Manicure EMERGENCY in Oakland!

Oakland’s City Council looooves small business, and loves to talk and talk and talk, ad nauseum, about just how much they love small business. What usually goes unsaid in these endless, self-congratulatory sermons, is that they don’t actually love all small business.

No, the Council as a whole loves to fantasize about how their tireless efforts will soon fill up Oakland’s commercial districts with locally-owned, chef-driven restaurants that serve healthy, seasonal, locally grown food for exceptionally reasonable prices and carefully decorated boutiques stocked with locally sourced, sustainably made, overpriced knick-knacks.

But when it comes to businesses that aren’t quite so adorable, the type that exist because people actually use them all the time, the story changes. A number of Councilmembers make routine habit of complaining about nail salons every chance they get, and it has seemed clear for some time that some form of limitation or prohibition on new nail salons will be part of the new citywide zoning code whenever it gets passed.

But the spate of well-manicured women (and men) on our streets is apparently such a grave danger to our fair city that apparently waiting until next year simply won’t do . Instead, the Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee will be considering an emergency ordinance at their meeting this afternoon (PDF) intended to prevent new nail shops and laundromats from flooding our neighborhoods.

The emergency ordinance (PDF) would require all new nail salons and self-serve laundromats to receive a major conditional use permit before opening. It costs roughly $3,000 to apply for such a permit, and of course the hope of the ordinance is that they won’t be granted.

According to the ridiculous resolution (PDF), an immediate nail salon moratorium is “necessary to preserve the public peace, health, welfare, or safety and to avoid a direct threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the community” because “interrupting pedestrian-oriented retail nodes with these activities can detract from the success of these nodes.” These controls would last for one year, while staff prepares a more permanent solution to the alleged overconcentration of nail shops.

I get that people (usually, but not always, people who don’t get their nails done) think that nail salons are ugly. I realize that pretty much nobody is going to be on my side on this one and anticipate lots of comments about how all of you hate nail shops too and think banning them is the greatest thing ever. I don’t actually think nail salons are the cutest things to walk past either. Well, some are, but those places tend to charge upwards of $20 for a simple manicure. But the fact is, that the reason we have so many of them is because people use them a lot. Try getting your nails done in the three hour period around lunchtime in the DTO someday and you’ll see what I mean. There is nowhere to go that you don’t have to wait in line!

Same with laundromats. They’re not pretty, but they are necessary. Not everyone lives in a house with their own washer and dryer, and many apartments (including mine) lack adequate (or any) on-site laundry facilities.

Successful retail districts can’t be made up completely of adorable destination gift shops. It is often exactly this sort of unglamorous, yet practical activities that bring people out to our commercial districts in the first place. Treating them like they’re the same thing as liquor stores is absurd.

64 thoughts on “Manicure EMERGENCY in Oakland!

  1. Ralph

    I am going to go with successful retail districts can exist without mani/pedi shops, laundrymats, and liquor stores. For destination retail, I want a destination shop. Too many of these small shops are a bit of a blight. On 1 blk of Grand Ave there must be a nail shop every 3 stores. That is way too many. It prevents other higher value stores from entering. If there is any value to them at least they have more foot traffic than a laundrymat. If the new rules prevent less desirable new entrants, then I say go for it. If the new rules don’t, then raise the fee.

  2. Lyz Roberts

    Thank You! It is nice to be able to drive home from work and just stop by for a mani-pedi at the end of a tiring day. Living in the Laurel District (four blocks up from high and mac, to be sure), I am lucky enough to have my pick of salons, all for a reasonable price. If it’s the whole ‘storefront’ image these people don’t like, put up a freaking planter box. C’mon. It’s not hard.

    Also, I don’t know about the rest of the Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee members, but when I’m shopping, I quite like the option of putting dwn my bags for 30 minutes while getting a pedicure and some free wifi.

    If they really want more small businesses, regulate the Starbucks: indie cafe ratio. Duh.

  3. Suzanne

    “Higher value stores” for whom? Nail and hair salons are among the few owner-operated businesses left. I think there’s a market for a combo laundromat, nail shop, liquor store for the multi-tasking women of Oakland (with wifi and coffee, of course). Plenty of empty storefronts on College Avenue.

  4. Aaron

    Too much of anything is bad, even if (like nail shops) they’re innocuous in themselves, simply because more choices are better.

    Actually I believe a key issue behind nail shops is that the barriers to entry are relatively low: no licensing, little inventory is necessary, etc. So we get more than we might have otherwise just because it’s the easiest business to open.

    This is also why there are so many Subway restaurants: they’re cheap to open.

  5. Quercki M. Singer

    One of my favorite stores I don’t actually use is a laundromat! They have music jam sessions, and one time I watched a stilt-walker try to fold her stilt pants. They were too long, so she got up on her stilts to do it.

    I don’t mind the nail places, either. Better than an empty storefront. Which is the unfortunate alternative these days.

  6. dto510

    I agree that while nail salons may not be what Oakland is trying to recruit to its retail districts, there is no emergency. Nail salons are pedestrian-oriented and it’s very difficult to justify a ban on any kind of store at a time when there are so many empty storefronts.

  7. Robert

    An EMERGENCY resolution!!? to preserve peace, health, safety or welfare? Are these folks a bunch of total crackpots? Why on earth would we want to make it more difficult to start a business in Oakland, particularly right now with large numbers of vacant storefronts. Every shop that opens is money straight into the city’s coffers, and employment for people in the community.

    Now, for me, I would rather have more liquor stores, since I actually use those occasionally, but based on how many there are, nail shops must be making money for people. It is just too bad that a combination bar/nail shop is almost certainly a code violation, otherwise there could be a whole new business opportunity. Look beautiful and drink away your troubles at the same time.

  8. 94610BizMan

    Ralph do you seriously think that Grand from Elmwood to Piedmont would ever be a “Destination Retail” location in Oakland? That doesn’t pass the laugh test.

    There are four different stores I stop by at least once a week plus four more establishments I patronize at least once a month (plus my wife gets her nails done some where along there).

    None of them are trendy and they all provide useful neighborhood goods and services.

    None of them are going to lose business by having a nail shop next door.

    Robert: yes our elected officials are total idiots and crackpots. I didn’t use to believe that but by more closely following Oakland politics (thanks to V.) it has become unmistakable.

  9. Ralph

    Robert, I assume it is fair to say you have not been to MR. in San Francsico.

    dto, nail salons are pedestrian friendly; laundromats are not pedestrian friendly. Last I checked nail salons don’t have a drive thru component like the Mickey Dees on Jackson at 14th. However, there is a drive thru cleaners on the opposite corner.

    As to “high value”, I refer you to the “whereas, the city is adopting an overall retail strategy section…” To the extent that nail salons occupy space that could be occupied by an Ann Taylor, Nike Store, Target, Panera Bread, we got a problem. Nail Salons as good as they may be for the owner/owner family they don’t have as big of an impact as a larger retail outlet.

  10. Ralph

    94610, you missed the point, on any given street where there are nail salons there are already far too many. i am in no hurry to allow the development of more streets with just as many nail salons. and in fact i would prefer no additional nail salons.

  11. len raphael

    it is fascinating to read how people would like to regulate away nail salons. a slippery slope starting with liquor stores, bars, check cashing joints, noisy clubs, restaurants open late, then stores that attract too much traffic. what about restaurants that aren’t vegan friendly.

    nail salons are there because they’re the plankton of the retail biz. fix a few of the other problems around here and the rents would rise too high for the nail salons.

  12. Max Allstadt

    While I see fit to paint my own toes, I can’t begrudge folks the right to pay other people to do it. It’s kinda awkward to do yourself.

    I don’t see the threat here at all. The worst thing that will happen is that Oakland will become known for being full of people with fabulous nails.

  13. Jennifer

    I need nails salons in my neighborhood, and a laundromat would be good, too (Jack London Square/Warehouse District). I can see the need for a more broad retail strategy, but this is not an emergency. Note to Oakland — Ann Taylor and other smaller retailers have closed locations everywhere and they are not ever coming to Oakland.

  14. Patrick

    Ralph, I don’t know what part of town you live in, but in my part, the nail shops are not large enough to accomodate an Ann Taylor, Nike store, Target or a Panera Bread. Hell, in my part of town, the Safeway isn’t big enough to accomodate a Safeway. Most of the stores in question are tiny; from an era gone by – an era when “Bob’s Shoelaces” could have afforded a family a decent living. So, what are they good for these days? Quaintgift/babyclothing/pamperedpet/nailshops/soontobedefunctbookstores/divebars. Why don’t we place a measure on the next ballot? We can impose a “business tax” on nail polish remover, kind of like the pot clubs. Perhaps that would endear them more to our city council. Seriously, this “emergency ordinance” bypasses specious and goes directly to ludicrous.

    Max: your nails are dazzling. I nearly mistook you for Lady Gaga.

  15. Born in Oakland

    People who do real work don’t need 2 and 3 inch nails. In fact, more nails, more dirt and bacteria which is why they are prohibited in hospital settings. But regulating them? I don’t know. I don’t see a proliferation of them in the shopping malls from Fairfield to Sacramento, yet folks there seem at least as well maintained as our denizons of International Blvd and San Pablo Ave. (Yes I do visit malls on the way to Sacto for bargain work clothes and shoes, God knows you can’t find much variety and price in Oakland.) Anyway, seems like there are enough nail shops as it is. Instead of Cosmotology school, why not get a real education and make a real contribution to society?

  16. Ralph

    okay allow me to clarify, no doubt that the store fronts are too small to accomodate modern day retail. to bring destination retail to Oakland, you are going to need to consolidate store fronts. if a store front is occupied it is going to be hard to consolidate it with neighboring properties. i will fill in the gaps from here on in.

    i would say the city council is right on trying to do something about this problem. is it an emergency in the sense that people don’t have a grocery store in their ‘hood? No. But if the city allows certain unchecked, low barrier to entry businesses to fill in the gaps then we will not be able to accomplish our long term retail strategy. I give them props on this. I love me some IDLF.

  17. Ralph

    and len, you are correct, if we could fix the other problem then the rents would be too high for the proliferation of nail salons

  18. Andrew

    I am in full agreement with V on this, including every capital letter, boldface word and exclamation point. Nail shops are as American as barbershops. If a landlord wants to rent to a nail shop, let the City Council and Planning Department butt out. Emergency, my foot.

  19. Patrick

    “Consolidation”? Really? Or do you mean “bulldoze”? 45 8′ ceiling height nail shops, with no parking lot, stretched end-to-end = 9 gargantuan consolidated nail shops.

  20. Dave

    Yeah, these salons and other beauty supply shops are mostly butt ugly. Ironic since they are in the ‘beauty’ industry. Why they don’t make their businesses attractive is beyond me. It’s like they don’t want to spend one more dime beyond tacky and non creative furnishings and storefronts. Many have opened up along my section of Telegraph (so-called Koreatown). You walk by most of these places and they are staffed by bored looking women with very few customers – I kind of wonder how so many of these places can stay in business. Are they paying their workers full minimum wage? Are they fully licensed with trained staff. When another one of these places opens up I become discouraged and think our neighborhood will never become more vibrant with interesting, nice destination shops. I look enviously and cycle frequently over to the little section of 40th St. where they have a neat café, bike shop and record store; or up to 51st by Bakesale Betty’s.

    Though these nail/beauty places don’t aspire beyond mediocrity, possess any taste and don’t make our neighborhood ‘hip’ – an emergency ordinance by the City Council seems inappropriate and a waste of time and money. Also, it shows the Council to anti small business yet again.

    I’m curious of the social/economic reasons better businesses don’t comes to the Telegraph area. Are the rents high? Is parking service poor? Crime? Savvy and hip business owners want to go to a good location – that’s the most important criteria for a small business, but Tele and 51st wasn’t such a nice area ten years ago. Somehow a seed has to be planted for these areas to take off and become more vibrant.

  21. Ralph

    patrick, the consolidation of store fronts is for the purpose of the developer. I don’t give a rat’s hindpart how they make it useable. as has been pointed out at each of the Bway retail strategy mtgs in order for this to work developers
    need to acquire multiple adjacent properties to do that thing that they need to do.

    dave, why do i think we have met? numerous reason why better businesses don’t come to that stretch of telegraph. 1st there is demographics – interpret it as you will. 2nd the numerous people smoking dope on the corner don’t prevent a good face. i walked down parts of Telegraph that smell like dope. 3rd doesn’t one man own a number of those properties. i think he has his own vision for telegraph. 4th aren’t a numebr of these places family run (i.e. minimum wage stuff may not play)

    i always find it weird when i find myself defending city council but this is not a case of being against small business. it is more that city council is setting, dare i say, a vision, and if certain loopholes aren’t closed that vision will be frustrated at every turn. look at it this way to the extent we can limit new entrants existing participants should do better.

  22. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    This is something that has always bothered me about urban planning, the upper middle-class bias for local boutiques, restaurants, and services like dry cleaners and against more downscale places like convenience stores, nail salons, and shoe repair shops. Kudos to V for calling it out.

    I’m frustrated that people like Ralph and Aaron feel they should decide the appropriate number of nail salons, instead of, you know, the interaction thousands of people interested in these services with the hundreds of people willing to provide them. And Born in Oakland’s invocation against cosmetology school and the contributions to society of those that work (hard, by the looks of it) in the field is really beyond the pale.

    The notion that nail salons are crowding out “higher value” stores is laughable. If these potential stores were actually higher value, they would offer to pay more rent, which building owners would take in a minute.

    Aaron does make a good point in that the proliferation of nail salons is likely because of low barriers to entry. But that is an argument for lowering entry barriers for all manner of services that, if performed badly, wouldn’t be life threatening. Hair styling comes to mind, as does urban planning.

  23. Ralph

    OSA, if you think small you get small. If you want big, you need to think big. Sometimes this means making decisions that people are not going to find popular. To think that you can hold onto your old ways and get different results is plain stupid. I believe that is why McCain is not President.

    People use pawn shops. But I don’t think the city should be allowing more pawn shops either. They are crime magnets which tend to be concentrated in minority neighborhoods.

    At least once a week, I travel the stretch of Telegraph Dave referenced. I swear there is always a new nail shop. The number of nail shops on Telegraph is insane. It happens b/c the barriers to entry are low and it is an easy way for a recent immigrant to make a dime. But at some point, you need to put the needs of the city ahead of the needs of an individual. City council doesn’t always get that correct, but in this case they are making a good faith effort. Go IDLF!!!!

  24. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Ralph – Are you seriously arguing against recent immigrants making money? What, exactly, would you rather they be doing?

    Speaking of exactly, your words of small and big, and old ways and different results is too abstract for me, I have no idea what your talking about, and thus cannot respond.

    I think the “needs of the city” are pretty clear, we need our nails done.

  25. Ralph

    “Appropriations to meet an urgent need for public expenditure, to protect the public health, safety, or welfare may be made as an emergency ordinance.” To the extent that these low rent businesses inhibit the development of land and the construction of new businesses with higher rents Oakland’s health safety, and welfare is at risk. As has been said many times, Oakland’s poor can’t pay for themselves and you can keep raising the taxes on others to pay for those who can’t. To bring in more revenue, you need to develop the pie beyond what it is.

  26. Ralph

    OSA, I get a pedicure once a month. I feel ya. But Oakland does not need a another low rent nail salon.

    Playing along, Anyone arguing for the proliferation of nail salons is thinking small and is stuck in the past. That person thinking needs to evolve. A rinky dink nail salon sitting in the middle of a valuable property inhibits bulldozing and construction of higher rent businesses.

    I am not against a poor man earning a buck. I am against Oakland being the bay area dumping ground for the poor.

  27. Patrick

    As a resident of District 5 (GO IDLF!) I couldn’t agree with you more. We don’t have nearly enough nail shops…but we certainly have plenty of t-shirt, gray market electronics stores and produce shops. Do you think Michaan would welcome the grilling of 200 chickens or the scent of rotting produce next to his theater next Saturday? How about a mix of tamale carts and hookers in Rockridge? Unless you plan on importing several thousand migrants/illegals to form a vibrant community in your neighborhood, I would be very careful about shouting the praises of Mr. De La Fuente. I love where I live: but you live a million miles away from here. It is easy to love Tiajuana when you don’t live there.

  28. Ralph

    True, I don’t live in D5, but there are times when ol’ IDLF just gets it. This is one of those times. Measure OO was one of those times. Ironically, I would not be surprised to find IDLF’s fingerprints on those businesses you don’t like. I, of course, have my own cross to bear – the 100s of dope dealing coffeehouses. NN is apparently in bed with dope dealers.

  29. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Ralph, so let me get this straight. In the past lots of people had someone else do their nails, but in the future we’ll all do our own nails?

    Exactly which “rinky dink nail salon” is sitting in the middle of valuable property? And is there some property control scheme I unaware of preventing building owners from kicking out them out in order to bulldoze and construct higher rent generating businesses?

    I’m not arguing for or against the proliferation of nail salons. I’m just arguing against Ralph getting to decide the “appropriate” number for Oakland to have; I’d prefer Oaklanders make that decision.

  30. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    I too am against Oakland being a dumping ground for the region’s poor. I just don’t see a lot of poor people in these nail salons.

    I see lower middle-class to middle-class people struggling to provide a better life for themselves and their children. And I see middle to upper-middle class folks partaking in a small, inexpensive luxury. That is urbanism, par excellence, if you ask me.

  31. Ralph

    OSA, did you even glance the proposal – none of the nail salons that will be enjoined even exist at this time. if you are not going to take the time to understand what council is doing why I am having the discussion.

    The ultimate goal of this is to preserve large tracts of land for destination retail. Going back to Telegraph, formerly empty storefronts are now occupied by nail salons. When these store fronts pop up in the middle of formerly empty stretches of storefronts, it becomes harder to demolish whole blocks to build destination retail. Why bother with the hassle of displacing someone when you you can avoid placing them in the first place. We are actually doing these businesses a favor.

    No one is closing existing nail salons and if you follow the math to its logical conclusion this benefits existing stores.

    When left to their own devices, Oaklanders make decisions like Yes on Measure OO and re-elect NN. Are you sure Oaklanders should be trusted with decision making?

  32. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Ralph, whether the proposal closes existing salons or prevents new ones from opening is a distinction without a difference. And obviously it would benefit existing salons, market restrictions typically benefit existing businesses at the expense of the customers of their services, who end up getting lower quality, fewer choices, and less innovation, all at higher prices. I see that as a bug, not a feature.

    I’m not sure you are in the best position to determine whether or not you would be doing a potential nail salon owner “a favor” by preventing him or her from opening. The future salon owner is much more capable of making that determination. And if salons are such low-barrier to entry businesses, it would seem they would also be fairly easy to move if a higher-value opportunity arose.

  33. len raphael

    when does this finely crafted piece of legislation come up for a vote?

    if you believe that any publicity is good, we should all get behind this proposed rule because it could tickle the national media’s funny bone view of oakland as the ebonics embracing town whose only thriving industry are highly taxed pot stores.

    but seriously, these nail salons are more like corals that are clinging to a crumbling retail infrastructure. they’re on month to month leases so they’re standing in the way of fancier stores moving in.

    if the city had its act together, it would try to pull off some kind of bond financed redevelopment district where they bought out the property owners without using eminent domain.

    semi rhetorical question: how many of our current council members have ever owned their own business? how many of them have only worked for labor unions or in government jobs or law firms that serviced the same? the recent history of our cc picking and choosing businesses to encourage or discourage is abysmal.

  34. len raphael

    when does this finely crafted piece of legislation come up for a vote?

    if you believe that any publicity is good, we should all get behind this proposed rule because it could tickle the national media’s funny bone view of oakland as the ebonics embracing town whose only thriving industry are highly taxed pot stores.

    but seriously, these nail salons are more like corals that are clinging to a crumbling retail infrastructure. they’re on month to month leases so they’re not standing in the way of fancier stores moving in.

    if the city had its act together, it would try to pull off some kind of bond financed redevelopment district where they bought out the property owners without using eminent domain.

    question: how many of our current council members have ever owned their own business? how many of them have only worked for labor unions or in government jobs or law firms that serviced the same?

  35. Ralph

    Oh, gee how could I be so blind, cc is trying to encourage innovation in the nail salon business. My god the forward thinking of this council is without peer. They should be congratulated. Puhlease. I have something like 50 nail salons within 10 blks of where I live. I do no not need another one. So call me crazy, if I am not too worried about lack of competition. Like len has so eloquently stated, “these nail salons are more like corals that are clinging to a crumbling retail infrastructure. they’re on month to month leases so they’re standing in the way of fancier stores moving in.” And after council kills the salon, they need to get to work on the dope dealers masquerading as coffeehouses.

  36. Born in Oakland

    Flatlands = auto body shops, liquour stores, and nail shops – that is why we are looking so good and prosperous. Coupled with garbage on the streets, the mentally deranged, the homeless and the alcoholics, we have a model City envisioned by our caring leaders. Can’t wait to get my ride looking good, grab a few beers, a quick burger and throw my trash out the car window. But my nails will look good while I’m doing it! Seriously, I love this town and its hard working folks but sometimes I wish we could do better. I am not sure proliferating nail salons make a big contribution to the economic vitality of Oakland. Do any of them sponsor Little League Teams or support Kiwanis or Lions clubs?

  37. Naomi Schiff

    Ralph, in my experience the complaint about retail sizing has been that spaces are too large–not too small–for startup retailers, in the downtown area at least. A number of property owners have subdivided in order to get tenants, and presumably when there is a market for larger space, will remove the demising walls.

    Over recent years my business has been located upstairs from a wig shop, a low-end auto insurance company, and two nail shops, among other retail businesses. My experience of nail shops is that they are the least troublesome except in one regard: ventilation. It is a serious health issue for the workers, patrons, and upstairs neighbors to be protected from toxic vapors, especially the workers (exposed all day). I believe that the ventilation, odor, and toxicity aspects are the things to focus on. The rest is a non-problem. The nail salon folks are going to have to compete on the leasing market. We don’t have to regulate them other than for health and safety. There are folks that think we have too many trendy eateries, too. This is one case where we should let capitalism do its work.

    When I lived in San Diego, years ago before gentrification set in, I was amused by an adjoining laundromat and bar. You could do laundry while having a drink! Very practical. The only bad thing was there was a playpen in the laundromat and sometimes one of the less responsible patrons would deposit a child in the playpen and then go next door for a snort. Always made me pretty darn uneasy.

  38. hedera

    Speaking as one of those people who doesn’t get their nails done (afraid of infections, plus as an asthmatic I can’t stand to sit in any “beauty” establishment very long because of the fumes), I personally feel that Oakland has plenty of nail shops now, and if no more opened it would not be a loss to the community. This position is a long way from what the CC proposes here.

    But laundromats – LAUNDROMATS as a threat to the health and welfare of the community?? This is crazy. This is going to get Oakland on the Yahoo “weird news” page. Does no one in the CC ever sit back and try to look at what they’re doing as if they were a Martian??

  39. Ralph

    Naomi, general when I refer to retail and consolidation of lots, I am more concerned about stores which require bigger footprints. College Ave is a good example of what happens when you concentrate too many high end boutiques.

    If Oakland didn’t have so many vacant store fronts this would not be an issue. However, because they do and given the low barriers to entry, any tom, dick or harry can open another dogforsaken nail salon. Maybe they should just consolidate with the pot shops.

    As to laundromats…i have no problem consolidating the laundromat with a restaurant. I like the idea of poolhall, beerhaus, laundromat. As to the kid in the playpen, while the adult tossed one back, people wonder why I think sterilization is a bad thing?

  40. DD

    I will not attempt to argue for or against nail salons and laundromats. Our varied views on the subject probably stem mostly from the fact that the number and look/feel of nail salons and laundromats vary *dramatically* in different parts of Oakland. We are each railing against or defending something completely different.

    However, even if some of the authors above are correct about the existence of a serious problem in their own neighborhoods, I cannot, for the life of me, understand why this constitutes an “emergency.” Are there developers telling the Council that if they could only keep out the nail shops and laundromats they would be investing millions of dollars in our city? This resolution is extremely specific to two types of businesses, and I do not understand why they are the only ones being singled out in this way.

    Moreover, the resolution actually states that they City is already in a process to develop a major retail strategy. Why can’t we just include our concerns about over-concentration of different types of businesses in different shopping districts as part of that strategy? Are we saying that this problem will spiral out of control in the next 12-18 months and that new planning and zoning policies will not be able to rein it in?

    Supply and demand works. If people open new businesses and those businesses survive, it is because people want and need the service. Yes, destination retail needs large spaces to develop. And when we decide exactly where and how to develop destination retail in the city, then we can and should be more careful about permitting small businesses wanting to move into those spaces.

    But in the meantime, a city-wide emergency ban seems grossly over the line.

  41. JOF

    Aren’t nail shops and laundromats self limiting? There must be a limit to how many shops can coexist on a particular block while still making a living. If there are too many, then some will go out of business.

    While it’s true that nail shops and laundromats are not “destination retail” establishments, they are what the locals use (and apparently want or there wouldn’t be so many of them).

    Is City Council really trying to screw over the locals to establish “destination retail” at the same time they are screwing over those that might visit those “destination retail” areas by their draconian parking enforcement?

    After my last parking ticket I know I’m not spending any more money in Oakland.

  42. j rakowski

    While I may not see eye to eye with the city counsel about an emergency ordiance I take great exception to your negating the underlying enviromental health issues.
    Nail shops as they are currently regulated present significant health, work place safety and environment justice issues. Asian Health Services in Oakland has been a leader in trying to work with the predominately Asian work force in nail shops to increase educational and safety efforts to reduce rates of cancer, birth defects, skin conditions, ashma, and other health concerns for workers. Before you scoff at a ”
    ridiculous resolution, an immediate nail salon moratorium is “necessary to preserve the public peace, health, welfare, or safety and to avoid a direct threat to the health, safety, and welfare of the community”
    Please learn the health and safety concerns effecting the community.

    Please remember the experience and effect of nail shops on the workers not just the customers of these establishments.

    Pedicures at What Price? December 2008. Published by the CA Senate Office on Research

  43. Aaron

    “I’m frustrated that people like Ralph and Aaron feel they should decide the appropriate number of nail salons, instead of, you know, the interaction thousands of people interested in these services with the hundreds of people willing to provide them.”

    I’m not trying to pick on nail salons any more than any other use, just trying to promote a diverse set of uses. Sadly the market does not always make perfect decisions when it comes to land use. There’s a reason that single-ownership shopping centers promote lots of different kinds of stores. Jane Jacobs, when writing about diversity of uses in _Death and Life of Great American Cities_, identifies banks as the worst culprit.

    I do think there’s a potential for classism involved in the anti-nail shop ordinance and I certainly agree that a nail shop is better than an empty storefront.

  44. Patrick

    @j rakowski: if your assessment is true, then Oakland should not be working towards limiting nail shops, but rather toward an outright ban. While we’re at it, lets ban the Port, automobiles, paint, plastics, fertilizer, pesticides, smoking, air conditioning, wood fires and exhaling. Then, we can be reasonably sure that our cancer-causing contaminant exposure has been reduced by at least 20%.

    Please remember: this “emergency” doesn’t affect current nail shops, only future ones. Therefore, the “emergency” is disingenuous at best.

  45. Hayden

    Maybe the City Council is displaying a James Bond-villian-like ingenuity, and making a crafty move to reduce the number of hookers in Oakland by limiting their ability to get a decent manicure. In turn, this will reduce the rates the hookers can charge, possibly causing them to migrate to a city with enough nail shops, or possibly Fresno.

    As an example, though, given the existing appearance of the hookers downtown on MLK between 14th and 16th, and the already very low density of nail salons on the surrounding blocks, I have to question this strategy. I think the nail salons would really take it on the chin for an approach with a very low probability of success.

  46. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    Ralph, Of course _you_ don’t need another nail salon in your neighborhood, you only get yours done once a month. But this isn’t about you. Your neighborhood needs 50 salons within this 10 block radius of where you live, because many of your neighbors get theirs done more often than you. Either that, or these salons are the “destination retail” that you so prize.

    I think Len miswrote in his original post; if the salons are on month to month leases, they are NOT standing in the way of anything else moving in.

    DD, Concerns of “over-concentration” of businesses are mostly overblown. Contrary to common sense, similar businesses often cluster together, when it seems they would do better if they spread out and faced less competition – think Broadway Auto Row or Saville Row (tailors) in London, or on a larger scale Silicon Valley or Emilia-Romagna (textiles) in Italy. They do this to exchange knowledge and skills, band together to tackle larger jobs, partake in industry comraderie, and support one another during lean times. I’d be surprised if Jane Jacobs didn’t recognize the value in this, given her deep understanding of urban markets, but Aaron’s comment means I’ll break open the Book this weekend.

  47. Ralph

    OSA, I invite you walk into these half empty nail salons. Trust me my neighbors are not getting their nails done with greater frequency.

    Partake in industry comraderie, support one another during lean times. Interesting. Don’t they have phones and bars? And if times are lean aren’t workers sitting home idle. Are there no more compelling reasons for why similar businesses congregate?

    I give it up to IDLF for thinking of the greater interest of the city versus the narrow interest of nail salon owners.

  48. len raphael

    OSA is correct, i meant to say “; if the salons are on month to month leases, they are NOT standing in the way of anything else moving in” but when i went back to edit i got an error message from the web site about duplicate posting.

    oakland commercial rents must be abysmally low for the half empty nail joints to stay open, even assuming family members working, 100% commission compensation, and maybe labor law violations.

    -len raphael

  49. CitizenE

    By declaring this an emergency ordinance, the legislation can be passed (by a vote of six councilmembers) in one meeting. Because it has been presented as an emergency ordinance, the silly language about public health, safety, Mom and apple pie is necessary — in order to justify the emergency action. This eliminates a 2-week wait for a second reading of the ordinance.

    So, what is IDF up to? Protecting some current business(es)? Trying to slide it through, before anyone (beyond this blog) catches on? Very suspicious.

    The Fiscal Impact section of the report is laughable — “This emergency ordinance has the potential to generate a relatively small increase in permit applications.”
    Hmmm. I suppose a one-year moratorium has the potential of dropping same permit applications to zero?

  50. Jim

    ” I don’t actually think nail salons are the cutest things to walk past either” ? Is this what we have come to in Oakland, a small business man or woman can only hope to engage in commerce if it is “cute”?

    “I would prefer no additional nail salons”? I would prefer every new business in Rockridge be either a steak house, a bait shop, or a brew-pub, but to take any action to impose my preferences over the hopes of small entrepreneurs would be arrogant and offensive.

  51. Barry K

    This makes a nice distraction by and/or for the Council.
    Last Oct, they held a collective $9,000,000 in Pay-Go; and the annual payout to each Council Member was not cut for 2009-2010.
    No cuts to the car allowance program. No cuts to their travel. No cuts to Council or Mayoral staffs. (Sorry, furlough’s don’t count.)

  52. Barry K

    New legislation puts teeth into beauty salon regulation (Marin Independent Journal){251E8667-1DCB-4770-8F9E-C8464E3469CB}&DE={0798D092-C76E-43EA-A7CF-4358C2CE35D8}


    Nail salons may be cited under AB 409 if certain sanitary conditions are not met, such as if the shop’s pedicure foot spas, basins or tubs are not clean or if debris is found upon the removal of screens. Officials also must determine if the cleaning material for disinfecting manicure/pedicure equipment is adequate; if there are pedicure cleaning logs; if there is a history of health violations; and if equipment is clean, according to the state Department of Consumer Affairs.


    Nail salons by the numbers, 2006-2007:
    Number of licensed salons in Marin: 376
    Number of licensed salons in California: 37,000
    Total number of inspectors statewide: 17
    Total number of inspections in Marin: 106
    Number of citations issued in Marin: 65
    Number of licensed manicurists and cosmetologists statewide: 290,000

    Sources: California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology; office of state Sen. Leland

  53. Mike Spencer

    What’s uglier, a well-maintained hair or nail salon or another vacant business? Park Boulevard and upper Fruitvale Avenue have several nail salons that really aren’t eyesores. Until some other, “better” business comes along I have no problem with nail salons and barber shops.

  54. livegreen

    Mike, since you use Park Blvd. as an example, do you really think they’d have a hard time finding other businesses to locate there? Your example might be appropriate for other areas, but not there.

    I think Glenview was recently voted best new Gourmet Ghetto in EB Express. & that’s BEFORE A Cote opens their new restaurant there…

    Besides who needs 3 or 4 Pedicure places within 2 blocks of each other anyway? Thinking of which, maybe that why IDLF is doing this.

    I am curious, though, why it’s considered an “emergency”. V, did you ask IDLF’s office?

  55. oh pleeze

    Re: Aren’t nail shops and laundromats self limiting?
    Not if you look on lower grand ave.

    Re: What’s wrong with Nail Salons?
    Let’s aks why Council is opposed to nail salons, which is, I believe, why the teapot has become tempestuous. *SOME* Nail and hair salons and laundromats launder money for the drug trade (and yes, there was one on lower grand that was under police surveillance–no customers in the chairs in front, but about a dozen guys in the back room with a bank of phones.)

    Will banning nail and hair and laundry salons get rid of money laundering? Hahahaha! It’ll drive the legitimate salons out. It won’t stop drug dealing or money laundering.

    Will banning businesses that might facilitate criminal activities make it easier on our police. Again, Hahahaha. If the city’s business licensing can’t monitor these places, the cops sure won’t.

    The economic reality? Oakland will take a bigger economic hit by proscribing salons and laundries: Legitimate salons will go elsewhere and Oakland’s citizens, and their cash, will follow.

    Ironic, isn’t it? Businesses that strive to keep people clean and looking good are targeted by a city that bewails it’s own poor image.

  56. dave o

    A few months ago, I heard a guy get wasted on Telegraph by some heavy automatic, something like an AK. Little did I know at the time that the real threat to the community was coming from that new laundromat opening across the street on 29th and Telegraph. This resolution is yet more obvious class warfare against poor people in Oakland. Like, can’t we all just live together? Does gentrification have to be mean spirited? Can’t it just happen in a slow organic way, if it was meant to happen? Does it have to be forced by state power? What about all the banks downtown? Do we really need so many? This kind of planning is a hell for those targeted. And the planners are obviously clueless about what to encourage. Look at the collapse of real estate and the collapse of auto row, both heavily promoted.

  57. mike spencer

    Hey Livegreen, places like upper Park will raise rents and those salons will move as more high-end stuff replaces them.. I would still rather see a nail salon than vacant store fronts in Oakland. ( In related news, the nail salon “Hand Job” has opened in San Francisco.)

  58. Naomi Schiff

    Seems like a laundromat would be a more logical business to launder money than a nail salon, doesn’t it, oh pleeze?

    If we all just made lists of businesses we didn’t like we’d end up with nothing. I always admired the weird shops of Manhattan where you can’t figure out exactly what business they are in. Strange dusty shops with a bolt of lace trim, twelve boxes of shoe polish, some unlabelled boxes of uniform size, and maybe a pair of skiis.

  59. Born in Oakland

    I like the names of nail salons – Happy, Pretty, Nice, Lucky, etc. These upbeat stores can transform Oakland into the happy, pretty, nice and lucky place we would all like to see. And our citizens will be happy, pretty, nice and lucky as well! Economic development does work. Hail to the free market!