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!
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.
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.