Might have to wait a little longer for that 12th Street Bridge

If you lived in Oakland in 2002 and happened to make it to the polls that November, odds are that you, like 80% of Oaklanders, voted yes on Measure DD.

Measure DD was a nearly $200 million bond measure meant to finance improvements to Oakland’s creeks and waterways, public recreation facilities, waterfront parks, and of course, Lake Merritt. It’s Measure DD we have to thank for Lake Chalet at the Boathouse and the reconfiguration of El Embarcadero.

Now, if you were one of the 70,000 people who voted yes on Measure DD, it’s possible you did so because you love Studio One or Children’s Fairyland and you wanted to see them improved. Maybe you were really excited about the East Oakland Sports Center. Or maybe you voted for it because you’re just super concerned about Lake Merritt’s water quality. But if you’re like most Oaklanders, chances are you said yes because of this:

12th Street Reconstruction diagram

Click to enlarge

That would the the transformation of the world’s shortest freeway between Lake Merritt and the Kaiser Convention Center into a pleasant, walkable, tree-lined, 6 lane boulevard. The 12th Street reconfiguration was Measure DD’s marquee project. When you hear people complain about how they voted for DD and nothing’s happened on it in 8 years and they’re never going to vote for a bond measure in Oakland again because of it’s been such a waste, they’re often referring to their frustration over seeing no progress on this particular project.

So I’m sure you guys will all be absolutely delighted to learn that the 12st Street reconstruction actually is about to finally happen. Well, maybe. Maybe not.

The City put the project out for bid and had hoped to award a contract for the reconstruction project a few years ago, but they only got one response, which came in at about $10 million more than the City had to spend. So it was back to the drawing board.

Or more accurately, back to the computer, to look for new funding sources. And lo and behold, they found one (PDF) – $13.3 million from the Federal Highway Bridge Program. Two years later, the funds were finally secured, the project went back out to bid, came back with more responses, and on February 9th, the City Council’s Public Works Committee was asked to award a contract (PDF) so we can finally build the damn thing. Simple, right?

As it turns out, not so much. You see, in Oakland, we do this thing called local hire for businesses contracting with the City, where we require 50% of the work on contracted projects to be performed by Oakland residents. The idea is that when we spend money that we get from Oakland taxpayers, we should make sure it helps create jobs for Oakland residents. The merits of any specific local hire policy are, of course, debatable, but conceptually, it isn’t unreasonable, especially in a City with such a frighteningly high unemployment rate.

Problem is, when you’re using Federal money, you don’t get to use your own rules about hiring on projects, you have to use theirs. Federal guidelines require that 30% of the work performed on a project be completed by minority employees (on a craft by craft basis), and they also specifically say that you aren’t allowed to mandate local hire.

Do you see where this is going? That’s right, this contract (PDF) the City wanted to award for the 12th Street reconstruction would have no local hire requirements. And as I’m sure you can imagine, some Councilmembers were none to pleased to hear that.

Specifically, District 6 Councilmember Desley Brooks and District 3 Councilmember Nancy Nadel extremely displeased to hear about the lack of local hire. Desley Brooks asked about a dozen times why the City couldn’t just unbundle the project so that there would be one contract for part of the project to be funded with City money and a different contract for part of the project to be funded with Federal money, and even though staff said every single time that doing so not possible at this point, she just kept asking. Calling the idea of spending tens of millions of City dollars on a project that doesn’t guarantee jobs for Oakland residents “unconscionable,” she insisted she would not vote for the contract, and that was that.

Nadel, out to lunch as usual, said that she had no idea there was federal money being used on the project and wanted to know when that decision had been made. (Hello! When you voted for it (PDF), lady!) Although she expressed strong concerns about the lack of local hire, she took a somewhat more pragmatic approach than Brooks, saying she wanted more information about what would kind of time and costs we’d be looking at if we decided to unbundle the project and restart the Federal funding application process, and that she’d make a decision once she had more information.

District 2 Councilmember Pat Kernighan, no doubt thinking about how desperately she’d like to be able to point construction work on the bridge while campaigning for re-election this year, was adamant that the project can’t wait a minute longer than it already has, local hire or no. And At-large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, ever the pragmatist, noted that the issue of local hire being limited by Federal dollars isn’t unique to this one project, and should be addressed on a broader policy level instead of quibbled over on individual projects. She pointed out that other some jurisdictions substitute local hiring requirements with something called “impact area hiring” when dealing with Federally funded projects, which does not violate Federal guidelines, and suggested that the Council explore a similar policy so we don’t have this problem in the future.

In the end, they decided to have the question return to Committee, and it will be back on Tuesday morning (PDF). The supplemental report (PDF) on the item basically reiterates the point made repeatedly at the previous meeting that there’s no way to unbundle the project to allow for local hire without starting the whole process completely over.

So what will happen? Will the Committee, and later, the Council, move this long-awaited project forward? Or will they decide that it’s not worth doing without the local jobs guarantee? Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, we can be relatively sure that this won’t be the last we hear about the issue. Darrel Carey of the East Bay Small Business Council made that abundantly clear at the last meeting:

The Public Works Committee will take up the issue again this Tuesday, February 23rd (PDF). The meeting starts at 10:30, although the 12th Street project is last on the agenda. If you can’t make it down to City Hall, you can always catch the fireworks on KTOP.

108 thoughts on “Might have to wait a little longer for that 12th Street Bridge

  1. Jenn

    That project really needs to get done. I’m surprised that people aren’t killed on a monthly basis crossing that thing — I used to try and walk it and bike it, but I stopped because it is too crazy and dangerous. I used to be able to take the tunnel underneath until they closed it. If this doesn’t get done, let’s recall Nadel.

  2. Ralph

    It seems ridiculous that we would not go forward with this project whe nwe have the resources available. The problem with delaying as we all know is the increased cost to complete.

    While I can appreciate the local hire requirement, when it becomes an impediment to progress and development, it needs to be revisited. What do you do when you do not have local hires with the expertise?

  3. matt

    I think a local hire requirement is flawed policy. When considering a contractor local hire should be assessed a value and NOT be a requirement.

  4. Naomi Schiff

    I am going to advocate for going forward immediately, and putting together a good faith effort to up local hire by voluntary means. We have some good training programs, and I think that we could talk to the union folks in construction trades, and get something going. This should not be an impediment. I think getting the jobs in place NOW can only help!

  5. John Klein

    Thanks for the story V – you sling a mean hyper-link. Of course they need to go ahead with this contract right away. The council obviously needs to wrangle an Oakland hiring ‘side agreement’ out of the contractor to the extent possible. Would this not be a good situation for Mr. De La Fuente to get involved with? But, yeah, Oakland workers should get the jobs but it shouldn’t delay the project or this contract.

  6. We Fight Blight

    Enough already. Please Councilmembers Brooks and Nadel think about what you are doing to the City of Oakland. Yes local hires are good. But we have an opportunity to further improve a significant jewel of Oakland and eliminate this blighted roadway and return a significant portion of public access back to pedestrians along the waterfront. These squabbles only serve as a detriment to rebuilding our community. Federal funding for infrastructure improvements, even without local hire requirements, is good for Oakland. The community long ago voted for these improvements.

  7. oakie

    A couple of points.

    Any “local” requirements arranged by this city will in no way help the Truly Needy. It will surely be funneled to the Truly Connected.

    If the unemployment in this city is “frightening” it’s not because we don’t do enough of special set-asides. It’s because the city operates as a very effective anti-business machine. If this city cannot create new rental housing units (check the census data going back to 1990), it’s not because no one wants to build rental housing here. It’s because of the effect of truly frightening anti-landlord rent control.

    Thems the facts.

  8. livegreen

    Kaplan’s proposed language is a solution to both problems. When somebody proposes a smart idea that solves everybody’s problems, why doesn’t the Counsel just grab the bull by the horns and implement that solution?

  9. East Lake Biker

    We can’t wait any longer. I’m with Pat Kernighan, for different reasons, that this needs to get started so I don’t have to dodge people in the bike path as they dart across from the convention center. Plus I’m sick of all the graffiti on the orange barriers and on the Measure DD sign showing the upcoming plans.

    I guess that homeless encampment under the ramps has a bit of a reprieve now.

  10. Andy K

    Oakie is right on. The City needs to just get things done – with this and other things.

    These local hire initiatives do not work .

    These projects are 90% + union and require skilled workers. You cannot just take unemployed people off the street, and put them to work on the project.

  11. PRE

    So the man in the bow tie (!) would rather throw the whole thing away and have nothing happen for another eight years than FINALLY start a project that all of Oakland has been waiting for? If you want Fed money you have to play by their rules – does he get that or not?

  12. Matt

    Bowtieman has his constituents and Nadel has her’s, like me, and we just need to keep on the council so they know who’s really holding the purse strings here.

  13. Al

    hmmm, i wonder. Would local hires mean two dozen guys shoveling asphalt for 1.6 blocks or something? So easy to circumnvent the actual intent and spirit of the law, or ordinance, in much the same manner as companies used temp agencies to satisfy their various compliance programs, affirmative action, and so on.

    Whatever language they finally agree upon and implement, it remains to be seen if that new language results in real quality work, that gets done right the first time.

    The problem that also needs to be addressed is the tension that exists within PWC and certain contract entities. There is a feeling which has been expressed that this project actually took money/raises away from city workers.

    Either way, you can take a walk along International Blvd or E.12th where new splashmats and palm trees, etc. were installed over a 1 or 2 year period. The streets are half-destroyed already, sunken curbs, deep pot-holes here and there usually filled with litter, and as everyone knows, clandestine pot-farms around the corner everytime you look at the news.

    All this could only happen right here in a sparsely populated neighborhood such as this one adjacent to or included in the 12th street bridge project.

    What plans exist for this area from 5th to 14th ave or is what we have in place now already subsumed by a larger plan? What if any are the competing interests for the real estate?

    If they are going to sell off the Convention Center, does that mean that the other property, the second ave OUSD bldg(s) also falls into the same hands?

    Personally, I think the Convention Center is a dinosaur with no real relevance. My uncle used to box in the thing and I used like to ride my bicycle through the tunnels like most kids. The train there in the park stopped running back in the 60′s although the Boy Scouts would have their Jamborees there until a few years ago. Maybe it’s been longer.

    In any event, if it should go, they should at least retain the facade along the “freeway.”

    I’m jumping around here, for sure, but I just finished watching Smoothe’s video link to the Dec 15, 2009 CC meeting about records management.

    It is looking like the most articulate people on the CC are in the pockets of special interests or basically stonewalled themselves; as for the others, they seem very emotional and verbose(IDLF) but essentially it just looks like so much swaggering back and forth; this represents perhaps the largest, most compromised segment of Oakland’s population, the youth.

    Ah, maybe the wrong venue, but wouldn’t it be worth getting feedback from Schools within each district about having a representative/liason to have a vote on the Council. A seperate council within each district to include all residents concerns, elders, youth, business-large or small.

    I think just taking the first step, overlaying that OUSD data/demographic, with the general population census, will expose some pertinent items for discussion.

  14. Robert

    Once again, Oakland has the chance to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Unless there is some miraculous other source to close the funding gap, the choice seems to be go forward now with some economic and jobs benefit to Oakland, along with a wondrous new public space, or put this off into the indefinite future, with no benefit at all to Oakland. I’m with Kernighan, let’s just get this done.

  15. David

    Politicians in this town need “I am cutting off my nose to spite my face” tattooed across their foreheads.

  16. TheBoss

    The key point here is that rules like “local hire” just discourage those whose taxes actually pay for such projects from wanting to bother with them in the first place. That reduces overall economic activity and hurts everybody.

    Case in point. Sure, maybe without “local hire” you’d have people commuting in from wherever to work on the project. But those same people would spend money in Oakland for various other purposes while here doing the work.

    One other thing – things like “local hire” are historically just tricks to line the pockets of the borderline-crooked politically connected local bosses. That guy in the bow tie frankly scares me. Just another reason to spend my hard-earned dollars in Contra Costa and San Francisco.

  17. Navigator

    How typically shortsighted of the Council. This project has been delayed so long that the economic costs to Oakland for not having that beautiful four acre park, along with the pedestrian footbridges and the linkage to the Lake Merritt Channel in place, has already been huge and cost Oakland in further potential economic development around the Lake Merritt area. Not to mention the possibility of drawing more tourists, shoppers and dinners to a revamped Lake Merritt. There are more jobs at stake than just the construction jobs. This Council can’t see beyond their shoes. Brooks and Nadel have no vision for this city and the incredible possibilities this project represents. They are once again caught up in the minutia and the bureaucracy while Oakland waits. Let’s get this done. Enough is enough. Move this project forward.

  18. Richard

    Ring around the rosey
    A pocket full of posies
    Ashes, ashes
    We all fall down.

    If council plays ring around the rosey with this project and puts it back out to bid, it truly will fall down.

    If put back out to bid again (a very long process) and the economy turns around (which we all hope it will) Oakland might end up with only one bid for 10 million dollars too high again.

    This is what happened the first time it was put out to bid when the economy was strong.

    Let’s not play “ring around the rosey.” Get the job done and put people to work.

  19. Naomi Schiff

    The strange thing is that the delays were in part because construction costs had been so high that the original bids came in too high, and more money had to be found to match some of the DD funds. Because of the delay, the re-bid project is now occurring at a time when costs are down some. With the federal funds, we can pay for this project if we move forward right away.

    I think that some voluntary cooperation between union apprenticeship programs and the construction company could help bridge any local hiring gap. I am counting on the city council to do the right thing here, and move the project forward, but just in case there are any thoughts of not doing so, I did email them and I hope that if you are able, you will wander down to City Hall and speak up for the project. Thank you for your help!

  20. NearLake

    Reconfiguring 12th Street is the cornerstone to Lake Merritt’s master plan. Coincidentally, I reviewed the plan ( http://www.oaklandnet.com/lakemasterplan/default.html ) last week after walking around the lake, admiring the Measure DD work already completed, and wondering about future projects.

    Why am I not surprised that some councilmembers cannot see the forest through the trees? Brooks and Nadel need to stop viewing this project as a fully funded pot of money to award to local businesses and residents. Do you really want to be the politicians responsible for delaying or killing the cornerstone Lake Merritt project? Delays at this point do nothing but create cost overruns and disgruntled voters. We didn’t pass Measure DD because it was a local jobs initiative. We passed it because we wanted to see our city’s infrastructure and beauty improved.

    The federal guidelines (which obviously trump local rules) need to be followed, the contract needs to be awarded, and the 12st Street reconstruction work needs to begin ASAP this year.

  21. Robert

    O.K., so since the approved contractor’s bid and the notice of approval both show the approved contractor’s full compliance and intent to comply with over 50% local hire, even though it cannot be mandated (due to the Federal funding restriction), I cannot fathom why ANY of the council members won’t get themselves out of the way of progress and allow the project to move forward. Are they blind? Can’t they read? If Councilmember Nadel causes any more delay, then she had better have a good reason why, and that reason had better not have anything to do with the 50% Local Hire issue, because that’s already addressed.

  22. Andy K

    The low bid is by an Oakland based firm – McQuire and Hester. Some of their employees most likely live in Oakland.

    Get it going already.

    Reading through one of the linked reports, was anyone else blown away at the number of on call contracts for Landscaping design services?

  23. Al

    Thanks Andy. That was an eye-opener. I didn’t do all the math but for some 3 years, 50,000 per isn’t bad for an individual, on-call. Must be a lot of contingent plans related to this project. It’s a lot of green space and I’m supposing it’s going to be a logistical nightmare. I’m very familiar with the named contractor for the road-job, wouldn’t trust something of this magnitude to anybody but a well-established local contractor.

    I just can’t help but wonder about the other ramifications of on-call though. I’ve seen what happens when you do a large improvement along a corridor or two but the beneificaries of said improvements don’t get on board, as has happened in District 2. Trees knocked down, benches stolen, styrofoam cups and lotto tickets all over the street. Not one porta-potty anywhere, so you can just about imagine what every unkemp facade turns into with a little dumping and lack of weed abatement. Everybody paid for that too.

    I can’t complain about the work that was done, but the follow through, the outreach to the tenants of all the rented propertyies and businesses was woefully lacking

    Guess I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed, and keep on pushing my anti-litter agenda. And I have to wonder, what will they do with all the homeless people and the rest of the marginalized when that section is cut-off.

    Hmmm, maybe, just maybe they could set-aside a place near whereever the contractors assembly area is with a seperate bay for transients who might otherwise be waiting for the main-iibrary to open or going in the tunnels or yes, just about anywhere people don’t seem to care about.

    There’s another aspect to this I think. Just pondering.

  24. len raphael

    oakie, new residential rental construction is exempt from rent control. as is substantially renovated old rental property. have to look to other factors for dirth of new residential rental property. but main reason was that until recently, it paid much better to build condos, unless you did low income housing deals that were supercharged by federal tax benefits.

  25. Mary Hollis


    While you are correct that new build is exempt from RC, the simple fact is that a developer or owner can never be sure that that exemption won’t be changed in the future. Indeed, San Francisco is currently re-considering its new build exemption

    The much longer history of RC in San Francisco and Berkeley shows that City governments cannot resist the temptation to constantly tinker with RC rules, and retrospectively change the law to disadvantage an owner.

    There is a study by the Cato Institute showing how RC has generally had the effect of raising rents and suppressing new build in every city where it has been tried.

  26. len raphael

    Mary, i’ve only half followed SF rent control. It already is tighter than Oakland’s in that Oakland allows a significant upwards adjustment for debt service upon purchase to the new landlord. SF does not.

    If uncertainty about extension of rent control was major factor, would expect very little rental housing construction in SF also. I don’t know if that’s the case.

    Would think that judging by the large difference between rents in SF and Oakland, Oakland is just a much less desirable place for potential renters.


  27. Mary Hollis


    Yes, Oakland’s RC is fairly lax by the standards of SF, Berkeley and Santa Monica. I’d posit that that is because it is much newer. SF has been tightening its RC for 30 years since inception and it’s reasonable to assume that Oakland will do the same.

    There hasn’t been much new construction of rental property in SF since 1979. Nearly all new build is condo’s which are substantially exempt from RC under CA State Law, and therefore much more difficult for Cities to mess with.

    Rents are much lower in Oakland, as you’d expect. But from a property investor’s point of view, what matters is the rental yield. And spending a million on rental property in either place will probably yield a similar amount.

    Except in the really bombed out parts of Oakland where yields are much higher, but of course then so are the risks. I don’t think it’s an appealing investment right now. And evidently developers agree, the exemption notwithstanding.

  28. Patrick M. Mitchell (Patrick)

    If local hire is so effing important, maybe the City of Oakland should lead by example.

  29. len raphael

    Mary, my unchecked recollection is that rent control in american cities dates from the same WWII housing crisis period.. Don’t recall if it was during the war when the move to cities accellerated combined with builiding material shortages, or just afterwards when gi’s returned.

    oakland has a much tougher “just cause eviction” law than surrounding cities which applies to all rentals, rent controlled or not.

    and yes, it seems like section 8 multi units in East Oakland from the 60′s and 70′s is a money maker for landlords set up to run them. for many other areas land prices, construction costs, and financing costs and yes approval regulatory costs are out of whack with the returns on rentals even though exempt from rent control.

    Investor worry about rent control getting expanded to new construction is an impediment to new rental constrution here, I think it is dwarfed compared to the other negatives, especially financing and land costs.

  30. Naomi Schiff

    It did pass, and thank you for asking, Ralph! On to full council. I hope folks will continue to support the 12th St. project.

  31. Andy K


    I think those on-call contracts are not for the 12th St. project, but for other projects. I believe that the number of contracts makes for a very inefficient delivery of services. As you say, the $ of each contract are small – so small as to be almost useless. These look like just a way to spread the money around, and not get much value.

    A better way to spread work would be to award a smaller no. of contracts, and request the inclusion of smaller firms on the teams. Agencies do this all the time, as they have huge amounts of flexibility in hiring professional services – it is not a low bid process, but rather “qualifications” based.

  32. John Klein

    The contract was passed to the full council for final consideration next week. The vote was 3-0-1, Kernighan abstaining. Council member Brooks added an ‘addendum’ (my word) adding voluntary Oakland hiring and monitoring items. The items in the addendum are not binding because the committee couldn’t change the contract they were voting on. McGuire and Hester agreed to a voluntary 30% Oakland hiring goal.

    More to the point, though, was the unnecessary level of drama and acrimony brought on by East Bay Small Business Council (EBSBC) and magnified by Brooks. I won’t go into that whole debate which was highly racial and inflammatory.

    It is unreasonable and naive to believe that Oakland residents would easily accede to delaying the project because of last minute issues about Oakland hiring. It really is an ‘apples to oranges’ argument. The proponents of Measure DD have been waiting for the 12th Street project since the passage of DD in 2002. I’m sure these same proponents favor Oakland hiring, too, who wouldn’t? But for proponents, this is a side issue and hardly an issue most are willing to delay the project over.

    Those who would jeopardize or attempt to shut down the 12th Street project, which the EBSBC said it wants to do, need to understand they are very, very late to the game. The Measure DD Coalition, a council-appointed oversight group, has been meeting publicly for five years, yet EBSBC has not attended a single DD coalition meeting. Moreover, 80% of Measure DD projects are done and as is that much of the funding, but again, this is the first time EBSBC has participated. Had EBSBC participated much sooner, their members would have gotten many more jobs along the way than those at issue on 12th Street and would have gotten a much bigger piece of the pie. This would have placed them in an ideal position for jobs at 12th Street, rather than coming in so late now and feeling left out.

    I look forward to the successful completion of the 12th Street section of Measure DD. Hurray!

  33. Al

    I’m dumbfounded. Iss that the expression. ? The District 2 rep abstained? What could she object to? Anybody have a guess?

  34. Keeping it real!

    I am sorry folks but I just don’t see the problem here. You all are complaining about the local hire issue? Well you all must have good jobs and not live around 70th Avenue and Bancroft. Most of the people around my place do not have jobs. They mostly work constructions and when we have an apportunity to get those people employed you stand on the way of actual change.

    V-Smooth must not live in the flat lands and she complains the way she does because she does not know what hunger in the belly must feel like.

    Good luck.

  35. Mary Hollis


    The point is that it is our (the taxpayer’s money) that is being spent.

    And on any city contract I want the best value for my tax buck. Hiring someone inferior because of the historical accident of their home address or skin color is essentially a confiscation and re-distribution of wealth.

    Now, if you believe that that is justified then fine, put up a voter initiative expressly demanding that and take your chances.

    But for the City to DK Federal money on some half-baked nepotistic fudge smacks to me of the very worst type of cronyism.

  36. Pat Kernighan

    The reason I abstained from the motion was because it included CM Brooks’ amendment to “require” local hiring, which the feds don’t allow on a federally funded project. My vote was symbolic. I wanted to send the message that NOTHING should be permitted to delay approval of this contract. Because of the other three Yes votes, I knew that the contract would get to Council next Tuesday night, which was my goal. I think it will have more enthusiastic support there.

    I am not against local hiring–in fact, I strongly support it. The contractor, McGuire and Hester (an Oakland company), has informally agreed to hire as many Oaklanders as it would have been required to do if the project had been “unbundled” as requested by Brooks (into separate projects, one with just federal funding and one or more with only State and local funding). Our engineers say it is not feasible to break this into separate projects, and further, that re-bidding, which would add another 6 months to the process, could jeopardize the federal funding. Such a delay would almost certainly cause loss of the $8 M in State funding which must be SPENT by July 2011, or it goes away.

    I am confident that this project is going to employ many Oakland residents. McGuire and Hester do work for the City all the time and know how to comply with our usual local hiring requirements. (50% local on a craft-by-craft basis).

    My three Public Works Committee colleagues said they were approving CM Brooks’ amendment on the condition that the federal government says it’s OK. What I’m worried about is that at the Council meeting, Brooks will argue that we need to hold up approval of the contract until we’ve heard back from the feds. When have you known the federal government to respond to anything in 7 days? So my postion is no delays, period.

    I have worked on this project for the past 9 years (having co-authored Measure DD with Danny Wan, campaigned for its passage, and then met monthly with the staff implementing the individual projects). The City got a fantastically good price on these bids because of the competitive climate out there. Let’s not lose that good price or lose our federal and State funding because we’re arguing about whether we can “require” McGuire and Hester to do what they say they’re going to do on local hiring. No further delays!

    P.S. Thank you for all the email messages in support of the 12th Street project. We are hearing clearly that people really like the first two projects on Lakeshore and Lakeside Drive and they want to complete the new park and pedestrian imporvements. Please keep it up for the Council meeting on March 2.

  37. Matt

    KiR, You assume too much about the people on here.

    No one is standing in the way of your neighbors getting a job. They can still compete for the work like everyone else. If they deserve the work they’ll get it and I hope they do.

  38. Mary Hollis


    Abraham Lincoln once said, of the Civil War, that “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it”

    I see an analogy here. Getting this project done is more important than the problems of any jobless Oaklander.

  39. Ralph

    Call me crazy but I believe Pat did say getting the job done now and not later was important?

    I like the quote even if it doesn’t work here.

  40. PRE

    Mary – way to piss people off who really want this project to move forward. You’ve almost changed my mind on the EBSBC argument.

    Confiscation and re-distribution of wealth goes on every day in this country and for a lot more dubious reasons than skin color or an accident of where one is born. Hundreds of billions are confiscated and redistributed to defense contractors every year based upon which congressional district a particular contractor is in. Contracts are spread out over multiple states so that senators will get on board. You wanna talk about tax money confiscated and re-distributed to millionaire bankers?

    The question before the City Council is about local hiring, not race, but attempting to address the historical legacies of slavery seems like one of the better reasons around to confiscate and re-distribute wealth.

  41. Mary Hollis


    My citation was predicated on the notion that the bigger picture should always be kept in mind when considering the goals of more factional and local interests.

    I get the impression from the comments, particularly the “obnoxious” one, that that was not widely understood here.

    Insofar as that mis-understanding was due to my failure to elucidate clearly, I apologize. But my point and support of Pat stands.

  42. Ralph

    Mary, on your point, I agree. The stmt seemed a little foggy given Pat’s position. The bigger picture is important. Still unclear how people interpret it as a stmt about race? It seemed clear that you were talking about the bigger picture. (I do chuckle though when I think of how this plays out within various parts of the Oakland community.)

  43. Mary Hollis


    I’m not sure if Oakland does this (haven’t been here that long) but in LA the CC has specific rules for granting city contracts to minority contractors.

    So when the LA subway was being extended into minority areas, they didn’t just have to go with local contractors but also with a certain quota of minority-owned contractors.

    Call me old fashioned but what happened to the idea of competitive bidding? The Federal government certainly insists on it in their own procurement policies. And hence the problem here, of course.

  44. Ralph

    Mary, what big liberal city doesn’t like a good race set-aside? That said, I either haven’t been here long enough to know or cared enough to inquire about Oakland’s policy either.

  45. Al

    Ms. Kernighan,

    I guess this is the venue for this. Thanks for explaining your vote; makes a lot of sense to me now, so far.

    I know this is like kicking a dead horse, but I have remarked abundantly about the homeless situation in this blog and elsewhere. I see an opportunity arising to address the all to sticky problem of transient hygiene and its impact on everyone.

    Is there some way, some intsy-bitsy nudge, some way the council can even suggest to the awarded contractors that they coordinate with the problem. How much more would it cost to put a few porta-potties w/hand cleaning in or about the same locale as the construction site?

    i seriously doubt if there will be any “tricks” turned at such location unless its being done with local money by those very contractors.

    Oakland is not South Tucson. If you have ever been there you can relate to what so many are going through on these streets right here in Oakland. Whenever the corridor is sealed off, the mass of people congregated around, next to and under the “freeway-(I’ve actually see people dissappear right under it)” will have to migrate south or north.

    They’ll definitely not be invisible anymore. To not address the problem, of the least of Oakland’s residents, is not an option at this point, IMHO.

    You are my rep and I voted for you, just because. I will continue to support you and oppose anyone vying for your seat, just on the basis of such fairness and compassion.

    I am easily impressed.

  46. livegreen

    Pat mentioned above that there’s a local hiring requirement of 50% on a craft by craft basis. Note that this is still subject to competitive bidding, and locally employees are not going to make it more expensive than if they come from, say, neighboring Contra Costa.

    Furthermore as Pat points out, the winning low-cost bidder is an Oakland company used to employing locals, so that proves both can be done.

  47. livegreen

    Oh, and is this new grass area for people or for geese? Can we PLEASE have just one area where the geese & their poop aren’t allowed? I mean we make people clean up after their dogs, so why is goose-poop deemed better hygiene?

    There’s a reason very few people enjoy the grass around Lake Merritt. Coming up with a solution will really help open up use of the Lake. There has to be a solution good for both species.

    Call to Arms!: Lets put the Goose Pooper Scooper in action!

  48. Ralph

    lg, i’ve been tempted to call some of my geese hunting friends to take of this problem. unfortunately, my hunter friends were reared with a sense of ethics.

  49. Naomi Schiff

    The issue here is that local requirements differ from federal requirements, and there is some fed money in the project. We can’t impose the Oakland rules where they don’t match. This project (as the other sizable DD projects) was subject to competitive bid, Livegreen points out. In fact, this is the second time this was put out to bid. Usually the local hiring requirement and all other project requirements are provided in the bid package, so all bidders are aware of what is requested, before they submit bids.

    In this case, as Pat stated above, the idea was to work toward local hiring as voluntary compliance where it could not be included in the contract language due to the federal money involved.

  50. Brad

    In another city where I lived, they solved the problem of goose poop by shooting many (but not all) of the geese, and removing the eggs of most of the rest, in order to thin the geese ranks and reduce the amount of poop in city parks.

    Somehow, I rather doubt that this will happen in the Bay Area. Folks here would rather give the geese priority to use the parks over the people.

  51. Robert

    Goose control approaches have to distinguish between the resident geese, which are fair game, from the migratory geese, which are highly protected.

  52. Mary Hollis

    Ralph and others,

    I don’t know if other cities (other than here and LA) have set-asides for local and/or minority contractors. I only know the Feds do not.

    But when I hire a plumber to fix my bathroom, I don’t try and ensure that one third of the time I hire a black contractor because one third of the Oakland population is black. Nor do I refuse to hire a guy from Emeryville.

    And certainly not if that means I get inferior work or a worse price. And with the city, it’s still my money they are spending.

    So how about this? Oakland should hire the best deal, and if that is an all-white straight protestant male firm of contractors from Iowa, so be it.

    And then Oakland takes all that money that saves, and they use it to provide services to poor, local minority groups.

    In other words, can’t we separate out what are two very distinct and different issues i.e. due diligence on procurement and helping the under-privileged?

  53. Robert

    Ralph, I am not a lawyer and I am quite unreliable when it comes to legal advice, since I tend to go for justice over process, and I think I may have to go into hiding from both your geese-hunting friends and the city if you make those phone calls. Or maybe I can just pretend to be new Robert. :-)


  54. Nancy Nadel

    I had promised myself not to read this blog because I have little time for people hiding behind fake names, hurling bullying comments that do little but foment hatred, bigotry, arrogance and wrong information. However, since my name is being bandied about with her typical rudeness (no thank you Rebecca Schneider, I believe that’s your name, and Jenn whoever you are), I thought I would try to bring some light to the issues.

    When the council voted to apply for federal funds in 2008, it wasn’t clear at that time that all the funds would be under the federal guidelines rather than just the federal dollars. And no, Rebecca, I don’t remember every vote applying for funds from 2-3 years ago, nor should I be expected to, or treated disrespectfully for not remembering it. It did no harm to take 2 more weeks to persuade the chosen contractor to voluntarily increase his Oakland employees, considering the fact that we have almost 20% unemployment in Oakland. It made it a better contract for Oakland.

    The comments about unemployed people being inferior and local requirements resulting in inferior work are very sad. If you are not aware of the history of racism in construction that kept many people of color out for decades/centuries, this is an opportunity for study. Here are some links:http://www.personneltoday.com/articles/2009/07/31/51633/ethnic-minorities-make-up-just-3.3-of-construction-industry.html; http://www.racismreview.com/blog/2009/03/09/structural-racism-fdr-and-obama/. There are probably many other and better things to read but these were easily found with a google search. All the construction apprentice programs used to be in Oakland until “too many” people of color started to gain access. The apprentice programs were moved to the suburbs preserving the nepotism and other methods of keeping people of color out of the jobs. I have to agree that the tactics of the jobs advocates are shrill and difficult to listen to, but the issue is real.

    The city has helped subsidize construction training at the Cypress Mandela training center which has allowed many people of color to finally have the skills and money for tools that are required to get into the apprentice programs in the suburbs where public transportation is often lacking. These are folks who can be tapped to work on a project in their own community, to have even greater pride in their city knowing they helped to build a part of it.

    Sustainable development policy is the policy of council. Such policy values economic viability, social equity and environmental enhancement as balanced elements of a three-legged stool all of which are necessary for stability. Our policy was not followed as well as it could have been for this project and the engineers acknowledged they did a poor job of even thinking about the jobs aspect of this $35 million contract. What an opportunity to spark local economic health by spending $35 million within Oakland for the people whose tax dollars are going to the project! That’s no different from the “buy local” movement that many of you probably support when we’re talking about Bake Sale Betty or Blue Bottle Coffee.

    It sounds like many of the people on this dialogue don’t have a sense of the depth of poverty of many of the people in Oakland. Maybe you are part of the set who want all the low income people to go away because you think it will improve your property values. Our residents’ poverty is not because they don’t work hard or don’t want work, although I’m sure there is an element of poor work ethic amongst any group (including the trust fund babies who seem to have so much time for blogging that I expect they do little else). It wasn’t that long ago (40-50 years) that the hills were all wealthy Caucasian folks where people of color were not allowed to live, and the flats were all low income people of color many of whom cleaned the houses of the wealthy people and came back to neighborhoods with houses falling apart, no curbs and sidewalks, inferior schools and a lot of toxic industry that polluted their air but wouldn’t even hire them. Many of the heads of household in the flats came from the south where they had never learned to read so they couldn’t read to their children and help them improve their skills thus perpetuating inequity in education. Over 30% of our adults in Oakland cannot read English above a 4th grade level and many are not English as a second language speakers. If you want to do something useful with your time, volunteer tutor at Second Start.

    I am often told, although I don’t like to believe it, that most people are motivated only by their own self-interest. Many of these entries exhibit that view. If your view of a Better Oakland is everyone just looking out for themselves, I’m proud to say we have very different views.

    Whoever Jenn is, please contact me at nnadel@oaklandnet.com for an appointment. Let’s see if you have the courage for a face to face meeting.

  55. livegreen

    Mary, The issues with the City vs. Federal contracting is about local hiring. So I don’t understand why you’ve decided it’s race-based. It’s not, and they’re different…

  56. len raphael

    ralph. first call a few of them thar fancy new restaurant chefs to tell them about the new sustainable locally raised geese. just don’t mention how local.

    next call your hunter friends. sit back, crack a brewskie and watch the animal rights and foodie rights people fight it out.

  57. livegreen

    Nancy, Do any of these job training programs offer Temp Services? I ask because for both small businesses & in a down-economy such services would come in really handy for both, and possibly lead to full-time jobs later on.

    Please do not generalize that all posters are one-way or the other, and also please keep in mind that some of us are both for our property values going up AND for employment opportunities for the poor (no matter their race).

    We need to get beyond this race vs. race, rich vs. poor. The middle class is paramount, and both the middle & working classes benefit when everybody’s concerns are addressed…

  58. Mary Hollis


    Well, read NN’s post at 3:35 today and it is clear that this IS all about race.

    I admire Nancy’s willingness to post here but I have to say that I do not think it is her job to compensate for slavery or help every lost soul in Oakland.

    It is her job to try and preserve the vibrant economic base of this city without which Oakland will implode in on its own hopeless desperation. Without the Caucasians whom she appears to despise, despite being one herself, there would be no tax base in Oakland and we’d be in Vallejo’s mess.

    What I need to hear from NN is that, the good but misguided intentions of the set-asides notwithstanding, that she won’t shoot us all in the foot by DK’ing Federal funds and sabotage this project on a hopelessly doomed matter of principle.

    Someone needs to pick her up and shake her. Or at least tell her to talk less and listen more.

  59. len raphael

    Nancy, without getting into the substance of your position, the snipe about the motivation of people on this site being their economic self interest via property value increases is flat out untrue for many of the younger most active participants because they’re renters. If anything, their self interest is to see the cost of housing drop so that their rents dropped or they could afford to buy here and not get mugged on their way home.

    -len raphael

  60. livegreen

    Mary, On this thread you pointed it out before Nancy did, & my post was directed to you. My question to you therefor still stands: Local hire (as I understand it, & no matter what it means to other individuals) is how the contracts are written. So why are you making this about race? (I’m not asking Nancy).

    As for competitiveness, if the amount the City spends is the same or even close to the same, I have no problem hiring local. If it helps our residents and lowers the crime, it sounds like a win-win to me…

  61. Dave C.

    Regarding goose poop around the lake, I’ve noticed that the new grass on the Lakeshore/Embarcadero side of the lake does not seem to attract geese. I don’t know if this is because geese tend to avoid fenced-in areas (?), or because there just aren’t very many geese here in the winter compared to spring, summer and fall, or perhaps they are using some sort of different grass which the geese are less interested in munching on and pooping out (?). Does anyone have any idea? I guess we’ll find out soon enough, when the fencing comes down and the spring geese come back, but every day I marvel at how poop-free those new grassy areas are when I walk by them. It would be great if they remained that way in the future…

  62. annoyed

    Oh my gawd. Does this dim bulb Mary really believe that only white peeople have money in Oakland? I am sure that will come as a shock to all the black, Latino, Asian and Native American profesionals who call Oakland home. What arrogant nonsense. Please, go back to SF. We don’t want you or your lily white dollars here. Go ‘way.

    How much do you make a year that you can look down your nose at anyone? If it isn’t at least six figures, STFU. What have you done for anyone lately besides run your racist mouth?

  63. Mary Hollis


    I was reading between the lines when I claimed that the “local hire” set-aside was really a minority set-aside. It’s that way in LA more explicitly.

    Nancy’s later post simply confirmed that that is the official yet unspoken agenda.

    As to your other, yes, if Oakland has two IDENTICAL bids and the only difference between them is locality then, yes, that could swing it. But if you’ve worked on as many procurements as I have, you know two bids are NEVER identical. So the questions inevitably arises – how much do you pay to go local?

    How that lowers crime doesn’t seem obvious to me but it’s a noble sentiment.

  64. Max Allstadt

    Councilmember Nadel,

    Jenn is one of many people, like Allen Michaan, who are naive enough to think that recalls are possible. It’s just something that constituents say when they’re pissed off. Hardly worth even acknowledging.

    I’ve seen your peers deflect or ignore talk like that all the time, and nobody faults them for it, because the constituents who go that route clearly aren’t going to be persuaded to have a meaningful dialogue with a politician they’ve decided is 100% bad guy.

    I expect you might think that the entire readership of that blog is politically aligned against you at all times. That actually isn’t the case. You are frequently defended by Naomi Schiff, Steve Lowe, and other posters who use anonymous handles.

    I disagree with you a lot, but I’m certainly not naive enough to think you’re 100% bad guy.

    There’s a lot of valid content in the later paragraphs that you wrote, but unfortunately, because your first paragraph is so aggressive, that’s what people will remember, and that’s what you’re going to get reactions from.

    Take a cue from how Pat Kernighan and Rebecca Kaplan have commented on the blog in the past. Pat, even when challenged, takes a neutral tone and generally talks policy very dryly, offering explanations for her positions. Kaplan tends to jump in with enthusiasm and positive energy on topics that move her.

    Both of them usually put out a statement and then walk away, because staying engaged is the equivalent of accepting a no-time limit debate where your detractors will ultimately get the last word no matter what.

    But back to the matter at hand:

    Local hire is important, but is seems like we have a technicality issue here regarding the way that federal funds are handed out. Desley appears to have made a good faith attempt to rectify that as best as possible without logjamming the project. She should be commended for that.

    Part of the inflammatory nature of some of the comments above is due to the nature of the web. There are a lot of people who’s close friends and relatives tell them to chill out or shut up when they go on rants in front of them – I’m one of them, actually. Some of these folks say even more inflammatory stuff when they get online… and those of us interested in meaningful dialogue ignore the craziest shit that people say and engage with the semi-crazy shit and the non-crazy shit.

    Darrel Carrey can also be held somewhat responsible for the tenor of this conversation. He’s a good guy and he does meaningful work. He’s clearly dedicated and well meaning, but the strident rhetoric and the threat to shut down the project are totally counterproductive. Of course this was going to ruffle feathers, particularly with lakeside constituents of yours that are tired of waiting for their measure DD money to get put into action.

    Anyway, it seems like this is a done deal and like Desley came to as good of a compromise as was possible given the circumstances. Can we all just chill out and move on?

  65. Chris Kidd


    I’m not sure why you insist on creating a dynamism of race and class that isn’t nearly as two-sided as you’d like it to be. Just because councilmember Nadel chooses to paint such issues so black and white (as it were), doesn’t mean that we have to follow her down the rabbit hole. Ms. Nadel does make several good arguments, but, to me, they are overshadowed by her insistent rhetorical framework and her petty jabs at this community that should be beneath someone of her position.
    You yourself admitted that you’re relatively new to Oakland; instead of lobbing racially-charged simplifications and hyperbole, please try to get to know Oakland, its residents, and its economy better. You might find out that whites hardly “carry the tax burden” of other residents to the level that you assume. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to find that whites probably don’t even contribute the majority of Oakland’s tax base, considering the growing demographic and economic strength of both the Asian and Latino communities.

    (I, too, found your civil war “analogy” to be extremely obnoxious. Not because of any relevance it might have had to the discussion, but because of it was willfully confrontational and baiting to use an example so racially charged. The only reason I could see for using it was to stir up controversy and argument)

  66. Max Allstadt

    Right on, Chris.

    The whole hills/flats, white/black, rich/poor dichotomy is a thousand times more complex than it is usually presented.

    One of the things that I absolutely love about this city is that it genuinely defies such simplistic analysis.

  67. Mary Hollis


    The Lincoln quote was intended to show how a real leader doesn’t let narrow, factional interests distract him from the grander plan.

    The context here was the risk that a major, desirable Oakland construction project might be denied Federal funding and indeed be jeopardized simply out of the myopic pursuit of social engineering.

    No offense was intended.

    You, Max and others seem to have NN’s number so I don’t need to add to that hatchet job.

  68. Chris Kidd

    I understand the *intent* of your quote, but I surely hope you can understand the *effect* that it had. It had that effect not because of these readers’ comprehension skills, but because it was broached in poor taste and poor judgment in regards to the conversation at hand.

    That being said, let’s get back to the conversation. 12th st. passed committee! Yay!

  69. Izzy Ort

    “There are probably many other and better things to read ”

    I’ll say, Councilmember Nadel.

    This one particularly caught my attention:


    Absolutely impossible in the Bay Area, if not everywhere in the United States.

    I would think that if it were true anywhere in the United States, it would be true in New England. But even there, Brazilians are increasingly represented in the construction trade.

    Well, let’s follow the link. It gets you to “Personneltoday.com”, which says that non-whites make up only 3.3% of construction workers, whereas the non-white labor force as a whole is 7.9%. 7.9%? When blacks alone make up 11% of the population?

    Curioser and curioser.

    Personneltoday attributes these statistics to the “Equality and Human Rights Commission” [EHRC]. Personneltoday provides a link to the EHCR, but it is dead.

    However, the EHCR has its own website, and still has the story on its own website. So who is the EHRC? According to their website,

    Our job is to promote equality and human rights, and to create a fairer Britain. We do this by providing advice and guidance, working to implement an effective legislative framework and raising awareness of your rights.

    Not New England. Olde England.


  70. Naomi Schiff

    The interweaving of goose massacre discussion and opinions on affirmative contracting is pretty wild, don’t you all think? I beseech all not to shoot the geese, to read up on the data available from Joel Peter on that topic, and to strive for civility, no matter that there is a web culture of rant. We don’t have to partake of it if we don’t find it productive.

    The bid at hand is an appropriate high-quality lower priced bid, comes at a time when we need the jobs, and the city councilmembers were perfectly reasonable in attempting to promote local hiring. Of course they won’t risk the whole project by doing something that will jeopardize the funding. Let’s support them and this great project. I hope to see everyone at the groundbreaking.

  71. Chris Kidd

    Naomi, let’s just roll them all into one meta-topic.

    Mandated local hire for Canada Geese. No Goose left behind!

  72. livegreen

    Well said, Max & Chris. & thanks to both Nancy & Pat for chiming in, giving us their perspectives & for the positive sharing of views in this discussion.

    & I’ll go along with Chris’s sentiment of approval for the 12th St. passing committee.

    At the same time, I hope CM Brooks does not argue in full Committee that (as PK expresses concern DB might argue) “we need to hold up approval of the contract until we’ve heard back from the feds.”

    When will this be reviewed by full Counsel & what is the likelihood that Desley and Darrell Carey will be trying to turn this into a racial argument against Pat K.?

  73. Kevin Cook

    No way, she didn’t just cite a website that discusses the construction trades in England–uh, uh. Hi-larious incompetence. Yeah, and I actually do expect my council member to recall how she voted on a contract for a project of this size a couple of years ago. I also expect that my council member might bother to review her relevant past positions and votes on major issues prior to the public portion of the meetings in which these issues are under consideration. Luckily, Ms. Nadel is not my council member.

  74. Brad

    Chris, your suggestion of mandating local hire for Canadian geese demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of the situation. The whole resident geese/migratory geese dichotomy defies such simplistic analysis.

  75. Ralph

    Maybe I am naive but I don’t Mary’s comments were racially insensitive. There is a hypersensitivity among some but I tend to dismiss them.

    I would like to comment on an item NN mentioned, yes most people are motivated by their own economic interest – from the banker selling subprime mortgages to Dick Lee to the 12 yr old slinging hash on the corner, everyone is motivated by their own economic interest.

    The people who frequent this blog are no different. Does volunteering in an afterschool program for at risk youth improve my home value – possibly, but it also increases the opportunities for a student whose oppty were initially limited. I think we are all here for a better Oakland. And while we may not always agree on the measures to make it a better Oakland, I like to think we respect each other enough to listen to opposing viewpoints and identify equitable solutions, which many, if not all of us, have no problem sharing with council.

  76. livegreen

    Chris, The local Canada Geese, the non-local Canada Geese, or the (im)migrant Canada Geese?

    I’m sorry but you are over-simplifying your new local Geese initiative. Besides we should hire American, not Canadian. It’s well proven that once you start hiring Canadian they never want to leave, & they leech off taxpayers sponsored social services like free housing, food & sewers.

    Ok, so all 3 services for Geese are in fact the same (Lake Merritt Grass), but none-the-less this is BOTH a left wing AND a right wing issue…

  77. Robert

    lg, but isn’t America a nation of immigrants, and shouldn’t we reach out to these newcomers and welcome them into our homes for dinner?

  78. Navigator


    The bottom line is that this project improves the city. Improving the city of Oakland benefits all of its residents in one way or another. Let’s not think of this as a “jobs program.” Let’s think of this as a way to improve Lake Merritt and make it a draw for more businesses and more residents to be attracted to Oakland. Linking Lake Merritt to the Estuary via the improvements on 12th Street and the Lake Merritt Channel, will make Oakland a true waterfront city with the same opportunities as San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle and Vancouver. Oakland has to stop selling itself short. Claiming and embracing poverty is not a virtue. It’s time to improve this city so that it can grow economically and thereby improve the living conditions of all of its residents. Let’s link Lake Merritt to the Estuary and to a new A’s ballpark on Victory Court adjacent to the Lake Merritt Channel. Oakland needs to think big. We need big projects which will provide an economic stimulus to our economy and also change the city’s image in order to attain our full potential.

  79. Navigator


    “Without the Caucasions there would be no tax base.” Mary, I challenge you to educate yourself about two of Oakland’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Chinatown and Fruitvale are actually even more vibrant than Rockridge.Take a look some time. You’ll be surprised at what the immigrant community has done for Oakland’s economy. They’ve picked up the pieces of white flight to the suburbs and have done a wonderful job revitalizing Chinatown, Eastlake, and Fruitvale. There’s more to Oakland than just Rockridge and Montclair.

  80. len raphael

    not even sure how you could do a racial set aside combined with local hire. would you use racial composition of the entire oakland population, or just the racial ratios of non union consntruction workers who work on any job in Oakland and who reside here? if used that ratio, 98% of your set aside would be to Latino’s.

    I don’t know where to research, but i wouldn’t be surprised if 80% or more of certain union trades are white. So a local hiring mandate would result in some at least some probably only temporary racial equality ,

    btw, do the various rules for these fed involved contracts require union workers or just that wages/benefits comparable to union compensation be paid? i thought for city, the requirement was only for comparable wages/benes, not union.

  81. Keeping it real!

    the point is that we have lots of talented folks in Oakland and at the 20% unemployment mark with some in east oakland said to be over that amount we could actually try to promote our city policies like the ones nadel mentioned.

  82. Mary Hollis


    Recalling this better now, I think Oakland cannot explicitly do race-based set-asides because of Prop 209. So the concept of local set-asides is the closest end-run the City can do around 209 without getting into trouble. NN virtually admits the real agenda in her piece above.

    In LA, I recall they had “minority set-asides” but I’m guessing the definition of “minority” is sufficiently vague to allow it to slip through the 209 net. After all, non-whites, women, gays, people over 40, the disabled are all protected groups and that leaves maybe only 10% of the population of Oakland.

    Or of course, straight, white males are a minority too, because they are only 15% of the City.

    Anyway, it’s a can of worms. I don’t like social engineering policies and I think the CC should focus only on getting value the best for OUR money. But since the local set-aside is city policy and since it is being waived here by Force Majeure, I can let it go.

    And leave someone else to have the last word

  83. Ralph

    The last word…if the city residents are responsible for the debt service then it is not unreasonable for them to want to be part of the labor pool if and when work orders are issued.

  84. livegreen

    I would like to add that Oakland is not alone in the East Bay to have local hire or local business preferences. Besides other neighboring Cities with different racial mixes that have them, Alameda County also has it’s own preferences favoring local businesses & local hiring.

    These benefit all businesses & residents in the County, no matter their racial make-up.

  85. annoyed

    Is that what we call anti discrimination measures now? Social engineering? If you are a white female, you have been the greatest benefactor of social engineering than any other group. You are so morally indignant when someone gets a benefit that you THINK they don’t deserve. But when the same benefit is extended to you, you have this quaint idea that only you earned it. Everybody else got a handout.

    My guess is that you don’t know any people of color or spent any time in their homes. This is how such unbridled ignorance is allowed to thrive. Although I must say someone with your attitude would not be welcome in my home. I deleted the rest of my post. It occurs to me that someone with such a racist attitude would not be moved by recent history, stats, or anything else. In your ignorant, reptilian brain, all dark people are lazy, stupid, poor, on welfare, can’t read and write, and are given plum jobs they don’t deserve. If they have college degress, they didn’t deserve those either. You are beneath contempt.

  86. John Klein

    Nancy, it should hardly come as a surprise that I and many others who helped design the 12th Street project and worked to get measure DD on the ballot are watching all of this now and thinking, “Wt*?” You know us and you know we would want the City to be faithful in accomplishing its hiring goals for Oakland residents.

    You’ll also know that we are “hard-wired” for getting 12th Street done. I mean, that is where it all started, back in 2001, when Jerry Brown proposed the cathedral there – 12th Street is where Measure DD started! It was at that time that we learned the land under the roadway is park land, Peralta Park. Peralta Park is land that the City of Oakland purchased with park bond money in 1907. It was the 1907 Park Bond election and 80% of Oakland voters voted for it then. The fact that the 1907 park bond and Measure DD both passed with 80% majorities is significant. It means Oakland residents have always wanted parks at Lake Merritt.

    So you see we can’t, we simply can’t, be asked to delay the project on account of this issue. This is especially true because it is plainly obvious that the hiring goals can be achieved while the project moves forward.

    The purpose of the 12th Street project is to eliminate the extra traffic lanes there, which we all agree are atrocious. That will allow for better bike lanes and pedestrian access. Most of all, it will reclaim and restore the park land now lost under the roadway, and reconnect it to Lake Merritt as part of the park system surrounding the entire Lake. All this will make a better Lake Merritt for all Oaklanders.

  87. John Klein

    Here’s the email blast that went out last night after the council voted unanimously to approve the contract for construction of the 12th Street Project for Measure DD.

    2 March 2010

    Hooray ! Congratulations !!

    At 10:55 PM tonight (Tuesday) — by unanimous vote — the City Council approved the contract with Oakland contractors McQuire & Hester for reconstruction of 12th St at Lake Merritt !

    In just about 500 days, the people of Oakland and the East Bay will celebrate the result of their 80% vote to repair, reconstruct, upgrade, and beautify Lake Merritt, the Estuary Channel, various parks & creeks, the Bay Trail, and park buildings and related constructions. This is a great day for Oakland, and for the signature project of the 2002 DD Bond Measure. Finally, owing primarily to the new 12th St, Meas DD will be overtly visible to the people of Oakland and the Bay Area !

    Congratulations to staff on their great work, and to us all for almost 8 years of meetings, monitoring, reviewing, and providing community feedback to staff on the many elements of the universe of DD projects.

    We look forward to seeing you at the next DD Meeting — 7:00pm, Monday, March 15th.

  88. Al

    Concerning the area in general. When the newly opened space becomes usable will there be any restrictions/ordinances in place to prevent hordes of vendors from setting up all over the place?

    Not that it’s not a bad idea, but what kinds of controls and considerations are in place to insure we don’t have a plethora of fast-food kiosks, of any kind, establishing themselves, at-will, all around the lake. The only way to make this new area a completely integrated one is to promote a standard of conduct, business, etc. that reflects the entire lake community. For example, another Farmer’s market on the 12th street side would not only be a good idea, but a very strategic move, if we are truly going to be one city.

    The future of this project will reflect the true nature of Oakland. Are we going to be one city or several distinct communities, with seperate agendas and varying levels of community activism?

    A more racially diversified area would be preferable to more of an extension of old chinatown to the new chinatown(little Da Nang). Business interests have a way of establishing dominance. What happened in East Oakland with Lucky’s stores demise should lend insight into where this whole city is going, has gone.

    We have a de facto Korea town, downtown and along telegraph. East Oakland, in the Fruitvale district, is primarily a Latino neighborhood anymore. These enclaves are now established and are permanent. Does anyone really believe that the new chains in East Oakland are really locally owned? Does anyone even believe the money stays in Oakland?

    Mi Pueblo, Michoacon, et al….they aren’t union employers..but they are what is in place, along with food trucks, walking pillow salesmen, CD’s for sale on the sidewalk, etc. All the newer Asian markets…same agenda. Cash rules.

    While the fat-cats and everyone attached to them have been volleying back and forth in Oakland over money that isn’t even theirs really, a seperate, real functioning economy has emerged, right under our noses.

    Just a reminder.

    There needs to be some oversight in this area.

  89. Robert

    We could only hope for a lively stree/sidewalk scene to develop after completion of the project.

  90. Naomi Schiff

    Al and Robert, I’m not sure exactly where you are speaking of. North of the reconfigured and narrowed 12th St. a new section of Lakeside Park will extend to the lake edge. A pedestrian bridge over the channel will allow folks to use the path all the way around the lake without having to walk on the sidewalk at 12th street. There will be a gradual rise toward the museum and auditorium where now you have a tall wall with two staircases. All crossings from the park to the south side of 12th Street will be at grade, no more tunnels. It will be possible to cross this road, since it will only be half as wide, and the intersections are being thought through with pedestrian crossings in mind.

    As yet undetermined is the fate of a sizable “new” piece of available land that will emerge from the city’s narrowing the roadway, on the east side of the channel. Perhaps it will be possible for the city to sell it for some kind of development, but I don’t know that there is a plan yet. It’s pretty big, a couple of acres I think.

    The project should make re-use of the auditorium much more feasible. The parking lot there will remain but is being reconfigured with more efficient spacing. Along the channel on the west side there will be a modest new wetland area for migratory birds.

    Aside from whatever happens on the developable parcel, there isn’t any official new commercial property, but I do think the improvements will kickstart some upgrades in the surrounding areas. The city’s ongoing Lake Merritt BART area specific plan is supposed to address some ideas for this, so you might want to keep tabs on that. It is just now getting moving.

  91. livegreen

    Sounds like some good projects in the pipeline. After 12th, being able to put HJK back into community use will really draw Lake Merritt & DT/CT into part of a bigger whole and continue to make DT more compelling.

  92. Al

    ok, looks like dead people do speak…???

    Anyway, it’s April now and i made the last comment. A terminal condition. But lo and behold, at the Volunteer Appreciation Event held April 1, the last page of the program detailed an archeological discovery at the 12th street site.

    Before I go down and peer at the thing, maybe somebody should tell me it is a joke.