Help keep Oakland presentable

Oakland is about to get a whole lot grimier. The City’s proposed layoffs in park maintenance and landscaping are going to decimate our ability to keep things in even the moderately clean-ish state they are now.

While I don’t think that it should be up to residents to do the basics of the City’s job when it comes to routine maintenance, it appears that soon we will have to. Volunteer time that in a well-run City would keep parks or streets in an extra bright and shiny state will now be required just to keep things minimally presentable. And here’s how you can help.

The Oakland Parks Coalition is seeking people willing to become park stewards, someone willing to keep an regular eye on the state of some a particular piece of open or recreational space. The Parks Coalition lists the duties of a park steward as follows:

Basic Stewardship Role:

  • Fill out park evaluation in the fall of each year on Love Your Parks Day.
  • Monitor and report any park problems as needed.
  • Follow-up to be sure problem is resolved.

Many stewards also choose to:

  • Build community participation to assist in caring for the park.
  • Establish collaborative relationships with city maintenance staff.
  • Assist staff in determining capital improvement priorities for their park.

You can find a list of parks in need of stewards here (PDF).

And if none of those stewardless parks are near you, or maybe you just aren’t up to a long-term commitment right now, don’t worry. There are plenty of other ways you can help out. This document (PDF) provides a list of volunteer opportunities in June for street clean-up and litter pick-up. (And remember, of course, nobody’s stopping you from just going out and cleaning up the trash on your own street any old time.)

10 thoughts on “Help keep Oakland presentable

  1. Born in Oakland

    Where is Robert Bobb when we need him? Bobb’s programs “We Mean Clean” made a huge quality of life difference that persists until today. My personal pet peeve is trash blown up against chain link fences and Bobb made that miraculously disappear somehow. Public Works? Street Cleaning? Not sure how but it did disappear.

    We walk with our toddler grandson and carry a garbage bag and teach him to pick up trash alongside the sidewalk while we walk. We can keep a two block area relatively trash free by this exercise.

    When the environment is grimy it just looks meaner. Appearances are sometimes everything. Trash collection on streets and in parks may seem like something we can do without but a trash filled city sets a tone I don’t want to return to in Oakland. Discouraging.

  2. len

    BIO, a biodegradable garbage bag :)

    i’m not a big fan of personal solutions to govt problems, but I’ve started picking up trash around temescal. if the city cuts back on public trash container emptying i’ll quit. (kaiser has graciously resumed providing a public trash container adjacent to their site on 49th and bway and even tech students use it.)

    -len raphael

  3. East Lake Biker

    I’m going to start picking up the litter in the 14th Ave medians near Foothill. I tried signing up for the Adopt-A-Spot program there but apparently someone else got dibs. Either they seem to be doing a lousy job of it or they’re not making the rounds often enough.

  4. Ken O

    Unkempt parks aren’t as grim as no trash collection, no electricity and no running tap water. That’s how parts of Cambodia or Nigeria are.

    Less city service is an inevitable trend — more cuts in city services every year, until Oakland city government (along with California state and federal government) fall apart, by the wayside. Maybe it’s more accurate to say they will break down into smaller units.

    Oakland is very large — sq mi. What size social unit is governable by foot and bicycle? Probably one less than two miles in diameter. Hence, the importance of “micro-villages,” aka established thriving neighborhoods.

    As long as BART is running, these would be decent. Without, they are probably still workable: Temescal, Rockridge, Fruitvale, Chinatown, pockets of West/East Oaktown, etc.

    I’d give CA state and federal government ten years at most. (2019)
    Oakland? Each micro-village or neighborhood/region will be left to its own resources and self-government by that time. Better than none.

    So what’s the backstory to all this? What’s the map?

    “Money” is backed mainly by energy.

    America as we know it (rising middle class wages until oh 30 yrs ago, technological improvement, 24hour convenience stores, easy credit) is all based on cheap energy.

    Oil is pumped and _traded_ worldwide, and the world’s oil supply is declining at 9.1% PER YEAR, per a leaked report from the IEA last November.

    If you understand this, you will understand the road our country (and thus city) will walk in these next few decades.


  5. dave o

    Ken O,
    There is a voice in my head that has a kind of transition response to many of the postings that I see here. If you see things in terms of the views of Rob Hopkins or Richard Heinberg, then many of the opinions expressed here seem completely clueless. People talk about having classy restaurants or whatever. My God, how are people even going to eat when things really start breaking down! Anyway, I want to thank you for your post. Some will say that it is off-topic but it is the larger truth that should frame many of these topics.

    With that in mind, I keep a couple of garbage cans on the street and do local trash pickup myself because, like you, I expect support from City Gov to get weaker and weaker. And sometimes I give little micro-jobs to homeless people to pick it up.

  6. Andy K

    Even in “good” times, trash is only picked up once a week at Oakland Parks.

    If you have a picnic, or outing at an Oakland Park i suggest the pack it in, pack it out approach.

    This is especially critical with youth sports events. On a typical Saturday, there can be 16 teams playing on one soccer field. That means 16 post game snacks – juice boxes, cookie wrappers, orange peels, etc. Not to mention water bottles – bringing reusable water bottles from home is the way to go. At some parks, it is typical for the trash cans to be filled to overflowing by late morning on game day.

  7. Patrick

    In this instance, it may actually be best to remove the trash receptacles. People who would throw their trash on the ground will always do so anyway, but in the absence of receptacles, perhaps non-piggy types will get the hint.

  8. Navigator

    Yesterday I took a 3.2 mile stroll around Lake Merritt with my wife. We were both appalled at the disgraceful condition of the Lake. We saw overgrown weeds, algae, goose poop everywhere, benches, light standards, paths, and utility sheds, all covered in graffiti. The paths near the children’s play area were disgusting and completely inundated with goose poop. The bird sanctuary area was another disgrace. We saw crumbling docks, a filthy “beach” area near the bandstand, crumbling paths near the Children’s Fairyland sign, graffiti on a retaining wall where the Lake meets Grand & Harrison, etc.

    It’s sad to see the deterioration of Lake Merritt. Even the new paths on Lake Shore already look dirty and stained. With the light colored concrete paths, it won’t be long before the goose poop, the spilled drinks, the gum, and the graffiti turn that investment into another eyesore. It seems to me that Parks & Rec has been neglecting Lake Merritt for a while now. Will we really notice a difference from the present embarrassing conditions?

    Why invest money in Oakland in Measure DD funds when it all goes to waste. The improvements will not be maintained and the idiotic vandals which run amok in Oakland will destroy what’s left. Spend the money in a place like Walnut Creek instead where it wont go to waste.

    Lake Merritt has turned into a complete eyesore. I’d be embarrassed to bring anyone from out of town to see “Oakland’s Crown Jewel.”