John Klein: Boat House Re-Dedication and the origins of Measure DD

The Boat House Rededication went off without a hitch earlier this month. The Mayor and several council members (including former council member) were present as was the media and numerous individuals and groups involved with Lake Merritt, the Boat House, and the Lake Chalet restaurant.

There were congratulations going around for everyone. However, not everyone involved with the success of Measure DD and the Boat House was recognized as they should have been. That is, there are a number of people and organizations who have been deeply involved and committed the restoration of Lake Merritt who were left out as the ‘thank you’s” and “great job’s!” were flying around.

Those groups include the Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merritt (CALM) and the Measure DD Community Coalition. Both of these groups include many long-time Oakland residents who have committed time, energy, and love, to Measure DD – even before there was a Measure DD. How can this be?

Boat House at Lake Merritt

It was members of CALM who, in 2002, drafted and presented the first conceptual drawings for the realignment of 12th Street. The 12th Street piece will remove traffic lanes from “the world’s shortest freeway,” reclaim park land and reconnect it to Lake Merritt, add public space, and connect the new sidewalks and paths between Lakeshore Avenue and Lakeside Drive. That initial design concept, presented to the community by CALM in 2002, was adopted by the City of Oakland and included in the Lake Merritt Master Plan. Here’s the Lake Merritt Master Plan for 12th Street:

As noted at the Boat House Re-dedication, it was important that the Lake Merritt Master Plan not collect dust on a shelf. It was with the completion of the Lake Merritt Master Plan, spurred the communities’ interest in implementing the 12th Street realignment, that Measure DD was proposed as a means of funding the master plan. Projects in all parts of Oakland were included in the meaure such as Studio One in North Oakland and the East Oakland Sports Complex, which recently broke ground.

As we all know, Measure DD was a very popular bond measure, passing by an 80%-20% vote in 2002. The bond will eventually raise nearly $200 million; most Measure DD projects have already been completed.

Once Measure DD passed, the Measure DD Community Coalition was formed to provide oversight, guidance, feedback, etc. on the myriad of Measure DD projects. The Coalition is group of mostly unpaid Oakland residents and organizations who meet regularly with City staff, council member offices, planners, architects, consultants, etc., providing a ‘sounding board’ on Measure DD issues. The Coalition has met regularly since 2004; the Coalition continues meeting even now. You can find information about the Measure DD Coalition here:

The Boat House Re-Dedication was a resounding success – it felt like a very positive milestone had been reached. We all look forward to the completion of 12th Street so that the hard work and inspiration of so many people, recognized or not, will come to fruition.

102 thoughts on “John Klein: Boat House Re-Dedication and the origins of Measure DD

  1. navigator

    This is all very nice but there is no excuse for the horrible maintenance of Lake Merritt. There is no excuse for piles of week old goose poop between the Boat House and the dock in front of the “Lake Merritt Hotel.” There is no excuse for the months old graffiti left on that retaining wall on the Lake just in front of the Lakeside 1 building. There is no excuse for the graffiti covered benches and paths on the Lakeside Dr. side of the Lake directly in front of the Kaiser Center and Christ the Light Cathedral. I’ve already registered my complaints with on the Public Works website. We’ll see what happens. I’m walking around the lake Thursday with my camera. Enough of this total disregard of Oakland residents who pay very high taxes and get nothing for it.

    We can’t sit by with our blinders on and pretend we don’t see these things right in front of our noses.

  2. Ken O

    Nav: why don’t you go out with some paint and paint over it? =)

    be the change. i’ve done so before.

  3. navigator


    I suppose I could get some paint, or possibly bring my hose from home, hook it up to the new irrigation system and hose down those beautiful new paths, which btw, are covered with nice little piles of week old goose poop between the Boat House and the dock in front of the former Lake Merritt Hotel. However, how long would it take a City of Oakland employee to hook up one of those industrial hoses right next to the new irrigation system which sits right next to those paths, and clean that goose crap? I hear Dellums call Lake Merritt the “Crown Jewel of Oakland” and then you walk around the place and you realize that this is all BS.

    What can you say about a city which allows graffiti on walls and benches to sit there for months in its landmark “Crown Jewel” park ? Most cities clean up graffiti within 24 to 48 hours in order not to attract more vandalism. What can you say about a city which spends millions on restorations like the Pergola and the 18th Street Pier, only to have them look like crap full of gang graffiti, grime, gum, and filth, in a few months?

    We have gang graffiti from the “38th Ave” knuckleheads and the “XIV”idiots covering the Pergola from one side to the other, and nobody cares. All this great talk about the Measure DD improvements and we sit here with blinders on accepting this blight.

    Unfortunately, Oaklanders have been subjected to so much neglect over the years, they’ve forgotten what a well maintained landmark park is suppose to look like. I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the United States and Europe and I know what well maintained parks and cities are suppose to look like. Enough with the ridiculous platitudes and excuses. The City of Oakland is completely incompetent and derelict in their duty in even attempting to do the minimal in the maintenance of Lake Merritt. How much does it cost to paint graffiti off a prominent wall? How much does it cost to hook up a hose and wash away the goose crap? Absolutely pathetic. I’d fire who ever is responsible for the maintenance of Lake Merritt.

  4. freddy

    All this back-slapping reminds me of a certain President who stood on an aircraft carrier and announced “Mission Accomplished.”

    All that’s missing is the cucumber in the pants.

    Written by John Klein on August 7th, 2009 (2 weeks ago) 11:24 am

    freddy, you’re a ‘city boy,’ aren’t you? As Russell so eloquently explained, manure smells really bad – always has. But it adds a lot of nutrients to the soil to aid plant growth.

    I talked with the landscape contractor this morning. They have been working at preparing for the new lawns for several weeks. Some pictures from today are here:

    They will begin installing the new lawn next week. They will roll out 150,000 square feet of sod. He also said they will be planting “really a lot” of trees in the five foot medium strip between the curb and sidewalk. He said that, two weeks from now, the entire length of Lakeshore Ave. will look completely different than it does now.

    I hope you can hold you nose for that long, city boy…..

    Okay John: you’ve got three days remaining before “the entire length of Lakeshore Ave. will look completely different.”

    Unless “completely different” means “even worse.”

    Otherwise your landscape contractor is a liar.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he were also a thief.

  5. Naomi Schiff

    John, thanks for your article. It is really thrilling to see the DD projects take shape at last, after all that effort. So many meetings, phone calls, worries, late nights, petitioning, plotting, and running after city council members.

    It is not just the Lake. Studio One is pretty darn impressive. I think the East Oakland Sports Center is supposed to start construction soon, too.

    In a funny way, we owe a lot to the Diocese of Oakland. Without their initial somewhat clueless plan to purchase public land and build the cathedral at 12th St. in front of the old auditorium, we might never have had such intense public interest in the LM Master Plan, the inspired design by the architects of CALM, and the eventual outcome, the passage of Measure DD.

    This morning I walked around the Lakeshore side of the lake (in an attempt to take longer to get to work), and saw the landscaping crews putting in a lot of trees. In my cursory tour I saw two or three kinds of oaks and some alders, a ginko, and something that might have been some kind of willow. The trees are fairly tall, as saplings go. The workers were also testing irrigation and sprinkler heads. To me it looked like a lot of progress on the landscape front in general.

    I saw the graffiti on the pergola, and if the city doesn’t send out a crew I will try to find out from Rosemary Muller, the restoration architect, what the specified color of paint is. I am willing to buy a gallon of paint if I can find out what to use, but maybe the city has some of the right stuff in reserve.

    The more that people can volunteer to help our parks, the better they will be. I have found that where we keep picking up litter and painting out graffiti, less of it appears.

  6. ken o

    I’ve used silver spraypaint before to go over stopsign post scribbles. that was back in my temescal days. i also used orange day-glo to highlight potholes. seemed to help.

    as for lake: why not get these kids or whoever to do really cool murals? like thhe kind by the “cotton mill studios” on 880, it’s purple and orange and looks sweet. never gets tagged either.

  7. Tommy Saxondale

    I live in funktown and walk around the lake nearly every day. I love it. I love the bossy geese now ending their summer stay, the increasing number of pelicans, the cormorants, that little white bird that dive bombs the lake so quickly, and all of the birds and wildlife around the lake. I love the smell of the brackish water, the little volunteer-maintained information boards, and especially being a part of the large number of people enjoying the lake.

    This is not to say that I’m not annoyed by some things around the lake. I wish people would stop riding their bikes on the pedestrian paths and sidewalks. I’m a biker, and know that bikes belong in the street, not sharing the sidewalk with pedestrians. Could some signage help? The geese poop can be a bit much, but it’s improving as they leave and is really not too much to bear. I manage to avoid it without much effort. I see others managing the same feat.

    I also see a lot of people donating their time and sweat to help keep the lake and surrounding park clean. I’m grateful to them, and plan on joining them in the future. I’m also excited to see the progress on Lakeshore. The smell Freddy complains about does not bother me. I love to see the new trees and am especially excited about the addition of bike lanes; between poorly maintained roads and cars ignoring the speed limit, that stretch of Lakeshore has been dangerous for bikers for some years.

    Bring on the 12th street renovation! I love the design and look forward to seeing it realized. It’ll be wonderful for Laney and Lake Merritt BART to have easier access to the lake. I’m really curious about the original design and thought behind “the world’s shortest freeway”. Those pedestrian tunnels are some of the scariest, dankest places I’ve seen.

    Thanks to John for the post, and to Naomi Schiff for all the informative comments on this blog.

  8. Naomi Schiff

    Thank YOU Tommy for your enthusiasm! I have an aerial photo in an old Tribune annual showing the world’s shortest freeway under construction. I’ll try to find it and post somewhere.

    Small white bird: California Least Tern, probably? It is a federally-designated endangered bird. I too have enjoyed seeing them fishing. They are so very agile in the air, making sharp turns and dives.

    The world’s shortest freeway was constructed before freeways 980, 880 or 580, around 1949. It was the answer to years and years of Chamber of Commerce and other complaints that the lake and its channel was an obstacle and a bottleneck, blocking access to downtown from the east. (Of course there were those famous plans to fill in or bridge over the lake, as well.) At this time downtown Oakland was bustling. In its own right it might be considered a historic proto-freeway structure, an example of mid-century automobile madness. Once the freeways were built, though, it really was somewhat obsolete, in that it is many lanes wider than now justifiable. By the way, for transit mavens: there’s a plan to run AC Transit BRT along the reconfigured 12th St. some day.

  9. navigator

    I’d like to know how many city employees work to maintain Lake Merritt on a daily basis. How many gardeners work at Lake Merritt on a daily basis? Who is responsible for graffiti eradication on a daily basis? How often do Public Works and Park & Rec employees go around the Lake identifying problems? Is there a specific maintenance schedule and program for Lake Merritt?

    I NEVER see anyone doing anything to maintain Lake Merritt other than the volunteer organization, Lake Merritt Institute. From just walking around the Lake and seeing the same graffiti on the same benches, walls, paths, and light standards for month after month, and seeing the same piles of the same goose poop sitting in the same places week after week, it’s obvious that 1) There’s no one going around the Lake and identifying problems. 2) There is no maintenance program or schedule in effect. Lake Merritt is basically left to neglect until someone complains. The fewer complaints by frustrated or apathetic citizens, the better for the bureaucrats and for those who would like to do the least possible amount of work. I think I’ve figured out how Oakland’s Lake Merritt maintenance system works.

    On another note, I’m hoping that the new trees around the Lakeshore side of the Lake aren’t spaced too closely together as specified in the above recommendations, so they don’t create a “picket fence effect” of the beautiful view of downtown from the sidewalk, street, and buildings across the street. From what I observed on a recent walk, they seem to be placing the trees in view corridors and much too close together.

    Also, are the plans to unearth the creek between Macarthur and the Pergola still in effect as described in the recommendations above? Now, THAT would be an awesome addition to Lake Merritt to have beautiful foot bridges crossing the creek between the library and the pergola. I hope it’s still in the plan.

  10. Naomi Schiff

    I do regularly see parks and rec staff working in Lakeside Park, usually pretty early in the morning. There is often a clean-up crew around on Mondays. There is an area supervisor for P&R; perhaps find out who that is, and ask about schedules. (It used to be Noel Gallo, but I believe he has left the dept.)

  11. John Klein

    A bit more of the Measure DD “back story” is that the CALM proposal at 12th Street came about when Mayor Jerry Brown wanted to allow the Catholic Church to build a glass cathedral on a huge platform over 12th Street. This was not the first proposal for a “lid” over 12th Street. There had been an earlier proposal for a “lid park” over 12th Street.

    In 2001, Brown made two separate attempts to privatize City-owned property at the south end of the Lake. First, he proposed a 22-story condominium project 14th and Oak, the Fire Alarm site – public opposition ended that attempt. Then came the cathedral proposal at 12th Street.

    The proposal to remove traffic lanes and reclaim parkland was in response to a Request for Proposals the City was required to issue for a project in that area; the City could not simply lease the property without a public process. Along with the cathedral and CALM’s park proposal, another proposal for a new police headquarters was submitted.

    Before the City was able to select the project, opposition to any type of structure at 12th Street was so strong that the City could not proceed. The cathedral project itself collapsed with CALM leading portions of the opposition. CALM members demonstrated that engineering for such a large project in a tidal slough would be nearly impossible. They also showed that the 12th Street area where Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center now sites is, by legal definition, park land. These two key points provided the impetus to propose reclaiming the park land by removing park land and reconnecting it to the Lake, i.e., the 12th Street proposal.

  12. navigator

    I’m amazed by the reactionary nature of Oakland residents. Somehow when we have questions regarding development or cutting down trees they come out in droves. When, on the other hand, pro-active calls for improving the quality of Lake Merritt, or the reality of living with a sadly maintained park stares them in the face every day, then nobody cares.

    Any efforts to improve maintenance at Lakeside Park always fall short of funds and citizen involvement. As an example, we have a weathered half finished dock covered in bird poop in front of the former Lake Merritt Hotel. We have blighted and decrepit docks basically falling into the Lake and nobody demonstrates about that. That’s one thing that has always amazed me about Oakland. Everyone maintains how much they “love” Lake Merritt . If that’s the case, why is Lakeside Park and many other things around Lake Merritt in such deplorable condition? Where are the demonstrations at City Hall to maintain and improve “Oakland’s Crown Jewel?”

    John, thanks for the history and insight on the 12th Street Dam area. And, do you know what’s going to happen with the Fire Alarm Building that Jerry Brown wanted to turn into a 22 story condo? Is it going to remain hidden behind the trees or will it be incorporated with the Measure DD improvements in the area? Also, do you have any information regarding the proposal to uncover the creek between Macarthur and the Pergola and place foot bridges over the creek? Is that still happening?

  13. Naomi Schiff

    Lake Merritt Breakfast Club has in the recent past funded and restored at least one dock, perhaps more. They used to have a “lake committee” and perhaps still do. They are major supporters and funders of Fairyland.

    Quite a few folks DID show up during the budget hearings to advocate for no further cuts to the parks department. Will you help in defending the Parks & Rec budget, the primary source of maintenance funding at present? The multi-year budget cuts to that department are the cause of much of the deferred maintenance you have noticed. Lake staffing has been reduced below what is needed.

    A number of people have discussed starting up a Lake Conservancy or similar nonprofit similar to that used in Central Park in New York, as I mentioned earlier. Would you be willing to help in such an effort?

    I don’t know whether the creek daylighting made it into the funded projects list for design and engineering, have my doubts, but will enquire. I haven’t heard about it in a long while, although I have heard that some dog folks are yearning for a dog park over there someplace.

    Currently any Fire Alarm building plans are in abeyance. It is in use as storage for the library, plus workshops for Public Works. It was specifically excluded from Measure DD over CALM’s protests, the result of mayoral politics, and so is not included in the funding. However, with the reawakening of the boat house, and the failure of the library’s attempt to move to Kaiser Conv. Center, perhaps it will become a viable project to rehab it into a higher use. There is a structural potential for expanding what is now the basement floor, while retaining the historic building (which is pretty cool on the inside). For decades it was the nerve center of all the city’s police and fire alarm systems. The trees did not originally block it from view, as you mention; they have become huge over the years. Those junipers may have been intended as shrubbery, originally.

    At least some of the area around there is called “The Willows” on old maps. After the 06 earthquake, refugees from SF Chinatown camped around there.

  14. Steve R

    I’d be interested in helping start a Lake Merritt Conservancy. Who is involved in this effort? I’ve always been impressed with how well maintained Central Park is–as well as the park systems in Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, and just about anywhere but here.

  15. Naomi Schiff

    To read the goose report, go to :  

    The migratory birds are leaving now, and staff tells me we are down to 450 geese. Hardcore year-round residents: about 140 that stay over the winter.

    I will investigate who is active re: conservancy, and will post back here as soon as I get something useful! Thank you for your interest. I hope we can make this happen!

  16. navigator

    Noami, thanks for the info. A Lake Merritt Conservancy would be a great idea. And yes, I’d fight to defend the Park and Rec budget even though the total neglect of Lake Merritt has been going on for many years. Even when we had more money in the budget, Lake Merritt was not maintained properly.

    Considering the well to do residents who live in Oakland, in neighborhoods like Claremont, Hiller Highlands, Montclair, Piedmont Pines, Rockridge, Piedmont Ave., Lake Shore/Grand, Crocker Highlands, Glenview, Oakmore, Redwood Heights, Ridgemont,, Chabot Esates, etc, you would think that Lake Merritt would be flooded with money for badly needed improvements along with many volunteers. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I think It has a lot to do with the balkanization of Oakland into very distinct neighborhoods with their own agendas.

    Perhaps our at large council member, Rebeca Kaplan, can get involved in bringing the entire city together in order to address the badly needed improvements and maintenance at Lake Merritt. We need ideas, we need volunteers, we need money and we need to insist that the City of Oakland at least do the minimal commonsense maintenance which doesn’t cost a whole lot.

  17. Naomi Schiff

    I am reminded by staff that Public Works is doing the maintenance in the parks (I think some staff was shifted over) while Parks & Rec is doing the p&r programs work.

    So we should try to advocate for Public Works budget too. I agree with you about needing to tap our more well-heeled citizens, wherever they live, to help us in maintaining and enhancing Lake M. and all of our park system. Parks don’t directly provide a lot of income, but they support property values, citizen amenities, and a feeling of community and thus contribute to the city’s wellbeing and economic vitality. We even have a surprising amount of tourism, considering that we live in the shadow of our gaudy neighbor to the west.

  18. Naomi Schiff

    I don’t know how up to date it is, but in answer to some questions above, you can get some idea of how Public Works is organizing park maintenance tasks by looking at their website.

    There were also some priorities set in connection with the Lake Merritt Master Plan, and I think the Measure DD Coalition might usefully take up having a conversation with PW about how to address them.

    I understand that the goosepoop scooper is designed to be used on grass, not the sidewalks. Simple sweeping should work for the majority of the mess on the sidewalks, and should be done soon, long before it starts to rain, for sure.

    My experience of reporting things to PW is not bad; they generally do get back to you and usually whatever it is gets done eventually. Understaffing has slowed down response times somewhat though.

    Mowing is underway, I noticed, this morning.

  19. East Lake Biker

    On the 12th St dam the graffiti is powerwashed off the temporary orange barriers somewhat regularly. Graffiti on the walkway is also painted over within a few days.

    It seems the trash cans on the ped walkway aren’t emptied that often though, they’re always overflowing. Maybe because the garbage trucks can’t get to them easily.

  20. navigator

    Yes, those orange barricades are a blight in their own right. I’ve kind of given up on that 12th Street side of the Lake. It seems like the City has also. That ugly hulk of concrete and cement is in its last days. What really bothers me is the lack of maintenance in prominent areas of the park near the Kaiser Center, Christ the Light Cathedral and the Veterans Memorial Building, along with areas which have already been restored like the new paths, the Pergola and the 18th Street Pier.

    If anyone has a chance, take your cameras along with you on your walks or runs around Lake Merritt and document the blight you see around the Lake. Take special note of how grungy and filthy the renovated 18th Street Pier already looks. The graffiti, grime, gum , and trash is demoralizing. Also, the renovated Pergola has gang graffiti , along with grime, from one end to the other. Take your cameras and send your photos to Nancy Nadel, Pat Kerninghan , Public Works, and Park and Rec.

  21. navigator

    Naomi, I’ve brought out-of-town guests to Lake Merritt and it was downright embarrassing. The comments regarding the goose poop and the general blight, made me feel quite embarrassed for even thinking about bringing anyone to Lake Merritt. If any of the few tourist Oakland is able to attract make it to Lake Merritt, it will probably be for the one and only time. And, I’m sure that they’ll spread the word when getting back home and talking to friends, family and acquaintances. It’s a real shame, because Lake Merritt really has the potential to be one of America’s great urban parks. Lake Merritt makes the reservoir in Central Park look like a small pond. It really is a travesty that Oakland city government allows these conditions to fester.

  22. Naomi Schiff

    Please report maintenance requests to Public Works on their website or by calling their hotline, so that they will know we are watching and will get their crews out there. They responded to my latest query on the pergola by mentioning that they already had a report on it. This is great and perhaps it was one of the people posting here. More noise will help to underline the priorities!

    If you can, please volunteer on the clean up crews with L M Institute and the other groups. Wonderful people show up for these and it is an opportunity to meet other citizens who care.

  23. Robert

    For years, Oakland has prioritised other things above park maintenance, such as social programs, libraries, low income housing and employee compensation. Until priorities change, there will never be enough money for parks.

  24. Naomi Schiff

    Please report maintenance requests, graffiti, etc. to public works by phone or on their website:

    I did get a response about the pergola graffiti that someone else had also reported it, sothey are noticing. If a few more people remind them, we can get things taken care of.

    Please consider volunteering with Lake Merritt Institute. You might enjoy meeting some of your neighbors at a lake cleanup, or learn how to do your bit in solitary peace, if you prefer.

  25. navigator

    Naomi, I believe that the “someone else” was me. I wrote on my online complaint form that the graffiti was on the Pergola and on the 18th Street Pier in Lake Merritt. They e-mailed me wanting me to be a little more specific with a street address and a cross street. What can I say? That complaint is nearly a week old. I haven’t been by the Lake since then. I wonder if anything has changed, or, are our local gang bangers allowed to bask in their indefinite glory of defacing Oakland landmarks?

  26. Naomi Schiff

    PS: When I last went by the 18th St. pier there was some very minor graffiti, but not a large amount. I wonder how much damage you saw there? Trying to figure out whether they went by in between or not.

  27. navigator

    Naomi, It was more than just the minor graffiti. The place just looked dirty and grimy. I’m sure it’s the same graffiti that I saw. They need to pressure wash that landmark on at least a monthly basis.

  28. annalee allen

    realizing I am coming late into the discussion, re: mentioning the DD oversight committee, and its ongoing role, the Tribune column I wrote a couple of weeks ago on the upcoming ribbon cutting of the boat house, specifically called out the committee, mentioned when the next meeting would be, and had the phone number to call…to receive the agenda and get on the mailing list.

  29. Ralph

    I, too, would be interested in getting a LM Conservancy started. I noticed that the CPC started basically because the city was neglecting it. As a frequent user, I want to ensure that the park is well maintained.

  30. Naomi Schiff

    I didn’t originate the Conservancy idea, but I am trying to figure out whether any work has been done on it thus far. I will be asking around and will post back here with what I find. I think we should take this on as a longterm effort, and of course it would be important to find a proper niche such that whatever results does not compete with the other organizations active in trying to help our parks, in particular FOPR and OPC.

  31. Ralph

    Cool. Earlier today, I was curious to see what if anything had been done on this effort and near as I could tell it came up in the original Measure DD discussion but was not in the final measure. And like you I was curious would this not be within the authority of the FOPR. Near as I can tell, FOPR spends more money and effort on the R and less on the P. OPC – Oakland Public Conservancy?

  32. Naomi Schiff

    Oakland Parks Coalition

    (I am posting links without their initial letters because some filter kicks them out if posted with full address)

    OPC has their eyes fully focused on maintenance, so a good group to get connected to. They have been advocating for parks staffing for some years now.

  33. Ralph

    thanks. seems like there is an opening for the LMC. With FOPR focusing on the R and the OPC attempting to ensure continued maintenance via city resources of the parks, I would think any attempt to obtain dedicated private funds for LM would be a welcome relief to the city. I am so unversed in the ways of starting a conservancy but would love to learn more. Is this something we can discuss offline?

  34. navigator

    I walked the lake this morning and not much has changed. Someone did clean the graffiti from the pergola. Other than that, the usual, months old blight is still there. Also, the sod on Lakeshore hasn’t arrived. The prepared area is already filing in with crab grass and the soil is becoming compacted. The graffiti is still present on the 18th Street Pier along with the dirt and the grime. The light standards, the benches, the utility shed, garbage containers, and the retaining wall in front of Lakeside one, are all full of the same graffiti along with overgrown weeds everywhere, etc.

    I did see a white puck up with “graffiti abatement” on the side door driving around the Lake. I also saw a City of Oakland garbage truck parked at the Hamburger Restaurant at Belevue & Grand. What a better way to spend a nice beautiful Sunday getting overtime for driving around Lake Merritt. It would be nice if they got off the truck once in a while and addressed these long festering blight issues which I have reported to Nancy Nadel and Public Works, many many times.

  35. Patrick

    This is also the worst time of the year to install sod (and shrubs and trees, for that matter). With the hottest and driest months still to come, they’ll need to water the h-e double toothpicks out of that sod until the rainy season arrives. What are the chances of that? Furthermore, that would create fertilizer run-off to the lake – algae blooms aren’t pretty. Maybe they’re waiting until late fall/winter, which is the best time. I wouldn’t worry too much about compaction; roots/shoots are stong enough to break concrete – just walk down any sidewalk in the city to see evidence of this. Crabgrass is a given; there are not really any effective herbicides/pesticides that can be responsibly used around a natural body of water. Of course, this is Oakland: they’ve probably got a stash of DDT and 2,4D (and possibly Agent Orange) sitting in a decaying warehouse somewhere. We have the workers to procure and administer the procurement, just no workers to apply it.

    I walked around the lake today as well after a very enjoyable several hours in Chinatown for the festival. I guess I looked at everything with a more critical eye than before. It really IS depressingly bad. Does the City of Oakland have any sort of duty roster? For example, this week you will accomplish this, this and this and if you don’t please explain? It really doesn’t seem possible that they do. From the Mayor on down…

  36. Naomi Schiff

    Again, some of the parks assignments can be found at the public works website, and there is info at the OPC website. It might be helpful to read this stuff, and let’s try to narrow down the issues together. Then a coherent, firm, but polite letter should be sent to Mr. Godinez at PW. One way to have this go would be to see if we can also get a letter sent in by the DD Coalition and/or OPC. OPC has been doing a pretty good job of showing up at council committee meetings to raise these issues. I hope you will get in touch with them and together maybe we can find the best way to band together to have more impact in a time of less budget.

    Before we attack the city staff with anger, let’s start with some facts, some ideas, some respectful language. There’s always time to get heated later, but if we escalate immediately we’ll have nowhere to go. Let’s not make the assumption that folks are lazy or dumb. Let’s start by doing some problem solving.

    Please look at the various postings referenced above at PW and OPC and make a list of the most urgent issues. Where possible, let’s separate issues of ongoing maintenance from new installations of the DD projects, because they are executed by different entities. The DD installations are being implemented by contracted landscaping outfits, not the regular PW maintenance folks. Once those projects are complete, they will revert to regular PW maintenance (or lack of) and indeed there are plenty of things to worry about.

    But I urge folks to get the information and communicate it clearly and respectfully as the first step. Because we will have more credibility that way, and because it is more effective as the first move.

  37. navigator

    Here are some photos of the ongoing blight at Lake Merritt. I had 46 photos in a 55 minute walk around Lake Merritt. Unfortunately, my Flicker account only had enough space left for 11 photos. We deserve a whole lot better than this. This is outrageous. I’ve been contacting Nancy Nadel and and the head of Public Works along with the head of Parks and Rec with these issues for years. All I get is excuses as to why our landmark “Crown Jewel Park” has to look like a dump. The graffiti you see on these photos is many months old.

  38. navigator

    Patrick, Thanks for showing interest and taking that walk with a critical eye. We need many more Oaklanders to do the same. The City of Oakland will continue to neglect Lake Merritt, as they have been doing for years, unless the citizens of Oakland demand more from their city government. We basically get the kind of city we tolerate. It’s our city, they work for us. We need to demand a clean and well maintained Lake Merritt. After all, this is suppose to be Oakland’s signature park.

    To take care of what I saw and documented, doesn’t take a whole lot of money with the exception of replacing the deteriorating docks. It just takes a little effort. It takes the kind of commitment and effort I don’t see from Parks & Rec or Public Works. It takes commitment and effort from Nancy Nadel and Pat Kerninghan. How long do we have to tolerate a neglected dump in the middle of our city? Sorry Naomi, after dealing with this for year after year, I’m not feeling very diplomatic.

  39. Patrick

    What’s especially sad is that (in the pictures you did upload) all of those problems could be easily taken care of by one person in a couple of hours.

  40. Patrick

    I’d like to see all of the pictures. V, is there any way that you could facilitate an e-mail exchange? The e-mail that I post with is not my current address; for some reason the site rejects posts I make with my gmail account. This assumes, of course, that nav is willing to participate.

    Anyone got a gas powered pressure washer? I wonder about the water supply… I’d be willing to to pressure wash that absolutely DISGUSTING brick-like bench (what the hell is that on there? It looks like the aftermath of a sacrifice gone bad.) as well as cut the weeds, and prime/paint. Anyone interested?

  41. V Smoothe

    Why don’t you both send me a message through the contact form on this site: and I will forward them on to each of you.

    I realize that the ongoing issues with the spam filter and the false positives are irritating. I have been spending much of my time while taking a break from blogging working on something that will hopefully help solve the problem.

  42. Ralph

    nav, i think you pictures make the case for why we need an LMC. CPC and GGPC got started due to budget cuts. If we want the LM to remain a jewel, we will need to find a way to maintain it with non-city resources.

  43. Naomi Schiff

    I am doing some phoning around and will post when I have something useful to report. In the meantime, you might want to check with Lake Merritt Institute, as they may have a way to make it easier to help, such as knowing about whatever spigots are available.

  44. PRE

    Re: the pictures of the grime around the Lake, I can’t speak for the parents of the geese that poop all over, but maybe Oakland human parents should raise better kids. Kids (and eventual adults) that don’t throw their human litter all over the place.

    To quote the New York Times (regarding the much greater tragedy of the destruction of Penn Station) “a civilization gets what it wants, is willing to pay for, and ultimately deserves.” California and Oakland in particular are playing that theme out in front of our eyes.

  45. John Klein

    I saw a Lake Chalet employee with a broom and ‘special’ dust pan yesterday, scooping poop off the sidewalks over there…

  46. navigator

    Thanks for the interest guys. Len, there are areas near the new paths where you can actually hook up a hose. There’s one next to the Boat House. I’m not sure where the ones on the Lakeshore side are located. I like your spirit Patrick. You SHOULD be upset.

    Ralph while I agree with you regarding the budget cuts, much of this stuff is just pure neglect. The blight around Lake Merritt has been festering for years. Even when we had a little more money in the budget to work with, things were still neglected.

    PRE, Yes, it’s true that some, if not most of that blight, is man made. In an urban environment there will always be idiots ready to tear stuff up. There will always be knuckleheads who want to deface everything in sight. There will always be slobs. This goes for Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Chicago, New York etc. What sets municipalities and communities apart is how they respond to these challenges. Unfortunately, Oakland has a horrible “can’t do” attitude coming from city government. We need to demand a more positive and creative “can do” attitude from our government officials.

    How much money does it take to take care of some of those issues in the photographs? How many hours of labor does it take to paint over a small retaining wall and a few park benches? The guys driving the white pick up with “graffiti abatement” on the side door, could have made productive use of their Sunday cruising around Lake Merritt. What, they don’t see these things? There’s plenty of graffiti to abate which never gets abated.

    John. I’m glad the Lake Chalet is doing their part. It certainly is a good thing to have a private business in the area with a vested interest in seeing that things around that area are properly maintained. I’m hoping that at least that area will stay nice. As far as the area of the Lake closest to the Kaiser Center and Christ the Light Cathedral, I’m afraid that we may need a little divine intervention to get this area presentable. Perhaps a few prayers from the congregation at Christ the Light , along with a possible collection for a few non blighted park benches for Lake Merritt. To me, it’s striking to see how well maintained the private areas are around class A office buildings, like the Kaiser Center, (the roof garden use to be a special place, I haven’t been there lately) the Ordway Building, and Lakeside Plaza, along with the plaza and gardens in front of the 150 million dollar Cathedral. I just don’t understand why these large commercial buildings, along with the Cathedral, wouldn’t have a vested interest in making Lake Merritt into something we could all be proud of. We cant hit these guys up for a few new park benches and a couple of gallons of paint? Perhaps they can throw in a refurbished dock or two. We can sell naming rights to the docks just like they do for sports stadiums.

  47. navigator

    For those of you interested, the benches on the Lakeside Drive of the Lake, along with the retaining wall across from the Lakeside One condo high rise, have been painted. The graffiti near the children’s playground has bee taken care of. Everything near Lakeside Drive and the playground looks much better. Thanks to whom ever was responsible. Now let’s keep it up.

    The Lakeshore side of the Lake is a different story. The 18th Street Pier is still full of graffiti and grime. The brick sitting areas and the view aprons along Lakeshore are still full of the same graffiti and grime. Much of the problem lies in the fact that a brick sitting area is going to act as a graffiti magnet for vandals. Horrible choice for that area. The materials used for the interior walking path on Lakeshore also leave a lot to be desired. The outer sidewalks seem much more durable and stain free. The material used on the interior path is porous and is easily stained. Part of the reason those sitting areas and view aprons looked so grimy, is because of the materials used. The interior path is prone to staining from gum, bird droppings, drinks, skid marks, etc. The interior path on Lakeshore already looks awful. Who chose the those ugly brick/cement seating areas and those sterile and grimy view aprons? I miss the rustic walking path and the nice benches we used to have on Lakeshore. What kind of “improvements” are these?

    On another note, I was driving down Broadway and Telegraph today and I couldn’t believe how clean everything looked. I didn’t see one piece of litter on the ground on Broadway from Grand all the way down to Jack London Square. Excellent job. For a minute I though I had made a wrong turn and ended up in Walnut Creek. It was also great to see the long blighted Shaw Plaza on 22nd and Broadway coming back to life. That building in that setting has great potential. Great job. I was proud of downtown Oakland today.

  48. Naomi Schiff

    Glad to hear there has been some progress! I’ve been focussed on getting PW to remove the gratuitous couch deposited on a traffic median near my house by the landlord who won’t take responsibility for his moving-out tenants’ abandoned stuff. Grump. Grump. Grump. I am thinking we need to find some way to communicate with tenants and landlords and get them hooked up with some kind of bulky waste arrangement.

    I’ll send in another comment to PW on Lakeshore and see if it does any good. Your comments about the decomposed granite surface are interesting, and I will be curious to ask about it at the next DD meeting, and about what the maintenance issues may be.

    Thank you for keeping your eye out on things. I am pretty amazed that that Shaw Plaza bldg is active after not just years but decades!

  49. Ralph

    very excited about shaw plaza, walk by it daily, i am looking forward to its evetual opening.

    i think max will also be happy as they plan to have malaysian/singapore style food garden on the 3rd floor

  50. Born in Oakland

    Junk on the streets and medians is a direct result of the high fees Waste Management has hit us with to pay for the new union package negotiated by our fair Mayor last year or whenever it was. Now, in addition to the minimum charge of $35 for dumping anything, they tack on 19 bucks for any couch, sofa, mattress or box spring. Auto tires run 10 to 15 smackeroos apiece and don’t even ask what a refrigerator or other appliance may cost. So if you see junk on the streets such as described, (especially in the flats) it’s just poor folks or low wage jobbers dumping to try to save a buck, And at the prices chareged by Waste Inc, I don’t much blame them. At least the union workers don’t have to give up their bloated Harley’s and costly leathers.

  51. navigator

    Waste Management has free bulk waste pick up days throughout the year. I’m not sure if every Oakland resident has one or two free bulk pick ups throughout the year. Residents with large bulky items need to make an appointment with Waste Management to have the stuff picked up. There’s really no excuse for illegal dumping in Oakland. A lot of that stuff is from contractors and other scofflaws who don’t even live in Oakland but think Oakland is a giant dumping ground precisely because of the “don’t care attitude” we’ve been fighting the City over the blight issues at Lake Merritt.

    Also, Waste Management LOCKED OUT their employees. It wasn’t a strike by the Union. Waste Management spent 30 million dollars when they brought in employees from low wage states in order to break the Union.

    Naomi, it would be great if you mentioned the interior decomposed granite paths on the Lakeshore side of the Lake at the next meeting. That path only goes for about 3/4 of a mile. Perhaps we can think about using something which will not attract every surface stain imaginable to man when the path is extended from the 18th Street Pier to 12th Street. Also, please no more of the sterile and ugly faux brick seating structures. Those are giant graffiti magnets. It’s ashame things like the durability of surfaces in urban environments aren’t given more thought before millions are spent on these inappropriate surfaces. Now we seem to be stuck with this ugly, stained and sterile path.

    Yes, it IS very exciting to see Shaw Plaza come to life. That was a huge blight in an other wise great area. This should really solidify that area as a prime dining and entertainment destination. Awesome job!

  52. Naomi Schiff

    There was a lot of discussion about path surfaces during the planning phases, but most of what I remember was about trying to strike a balance between durability and some resilience on runners’ and walkers’ feet, while still maintaining ADA compliance. i’m not sure anybody thought that much about how to clean the granite composite surface, but definitely let’s find out before they use it further. I don’t remember much discussion about brick seating, but will certainly query that too. We have a fair way to go, and perhaps we can learn as we go along, since the project is so large.

  53. Patrick

    Perhaps this material was selected specifically BECAUSE it’s permeable? With such a large surface area, permeability is desirable because otherwise runoff is confined to a few relatively small areas. The rapid pace of runoff due to funneling can lead to gullies – which not only undermines the paved surface but can lead to increased pollution in bodies of water.

  54. len raphael

    my impression is that the main alternative to dg for permeability are permeable paver stones, which are much more costly to install. what is staing the dg?

  55. Born in Oakland

    Okay navigator, my point on illegal dumping is the costs are too high for people who would do the right thing but cannot afford . I used to pick up tires, mattresses and other junk thrown on the streets here in Flatland as part of my regular runs to that wonderful Davis St. dump. At 35 bucks minimum plus $19 or $15 apiece for the aforementioned items, I pick my runs carefully and avoid being the neighborhood junk disposer. Union +City +Waste Management = Monopoly. Give me a break. The cost of keeping the city clean just went up at least 100 percent. Wish those employees from low wage states had been hired by Waste Management, dump costs would be more reasonable and the City might be little cleaner. But hey, we got rid of the military, we got rid of nuclear research ( we be nuke free!) and soon we may be low wage free. No wonder no work gets done in this city. We can’t afford it.

  56. navigator

    Today I had a chance to finally set foot inside the Lake Chalet restaurant. What a beautiful place with awesome views of the Lake. We also sat outside on the dock. It was a gorgeous day with boats on the lake, blue clear water, and green hills cascading onto the Lake. The place was doing brisk business in the afternoon.

    On another note, the Eat Real Festival at Jack London Square was packed with thousands of people. I’ve NEVER seen so many people at Jack London Square. They even opened up the building which will eventually house the produce market. What a beautiful and mellow setting. People were laying on the grass, listening to music, and enjoying great cuisine. This proves that people will come to Oakland by the thousands if you give them a reason. Jack London Square needs a major draw to get large crowds on a consistent basis and make it a truly vibrant regional destination.

  57. livegreen

    BIO & Navi, Re. Dumping, it’s the same as Business Licenses & Building Permits: the City has high costs that it DOESN’T ENFORCE. So the businesses that have the lowest costs are those that operate illegally.

    Afterwards everybody wonders why: -Contractor’s dump everywhere; -City income from Business Tax is lower than it should be; -So many people are employed off-the-books or illegally (and encouraged to do so to boost profits);
    -Home restoration is done without permits; -So many in-law units are unofficial;
    etc., etc.

    And yet nothing changes. As long as you don’t tell the City & State neither will come after you. Make the mistake of starting an official business and then everything changes 180 degrees. Only parking is being enforced right now. Otherwise it’s a free-for-all.

    (Not much different from any other 3rd world country…The only difference being they know & talk about it, but here in the U.S. nobody does).

  58. Born in Oakland

    On dumping, so you get kicked out of your substandard apt in the flats cause you can’t pay the rent, lost your job , so you move yourself, wife and two kids in with an aunt or other relative who is elderly but has a house further east in Oakland, You have to get rid of some stuff, couldn’t get rid of it at the garage sale because no one has any money and the kids vomited on the couch anyway. A jobber, neighbor would take it to the dump but the fee is too high because of Wage Management penalties for sofas, mattresses, etc. You say the heck with it and carry the junk to the nearest nearest median or vacant lot, Bulky trash pick up? Duh, the landlord of your slum is only authorized to schedule one with WM and the SOB has already threatened to take you to court for not paying rent for 7 months. So you just leave. You are irresponsible, no doubt, but also poor. What part of this scenario is too difficult to understand?

  59. livegreen

    I don’t know what the Stats are on dumping, but I’m guessing your highly detailed example are not the majority of cases. Whatever the case I agree going after the poor is not where the money & fines are.

    Going after the contractors is. Yet if you report the contractors to the Dumping Hotline (or whatever it’s called) NOTHING is done. Zip, zero. They have a number only to offer the appearance of a service. They don’t actually do anything with it. I know because neighbors of mine saw a contractor dumping in their neighborhood. They reported it and followed-up and followed-up and nothing ever came of it.

    The same with the City’s enforcement of Business Licenses. There is none. You want to operate without one, go ahead. They’ll rarely if ever come after you.

    Oh, another type of business they don’t regulate: Businesses without fixed locations, like moving vans or taco trucks. Taco trucks don’t even pay a sales tax and they never get controlled. Moving vans use the public streets to transfer their charges from one to another, then don’t have to pay a warehouse or distribution facility.

    In any of these cases a competitor that does pay their dumping fees, their sales tax, their warehouse leases & property taxes, will have higher costs and higher prices and thus be at a disadvantage.

    Lesson: Don’t tell the City anything, do everything illegally, the City will earn less, and nobody will every do a thing about it. Again, we have a black market economy almost as big as any 3rd World country. The only difference is nobody ever talks about it in the U.S.

  60. Born in Oakland

    Livegreen, I think we have similar issues and views. I worry if I post to draw attention to where the cracks are in City administration and purported service that I could be viewed as a cynic, libertarian, nut, whatever. But I do love this city (“Thank you for letting me be myself”) and its many creative, hard working and frequently marginalized people. I read A Better Oakland the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night , It’s great and I look forward to adding some positive posts. For example, my daughter and son in law just reurned from Lake Chalet with some of their late 20′s eary 30′s friends and spouses and she just raved about it. “Wow, it was like a Hollywood set view of the way Oakland should or can be. The view on the deck reminded me of Lake Geneva, nice weather, good company, a couple of drinks and all was well with the world.”

  61. livegreen

    BIO, I agree, and thanks for pointing out the positives & the steps forward. None-the-less the gaps in city obligations, services, and solutions are so large that our previous comments are both valid, and large enough to spray the fountain in Lake Geneva through.

    I’m not talking about a garden hose here. It’s a very large fountain. BTW, maybe an idea for Lake Merritt?

  62. gaylez

    Livegreen, at the HOA complex I live in, the Waste Management fees have increased over $1000 per month since early last year. Illegal dumpers are severing the entrance gate locks and electric gate and dumping loads late at night. The four dumpsters are surrounded by couches, old tricycles, pool tables, boxes of empty liquor bottles – sometimes what looks like an entire household of stuff – it’s frightening and depressing. Where are the now, non-working, poor going?
    And, of course, the HOA has been told by every city department that there is absolutely nothing we can do except pay the bill and get better locks. I’ve had my HOA fees increased by 20% (the legal limit without a vote) and expect to have another increase next year too.

  63. Naomi Schiff

    Livegreen: Fountains in Lake Merritt: We have a couple in particularly prone-to-stagnation areas. But saltwater is tough on fountain hardware! And they consume electricity (although we have suggested solar, it’s apparently not too practical just yet). So not a bad idea, but they are hoping to do more passive, hyrdro-engineered things to improve water quality.

    I know it was an aside, but just in case you wanted to know. . .

  64. Naomi Schiff

    Do you really want to know, or just being funny? I actually know little about it except for the Lake Merritt ones which have been discussed at meetings and are weird because: salty water.

    It would be interesting to construct a list and perhaps a tour of publicly accessible fountains in Oakland, though.
    City Hall Frank Ogawa Plaza with the pointy sculpture in the middle.
    MacElroy Fountain in Lakeside Park, and
    the aforementioned four (I think) in the Lake itself.
    The Cascade at Woodminster.
    The one at the Rose Garden. (Hours of operation highly limited for some of these.) There is one in Preservation Park.
    Latham Fountain at Tele/Broadway.
    That round de-spined-urchin-looking sculpture at Jack London Sq.
    The highly disciplined indoor feature at Kaiser Center lobby.
    The controversial ones at the Estates Reservoir, soon to be wiped out.
    Isn’t there some water involved in the space behind the APL building (what are we calling it now that APL has been swallowed up?)
    Pacific Renaissance plaza fountain
    The big production at City Center
    I think they turned the water off, but there was a thing in the lobby at EBMUD

    I am sure there are more. Make a list!

  65. len raphael

    NS, not joking. A list of old producing water wells? Only one so far is at Pardee House. Is there still one at Schilling Garden (since i’ve never been there, i don’t know if there is even a garden remaining) or Cohen Bray?


  66. Naomi Schiff

    The one at Schilling Garden is still there, and the garden is too; although current maintenance continues it is not what it once was. (I do so want to get hold of that as a park and horticulture teaching place! If only I had some money.)

    Interesting about wells. They might not be well known but I am sure there are many extant in various backyards. One would think the Temescal neighborhood and downhill from there would be worth investigating. I didn’t know about a well at Cohen Bray but it would make sense, and will ask the next time I talk to those folks. Is there anything around Dunsmuir? There is plenty of creekbed around there.

    Oh, a great vestigial and very old one: archaeologists found remnants of an old well at Peralta Hacienda, but I believe it is mostly hidden and covered over as an archaeological preservation maneuver.

    Years ago someone put together a great map of Oakland creeks which is downloadable and might provide some clues: you can get it at

    This last weekend’s OHA tour of West Oakland was fascinating in following some of the remaining visible traces of the West Oakland marshlands (now all filled in).

    The history of water in the east Bay is worth a whole book in itself, not least the fabulous and gritty discussions of sewage problems during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth. Some really gripping newspaper articles!

  67. dto510

    Naomi, you know very well that what is left of the Schilling property is only a lawn and virtually none of the garden remains: three-quarters of it was demolished for high-rise development (the adjacent buildings) and the construction of Lakeside Drive, around 1910. I do marketing for the Emerald Views and have been to the “garden” several times – it’s a lawn with a stone wall, grade-separated from Snow Park and Lakeside, with some big trees that post-date the original estate. It’s quite difficult to even orient yourself if you have an old postcard. I didn’t see any structures that could be a well.

    There’s an abandoned well on the vacant lot at MLK and 10th. It’s kind of a hazard…

  68. Kevin Cook

    Now, now let’s leave sleeping dogs–or Schilling Gardens–lie. This started off as a nice little thread about how the Lake is improving but navigator is still counting goose shit and sidewalk gum, no need to reach for the knives. For what’s it’s worth, there’s obviously a big difference a well and a fountain, and I can’t imagine that anyone in Oakland is still pumping groundwater out of a well for anything other than environmental monitoring

  69. navigator

    Kevin, maybe you like the Lake to look like crap, but I don’t. Go look at the nice clean benches on Lakeside drive and the cleaned up area near the children’s playground. If more people “counted goose shit and gum,” and graffiti and grime, maybe we’d get a park we could all be proud of.

  70. len raphael

    If i ever say anything bad about libraries, remind me how one of the Oakland Room librarians came up with this link to a study that has a map (sort of) of all the private and public wells as of 1910. The history of water usage in Oakland was just what i was looking for. I didn’t realize that we depended on wells until the 1930′s.

    (and i would never joke with an oakland mother of the year. we could use more royalty in this town ;) )

  71. Naomi Schiff

    Thank you, Len. DTO is correct in saying there was formerly a larger garden of which the present garden is a part, but on most other counts is incorrect about Schilling Garden. There is more than a lawn, and there is a lot to be said about it. I’ll leave it for discussion at another time, but please note that Mr. DTO is in the pay of the developer and I am not being paid for anything I say about these issues.

    Developer David O’Keeffe, with whom I have a respectful and cordial if occasionally adversarial relationship, is the owner of that parcel and he is the one who knows about and talks about the well, and himself said he is using the water from it for irrigation. At least that is what he told me and several others who were standing around him at the time.

    There are many buried or culverted streams, and all the ones around that end of Lake Merritt drain into it, so not so surprising.

    I’m fine with joking, though! We Mothers are known for our sense of humor. (Do you like the first person plural, there?)

  72. dto510

    Naomi, what’s incorrect? Do you dispute that the vast majority of the estate was demolished around 1910 to build two high-rise apartment buildings and Lakeside Dr? We can disagree about what’s planned there, but those concerned about Oakland’s history should take the time to research reality. The extant lawn, and the visible trees that post-date the original estate, are not the “Schilling Garden” – it’s been gone for a hundred years.

  73. Naomi Schiff

    DTO, I don’t want to hijack this thread. I’d be happy to talk with you about this off line. There are things called “periods of significance” and this garden may have more than one such period. Substantial remnants of the historic arbor that was built at the 19th St. edge is of early date, constructed by specially hired Japanese workmen. (See the weirdly amazing concrete trees!) This garden is also associated with the prominent Bechtel family. There is substance to the landscape and architectural history of the site. It was rated as of highest significance long before anybody thought of building anything there. I haven’t done very extensive research, but I have done some. And I am not a paid consultant.

  74. Annalee Allen

    I like nothing better than to focus on Oakland’s history, as many people know. Speaking for myself personally, I feel the historic significance of the Schilling Garden site also has to do with the beautiful landmark 244 Lakeside Building which was designed for views of both the lake and the lovely garden directly behind it. Each unit in the building enjoyed this gracious quality (i.e. sunny views in all directions). The 244 Lakeside Building’s landmark value is going to be greatly compromised if and when a new very tall highrise gets planted (some would say shoe-horned) on what was formerly a sunny open space. The unlucky folks with apartment units on the lower floors will be looking at garage walls, instead of lawns, shrubs and trees.
    The 244 Lakeside Building has been standing there since the 1920′s, that’s 75-pus years; and that is history too.
    Annalee Allen

  75. dto510

    You can find some value in the lawn or other remnants, or value buildings that replaced the estate, but when someone asks if the garden is still there, the answer is no. That’s not a matter of opinion.

  76. John Klein

    Yeah, probably not a good idea to turn to the pro & cons of retention or development of Schilling Garden on this thread. There’ll be lots of opportunities in this regard if/when the Emerald Views project comes forward again.

    To some people, it wouldn’t matter if the parcel was nothing but dead, dry dirt – they would still want to see it become park land, so….

  77. Max Allstadt

    I concur. When the Deathguild gets back from Burning Man with their Thunderdome, we can resume this conversation.

    What am I talking about? Schiff vs. Bair, settling it once and for all with a method only Oakland could invent…

  78. freddy

    Manure Handling

    Written by John Klein on August 7th, 2009 (4 weeks ago) 11:24 am:

    freddy, you’re a ‘city boy,’ aren’t you? As Russell so eloquently explained, manure smells really bad – always has. But it adds a lot of nutrients to the soil to aid plant growth.

    I talked with the landscape contractor this morning. They have been working at preparing for the new lawns for several weeks. Some pictures from today are here:

    They will begin installing the new lawn next week. They will roll out 150,000 square feet of sod. He also said they will be planting “really a lot” of trees in the five foot medium strip between the curb and sidewalk. He said that, two weeks from now, the entire length of Lakeshore Ave. will look completely different than it does now.

    I hope you can hold you nose for that long, city boy…..

    I’m going to bring this up again, since your reply was:

    a) Insulting
    b) A lie

    An honorable man would consider:

    a) An apology
    b) An answer

    But I expect neither, as you probably hold yourself to the same level of accountability that you hold the city.

    It’s been 4 weeks now since your post. An entire month, a summer month which sees a lot of traffic around the late, leading into a holiday weekend.

    There is not one square yard of sod placed on that side of the lake, not one square foot, not one blade.

    Though I’m happy to see the return of the crabgrass.

    The good news is that over this time, the stink of the fertilizer has finally dissipated. The bad news is that so have its nutrients – the city was charged for loads of BS that has now gone completely to waste:

    Manure Handling

    Handling can affect the fertilizer value of manure, particularly its nitrogen content. Nitrogen is present in manure in a variety of forms, most of which gradually converts to ammonium and nitrate nitrogen.

    The ammonium form can be lost to the air and the nitrates leached by rainfall. Ammonium losses can be minimized by not stockpiling manure while it is moist, minimizing its handling, and working it under immediately after spreading. Ammonia can be lost to the air each time manure is moved or hauled. Much of the loss is from hydrolysis of the NH2 groups (enzymatic) and then volatilization of N20 and NH3. This loss can be very high when spreading manure, especially during warm, dry weather. Here, at least 50% of the ammonium nitrogen can be lost within 12 hours. Studies have also shown that, by one week after spreading, almost 100% of the ammonium nitrogen can be lost. This loss can represent up to 50% of the total nitrogen available in stockpiled manure.Therefore, the importance of simultaneously spreading and working in manure is obvious.

  79. John Klein

    Hi freddy, here’s your answer:

    It seems that the various project timelines I a gave a few weeks ago have slipped. However, most of the new sidewalks at the El Embarcadero have been poured. There are some ornamental sections remaining to be poured, though.

    The irrigation installation is nearly complete by the El Embarcadero.

    The tree and sod installation fell way behind. A lot of trees were planted this week and today. As far as the sod, though, even the landscape workers don’t know when it will happen. A couple of workers told me that they keep hearing, “Next week,” “next week,” for the arrival of the sod but it hasn’t, so they don’t know, either.

    They also say that Lakeshore will be completely repaved during September.

    It’s pretty obvious that the schedules fell way behind from what I said early but that happens sometimes. There has been a lot of progress in the last couple of weeks.

    I don’t have the same concerns about the manure – yeah, it stinks.

  80. len raphael

    street repaving question: when the city used to repave side streets in north oakland , before that was put on hold for five years, they would fill in holes and then spread a layer of asphalt over existing road surface. result of doing that over 80 years was a high road bed with a trough in front of the curbs and driveways. i presume the correct way to repave is to remove some of the old surface and then lay down the new surface.

    what method will the city use for Lakeshore?

  81. navigator

    Speaking of El Embarcadero, I was under the impression that the closure of the street between the library and the pergola was to expand that part of the park into a bucolic extension of the green areas surrounding the Lake. What seems to be going on in that area instead, is the replacement of asphalt with concrete. I was looking forward to a more natural addition to Lake Merritt. Do we really need more concrete around the Lake? So now we have more concrete to be stained with goose poop, gum, drinks, graffiti etc. There’s a concrete company somewhere making a fortune with the Measure DD “improvements” to Lake Merritt.

  82. John Klein

    Regarding the Lakeshore repaving, a worker indicated that 3-4 inches of the current roadway surface would be removed before repaving Lakeshore.

    Navigator, it seems that a strip of grass about 10 feet wide was reclaimed at the El Embarcadero by removing the roadway. The walkway replacing it will have lighting and benches for sitting. I’m sure it will be a popular change there.

    I have the same concerns as you regarding the amount of concrete being placed by Measure DD. Five/six foot sidewalks are being replaced by mostly 10 foot walks and even 12 foot wide in some areas. In some places, there are new sidewalks which I think were altogether unnecessary. These, along with the valet parking area at the Boat House, have really put a lot of green grass and park land under concrete.

    It’s both a practical and esthetic issue and a lot of people like the wider walks. I attended the Measure DD Community Coalition meeting a couple of months ago to express my concerns about all of the new concrete. I think they could be using a “lighter touch” regarding the concrete. But, as it turns out, the Coalition generally supports the wider walks and the wider walks have been part of the plan all along.

    In any case, I’ll be watching the widths of new sidewalks because more will be added, especially at 12th Street. A lot of these walkways have already been planned and approved and I’m not sure how willing and open the City or Measure DD Coalition is to the idea of design changes regarding the sidewalks.

  83. navigator

    John, thanks for the info. I’m really disappointed that we’re only getting ten feet of new grass area with the closure of El Embarcadero. I know the original plans called for a very natural and bucolic setting with the reclaimed creek and arched foot bridges. Now we get more concrete and more benches for public works not to maintain. I’m scared to think of what the 12th street area will look like once they deviate once again from the pretty pictures on the billboards. Will we soon forget the new 4 acre park, the beautiful pedestrian foot bridges, the arched pier in front of the park with the best view in Oakland? They better take it easy on the concrete on the 12th Street side of the Lake. I don’t want to see 12 lanes of asphalt replaced by one 120 foot wide sidewalk.

  84. navigator

    John, thanks for the info. I’m really disappointed that we’re only getting ten feet of new grass area with the closure of El Embarcadero. I know the original plans called for a very natural and bucolic setting with the reclaimed creek and arched foot bridges. Now we get more concrete and more benches for public works not to maintain.

    I’m scared to think of what the 12th Street area will look like once they again deviate from the pretty pictures on the billboards. Will we soon forget the new 4 acre park, the beautiful pedestrian foot bridges, the arched pier in front of the park with the best view in Oakland? They better take it easy on the concrete on the 12th Street side of the Lake. I don’t want to see 12 lanes of asphalt replaced by one 120 foot wide sidewalk. Maybe we should start looking at who the concrete contractor for this project is, and what, if any, connections to City Hall.

  85. Naomi Schiff

    I agree with you, john and navigator, above, that we shouldn’t put concrete before green space. I am not a big advocate of more grass than needed, due to the goose-attraction problem, much discussed (no let’s not do that again now), but I do want green space. Green doesn’t always have to be grass, but it should not be concrete. I hope you will consider attending Measure DD meetings! I think we should request an agendized update on any design changes, and ask the staff to bring the latest site plans. However, I do believe plans all include the parkland at 12th as a priority. Let’s make sure it happens. The last thing I heard was about negotiations with AC Transit about how they can fit their rapid bus onto 12th, and I think that got settled.

  86. livegreen

    Sounds like a good subject for a letter to City Councilpeople.
    Along with a suggestion that the Parks Dept. use the goose pooper-scooper.

  87. John Klein

    Okay, thanks Naomi. Since you are on the Measure DD Community Coalition, can you ask to have the City bring in the most recent drawings and plans for 12th Street? They could do this at the next Measure DD Coalition meeting, if you know the date.

    But, I’d have to say that I am skeptical of the City or the Coalition being open to further input or changes. Frankly, I think the City doesn’t want to show the real architectural drawings. I say this because I met with Joel Peter and Jose Martinez but they only brought very generic drawings that did not show great detail. I’ve heard of others having the same experience. My other skepticism is that the DD Coalition, because they already “approved” the designs, isn’t open to reviewing them, either.

    This appears to be a somewhat defensive attitude, though. Not reviewing designs really doesn’t make sense and is counter to what typically happens on any project. That is, taking a step back and asking, “Is this what we really wanted?” There will always be design changes and whatnot because it is impossible to think of everything or see things correctly in the design phase, Things always look better or different on paper. But, as I said, the DD Coalition generally supports wider and more sidewalks.

    I really think we should be able to see the same drawings that the City is developing with WRT, the consultant or other design firm that is plotting out the actual details of sidewalk widths, placements etc. at 12th Street. Those “for public consumption” sketches that are usually shown don’t really allow for a discussion of the details. I think it would be a good idea to see the details on 12th Street before the City sends it out to bid. I’d really hate to see the new park land reclaimed at 12th Street chopped up by criss-crossing sidewalks or buried under new public plazas.

    Can you arrange this for the DD Coalition meeting and let us know the date?

  88. freddy

    A full three months later, here’s the report: No grass! Not one square inch!

    On 7/7/09, John Klein wrote:
    I talked with the landscape contractor this morning…
    They will begin installing the new lawn next week….
    I hope you can hold you nose for that long, city boy…..

  89. John Klein

    Hi Freddy, I talked to the landscape contractor on Friday. He said they will begin installing the new lawn next week. Btw, it’s not my call. You wouldn’t believe how many times they’ve told me, “next week…”

  90. John Klein

    Measure DD update: the new sod is FINALLY being installed along Lakeshore today. Pictures are here

    The contractor told me that he would have used a subcontractor for the sod but that subcontractor could meet the “Hire Oakland” requirement. This means the crew working today (and all along on the landscaping) complies with Hire Oakland.

    It will take 4-5 days to complete the entire installation.