So my attempt to not blog this week doesn’t seem to be going very well. There’s just too much going on!
So, in case anyone had any doubts on how anti-development idealogue Dr. No, aka Dan Lindheim, current Director of Oakland’s Community and Economic Development Agency, felt about the Emerald Views project, they can put them to bed now.
Normally a project would go to Design Review after the Environmental Impact Report is completed, but someone has decided that this project deserves preliminary review, except, of course, that the comments staff requests from the DRC aren’t really about design at all. Instead, the report requests the DRC provide comment on 5 subjects, 4 of which they really aren’t tasked with addressing.
Here’s the conclusion to the staff report (PDF!):
Staff recommends the DRC provide preliminary comments and direction on the design of the proposed project subject to the discussion above Specifically, staff wishes the DRC comment on:
1. The demolition of an A1+ historic resources and possible precedent setting implications.
2. The appropriateness of the site given the number of vacant lots.
3. Compatibility with the neighborhood in terms of height/scale and building design/materials.
4. Potential ability to make the required findings
5. Comments from the LPAB
Staff will return to the DRC after publication of the DEIR for final design review comments.
The report seems more focused on the “garden” than it is about the building that’s supposed to be reviewed and features a bizarro-world description of the one large public input meeting on the project.
We have a process to address to address the concerns listed above (except for “appropriateness of the site given the number of vacant lots” – WTF?), and that process, the EIR, is underway. This tone of the report strongly suggests to me that some would prefer we circumvent that process and just kill the project now, and I find that highly disturbing.
And since I know that bringing up Emerald Views and Schilling Gardens will inspire comments on the appropriateness of tall buildings near Lake Merritt, can I just point out one more time that Swig has submitted applications to build two commercial high rises just as close to the Lake as this project, immediately behind the Kaiser Center, one of which would be significantly taller that Emerald Views, and nobody is saying a damn thing about them.