175 thoughts on “
Open Thread

  1. shirley enomoto

    i want to start a movement for cities to abolish their redevelopment agencies and return money back to police and fire services, schools, seniors, and children. there’s a brochure i just came across that every taxpayer should read.

    take a look at http://redevelopment.com/norby/ and tell me what you think. emeryville is listed on page 13, ranked 7th of the top 12 calif. cities in per capita indebtedness. oakland and alameda co. are also listed.

    thanks for your hard work vsmoothe.

  2. Naomi Schiff

    http://www.martinezgazette.com/news/story/i362/2009/05/01/conference-lays-out-pitfalls-redevelopment-agencies

    About two or three years ago I attended a meeting of the organization that Norby heads, which is called MORR, Municipal Officials for Redevel. Reform, which occasionally meets in northern Calif. I definitely don’t agree with all their views, but I have indeed become a lot more skeptical of the redevelopment approach, over the years. There are some parts of it that more or less work, but somehow the whole structure seems to push toward extremely large but extremely hard-to-pull-off schemes.

    For example, the Uptown project absorbed something like 68 million dollars of subsidy, but that was after it was cut back considerably from an unwieldy amount of territory–about 12 or 18 square blocks–and in the meantime, as potential eminent domain targets, the existing property owners began to neglect, refuse to lease, and emptied out their commercial spaces in hopes of a great buyout. We must have lost at least thirty businesses in the uptown area during the prolonged run-up period. Business tax and sales taxes lost to the city’s general fund, right?

    One couldn’t help but notice that much more modest, privately-financed and designed projects in Chinatown were chugging away the whole time, without subsidy. There’s something about redevelopment’s structure or its legacy that causes the staff to attempt huge monolithic efforts, and some of them just take decades and decades to happen, if they succeed at all. It’s a sort of magic bullet mentality: “If we could just pull off this gigantic thing, then the city would miraculously become solvent, happy, and full of retail.” (I cannot tell you how many times I have sat through the meeting about the magical retail that will come down from the sky. Just now it seems we are doing it again, doubly, on Broadway and at the Army Base.)

    In the meantime completed redevelopment projects generate “tax increment” monies (calculated upon increase in property tax valuation over the base year when the project began), most of which go back to the redevelopment agency instead of being allocated as other property taxes are.This stream of income going straight to ORA starves Alameda County and the General Fund of the city, and cuts into the funds available for needed services. I won’t go into details here, but it is worth learning about it if you want to understand city finances. It is why our planning department is so heavily funded and run by the Redevelopment side of the city.

    Redevelopment is not all bad, but it for sure is not all good either. And it seems less accountable to the public in some respects. Take a look at its budgets sometime.

    My two cents.

  3. shirley enomoto

    naomi: please read the brochure per the link i offered. this is published by morr and has statistics and charts and is totally appalling. (skip over the goofy cartoons.)

    i urge all out there who care about their cities and their neighbors to read this brochure.

    shirley

  4. Chris Kidd

    If you abolished redevelopment agencies completely, what would you replace it with? If you say “nothing”, then you’re essentially mortgaging the future development of your city for the purpose of making ends meet today. I, for one, actually care about the future. But hey, that’s just me.

  5. Max Allstadt

    Wasn’t the Fox done with public funds?

    And as far as Chinatown goes, one of the things that makes it possible for growth to proceed there so easily is that they don’t have neighborhood groups trying to micromanage every last design detail, building height, or retail tenant. A while back, a thrift store tried to move in on lakeshore and the neighbors went apeshit. If that set them off, can you imagine how they’d react to a window full of ducks roasting with the heads and feet still on?

    Maybe you could eliminate redevelopment agencies. But if we want to create a Ron Paul, libertarian, no-waste, no-free-money paradigm for development, we’d have to also eliminate the waste and inefficiency that comes from allowing non-investors to hamstring, stall or stop projects.

    In short: if you axe redevelopment agencies, shouldn’t if only be fair to axe planning commissions too?

  6. David

    RDA’s and TIF’s are scams. If the project is so great and should be funded with public funds, well, fund it out of the big pot ‘o’ money.

    If a section of the city is essentially cordoned off through tax dollars, why not just go whole hog and let that section become independent?

  7. livegreen

    Which part of Houston? Downtown? There’s no town there after working hours, (unless you go on a game night). It’s like Oakland BEFORE redevelopment (even though it’s 10x bigger).

    Ok, I guess at least they have a baseball stadium & a convention center downtown. The envy of Oakland…

  8. livegreen

    Marlene, You mentioned a while ago your next Lawsuit might be about the Mayor not working F/T…

    Though it was informally known that Cynthia Dellums was running some things, with Edgerly’s lawsuit the specifics are now coming out. According to Chip Johnson the lawsuit claims Cynthia was running & convening city department head meetings…If true I doubt that’s legal.

    Does this affect your prospects of suing?

  9. Patrick

    This could actually be a good thing for the City in the long run if it makes it to court. Glad to hear that at least one councilmember realizes that settling out of court is political suicide. Besides, settling out of court with someone who is the subject of an FBI investigation?

  10. oakie

    Saw this via Andrew Sullivan (entry “One Reason California is Bankrupt”):

    “[California]‘s annual pension fund contribution vaulted from $321 million in 2000-01 to $7.3 billion last year.”

    Anyone know what the comparable statistic is for Oakland?

    The city’s amount should be adjusted for the undercontribution our city’s leaders have chosen to defer.

    When comparing the 2000 number to know, the ultimate question is: are we getting better served by our government for the higher tax burden we carry?

  11. oakie

    Saw this brochure yesterday for Measure “C.” Prominently, it notes that Oakland residents will see no tax increase. Only outsiders who stay in a hotel located in Oakland will see a 25% increase in the hotel tax.

    In honor of those who vote for this, perhaps we could change the city motto to “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me—-tax the guy behind the tree.”

    Also, the brochure was a slick, highly produced document. Must have cost a whole lot of money to design, produce and mail. Don’t you think? By comparison, how much money would this new tax actually “generate”? Seems way out of proportion. Who paid for this brochure?

  12. Ken

    continuing the earthquakes, faults meme

    huge beach uplift in alaska
    http://www.homernews.com/stories/070809/news_1_002.shtml

    i’m told freshly that the “70% chance of 7.0 earthquake in east bay in 30 years” has now been updated to “20 years.”

    no wonder jane brunner is jumping around about saving money to deal with that eventuality than paying off muni debts… everyone have their 72hour and 3month kits?

  13. Ken

    @livegreen: oddly enough, Houston now has a light rail train running thru their downtown, SF style, unlike us with bart underground and crappy bone jarring Van Hurls above ground. (nice paid trips to bruno-land, eh ACT directors?)

    http://www.greenhoustontx.gov/
    http://www.visithoustontexas.com/visitors/green/Index

    Oakland is greener than Houston, but we still have

    ###

    Check this: we have a true unemployment rate in Oakland approaching 40% if I am reading this correctly. I hope I am mistaken:

    http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=16000US0653000&-qr_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00_DP3YR3&-ds_name=ACS_2007_3YR_G00_&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-_sse=on

    294k total population over age 16
    230k population Eligible to Work by my count.

    IN labor force: 65%: 191k (65% — includes “unemployed” at only 6.5% or 12.5k)
    NOT IN labor force: 35%: **102k** (retirees on social security or unsustainable 90% calpers pensions, in prison for pot or actual crimes, 10k still in high school, homeless, stay at home moms, trust fund babies, extended workers’ comp/disability)

    Let’s figure out what’s in that 102k…

    They can’t ALL be retirees right? Deyam that would be a lot of old fogies in Oaktown!

    HS grade 9-12 population is 19,000.
    9th grade- 14,15yo 5k
    10- 15,16yo 5k
    11- 16,17yo 5k
    12- 17,18yo 4k

    remove the 10k under age 16, total NOT IN Workforce population is 102-10 = 92k
    remove the 9k over age 16 but still in high school is 92-9 = 83k

    So, still have 83,000 retirees, homeless, Oakland residents wasting time in Santa Rita jail in Dublin, or others not working.

    Charitably assume community college/college age population of 15k in school at UC or CSU, etc. 83-15= 68k

    That leaves us 68,000 retirees, parolees, homeless, on disability and unemployable, selling drugs on the street, living under rich or poor parents’ roof.

    Are a portion of the 68k “illegal aliens” using borrowed SSNs who were counted at census time but don’t report income to the feds? Assume 15k of those.

    So, 53k Not In Workforce Over Age 18. (up to I dunno, age 99 a la myspace?)

    So it seems that the 53k must be split into:

    – Retirees (42k–see below)
    – Parollees without jobs
    – Prisoners
    – Disableds
    – Pregnant women and stay at home moms

    Prison-related population can at most be 5,000 here. Does that seem low?

    Out of prison:

    From http://www.urbanstrategies.org/programs/csj/news/2004/2004-07-01.html
    Oakland Parolee Population:
    * CDC1 6/16/04 2,315
    * CYA 6/28/04 253
    Total=2,568 as of June 2004. This doesn’t tell me anything about whether they are working at McDonald’s or not.

    In prison: can’t find data on # of Oaklanders in prison.
    I did find this article on an Oakland pastor who went to jail voluntarily:
    http://www.worldmag.com/articles/15341

    Tricky: the “IN Workforce” number included a “6.5% unemployed” figure of 12,000.

    Which is the larger group of bodies: retirees, or prisoners/parolees?
    Obviously, retirees…as much as media highlights crimanimals constantly.

    Smithsonian mag says we had 11.3% retirees as % of pop in 2006.
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/specialsections/where-to-live/oakland-california.html

    Total pop 372k per American Fact Finder.
    11.3% = 42k+

    I leave this exercise to other curious minds to figure out. I’m sure we have AT LEAST 25,000 retirees in Oakland though. Good weather, retirement homes throughout rockridge and temescal that I know of plus those sojourner truth manors along MLK, all the people you see shopping at Long’s Drugs on your odd day off during the week….

    Maybe up to 5k moms and preggers, leaving the rrest to be in prison or out of prison, plus people who habituate around the social services building on san pablo at 20th street.

    ——————————-

    14% of Oaklanders are government workers. (all levels)

    Families below poverty level: 15%

    22% do not graduate high school with a diploma (probably includes some immigrants, but still seems too high)

    37% of mothers are unmarried (this seems like a problem…or no?)

  14. East Lake Biker

    Does anyone know what the signs in the medians around the Lake say? They were posted by the City and are white with green lettering. The font was too small to read at speed (nice waste of $). I didn’t really want to risk my life standing in the middle of Lakeshore @ E 18th St. to see what they were.

  15. Ralph

    ELB, if the median is landscaped, the sign might be the one alerting you to the ongoing budget crises has resulted in reduced maintenance and the need for volunteer citizen gardner.

  16. Ralph

    Ken, you are reading the stats incorrectly. You are only un/underemployed if you are either looking or doing something which is below your capacity (you would leave it in a heartbeat if you found something in your field).

    37% unmarried mothers is a problem, it is a bigger problem if these unmarried mothers lack a high school diploma

  17. Almer Mabalot

    I really love the streetcar idea if it can use the BART’s Coliseum money. I would really make exploring Oakland, much more easier than it is now. Perhaps even cheaper.

  18. SF2OAK

    From Wall Street Journal
    JULY 11, 2009

    Cuts to Police Force Test a Safer Oakland

    By BOBBY WHITE

    OAKLAND, Calif. — Long a poster child of high crime, Oakland is preparing to lay off nearly a fifth of its police force just as it has turned the corner on crime, part of a national trend in the recession.

    This city of 400,000 said last month it would cut 140 officers from its 800-strong police force, the department’s first-ever mass layoffs.

    View Full Image
    Oakland police faced demonstrations in January after a transit police officer shot an unarmed man to death. The city is planning to lay off nearly 20% of the department’s officers as it tries to erase a budget deficit.
    Getty Images

    Oakland police faced demonstrations in January after a transit police officer shot an unarmed man to death. The city is planning to lay off nearly 20% of the department’s officers as it tries to erase a budget deficit.
    Oakland police faced demonstrations in January after a transit police officer shot an unarmed man to death. The city is planning to lay off nearly 20% of the department’s officers as it tries to erase a budget deficit.
    Oakland police faced demonstrations in January after a transit police officer shot an unarmed man to death. The city is planning to lay off nearly 20% of the department’s officers as it tries to erase a budget deficit.

    Dozens of hard-hit cities have done the same. In May, Toledo, Ohio, laid off 11% of its police force. In Minnesota, seven city police departments have closed since March, and state officials say an additional nine departments are likely to close by year’s end.

    The Oakland cuts, to take effect in September, come after the city spent the past five years building its police force to the highest number of officers it had ever seen. The buildup is credited with helping to lower the city’s number of homicides by about 20% and cut its violent crime by about 13% over the past year.

    To hang onto those gains, Oakland has tried for months to protect police from cutbacks. Faced with an $83 million budget deficit, Oakland lawmakers instead closed City Hall one day a month, trimmed the city attorney’s budget 10%, reduced Mayor Ron Dellums’s staff by 20% and even grounded the police department’s helicopter, saving the city about $400,000 annually.

    But the moves weren’t enough. “We absolutely don’t want to lose any police officers, and under no circumstances would we do this voluntarily,” said Oakland City Council president Jane Brunner. “But we have no other choice. Our hand has been forced.”

    Oakland’s experience shows how the recession is pushing some cities to enact last-resort budget cuts that could threaten basic law and order.

    Police layoffs have been particularly prevalent recently in California, which has the second-largest number of local police at about 40,000 officers, according to the Department of Justice. New York state has the largest, with about 50,000 officers. Stockton, Calif., announced last month it would lay off just less than 10% of its police force, while Modesto, Calif., plans to shed 5% of its officers.

    California’s budget crisis is exacerbating the financial pressure on communities.

    Overall, about 1,100 police officers lost their jobs in California in the fiscal year ended June 30, and an additional 900 are projected to be laid off in the current fiscal year, according to the California Association of Police Chiefs. One city bucking the trend is Los Angeles, which has proposed hiring 1,000 officers by year’s end, despite facing a $530 million budget deficit.

    In Oakland, law and order is a particular focus because the city wants to eradicate its reputation for violent crime, which has hurt its economic prospects. For most of this decade, Oakland had a crime rate that was double or triple the national average, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics and a report by former Oakland police chief Wayne Tucker.

    Even this year, despite an overall drop in crime, Oakland has seen some high-profile violence. In January, the city grappled with riots over the killing of an unarmed man by transit police. In March, a parolee shot and killed four police officers.

    Still, the growth in Oakland’s police force helped tamped down crime, statistics show. “It’s a big deal that we’ve been able to bring the crime rate down, and part of that can be attributed to adding more cops to our department,” Ms. Brunner said.

    Barry Donelan, vice president of the Oakland Association of Police Officers and a sergeant on the force, said the department was trying to negotiate with the city to find areas where it could help avoid layoffs. “Laying off the number of officers [the city council] is proposing will have a major impact on crime, and it will not be positive,” he said. “The city and its residents will suffer.” He declined to comment on the morale of the police officers.

    “The prospect of losing officers is not something we look forward to, but it’s an unfortunate sign of the city’s fiscal situation,” said Jeff Thomason, spokesman for Oakland’s Police Department.

    To blunt the pain, Oakland officials have applied for about $24 million from a $1 billion federal grant offered by the Department of Justice that is part of the economic-stimulus plan. The grant, called the Cops Hiring Recovery Plan, was slated to save about 5,500 police jobs.

    But city lawmakers are concerned they won’t receive much of the stimulus money because there is so much competition for the funds. In late June, Mr. Dellums traveled to Washington to lobby for the grant dollars, visiting with Attorney General Eric Holder and others.

    “We desperately need the federal government to assist us to the maximum extent possible,” Mr. Dellums said.

    Write to Bobby White at bobby.white@wsj.com

  19. Andrew

    On a different subject, why does Desley Brooks abstain from voting so much? I’ve always had the impression that you abstain when you have a possible conflict of interest, or maybe for some parliamentary jujitsu, and that’s about it. It’s my impression that you should have a good reason for abstaining, and you ought to be answerable for it. Of course I’m not in her district, so she won’t answer to me.

  20. Naomi Schiff

    Couldn’t stay for the whole meeting, but Army Base Redevel. working its way through 100 speakers or so this afternoon at CED committee. (I was there for the modest purpose of speaking about some small historic structures on the site, then had to rush back to work.) But I did wonder if you might not be interested in the issue of the business that constitute Oakland’s film center, currently housed in those historic warehouses, and worrying about being displaced under the staff-preferred CCG proposal.

    I like the idea of industrial and maritime uses on the army base land, but it would be nice to keep our filmmakers and our historic buildings over there on its edge.

  21. PRE

    Does anyone know what’s going into the storefront on Grand between the Subways and the corner of Broadway? There’s been plywood covering up the front for a while now and there does seems to be activity when I go by but it’s moving slowly. Another eatery perhaps? It looked like there was a liquor license type announcement on the front.

  22. len

    ok, you anti cookie people got your wish to put ncpc’s on a diet. (repost from charlie pine). they cut more than cookies. all to save a whopping $50k. -len

    “To: Members of the Community Policing Advisory Board and Neighborhood Crime
    Prevention Councils
    From: Claudia Albano, Assistant Public Safety Coordinator
    Date: July 13, 2009
    Re: Funds for NCPCs

    As you know, each Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) has been eligible
    for $700 per year to spend on crime prevention and other activities in their
    beat. These funds were part of a larger allocation of $50,000 per year from the
    Oakland Police Department to further community policing, and were used to defray
    the cost of such things as the bi-annual Leadership Summit, National Night Out,
    and the Community Policing Advisory Board annual retreat.

    As you may know, the City of Oakland has a severe budget deficit. I have been
    informed by Gilbert Garcia, the Deputy Director of OPD Fiscal Services that the
    $50,000 allocation is no longer available – which means the $700 per NCPC is no
    longer available. This is an unfortunate situation since I know the funds have
    been used for many important improvements and activities over the past decade
    that have fostered community involvement in crime prevention and problem
    solving. I am providing you with this information so you man plan accordingly.

    If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at
    238-6472 or calbano@…, or Gilbert Garcia at 238-6443 or
    ggarcia@….

    cc: Dorlista Reed, Public Safety Coordinator
    Gilbert Garcia, Deputy Director, OPD Fiscal Services”

  23. Daniel Schulman (das88)

    Congrats to V. Smoothe and A Better Oakland — winner of the 2009 EBX Best of the East Bay for Best Blogger.

  24. 94610BizMan

    The Lakeshore NPCP seems about ready to get out the pichforks and torches over the new parking regulations. Nothing like a $50 to $350 parking ticket in front of someones house to turn them into an activist.

    Cookies aren’t going to make the agenda.

  25. Robert

    I think they targeted Kernighan’s district because she opposed the higher fines and the strict enforcement.

  26. Chris Kidd

    They targeted Kernighan’s district because it’s full of parking violations. The city knew it would be a cash cow as soon as they started doing real enforcement. Kernighan knew it too, and her dissenting vote was a butt-covering move so she can look good to her constituents.

  27. len

    V, i think we were wrong and charlie pine correct about dellums and the councils scheduling police layoffs only to get fed money and how dellums would never actually lay them off because layoffs would halt Measure Y spending on anti violence non cop programs. or with the same effect, dellums was delluding himself again about his federal connections. ultimately i don’t think our council president JB really changed her position of many years that more cops were not the solution to oakland crime.

    in the end layoffs of cops will be presented to us in a way similar to Measure D. “we tried so very hard but this is the best we could do” vein.

    will the WSJ let you provide a link to their article on Oakland crime and police layoffs?

    -len raphael
    temescal

  28. Almer Mabalot

    I’ve heard about a program in Oakland that plants trees for free for residents. My family is thinking of getting a tree in front of our house since the grass patch area on the sidewalk is currently a wide dry grass area with nothing special. No need to cut the pavement, just clean the area around it, and plant a tree. I was wondering if that program still plant trees for free. If anyone knows, please help.

  29. Ralph

    len, are you referring to the article posted above? On the political I owe you scale Dellums is probably not even a blip. the problem with long serving old people in public service they think they are more important than they actually are.

  30. len

    ralph, yes. i missed that repost. and btw, JB wasn’t the only council member who for years opposed hiring more cops.

  31. Ralph

    if you hire more cops, you can’t give more dollars to suspect, if not downright meritless, afterschool programs.

  32. Robert

    Chris, people in Kernighan’s district were not complaigning about the sidewalk parking, it was a problem in other districts. If this had any relationship to curing problems, they would have gone after the areas where there were complaints. But you are right, the law is only an excuse here. As is typical, the city has no desire to actually solve a problem.

  33. Robert

    len, want to take another stand on whether Dellums and the council will wait in laying off the police until after they have sent the tax certification to the county, which will let them collect the Measure Y taxes for another year anyway?

  34. len raphael

    rbt, i’ll take the 5th. i underestimated several aspects of our elected officials.

    when they continue to collect the Y tax but don’t spend it (or was it they only had to “allocate it” Marleen?), can the council borrow against those tax monies? if yes, lindheim and council might just be buying a couple of years in the hope that revenues will bounce back by then or at least most of them will be retired on city pers, on to better jobs etc.

    -len

  35. Robert

    len, great age brings great cynicism, apparently. I think that Russo will find a way to jsutify anything the council wants to do in terms of collecting the tax and even spending the money.

  36. Max Allstadt

    Does anybody know if Oakland has a contingency plan for a budget that accounts for the $12 million the State is about to steal from us? Did I say steal, I’m sorry, I meant “borrow without asking”.

    Can we pay them in IOUs? Can we borrow some CalTrans Bulldozers without asking and sell them on eBay?

    OK. Venting over. What’s getting cut?

  37. Ralph

    the frequency with which i normally get my hair cut. turns out my barber can’t eat with i.o.u.s. so, instead of every 3 wks and 17 times a year, i am scaling back to every 4 wks or 13 times a year. this will save me $88/yr, the barber may have to cut back on dinners out, the restaurant may have to scale back on staff, a waiter will scale back on vacation plans and some kitchen staff may shop at pack and sav instead of safeway…if only i could steal from the tip jar or the guy on the corner… it must be good to be the state

  38. livegreen

    I find this state money grab infuriating. I don’t know how it’s even tolerated. Is this Prop. 13 or where does this system come from?

    Someone please explain to me why the current State budget is better than approving the original 4 budget Propositions? As archaic as they might have been no structural reform came out of the final budget anyway…

  39. V Smoothe

    Well, the propositions from the May special election would not have come anywhere near closing the fund gap. The only one that would have raised any significant amount of money would have done so by borrowing against future revenues, virtually guaranteeing that we would be in an even worse situation a few years from now. So any budget that doesn’t do that is better. Of course, this budget does rely on some “borrowing,” although I don’t think anyone is going to be holding their breath waiting for the State to pay it back.

  40. len raphael

    looked a chunk of the local funds would come from redevelopment agency real estate tax collections not the general fund. doesn’t that only indirectly increase general fund deficit by reducing the RDA funds avail for reimbursing general fund for certain things? would greatly slow down RDA activity?

  41. V Smoothe

    The State plans to take $4.3 billion of local money from three different sources:

    1. $1 billion in local gas taxes
    2. $2 billion in local property taxes
    3. $1.3 billion in local redevelopment funds

    If my memory is correct, this will break down for Oakland as follows: $6.5 million from gas tax, $11.8 million from property tax, and around $8 million in redevelopment funds. The State tried to take the redevelopment money last year, a court ruled last Spring that they weren’t allowed to, but the State is currently appealing the decision.

    The loss of any one of these sources of money creates huge problems for Oakland – the three combined are devastating.

  42. livegreen

    Not to mention what it’s going to do to the schools (which in the long-term affects business & crime)…

    I hope the cities can hold the state’s feet to the fire. (Wonder when the appeals are scheduled?) In the meantime we’re going to need real structural reform, including how wages & pensions are distributed, and how the bureaucracy is managed.
    Doesn’t mean we’ll get it though.

    BTW, do State workers get the same duplicate automatic salary increases as City workers do? (Both in the salary schedule & COLA’s)?

  43. livegreen

    V, re. your comment “The only one that would have raised any significant amount of money would have done so by borrowing against future revenues, virtually guaranteeing that we would be in an even worse situation a few years from now. So any budget that doesn’t do that is better.”

    The problem is it DOES borrow from the future. Except not a few years from now, but NEXT YEAR. I really don’t understand how this is any better. In fact it’s worse because they’re stealing from the cities & stealing from the schools. If they had just borrowed from Wall Street then they’d only be ruining CA’s bond rating. Now they’re bringing Cities & Children down with them…

    Details in the Tribune today:

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/opinion/ci_12883847

    with the key paragraphs being:

    “Even though the state faces at least a $26.3 billion deficit, the budget deal calls for just $15.5 billion in program cuts. The remaining $10.8 billion shortfall would be erased by borrowing from local governments by $4.4 billion, delaying state employees’ checks from the last month of fiscal 2009-2010 to the first month of the next year, speeding up state tax withholding and other such gimmickry.

    The budget deal would take $6 billion from K-14 schools, yet promises to pay them $9.8 billion when the economy recovers for 2008-09 budget cuts as well as $1.5 billion owed from the previous year.

    In addition to repaying schools and local governments, the state will have to find ways to pay the cost of postponing a month of state worker pay into the 2010-11 fiscal year and suffer the loss of tax withholding in fiscal 2010-11 that has been front-loaded into the current fiscal year.

    In other words, when California faces its next budget crisis, which will be less than a year from now, it will have to deal with more than $14 billion in commitments to local governments and schools and will not be able to repeat one-time accounting legerdemain.

    It is dismaying to view the governor and legislative leaders saying they finally accomplished the difficult task of balancing a budget without additional tax increases or overly severe reductions in services. They did not.”

  44. len

    LG’s got a point that (was it ?) half of the budget balancing this time came from ever more painful smoke and mirrors instead of cuts or tax increases.

    Measure D win or lose, we’re looking at another special or regular ballot to get approval for the mother of all Oakland parcel taxes.

    As with D, if we let the cc and the mayor handle that there will no structural fiscal reform to oakland finances, no effort to improve service delivery efficiency, and no effort to reach public consensus on core city services. Just an urgent plea for more money to prevent desperate across the board cuts. Do we hold our nose and vote for that also?

    -len raphael
    temescal

  45. Jim M

    Poll closing report from ACROV.
    REGISTRATION & TURNOUT
    Alameda County
    Completed Precincts: 260 of 260
    Total Registration 204,116
    Election Day Reporting Ballots Cast 0 0.00%
    Vote by Mail Reporting Ballots Cast 47,424 23.23%
    Total Ballots Cast 47,424 23.23%
    Measure C – City of Oakland
    Completed Precincts: 260 of 260
    YES 36,191 76.63%
    NO 11,040 23.37%
    Measure D – City of Oakland
    Completed Precincts: 260 of 260
    YES 33,510 71.50%
    NO 13,355 28.50%
    Measure F – City of Oakland
    Completed Precincts: 260 of 260
    YES 37,652 79.90%
    NO 9,469 20.10%
    Measure H – City of Oakland
    Completed Precincts: 260 of 260
    YES 34,552 74.63%
    NO 11,745 25.37%

  46. V Smoothe

    livegreen –

    I think you misunderstand the State budget situation and the May election. Proposition 1C, which would have cost us hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the next few years, was stealing from the schools. In fact, had it passed, the schools would probably be taking an even harder cut than they are now. And of course, the theft of local money was pretty much guaranteed to be part of the budget whether or not the May propositions passed, as I have explained repeatedly. And of course, nobody actually expects the State will repay the “borrowed” local money.

    I would also caution against relying on editorials for details about complicated things like budget – the description in that piece of the budget deal is pretty sketchy – Sacramento Bee and KQED Capital Notes are good sources for State news.

  47. livegreen

    V, I’m not questioning your description of the previous Propositions (& I’ll look at 1c again). What I am questioning is whether we end up with something either a whole lot better, or a worthwhile solution in the end.

    The borrowing and budget gimmicks in the current revised budget continues and, if not as bad as before, is still pretty bad and negatively impacts both the Schools & Cities (in addition to direct budget impacts, both will potentially negatively impact crime & declining economics).

    Finally, the current budget also & still costs hundreds of millions of $, if not billions of $, as agreed in their repayment schedules. We have not ended up with a much better solution for all the dithering & dathering.

    The Democrats & Republicans parties are both messed up. The new “Moderate Party” sounds intriguing…

  48. Jim M

    In the L.A Times: California’s biggest government pension funds lose almost $100 billion
    CalPERS’ preliminary losses were $56.2 billion in the fiscal year that ended last month, while the California State Teachers’ Retirement System lost $43.4 billion.
    By Marc Lifsher
    The article goes on to say they must earn 7.75% return to cover the losses or ask cities for more money to cover the debt.

    Why not go to contract work where possible. That eliminates all of these problems of future obligations and debt. Bad workers and contractors can be removed easier since they are not employees. Fewer workers need to be retained on direct payroll. Competitive bidding should lower prices. Has anyone ever lived or worked in cities that do this? Lakewood was the first. There are others. Does this idea really work? What problems does it have? Does it lower costs?

  49. David

    Y’all can complain all you want about the state budget cuts, but the fact is the budget has to be cut. I think transferring money from local gov’ts is stupid (and just a transfer–the local gov’ts will then try to raise taxes so it’s a wash), but the fact remains the state must cut the budget. Period. Municipalities must cut their budgets. Period.

    A better way to cut would be to convert every last gov’t worker to a 401(k) plan, and eliminate retiree health benefits, but even if we did that, we’d still have to cut gov’t spending. California overspends on everything–law enforcement, prisons, education, and gets extremely low quality results. If we’re getting low quality, why aren’t we at least paying (less) for low quality?

  50. len

    Was the usual local editor on vacation at the Trib, allowing the downer article about oakland crime to get into print today? normally, the trib’s non specific crime articles seem to be written by people on the same happy pills that most of our elected officials favor. but this article seemed liked like a parody of the chronicle coverage of oakland crime.

    they even found a rockridge merchant who said something to the effect that he wouldn’t let his own family come to college ave, or was it his dog?

    or is this a taste of the new reality show Tribune?

    -len

  51. livegreen

    Question about Sanji Handa at the CC last night: When he got up there with the 16 minutes, and I decided to leave, any insight about why JB & the City Clerk didn’t ask him if all HIS speakers were there?

  52. Becks

    It’s actually a bit different with Sanjiv. He fills out speaker cards on every single item. He used to just come up and take his two minutes on each item, but that took forever. So Ignacio tried to negotiate with him when he was Council President and now Jane does the same. Usually, Jane asks him to uses all of his minutes on the first agenda item. But for nights like last night, when there are lots of speakers signed up, she lets him have his minute for each of the first couple items, and then asks him to do the rest of his minutes later on. Hopefully that explains things.

  53. livegreen

    Talking about Blogging on KQED right now with Salon.com. Nice to finally hear somebody saying positive things about Blogs. They asked for suggestions about good blogs. Hey I know one! Email them at kqed@forum or call them at 1-866-733-6786.

  54. PRE

    Regarding Harvest Hall or whatever it’s current incarnation is; does anyone know if the place is ever going to open? It looks pretty much complete to me, but empty. I would think the Port (?) would want to get it up and running during the nice summer months. Does anyone have any news?

  55. Ralph

    indeed it was a good quote. if only the commenters were similarly bright. the problem really isn’t council – it is the electorate

  56. Robert

    gem/Ralph, the quote was two facts (recession and subsidy) used by Max and the reporter in a way to suggest it was a bad thing. But a trillion dollar subsidy has been budgeted by the Feds to help during this recession, so just maybe subsidizing business during this recession is not a bad thing?

  57. Ralph

    Robert, I read that differently. I also read it at 3:50 in the a.m. after being out all night.

  58. Max Allstadt

    My point was more that everybody’s taking cuts, Michaan’s neighborhood has more parking than many others, and he’s still benefiting from subsidized parking, so why exactly is he going apeshit?

  59. Ralph

    Good my 3:50 am reading comprehension is still as good as my 3:50 pm comprehension even at my advanced age.

    and while enjoying Lakefest, I noticed the BA sign announcing the 4hr free parking in marked stalls. so, to echo max, what again is his gripe, and does he think he is going to lose business to emeryville movieplex.

    and speaking of the lake – why didn’t anyone inform me about Lanesplitter

  60. Chris Kidd

    Well, I drove around Grand Ave looking for parking this Sunday afternoon so I could stop at Walden Pond Books. I made 4 passes without any luck before giving up and heading over to Piedmont Ave and Black Swan Books. If parking rates were higher, it would encourage turnover in those spots and I might have been able to spend some money in the Grand Lake district. But hey, let’s keep those parking prices down: Black Swan Books thanks you.

  61. Robert

    Chris,

    First, parking is free on Sundays, so parking rates are irrelevant.

    Second, Sat and Sun were the Lakeshore Art festival, so there was no parking anywhere within a half mile or more. Hardly your typical Sunday afternoon.

  62. Robert

    I guess your point was not all that clear in the article.

    Michaan always needs to go apeshit about something, this is just his latest cause. For years it was Bush, and nobody got upset because most of Oakland agreed with him.

    And the parking lot over by Trader Joes is for Lakeshore shopping only, not supposed to be used for Grand Ave or Grand Lake Theater, so really only one free parking area. (not that that really impacts your argument, but you need to get the facts correct.)

  63. Chris Kidd

    Robert, you’re totally right. I guess I figured that since pro-parking folks were using isolated, hyperbolic, anecdotal evidence without using facts or statistics, I thought I’d try my hand at it too. It’s quite satisfying.

  64. Ralph

    There is a Lanesplitter on Lake Side. I felt underinformed.

    Chris, I thought it was entertaining. Seriously substitute Saturday at noon for Sunday and you have the same painful situation.

  65. navigator

    To: Nadel, Nancy
    Cc: Brunner, Jane; De La Fuente, Ignacio; Quan, Jean; Fielding, Rich; Russo, John; chjohnson@sfchronicle.com ; kcbsnewsdesk@cbs.com ; news@ktvu.com
    Sent: Mon Aug 03 16:36:22 2009
    Subject: Lake Merritt and Measure DD improvements

    Dear Ms. Nadel,

    The improvements near the Boat House look beautiful. However, other projects which have already been completed with measure DD money are not being kept up. The 18th Street Pier is looking dingy, dirty, littered and has graffiti scribbled in many areas. It’s a complete disgrace to spend money to restore beautiful landmarks only to have them neglected soon after.

    Ms. Nadel, you and Pat Kerninghan stood at that very 18th Street Pier when it was completed. I challenge you to go back with Pat and a news team and document this disgrace. Also, please take note that the Pergola which was also restored is also looking dingy. How about a pressure wash of those two areas every once in a while? Is this the same standard of maintenance Oaklanders are to expect of the improvements at the Boat House and all other future improvements? This, along with the graffiti splattered benches and filthy pathways directly in front of the Kaiser Center and Christ the Light Cathedral, is totally unacceptable. Lake Merritt is an embarrassment and a disgrace. Goose poop everywhere, overgrown weeds, broken paths, broken docks floating aimlessly, graffiti on benches, trees, paths, refuse containers. The “beach” area is another disgrace. The bird sanctuary area is sad and pitiful.. This is Oakland’s ” Crown Jewel?” Lake Merritt Park has reached third world status. Ms. Nadel, what are you, Mayor Dellums and the City Council going to do about this affront to the people of Oakland?

  66. Born in Oakland

    I agree with some of the points made by Navigator and can’t wait until they install a behmoth AC Transient bus shelter right next to the 18th Street Pier, replete with garbage can and bus stop sign with schedules which will make this narrowest point of the Lake less accessible to joggers, strollers, kids, etc. as they wend their way around the burping wino sleeping on the bench. But of greater concern is when will the 4, 6, 8 (?) lane freeway, by the Kaiser Auditorium, be demolished to open the Lake and to finally link it (and the public) to the Estuary. Come on jackhammers! Start before the City goes broke!

  67. east lake biker

    On the brighter side of things: Measure DD work on Lakeside at the Lake Chalet seems to be finishing up. The roadway was just resurfaced. The new bike lanes will be striped in the next day or two. I am a happy biker (at that part of the Lake anyway).

  68. navigator

    Dear Nancy,

    Thanks for the info. I understand that the City of Oakland, along with many other cities, faces a severe financial crisis. Having recently returned from Europe, I also understand that our Country has fallen far behind Europe in many ways, mostly due the the heavy investment in militarism in order to be the world’s policeman. Unfortunately, we are no longer a first world country. Having said that, other cities like San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Boston, New York, Chicago, etc. do a much better job maintaining their landmark parks than Oakland does maintaining Lake Merritt. Balboa Park in San Diego, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Grant Park in Chicago, Central Park in New York, Boston Common in Boston are all very well maintained despite budget deficits in these cities.

    The bottom line is that Lake Merritt can not be allowed to remain in its current deplorable condition. It sends a message to any visitor that Oakland is a third rate city which doesn’t even care about its landmark park. Throwing up our hands and saying that were broke is not an option. There are creative ways to go about reclaiming this park into something presentable. As I said previously, maybe PW can redirect some resources from less prominent locations to improve the maintenance at Lake Merritt. Also, I’m sure in a city of 400,000 residents there are people willing to volunteer to make sure their city’s landmark park gets some tender loving care. Volunteer organization like the Lake Merritt Institute do a good job cleaning around the lake’s perimeter shoreline. Perhaps a call can go out to senior citizen homes and neighboring schools for volunteers to do some gardening and maintenance at Lake Merritt. Monthly cleanups around the Lake sponsored by the City of Oakland along with local businesses is another tool which could be used to supplement some redirected public works resources, along with a campaign for new volunteers for Lake Merritt.

    The biggest problem areas are inside Lakeside Park itself. Three fourths of the circumference of the Lake is being revitalized. After the improvements are completed there has to be a way to maintain the new plants, trees, shrubs, paths, sod, light standards, sidewalks, benches, etc. This is where a volunteer campaign by the City of Oakland comes into play. Also, perhaps Oakland can ask for some Federal Stimulus Funds to initiate some badly needed capital improvements in areas of Lakeside Park which will not benefit from Measure DD funds. An upgrade to the bird sanctuary area is sorely needed. An upgrade to the “beach” area next to the bandstand is sorely needed. The removal of those floating blighted docks is sorely needed.

    Nancy, I don’t want to bicker. I think we want to be on the same team. I think we need to fight for Lake Merritt. The bottom line is that Lake Merritt is too important to Oakland to let it deteriorate to its present condition. Some of the stuff we’re talking about doesn’t take a whole lot of money. Making sure park benches and paths are free of graffiti shouldn’t be a big deal if monitored on a regular basis. Steam cleaning the 18th Street Pier and the Pergola once a month shouldn’t be a big deal. Oakland’s image as a third rate city, or, as a “ghetto,” will be confirmed by every visitor who frequents the Lake in its present condition. The image these visitors take away from our city will end up costing Oakland much more in the long-term, in lost tourism dollars and lost business opportunities, than the small amount of money it would take to take care of some of these smaller issues.

    Nancy, please, please do something regarding Lake Merritt. Please get Mayor Dellums and the City Council involved in order to find a solution to this on-going problem. Thank you.

  69. Mike

    Is the Mayor and council still fighting to keep the HBo show from filming here. How dumb, I mean why would they want to create jobs and bring some exposure to Oakland.
    And to fight this before reading the script is amazing.
    How much more time do we have before we can boot Dellums.

  70. Mike

    Redevelopment districts work as well as your elected and appointed officials.
    Since Oakland is run by a bunch of wack jobs I am sure there is a lot of waste and ineffieciency in the redeveloment areas.

  71. Jennifer

    Does anyone have a sense of how Jean Quan would do in a race for Mayor against Don Perata? Thoughts?

  72. gaylez

    Over at the Contra Costa Times there’s a nifty link in this article http://www.ibabuzz.com/politics/ that shows you where the federal stimulus money is going in alameda county.
    We may end up being smarter and prettier (money to both a beauty and a barber college), and possibly fatter – Chubby Burgers made the cut.

  73. Jennifer

    That’s what I think, too V. I really don’t think she has an organization or team since she ran unopposed four years ago . . .

  74. Max Allstadt

    It’s not just about organization. Don has really good polling numbers, like 64% favorable and only 24% unfavorable, which in local politics is pretty amazing.

  75. Max Allstadt

    A lot. Particularly in the hills, which have a very reliable turn out. But knowing who she is and wanting her to be mayor are rather different.

    There’s the added issue that in order to run, she has to give up her district 4 seat.

  76. Robert

    Max, I don’t remember if the charter says you can’t run for both offices, it says you can’t hold two offices.

    Also, I think that the parking fiasco, regardless of what you believe about what the rates should be, has damaged her politically, especially in the hills where it is most unpopular.

  77. Naomi Schiff

    On the other hand, Quan would not be quite as beholden to huge contributors from the last umpteen years from all over the state, to my mind possibly a virtue.

  78. livegreen

    What’s so great about Perata? He hasn’t given us any glimpse of what plans he has for Oakland, if any.

    + I’ve been told up until very very recently he lived in Piedmont. (Before that it was Alameda). Anybody know if that’s true?

  79. Max Allstadt

    Robert,

    I believe that Quan has not yet sought an opinion from the City Attorney’s office about whether she can run for two things at once. But even if by se
    miracle it was allowed, how the hell do you spin it? How can she tell her constituents that she want their vote for two offices that she can’t hold simultaneously? It would be confusing as all hell, and easy for her opponents to spin as egotistical.

    Naomi,

    It’s true that Don has had a lot of donors and allies, but they’re a large and diverse group, which means that any of their individual pull is diluted by the others. Quan would have a much smaller group with much less diverse interests, which would actually make undue influence more likely.

    Plus, I really think that the influence that donors have is overstated. Politicians count votes more than dollars. And Don is capping his campaign contributions at $100 for his Mayoral run. Can Quan make the same promise?

  80. Naomi Schiff

    Max, Don has received sizable contributions from some heavy hitters, over a period of many years in local and state politics. These are relationships that already exist, and it doesn’t much matter how much folks fork over from here on in. If you gave somebody ten thousand or twenty thousand bucks a few years ago, it probably hasn’t been forgotten. Don is a sophisticated politician who has moved a lot of money between himself, favored candidates, and contributors up and down the state (not counting nonmonetary, but important contributions of influence and persuasion here). Do we want more bigtime state political machinations influencing Oakland politics if not absolutely necessary? I don’t. Of course Quan too has been associated with and might also be influenced by other politicians and sums of money. But I do think one at least ought to do the research on this and think about what the effects might be on our city government, its openness to citizens’ wishes, on transparency and fairness.

  81. Dan Rossi

    V-Smoothe — the state take of funds from Oakland’s redevelopment agency would be $41 million this year (not $8 million) — almost half of net tax increment revenues– and $8.5 million next year.

    Naomi — the restoration of the Fox Theater, Rotunda Building, Swans Market, Tribune Towers, Paramount Theater, City Hall, San Pablo Hotel, Preservation Park, many downtown SROs — all got significant funding from redevelopment tax increment. None of these projects, not to mention dozens of other smaller historic restoration projects, would have happened without the redevelopment agency.

  82. Naomi Schiff

    Dan, I know that you are correct. I do not agree with Norby and his MORR movement that redevelopment should be entirely abolished. (Of course these projects also benefitted from syndication of federal historic and housing tax credits, and state money such as Prop 40,etc. )But I do question the tendency toward blockbuster projects that Redevelopment has engendered, and wonder whether a small-lot approach in which land assembly is minimized would be more successful. In Oakland, the limited-objective projects seem to me to have fared better and been done faster than the very large ones. To get a multi-block project built has generally required many many years and enormous staff resources, in addition to the direct funding provided by the redevel. agency. And the results have been mixed. I think projects work better when they fit into the surrounding city by matching the extant parcel dimensions. Thus, a Fox project makes more sense to me than the very protracted City Center project. The City Center project demolished at least twelve blocks, destroyed historic buildings and viable businesses, interrupted the street grid, put some fairly undistinguished buildings in awkward positions, has taken many decades and is still not complete. Additionally, too much redevelopment land went to projects that did not generate any tax increment at all, such as the EBMUD building, State Building, Federal Building, some city buildings. During the decades-long attempts to make an uptown project, many businesses moved out of the area under the pressure of short leases, deferred maintenance and the threat of displacement. Could a business incentive and assistance program have succeeded over a shorter period of time than the present project required? We’ll not know, because nobody tried it.

  83. Max Allstadt

    Naomi,

    Don has received contributions, true. All politicians raise money, all of them get favors. All of them do favors too. And rarely is it ever a blatant quid-pro-quo. These are alliances, not transactions.

    Consider this though: As Speaker of the State Senate, Don was in a position to help many more people than could help him. That means he’s owed more favors than he owes. A net surplus of favors earned means he’s less subject to influence.

    I can’t say the same for Quan. She’s a much smaller player. Who owes her? Who does she owe? She seems to vote the Alameda Central Labor Council’s position without fail.

  84. shirley enomoto

    restoration and renovation of a historical building is one thing. taking private property by eminent domain and building another shopping mall is another, not to mention the back room negotiations and financing. bay street, phase I and II, is a perfect example of this.

  85. len

    re mayoral candidates, before digging into conflicts of interest, how about evaluating candidates’ ablitity to manage and improve an organization with several thou employees. neither jq or dp have any experience managing large organizations. similar problem with dellums who had never managed anything bigger than a congressional staff.

    supposedly jerry brown did have that track record, but wasn’t able to downsize from the state level where assumedly he had sufficient qualified managers to the city level where he had his buddy jaques.

  86. Ralph

    it would be nice if Oakland had a young buck like Cory Booker or Adrian Fenty to restore glory to Oakland. Alas we have been stuck with ol’ cottontop, and now are looking at the possibility of a woman who polls well with the teenagers but not with anyone who believes in fiscal responsibility and a man with an outsized ego but at least he believes in Oakland whatever that means. I’ve got someone I’d like to draft for this position.

  87. len

    go back to weak mayor, strong city manager format if we can’t attract politicians who are good executives.

  88. Naomi Schiff

    I agree with you, Len. I was on the Measure X revision committee and it is pretty astonishing how badly Measure X is written. Even with its fixes I am not impressed. The funny thing is, mayors haven’t used all the clout they had in the first place. While they focussed on getting more power, they let things languish that they could have done something about.

    And with strong mayor, they virtually never have to interact with the public. Before, the weak mayor had to attend city council meetings. I believe it has served to put mayors in much closer touch with lobbyists and behind-the-scenes operators and in much more distant relationships with the community groups and citizens. (Of course they may love this!)

    In losing the city manager and replacing it with the city administrator, we are not able to attract the top managerial talent that we used to.

  89. James Robinson

    Ralph,

    I doubt if we are going to see an Adrian Fenty or Cory Booker run Oakland. Why? Because I don’t think Oakland can produce or retain that type of young black excellence. It seems that the best and brightest blacks are concentrating themselves mostly in the East (particularly DC and NYC) or the South (particularly Atlanta). In fact, I predict that Dellums will be Oakland’s last black mayor for a while.

  90. Ralph

    James,
    Your new name, “Dream Dasher, Hope Crasher.” I still got a horse I want to put in this race, but if that buck won’t run, I like throwing cash at the young fellow now running the NAACP.

  91. Patrick

    “Dream Dasher, Hope Crasher”? Wasn’t that a Pat Benatar song?

    With Oakland’s rapidly shifting demographics, it truly is doubtful we’ll see another black mayor – unless it’s Barack Obama in 2016.

  92. James Robinson

    Interestingly enough, I was reading an article on Oakland’s changing demographics just last night. Apparently, black folks lost the plurality in 2006. Dellums is the end of an era, an era that is going out with a long painful whimper instead of a bang. That guy running the NAACP is another example of young black talent heading East. Also, look at Van Jones. He has an advisory role with the Obama Administration and will probably increase his involvement in the East. I don’t think it is a bad reflection upon Oakland. It is simply a bit of shortsightedness among the Black Bourgeoisie. Instead of being out here in the birthplace of technology, too many are migrating to the birthplace of slavery.

    Besides, I want a moderate to be mayor, a person who is pro business and has executive branch skills or experience. That person can be a purple people eater, for all I care.

  93. Ralph

    Just to clarify, while the young bucks I referenced happen to be young African-Americans, I am not advocating for an African American mayor. In fact the guy I would have be Mistah mayor – he white. But Mistah Mayor should be pro business, I’ll cut you some slack as long as you have a vision that encourages business and economic growth, enhances the pedestrian experience, improves public safety and is rooted in creating a bigger pie versus carving up the existing pie.

    Question: Are you saying that Oakland had the racial make-up to elect a black mayor? The politics of race could re-elect a Berry post crack, but there is no way Dellums could’ve won like that in Oakland.

  94. Patrick

    The hope that Dellums’ “Washington Insider” status would be a boon for Oakland trumped all else. But his race didn’t hurt his chances, if that’s what you’re asking.

  95. Patrick

    Oh, I see what you’re getting at. As I recall, Dellums’ had fairly broad support, except for latinos, obviously.

    James: what article were you reading?

  96. Patrick

    I do not. But if I had to guess, I would say it was a combination of many things: the union, his son, his demeanor…and people felt they had a better option in Dellums (or Nadel, if you can imagine).

  97. Naomi Schiff

    Please allow for Miz Mayor as well as Mistah. It’s time. In my view we have had plenty of testosterone in city hall. It might be nice to try it another way. IDLF had some liabilities, not least of which: the Coliseum, without which we might have a decent budget today.

  98. livegreen

    I think IDLF is tired of being beat up on too. He’s also not as photogenic as Dellums or even Perata. He does seem to be buffing that image up a bit recently, but he’s not a very good speaker.

    Of course that’s all superficial and for the TV. He’s more of a moderate than Quan and he has both more vision & greater ability to administer the city bureaucracy than Perata.

    I want more “there” there from all of our Politicians or potential candidates. I’m really not impressed with ANY of them. At least IDLF would be able to navigate the City and get things done…

  99. Max Allstadt

    Naomi,

    The current line up of elected politicians at Oakland City Hall is 4 men and 7 women. That’s nearly a supermajority of female representation. The city council has a 3 to 1 ratio of women to men. So the balance is actually tipped in the opposite direction. Not only that, but the vast majority of council’s staffers are women.

    Also, as an enlightened modern man, I find it highly offensive when women talk about testosterone as if the chemical itself is somehow a bad thing. It isn’t. I find my testosterone levels rather useful, thank you very much. I use my testosterone to do pull-ups, perform well under stressful situations, stand up for myself when bullied, and grow cool mustaches. It’s great stuff!

    The hormone is a chemical. When men behave badly it isn’t the chemical you should blame, it’s their character.

    I’m also not about to say that there’s too much estrogen in Oakland politics, because that would be equally sexist as blaming testosterone for the problems of government. The problem isn’t hormones, it’s incompetence and short-sightedness.

    We can blame testosterone for aggression and bluster, and we can blame estrogen for emotional instability and cattyness. But why? Shouldn’t we just forget about the hormones of our leaders and pay attention to their performance instead?

  100. VivekB

    I’d like to use this platform to announce my candidacy for Mayor. I’m a business exec for my day job, but for my run i’ll use the tagline “Vote for Vivek. He’s not any worse than the other people and likes to talk in public so much that you’ll want to go back to the Dellums/absent mayoral presence. Plus he’s willing to wear a dress if it’ll get the miz mayah vote.”

    Max can be the vice-mayor, then he & I can spend hours fighting about regressive vs progressive taxation and class warfare. In the end, we’ll agree to settle our difference over a game of quarters, but with tequila shots, not beer.

    Len can be the city controller, as I know he’d bring me some fairly taxed medical marijuana at every budget review meeting to avoid having a heart attack when we look at how screwed the books are.

    Navigator will be the press secretary. Nuff said.

    VSmoothe can be the internal auditor, cuz damn nothing gets by her.

    Naomi/Robert/Ralph/livegreen/Chris/etc – hmmm, i’m sure there’s something there, but i better shut up now, i’ve already probably alienated many folks with this post…

  101. V Smoothe Post author

    The only City position I’m interested in is Director of Government Transparency. Promise to create that job and hire me for it, wear the dress, and you just might get my vote!

  102. Naomi Schiff

    Sorry Max, no offense meant. All I was reacting to was that “Mistah” seemed to exclude 50% of all potential candidates.

    Demographics and politics needn’t focus particularly on African-American voters. We have many significant constituencies in this town, and many people who will vote based on other factors independent of ethnicity, gender, union status, or race.

  103. Ralph

    But James, of that 400K less than 50% are registered to vote and less than 50% voted. My point was Dellums could have never achieved the 50% threshhold to avoid the run-off on the black vote alone. SE DC could elect Berry on their own. It probably helps to have one quadrant with a number of people who don’t vote in DC. Dellums duped a GWBish coalition into voting for him.

    The lack of fiscal responsibility pretty much eliminates the current crop of elected female officials.

  104. Ralph

    “Mistah Mayor – he white” was not intended to exclude any particular gender. Had I a she in mind, I would have written “Mistah Mayor – she white.”

  105. Ralph

    And VivekB, before you buy that dress (assuming you can find a merchant who has gone out of business due to new parking rates) allow me to inform you of this bit of arcane language from the Oakland Municipal Code

    9.08.080 Immoral dress.
    It is unlawful for any person in the city to appear in any public place nude or in the attire of a person of the opposite sex, or in any indecent or lewd attire.
    (Prior code § 3-4.08)

    http://www.municode.com/Resources/gateway.asp?pid=16308&sid=5

  106. len

    Ralph, i know a dellums supporter who feels let down, but not duped. The guy hardly campaigned, didn’t even have to make false promises. All he had to do was show up and say a few words about a shining city on a hill (hmm, or was that gwb who used that phrase. ron and george have much in common) and enough oakland voters marched to the polls like lemmings.

    maybe voters were just flattered that brown, dellums, and now perata were/are willing to grace us with their presence.

    V, darn i was hoping you’d move to the hills and run against JQ. That wb fun.

  107. Patrick

    Harumph. Though I was not offered a post in the VivekB administration, please allow me to offer my services: kind of a Samosa Administrator. Oh, I can drive the limo, too. I expect full pension at the end of four years. And health benefits for my family – including those in other states.

  108. Ralph

    len, it is no secret that my experience in DC has led me to be skeptical about these old guys. (i was skeptical, but not as much, about brown when he was elected and at the time i didn’t even live here.) I have probably been a bit harsh on the dellum voters, but how can one be disappointed in a man who never wanted the job and is pretty much acting as if he doesn’t want the job?

  109. len

    Patrick, i’m going to disclaim my position to you, if you support my bid to become the mayor’s bodyguard. i’m told the bodyguard can often be found at coffe places near city hall. but if the bg also has to drive, i’ll withdraw my offer.

    -len

  110. Patrick

    From what I understand, the bodyguard is mostly responsible for moving the limo around, from parking space to parking space (in less than 2 hours), to avoid a ticket.

  111. Patrick

    From what I understand, the bodyguard directs the driver to move the limo around, from parking space to parking space (in less than 2 hours), to avoid a ticket.

  112. len

    Patrick, that increased turnover from metering changes means the bg is spreading the mayor’s latte budget evenly through dto. a regular johnny appleseed of oakland business development.

  113. len

    James, the before-obama (bo and ao) salon article by chris thompson touched on some of the underlying historical issues that created oakland’s bad government. part about the role of the allen baptist temple leadership especially.

    odd that he’d take barbara lee and elihu harris rhetoric at face value as somehow moving beyond race based patronage politics.

    also odd that he even when the article was written, he doesn’t try to reconcile the political weakness of african americans here with the continued cronyism and ineptitude in oakland govt.

    -len

  114. MEL

    Wow. So we shouldn’t expect a black mayor in Oakland because non-blacks won’t vote for a black person? I’m having flashbacks of the 2008 presidential primary season.

    By the way, Census estimates show a loss of population from 2000 to 2007 in Oakland amongst blacks, Asians, AND non-Hispanic whites. Latinos were the only group to gain. While Jerry Brown was busy trying to convince San Franciscans to “improve” Oakland with their presence, middle class and working class families of all colors sought better opportunities and quality of life elsewhere. Upper and middle class high school graduates leave and don’t come back. Perhaps also older residents die without a substantial enough newborn population to prevent low, stagnant, or negative natural increase. There are many dynamics that play into population change.

    The worst part of this potential population loss (or at best population stagnation or low growth) is that crime increased during these years. It appeared to be similar to the crime rise New Orleans experienced/es after Katrina despite losing half its population. The loss of a large number of working and middle class people (including many blacks) causes a sort of destabilization that gives entry to more crime while leaving the remaining lower and upper class residents statistically more likely to be the victims. The difference between the two cities is N.O.’s destabilization hastened as a result of natural catastrophe, Oakland’s happened more slowly as a result of civic neglect and dysfunction (although N.O. was in a similar shape pre-Kat).

    Crime in Oakland had been steadily declining in the mid- to late 90s. Oakland population grew significantly in the 1990s. When Brown entered City Hall, crime was at it lowest that it had been in several years (and was at the lowest since). Yet the Brown years brought stagnant, declining, or low-growth population, while other cities had definitive growth. The Brown years brought a steady rise in crime, with the worst crime in the past several years being his last year in office – 2006. Meanwhile crime had declined in many other major cities across the country. Practically all cities saw increased housing and retail development in the past decade (as bubble-induced and credit-fueled it might have been) so I can give Brown only limited credit for Oakland’s. Brown gave us Edgerly. Brown gave us Tucker. Brown left us with a still dysfunctional and scandal-prone City Hall and police department.

    Outside of promoting charter schools, Brown was a net fail. I don’t know why he gets so much praise on sites such as this. Perhaps people are so bedazzled by the shiny, new (half-empty) condo complexes and handful of new bars that crime and school dropout rates aren’t worth the critique.

    Maybe some people measure progress by how many former San Franciscans they see walking around Lake Merritt or Uptown. But there are also mentally ill people walking around Oakland. There are men and women recently released from prison walking around Oakland. There are people on the brink of homelessness because of high housing costs and lack of housing options. There continue to be drug-dealing, prostitution, rapes, and robberies. There are stressed out teachers and police officers in Oakland. There are talented young people who feel their aspirations are too big for Oakland. There are families contemplating moving for any number of issues. There are unemployed young men wondering how they can get a decent job and/or income. These day-to-day realities don’t change just because another person signs a lease at The Grand.

    Problem is, a gentrification-heavy focus can be short-sighted and unsustainable, particularly when there’s a lack of a similarly eager effort to directly address citywide problems. What happens when the economy and housing market go south? When credit and financing sources aren’t as plentiful? When the hipsters-moving-to-Oakland movement starts to be mocked? When already high unemployment get higher?

    When there’s the prospect of even more prisoners being released from prison and back onto the street (and we know they weren’t rehabilitated in prison, despite all the tax money spent)? When newly built Oakland condos and apartments get bad reviews on the internet? When the city’s tax revenue is so low the city can’t even provide basic services? When residents move and take their local tax contributions with them? When vacant homes and businesses breed crime? When immigrants don’t feel empowered enough to speak up about crime and bad schools? When there are less customers, business owners, taxpayers, volunteers, mentors, wage-earners, homeowners, good students, neighborhood watchers, etc. in vulnerable (non-Downtown) neighborhoods?

    When new shops and restaurants are vandalized or robbed? When angry and frustrated youth with simmering gripes (valid or not) decide to take to the streets? The same streets where the new businesses and new residents are located (welcome!). When there’s a sense of hopelessness, powerlessness, and/or uncertainty amongst large segments of the city’s population? When a vast majority of the city is gripped by the fear of crime, and makes significant adjustments to their daily lives as a result?

    When diversity is treated merely as a Chamber of Commerce bullet point rather than a reality that calls for genuine economic and political inclusiveness? When despite best efforts at positive imaging, there’s always some negative incident that draws widespread local or national media coverage, further cementing the city’s bad reputation? This is and has been going on in Oakland, both during and after eight years of Brown.

    I can’t say Dellums is doing a superb job, but at least I get the sense that he is trying to address these issues without the tunnel vision fixation on something like 10K. He has exhibited bad quirks and behaviors but considering the city’s circumstances I’m willing to overlook style for substance and focus on outcomes. He might for example be mocked for crime prevention efforts, as if he’s rewarding bad behavior, but I applaud the gesture of trying to stop any one of us – not one more of us – from having to become a victim of crime because of the action of any individual – regardless of the judgments or names we want to throw at said individual. This might not satisfy those who’d prefer a mayor that concentrates on sexier stuff like seducing more San Franciscans to cross over to our fair city, but Oakland needs real change, not cosmetic change.

    That being said, crime has dropped year-to-year since Dellums took office so I can put up with his occasional loopiness as long as the city is getting safer. Some people have decided that they don’t like Dellums so – much like Rush feels about Obama – he can do no right and, in fact, they might secretly hope he fails. I don’t want Oakland to fail. And I hope that whenever Oaklanders vote for mayor, they have genuinely benevolent motivations and vote for someone who will address all of Oakland’s problems and represent all Oaklanders.

  115. Ralph

    MEL, just a few things –

    No one said non-blacks won’t vote for a black mayor. The 2006 Mayoral election results prove that point.

    Two, there is no shortage of people concerned about crime – we are about ABO and that means doing something about crime, which brings me to

    Three, a number of us are deeply concerned about education and volunteer our time in schools and with youth. This is important because it puts people on track to obtain higher education and good employment and avoid becoming a statistic.

    Finally, gentrification is good. Plain and simple Oakland’s poor can not pay for the services they require. If they could they wouldn’t be poor. You can only tax the current base so much before they decide they are not getting enough bang for their buck and go elsewhere. Gentrification expands the tax base. Oakland also needs to expand the retail shopping options which will bring in the sales tax revenue which is currently being lost to other municipalities.

  116. len

    MEL,
    actually i thought one of the points of the old salon piece was that black politicians were working towards coalitions with whites to offset latino blocs. dellums win was partially a result of that.

    one of the other interesting points of the article was the unlikely cooperation of republican whites and democratic blacks to gerrymander. in oakland, that makes no never mind, but very relevant to LA. (though makes me think about how and when city council district lines get adjusted).

    my point was that oakland gets bad government performance no matter whether it’s whites, asians or blacks running the show, though some some part of that is from the civil servants who outlast the pols. the salon guy got that part correct, that when the black pols took over from the white pols, they went overboard with the patronage ineptitude.

    more or less concur w most of the rest of what you posted till it got to what seems like a non sequitor re Dellums.

    Brown’s lack of interest in the details of governing a city was offset somewhat by his purposeful reduction of barriers to real estate development. without that reduction, the real estate boom would have completely passed oakland by. it was a mixed blessing, and failed on many counts, but still a big improvement.

    Dellums lack of interest in the details has had no redeeming social benefit.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  117. MEL

    Ralph,

    Reread my post. (Sorry that it’s so long). I didn’t say that gentrification itself is bad. It can turn around deteriorating neighborhoods, augment city amenities, and be a key source of growth. But thinking that gentrifying one city section (and directing significant time and resources to such an effort) is going to be the silver bullet panacea to better an entire city is shortsighted. Focusing heavily on gentrification without similarly, eagerly and earnestly addressing major issues citywide, for all and current residents and neighborhoods, can allow problems to fester or even have unintended negative effects.

    Which was part of my main point: I don’t see why Brown – or Oakland’s recent gentrification efforts – get so much automatic praise when the results or benefits of 10K are at best superficial and yet-to-be-seen, or at worst lacking in any significant impact.

    While Oakland might have gained perhaps 4000+ hipsters who were enticed by new bars and apartments, by some Census estimates the city also loss 20,000+ mainly working class and middle class people tired of the crime, bad schools, and high housing costs. In that case you end up with a net loss of tax revenue. Not good.

    The fact that crime in Oakland for the past few years is actually worse than it was in the late 90s should be an indication (even with possibly the same or greater population back then). The fact the city is still cash strapped is an indication. The fact that people still leave Oakland for greener pastures should be an indication. And how long are the “gentrifiers” guaranteed to stick around?

    By the way, if poor people had decent jobs they could not only provide the tax revenue that the city needs, they’d also be less likely to need the support of certain tax-supported services or programs. But again, maybe condos are sexier than job development, comprehensive education reform, police dept. reform, and outcomes-based transitional services.

    And poor people are relatively immobile – look at New Orleans. Some people hope that gentrification will make the “bad people” go away. Yet the chronically unemployed, those on government assistance, and/or those involve in crime have less incentive to move. That single mother making $35,000/year who wants to live in a safe, affordable neighborhood with decent schools is more apt to move. And I don’t think it makes a difference if she’s replaced by an artist/barista making $29,000/yr living in Uptown. The city’s fundamental problems persist.

    A child can’t wait 5 to 10 years for a decent education. Every year of substandard education, he or she will fall behind. Unemployed or underemployed people can’t wait 5 to 10 years for a decent job and wage. Every day that passes could increase the possibility that she or he will get involved in pathological behavior. Law-abiding citizens can’t wait 5 to 10 years for crime reduction and prevention when on any day we could become a victim. Gentrification can be nice, but there are issues that need immediate and prioritized attention and resource allocation.

    I know the conventional wisdom that tempts people to place a lot of hope in gentrification. We’ll build condos and apt.’s, and when those are completed in 3 – 8 years (knock on wood), young professionals will hopefully buy or rent, they will spend money locally, they will stick around, we won’t lose tax revenue from other people, and so we can use the additional tax revenue to address city problems. Thing is, that CW is based on a lot of if’s, hopes, and assumptions.

    Besides, Oakland – like most cities, states, and our country – needs to think about how to best, effectively, impactfully, fairly, efficiently, etc. use the tax revenues it currently has rather than always trying to bank on getting more tax revenue.

  118. Ralph

    Can, I get a cliff notes version? It is not that you didn’t say it was bad, I just want the good of gentrification to be noted. There are some Oaklander who would rather it not happen. I like to put the positive spin on it.

    PS: “By the way, if poor people had decent jobs they could not only provide the tax revenue that the city needs, they’d also be less likely to need the support of certain tax-supported services or programs.” I know which is exactly why I use the phrase that I do.

  119. len

    MEL, as critical as i am of oakland govt and leadership, i don’t expect them to achieve job development that makes any dent in the high under and unemployment of the poorer residents. i’d be surprised if any city in the usa has succeeded at that.

    at it’s heart, gentrification is a necessary part of fixing oakland not just because because we need more tax revenue, but we have to spread the burden of helping poor people across a wider geographical area. i’m not holding my breath for the feds to force Danville, Walnut Creek, and SF to provide housing and effective programs for poor people who’d love to leave Oakland for a better life.

    The alternative route was taken over the last 30 years culminating in Dellums to “bring more Federal grants to Oakland to make this a Model City”. Like the explosive growth of the CA prison system: just enough to make the prison guards and prison builders comfortable, but didn’t do diddly to fix underlying causes.

    So we got a city with a huge underclass that’s given just enough ineffectual social services so they don’t visibly starve.

  120. Ralph

    Okay, I was going to post this when I got back, but I am a little annoyed that my words have been twisted so forgive me if I go astray. I did not say gentrification is the panacea. It is part of the solution, but not a full solution.

    You need to solve the education problem today. But the city has little control over the inner workings of OUSD. Where they can possibly augment that is in providing funding for afterschool enrichment programs. But in 12 years of Kids First, I see very little improvement. Three years ago I started working with 9th graders who were on a 4th grade level. Today, some are preparing to apply to college but they are still not at the same level as some of their suburban peers. Until recently, I don’t even think OUSD required programs to make students UC eligible. Something like 10% of OUSD graduates actually attend University. And the sad thing is you don’t need money to improve the system. You need parents who are dedicated and demand that their children do well. But it is not cultutrally ingrained in all families. Until you have parents who actually demand and expect the best, you will continue to have students falling below the grade.

    Unemployed need to take steps to improve their lot. if that means education, then they need to get themselves into a school or training program. But if an unemployed person thinks they are due a job because they have a pulse, then they got a problem.

  121. MEL

    Here is a perfect example of potential pitfalls of overemphasis on gentrification and its assumed lasting positive effects: “…you’re right. I have no hope for Oakland. Cities with its demographics and politics are crapholes and have been for decades all over the USA, from the Bronx/Yonkers to Newark to central/south Philly to Baltimore to DC to Atlanta to Jacksonville to New Orleans to Detroit to the South Side of Chicago to East St. Louis and all those other crapholes in between. I’ll definitely stay out of most of the crappy parts of Oakland during the daytime. And night. I kind of didn’t “choose” to be here. Unfortunately this area is where biotech jobs are and I’m stupid enough to be in that industry. so there you go. I tried my darndest to stay in Chicago (northside of course), but it didn’t happen. My fondest hope is to make enough money to buy a nice house in Alameda.”

    This post comes from another thread on this site. I hadn’t seen this until now. This appears to be someone who is a relatively new transplant from Chicago (who btw complains about Oakland politics), who seems to live in Oakland because it’s cheap and who can’t wait to leave as soon as he can afford to. Judging by the fact the he thinks Oakland’s problems are simply rooted in its demographics, he doesn’t seem interested in “a better Oakland” for all Oaklanders. With suggestions like staying out of the “crappy” areas of Oakland, it’s possible he doesn’t prioritize local spending and recycling dollars (are Downtown, Uptown, China Hill, North Oakland, etc., crappy?). Oakland is just a convenient burden he’s forced to bear on his way to his dream house in Alameda.

    I’m not saying this person is typical of “gentrifiers”, but the fact is we don’t know the motivations, backgrounds, intentions, and/or future plans of recent transplants.

  122. Ralph

    MEL, I read that post. I am not sure how it fits with gentrification. I peg it with some other issues but like you I could be completely wrong about the poster’s intent.

  123. MEL

    I don’t have a cliff notes version, but if you’re not reading my posts or only cherry-picking certain statements, then I don’t know what you’re responding to or what you think I’m saying. I’ll try to be succinct for a change and say this:

    Basically I don’t think you and I are in disagreement. Some of my snark-tinged comments about gentrification are not directed at those who see or hope for the benefits of gentrification (and that actually includes me) but are more about how Oakland’s recent gentrification – and by extension former Mayor Brown – is seen as a success already despite there not being much evidence of its intended benefits. Gentrification can be a net positive, a neutral dynamic, and even have negative side effects. Some outcomes are more likely than others and there are no guarantees, but we can hope for the best. Many, many cities have seen some gentrification, but results are mixed.

    I commend you for your work with Oakland’s youth. Despite the cautionary, devil’s advocate air of my posts, I’m a generally positive (yet realistic) guy and I do have hope for Oakland.

  124. Naomi Schiff

    I thought that the bitter person who wrote that post was unhappy and perhaps prone to see the hole, not the doughnut. I hope he meets some friendly people here anyhow. Clearly grieving for the windy city, and not real flexible; one prays that nothing worse ever happens to him than that he is offered a good-paying job that requires moving to a different city.

  125. MEL

    Ralph, the way that fits into gentrification is that when you bet on bringing new migrants to a city via gentrification, your hope is that they plan to establish roots and become engaged, well-intentioned participatory citizens/consumers/taxpayers to the ultimate benefit of the city in general. I don’t know how much benefit Oakland would get by bending over backwards to accommodate people who look at the city as a crappy, cheap waystation with a “demographic” problem and who can’t wait to leave. You hope for more of the former, and less or none of the latter, but alas there are no guarantees.

    Again, I’m not saying this guy is typical, but there’s a risk. Sure, this type of transplant could arrive regardless of gentrification efforts, but the point is when you’re actually inviting or enticing people to move to your city, you don’t know what you’re getting. We don’t choose who occupies Oakland housing, it just happens.

    Perhaps there’s a disconnect in how you and I define gentrification. Gentrification speaks specifically to the attraction of new residents to a neighborhood or city, usually one that is/was underutilized, underdeveloped, and generally lacking. It is independent of and doesn’t necessarily involve jobs, retail or housing development. It can happen with or without prompting by public officials. For instance in some neighborhoods gentrifiers only occupy existing formerly vacant or abandoned housing. In the case of Oakland (10K), new housing development, investment, and government initiative was involved. I’m not trying to condescend – I just want to make sure we’re on the same page.

    BTW, the poster’s own words leave little need to read between the lines in my opinion. Unless the entire post was snark, I don’t think I’m misunderstanding that he is a transplant who thinks Oakland is a craphole and can’t wait to leave. He’s not necessarily a gentrifier but theoretically could be.

  126. Ralph

    MEL, I just find it hard to accept your Chicago transplant as a gentrifier or even as someone who theoretically could be. He came for work; he was not spurred by some belief in urban renewal and the promise for a better oakland. And he makes clear that he does not desire to be part of urban renewal, not here, not there, not anywhere. And call me crazy, but I can’t seem to think of any gentrified ‘hood that brought in new people from 1900 miles away.

  127. MEL

    len, you make good points, most of which I agree with. I don’t believe the city government can eliminate unemployment or even employment disparities (compared to other cities) but I do believe that it can make a dent, however slight that dent might be. I can elaborate in a later discussion.

    Also, I’m not the biggest fan of Dellums-as-Mayor, but I seriously don’t understand the gap in the praise for Brown and criticism of Dellums I often see/hear. I brought him up to illustrate that. As Jerry’s tenure is over, we have the benefit of hindsight (and info on things like crime stats and population estimates) to make ample assessment of his tenure. His main claim to fame is 10K, and I’ve already posted my feelings and concerns about that at length. Other than that …?

    While I see things in Dellums I don’t particularly like, we can’t yet make similar assessments of his efforts and their outcomes, and for the sake of the city I hope things work out. If anything, certain trends such as crime seem to be going in the right direction. However if after his tenure is through Oakland appears to be in worse shape than when he started, he’ll likely get a similar assessment as Brown. Maybe Ron’s claim to fame will be increased federal funding. Whoopee!

    And that all tied into my hope that Oakland voters make sound decisions in electing their leaders. Decisions not based on style over substance, blind faith in convention, “demographic” games or expectations, selfish interest, prejudices, uninformedness, etc. Too idealistic, I know. As cliché as it sounds, I just hope our future mayor(s) can affect real change.

  128. MEL

    Ralph, simply put, we don’t know who all the gentrifiers are, why they’re here, where they’re from, or what they’re thinking. And you can’t prevent reluctant transplants from occupying housing built as part of a gentrification effort.

  129. Patrick

    Gentrification may not be a panacea, but it certainly worked for MEL’s beloved north side Chicago neighborhoods: Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Boystown – hell, even Skokie. I find this kind of hilarious. I’m guessing MEL is some mid 20s – early 30s “non-hipster” hipster, who can no longer afford to live in a gentrified area – and has all the answers. The last thing Oakland needs is a “reluctant transplant”. You belong in the Tenderloin, with the rest of the non-hipster transients.

  130. Ralph

    MEL,
    Under my definition of gentrification, I expect people with higher income and a taste for something more upscale. Bringing in people to occupy and not improve vacant buildings is not my idea of gentrification. Bringing in more people who can only afford to shop at the V and X is not my idea of gentrification.

    I don’t know if anyone has said JB was manna from heaven. Where some credit should be given is in having a vision to bring people to the urban core. Although, I suppose it would be hard to call it a vision as it was a well documented trend that people were looking to move back into urban cores. He had the ability to get stuff down. Had ol’ cottontop been in office at the time, I believe we would have little to no development.

    I believe in the promise of Oakland. Today, while looking at condos, I ran into a young couple from the south who love the area around the lake and its walkability and have no desire to move outside of that area. I see 100s of couples w/babies walking from the Grand Ave side streets to the lake, so I am guessing that they love the area, too.

    All that being said, I invested in Oakland knowing full well that it could easily be 7 to 10 years before that promise is reached. I am discouraged by those that think we overbuilt. Truth is people from around the bay area are moving to Uptown, Old Oakland, JLS, East Oakland and West Oakland. They too believe in the promise. Will you occassionally get a sourpus yes but I don’t think they are your gentrifiers. They are the people who move to the area because that is what they can afford and don’t want to be the part of the solution. The “gents” I meet all believe in the promise of abo. Frankly, I don’t know why anyone would invest if they did not believe that they will be better off for doing so.

    And I definitely would not classify a person who moves into a gentrifying ‘hood with no intention of staying as a part of the gentrification class.

  131. len

    one of my hopes for gentrification, was that it would bring in residents who had expectations of municipal services that were normal for the rest of the usa, but much higher than those of the typical oakland voter. i assumed that they would demand better service levels for their non rent controlled and non prop 13 dwellings.

    there have been only faint stirrings of that happening. is it because gentrification stalled or because people working their butts off to make their monthly nut don’t have time to read blogs to figure out how to vote? or is it because many of them see oakland as a way station on their path to the burbs to have a family or back to SF when they can afford it?

  132. Ralph

    len, maybe i am naive, but I think those people and kids are destined to stay in Oakland. I don’t think all will stay by the lake because not all of the units are large enough for families. They may go to west or east oakland, but they will be replaced by other young couples.

    I think Oakland is getting on the BA map as a place people want to be, not a place that they can only be. Yes, you are going to run into some who will prefer SF to Oakland, but I find that the number one thing that people love about Oakland is something that does not exist in SF – diversity. Where Oakland could potentially go wrong is not capitalizing on this attribute.

  133. len

    Ralph, not naive, but wildly optimistic. you better redouble your efforts fixing oakland’s elementary school system. most of those new families can’t afford non tax deductible 20k/ year tuition at local private schools. especially if >1 kid.

    some of the young double income with kids stayed in say brooklyn ny because the local public schools on the east coast can be quite decent. good schools beats diversity every time when it comes time to nurturing your goslings.

  134. Ralph

    i am praying that the new move-ins in east and west oakland will demand more from their students and schools. the schools will show improved test scores and the scores of young families living in GrandLake will also populate those areas when they search for bigger lily pads

  135. len

    if they reach critical mass to form a charter school, it could work. trying to change a local oakland failing ousd elementary school one kid at a time has broken many a well meaning parent.

  136. len

    maybe not the second coming, and maybe the holding turned on a technicality but just maybe the recent nys fed court ruling will spread the low income housing burden around a little more evenly.
    “Westchester Adds Housing to Desegregation Pact

    NYTimes
    By SAM ROBERTS
    Published: August 10, 2009

    Westchester County entered into a landmark desegregation agreement on Monday that would compel it to create hundreds of houses and apartments for moderate-income people in overwhelmingly white communities and aggressively market them to nonwhites in Westchester and New York City.”

  137. James Robinson

    On a completely unrelated note, has anyone read “The Rise of the Creative Class?” If so, how do you think that book applies to Oakland?

  138. East Lake Biker

    Anyone been to the newly opened Galatea Cafe in West Oakland? I was going to head over there to check out the new developments and was thinking of making a pit stop there.

  139. david vartanoff

    yes, I thought I had referenced same in some recent post. I have always thought of Oakland(resident 38 years) as Brooklyn to SF as Manhattan. Some of this can be seen as people priced out of SF settled in West Oakland or downtown much as the Williamsburg ‘hood in Brooklyn. (Did anyone else see the one man play at Berkeley Rep ttlast year Moving up?)
    Historicly, Oakland was developed as several different things–an overflow bedroom for SF–thus the Key System and SP commuter trains , a manufcturing sector adjacent the RRs, and as of WWII a millitary hub. More recently, we have those priced out of Berkeley, and the huge immigration from Asia and Latin America.
    Oakland is in the main as ‘welcoming’ to diversity as SF just lacking the cachet.

  140. Jeff Ray

    Hello.
    Solar panels. Can I get them subsidized by the city?

    I am new to this blog. Looks great. I am also fairly new to Oakland. Bought a home on 30th and West about a year ago, and generally love it here. I have a few questions/ concerns. I want to green my home. I am a handy person, so I can do a bunch of the work, but I am also low income and can’t afford allot of the materials. I am trying to find resources for solar panel installation, grey water systems ( for the toilet, etc…), and other various green related projects. I am not following the trend so much ( I have been a part of a green business for 20 years), I just want to do the right thing.
    Any ideas greatly appreciated. Also let me know if I am on the wrong subject area.
    Jeff

  141. Ralph

    James, Have not read the book, but may take it on vacation with me? Looks like it should be an interesting read.

  142. len

    DV, we’re lacking more than cachet of SF. hmm, maybe we should merge into SF the way Brooklyn did in the 1890′s. problem that we’re in a different county….

  143. Eric Fischer

    Brooklyn is still in a different county (Kings County) than Manhattan (New York County) and that didn’t inhibit their merger…

    Oakland voted down annexation by San Francisco in 1911. I would be surprised if today most San Franciscans were interested in annexing Oakland or if most Oaklanders were interested in being annexed. (Annexation of North Oakland by Berkeley, though? Maybe.)

  144. david vartanoff

    Interesting questions? Having lived in Manhattan, I am aware of the ciy/borough/county structure. As to Berkeley taking over N Oakland, I used to think it was a good idea, but as Berkeley got more deeply into symbolic politics without accomplishing much, I decided corrupt nearly useless Oakland was less troublesome. What to do now? I konw not. iI often say when Berkelyans whine about the University, that w/out it they would be living in N Hatward with all of its cultural amenities. OTOH, sometimes I feel Piedmont and E’ville should be forcibly merged w/Berkeley Oakland and perhaps Richmond, EC,
    Kensington, Albany) into a city/county (like SF) in order to stop the intercity competition for development and spread the tax revenues on a more equitable basis.

  145. Max Allstadt

    Ok, so here are a few little comments on the whole city/county/borough thing works in this area:

    First of all merger votes would need to pass in both municipalities that want to merge. That’s nearly impossible, because generally adjacent municipalities have significantly different levels of wealth, so it’s rarely a good deal for the richer city.

    Second, counties and cities cannot force mergers in California with any unwilling municipality.

    Third, The Borough system in New York might have interesting applications for a charter reform ballot measure in Oakland.

    City Attorney John Russo has suggested splitting Oakland into three Boroughs each with one Borough President. The new districts would be drawn so that each district contained hill, foothill and flatland, and would be balanced so that each district would have similar average income. Each of the three Borough Presidents would have a seat on the city council. There would be four at-large seats for a total of seven Councilmembers.

    The motivation here is that Oakland has a feifdom problem, where current councilmembers often weight their votes in favor of their district, rather than the city as a whole. With four at-large seats, you tip the balance of the council toward an attitude of unity.

    The next step in Russo’s proposal was to break up the three Boroughs into appropriate districts, each with it’s own representative. These neighborhood reps (9-12 for the whole city) would answer to the Borough President and make sure that Oaklanders had neighborhood level representation on a Borough Council.

    At least that’s how I remember it. John showed it to me on a white board last year, and drew a diagram that actually made a ton of sense. It looked like a very sound way to restructure our government. The two-tiered council makes a lot of sense. The lower tier would be payed a stipend and have part-time jobs, preferably in their district. The upper tier would be full time officials working on more citywide concerns.

    I’m sure I’m remembering this fairly well, but I might be off. John or Alex, if you’re reading, feel free to correct me.

  146. V Smoothe Post author

    I really wasn’t able to get a sense from him how this system would result in better governance. It just seemed way too complicated to me, not really solving any existing problems but creating a whole set of new ones. There’s just way too much going on in that model for a City of 400,000 people.

  147. Naomi Schiff

    I do find this weirdly resonant. In the 19th century, Oakland annexed Brooklyn. (Not the NYC one–the one just east of Lake Merritt.)

    Brooklyn had already annexed the towns of Lynn and San Antonio. Oakland also annexed Temescal. Later it annexed Fruitvale and Elmhurst. You get the picture. One reason that Oakland feels like a collection of neighborhoods is that it is a collection of neighborhoods.

    Doesn’t the Russo proposal seem to just run Oaktown history backwards?

    I agree with V. Anyway, I don’t understand how boroughs wouldn’t be fiefdoms just as they are in NYC. The big difference: 420,000 people, not 8 million. We should not need as much administrative overhead as a place that has a larger population than the entire bay area. One’s suspicion is that we’d just fill the offices with more grumpy termed-out state officeholders, perish the thought. A kind of make-work program for retired legislators.

  148. Robert

    I fail to see how creating an additional layer of government with its own parochial concerns would help manage Oakland. On the other hand, if the purpose is to break down Oakland into smaller, more governable units, then do so be creating three separate cities of 150,000 to 100,000 residents each.

  149. Patrick

    North Oakland to Berkeley/ Emeryville – total transformation in 5 years. Rockridge/Montclair/etc. to Piedmont; – they need a Safeway and can afford to fix the intersection to do it correctly. Plus, it will save Montclarions alot of time: no need to write “Montclair, Oakland” when “Piedmont” will suffice. Offer up the east hills and everything redeemable west of 580 to San Leandro, Lamorinda, et al. They need the park land and cultural amenities – and they can afford them. Cut west Oakland and part of remaining east Oakland to the county. They house a majority of the county’s “unwashed masses” (sorry, Ralph), so why not make them their responsibility? We’d still have about 50% of our population yet only about 35% of our land area.

    The “outlying” areas are a distraction for our city government. They prove it time and time again…so why not eliminate them? If our city government were run like a business, this would all have happened long ago. Spin off the areas from which you can make immediate cash and also those that are a long-term losing proposition. In Oakland’s hands, the future is almost certain – and the prognosis is not good. In capable hands, the result will most likely be different.

  150. livegreen

    On the anniversary of the NY annex of Brooklyn, NY a few years ago the NY Times made an unusual admission: they were WRONG to have originally supported it.

    Why? Manhattan threw all their poor into Brooklyn. Multiple high-rise Projects were created and many are on the far outskirts of Brooklyn. These were far away from the job and wealth centers and created some of the largest obstacles for Brooklyn to prosper. (They might have even said it was the cause for Brooklyn’s demise and loss of wealth, though my recollection on that is foggy).

    It was quite an admission by the noble, liberal bastion of intelligencia that is the NY Times. And it further demonstrated how academic theory and philosophic arguments are often different from reality.

  151. James Robinson

    It looks like SF and the rest of the Bay Area threw their poor to Oakland without annexing it :-)