Can pedestrian friendly neighborhoods and fast food coexist?

At their meeting tonight, the Oakland City Council will be considering an appeal of a Planning Commission approval of a redesigned McDonalds at 45th and Telegraph.

McDonalds at the Planning Commission

I had not paid any attention to the proposed McDonalds expansion before it came to Planning Commission. I saw the item on the agenda, but didn’t even bother to read the staff report. After all, the big item at the meeting that night was the Victory Court stadium EIR, and I was mostly focused on that at the time.

But as I waiting for that item to come up, I watched the meeting and found myself completely fascinated by the conversation they were having about this McDonalds expansion, wishing I had read the report beforehand so I could have gone to speak.

Basically (and you can read more in the staff report (PDF) from that meeting), the owner of the McDonalds at 4514 Telegraph Avenue wants to rebuild the restaurant for a bigger store (currently, the building is just over 3,000 square feet, and the new building would be a little less than 4,000). They also want a permit to operate their drive-through 24 hours, which they have been doing anyway for years even though it they were not allowed to do so under the law.

At issue — well, let me step back a second. There are actually a lot of issues with McDonalds. A number of letters from nearby residents (PDF) submitted in advance of the Planning Commission hearing object to an expanded McDonalds (and seemingly the presence of McDonalds at all) due to concerns about litter, noise, blight, unhealthy food, the 24 hour drive-through and so on.

Those are not my issues. I don’t particularly care one way or another whether there is a McDonalds on Telegraph, or whether there is a bigger McDonalds on Telegraph than exists currently or whether they have a 24 hour drive-through. I am not really a fan of the “food” served at McDonalds, but I recognize that other people like to eat there and that’s fine if that’s what they want to do. I don’t live nearby, so I really don’t know enough about the situation to determine whether the litter concerns are real.

My concern, and the reason I donated to the appeal of the decision, is with the design of the expanded McDonalds, specifically the placement of the drive-through.

What they have proposed (and the Planning Commission approved) would situate the drive-through in front of the building, rather than behind or on the side like most fast-food restaurants. So when you’re walking down Telegraph and walking past McDonalds, you would be walking next to the drive-through, and the building would be on the other side of the cars. At the meeting, staff noted that this was chosen out of a number of different designs because it worked the best for moving cars through McDonalds.

McDonalds design

John Gatewood of ULTRA spoke at the December meeting, and his comments really do a good job of explaining the concerns I have as well.

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The biggest problem we have with this design is that the sidewalk is this isthmus, really, between Telegraph and the drive-through lane. So the building itself is completely cut off from Telegraph Avenue by the drive-through lane. And we know the owner has numerous different plans that actually bring the building to the sidewalk, and that does impact how the drive-through works. We understand that.

But we really, really think that the building needs to meet the sidewalk to make it more walkable, make it more pedestrian friendly. So our hope tonight is that you will ask staff and the applicant to meet and revisit this design and redo it so that the building does meet the sidewalk.

This isn’t some crazy, out-there idea. It is a well-established goal of the City to create vibrant, pedestrian-friendly commercial districts. Encouraging walking and creating walkable neighborhoods is part of Land Use and Transportation Element of the City’s General Plan, the Pedestrian Master Plan, the recently adopted new citywide zoning, and the recently adopted Energy and Climate Action Plan.

Going to McDonalds

So one big problem with the design is for anyone trying to walk into McDonalds (at the Planning Commission hearing, it was noted that local schoolchildren often eat lunch there). The design approved by the Planning Commission forces pedestrians trying to get to McDonalds to walk through the lane of traffic where cars are leaving the drive-through.

On her blog yesterday, Becks posted some really good illustrations of just what the pedestrian access to McDonalds looks like, both right now and under the redesign. She has kindly agreed to let me share them here.

Here’s how that flows now.

Old McDonalds traffic flow

And here’s what it looks like under the redesign.

New McDonalds traffic flow

Forcing people to walk through the drive-through lane to get to McDonalds, especially after people have completed their transaction, creates a serious safety problem.

I work very close to a McDonalds right now, and frequently walk past the drive-through exit on my way to work. This is where the cars are waiting to go back onto the street after they’ve paid and taken their food. Presumably, at this point, while they’re about to merge with traffic, they are paying more attention to the world outside their cars than when they’re just sitting in the drive-through lane. I can tell you, from watching those cars day in and day out for more than two years — those people are looking everywhere but in front of them. They are fiddling with their change, or pouring ketchup or their fries or checking their order or what have you. The street or people passing by is clearly the last thing on their minds.

I am always super careful when I walk past that drive-through exit, because like I said, the cars certainly are not. And that’s when they’re going onto the street! Think of how much less conscious of their surroundings they’ll be when they’re fiddling with their order and still in the drive-through lane! So from the perspective of pedestrian access to McDonalds, I see this design as unacceptably dangerous.

Going past McDonalds

Putting the drive-through lane at the front of the restaurant additionally creates a hostile pedestrian environment for people walking along Telegraph. Basically, when you walk past McDonalds, you would be on the sidewalk sandwiched between a line of cars on one side in front of the restaurant and the cars driving past on the street.

I don’t care if most people drive to McDonalds. They are welcome to do so and use the drive-through. What I care about is how the building design impacts everyone walking on Telegraph, whether they are going to McDonalds or not. If we are serious about encouraging pedestrian activity in Temescal, it is imperative that we consider the impacts to pedestrian activity in the neighborhood of newly design buildings.

Commissioner Madeliene Zayas-Mart’s comments at the meeting did a really good job of summing up my concerns:

Every project in Oakland, I see it as an opportunity to revitalize Oakland. There’s a lot of revitalization that Oakland needs, and every project — we are in such desperate need to make sure that we can claim our streets back for people and less for the automobile that some small details are really important at a policy level.

And that’s why I think that these small details — what may sound like a small detail is actually a big policy issue. It’s about the General Plan saying that we want to move towards — away from auto-oriented and to more transit-oriented, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods.

Telegraph actually has been identified in our General Plan as being one of our major transportation corridors in the city. And I think that for every project that we want to approve in here we want to say okay, this is a grow and change area, this is a place where we forsee a lot of activity, is this the kind of project that is going to support that vision?

I do agree with Mr. Gatewood saying that ideally what should go here in terms of what the vision of the city is, and the community as expressed in our General Plan is a mixed-use development, but in the economy that we are, we have to scale back those goals and say what can we actually reasonably expect from the developer. So that’s where I’m coming from. I want to work with the developer and try to find a place where we can actually meet and make you have a profitable business and also give the city and the community something that we need — desperately need, which is more pedestrian oriented — you know, trying to bring our streets and sidewalks back to the pedestrians.

City Council decides tonight

By a vote of 4 to 2, the Planning Commission approved the application, and the decision was subsequently appealed to the City Council. The Council will be hearing the appeal tonight. City staff, predictably, recommends denying the appeal and allowing McDonalds to proceed with their proposed design.

On Living in the O, Becks has provided some excellent talking points about why this design is not appropriate for Telegraph Avenue:

  • The approved design is the worst proposal McDonald’s initially proposed, for pedestrian experience, pedestrian safety, and the overall look and feel of this vibrant part of Temescal.
  • The approved design creates a moat of cars around the entire lot, placing the drive through directly next to the sidewalk on Telegraph, which has heavy pedestrian traffic at nearly all hours of every day.
  • Advocates do not oppose a redesign of the McDonald’s — we just want to find a design that works both for McDonald’s and the community.
  • Telegraph is designated as a “Growth and Change” corridor in the Land Use and Transportation Element (LUTE) of the General Plan. The approved design does not offer growth (Except more cars) and could disincentivize future growth by making the corner less pedestrian friendly and by increasing blight

If you can’t make it tonight, but would like to express your support for the appeal, you can find contact information for all the Councilmembers on last week’s post about McDonalds from Living in the O, as well as a couple of excellent sample letters in the comments on that post.

For my part, I’ll be at the Council meeting tonight to speak on the issue along. If you’d like to speak as well, come to City Hall tonight. You can fill out your speaker card either in person at the meeting or beforehand online. If you do the online speaker card, make sure to print out your confirmation and bring it with you to the meeting. The item number is 9.1.

The full video of the December Planning Commission meeting where this was discussed is available below.

43 thoughts on “Can pedestrian friendly neighborhoods and fast food coexist?

  1. A

    Good to see people paying attention to this redesign. The Moat of Cars is the worst design I can think of…that corner is unfriendly enough to pedestrians with cars zooming by and Big-Mac-distracted drivers trying to Frogger their way back onto Telegraph.

    I used to live right around the corner from this McDonald’s, and yes the trash is a bit of a problem. It’s the Jack in the Box right there too. My impression is that high school kids from Tech and the school right there at 45th and Webster walk along 45th to these fast food places, get lunch, and apparently toss the trash on the sidewalk and street on the way back. I think there should be two or three times as many trash cans on the sidewalk along 45th, and the fast food companies should be picking up the tab for having them emptied every day (there are some trash cans there, but they’re overfilled almost immediately).

  2. Ken O

    I prefer any design which makes the area more walkable an enjoyable to spend time in. Unforch that MCD is so car dependent for biz… how do rising gas prices affect their customer base?

  3. ralph

    Elected officials (and Ms. Kaplan, I know you are at least reading), please support the appeal. This City of Oakland wants to promote itself as being pedestrian friendly but this design is far from pedestrian friendly. I support a man’s right to make a buck and the more bucks the man makes while employing local youth all the better, but man should not make the buck at the physical expense of the people he is trying to serve.

    Upper Telegraph/Temescal is becoming a great walkable neighborhood. However, the design of this McDonalds destroys the pedestrian experience. It would also appear to add additional unnecessary risks to disabled indviduals. I encourage you to support the appeal and encourage the owner to come back with a design that is both pedestrian and business friendly.

  4. Casey

    Did this McDonald’s receive any fines or consequences for operating the drive thru 24 hours without the appropriate permit?

  5. ralph

    I suspect the McDonalds did not receive any fines. However, if the residents don’t object over time you have effectively created a permittable use (there is a legal term for this that is escaping me).

    Also want to echo some comments by the speakers. People making turns are the least likely to look for pedestrians, just ask any runner. I don’t care how slow a car is moving, no matter how you cut it a 1.5 ton vehicle hitting a 150lb person is not going to be good for the 150lb person.

  6. ralph

    We don’t have certainty because our commissioners tends to violate rules. NicNak historical interest anyone.

    We desire a pedestrian friendly neighborhood. It is part of the city’s plan. We need to start requiring it our designs.

  7. Madeline F

    Hey, thanks for posting this, with the item number and the link to the schedule and the alert that it was possible to register for a speaker card online! I was on the edge about going, since I care about the McDonald’s but work lasted until 5:45 and I was on a bike… But I checked the schedule and it looked like there would be enough stuff in front of 9.1 for me to make it. So for the first time I went to a City Council meeting… And when I got there I was able to check on my iPhone and submit a speaker request and I got to speak and say things that no one else said. It was really a neat evening, and you played a huge part in that. Thanks!

  8. Naomi Schiff

    Great work, folks! And I don’t get that part about the planning commission; there was plenty of opposition. I was there, and we had a modest but articulate group of non-Berkeleyans. Don’t know what Ms. Brooks meant there.

  9. len raphael

    Fine for people to turn out to speak on the mickeyd project, but disturbing how few if any spoke out in support of the gang injunctions.

    suppose with the departure of Russo and the decline of Batts, it was inevitable that the pro and semi pro “community organizers” would win.

    Still it seems that the younger newcomers to oakland who are active have chosen their battles to fight to be on transportation, urban design and zoning issues rather than public security and basic services.

    That will get us some vibrating streets in the safer affluent parts of town, but will be about as effective as anti violence spending in the long term to turn the entire city around.

    -len raphael, temescal

  10. ralph

    Didn’t Max speak on the gang injunction? I thought I heard his name called. I stopped listening as those misinformed kids were killing me.

  11. len raphael

    Ralph, it’s awful how the kids are manipulated by the “community” organizers. But its effective much the way a bunch of residents turning out for mickyd design was effective. difference is that in the end mickyd provides jobs and tax revenue, but the way the council sees it, the gang injunction costs money and makes them look bad.

    but can’t blame the “communty organizers” for the choice of my fellow residents to speak up about design review instead of crime, schools, or even pot holes.

    When they get mugged walking on the to be vibrating section of Tele, the muggers will be happy to accept iphones and ipads as tribute. there won’t be any cops around but plenty of eyes.

  12. Oakland Space Academy

    Len, I completely disagree with your premise. Whereas security and services, at least and especially in the short term are significant expenditures, better transport and urban design policies can be revenue generators, by bringing in more people and jobs and allowing them to connect more efficiently. Revenue that can then be used to improve other neighborhoods, both from an urban design perspective as well as security and services. Of course better security and services could do this (bring more people and jobs) as well, but this is vastly more expensive.

    Let’s face it, it is going to be very hard to attract middle-aged families back to Oakland, who may prefer better security and services to better urbanism, at this point. Far better to focus on high-quality transport and urban design in order to attract younger residents, and convince them to stay as they settle and start families, while also attracting younger families from across the Bay who prefer cities, but find themselves pushed out of San Francisco by the cost of housing.

    Perhaps why the younger activists are focusing on transport and urban design issues is that, first and foremost you must have a city worth servicing and defending.

  13. Daniel Schulman

    Len, as I understand your statement, you are “disturbed” because people came to Council to speak on one issue they deeply care about, but they did not stay to speak about an issue that you deeply care about.

    Instead of spending time criticizing others and working yourself into a tizzy perhaps you, yourself, should have set aside the keyboard of vitriol and come down to speak for yourself at Council.

  14. Max Allstadt

    I didn’t speak on the injunction item because it wasn’t an action item and there was no report presented, so commenting on the report couldn’t actually happen.

    When there is an action item, I’ll speak. Otherwise this is all theater. I also don’t think the council has the votes to defund the injunction. The council also doesn’t want to vote on this at all. The most likely outcome is a close vote against defunding the injunction, which would be a giant mess in council chambers, considering the behavior of the opponents. It could actually cause a riot in chambers.

    So, the most likely actual outcome is that the council will not vote on this for a while, if at all, and they will probably pin their exit strategy on the hopes that whoever becomes the next City Attorney will end the policy. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll still likely avoid a vote at all costs.

  15. MarleenLee

    Could it be that one of the reasons people don’t come out publicly in favor of the gang injunctions is because they are afraid? It is much easier to scream “racism” or similar nonsense to oppose the injunctions than it is to for people living in those neighborhoods to actually publicly admit that the gang bangers are terrorizing them and that they want them thrown out of the neighborhood. There must be some fear of retribution. But there is also a scary silence and lack of organization coming out of these neighborhoods (or any neighborhoods, for that matter) on issues involving life and death, like our ever shrinking police force, the gang injunction topic etc. Too bad our polititians are so good at banging the drum and mobilizing support for new taxes, and so bad at banging the drum and mobilizing support for things like the gang injunction or a larger police force!

  16. Max Allstadt

    Marleen, I’m not sure about the fear of retribution, but as far as being intimidated at the thought of being labeled a racist, I’m sure that’s part of it.

    I find the hyperbole used by the anti-injuction protesters to be offensive and divisive.

    One guy at the Public Safety Committee thought it was funny and witty to crack a prison rape joke about Ignacio De La Fuente’s son, not realizing for a moment the irony of doing that in the same speech as calling for sensitivity to ex-offenders.

    I saw a young woman call Larry Reid an uncle tom, and another person say that he didn’t care about his community. Larry lived through the Civil Rights era, and he frequently gets up in the middle of the night to console the families of young men who are murdered in his district. To say the things that these kids said about him is utterly unfounded.

    I also saw Cesar Cruz, who runs a youth program, get up and call the police a gang, and accuse them of introducing cocaine to Oakland on purpose. He also, I believe, told a reporter outside of City Hall “We don’t want to get rid of the gangs, we consider the gangs a second family.”

    I’m not sure, but I believe this is a man who gets Measure BB or OO funds work with youth after school. What is he teaching them? I don’t want to pay taxes that are used to teach kids that armed gangs are families.

    Lastly, Nancy Nadel called the injunctions “divisive crap” in the same speech in which she divisively declared that Wall Street bankers were all thieves on cocaine. I have some very nice cousins who are Wall Street bankers. They make a lot of money, give a lot of money to lefty charities, and vote for lefty democrats. Using stereotyping in a speech that was meant to attack racial profiling? Really?

    Also, Nancy called out Russo for accepting a friend request from Sean Maher that night. That probably took Russo 10 seconds on his iPhone. I wonder how much time Nancy spent looking up Russo on Facebook while she was supposed to be paying attention in a council meeting.

    There is a presumption by the opposition to the injunction that because they think they are on the right side of a civil rights dispute, they are entitled to act uncivil during the debate. It’s a depressing contradiction.

  17. livegreen

    In addition to both repeating arguments against the G.I. that are baseless, such as that it targets youth and allows for discrimination against minorities.

    This is an attempt by far-left activists to win the argument regardless of either facts, or that many of the GI supporters are either minorities themselves or have a solid Civil Rights pedigree.

    Hence their only remaining argument is to call minority supporters of GI’s “Uncle Toms”.
    No wonder so much of the African American and Asian middle class is leaving the City…

  18. livegreen

    Which leads me to the latest claim by GI opponents…that it’s all an effort at “gentrification”.

    2 OaklandLocal opinion pieces opposing the GI’s (editorials written under the guise of “analysis” or articles) detail many of the arguments of GI opponents:

    http://oaklandlocal.com/article/oakland-city-attorney-chief-police-bail-council-meeting-gang-injunctions-analysis

    &

    http://oaklandlocal.com/blogs/2011/05/prayer-relief-life-under-oakland-gang-injunctions-community-voices

  19. len raphael

    OSA, agree with you cogent analysis of the motivations of the younger activists.

    you misunderstand my position: i don’t want to improve security and basic services such as k-12 ed to attract and retain middle class families. i makes those higher priorities over transportation and good design to attract tax paying employers.

    Efficiently delivering upper middle or lower income commuters to their jobs in SF, SJ, WC, or San Leandro or to foodie restaurants matters much less to me than getting those tax paying employers to move to Oakland.

    My view is that a city of commuters is doomed until we get regional government/revenue sharing.

    Daniel, dare say i’ve put in more than my share of time pounding the pavement face to face Oakland political campaign work, and local neighborhood issues to ignore your suggestion.

    -len raphael, temescal

  20. len raphael

    Max, please post any advance warning of next public hearing on the GI at which I can sign up to speak in support of the GI’s or just show up carrying a sign :) . I promise not to wear any colored clothing.

    btw, i just tried to donate to the mickyd cause but see that it was fully funded.

    -len

  21. Navigator

    Sorry, I can’t get to the open thread. Don’t mean to interupt the discussion.

    Will someone please make sure that the area in front of the Fox Theater stays clean .Everytime I walk in front of the Fox Theater there is litter everywhere along with gum and spilled drinks all over the sidewalk. Frankly, it’s a disgrace after the city spent so much money putting in new sidewalks. The area already looks run down with hundreds of gum stains, graffiti marred traffic managemet boxes, etc.

    Phil, please make sure that the area in front of the Fox is swept and hosed down every single day. This is supposed to be Oakland’s entertainment district. Let’s make it a pleasant experience for everyone. The Paramount does a much better job keeping things nice and clean in front of its doors.

  22. Dax

    Navigator….

    Not sure as to your current residence location.

    However, how about each time you pass by the Fox, you use the 12-Step Program.

    1. Walk by the Fox.
    2. Have in your possession a small plastic bag, the kind they give you at check out at Safeway.
    3. Also have one thin plastic bag like they give you at any supermarket to put your tomatoes in…. really too thin, but just perfect for this step.
    4. Spot the offending cups or pieces of litter.
    5. Pull out your small plastic bag which you have, hardly noticeable, in your pocket.
    6. Use the other thin bag to cover your hand, like they do with pooper scooper bags.
    7. Pick up the cup or litter protected by your thin bag.
    8. Place the object de’Litter, into the small plastic bag.
    9. Knock yourself out, spend an entire 40 seconds, and you’ll probably pick up 5 or more objects.
    10. Place them in the small plastic check-out bag.
    11. As you place the last object into the plastic bag, slide off the thin plastic bag into the main plastic bag, your hand having never touched any potentially dirty litter.
    12. Take the resultant bag and drop it into the nearest trash can.

    Your total time involved, about 60 seconds.

    Your total physical effort, bending over a half dozen times. Actually good for you physically.

    Of course you won’t look totally cool.
    I mean, who would want to be seen actually picking up someone elses piece of litter. After all, YOU didn’t drop it.

    So you could do that as you pass the Fox, or you could come here and demand the city call out a crew of $100,000 (total annual compensation) employees to schedule a pick up at the Fox once a week….say every Monday afternoon.

    That way, the Fox entrance would only be messy 6 days a week instead of 7 days a week.

    Yes, you could do the 12 Step Program, but you might do it, and others wouldn’t.
    Why should you do it when others aren’t?

    The same for walkers around Lake Merritt or on any street, or in any park.
    Everyone thinks the other guy will do it, or the city will send someone over.

    Or you might even think, there are 40 pieces of litter, so I won’t even try to pick up 10 of them.

    Lots of rationalizations why people who are bothered by litter don’t even pick up one piece of it each day.

    Imagine if even 5% of Oakland’s citizens picked up just one piece of litter each day.
    I’m betting they’d outrun the production of litter generated by the litterbugs in most of Oakland’s areas.

    Instead, the power of KING LITTER reigns supreme. Once down on the ground, the cups and wrappers assume super-human powers, as though they weigh 60 pounds each, and are covered with deadly toxins.
    Daring each passer by to risk life, and back muscles, to dare pick them up.
    They laugh at the weak humans…
    Litter controls the sidewalks and knows it.

    Or as that famous writer once put it…

    ‘Why, King Litter, he doth bestride the narrow world
    Like a Colossus; and we petty men
    Walk around his huge piles, and peep about
    To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
    Men at some time are masters of their fates:
    The fault, dear Navigator, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings.’

  23. Navigator

    Dax, I agree with you to a point. When I lived in the Laurel I would clean the medium on High Street from Tompkins all the way down to MaCarthur. I’m not against everyone doing their part. The problem here is that the litter was everywhere including under the steel gate that protects the Fox Box Office and the front doors. I would of also needed a power washer to get rid of the slime of thrown away food, spilled drinks and gum stains. The planters in front that hold the palm trees are also used as garbage containers and ashtrays. That’s inexcusable for a venue which draws sold out crowds on a regular basis. If the Paramount can keep the area in front of their doors clean then why can’t the Fox. It’s up to management to make sure that the outside of their business stays clean. They can’t relly on individuals coming by randomly and picking up the incredible amount of litter and cleaning the grime. Do we want to be known for a world class entertainment district or do we want to turn away from accumulating blight and pretend it’s not happening?

    Also, another thing that bothers me about Telegraph is why all of the activity inside the restaurants is put behind closed curtains or shutters? Why not open up the restaurants so that people walking by or driving by can see the activity and vibrancy. Places like Flora, Bardogwood, Van Kleef’s, Somar, are all hidden away behind curtains or closed off areas. The street scene seems dead even though the restaurants and clubs are full. I don’t understant this hiding behind a curtain thinking that many of these restaurants seem to be in favor of. Open up the shutters and let the excitement be scene and incorporated on the street.

  24. ralph

    Nav,
    At one point, The Fox was not part of The Ambassadors program. Accordingly, they did not benefit from the regular cleaning. I am not sure if this still the case.

    I would agree with you that some of the indor activity needs to come outdoors. Narrow Telepgraph reclaim some street for tables and let the party begin.

  25. Dax

    Nav… Good for your prior efforts such as the upper High Street medium strip.
    Everyone should have their own area.
    I know a guy who cleans a very unglamorous section of Mountain Blvd. from about 200 yards north of the Zoo entrance to about 200 yards north of the Naval Hospital entrance. About a mile or so.
    Un-sung hero.
    His contribution.

    There are others.

    Now, since we have no “Open Thread” any more, can I lodge a “aghast” at the condition of Lakeshore, heading East, right underneath 580.
    How in the world can a section of road in the heart of the town become so cavernous.
    A ultra highly used section of road.

    Its like some old rutty dirt road up in the mountains.
    I wonder if anyone ever hits it at speed trying to make the light.
    Could easily send a car out of control.

    Please tell me this short section is only that way in preparation for repaving.

  26. Freddy

    FACT: In the back of the Fox is a school.
    FACT: Kids are dirty. They chew gum.

    If you wanna keep the front of your shiny little theater nice and tidy, don’t shove a school up its rear. That’s like putting mustard in your peanut butter. Word.

    ANOTHER FACT: There are a bunch of signs up about a 47 space parking lot, the kind you guys HATE. I think they’re talking about the lot we bought for $5million from Sears. The one that was supposed to be all Burning Man and everything.

    AND in other news, Lake Merritt is LAKE UGLY now.

  27. Navigator

    Freddy, That’s not a very good excuse. Go take a look at Piedmon High, Acalanes, and many other suburban schools. Also, the blight and the gum extend all the way down to all of the improved sidewalk area including the area in front of the large open space that’s slated to be a sculpture garden as well as in front ot the “Uptown” nightclub, Sears and other businesses. I will say that the small park in the middle of the Forest City development takes a beating from skateborders and some graffiti vandals. The place doesn’t look as nice as it did a little while back. Maybe the School for the Arts has something to do with that. I’m not sure who’se responsible.

    BTW the improvements at Lake Merritt have made the Lake gorgeous with much more on the way.

  28. annalee allen

    rather crude, Freddy. I thought we were all civil here. btw incorporating a school into the rehabilitated fox theater was a key component to its reopening. without it, we would still be looking at a closed unused landmark.

  29. Livegreen

    I don’t understand chewing gum but somebody who was not a kid introduced it to them and allowed them to chew it. Besides a lot of 20 somethings chew it while out clubbing.

    OSA is also helping keep more families in Oakland schools. It’s becoming an unofficial magnet, and even families who don’t get in are going to their local Middle Schools instead of moving.

    As for the Lake, around the Lake IS looking great, to Nav’s point. But to Freddy’s point IN the Lake looks disgusting. An eye into the world of what we put in our oceans…

  30. len raphael

    Can’t blame the litter problem here on the City or it’s minions. it’s the residents who sh_t in there own nest.

    Driving up Fruitvale yesterday, when a gal in an adjacent vehicle got cut off by a truck. I let her ahead of me. Then I watched as she proceed to throw not one but multiple pieces of trash out of her car window. After the second piece I honked at her.

    But what I do blame the City for is it’s revenue driven approach to beautification.
    i was going to Reed Supply on Fruitvale for a low water toilet. They’ve been there for 40 years or so. One of the owners told me of how last week the City sent him a certified letter demanding that he clean or replace the small awning on the storefront he owns a few doors down, or they would slap a lien on the property and do the work themselves. Lien fee would be 400 bucks, replace awning 600 bucks, etc. Gave him 5 days or else.

    No warning to him, no phone call, just the demand letter.

    I walked down to look at the offending awning. The top of the light colored awning was discolored from our air pollution. But compared to the blight up and down Fruitvale, it was in the top 10% of well maintained awnings.

    A week earlier the owner personally power washed the sidewalk where a homeless person had taken a dump and the city hadn’t cleaned it up.

    What i’m hearing is that CEDA inspectors are expected to drive around on Saturdays in their own vehicles looking for possible blight or construction w/o permit violators. Maybe they should be volunteering to pick up trash at the Fox instead.

  31. len raphael

    OSA, what are the direct, short and mid term tax revenue and job creating benefits to the City from improving the efficiency of public transportation so I can compare them to the costs of improving security, schools, and fixing existing roads and sidewalks.

    Re. attracting and retaining younger residents who don’t require expensive decent basic city services, i’ll bet you that if they decide to have kids, in the not so long run, as their incomes go up, most of them will move to Berkeley if they can afford it, Piedmont, Alameda, or Orinda, otherwise the further cheaper unhip burbs.

    Some will try Montclair for the mid term and some will find the money for private schools.

    One thing to accept the cost benefit trade offs of life in the flats of Oakland if it’s just you and maybe a dog, but the ratio’s and weightings change with young children.

    So a few weeks ago my pit and I stopped at the coffee place on 40th and webster. Everyone there was at least 30 years younger than me.

    As i’m waiting for my custom drink, I’m eavedropping on two tatto’d be-ringed multi hair colored couples talking about moving to Piedmont for the schools.

    No mention of BRT, demand pricing for parking, higher density zoning as a factor in their discussion of pros and cons.

    -len raphael, temescal

  32. FloodedByCEDA

    In answer to Navagitors Question

    “Also, another thing that bothers me about Telegraph is why all of the activity inside the restaurants is put behind closed curtains or shutters? Why not open up the restaurants so that people walking by or driving by can see the activity and vibrancy. Places like Flora, Bardogwood, Van Kleef’s, Somar, are all hidden away behind curtains or closed off areas. ”

    Van Klieef’s was fined for having tables and chairs on the sidewalk.

  33. FloodedByCEDA

    RE: len raphael post#32

    “But what I do blame the City for is it’s revenue driven approach to beautification.
    i was going to Reed Supply on Fruitvale for a low water toilet. They’ve been there for 40 years or so. One of the owners told me of how last week the City sent him a certified letter demanding that he clean or replace the small awning on the storefront he owns a few doors down, or they would slap a lien on the property and do the work themselves. Lien fee would be 400 bucks, replace awning 600 bucks, etc. Gave him 5 days or else.”

    It’s called predatory code enforcement….The city is out of money. How about a $1200 fine because someone elses green bin was left in front of your house.

  34. len raphael

    predatory parking fines can be beaten.

    if you’re willing to pay the fine first in person, and file an appeal, then show up for the hearing.

    estimated time about 3 hours to save 80 bucks or so. time vs money.

    example: guy parks his delivery truck in front of his business in yellow zone for ten minutes to load up. meter man comes by and shoots a picture. guy drives away on deliveries of oakland sales tax generating sales to various cities. comes back three hours later and parks in same yellow zone, but about 5 feet down from original spot to reload.

    same meterman comes by, snaps a picture and issues a ticket for staying in yellow zone for more than the max 20 minutes or so.

    -len raphael

  35. annoyed

    All due respect, Len, but I’ve lived nearby that area on Fruitvale for 24 years and have seen major improvements in the storefronts, mostly thanks to the Unity Council. Most of those storefronts on Fruitvale from E. 12th to E. 15th have been improved and look fairly attractive. The fact is, Reed’s is the worst looking business on that stretch of Fruitvale. If the issue of notice is true, that is unfortunate and unfair. But in my dealings with Code Compliance, they give people a lot of notice, too much notice in my impatient estimation, to make changes before slapping anyone with a fine.

    I spend time cleaning up my end of the block even though I have a tiny 20 gallon garbage can. I stopped a woman one day from dumping a dirty diaper in front of my house. Garbage is not particular to the Fruitvale or Oakalnd. Walk Shoreline in Alameda some Sunday morning and take a gander at all the beer cans, pizza cartons, and other garbage that get piled up NEXT to garbage cans. The cities of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco are some of the nastiest I’ve ever been in. I recall walking around downtown Tijuana and the streets were cleaner than any of those three cities.

    Californians are just nasty. The area around Peet’s coffee in Montclair is disgusting. I don’t see how anyone can sit on that bench with all that filth on the sidewalk and drink coffee. Yeecccchhhhh.

    I’m from Portland Oregeon and I’ve walked around parks in the aftermath of major cultural events with thousands of attendees and there isn’t even a scrap of paper left on the ground. Everyone cleans up after themselves. Californians are just filthy people.

    Every night in Chicago, the public works crews come out and clean up the downtown area from scraping up chewing gum to picking up trash and washing sidewalks. That would happen in Oakland when donkeys fly.

    Finally, I’m not sure why the Fox should get any more attention than say 14th and Broadway, which has considerably more foot traffic. Maybe the people who visit the Fox could exercise some garbage control. I’ve seen the long lines waiting to get in and I’m never going to believe those folks don’t generate their share of garbage.

    And while I’m thinking about why I hate dogs and dog owners, a few weekends ago I saw a woman in a blue jogging outfit and long bouncy ponytail let her dog take a giant dump two or three feet from the curb at 4th and Broadway. Right where someone would walk if they were going to the driver’s side of their car. She left the steaming pile and jogged away.

  36. len raphael

    annoyed, reed’s complaint was mostly about lack of adequate notice, not whether his awning had to be kept cleaner.

    agree with you that their storefront looks crummy, but i must admit that i have a double standard for different commercial sections of town.

    but then at least you have occupied storefronts in your part of town.

    there are long stretches of upper bway near me that have a ton of vacancies. and the occupied ones don’t look much better than Reed.

    since i rarely go to montclair village, couldn’t say. but temescal and rockridge are clean except near the schools and the fast food places.

    wendys on bway and college sends an employee around the neighborhood picking up wendy trash. mickyd on tele and bk on bway do not with marked different results.

    young, poor oakland blacks in particular are either completely oblivious to the issue or litter as a gesture of defiance against the system.

    don’t know where young poor hispanics or asians fit in on the litter scale.

    then there are the mostly white smoker Kaiser employees at 49th and Bway. no compunction about tossing their butts on the sidewalk. Kaiser consistent with dscouraging smoking, refuses to provide outdoor ash trays.

    but than Kaiser removed two of the waste recepticles that Tech kids used. Go figure.

    But many a time in Chinatown have seen old guys cough up a big loogie and land it on the sidewalk.

    Ah, diversity, isn’t it grand?

    -len raphael

  37. annoyed

    I’ve seen plenty of white folks at 14th and Broadway dressed in business attire toss candy wrappers and whatever else on the ground. It really is equal opportunity filth.

    If I owned a business in Oakland, clean up would be part of the cost of doing business. I would never expect my customers to wade through filth to buy my goods and services. There is a different attitude here about filth. Like with crime and everything else, there is a lot of tolerance for filth. There are restaurants in a certain part of town that look as if they haven’t washed the windows since Hector was a pup. It’s disgusting. The sidewalks are a horror.

    Oh dear, rant alert. Here it comes. One of the reasons I do most of my shopping in Alameda is because it is clean. That’s on top of being safer, no pan handlers, no screaming boom boxes, no car jackers, no big hassle with parking, no cars roaring down the street at 80 mph, and I that I can go to one place and hit major grocery stores and incidentals at other shops. Then stop along the way home to make quick purchases. Okay? It’s just easier and it’s pleasant. The only thing I don’t do is sleep in Alameda. I do pretty much everything else there.

    I would prefer to give my tax dollars to Oakland but every time some asshole cuts me off on Lake Shore or Grand Avenue making an illegal u-turn in the middle of the block to snag my parking place, I’m kicking myself for wasting my time trying to shop there. I’ve actually gotten into screaming matches with the great entitled ones over parking who think backing into a space from a driveway from across the street is their constitutional right. Driving in Oakland is nightmare. Shopping in Oakland is a pain in the butt. Then you walk down the street the sidewalks are disgusting. The parking lot at TJ’s has enough grease on it to lube a thousand automobiles. It smells like excrement near the back entrances of shops at that lot. I’m sorry, that is just beyond disgusting. Does no one in this town believe in soap and water?

    There are things I love about Oakland but at this point in my life, I just want things to be easy and safe. And clean. So Alameda gets way more or my tax dollars than they should. Oakland is a pigsty.

  38. Patrick M. Mitchell

    annoyed: I hear ya’. I’d much rather shop in Alameda or Concord or Austin, TX where everyone follows the rules, smiles sweetly while tipping their hat and dutifully pulls head first into their parking spaces allowing an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM of 9.6375 inches of space on all sides.

    If you want big, suburban parking lots, hosed down at regular intervals (and not with urine mind you) – YOU’RE IN THE WRONG CITY! Maybe you should become roomies with Navigator in – well, wherever Navigator lives. If you want to be a true Oaklander, you must renounce such bourgeois desires as safety, cleanliness, courtesy, fairness and effective government. Oh, and please embrace one of the overall highest tax rates in the State (aren’t both of your quantifiable services worth it?)

    In the meantime, hold a vigil or denounce a gang injunction. It’s always a good idea to continue actions that have repeatedly proven to be ineffective and detrimental. And if all else fails: riot. Certain elected officials will most likely join you and give you the support you need (and think you deserve).

  39. Oakland Space Academy

    Len, The transport improvements I would like to see (in the short term) are extremely inexpensive, if not outright revenue generators. Things like traffic lights timed for buses should be really cheap and simple, especially with the transponders already installed. And better parking pricing would bring in additional revenue, right now it is the same price to park in the Dimond on a Tuesday afternoon as it is on Grand Lake on a Saturday morning. That is bad for both Dimond and Grand Lake businesses and City coffers. Instead our regional leadership spends billions on a new bore for the Caldecott Tunnel (current toll = free), and millions for the Airport Connector (future fare = $12).

    Employers mostly locate based on convenience for upper management, so I’m not as inclined as you to specifically focus on policies to attract and retain them. My guess is that current upper management already has their opinions of Oakland fairly well cemented, which is why I think it is better to focus on attracting the folks likely to become upper management in the future. Though I think your concern for school quality is well taken, it seems to me that Oakland schools are making some great strides.

    I can probably match you anecdote for anecdote, but at the end of the day the couple you overheard was having that conversation in an Oakland coffee house, which is a great starting point. I wouldn’t expect them to be able to articulate urban design policies like BRT or higher density, mixed-use development – for them it is like water. If and when they move to Piedmont, I suspect they’ll have a much harder time breathing.

  40. Dax

    annoyed– “The parking lot at TJ’s has enough grease on it to lube a thousand automobiles. It smells like excrement near the back entrances of shops at that lot. I’m sorry, that is just beyond disgusting.”

    I don’t share that opinion.
    I think I’ve expressed my dislike for litter as much as anyone here, but that parking lot is one of the few things in Oakland that keeps me shopping here.

    I shall look around on my next visit, but your “grease” comment strikes me as strange. In fact, since the lot is almost always full when I shop, I wonder how you see the “grease” under the cars.

    I use the BofA next to Quick-Way and shall see how the operators of the new Quick-Way keep the area clean.

  41. annoyed

    Patrick: You must have be one of the rude drivers on Lakeshore.

    In fact I have organized a vigil and I tried to organize a rally in support of the injunction but everyone had excuses. Too damn bad if that offends your tender sensibililties. It sure beats only running my mouth online and doing nothing more.

    As for rioting, forget about you. I’m not some bored, junior flip, trust fund baby, anarchist brat from upscale America with nothing better to do than riot. Sorry to disappoint.

    Furthermore, I have done a lot to clean up crime and blight in my neighborhood. I live in a high crime area and over the years have spent considerable time organizing neighbors and working with the city. I spend a lot of time on the phone with Public Works, Code Compliance, sending e-mails to my PSO, NSC, and NCPC exec board, and picking up garbage in front of my neighbors’ houses. It’s why I get so annoyed to come here and read people’s comments complaing about things that they have done nothing to fix.

    I really don’t feel that bad about giving my sales tax dollars to Alameda. Oakland still gets my property tax dollars. If Oakland could bother to provide me with a safe, clean, and sane place to shop, I wouldn’t be spending my money in Alameda.

    I get it. You don’t mind the filth. As I said, I’m from Portland. It has a population of about 100,000+ more than Oakland and is considerably cleaner. It’s hardly a suburb. Like I said, Californians are filthy people and are tolerant of grime. Some of my favorite peple are Californians but they don’t know from garbage cans. It’s the one thing I miss about Robert Bobb was his war on “grime and crime.”