A couple weeks after the initial Emerald Views public meeting, the Grand Lake Guardian has some coverage of the event. Unsurprisingly, critics of the project (well, two of them anyway), are once again talking about a land swap.
For now, the discussion is generally pointless, since David O’Keeffe has stated repeatedly that he is open to the idea of discussing a land swap. It’s up to Nancy Nadel to put up or shut up. It has been nearly a year since she originally floated the idea, and in that time, she hasn’t found anything to offer. Naomi Schiff’s suggestions for land to swap are so absurd as to not really merit response, but since Ron Dellums’s public safety agenda is still not posted, I may as well address the issue again.
Ms. Schiff’s ideas include
- The City buying land from private property owners downtown and giving it to Mr. O’Keeffe in exchange for the Schilling Garden site. (She mentions the large number of undeveloped surface parking lots downtown. One wonders we’d have fewer of these if it weren’t for people like her agitating against all development.)
- The City giving parcels they already own to Mr. O’Keeffe. She does not specify which lots.
- The City buying land from other public entities and then giving it to Mr. O’Keeffe.
- Giving Mr. O’Keeffe a plot of land that will may or may not be created at some point in the future on the other side of Lake Merritt (you know, the side without all the high rises).
And most laughably,
- Having Mr. O’Keeffe build the project on another of his properties, a tiny building surrounded by land owned by Brandywine and already zoned for high-rise office.
The last two suggestions aren’t really worth addressing, as they reveal a total failure to grasp how development works.
It is the first three that I find disturbing. Given our strapped city budget, I find it stunning that anyone could suggest with a straight face that the City spend millions of dollars to buy land give to a developer (or trade land that could be used for affordable housing) in exchange for a few thousand square feet of lawn that most Oaklanders have never even heard of, much less seen, and that sits a block away from a ginormous park and next door to a severely underutilized park. This is really just a question of priorities. It takes an amazingly bourgeois outlook on life to think this is a good use of our limited funds.