Bakesale Betty coming to downtown? OMG!

Whenever people ask me what downtown Oakland is missing, I answer without hesitation. A bakery! We need a bakery! It drives me insane that I can easily walk from my home to buy pretty much everything I need, except, you know, an edible cookie (and stockings).

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when I saw this posted in a downtown window the other night:


What’s that? It’s too small? You can’t read it? Well, let me tell you what it says:

Proposal: Establish a General Food Sales Activity within an existing commercial building
Contact Person: Michael Camp/Bakesale Betty

Permits Required: Conditional Use permit for a general food sales activity at the ground floor within the S-8 zone.

So…as far as I can tell, it looks like Bakesale Betty is coming downtown!

The permit is displayed in the former Broadway Grand sales office, in the same building as Louisiana Fried Chicken and the Franklin Square Wine Bar, on the corner of Broadway and Grand. Here:


Oh, and in case you had any doubt that our zoning is a complete mess – you need a conditional use permit to open a bakery downtown? Nice.

17 thoughts on “Bakesale Betty coming to downtown? OMG!

  1. erocking

    Yes! I saw this too. So very exciting. Please let this become a reality.

    Now, if only something were to happen with Shaw Plaza. It’s really the missing piece in that area. It’s so frustrating to see such a cool building all boarded up and neglected.

    But, yes, Bakesale Betty!

  2. Ken O.

    Yes, and Michael’s hiring early morning bakers… so if you need cashmoney, get your foot in there.

  3. Joanna

    A bakery, a bakery! I have tried to talk so many people into opening a bakery downtown and then I just heard about this today from someone else. I’ve been hearing about Bakesale Betty’s for a long time, but have never had the chance to get over there.

    As for the CUP (conditional use permit), I think all food locations may require a CUP… I know that this was a huge issue with the JLS development because they wanted a waiver up front. In the end I believe they got the waiver with an exception for “chain” or “fast-food” restaurants. I’d have to dig up the docs to say for sure. That little area on Broadway is already vastly improved with Luka’s and the new condos. In 3-4 years it’s going to be super hot (imho).

  4. Navigator

    That’s indeed great news that Bakesale Betty is coming downtown. The area is improving. However, the City needs to do a much better job dealing with the blight caused by the boarded up properties such as Shaw Plaza at 22nd & Broadway. Even the newly painted and renovated building at Grand & Broadway, where the new bakery is to be located, has had its windows etched and doorways vandalized by graffiti.

    I’ve e-mailed public works supervisor Rich Fielding and Council member Nancy Nadel, (nnadel@oaklandnet.com) many times regarding the constant graffiti and blight on Broadway. The Public Works Department seems to work on a complaint only basis. I’ve e-mailed Nancy Nadel numerous times. I’ve sent her pictures of blighted properties like Shaw PLaza, along with photographs of rampant graffiti on utility boxes, garbage containers, newspaper racks, street signs, mail boxes, parking meter boxes, doorways, etc. Things improve for a couple of weeks and then slowly the mediocrity, the lack of upkeep, the lack of incentive, and the lack of initiative rear their ugly heads.

    There needs to be ongoing monitoring and upkeep of all main thoroughfares downtown. This complaint only system guarantees days, weeks, months, and even years of blight. Graffiti and blight need to be eradicated within 24 hours. How can Oakland reach its full potential when our city government can’t provide local businesses with a clean, attractive, and safe downtown?

  5. len raphael

    Rich is not an email kinda guy. Best to call him.

    I’m sure it’s mostly a matter of lack of resources. -len

  6. Navigator

    Len, I understand the city budget is tight. However, Oakland can’t afford mediocrity. It doesn’t take that much money, or effort, to drive down Broadway, identify the graffiti on utility boxes, street signs, garbage containers, newspaper racks, and mailboxes, stop your truck, and quickly eradicate the problem. Come on folks, Broadway is Oakland’s ” Main Street” and we tolerate this shabby appearance ? There is no excuse why this graffiti has to accumulate until someone like me has had enough and starts taking pictures and sending emails. These downtown thoroughfares like Broadway, Webster, Telegraph and Franklin need to be monitored on a daily basis. Oakland can’t afford to live up to its stereotypes and negative images. Not even for one day. Any visitor who walks or drives downtown will be left with a bad impression if on that day the streets are littered and there is graffiti on public and private property. To that visitor, Oakland will be viewed as an uninviting place, whether or not, Public Works decides to clean the blight one day later, one week later or one month later.

    I’ve had the opportunity to travel to most major cities in this country and I can tell you that it’s possible to keep urban downtowns clean and inviting. Chicago for example, has an immaculate and beautiful downtown. No litter, and no graffiti anywhere. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Boston does an excellent job maintaining its downtown along with Boston Common. New York does a great job on Central Park and Manhattan. Locally we have downtown Walnut Creek as an example of a well maintained downtown. There is no reason why Oakland shouldn’t be held to the same standards as these cities.

    Unfortunately, I think many residents have resigned themselves to thinking that the current state of maintenance is normal. It’s not! Resigning one-self to mediocrity only invites further mediocrity and then progresses to the denigration of ones pride in their own hometown. Oakland and Oaklanders deserve better!

  7. len raphael

    nav, agreed.

    talking w a buddy the other day, who asked me why i liked living in oakland. i gave him a long list. his reply was that when he moved to the bay area a few years ago he parked downtown oakland (that should have been a warning sign) and all was well until he noticed groups of ragged looking poor people wandering around, congregating around storefronts, some panhandling. not that he was hassled, just worried about his employees working late in that situation or his customers scared. he opened his business in emeryville instead of downtown.

    sf “solved” the poor people problem by gentrifying them out to oakland, richmond, and stockton etc. both by our choice that many of us don’t want the 95% gentrified city that sf has become and for political reasons that poor people have a lot of clout here, we have to deal with the reality that something like 45% of oakland is at poverty level or below. the pols used to play that out with a two tiered system of govt services, but that model ain’t working no more. -len raphael

  8. V Smoothe Post author

    Let’s step back a second here. The most recent census data puts 18.8% of Oakland’s residents below the poverty level (versus San Francisco’s 12.1%). Far too many, certainly, but nowhere approaching 45%.

    Downtown Oakland’s main thoroughfare may be graffiti-ed, trash-strewn, and panhandler-rich, but I hardly think that’s an area where we compare poorly with San Francisco. Market Street is way worse than Broadway in terms of panhandlers and homeless people wandering around and loitering. On the other hand, I watched someone exit the downtown Burger King Tuesday night around 9:30, walk out onto the sidewalk at 13th and Broadway, drop his pants, crouch down, and defecate right there in full view of everyone nearby. I’ve never seen that happen on Market. But I don’t really go to SF very often.

    This conversation made me think of some pictures of downtown Oakland someone put on flickr last year. Check out the tags he used to describe them.

  9. Navigator

    V Smoothe,

    Your stats regarding poverty in Oakland are correct. Also, I don’t want Oakland held to SF standards of maintenance. Oakland needs to do much better than that. I want Oakland to be on par with Chicago. Our goal should be to hold the responsible parties accountable for making downtown Oakland a clean and safe place, in order for large and small businesses alike, to thrive. Oaklanders from every neighborhood should be able to feel proud of their downtown. The current level of maintenance and mediocrity should not be tolerated. I take no pleasure in pointing out these problems. My only concern is to see the area improved for every Oakland resident and for every visitor to our city. We need to hold the Oakland Police Department, Public Works, Nancy Nadel, and Mayor Ron Dellums accountable for the general appearance of Downtown Oakland.

  10. len raphael

    yup, i was wrong about the percentage of oaklanders living below the federal poverty level. to attone for my slopiness i then tried to learn more about that stat. concluded that it is a useless stat for local policy decisions.

    am i reading wikipedia correctly that the federal poverty levels are not adjusted up for regional differences in cost of living? nor does it adjust for federal welfare type payments such as food stamps or housing subsidies. it is adjusted for inflation.

    so for oakland where the cost of housing, services, fuel etc is high and for casper wyo where it’s low, the poverty line is set at the same (per wikipedia, and i realize it’s accuracy is not the greatest) “In 2006, in the United States of America, the poverty threshold for a single person under 65 was US$10,488; the threshold for a family group of four, including two children, was US$20,444.”

    also per wikipedia for Oakland “The median income for a household in the city was $40,055, and the median income for a family was $44,384 . Males had a median income of $37,433 versus $35,088 for females. The per capita income for the city was $21,936. About 16.2 percent of families and 19.4 percent of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.9 percent of those under age 18 and 13.1 percent of those age 65 or over. 0.7% of the population is homeless.[33] Home ownership is 41%[33] and 14% of rental units are subsidized.[33] The current unemployment rate is 8.4%.[33]”

    For comparison, “The San Francisco median household income is $57,833 and the median family income, at $67,809 in 2005, is the third-highest for any large city in the nation.[42] Following a national trend, an out-migration of middle class families is contributing to widening income disparity[44] and has left the city with a lower proportion of children, 14.5 percent, than any other large city in the U.S.[87] The city’s poverty rate, at 7.8 percent, is lower than the national average and among the lowest for cities ranked by the U.S. Census Department.[88]”

    My point being a 2 br apartment in East O is at least a 1k/mo=12k/year, transportation for two working adults 3k/year, food 36/day=13k/year. clothing 1.25k, entertainment 1,000, child care 3k. that 30k probably closer to the 40k median house.

    And aren’t unemployment rates based on people actively looking for work? so in east and west o the true rate could be much higher.

  11. Navigator

    According to an article in today’s Contra Costa Times, the medium family income in Oakland is 51,727.

  12. V Smoothe Post author

    This discussion prompted me to examine the economic and social characteristics of the populations of Oakland and San Francisco a little bit more, and I think the results will make for an interesting post sometime soon.

    But for now: Oakland’s median family income (based on the 2006 Census Department’s American Community Survey, the most recent data available) is $51,727 (while the mean family income is $78,236). San Francisco’s median family income for the same year was $79,423 and the mean family income was $110,682.

    Interestingly, roughly 22% of SF’s households are bringing in less than $25,000 a year, while 29% of Oakland’s households fall under this threshold. Like I said, a comparison of the data merits a post of it’s own, so I’ll leave it at that for now. But all the relevant data can be found at the census department website for those who are eager to look into thing more before I get to it.

  13. Max

    Don’t forget to check out the comparison between Oakland and Piedmont, V! Piedmont works in Oakland offices, shops in Oakland stores, dines in Oakland restaurants, and contributes nothing to our tax base for schools, cops and firemen. Piedmont is 1% black. Oakland is 35% black. Piedmont’s median home value is over 2mil. Median income is over 100k. They are the a barnacle on our face. We must eat them! Oakland Uber Alles!