BRT Update and Creekside project approval tonight

So there’s two meetings tonight that might be of interest to my readers. They’re certainly both of interest to me. Unfortunately, my job prevents me from attending either of them. But if you’re into transit and smart growth and not doing anything this evening, you might want to consider one of these options:

  • AC Transit BRT Workshop: This election was a pretty good one for public transit in the East Bay. Measure VV passed easily, and Berkeley’s Measure KK went down in flames. This might leave you wondering where the East Bay BRT project stands now.

    You can find out tonight at the AC Transit headquarters (1600 Franklin Street, 2nd Floor Board Room), when the AC Transit Board of Directors will hear an update on what’s going on with BRT. The meeting starts at 5 PM.

    I’m tired of having the exact same conversation about whether BRT is redundant with BART or not, so I’m hoping people can keep those comments off of this post for now. But while I’m on the subject of buses anyway, I do want to mention something I keep hearing lately that I don’t really understand. So opponents of BRT keep saying that a bus carrying only four passengers gets the same per passenger mileage as a Prius, and I guess this is supposed to be some sort of indictment of the bus?

    What I want to know is, where are all these buses running around carrying only four passengers? Cause the only time I can think of that happening ever on any of the buses I ride is at the very beginning or very end of their routes, where, obviously, the bus is going to get kind of empty. Like when I pick up the 72 at Broadway and Embarcadero, right at the beginning of the route, there’s usually nobody on it but me and whoever gets on the bus with me. But by the time we get to 14th and Broadway, the bus has always managed to pick up like 20 riders. The 1 is almost always full when I ride it. Hell, I rode the 802 from Ghosttown at like 2:30 AM on a Tuesday recently, and even that was carrying like 15 people. I know that unless the bus is standing room only when it passes by you, it isn’t immediately obvious how many passengers it’s carrying, but maybe if people spent a little time riding public transit around Oakland, they would learn that this four passenger thing really isn’t an issue.

  • Creekside Project Approval: The Creekside in Temescal will be coming to tonight’s Planning Commission (PDF) meeting for approval. The project (PDF) would create 102 condos, 5,893 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, 102 parking spaces, and 24,599 square feet of open space. It’s located at 51st and Telegraph and would replace the building where Global Video used to be and its horrible giant surface parking lot. The project faces opposition from certain community members who assert – can you guess? That’s right, it’s too dense, too tall (5 stories), and will lead to parking and traffic problems. Renderings below:


    The meeting starts at 6 PM in City Hall Hearing Room 1, and the Creekside is item 3 on the agenda, following Kaiser’s second attempt to obtain design approval for their new hospital at Broadway and MacArthur.

52 thoughts on “BRT Update and Creekside project approval tonight

  1. Patrick

    I’m rather fond of the Global Video building. It is a piece of architecture from that wide swath of American history that gets no respect whatsoever. They are tomorrow’s Queen Annes…but there are fewer of them. However, the parking lot is ridiculous. Too bad they couldn’t incorporate the building as some sort of loft space…but I understand the structure has seismic issues.

    I think the new Kaiser design looks pretty good…it is, after all, a hospital. Plus my mid-Century modern heart loves the 1960′s inset windows and massing. If they would replace the blue paint on the corner of the tower with mosaic tile, I’d fall in love.

  2. Max Allstadt

    I don’t think anybody’s objecting to taking down Global Video. I mean if you repainted it right and added some blacklight, you’d get an awesome nightclub, but it’s really no loss.

    I think the objections are going to be the same story as usual. Too big. Too tall. But it isn’t. Actually, most everything along Telegraph is too small. I think I might just show up tonight to watch the tag-team smash up between ULTRA, STAND, FROG, RCPC, and others. Somebody really should start SHORT too. (Strident Hippies Obsessed with Restricting Tallness).

  3. Patrick

    I’ve seen pictures of Woodstock. I though hippies LIKED being stacked on top of one another.

    Aaron: I’m by no means in love with the Global Video building, per se. But, who is to say what is “out of place” on Telegraph? Oh, wait, anyone at that meeting tonight will get an earful about what everyone thinks is out of place on Telegraph.

  4. Steve

    Max says: “most everything along Telegraph is too small”

    When the quaint human-scale streetscape of Temescal has been converted to a sterile stucco canyon of crappy five story condos, perhaps you will reconsider.

  5. Patrick

    There isn’t a damn thing that is “quaint” or “human scale” about the Global Video store and its ginormous parking lot. We’re talking about a 60′s era building…not streetcar era. Although I like the Global Video building, I also realize that it is an anomoly – and is the highest and best use for a building that size, and that lot, a defunct video store? The cost to remove that building and parking lot alone requires a development of sufficient size be allowed, or no developer will touch it.

  6. Max Allstadt

    nor is there anything “quaint” about the multiple one story buildings on the west side of telegraph, just north of temescal place. Five stories is a standard of human scale urbanism. Look at NY and Paris. Most of the tallest pre-electricity buildings top out at five. Why? A fit person can manage five flights of stairs, and you can shout audibly form top to bottom. This town is going to grow. Five is a good precedent outside of the CBD.

    As for “stucco” and “canyon”, stucco doesn’t have to be the only way, I agree. But five stories doesn’t make a canyon. Even at a hundred feet high, you don’t make a canyon over a hundred foot wide street. Want to see a canyon? Go to NYC, take the 6 to bowling green, walk north. That’s a canyon.

  7. Steve

    Yes, of course, there are ugly buildings in Temescal, but I would argue that the overall streetscape, with its numerous vintage structures and tiny storefronts, qualifies as quaint and cozy, and dare I say it, charming. Similar to the shopping districts in Rockridge, Elmwood, and along Piedmont Avenue.

    As replicants of Temescal Place begin to take over, our cute little stretch of Telegraph will be transformed to something closer in flavor to 40th and San Pablo in Emeryville. Ick.

  8. ConcernedOakFF

    Steve,

    With all due respect, housing and a small amount of retail will in no way bring a short stretch of Telegraph into the realm of retail hell that is, in fact, Emeryville.

    We want to encourage smart growth in this city. This can only be the type of dense housing that is being proposed. Single Family residences are not economical, environmentally sound or even feasible in our economic climate.

    We WANT dense housing. This brings walkable neighborhoods by design and necessity. Please let this city grow in a proper, green and pedestrian friendly way.

    I am always amused by the “no way…we don’t want this suburban style” and that is the only input given.

    What would YOU like to see then?

  9. Patrick

    OK. I truly do understand your point, somewhat. But what do you suggest as an alternative?

    Do you agree with the basic principal that a housing development, of any sort, is a good idea for that lot? (If I were Zogby, I would rephrase that to say …a good idea for that undesirable vacant building and weedy parking lot, but this is not a Republican push-poll).

    And, assuming the answer is “yes”, in what “style” should it be built? If you read about Andrew’s walk through the length of Oakland, and really think about what he saw – the architecture! – and our city which these buildings inhabit, neither are static. As Oakland grew, it embraced a relentlessly changing tapestry of man-made structures suited to the needs of the generation who built them. Buildings are a legacy that define the desires – and the constraints – of the generation in which they are built. They change to reflect the taste, sensibilities and *gasp* needs of the current generation. I would also add, that in an era of vanishing resources, buildings must be constructed with what is available to us. The rebuilding of San Francisco – and the surge of growth in Oakland – after the 1906 earthquake stripped Marin and southern Sonoma of much of their ancient redwood forests.. Even if we wanted to, those resources are no longer available, nor would it be prudent to attempt to mimic that exploitation. To some degree, that dictates style (unless money is no object, but this is not 1999).

    So, we are left with the options: the current (well, former) Global Video building, or a new, viable development. I vote for reweaving the tapestry.

  10. Jack B. Nimble

    I think Creekside is a good looking building. Opponents are just Oakland’s version of San Francisco’s BANANA’s (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone). They only want architecture that looks exactly like what is there. It’s pathetic.

    For a street as wide as Telegraph, anything under 4 stories is quite low. This is by global urban standards.

    Global warming is here. This is an urban area. We must develop densely and end exurban sprawl.

    There is absolutely no excuse for opposing this project because of density. None.

  11. Patrick

    As an aside, the City of Oakland occupies a land area 2 and 1/2 times the size of Manhattan, with about 1/4 the population. I’m not suggesting that we turn ourselves into another Manhattan, but I think we have some wiggle room to increase density without negatively altering the character of our city. (Actually, I think it is our moral responsibility, but Jack B. already alluded to that).

  12. James H. Robinson

    I have an idea: while the affluent parts of Oakland complain and nitpick about development, let’s spread some development to the parts of Oakland that really need it. Let’s put some desperately needed retail (especially grocery stores) in West Oakland. While we’re at it, let’s renovate Eastmont Town Center and Foothill Square Plaza.

    There are empty lots along MacArthur that a begging for building. There are storefronts that haven’t been occupied in years. While some Oaklanders have the luxury of criticizing architecture, the rest of us are shopping in San Leandro. Let’s build something!

  13. Steve

    For the record, I actually don’t mind the Creekside plan, and believe that any replacement for the Global Video building, short of a pile of dung, is a positive development.

    “Most everything along Telegraph is too small”? I don’t agree.

    Part of what makes Oakland desirable is the combination of urban living and free space. You can see the hills here. Find a parking space. Sun yourself in the yard. Drop into your favorite mom-and-pop restaurant without reservations. Bike without constantly fearing for your life.

    Why densify that away?

  14. Patrick

    Yes, the status quo of the last, oh, 8 or 30 years in Oakland, nay, the country have done so much for us! Densify? HELL NO!! Terrorists! Why capitalize on our underused, crumbling infrastructure to provide housing, jobs, increased economic activity and higher tax receipts when we can BIKE WITHOUT CONSTANTLY FEARING FOR OUR LIVES? After all, it’s the best part about an empty shell of a city. Excuse me, I must go sun myself before those behemoth 5 story buildings block my access to light.

  15. James H. Robinson

    If you want density, put it in the under-served parts of the city. Encourage infill development along corridors like MacArthur Boulevard. Tear down the old motels and apartments where young mothers get shot in the head while they are sleeping. If you want a more egalitarian society, then spread the development across Oakland.

  16. Max Allstadt

    Steve, they’re not paving a damn thing. Density reduces the amount of pavement per person when you compare it to single family detached neighborhoods.

    The kind of hyperbole you’re putting out doesn’t bring any substance to this debate.

  17. We Fight Blight

    James,

    While your idea sounds downright egalitarian, the reality is that development is driven by market conditions. The areas to which you refer may not have the basic underlying economic conditions, most importantly enough people with enough income and a relatively crime free situation, for businesses to consider locating and investing capital. In the absence of a market response, we must rely on the local government through redevelopment zones, zoning and general plan changes, direct investment and other government intervention to stimulate and encourage the type of development that you would like to see. Unfortunately, the City of Oakland and our City Council seems to have neither the expertise, the money or the political priorities to do what would be necessary to encourage economic development in other parts of the City. Many City Councilpersons are too interested in maintaining their Pay Go funds to dole out as a political slush fund rather than using the limited City resources for real change.

    While many do not like the architecture that is popping up in Emeryville, the City has done an amazing job in redeveloping formerly industrial and light industrial areas and completely refashioning the City into a successful business/residential community. Emeryville is a community that is replete with businesses and shopping opportunities that downtown Oakland can only envy.

    In the unusual case where Oakland City Council/Government attempts something significant inevitably there is a hue and cry about gentrification and displacement and the need to funnel money to low income housing and Measure Y type social programs. The continued diversion of limited City funds to low income housing and Measure Y type social programs, while a laudible goal, has not served the fundamental goal of economic development and sustained job creation. Remember, in order to generate and promote businesses we need a sufficient number of people with sufficient income levels to support a baseline of business activity.

    While there is an outcry from some, such as Stand, about all of the development in Temescal, the development has a positive spin-off effect in other parts of North Oakland by making areas to the West towards Emeryville more desirable and hence able to attract more development. While this trickle down approach is limited, it is the only game in town until the City of Oakland can get its act together. Keep an eye on it, the area west of Shattuck between 51st Street, San Pablo and West Macarthur will take off considerably due to the development activity in Temescal and Emeryville. Once the economic crisis smoothes over and credit is more readily available people will realize how relatively cheap those craftsman bungalows are given their proximity to an ever improving Emeryville, a nationally acclaimed Temescal, Rockridge, Piedmont and a BART Station.

  18. das88

    To accommodate increased density, Oakland needs more park space. People will not move out of their SFD’s if they do not have some place to walk the dog, play ball with the kids, etc.

    I do not remember where, but I saw an analysis of Oakland park space. When you remove Joaquin Miller, Oakland is way undeserved compared to other cities. Additions of postage stamp sized parks like Uptown don’t do much to address this shortage.

    As to this specific conversation, the Temescal area seems particular short of parks.

  19. New Resident

    I have to disagree with das88 on hes [his/her] misuse of numbers. Small parks like @ Uptown is EXACTLY what Oakland needs.

    My small-child containing family and I left a Hayward SFD with a park a couple blocks away for Oakland. That park was DEAD surrounded on three sides by fences, and three sides by housing-only pods. The only thing that activated the space was kids walking to school. Unless the gates were locked up then it was kids hopping fences to get to school.

    Like Jane Jacobs wrote about: People don’t need parks; parks need people. A lot of land somewhere with grass may give you X% of acres per person but if it is not accessible for a child to safely walk to it is USELESS. If it is hermetically sealed off from the day to day life and travel of the neighborhood it becomes a dead space.

    We need smallish parks that are in the middle of everything and have people crisscrossing them all day and evening long. A small park within 15 minutes walk of every home in Oakland. The park at Uptown will be somewhat like that. Especially after they build the final building along Telegraph. What we don’t need is some random acres of grass in an obscure corner where almost no one lives.

    p.s. O.K. my family lives near Lake Merritt and that is big park but it is a) 90%+ water and b) a regional destination. We can’t have 100 Lake Merritts one for each neighborhood. If I had a bigger budget I might of moved into Uptown instead, but wasn’t in my price range at all, and too small one bedroom layouts; too large two bedroom layouts.

  20. Max Allstadt

    WFB:

    Emeryville gets shit done, but as I always say, have you tried to WALK around Emeryville? Pedestrian nightmare. Part of the problem is that they’ve integrated easy parking access into huge courtyard buildings. This is a recipe for a non-walking bedroom community. Still, gotta give them credit for getting things done. The best part of Emeryville is in small clusters between Hollis and San Pablo, where there are great reuse projects. Oh, and the Icon. Beautiful.

    James:

    As for Temescal, it will likely improve adjacent neighborhoods. What I want to see as far as what James is suggesting is an effort to find good development centers for two parts of West Oakland that are still a mess. Dogtown has some progress, and some good projects happening. It will find it’s center in time. The southern portion of the Prescott will ultimately fix itself by centering on BART and the few streets north of it.

    That leaves GhostTown and the north part of Prescott. The north part of Prescott can be anchored by Raimondi Park, or by growth at the five corners of Peralta, 18th and Center.

    GhostTown desperately needs a center, or it will remain GhostTown. Something needs to be build to anchor it. If I was God, I’d aim for the triangle intersection of San Pablo and West, and also at any property on San Pablo between Grand and Isabella. One or two buildings with cultural space and market rate rentals would help the rest of the neighborhood look out for trouble and abate the mess that’s there now.

    And parks. Yes. We need many more. Problem is, in West Oakland, there are small parks that are either shut down by the city or infested with addicts. If we can’t fix that, building new ones from scratch is kind of pointless.

  21. das88

    @New Resident, I am fine with small parks. I also want parks easily accessible by pedestrians. I just think Uptown park is too small. It might be all right for toddlers on tricycles, but there is no area for bigger kids to run around or for people to walk dogs. I am certainly no expert, but there is small and there is really small.

    I think on acreage, we were making the same point. According to this site – http://www.oasisnyc.net/resources/city_comparison/Park_percent_city.asp, in 2000 Oakland had 3,712 acres of parks which is 10.3% of city area.The average of the high density cities compared in the report is 13.8%. It is actually worse, though. Much as I love Joaquin Miller park, it’s 500 acres are in a low density area and don’t get as of intensive of use as more urban parks.

    I fully agree we need more parks, more park space, more accessible parks. Getting them maintained and used by residents other than addicts is another problem.

  22. James H. Robinson

    Everyone here is making well-written, well-contemplated points. I just wonder if anyone is contemplating East Oakland. That part of Oakland seems to be woefully underrepresented in various Oakland blogs. I’m sure City Council Member Reid is doing what he can, but who else is really thinking about East Oakland?

  23. Max Allstadt

    You’re absolutely right James. East Oakland needs more attention. I definitely need to go walking through it and get a better feel for it. The east-west divide in this town is really horrendous. It seems to me that there are very few people who read or comment on this blog who have much to do with East Oakland. We should seek them out.

  24. Max Allstadt

    I’m skeptical of that data V. Not that I don’t think it’s accurate. I think that das88′s mention of Joaquin Miller is a critical point. Joaquin Miller is not an urban park. It’s hard to get to from downtown without a car, and it’s far enough from the poor people of Oakland that it’s ultimately a place for the middle and upper classes.

    What percentage of Oakland’s parks does Joaquin Miller constitute? I want to be able to look at the PDFs V just linked to and adjust the figures to account for the fact that Joaquin Miller, de facto, is not IN our city, but NEXT TO it.

  25. V Smoothe Post author

    Fair enough but if you’re going to do that for Oakland and still try to compare to other cities, you’d also need to then go back and adjust every other city you’re comparing us to by discounting their own large regional parks.

    For example, according to their survey, Portland has more parkland per 1,000 residents (PDF) than Oakland and more acres of parkland as a percentage of City area (PDF), but those figures would be different if you knocked the 5,000+ acre Forest Park out of consideration. Similarly, New York’s numbers are going to be a lot lower if you discount the 7,000+ acres of the Gateway National Recreation Area within the city.

  26. V Smoothe Post author

    Also worth noting if you’re trying to do an honest comparison between cities is that Oakland has a very high percentage of its land area devoted to industrial uses (19%), so that would need to be factored into any attempt at calculating parks versus population density.

  27. dto510

    Um, Oakland has ridiculous amounts of parkland. Downtown is covered in parks, West Oakland has lots of really large parks, and there are parks in virtually every neighborhood. If you don’t think the Uptown park is big enough, then walk six blocks to Lake Merritt. I don’t understand what people seem to expect, Oakland is certainly at the top of the list when it comes to parkland per capita in the US.

  28. Kent

    V, thanks for continuing to shine the light on BRT. I would like to go to more of these meetings but have conflicts. So your blog is one way I can stay informed. You make a good point regarding the bus passenger load at the beginning and end of routes.

  29. Max Allstadt

    DTO, the layout of usable parks in West Oakland is quirky. Ghosttown in particular has none, effectively. Show me a park near San Pablo, or MLK and I’ll show you junkies, or in the case of the 25th Street Mini Park, a wall and a “closed” sign.

    V- you’re right about Gateway in NYC, sort of. It is on the side of the city. But it’s not up a mountain. And you can get there on the Subway. And it’s closest to the poorest New Yorkers.

    Still, if anybody could devise an honest metric to assess the amount of truly urban parks in a metropolitan area, it’s V.

  30. V Smoothe Post author

    Well, you can take the bus to Joaquin Miller. I do it. I certainly go there more often than I ever went to Forest Park when I lived in Portland. I’m not saying we necessarily have enough urban parks, I’m just pointing out that if you want to compare parkland between cities, you need to compare apples to apples, and can’t just discount Joaquin Miller without doing the same for everywhere else.

    I think Max’s last comment raises a more pressing issue than the amount of parkland anyway, which is park maintenance. Fitzgerald Park is small, but would be a great asset to Dogtown if anyone could actually use it.

    BTW Max, you’ll be happy to know that the 25th Street Mini Park is on our Measure WW project list, so theoretically, it will be getting fixed and reopened. The funding’s there now, at least.

  31. Chris Kidd

    The “canyons of 5 story stucco” argument just falls flat for me. In addition to the reasons given above (size of the temescal thoroughfare, density creating walkable neighborhoods, environmentally responsible planning), the “stucco canyon” argument is inherently stupid because the Temescal will *never* be wall-to-wall 5 story buidings. Never ever ever. It just won’t happen. Creekside is strictly an infill project taking place on land that is abandoned (global video) or extremely underutilized (out of place surface parking lot). Continuously occupied buidlings and profitable businesses will not forced out in gestapo-like fashion to pave the way for mega-block condos. If the developers are getting this much grief over converting a lot that currently houses an abandoned building and an empty parking lot, why would they ever go up against an established business or a community anchor? People act like devlopers and the city are eminent domaining a 5 block section, tearing everything down and throwing up soveit style block housing.

    If people are afraid of the corporatizing of temescal and the edging out of mom’n'pop places, they should be jumping for joy that a middle-upscale development like Creekside will provide an infusion of new residents with the disposable income to patronize those kinds of niche establishments. If Temescalers wanted to fight the corporatization of their neighborhood, they should have started with the suburban-style drug store strip mall at Telegraph and Claremont.

  32. das88

    My apologies everyone. I started the park discussion and I am the one that set it off course.

    What I really meant to say is that as we encourage people to opt for higher density housing a byproduct is that they are often giving up their backyards. IMHO from this perspective, the important aspect of city parks is how well they substitute for backyards.

    Different people use their backyards for different things, so they would look to parks to fulfill different things if they give up their backyard. Personally, I like to play frisbee, so Uptown park is too small and configured funky. Other people might have toddlers or just want a place to have an outside lunch. For them UpTown park is just fine.

    However, I am under the belief that if we want significant increases in density we need to get more families involved and they would want a larger park that is not 6 blocks away. While you and I might be happy to walk 6 blocks, it becomes more of an outing than just going outside to play. You can’t pop back in home to get an organic juice box and then run back outside to play.

    Even more back to the original post, the area of the Creekside project is not close to any park.

  33. Steve

    Chris Kidd says: ‘the “stucco canyon” argument is inherently stupid’…

    Thanks for the warm fuzzy, Mister Eloquent.

    Chris also says: “Continuously occupied buidlings and profitable businesses will not forced out in gestapo-like fashion to pave the way for mega-block condos”

    Learn more about the details of the Kingfish and Centrada projects, both of which require the demolition of existing and utilized residential and commercial structures. Coincidentally, the “Who is STAND?” section of the STAND site currently features photos of some of these buildings:

    http://standoakland.org/whoStand.shtml

  34. dto510

    There’s a difference between a property owner demolishing his own buildings and eminent domain. Crappy commercial structures are exactly the problem with Temescal. Its building stock is mostly low-quality Victorians remodeled in the 1930s. These buildings aren’t usable any more. Compare to the high-quality 1920s commercial structures in Rockridge, Piedmont, or the one successful block of Temescal. Bungalows on major transit corridors simply aren’t a good use of land.

  35. Chris Kidd

    Wait, wait, wait.

    You’re kvetching about a property owner demolishing a building with an empty storefront(or what looked to be an empty storefront on the STAND site) for this?
    http://www.kda-berkeley.com/portfolio/commercial/centrada_2.html

    You’re right, all of that glass frontage is really adding to the grand stucco canyon. And the project includes 5,050 sq of retail space that the design firm wants to have dedicated to groceries and cafe space. And this is a *bad* thing? As James has made clear earlier on the thread, there are other communities that would give their right hand for development like that.

    And my mockery of the dreaded ‘stucco canyon’ stands. To even begin to experience a “canyon” effect, you would need a plurality of the buildings on a street to reach a height past the natural comfort level of a pedestrian (which can often be determined by the width of the thoroughfare, the quality and size of sidewalks, the setbacks at the higher levels of the buildings and the architectural divisions that separate lower floors from higher ones to create a stronger sense of pedestrian scale). This leads me to two conclusions:
    -considering the size of the Telegraph thoroughfare, 5 stories really isn’t too tall. It’s quite nice, actually. For how wide that street is, 1 story just isn’t enough. Go look at El Camino Real in San Mateo or thereabouts. 2 story maximum and the buildings are dominated by the roadway, making it really unattractive for pedestrians. The scale is a little different, but not by much.
    -It would take *decades* to get to the point where a plurality of the street front was built up to 5 stories in the Temescal. So the stucco canyon argument against a project like Creekside, to me, still can’t carry water.

    What’s more, to get all Jane Jacobsy up in here, varying the types and heights of buildings is one of the best ways to diversify the uses and makeup of a neighborhood. The healthiest neighborhoods are those that are able to mix their uses, their times of active use, and the social and economic makeup of its residents. Now, building new condos certainly doesn’t address all of these concerns, but neither does refusing to have anything new or slightly taller be built.

  36. Max Allstadt

    As far as “Canyon” goes, look at the staff report. There’s explicit analysis of the ratio of building height to street width. 1:1 is considered reasonable in most urban settings. This building doesn’t even get close to that.

    STAND, or as I’ve decided to rename them, SHORT (Strident Hippies Obsessed with Restricting Tallness) was out in force at the planning commission last night, and they went to the podium with great hods of misinformation. John opened up by incorrectly saying that entitlements had been extended by the council for five to seven years! George made all sorts of incorrect statements about the general plan.

    There’s a reason SHORT has lost most of it’s appeals, and more recently, it’s latest lawsuit. The reason is that the arguments they bring are wholly without merit. They argue for little or no growth in a neighborhood that largely wants it.

    If the neighborhood had a problem with the Creekside, there would have been neighbors there to oppose it. The only people who showed up to oppose it last night were members of SHORT. SHORT’s dogma is in direct contradiction to long ago determined planning goals of this City. This is the archetype NIMBYism.

    I have a suggestion on how SHORT could allocate it’s time more efficiently: How about I build you guys a wall to bang your heads against? I promise it’ll be real brick, and also I’ll be sure it’s under three stories tall…

  37. Ken O

    So was Creekside approved??

    As for “four people on the bus” the only place that happens in Oakland is the 18 bus from ALbany up to Piedmont. I hardly see anyone on that short bus. Ha. Ha ha.

    The other place where I see nobody on the bus is in SUBURBIA… Fremont, Newark, Pleasanton, San Ramon, those types of places. But even there, more people are climbing aboard.

  38. Max Allstadt

    The planning commission approved Creekside unanimously. I’m sure SHORT will appeal to council. If Jane Brunner or her staff are reading this, I’d like them to make sure they take a look at the planning commission minutes. No non-activist neighbors showed up at the meeting to speak against the project. It was 6 STAND members and 1 from RCPC speaking against. As for me, I spoke in favor because of the urbanist chip on my shoulder, and because I’m now living in district 1 about half-time.

  39. I Hella Bike Oakland

    On James’ comment about Foothill Square:

    All of that is going to be redeveloped in time:
    insidebayarea.com

    In other East Oakland news Fruitvale Village Phase II will be going in on the BART parking lot.

    How come nobody mentioned Temescal Creek Park? An oasis from the madness at the DMV and traffic on Telegraph.

    Max-
    I work in Emeryville and take walks during lunchtime. Pedestrian nightmare? Really? Arizmendi’s, Ruby’s Can’t Fail, and Semifreddi’s are a short stroll on plentiful sidewalks.

  40. Max Allstadt

    Hella Bike:

    I said the best part of Emeryville was in clusters between Hollis and San Pablo, and that’s exactly where you’re strolling to at lunch. Try walking around west of the tracks. No fun.

  41. Ken

    rudy’s can’t fail is quite okay for a cafe.

    [opinion on creekside from a temescal resident, moi]

    These people who live in the new vertical structures, as has been said, would patronize local businesses such as Marc49 and the farmers market. Or at least, they would have that oppty. They will help solve ‘global warming’ by driving less and using less natural gas heating in winters. Plus, eventually your own kids will have a place to live, instead of being reduced to Antioch or Vallejo or some other bankrupt and increasingly crime-ridden suburb (or dare i say it, west oakland and its stinky port).

    I would also argue that they will be additional paying customers of the City of Oakland resort, which should lessen the tax yoke on the rest of us homeowners/renters. Higher volume = lower prices? Oakland needs more market-rate paying residential customers, instead of section8 people, a quarter of whom seem to be hell-bent on destroying their lives. These new ‘customers’ would fund further infrastructure improvements and police protection from thieves.

  42. Hayden

    A note on density & Temescal.

    Even with the recession+, there’ll continue to be population pressure in the inner Bay Area. And if we are going to achieve a number of goals: more sustainable places for people to live, reductions in per-capita greenhouse gas emissions, stronger small businesses, etc., then we likely need denser development. Where should we put it? I am guessing the arterial streets are better than the side streets. Berkeley seems to have come to the same decision albeit not without a struggle.

    But, good news, that development will help us, too–more transit riders, more pedestrians to support the growing street life and small businesses and perhaps help reduce the incidence of street crime, and for the tax base, more property sold recently that doesn’t have low prop 13 values.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing more development in other parts of Oakland, but we can remember Temescal 15 years ago had some nice blocks, but plenty of dicey parts, too. So some of what we may be hoping for in those other parts has happened in Temescal.

    And for the record: stucco? really? Did we get a really good deal on stucco in California, and that’s why we build so much with it? Are we going to run out at some point, so that we can try something else? I know unreinforced masonry is out here in earthquake country, but we can do better than the next variation on stucco.

  43. Hayden

    V,

    thanks for the park numbers. I’d suggest they’re aggregated at the wrong level, and are not necessarily representative of an individual’s experience in a city (i.e., an individual pedestrian’s range is much less than “the whole city”). For example, the New York City numbers are for the whole city, but Manhattan has very little neighborhood park space, and access to what open space there is is often tightly controlled.

    On the other hand, cities like Oakland and Chicago tend to have a pretty significant number of parks–including some quite significant ones–distributed broadly throughout the cities. Is there really a park shortage for frisbees in and near downtown Oakland, when within half a mile we’ve got Lowell Park, Marston Campbell Park, Snow Park, and of course Lake Merritt?

    We could do better, but–especially compared to many US cities–we do pretty well.

  44. len raphael

    v, any numbers for percentage of parks space specifically in temescal?
    assuming you don’t count oakland tech’s locked playing field, emerson elementary school, and former carter middle school, there is 0 public park space in the area bounded by bway, MLK, 51st and Mcarthur.

    the only space within a 15 min walk would be the graveyard on piedmont ave or mosswood, or tot lot at frog.

    the only possible site for addtl park would be the empty retirement home adjacent to tech.

    -len

  45. Max Allstadt

    I think the way to assess parks in a city shouldn’t be necessarily by percentage of land, but by accessibility, and accessibility related to income.

    How far is a park, on average from an AMI household? What about 25% AMI, 50% AMI, 200+% AMI?

  46. len raphael

    much of what i find objectionable about specific projects proposed for temescal is inevitable because the projects are all infill deals shoehorned into small wierd shaped lots.

    achieving higher density is a worthy goal for something on the scale of an uptown where the developer can be nudged into making everything work, creating open spaces etc. but when you translate that into one off infill projects, you end up with a mishmash of small developments all having to max out their heights, no green space, no plazas, no pedestrian or bike senibilities.

    if it weren’t for (fill in the blank) oakland pols and somnolent voters, i could see the advantages of a redev district with eminent domain powers in temescal.

    -len raphael
    temescal