Monthly Archives: October 2007

Encouraging targeted development through Master EIRs

In my last post, I noted that the easiest way for us to increase our supply of affordable housing funds is to encourage market rate construction in redevelopment areas. In this post, I’m going to discuss one way to do so – Master EIRs.

Market-rate development, both large and small scale, adds to the vitality of existing neighborhoods by eliminating vacant lots and bringing new residents, as well as increasing the redevelopment area’s revenue base, and by extension, our supply of affordable housing funds. But community opposition represents a substantial barrier to the feasibility of even the smallest projects, and we are seeing far less development in most neighborhoods than is ideal. One of the biggest barriers to development is the burdensome cost of endless appeals to nearly every project. Continue reading

Getting the affordable housing discussion back on track

At the September 18th meeting when the Council received the Blue Ribbon Commission report, Jane Brunner lamented our failure to adopt an inclusionary zoning ordinance, saying “We have been discussing this issue for 8 years, and we’ve never gotten the five votes….we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting.” She acknowledged that the Council is split 4-4 on the issue, but then somewhat bizarrely concluded that since half of them want it, they should “just do it.” If only getting things done were so simple. IZ represents a serious ideological divide, and there is no compromise on the table that that negates concerns that IZ would actively hurt our ability to affordable housing production. Continue reading

Pinball okay in Los Altos Hills, but not in Oakland

So one my favorite things to do after a rough day at work is relax with some pinball. And of course, as anyone who’s played pinball anytime in the last decade knows, the games all cost $0.50 nowdays. I’m okay with that. Two quarters seems a fair price to pay for several minutes of fun. Also, if you’re good, a game can easily last half an hour or more. Also, you’ll earn free games. But imagine my surprise as I was browsing through our Municipal Code the other day, and stumbled upon this: Continue reading

Lazy reporting on Harvest Hall

So I’ve tried to back off the bitching about local newspapers lately, partly because there hasn’t been too much that I’ve found super annoying, but mostly because I’m trying to move the site in a less complainy direction.

But hey – it isn’t a blog if I don’t whine about the evils of the mainstream media at least occasionally, right? Continue reading

Who wants the Army Base?

So a couple people have asked me about the unsolicited proposals for the Army Base, and even though they could just click through to the staff report listing them, I’ve decided to copy the list here for the benefit of the curious, yet lazy.

These are all unsolicited proposals submitted to the City while either the Wayans Brothers ENA or the previous ENA, with Opus West, was in effect. Continue reading

District Attorney’s office suddenly in favor of jail

I’ve complained before about Assistant District Attorney Tom Rogers’s lax attitude towards crime:

As Mr. Rogers told a neighborhood crime prevention meeting in East Oakland Monday evening: “We try not to put people in jail.”

I’m certainly not a fan of our prison system, but it seems self-evident to me that if kids know there will be zero consequences for criminal behavior even in the unlikely event that they are caught, then they will be more likely to engage in such activities. Continue reading

This isn’t a vision – it’s a list.

So the exciting news about the Army Base is that it looks like pretty much everyone (except Ron Dellums) is on the same page. Nancy Nadel, who I’m thrilled to agree with for once, told the Committee that she liked to Eco-Oakland option the best, and that she wanted to see the land used for maritime support services so that they could move out of West Oakland. She’s completely right – trucking companies and recycling centers belong next to the Port, not next to somebody’s house. She also noted almost everything in the “vision” (except for logistics) could locate somewhere else in Oakland, but this is the only suitable place to stick Port support. Continue reading

What makes sense for the Army Base?

This afternoon, the Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee will consider several options for development of the former Oakland Army Base, which I wrote about for Novometro today. The Trib also has a story on the matter.

Working on the article over the weekend, I was able to answer all my questions about Dellums’s 10,000 jobs plan. Unfortunately, the answers were pretty disappointing. The key to my confusion was realizing that the Trib was wrong in saying he called for industrial development – the recommended proposal that anticipates 8,300 jobs rests on a large number of retail positions, as well as the construction of office towers as high as 30 stories on the West Gateway, which is, well…stupid. Continue reading

Berkeley City Council discusses BRT tonight

If for some reason you read this blog and live in Berkeley, I urge you to attend tonight’s City Council meeting and speak up in favor of BRT. If you read the Berkeley Daily Planet ever, you know already that East Bay BRT is in danger due to pro-parking activists in Berkeley. Although there is strong support for BRT among some Berkeley residents, it is the anti-transit contingent that shows up in greater force at these meetings. Continue reading

Harvest Hall “breaks ground” in Jack London Square

I guess I was a little bit ahead of schedule when I wrote about Jack London Square’s Harvest Hall last week. The project had its ceremonial groundbreaking yesterday, and is scheduled to open in early 2009.

Harvest Hall will apparently be the largest public market on the West Coast, which is neat and everything, but not necessarily all that impressive, since it only has what, two competitors for the title? Continue reading

The myth of industrial preservation

In this week’s Oakland Globe, Clinton Killian offers a sweeping condemnation of Ron Dellums’s Chief of Economic Development Dan Lindheim and his efforts to quash development around the city:

Mr. Lindheim is referred to at City Hall as “Dr. No” because he has become a project killer of the types that the mayor supports and would benefit Oakland. He has consistently contradicted staff’s positive support for projects and placed his Dick Cheneylike red “NO” on them, forcing staff to rewrite their recommendations. This is done even though the projects conform to the city’s stated policies and have been supported by the majority of Oakland citizens.

There’s a lot that gets lost in the vague dialogue of industrial preservation. If you listened to Nancy Nadel, Dan Lindheim, or Cecily Burt, you might feel fairly certain of what’s going on: This is a choice between preserving high-paying industrial jobs in Oakland or pushing them out to build housing for the wealthy. If only the reality were so simple! One problem is that the term “industrial preservation” implies that there is something there to preserve – that someone other than the security guard is working at the American Steel factory. Rhetoric of industrial preservation is being used to fight the Gateway Community Development Project, a transit-oriented development which would create 810 units of workforce housing and provide 30,000 sf of commercial space on land that is currently being used as a self-storage facility. dto510 has discussed these deceptions in the past. Continue reading