is Tuesday March 30th, 6:00pm at the City Hall but if you've never been to a meeting there before don't panic. There is free parking available for those attending the meeeting, and many of your neighbors will be going so it will be easy for you find someone to tag along with. Contactfeedback@jacklondondistrict.org information. You can read the agenda and all the attachments (see Part A, Part B and Item 5).