Center 21 lands a tenant! Life gets slightly easier for Mosswood area dog owners.

I’m swamped with real work, so I’m keeping things on the short side today. Click through for some administrative updates, news on Center 21 and Mosswood Dog Park. Oh! And the City of Oakland’s Christmas wish list.

  • Over the weekend, I managed to find myself a little time to spend working on the site. The ancient About page still isn’t updated, but I did add a bunch of new links, which I’d been meaning to do forever. Oh, and I added a new feature I’m quite excited about. In response to many reader requests, I have now added an e-mail subscription list. Sign up, and you can get all new A Better Oakland posts delivered straight to your inbox. I, of course, hate stuff like that cluttering up my inbox and encourage people to use RSS, but for those who haven’t yet discovered the myriad ways that feeds improve your life, this’ll work too.

  • I agreed with Chip Johnson today that Dellums’s administration is not transparent, although I’m not sure why anyone would find the weird secrecy and inaccessibility coming out of that office surprising. It seemed pretty clear to me two and a half years ago that this was going to happen.

  • OMG! OMG! OMG! Center 21 got itself a tenant! Finally. 38,000 sf down, only 177,000 sf to go. I’m thinking things should get a little easier for CIM from this point on – nobody wants to be the first to move into a completely empty building. And maybe, just maybe, if somebody could do something to make Shaw Plaza look less gross, we might see the rest fill up relatively quickly.

  • One of the things I really don’t like about Oakland is how unfriendly the City is to dogs. The fact that you can’t even take your dog to a park on a leash is totally insane. When I tell people from other cities that, they don’t even believe me. Over Thanksgiving, I had to go and print out the applicable section of the Municipal Code before my family would accept that I hadn’t just made it up.

    Anyway, things are going to get just a little teeny bit easier for North Oakland dog owners soon. Tonight, the City Council will amend the code (PDF) to allow you to walk your dog on a leash on a specified path through Mosswood Park in order to get to the dog park. Yes, you read that right. See, we opened a dog park in Mosswood Park back in March. Which is nice, right? Problem is, nobody thought about how people were supposed to get their dogs to the dog play area, since dogs, even leased dogs, aren’t allowed to walk through the park. The amendment will permit dog owners to take their dogs on a leash through specific paths in the park to get to the dog area. We would have already done this, but when the item came to the Life Enrichment Committee back in November, they didn’t even have a quorum so they couldn’t vote on it and it had to wait another month.

  • Tonight is the last Council meeting before Christmas! You can view the agenda (PDF) here, but I’m warning you now, there’s nothing exciting going on.

  • I haven’t had time to examine the requests from every City in the US Conference of Mayors Mainstreet Economic Recovery Plan (PDF), but if the 20 or so large cities I have managed to look at are any indication, Oakland has once again completely missed the boat, or the point, or whatever. Sure, there’s no reason to think that the Obama administration is going to give cities all, or maybe even any, of the money they’re asking for. But in the event that whatever economic recovery package that gets settled on does involve giving large amounts of cash directly to cities for infrastructure projects, the projects that get funded are probably going to come from this request, and we completely blew it. You can look at the requests from all the cities here.

    Basically, most cities are requesting a relatively small number of large sums for major job-creating public works and infrastructure type projects. Us, on the other hand? We submitted a pathetic laundry list of small projects the City is planning on doing eventually no matter what, like a new document management system for Public Works, and asked for way less money that we should have. There is also absolutely no logical relationship that I can discern between the projects we’re requesting funding for and the jobs they’re supposed to create. For example, we put a new helicopter, to replace our old one, on the wish list. Okay, fine. Helicopters are expensive (the request is for $2.5 million). But how is buying a new helicopter to replace an existing one going to create 30 jobs? The whole list is just so depressing to me. It represents a complete failure of imagination and aspiration on the part of the City.

  • Sweet Melissa’s take on Gavin Newsom’s seven and a half hour YouTube State of the City speech had me laughing out loud. My favorite part:

    Immediately numbed by the substance of the speeches, my mind wandered to the question of why he chose to address us in this fashion. He claims to want a dialogue, a discussion — yet the comments section of the videos is turned off. Part closing argument, part infomercial and part desperate babbling — as if, like Scheherazade, he has to keep talking until the sun comes up — these lengthy monologues do not invite conversation.

18 thoughts on “Center 21 lands a tenant! Life gets slightly easier for Mosswood area dog owners.

  1. Max Allstadt

    I still don’t get why we need to have segregated parks for dogs. Is it the environmentalists insisting that birds are protected from dogs going near them? Is it wussy humans who are afraid of dogs going near them? Perhaps germophobes who are worried about catching canine flu? I mean really I can find absolutely no good reason for this policy. I don’t know the answer to why it exists, but my money is on anti-fun lefty-fascist wimpocratic whining.

    And for that matter, has anybody noticed that dog enforcement in parks is totally random? Remember, we have no walking cops.

    We have more dogs than babies in this town, but many of our dog owners don’t even know they’re not supposed to take their dogs into most of our parks.

  2. Art

    Actually, there’s a very good reason to have dog parks—you can take your dog off leash there. I love dogs, but I wouldn’t necessarily want them running all over a park like Mosswood, with traffic nearby and picnics and tot lots and soccer games. (I do think it’s crazy to forbid them on leash on paths, but that’s another story.) And some dogs aren’t good at staying near their owners on a walk if they’re off-leash; dog parks are safe spaces for them to run and chase things and play with other dogs without potentially running into traffic or small children. With the possible exception of the paths along Lake Merritt, where there seem to be dogs all the time, I think most dog owners are well aware of the regulations, too, even if they sometimes choose to ignore them. The rules are pretty regularly enforced in the parks where there’s a police presence, including Mosswood (where we were once stopped by a cop on a loudspeaker as we walked illegally from Broadway to the dog park and informed that in the future we should drive our dog to the Webster Street parking lot). Now we sneak through on the unofficial path next to Kaiser, which is technically not in the park but is full of feral cats and squirrels, so it’s not exactly a fun walk (or it’s a very fun walk, depending upon which end of the leash you’re on). I, for one, am psyched about the new rules!

  3. Patrick

    Dog parks are enclosed…which is for the dog’s safety. And although it is often difficult for people who do not own/like dogs to accept, to non-dog owners, your pooch is just a shit producing machine. And when people are in the park, they don’t want to see flies buzzing around, smell the pungent aroma of, or step/slide in a steaming heap of dog shit. And before you say it, NO, people do not generally clean up after their dogs.

  4. erocking

    Aaron, that’s really the only thing that’s out there about “Shaw Plaza”. I agree, the place could be mega cool, if only it could get off the ground. My guess is that Mr. Shaw either couldn’t find a master tenant to fund the improvements (again, sad that it couldn’t be Bakesale Betty) and/or ran out of money to do them himself. A tragic waste of what could be a fantastic space.

  5. Max Allstadt

    I never said anything about off-leash dogs in parks. I mean on-leash. Off leash in dog parks.

    As for the shit issue, issue shit tickets, not dog tickets. I see dogs in parks all the time in SF and NY. They fine for not cleaning up. Works well.

    Why should someone who picks up after their leashed dog be kept out of our parks? I really want to know how this started, and why it persists.

  6. Patrick

    If our city cannot keep sidewalks feces free, how can we expect them to patrol parks? Besides, someone would likely complain that ticketing for dog shit is as big a waste of police resources as ticketing for jaywalking (I think I read that somewhere…).

    The “no dogs” law persists for the same reason that riding a bicycle on the sidewalk is illegal: not everyone does it in a manner that is considerate of others. So, they make it illegal for everyone. It’s certainly easier than having civil servants perform their jobs. And, if the city can’t keep its citizens from tossing garbage on the streets where they live, the chances of getting people to pick up their dog’s shit is nil.

  7. V Smoothe Post author

    I don’t think that it’s always a waste of resources to issue tickets for jaywalking. I do think that it’s a poor use of police resources to have between three and four officers on one corner all writing jaywalking tickets for lengthy periods of time while completely ignoring the fighting, extremely aggressive panhandling, and public urination going on right in front of them on the same block.

    In any case, I would be very surprised to learn that the issue of dog excrement has anything to do with on-leash dogs being forbidden from public parks. It makes zero logical sense. After all, on-leash dogs are welcome on sidewalks. We have a law mandating that people pick up after their dogs, and based on the lack of dog feces I see on sidewalks where people routinely walk dogs, I’d have to say that it seems like it’s widely obeyed.

  8. Max Allstadt

    It’s not just widely obeyed, it’s enforced by the public as well as the cops. Most people are embarrassed to leave dogshit behind if anybody’s looking. I scold people when I see it.

    As for the tie in between dog laws and bike laws, this goes back to one of my favorite principles: Don’t punish the many for the sins of the few.

    Fine for not cleaning up, not for having a dog.
    Fine for being drunk in public, not for having a drink in public.
    Fine for riding dangerously, whether in the street or on the sidewalk.
    Fine for playing your stereo too loud in the park, not for playing your stereo quietly.
    Ban exploitive, publicly visible strip clubs, not all strip clubs.
    Discourage junk food laden convenience stores, not all convenience stores (we actually already do this to an extent).
    Regulate the impact of cabarets, don’t regulate all cabarets to the point where only the very wealthy can afford to start one.

    Seriously, this town has a fun problem. The beginning of the way out is to stop punishing the many when the few are to blame.

  9. Jennifer

    Max – please come to my neighborhood and scold the people who leave dog poo on the street. I see so much when I am out walking my dog! Oak Street between 4th and Embarcadero . . . It’s all all over the walkways down by the water. Bad citizenship.

  10. Patrick

    I did not mean to suggest that dog excrement was the specific reason for the law; it just happened to be the first thing that came to my mind. However, I would argue that people *may* be more likely to rationalize leaving a pile of poo under a bush or on a grassy knoll as a back-to-nature, fertilizer sort of thing, as opposed to a pile on a concrete sidewalk. So, if not that, what then? An overreaction to the many pitbull attack stories of the late 90′s? An irrational fear of being licked to death? Although I am a person that stops to give well-deserved belly scratches to dogs I meet on the street, I know several people who are terrified of dogs. Whom shall we protect? The rights of dogs vs. the rights of humans argument will never fly, but I think most people agree on the rights of humans to own dogs. Hence, dog parks.

    I agree with you Max, in principle, regarding the punishment of the many for the sins of the few. I disagree, however, on certain salient points. If a dog poops on the sidewalk, we have something clearly defined: either it’s cleaned up or it isn’t. What is “too drunk” in public? It’s a qualitative decision that forces a police officer to be cop, judge and jury. (I do completely agree that adults should be able to open a bottle of wine in the park, but I’m forced to play devil’s advocate). Our city government has enacted laws against riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. Why? Craft a law that defines safely riding a bike on the sidewalk, add in a 20% margin of error, and I guarantee that law will state: “walk your bike when on a sidewalk”. Again, qualitative from any perspective. What is “too loud”? I hate gangsta rap, so too loud to me is “loud enough to hear”. Is it fair for me to judge loudness based on what I like to listen to? What if I were to approach a police officer, who is humming to a tune, and say “that is too loud”? Who gets to decide? Aren’t all strip clubs exploitive? What is the difference between exploitive and non-exploitive? College-going white girls vs. a recent emigre trying to earn passage back to country X? Who decides that? What is junk food? Apple juice and Hawaiian punch have almost identical sugar and caloric profiles. But apple juice has 4% of the daily requirement of vitamin C, and Hawaiian Punch has 100%. Shall we ban apple juice? I get what you’re saying, but it seems a bit populist.

    The cabaret issue is completely different. It is part of our country’s vehement “what about the children” anti-adult sentiment. To suggest that an adult venue (think alcohol-serving, not peep shows) will automatically have negative impacts suggests prescience. Our city government doesn’t really have a grasp of what is going on right now, let alone what *could* happen. THIS is perhaps one of the most irritating of all things to me. In Europe, it seems, kids are groomed to be adults. As well it should be, as we are adults for the majority of our lives. Feel good measures like OO, while our schools are underfunded, are shocking.

  11. Max Allstadt

    Well, I just listed a lot of my personal views about civil liberty in that rant. It’s tricky to draw lines, you’re right. But the principle is very very important.

    About strip clubs: It’s hypocritical to say you support a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body when it comes to abortion, but not stripping. It’s called sex-positive feminism, look it up everybody, it’s a part of third-wave feminism, and most of our electeds are operating in a second-wave mindset. The Lusty Lady, in SF, is unionized. There are models for doing it right. One is to ban stage fees. At the O’Farrell Theater, women pay a lot to dance, and have to make it up in tips. Ban stage fees and the pressure to engage in prostitution goes down. Not that this will ever happen in Oakland…

    Loudness can be quantified by how far away an officer can hear the music. Inaudible at 50 feet, perhaps. Drunkenness… ever heard of a breathalyzer? Isn’t there one in every cop car? The point is, if I want to have a picnic in the park with my girlfriend, and I want to bring a bottle of wine, and we walked there… why is that a problem? Throughout Europe and Japan you can do this. I think public consumption laws are a leftover from prohibition era namby-pamby progressivism.

    Anyway. A few defenses. The principle is what matters.

  12. oaklandhappenings

    V, I am also really happy and relieved about Center 21 getting a tenant. It’s about frickin’ time! What do you think this means for 1100 Broadway and its future? The last that I heard, SKS is STILL waiting for an anchor tenant, before any building gets done. I really like the look of this building from the renderings, even if it does dwarf the old key system building that will be adjacent to it. C’mon, SKS, be optimistic, or just build it, and they will come…please?

  13. Patrick

    I never said I disagreed with a woman’s right to do what they want with their body, only a government’s right to decide what IS and ISN’T exploitive. I suppose the real question is more of what a woman chooses vs. what a woman believes they have no choice in. As a man, I should probably leave the argument to females.

    OK, loudness at 50 feet. What if a someone sits down 20 feet from me…who protects my “I’ve got dibs” space? I’m picturing OPD in the park with a tape measure. Oops! You’re at 48.3 feet!

    Breathalyzer? I’ve met many a person with one drink in their system who acts like a complete asswipe vs. a professional drunk who is entertaining the room. Which one is the public nuisance? The breathalyzer would indict the professional drunk. But to whom would the police administer the breathalyzer and “win”? I suppose we can legislate using the “protecting one against themselves” argument, but that is kind of like strippers.

    Fully agreed on enjoying a perfectly legal beverage in a public space. Consumption laws are definitely remnants of prohibition, though there is nothing progressive about those laws (DHL recently pulled out of shipping alcohol to the US because of our patchwork system). As I am in the wine biz, I deal with these archaic laws on a daily basis. Most alcohol laws revolve around the collection of taxes; new laws are promulgated to protect children and family values (distance laws from schools, churches, etc.). So much for the separation of church and state.

  14. Max Allstadt

    Yeah, Patrick. I said they were complicated issues. Massive tangent. Slippery slopes. Again, it’s the principle of personal accountability versus legislating morality in broad strokes.

    Maybe the breathalyzer is just the evidence clincher, the initiator to a bust would just be somebody acting like a drunk jackass. I gotta look up how the rules are written in Europe. Surely the Germans or the Swiss, being as detail oriented as they are, have managed to create something in writing that says when you cross the line that separates wine-sipping-picnicker from pain-in-the-ass. If I know where the line is, surely it can be put in writing.

    What it all boils down to is that we need to have an active pro-fun agenda. Perhaps we could start the crusade for public consumption with a big toast at city hall plaza…

  15. Patrick

    I think it may be more of a cultural thing. In Europe, someone arrested for public intoxication may be more likely and accept the situation for what it was. In the US, it would probably turn into a lawsuit against the city, the police officer, the bar, the alcohol producer, a 2-part Jerry Springer special and cries of “racial dimension”. I don’t think it is fully definable from a legal standpoint, as it relies on a qualitative assessment. So from a US police officer’s standpoint, unless there is apparent imminent harm, it is probably easier to ignore the situation rather than act. Purely conjecture, but it seems possible.

  16. Navigator

    Signature Properties at Broadway Grand, or the owners of the new 21 Franklin Building, should buy Shaw Plaza, fix it up, and lease it. Putting that blighted property to good use would help both those developments tremendously.

  17. shakeel

    I’ve worked in the Shaw Plaza/Center 21 area for almost 9 years, so I’ve seen that area change quite a bit. The shiny new miami vice looking building replaced the old Bermuda Building, which had been abandoned since Loma Prieta (or so I heard), and was famous for being a pigeon sanctuary and losing bricks off it’s facade after storms (the sidewalk around the perimeter of the building had to be closed so pedestrians wouldn’t get brained). I used to get a kick out of watching the local hawks hunt pigeons above and around the

    Shaw Plaza, however, has remained pretty much unchanged. I see an DIY-looking crew banging away inside that potentially very cool corner unit every once in a while. I’ve managed to sneak a few glances in there, and recently it looked like they were reframing the interior and redoing the floors. It’s no where near being ready, probably another 4-5 years at the current rate.