You thought you could get away from me, didn’t you? Alas, the irascible Chris Kidd is back with another (not-so) arcane post about the planning and zoning going on in our fair city of Oakland. This coming Monday, March 23rd, will see the first of many stakeholder community meetings for the Central Estuary Specific Plan. If you can recall, I wrote a post about this selfsame project in July (back then it was just the regular ole’ Estuary Specific Plan).
CD+A, an Oakland-based planning firm, was awarded the contract to develop the specific plan. Their associate company, Circlepoint, will be holding at least eight community/stakeholder meetings throughout the planning process. Now Circlepoint is already behind schedule by almost two months (see page 6 of the staff report), but it’s better late than never.
This first meeting will be the most open-ended in the Central Estuary planning process. CD+A will have a few constraints (measure DD, the council’s decision to preemptively designate the Tidewater[scroll about halfway down the post] area as mixed-use, etc) placed upon them, but this is the best opportunity for you, as citizens of Oakland, to impress upon Circlepoint and CD+A your hopes a dreams for a large portion of Oakland’s waterfront. If you want to make sure the bay trail has some extra brawn in its implementation, make your voice heard. If you think the area should be a nucleus for green-tech industries in Oakland, come speak at the meeting. If you think some of the development-generated user fees should be set aside to protect the flourishing artist community in Jingletown, speak your mind. Think about what you like in the waterfronts of other cities, be they San Francisco, Boston, Paris, or even Stockton. I will officially revoke your right to complain about Oakland’s waterfront if you don’t get involved.
Right now is the perfect time for the city to go through this process. It is much easier in today’s economic environment to take on these kinds of long-range planning projects because the risk that development and on-the-ground realities will outpace the planning is much lower. The project is expected to take 18-24 months. By the time our economy begins to recover and the desire for dense housing close to public transportation in interesting neighborhoods increases, Oakland will be prepared to reap huge economic benefits, further improve our beautiful waterfront, and begin to realize a small part of our city’s vast potential. For starters, I’ll be pushing for the specific plan to furnish the simple infrastructure upgrades that a lot of the central estuary is currently lacking. The neighborhoods need real sidewalks, undergrounded utilities, and sewer systems that aren’t on the verge of collapse. I know it’s a lot to ask, but hey: I’m a dreamer.
But I digress: the first meeting is on Monday, March 23rd. 7-9:30 PM at 3301 E. 12th St. Suite 201 at the Unity Council’s Fruitvale-San Antonio senior center. I highly recommend skimming CD+A’s proposal and the old EPP beforehand. I hope to see you there.