New Park in the DTO! (with pictures)

I know I promised many of you that I’d have all my endorsements for the quickly approaching election published today, but, um, I just couldn’t finish. But Monday! I promise, I will have it all done and ready for you on Monday. So because I actually want to be able to get all that done on time, I’m keeping things here short today.

  • Downtown Oakland has a new park! I’m very excited about it. I wish I had pictures to share, but I took them with my phone and then lost my phone. Maybe I’ll head over with the camera at some point today. Anyway, the park’s okay, I would have preferred more grass, but what can you do? It’s charming enough and it’s on 19th Street between Telegraph and San Pablo if you want to check it out. Enjoy it while you can, before it gets ruined by scary public art.

    UPDATE: Photos!

    This is my favorite part of the park. The tree provides at least some shade (this park is way short on shade!), plus the round bench around it offers a comfortable and natural feeling place to sit. Bonus for the ample rim along along the top of the bench, which makes a nice surface for resting lunch or a notebook.

    This is my least favorite part of the park. I’m happy that there’s so many places to sit, but the tall chairs and tables don’t look particularly comfortable and I think it would be nicer if this area was grass. Also, all those benches make the place look kind of, I don’t know, like a corporate plaza or something. I think I’d prefer another tree with the bench around it.

    This is where the sculptures are going to go. I worry that the 25 foot tall, 52 foot wide monument will overwhelm the rest of the park. On the plus side, I guess they’ll provide some shade.
  • In case you didn’t catch yesterday’s post: Measure OO sucks. You know what else sucks? Plastering political signs all over public schools! I just so happened to be visiting one of our local high schools yesterday and was extremely disturbed to see “Yes on OO” signs plastered on practically every third classroom door. Is that even allowed? It shouldn’t be.
  • Did you miss the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum? You’re in luck. The whole thing is now available on YouTube:

  • Did people read that AP story about how cities all over the place are having budget crises? Fascinating, yeah, I know. But there was one line in there that made me laugh out loud, definitely sufficiently amusing to make me feel like the time I’d spent reading the article wasn’t a complete waste:

    Even wealthy cities are feeling the pain. Aspen, Colo., will delay construction of a $360,000 foam pit for training snowboarders in the city gym.

    Oh, poor Aspen! It must be so hard to be them!

  • You guys been following this thing with the schools? What a mess. East Bay Conservative returns from hiatus to weigh in.

16 thoughts on “New Park in the DTO! (with pictures)

  1. Navigator

    I think Uptown looks great. However its a shame that Forrest City is going to wait to develop the empty lot between the Park and Telegraph Ave. Forrest City has plans to build 260 condos on that parcel but they’ve decided to wait until all of the 665 units in the three new buildings are fully occupied and the retail space is leased. Meanwhile they should lay some sod on that fenced off empty lot and make it an extension of the new park.

    Although, they maybe reluctant to create a new “open green space” and then have to tear it up for a condo project. This may not end up being politically correct. They may just end up leaving it as a fenced off empty lot. What a shame!

  2. Patrick

    Nothing like a few disembodied heads protruding from a rock – that sculpture reminds me of catacombs. Couldn’t we have gotten a Richard Serra?

  3. OaklandSpaceAcademy

    From the images, this park looks awful. I hope it is just the images, parks are notoriously hard to photograph well. Hopefully I’ll get over there at this weekend to have a look for myself.

    Sculputures? Is there going to be more than one? Egad!!!

    “What can you do?” How about demand better landscape architecture in Oakland!

  4. We Fight Blight

    I work on Grand Avenue and recently ventured over to San Pablo to have a burrito across from Uptown. V had mentioned the little burrito place in a post so I had to try it. The burrito was so-so, but it was nice to enjoy some outdoor dining . Oakland and Berkeley do not have enough outdoor dining. It is a bit surreal though having this little cluster of restaurants in a refurbished historic building with all of the down trodden zombies roaming up and down San Pablo.

    After eating my burrito I went to Uptown and checked out the buildings and was pleasantly surprised by Uptown and its new park. It is certainly a nice addition to the area. The photos do not do it justice. However, my fear is that the down-trodden zombies will discover it quickly enough and it will be full of litter and graffiti, the landscaping will be trashed and it will be a place for the drunk and drugged to crash out. Hopefully with the Theater being refurbished and with the density of market rate housing there will eventually be sufficient law abiding citizens who will take ownership of the park. There don’t see to be enough eyes on the park to deter the down-trodden zombies in the short-term.

  5. Max Allstadt

    I’m not too worried about zombies messing up that park. It will be surrounded on three sides by all sorts of activity, residential and commercial. When I lament the corridor-oriented development in Oakland and call for more city squares, this is exactly what I mean.

    Now if only Mario Chiodo had a single mote of good taste, I could get ecstatic about this project. Alas.

  6. Max Allstadt

    BTW V,

    My girlfriend, who is a high school teacher, tells me that pro OO signs, if posted by students in designated student-speech areas, are perfectly OK. Posting on classroom doors, or in particular, posting of any political speech by teachers within a school… that would be a breach of professional ethics, and a big one. Same goes for any school staffer or manager posting any political speech on school grounds.

  7. Navigator

    I’m not too worried about the new uptown park. The city does a good job maintaining nearby Frank Ogawa Plaza, City Center, and even the park near Old Oakland, despite being populated at times by “disenfranchised individuals,” seems to be holding up pretty well. I’m sure maintenance and security at the uptown apartments will do a good job keeping the park looking good. After all, the city and the developers need to protect their investment.

    I’m really pleased by the uptown development. This development along with the renovation of the Fox Theater, the new restaurants and the sidewalk and landscaping improvements on Telegraph Avenue, will make Uptown a destination neighborhood for downtown Oakland.

  8. New Resident

    I agree with Navigator about how well Uptown looks to be turning out. The northern most building on Telegraph looks old, it looks so good. Here I was thinking that kind of materials and detailing would never come back. Can we see more, much more of that in Oakland?

  9. Max Allstadt

    Cecily, while we have your attention, did you know that your piece on Nancy Nadel’s teen center served as the first notification to anybody that she intended to set aside $100k of CDBG money? That’s right. And it’s not OK.

    Nadel walked into a room in September and told people she was taking all the money. 100 or more people in the room freaked out. Nadel backed off and told the room that the CDBG board would operate as it had in the past after all.

    The following month, a Cecily Burt piece appears which in my opinion, completely downplayed the furor of that meeting. That in and of itself bugged me. But it’s just my opinion. The KALW tape backs me up, but it’s just my opinion. What really bugged me, and what I hope really bugs you, Ms. Burt, is this:

    The $100k set aside for the teen center mentioned in your article had not previously been mentioned to the public or to the District 3 CDBG board. I sincerely hope Ms. Nadel failed to tell you this before you went to press. Did she tell you or didn’t she?

    If she didn’t tell you, that would mean that she tricked you into making an announcement for her. You would be innocent, and she would be both manipulative and spectacularly unprofessional about communication with her constituents. And it would be the second time in less than a month that Ms. Nadel’s approach to leadership regarding CDBG would be highly questionable.

    If Ms. Nadel did tell you that you were about to print a super passive-aggressive announcement from her, I really must ask if you think it was OK to be complicit.

    Please at least let us know whether or not you knew you were printing a surprise ahead of time.

  10. Max Allstadt

    Fair enough, Ms. Burt. Thanks for the clarification. Again, I have a difference of opinion regarding some components of your two recent articles about Ms. Basel, but I appreciate the straight answer to the question.

    As for the CDBG board, I can only speak for myself, but I certainly don’t want to go out of my way to hamstring a teen center. I do, however, see other initiatives with great promise. K-Dub’s skate park, for instance, really deserves all the help it needs to get done and get done soon. Anyone who was at the event Chinaka Hodge put together last weekend knows the potential of K-Dub’s project. Skateboarding has become a force for peace and colorblindness that makes me smile everytime I think about it.

  11. rosierules(aka Cecily B)

    I absolutely agree. West Oakland needs a variety of recreational options for its residents, young and old. I applaud K-Dub for coming in and pulling the park together so fast… makes me wonder what ever happened to plans for a skate park at Jefferson playground and the one under the freeway in Dogtown. But I digress…

  12. Max Allstadt

    Cecily, We both digress. My fault, I had an off topic question I couldn’t help but ask, given your presence. Thanks for humoring me.

    Now back to the matter we left. I just went through Mario Chiodo’s website, and I admire the craftsmanship of everything up there. I admire the man’s output too. And there’s plenty of of stuff in his portfolio that I’d rather see in that park. The “Brass Band Relief” piece he did in New Orleans is gorgeous, and what’s more it honors culture instead of icons.

    I have a problem more with picking 24 political leaders and one author, some of whom aren’t even dead yet, and presuming that they all deserve to be recognized by the City of Oakland. Presuming that Lincoln, Thich Nhat Hanh and Maya Angelou are worthy of places on the same monument is premature.

    What’s more, publicly funded art that honors politicians is sort of a time-delayed conflict of interest. It’s toadyism drawn out over centuries. Frank Ogawa got a Plaza. Was that the voters’ idea or an initiative of a select group? Anybody on this blog want to guess which Oakland elected official will be the next to be immortalized on the public dime? Maybe we should do a poll on that.

    Yeah, I know “Remember Them” is already a done deal. But it bugs me because I feel like I’m being pandered to in a very shortsighted way. The political leaders chosen for this memorial only have one thing in common. In the blink of history that we live in, these people are popular among the dominant political ideology of our region. In 10 years or 20 or 50, the choices will no doubt seem arbitrary, or at best a lesson in who was popular in 2008.

    When public money is spent on monumental art, frankly, I think the monument should honor the public. When local public money is spent on monuments, the monuments should honor members of the local public. If I was king and got to pick who ended up in bronze in this town, the only name that comes to mind at the moment is Chauncey Bailey. I might add Frank Rose, but I certainly hope he sticks around for a good long while before he gives us reason to build him a monument. If Oakland chooses to honor external heroes instead of it’s own, we short our local heritage, identity, and pride.


    Chiodo’s “The Money Couple”, by the way, is FREAKING AWESOME. Hardly appropriate for a public park in Oakland, but awesome all the same.

  13. gem s

    Navigator: “I’m not too worried about the new uptown park. The city does a good job maintaining nearby Frank Ogawa Plaza, City Center, and even the park near Old Oakland…”

    As a professional gardener, I can tell you City of Oakland gardeners do a crap job. Peer into one of the planters in front of City Hall and you will see they are full of weeds. 15 minutes to pull them out of one planter, yet they stayed that way all summer. I sat there one day drinking my coffee while the head gardener spent twenty minutes yapping on the phone, and the other two gardeners kept one eye on him while pretending to trim the bushes (crookedly) and edge the lawn (which required 10 minutes spent putting gas in the weed whip, a three minute job at best). A regular gardening staff for any commercial company would have kicked their ass in terms of getting stuff done.

    City Center is privately owned and has its own gardeners, who do a much better job. Not my style, but they keep it looking nice. It could use a lot more planters, though.

    OSP: “From the images, this park looks awful. I hope it is just the images, parks are notoriously hard to photograph well. Hopefully I’ll get over there at this weekend to have a look for myself.”

    I think it’s actually a pretty well designed park. Once the vines grow up over the arbor, it’s going to be quite nice. The seat wall is great- benches I can do without, because at most usually one person sits on a bench at a time, which is a waste- the seats at Splashpad Park are better. I’m happy there’s minimal grass to water, and the plantings are *pretty* well chosen for the climate. There’s a bit too much hardscape, IMO, but now that I now it’s been designed for an oversized sculpture, I understand (even if I don’t like it or the sculpture). The tall tables with seats I actually like better than the benches, because I’ve seen families sitting at them eating lunch. They also seem like reasonably low maintenance outdoor furniture. It’s laid out in such a way that you can have a sense of separation from other areas if you want to be alone, yet nothing is really isolated or hemmed in. It’s going to feel quite a bit different when the plantings grow in, and will certainly be more shady in the morning when the new condos are built. Compared to the usual practice of planting a lot of incompatible, inappropriate, high maintenance, and just plain ugly color and design choices (I’m looking at you, Lake Chalet), I think this little park is well considered, even if it’s not to everyone’s taste.