Monthly Archives: September 2007

Pat Kernighan thinks animal control has more important things to do.

I don’t really have an opinion on this dog tie-up rule. I have heard people make good arguments for both sides, and since I don’t have a dog myself, this isn’t something I really have any experience with or personal investment in. In general, my inclination is that we should have fewer laws, not more, especially when we’re talking about something that will not be applied practically. But I really just don’t know enough about it to take a position one way or the other.

Councilmembers, on the other hand, have to take a position on everything. You’d think that, over time, this would result in the articulation of some sort of clearly discernible legislative philosophy. Wrong! District 2 Councilwoman Pat Kernighan opposes the 15 minute dog tie up rule, in part because: Continue reading

Oak to Ninth: Read all about it

I wrote a story about the Oak to Ninth project for Novometro this week. The history of the project is long, although fairly straightforward once you lay it all out, certainly much more so than opponents would have you believe. While researching the story, I spent an inhuman amount of time pouring over the Oak to Ninth referendum committee’s complaints, most of which completely misrepresent the project and paint an alternate-reality picture of the planning process it went through.

And the whole time I was doing it, I just couldn’t stop thinking about Mark Trail. I like Mark Trail, partly because I enjoy nature, but mostly because I think Mark’s job as a writer who gets to beat people up a lot sounds kind of fun. For the most part, the fact that the plotlines are often outlandish and nonsensical doesn’t bother me. (Example: the current storyline. I really just don’t understand why they can’t just move the damn duck and her nest to somewhere else that isn’t scheduled to be turned into a shopping mall.)

But occasionally Jack Elrod’s storylines cross the line into such absurdism that I couldn’t possibly hope to suspend my disbelief. Such was the case with one recent saga involving a pair of corrupt county commissioners and their elaborate scheme to deceive their constituents into voting for a new airport on property they own by hiring their hunting guide to release birds around the existing airport. Seriously. Look: Continue reading

Shorenstein building update

Shorenstein revised the building somewhat since their original submission, so the renderings they presented at the Design Review Committee meeting last night were not the same as those posted below. I do not have the new renderings to post, although the design will be revised further. I’m hoping they’ll decide to make it bigger.

Here’s something I didn’t mention in yesterday’s post about the new Shorenstein building in City Center. Although the proposed tower, at 10.5, is at maximum FAR for the C-51 zoning of that lot, the maximum FAR according to the general plan is 20. 20! That’s almost double! Continue reading

Journalism by press release

I’ve noted plenty of times in the past how Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums loves to crow about Oakland news that he had absolutely nothing to do with. So of course it came as no real surprise yesterday when I saw the press release from Dellums’s office “announcing” (which in reality, was more like “reminding people of”) the new Shorenstein Building on the T-12 site downtown. Nevermind that this project has been entitled for ages and that the EIR for the entire Planned Unit Development (PUD) it belongs to was certified in April 2000, and this has been sitting on the Design Review Committee’s agenda in plain sight for anyone who cares – this is apparently big news. But after a few eye rolls, I decided to just forget about it, since, as a friend told me after I forwarded him the press release, “That’s just what mayors do.” And besides, it wasn’t like I wanted the project to be ignored. It is a big deal, and I’m happy they’re going to be breaking ground in the forseeable future, so it certainly deserves media attention. Continue reading

Don’t Recall Dellums

I’m astounded by the ever-increasing number of hits I get on this blog from google searches on some variety of “recall dellums.” As regular readers know, I’m no fan of Dellums. I didn’t vote for him (in fact I volunteered quite a bit of my time for another candidate), and I didn’t expect much at all from him as a Mayor. Of course, after he won, I hoped I had been wrong and that he would defy my expectations. Sadly, his tenure thus far has been pretty much what I anticipated. (Of course, there’s still ample time for him to turn that around. Hope springs eternal.)

Still, I think a recall is a terrible idea and I sincerely hope that no serious movement for one gets off the ground. Continue reading

Retail could come to auto row, if NIMBYs and the whims of politicians don’t stop it

Today, I wrote about the Conley Group’s upper Broadway report for Novometro. I won’t rehash everything here – click through and read the story for the details.

Also, read the report (PDF!). It’s fascinating. And inspiring. Walking up and down Broadway yesterday to take photos for the story, I was overwhelmed by the incredible potential in the area. It was so easy to see stylish boutiques filling up the beautiful art deco storefronts and residential towers bringing vibrancy to the gaps where lots full of cars now sit. Continue reading

Memo to City Hall: Fix your damn clock

When you go to a City Council meeting, there is a table right outside the Council’s chambers where people can fill out speaker cards. There is a clearly posted sign on the table saying that speaker cards will not be accepted after 8 PM.

Tuesday night, a resident arrived at the desk at 7:55 with 9 cards in hand representing people who wanted to speak against the smoking ordinance. The cards were not accepted. “It’s too late,” they said. Continue reading

Once again, the Council proves they don’t care about good public policy or practicality

The Council voted to pass the smoking ordinance just before 2 am this morning. Jane Brunner left the meeting before the item was heard. Ignacio De La Fuente, Pat Kernighan, Jean Quan, Nancy Nadel, and Henry Chang said yes.

Here are some highlights from what I managed to jot down of the discussion.
Nancy Nadel:

For some of my constituents “exposure to smoke can be as deadly to them as being shot in the street.”

Continue reading

Real problems deserve real policy solutions

Last night I got home a little before 9 o’clock. As I was walking into my building, I heard a terrible scream, so I stepped back on the street to investigate. A woman on the corner had just been knocked down and had her backpack pulled off. She pointed the direction the kid ran, but he was already out of my sight.

She was bruised, but otherwise physically uninjured. Mentally was another story. She was shaking and sobbing and hysterical, as people tend to be when this sort of thing happens to them. (At this point I see a purse snatching as little more than an inconvenience, but I remember the first time I got mugged I reacted exactly like she did. Probably worse, actually.)

It wasn’t the middle of the night. It wasn’t a bad neighborhood. And it wasn’t a deserted street.There were four people within a block of her when it happened. In the 15 minutes we were waiting for the police to arrive, over a dozen people walked passed us.

I had planned on using my evening to write some blogs for today – one about the BRC’s stupid non-recommendations and another about this idiotic smoking ordinance. But I found myself too restless and frustrated to write. I was frustrated at myself for not being able to comfort this terribly upset woman or think of better things to say to her. I was frustrated over knowing that this kid would never be caught, and even if he was, nothing would happen to him, since this isn’t a “serious” crime. Continue reading

More public safety funding, no new taxes

I don’t know why the local press has ignored Ignacio De La Fuente’s proposal of a 10% redevelopment agency set-aside for public safety resources. dto510 blogged about it on Future Oakland, but I have seen no mention of it in the newspapers. Why? With rising concerns about crime among Oaklanders, shouldn’t we be talking about the fact that the Council President has announced several initiatives to address problems with police recruitment and funding? That’s got to be at least as important as a pro-peace block party, right? Continue reading

Sunshine Ordinance should be modernized

Alex Gronke thinks that the Mayor and City Council should post their calendars online for public viewing. I’d settle for being able to find out what they’re considering on Tuesday.

Legistar was down all afternoon yesterday, and is still down. I cannot view on-line next week’s Council agenda and even with direct links I cannot access any files from clerkwebsvr1. This happens more often than you would think, though I can’t remember the last time it went on for more than a day. Continue reading