Is Good Vibrations a good fit for Lakeshore?

Remember the fireworks last December when an application for an adult entertainment shop in Uptown came before the Oakland Planning Commission? KTOP viewers have a sequel in store tomorrow!

At their meeting tomorrow night, the Oakland Planning Commission will consider a conditional use permit to allow a Good Vibrations to open up on Lakeshore.

The store would have the same conditions of approval (PDF) as Feelmore510 received — adults-only entry, no massage, booths, or clothing-optional activities, and windows displays that do not contain explicitly sexual materials. You might think that, since the style and operations of Good Vibration stores are pretty well known, it would be less stress-provoking that Uptown’s Feelmore was, where all anyone had to go on was good faith in the owner’s intentions. (For the record, I live down the street, and Feelmore has proved to be a good neighbor and an excellent addition to the area.)

You might also think that a neighborhood that manages to produce so many children wouldn’t be particularly puritanical about sex. But you would be very wrong.

Staff has recommended approval of the permit (PDF):

In addition, the Lakeshore/Grand Lake Theater district has transformed into a specialty shopping and lifestyle area for educated singles and families. Thus it is not unreasonable to introduce a low-key retail establishment catering to adult items and sensuality, although restrained in presentation since more families use these sidewalks. The business model, along with conditions of approval as accepted by the applicant, this Adult retail activity should not have adverse impacts at this location.

Many Grand Lake residents, however, disagree.

What about the property values?

Objections generally seem to focus on the idea that Lakeshore is a family-oriented street, what with all the children’s clothing stores and yogurt shops and such, and therefore has no room for adult-oriented retail.

The City received a number of letters on the subject, mostly opposing the store. Here are some excerpts from the letters included in Wednesday’s Planning Commission report (PDF):

The sidewalk in front of the proposed location is very narrow and it’s impractical and wrong to expect parents to avoid this area or distract their children each time they walk by.

Furthermore, the addition of an adult bookstore changes the character of the neighborhood and I’m concerned about its effect on our community, property values and the image of Oakland.

…a good portion, if not a majority, of the foot traffic at this location is families walking with their children. I, as a local home owner and the Father of two young children, will be more hesitant to walk this street knowing that an adult-only sexual accessories shop is at this location.

In short, our neighborhood is not a good fit for Good Vibrations. They should consider Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, near the piercing and tattoo shops abuzz with college students. But a family-centric neighborhood is not a good idea…I am already cringing at the questions I will get from my daughter about what they sell at the store.

This is to register total OPPOSITION to Good Vibrations on Lakeshore — are you kidding me??

I know we’re all supposed to be as sexually liberated as those good people at GV but the fact is who wants to bump into their neighbor inside a sex shop let alone be seen by hundreds of other locals.

Not everyone objects

For my part, I don’t particularly care much either way. I think the Grand Lake neighborhood in general is a little ridiculous about rejecting businesses that don’t meet their narrow ideas of what belongs in a neighborhood retail district. (The rejection of Out of the Closet springs to mind, as does the successful effort to block a proposal to put a upscale quick service burger and fries restaurant in the shuttered Kwik Way, only to have the spot sit hideously blighted for several years until everyone rejoiced when a upscale quick service burger and fries restaurant eventually opened.)

I also think the people objecting could stand to take a deep breath and chill out a little over the whole “what about the children” thing. Kids aren’t idiots, and if you’re letting them watch basically any TV or movies, they understand already that adults sometimes do things that they don’t, stuff that involves touching and removing clothing. In the town we lived when I was younger, where the zoning codes were less restrictive/non-existent, we had a adult store right next door to a restaurant our family frequented, and not a classy one like Good Vibrations either. Somehow, my sisters and I survived.

Still, I don’t live in the neighborhood, and picking and choosing the stores they want seems to be a Grand Lake thing. If they’d prefer empty storefronts, well — that’s really their decision.

Comments on the question over at the Grand Lake Neighbors website are more evenly divided — plenty of people in favor of Good Vibrations and plenty against. (And pretty much nobody in favor of a potential new Wingstop, which is apparently some sort of chain that sells lots of different flavors of chicken wings?)

Comments on the website in opposition to the store overall are a little less restrained than the letters submitted to the City:

Not to mention, how many of us want to be seen frequenting the store in our own’hood only to bump into your neighbor, vibrating dildo in one hand, frozen yogurt in the other!

Good Vibrations on Lakeshore? How tacky! Ummmm…”upscale sex shop” is an oxymoron. I think their presence would really downgrade our neighborhood. They are located “across from Bloomingdales” on the Mission Street side on the wrong side of Mission, which is where they belong. I think another neighborhood would be more appropriate — perhaps International Blvd? West MacArthur?

Of course, those in favor of Good Vibrations opening aren’t holding back either:

Yes to both! As a father of a four year old who freqeunts the farmers market, Yogafina, the baby clothes store, Arizmendi and Monkey Shala. I am completely for GV moving in. Welcome. A great store, with wonderful products that enhance peoples lives beautifully. If you’re worried that people may think you’re sexual than don’t go in. If you happen to see someone go in who you know and you feel embarrassed than I’m afraid you probably have a few problems needing attention.

…I am a firm supporter of Good Vibrations erecting their store on Lakeshore. We already have other stores that cause children to ask questions about sex, “Daddy, where do the children that wear Baby Gap clothes come from?” Personally, I am still shocked that there is a store selling bedding on Lakeshore without covering up their windows. I blush every time I walk by and see the clean sheets on display.

As for the other businesses, Lakeshore BID Director Pamela Drake chimed in to note that the neighborhood merchants are “for the most part” in favor, and later indicated in a message to the City that the BID had voted to support Good Vibrations but had some concerns about the specifics of the exterior design.

What will the Planning Commission say?

We’ll find out tomorrow. The Good Vibrations permit is on the Planning Commission agenda for Wednesday, September 21st (PDF). The meeting starts at 6pm in Sgnt. Mark Dunakin Hearing Room 1 at Oakland City Hall. If you’re not going in person but want to see the excitement, tune in to KTOP, Comcast Channel 10, U-verse Channel 99, and also available streaming online.

64 thoughts on “Is Good Vibrations a good fit for Lakeshore?

  1. Ravi

    Amazing how uptight, narrow-minded and puritanical so many of these “highly educated,” “progressive” and “pro-diversity” Oaklanders are. It all comes under the category of NIMBY I guess.

  2. Tonya

    I just participated in a survey with Grand Lake Neighbors. I have no objections with Good Vibrations..since I haven’t heard anything negative about them.

    I wonder about delegating Lakeshore as a ‘family friendly’ spot. Why Lakeshore in particular? Why not Piedmont or Temescal or Laurel..

  3. ralph

    There are $500K+ condos across the street from SF Armory and next door to the GV store in the Mission on Valencia, I am not exactly worried about property values.

    Got any idea what does depress property value?

  4. Pamela Drake

    The final tallies from the Grand Lake Neighbors’ survey was 65% in support of GV and 24% opposed when you add together the strongly support/oppose with the support/oppose.
    My sense of the merchants amounted to a generation gap-many of the younger women doing business nearby are very much in favor of bringing this business in and feel it will lure young couples some of whom even have children (who woulda thought?). Some of the older shopkeepers are vaguely opposed or unsure, one definitely opposed.
    I think the posting for adult entertainment, conjuring visions of peep shows, is one of the things which made some folks anxious. I don’t think we’re nearly as reactionary as you describe us, just more actively engaged.
    Not that we don’t have lots of reactionary neighbors-they’re just more likely to express it. I believe that GV will get okayed and will be a good neighbor.
    Still, the dog park seems to have raised more hackles and elicited more useless yapping than one could ever have imagined-so who knows.

  5. Amanda

    I would not take the letters submitted to the planning commission as a representative sample of the neighborhood. For better or worse, people opposed to things tend to be much more likely to write letters than people in support or indifferent, which is where I would guess most people are in this case.

    Also, regarding the Fatburger vs. new Kwikway – the main thing we were opposed to about the Fatburger proposal was the drive through window, which the new one doesn’t have. In defense of our neighborhood, I think holding out for a non drive through option makes Lake Park much more walkable and was totally worth it.

  6. Max Allstadt

    Again? Am I going to have to go to the planning commission and give my “dildos and butt plugs are good because they make people happy” speech again?

  7. Art

    Ugh, this whole thing frustrates me! Agreed with Ruby (and Ravi).

    I have no issue with looking at Lakeshore as family-friendly…but I think Good Vibrations has done a nice job of showing that they can fit into family-friendly neighborhoods with little trouble. And honestly, we don’t need more children’s stores or gymboree-type spots (or yogurt/yoga/cell phone stores, which I guess are considered family-friendly given that people don’t seem to object to them?)—that would be far more likely to have a negative effect on the existing businesses! So I guess I don’t see the two as being in conflict. (And yes, I say this as a neighborhood homeowner and parent…I’m really not worried about GV affecting either our home’s value or the kiddo’s moral values!)

    I do agree with Amanda on Fatburger, though. That was before my time, but as a frequent pedestrian and biker on Lake Park, I’m really glad there was pushback against a drive-through. That’s my issue with Wingstop, too—not that they’re a chain (where was the chain opposition when TJ’s wanted to come in??) but that fast-food restaurants are supposed to be conditional uses on Lake Park if they can meet criteria like not affecting the pedestrian environment. I don’t buy that a restaurant where you can place your order online for pickup is not primarily catering to takeout customers (main distinction between fast-food and limited service restaurants in the zoning), and I don’t buy that it won’t affect the pedestrian environment on Lake Park, given that there is no nearby parking—unless by parking you mean the bus stop in front of the restaurant whenever the traffic cops aren’t around.

  8. JSBA

    Build it. Oakland needs all the business it can get, and this is actually a very well respected and successful business. To the letter that told the GV to go to Berkeley, why are people so adamit about giving away Oakland sales taxes to other cities that don’t have a problem with sales tax revenue. The developer of fourth street in Berkeley wanted to do it in Oakland but was shot down. Bet we wish we had it now.

  9. Rust Belt Refugee

    Oh well. I have to walk my kids past a Baptist church and a libertarian sausage shop. I don’t complain about that.

  10. johnl

    I’d much rather see another cell phone provider on lakeshore than gv. Oh wait, there isn’t one left…I guess gv it is then.

    All kidding aside, the outrage by some in the community against gv is just ridiculous. The store front on San Pablo Ave is so bland you wouldn’t know what is inside unless you actually stepped foot in the store. It’s those individuals sense of shame and uncomfortableness with sexuality that is truly the issue. And the idea that Lakeshore is primarily a family neighborhood is bunk. More appropriately, they are a vocal minority.

    Please allow this long standing, reputable business open up shop on Lakeshore. It will be a good long term stable addition to the neighborhood, create jobs, and bring in tax revenue for the city.

  11. livegreen

    What branch of Oakland city government enforces the conditional use permit, if there are violations-building services or another?

  12. Ann

    I share the opinion that GV is a very wrong fit for the Lakeshore merchant district. If GV must come to Oakland, I rather it would be in the nearby Grand Avenue business district than on Lakeshore (which is much more family oriented). But, IMHO, an even better match would be in some other currently-vacant downtown Oakland storefront.

    BTW, I find it curious that many opinions in favor of GV on Lakeshore seem to pivot on ridiculing people whose opinions differ from their own, rather than in sharing perceived merits of the plan. Hm.

  13. dto510 aka Jonathan Bair

    @livegreen – Code Enforcement handles everything from blight to noise to inappropriate land uses. Or doesn’t do anything about them at all, depending on whether the violating property owner is private or public.

  14. Max Allstadt

    Actually, Jonathan it’s more arbitrary than that.

    One of the most infuriating things that came before the West Oakland Project Area Committee this year was this:

    CEDA owns property that it wants to develop. A staffer came to us because they needed money to pay fines that had been levied on that property because it hadn’t been mowed. The city fined itself. Now, the city appears to be willing to forgive fines against itself, that’s different, but the city still got fined by the city.

    As for the rest of it: everything I’ve seen indicates that people who weren’t well connected were the ones who got hit with the worst abuses.

    There are also people who appear to have incurred the wrath of the well connected who suffered under blight enforcement abuse.

    There are also well connected people who’ve managed to keep multiple blighted properties and engage in slumlording without consequences.

    And then there are random, Kafka-esque accidents: people who had fines sent to wrong addresses and had the fines escalated without any other attempts at contact. In at least one case, a wrong contact address led to a little old lady’s house getting bulldozed.

    So it’s complicated. Horribly horribly complicated.

  15. Max Allstadt

    @Ann:

    The reason Good Vibrations makes sense on Lakeshore is pretty simple: The people who live near there are Good Vibrations’ target market.

    The Grand-Lake area has: high average income compared to the rest of the City, high education levels compared to the rest of the city, and pedestrian oriented retail.

    Good Vibes is a high end store that caters to educated middle class people. They make a point of hiring staff that is comfortable answering questions from people who may be shy or embarrassed to ask them. They have an education-oriented philosophy towards everything they do, and they seek to take the shame out of sex.

    That is absolutely a good fit for Grand-Lake. Further, the use permit they’re applying for will include conditions of approval that mandate a frosted glass facade: you won’t be able to see in. you won’t be able to see the toys or anything else inside.

    That condition would apply going forward to anyone who took over the store and wanted to continue operating it.

    But again, this is all irrelevant. The planning commissioners aren’t going to stand for puritanical and alarmist arguments against this store.

    The last time this came to the commission, Commissioner Colbruno gave a very impassioned speech about how repressing talk and honesty about sex was a huge part of how gay youth end up repressed, suicidal and under other threats. Commissioner Huntsman pointed out that “none of us would be here arguing about this if somebody hadn’t multiplied”.

    Good Vibes will win. They’ll win if this is appealed to council too. And I’ll support them every step of the way, because I don’t think a sex-positive boutique is dangerous at all. Attempts to suppress the boutique are what’s dangerous.

    I mean, if you want to talk about “family oriented” I have to say that healthy sex between a couple is certainly more important to keeping that couple together that, say the ability to shop at the gap or get a cup of frozen yogurt.

  16. Ann

    @Max,

    FWIW, I’ve lived, worked, and shopped in, the Lakeshore zone you cite as GV’s target market, for decades. And, for the record, I’m still opposed to a Good Vibrations opening a new retail store on Lakeshore!

    It’s a big mistake to presume anyone’s sex life is necessarily repressed, inadequte, or otherwise in need of conversion, just because it happens to not need the ongoing ability to make spur-of-the-moment sexual retail purchases, in order to sustain it.

    Max, borrowing from your earlier quip, just how many butt plugs or dildos do you figure we Lakeshore neighbors need to buy on a recurring basis?

    FYI, I’m no stranger to GV. I already appreciate their quality and their discreet public presence. But frankly, as a frugal shopper, my sexual needs are satisfied by my shopping online for the same & similar items sold at lower prices, elsewhere!

    Actually, the merchant(s) I’d most like to see occupy a new retail storefront(s) on Lakeshore are either a new Office Max &/or a new Pet Club store. For many years, I’ve weekly traveled to the Emeryville branches of those 2 chain-store discounters, where my combined spending averages over $30 every single week. Unfortunately, no other Oakland stores can match their best prices on my recurring buys. Meanwhile, honestly, a new GV on Lakeshore might get one $30 purchase from me in an entire decade.

    The biggest “danger” (your word) I see in granting permit to a new Lakeshore GV is that it will join other short-lived Lakeshore shops, unsustained by income needs, that come & go. (BTW, as did “Passion Flower,” another highly-esteemed erotica sex toys & bookstore on Yosemite off Piedmont Ave., which also folded despite customer loyalty.) A shared neighborhood concern I’m reading about is that, in such case, eventually, Lakeshore could wind up with some new, untrusted, sexual merchant, exploiting the approval granted to GV’s trusted integrity.

    Further, keep in mind that the GV’s business is not licensed to counsel persons in emotional crisis. That’s why I disagree with your post’s alarmist tone which implies a new Lakeshore GV would help save despondent lives. IMHO, anyone who ends their life, or who ends a sexual relationship, just because they:

    a) must travel farther to shop at Berkeley’s GV, or at Oakland’s other easily-found sexual retailers

    b) must wait a few days for mail arrival of a website order

    c) lack 24/7 instant-gratification access to GV’s nurturing website or other established sources of help

    …… has far worse problems than a new Lakeshore GV will solve.

    Max, in response to other points you made, afaik Oakland’s Planning Commission exists to promote Oakland’s fiscal & cultural growth. But this doesn’t include the shepherding of citizens’ sexual choices nor fertility planning.

    But it does include giving equal consideration to diverse opinions in community feedback. So I’ll just close with my “agreeing to disagree” with your opinions. And, thanks (to all readers) for hearing me out.

  17. Max Allstadt

    About despondent lives: that wasn’t me that was what commissioner Colbruno said in reaction to the naysayers who showed up and said all sorts of alarmist crap about Feelmore when it came to the commission.

    2. OfficeMax and Pet Club would require more square footage and more parking than is available anywhere near lakeshore.

    3. The planning commission is not tasked with evaluating the economic viability of a project. Their job is to vet it’s compliance with the code, and address concerns about impact.

    4. Good Vibes isn’t just for nearby neighbors. Its a destination. I expect it to attract people from other parts of Oakland and the rest of the East Bay, and I expect these people will be spending at other nearby shops. That’s why the local merchants support it.

  18. len raphael

    Ann and Max (in 21) are both correct overall. Putting this in terms of sexual freedom would be funny if so many people didn’t take that seriously.

    Sometimes it seems as if the older generation of white activists here are fixated on social/economic justice and the younger ones fixated on transportation/density/urban farming/sexual freedom. Makes for entertaining public hearings but nothing significant changes.

    Be curious how long of a lease GV is signing because they must be aware of the uncertainities of that location in the middle of in a price sensitive internet saavy populace also.

    The bigger retail problem is that there are few large spaces with adequate parking and public transportation located near high disposable income neighborhoods, to attract the viable larger retailers. Don’t see how tinkering around with zoning is going to change that.

  19. livegreen

    -Why do businesses engaged in an Adult Entertainment Activity require a Major Conditional Use permit?
    -Why do such businesses require a Variance to operated within 1,000 feet of a residential zone?
    -Does the Commission approve the use of the Variance because of conditions in this case and if so why? Or does it think Variances should always be approved when it comes to Adult Entertainment?
    -Should GV go out of business or depart this location (to get a better retail location, better lease, etc.), can the Conditional Use Permit be removed by bringing it back to the Planning Commission?;
    -If Code Enforcement is in charge of enforcing the Use Permit & Variances, given their record and some of what’s been mentioned, should we have confidence that they will do so?

  20. Rust Belt Refugee

    There’s a real issue: is this location good for “destination” retail? Those of us lucky enough to live within walking distance have it good, but I know that my out-of-Oakland visitors always complain that Lakeshore is hard to get to without a car, and that it’s hard to park with a car during business hours. People who don’t know about the Wesley entrance to the Lakeshore Merchants parking deck are greeted by gridlock in front of TJ’s. For their own sake, I hope GV keeps later hours to give people an opportunity to visit.

  21. Naomi Schiff

    -Why do businesses engaged in an Adult Entertainment Activity require a Major Conditional Use permit?
    I don’t know but I imagine that perhaps it all goes back to the old-fashioned porn book store/peep show/paraphernalia shop of the not-so-classy sort, and attempts to keep them out of shopping districts and neighborhoods (Is that one still up there on Telegraph near 59th?). In this era of streaming video and internet porn, hard to tell whether such shops are a growth industry anyway. Trivial factoid: there was a porn book store in the bottom of the Fox Oakland Theater, where Rudy’s Can’t Fail is, for many years. Their rent payments to Mrs. DeLucchi supported the entire building. When the city bought the property, they terminated the lease, as they figured it might not be a good thing for the city to be landlords to this type of business. Golden Gate Bookshop. We were frequently amused by the businessman patronss who parked a distance away so that their cars would not stand right in front, and sidled in furtively.

  22. ralph

    Frankly, I think there is something wrong in the zoning when a GV and F510 are treated the same way as a 25cent peep show.

  23. philotes

    Max, borrowing from your earlier quip, just how many butt plugs or dildos do you figure we Lakeshore neighbors need to buy on a recurring basis? —– well it’s really not about you – -maybe you need alot, maybe you don’t.

    if at all, then extend your weak argument to all products – i mean how many rows of crap food, make-up, and teeny bopper magazines do u want for your kids ?

  24. Max Allstadt

    I think that was actually a quip directed at my previous quip. My quip was an inside joke for people who saw my speech at the Planning Commission meeting about Feelmore Boutique.

    But yeah, you’re right as far as crappy food, make up and teenybopper magazines go, I think: Are you implying there are all sorts of products that some people object to for one reason or another, so why pick and choose, and why go with nanny state policies?

    @Livegreen:

    I think it’s fair to require true adult entertainment use to get a CUP. But that’s not what Goodvibes and Feelmore are. They’re just shops. As long as we have a regulation that bars open display of adult products in a store window and requires an 18 plus admission policy in a place that sells adult products, I think they should be allowed as of right in zones that permit retail. Oh: also a ban on private viewing booths. Gross.

    A strip club, even without alcohol, should absolutely require a CUP. But they’re banned outright in Oakland anyway, because of prudish old laws. We could use one or two, frankly, with well thought out limits, perhaps down by the airport hotels on Hegenberger where they’d mainly drain the wallets of out of town businessmen and they wouldn’t be near neighborhoods.

  25. Art

    To Ann’s point, the square footage of the GV location is, as Max pointed out, nowhere near enough to support something like OfficeMax or Pet Club—and the lack of a parking lot and of good truck access on Lakeshore are dealbreakers for stores of that size. (I would also expect neighbors to cry bloody murder if anything of that scale tried to come in—probably rightly so, since Lakeshore is not set up for large deliveries, especially with the truck restrictions on I-580 to the east.) Let’s also not forget that two independent pet food stores have tried and failed in the neighborhood in the last few years. (Similarly, smaller office/copy shops have really struggled as well—I don’t think there’s enough demand there to make it pencil out, as convenient as it would be.) If you’re looking to support local businesses on that front, I’ve found that Petvet Petfood on Broadway and Pet Food Express in the Safeway center at Pleasant Valley and Broadway can come pretty close on prices while still being local stores that aren’t too far afield. (PFE is a regional chain, but headquarters are in Oakland.)

    I don’t put GV in the same category of destination retail as the big box stores, though—it’s somewhere in between neighborhood-serving and destination retail, not unlike a lot of what’s on Lakeshore already (e.g., Gap, Footlocker, etc.) Neighborhood-serving retail is great, but with a couple of notable exceptions highlighted by the survey a few years ago, I actually think Grand Lake does a nice job of meeting those needs. You don’t want to oversaturate the area with local-serving retail in a way that creates too much competition for existing businesses to stay afloat. Complementary niche businesses have a place too, and contribute to the overall health of the commercial district, in my view.

  26. len raphael

    Ann, if you make a donation to the East Bay SPCA, PFE will give you a discount. They are very supportive of local rescue centers etc.

  27. Oakland Space Academy

    Do you know how we tell if GV is a good fit for Lakeshore Avenue? We let them open a store (with reasonable restrictions), then in a couple years, if it is still in business, we say, “Huh, I guess GV was a good fit.” And if they are out of business, we say, “Hmm, I guess GV was not a good fit.” The same applies to nearly every store everywhere, whether they sell dildos and butt plugs, crap food, make-up, magazines, or manicures.

    Parking at Lakeshore Avenue (Rust Belt Refugee #24) is difficult by design, as parking prices are set below market rates by the City in response to local merchants who want customers who complain less about the price of parking and thus have fewer customers. With slightly better urban design, the gridlock in front of TJ’s could be wonderful, in the way that the congestion between Cole Coffee and Safeway on College creates one of the best commercial nodes in Oakland.

  28. Max

    “I think their presence would really downgrade our neighborhood. They are located “across from Bloomingdales” on the Mission Street side on the wrong side of Mission, which is where they belong. I think another neighborhood would be more appropriate — perhaps International Blvd? West MacArthur?”

    Does this sound both racist and sex-negative to anyone else?

  29. Max Allstadt

    Other Max, racist might be a little strong, but it’s certainly a statement laden with stereotypes and assumptions. And yeah, sex negative too.

  30. len raphael

    “sex negative” ? newly coined pc phrase or somekind of laboratory result of gender preference testing?

  31. annoyed

    I lived on Bellevue Ave. from 1978 to 1987 and parking was horrible on Lakeshore and Grand Ave back then. I recall circling the block repeatedly looking for a space so I could get my take-out dinner after work. Parking in the Grand Lake area has been difficult for a very long time and is not a new issue.

    Perhaps people don’t patronize businesses in this area because of the absence of traffic enforcement. Traffic congestion isn’t new but the nearly total lack of traffic enforcement has been a growing problem over the years. Rockridge is busy and congested but missing is the total anarchy by motorists.

    The Grand Lake area is a mess, has been for a long time, and is now worse since OPD stopped enforcing traffic laws. Can you imagine if OPD started enforcing just illegal u-turns? The same whiners about parking fees would be whining that OPD should be letting people drive however they please.

    Whatever, I don’t patronage the Grand Lake area because I am tired of getting into verbal altercations with mostly entitled men in BMW’s who think parking is a competitive sport. (Oh, and the part I love the most about these idiots is that they almost NEVER put money in the meter.) I’ve not had this experience in Rockridge,or for that matter just about anywhere else in Oakland.

    My objection to Michaan’s over the top hysteria over parking fees will keep me out of that theater until it has a new owner.

    As for GV, it is a sleazy business but given who frequents the Grand Lake area now, probably a good fit.

  32. Tony

    Good to know that the Planning Commission ok’ed GV at their last meeting. Regarding parking, I’m surprised there hasn’t been an uproar when the free parking lot under I580 became paid Sept 6.

    l’ll leave annoyed’s last loaded statement alone.

  33. JP

    Sounds like an excellent fit for the Grand Lake area. “Sleazy” it most definitely is not. Intolerance is often expressed on these sorts of message boards, something to do with the anonymity of it all. Just ignore the them. Let them go on about their self righteousness, while we enjoy our lives. As for all the complaints about parking, I would like to mention that we live in one of the most bike friendly cities around, and one with ample public transportation options. There is no reason parking should be free. It’s physical space for rent. Parking spaces serve no other purpose than temporary storage for carbon emitting vehicles. So, just like car payments, insurance, gas, and taxes, you’re gonna have to feed the meter if you want to drive to the Grand Lake.

  34. len raphael

    MaxA, my dear departed dad would approve of GV. Not only was he entertained by the cute names Bay Area retail stores gave themselves, but he had one of Reich’s books hidden on his bookshelf. He once tried to build an orgone box.

  35. annoyed

    Please don’t confuse discretion with sexually repressed. Not everyone needs to trumpet their personal lives for public consumption in the mistaken belief that the general public cares or that it makes you more evolved than the rest the world. You can feign your too cool for the room posture about this but the bottom line is that anyone who needs a dildo to have a good time is already sexually represssed. I don’t care what your shrink told you.

  36. Ross

    Agree with Ralph above. GV simply can’t be put in the same category as the standard adult book shops you might see around North Beach in SF. I’m sure they can agree to have tastefully done window displays where there will be no need to have to explain anything to your kids. How different is it from Victoria’s Secret in the mall, really? I think it’s just another case of people being bored, running out of things to be “outraged” about.

  37. Max Allstadt

    Wow. Annoyed. Really?

    “anyone who needs a dildo to have a good time is already sexually repressed”

    Human sexual response is widely variable both physiologically and psychologically. Other people’s needs are not yours to judge. And it doesn’t even have to be about need. What if they just want a dildo, but don’t need it?

    “Trumpet their personal lives for public consumption.”

    The store is behind a huge frosted glass window. It’s intentionally discreet. Trumpet? Not really.

  38. Patrick M. Mitchell

    As I was sitting on the couch the other day – at my psychiatrist’s office – we chatted about the possibility that purchasing a dildo could change my life so completely that I would become a truly whole and fully realized person. Of course we then laughed and recognized that sometimes a dildo is just a dildo. But I repress.

    Frankly, explaining GV to my kids (if I had any) would be easier than explaining the Chiodo sculpture.

  39. Ravi

    This is the best story of the day in support of a dildo store:

    Annoying: “Anyone who needs a dildo to have a good time is already sexually represssed.”

    Patrick: “Purchasing a dildo could change my life so completely that I would become a truly whole and fully realized person.”

    You two need to meet at the new store and talk to a consultant who I am sure can help you both.

  40. Ann

    Speaking of “stereotypes and assumptions,” there’s too many on this page to even count! Post 22 implies that myself (and anyone who objects to a GV on Lakeshore) must be sexually-repressed, older, white activists. LMAO, well I guess your 1 out of 4 being right, is better than none, Len! Because, I am indeed older.

    Too bad so much of this debate got waged with personal attacks and unfounded canards, instead of constructive ideas. Such tactic sways no one. Instead it’s more likely to harden the resolve of those it attacks. One may as well argue that all objections to, say, a new eatery would necessarily be rooted in Anorexia. Such derision would say more of its own skewed logic, than of those it tries to target.

    The point of my earlier naming of 2 successful retailers to consider inviting to Lakeshore has eluded some posters. No, philoates, it was not to make it “all about me.” Instead, it was just to offer 2 recession-defying merchants with robust customer bases, that could be expected to thrive here. Those I named have continued to open more new stores around the bay area, at the same time that so many other stores & chains are shrinking, moving away, or have gone dead. Sadly, the two I named are not actually feasible on Lakeshore due to logistics, as other posters explained. So, where are any viable alternates posted? Aside from some judgmental joking around, IMHO, constructive brainstorming seems a bit lacking in this discussion.

    Instead, a bitter nonsequiter got aimed at me about “crap food, make-up, and teeny bopper magazines.” The best I could decipher of it was trying to ask why is there a CVS so close to its rival Walgreens on Lakeshore? In any case, I’m still puzzled it seemed aimed at me, since it listed junk my family doesn’t buy. And as regards crap food, I was among those who objected to the prospect of a McDonalds leasing the nearby Kwik Way site in 2004. That community objection was successful. So, it’s only reasonable we Oakland taxpayers with objections to a GV on Lakeshore would speak out in debates of it, now.

    But, at this time, it seems opposition to the new GV on Lakeshore failed, despite also being voiced by multiple Lakeshore merchants. Including by GV’s actual future neighbor. I’m curious to know more details about Pamela Drake’s poll of Lakeshore merchants, rather than blindly defer to conclusions touted of its secret contents. How and when was such poll conducted? Via in-person chats (with whom among stores’ staff?), or, by paper balloting (of whom, exactly)? Most importantly, how were the questions phrased, EXACTLY? Because, as anyone familiar with the semantics of political polls should know, a poll’s wording can easily help shape the desired “outcome.”

    I also want to respond to a tip posted above about small/independent merchant prices. The fact is, due to volumes handled, most cannot match or beat discount prices offered by bigger chainstore rivals. That’s why so many are doomed to fail. BTW, PetVet, a great, 2-branches, pets supply store, is only cheaper than rivals for prescription pet foods and vet services that they sell. Otherwise, they actually charge 10% or more than does Pet Club on the same nonprescription pet foods/supplies. The difference really adds up, especially over the course of the pets’s lives.

    And, no matter how well-intended was the above tip about donating to EB SPCA to receive a discount at Petfood Express, if that tip was shared for the goal of saving costs on recurring purchases, it was misleading. The fact is, a non-adoption donation to EB SPCA does not even automatically result in anything except thanks for the gift. Instead, a donor must know to specify their donation as being a membership request, in order to get the discount perks (including a 1-use-only -20% PFE voucher). Even so, as a matter of basic math, it would take a 1-time $125 PFE purchase just to break even with a $25 donation. So, philanthropy cannot be confused for frugality.

    Anyway, the 10-day window for community appeals against the Oakland Planning Commissioners green-light of GV on Lakeshore, has now expired. Its arrival now seems certain. I wonder how many of its vocal proponents will actually ever shop there. I mean, spend money, not just come to lookey-loo once or twice. Several of them struck me as more interested in ruffling opponents’s feathers, than in truly being a paying customer who supplies GV with ongoing purchases. None have explained why they let the similar “Passion Flower” store fall dead. None have raved any advantages of a GV over their current hypothetical patronage of Oakland’s Feelmore.

    Regardless what’s posted online, their actions will speak louder than words!

    I only know GV on Lakeshore won’t get a dime from me or my husband. Any more movies or toys we might again buy will be from better prices from other sellers online, or, via cable tv we already get. If anything, I’d sooner buy at GV’s Berkeley store, just to express my boycott of GV’s Lakeshore store I didn’t want to be here. Meanwhile, my family now spends over $100 every single week at the Lakeshore Trader Joe’s. Already, its free parking (in areas meant only for Trader Joes & Walgreen customers) daily gets abused by customers who instead shop other Lakeshore stores. It remains to be seen if the new GV will increase this. (I don’t mind parking the ground level of the all-Lakeshore-merchants structure. But I won’t park on its top deck, for security reasons.) If need arises, I won’t hesitate to go spend my same weekly $100 at the Emeryville TJ’s instead continuing to support the Lakeshore one. But only time will tell.

    I’m truly grateful for this blog that let me speak my peace. But from this point on, I will speak with my wallet.

  41. ralph

    Ann,
    As noted above, the required storefront square footage for either of the the two stores you would like on Lakeshore is not available. Thus, neither will be coming to Lakeshore anytime soon.

    I do not oppose GV but I would love to see Pluto’s Restaurant come to the area. It is a crying shame that I must go cross the bridge to get to Pluto’s.

  42. Ann

    FWIW, the Grand Lake Neighbors group also have a lively discussion on this same topic.
    If interested, see:

    http://grandlakeneighbors.org/?p=328&cpage=1#comment-25525

    BTW a post there says the deadline to file opposition is actually Monday Oct. 3 at 4pm, (not yesterday as my last post implied in error). But, as the cost to file is a hefty $1352, it may be moot.

    PS, Ralph, I agree, Pluto’s ROCKS!!! It would be great if they could open a branch here!

  43. len raphael

    Ann, I was puzzled what made you think I assumed anything about your race, until I looked at post 22 about of mine. Once you’re used to my “rambling” “free associative” writing style, you’ll see that the reason i put the comment about older white activists in a separate paragraph was that the comment about activists had nothing to do with you. it had something to do with Max but not really because he’s active on a wide range of civic stuff. Since I don’t know you personally and have never read your posts before this GV issue, I certainly didn’t assume you were white or an activist. I did assume you were older.

    if anyone should take offense it’s Naomi, but again she’s more like an older version of Max in that she’s active in a lot more than just zoning related issues.

    btw, i didn’t ask for anything special when I donated to the EBSPCA to get my discount at Pet Food Express. Maybe they changed.

    The point I do think your missing about local smaller retailers, which is something I’ve seen on yelp, is that you can’t expect large chain prices let alone internet prices at any local independent retailer.

    A pet peeve of my mine, are the posts on yelp where people bitch about not enough space in the local store aisles, not big variety, and prices much higher than the discount chains. You can’t have it all no matter what the zoning is or isnt in a built up urban area. Though my sister tells me that the Toy’r US in Manhattan is in narrow high rise.

    Are we gonna get back to being the public policy wonk site or what? The mail in ballots will be arriving mid October for Measures H, I, J. and most people don’t even know what the issues are.

  44. Ann

    Len, your thoughtful insights about that misunderstanding are very much appreciated. Thanks for your apt clarifications! (And, yes, I am indeed new to this board.)

    FWIW, as for the EBSPCA issue, my best friend received a PFE -20% voucher when she adopted a cat from them in 2007, but NOT when she donated a charitable $30 gift to them in 2006. So, with that in mind, and sparked by your earlier post’s mention of this topic, I emailed to EBSPCA asking my questions on their donations policies. What I posted in 49 was my paraphrasing of their reply yesterday.

    Anyway, you’re right yet again: the new ballot issues are ripe for discussion. I eagerly look forward to reading informed chats about them, on this site.

  45. Max Allstadt

    Len?

    “Naomi, but again she’s more like an older version of Max”

    Are you trying to get both me and Naomi mad at you at the same time? ;->

  46. Naomi Schiff

    Max, it was mysterious to me, but I’m not mad. Maybe Len is the one who is more like a curmudgeonly version of the both of us?

  47. len raphael

    Max, Naomi: believe it or not I was complementing both of you, but it came out as a backhanded complement to you both.

    I better take the 5th at this point.

    -len

  48. len raphael

    re the ballot measures, who if anyone wrote the official voting pamphlet opposition to Measure J, the subprime refi of the PFRS obligation?

    I think of it as sending our radioactive financial waste into outer space, knowing it will come back to earth by 2026 worse than ever but all the current politicians long gone, and quite a few of my fellow baby boomers who should be paying for it also out of reach of the tax collector.

    Was the debt just so overwhelming that no one wanted to hang the bell on the cat’s neck, because they couldn’t come up with a specific alternative?

  49. len raphael

    if I thought our mayor and her parcel tax supporters were smarter than the average bear, I’d say she always expected Measure I to fail.

    She’s gotta know that 11Mill/year isn’t going to make dent in the coming deficits.

    So unless she believes her own nonsense about the good times are just a year or two away, she’s counting on gettnig out of Dodge before it gets really bad at City Hall.

    Check out the abuse that the OUSD school board got recently when they told parents which schools would get closed. That’s nothing compared to the anger that will be directed at the CC and the Mayor when they close programs, parks, only send cops to Rockridge and Montclair for emergecies etc.

    When the parcel tax fails but Obama doesn’t get her a ticket out of Oakland before the City finances go into meltdown in a couple of years, she can blame everything on Wall Street and local teapartiers. That’s even better than blaming the old OUSD insollvency on the accounting software.

    -len raphael, temescal

  50. len raphael

    btw, the Oakland Green Party has officially come out Opposed to Measure I. They did not take a stance on Measure J, the PFRS subprime refi.

  51. Barry K

    While Jean will be out front for the ribbon cutting ceremony (la publicita, la publicita), Floyd will be inside shopping the aisles for cuckold supplies.

  52. senseless

    Batt’s departure is another reason why I chose my blog name for this site. Is there anyone still sane in Oakland or have we all gone crazy?

  53. Mike C.

    “You can feign your too cool for the room posture about this but the bottom line is that anyone who needs a dildo to have a good time is already sexually represssed. ”

    LoL. What a crock.

  54. Ann

    Speaking of crazy, that just about sums up the nutzo “ranked choice voting” system that installed the 3rd place votes winner (by non-ranked count) to be our mayor.