161 thoughts on “
Open Thread

  1. Ray Ferrer

    Hi, I know that this blog has covered efforts to revive the “uptown” concept – and I have an invitation that might be attractive to you and your readers. A few friends and I are hosting a weekly Happy Hour/Open House at the Bellevue Club. It’s part of an effort to open the historic club’s doors and represent the new Lake Merritt/Lakeshore/Uptown community. We’d love to see a crowd each Thursday! Here’s the URL for this week’s evite:

    http://www.evite.com/app/publicUrl/QMPIXOSFWFPIGFDUEGWE/Thursty

    Please let me know if you’d like more information, or simply visit the Evite and let us know you’re coming!
    Ray

  2. oakie

    I’d like to see a few City Charter Amendments placed on the ballot.

    1.
    Make it unlawful for the City to negotiate a labor contract with a “defined benefits” pension package. Why is it nobody employed by private companies get anything but defined contribution pension plans, while we pay the load of these unseemly benefits to thousands of city employees. Retiree Miss Deborah is certainly a suitable poster child for this cause. What is her annual compensation under retirement? And since the fiscal responsibility demonstrated by the city council and mayor make drunken sailors look prudent, consider the size of the pension that is unfunded and soon coming due.

    2.
    City Charter Amendment requiring that all work done by city employees be offered out to private business bids, if they can perform the work for less than city employees cost.

    Any more you can think of? Yaa hooo.’

    Oh, and I’d like to congratulate the city of Oakland for maintaining a homocide rate that is now twice that of the estimated one for Iraq. Nice job folks.

  3. oakbluedog

    I just wanted to know if there were any “hearsays” in the upcoming and exciting Oakland City Council races in 2010? What has our fellow Oaklander politicos heard from the battleground precincts? Who has been confirmed to run? Who would be our “dream” candidates in our Council Districts? Please let me know what’s on your mind and what you have heard?

  4. Chris Kidd

    The Bellevue Club is a beautiful building and would be a wonderful resource to the community, if tapped properly. Best of luck on getting your dreams off the ground, Ray.

  5. livegreen

    For you DTO’ers, Free Sandwiches Friday downtown at new restaurant called
    “Uncle Dougie’s New York Style Italian Heroes”:

    > I wanted to let you know that my uncle has opened a sandwich shop in downtown Oakland and will be giving away free sample sandwiches on Thursday and Friday, Feb 18/19, to anyone that shows up.
    >
    > The concept is modeled on Bakesale Betty’s: limited menu, unique, hot, fast,
    fresh, tasty, not too expensive, mostly takeout, closed by 3pm or whenever they
    sell out.
    >
    > He’s a New Yorker and always wanted to have a sandwich shop, so he is using
    recipes he learned 30 years ago from an old Italian New York hero sandwich
    maker. Only four sandwiches: eggplant parmesan, chicken parmesan, sausage and
    peppers, Italian meatloaf. Thursday is the first day of training for the staff,
    so things might be a little uneven, but the recipes are proven and he is hoping
    to entice lots of people with the free samples to get some good word of mouth
    and Yelp reviews.
    >
    > Please stop by for free hero samples on Thursday and Friday if you happen to
    be in the area and tell anyone you know in the area for lunch about the free
    samples.
    >
    > Uncle Dougie’s New York Style Italian Heroes is at 362 17th St. in downtown
    Oakland, between Franklin and Webster St. It’s around the corner from Spice
    Monkey, a few blocks from the Kaiser Center and Lake Merritt.
    >
    > He just had a graffiti artist spray painting the wall on Tuesday. His hero
    sandwiches should be authentic and distinctively New York, too.
    >
    > Hope you can stop by!

  6. len raphael

    Anyone up for a counter State of the City demonstration in front of City Hall etc. on Monday late afternoon? gotta get at least 15 people to make it credible. Limit it to the cc and mayor dithering on the deficit.

    ignorant of such stuff, I’m assuming there will be at least one reporter there.

    -len raphael

  7. PRE

    Two questions – anyone know what’s up with both Franklin Square Wine Bar and Louisiana Chicken closing almost at the same time.

    And, does anyone know the (eventual) fate of the curved building across the street from both where work seems to have stalled for the last couple of months.

    I love that corner and look forward to (one day) sipping cocktails on the “square’ when the weather improves.

  8. Ralph

    PRE, I suppose the obvious answer would be that neither were proftable. With the possible of the law enforcement peeps who lunched there, LC will not be missed. To paraphrase John 11:35, I wept for the loss of FSWB.

    I suspect the curved bldg (wish i could recall the name) would do well to stay on hold until the economy improves. The daytime foot traffic is probably not enough to sustain the anticipated new food businesses

  9. len raphael

    ken, i was serious, but you were the only person to respond. nothing lamer than a two person demo. we’ll just have twitter and email the cc and dellums until they beg for mercy.

    -len

  10. Ralph

    len, if i weren’t otherwise engaged in shaping the young minds of Oakland, I would be down for the cause. may i suggest you call up those DC kids who did the flash snowball fight. i am sure they have some tips for how to get people to a place in a hurry.

  11. Ken

    what about a one-person demo?

    anyway, big D is going to look good due to our econometric drop in crime + the new chief, regardless of happened last year.

    he won’t talk much about the budget, or how the city won’t be able to get money any more from the bond market. http://ow.ly/19eYk

    Interesting that the Seeno real estate mogul family being investigated by IRS/FBI/SS/etc in the last day or two is one of Don Perata (Oakland mayor candidate)’s larger campaign contributors, over $140,000 donated to date.

    Campaign contribs feel like protection money.

  12. len raphael

    ralph, you could have been the spokesperson. but alas, it would have been the sound of one person demonstrating.

    ken, the seeno contribution total was not small potatoes. but compared to what unions gave dp and (wasn’t there something about ron cowan the developer? that the feds pursued and gave up on?) seeno is small stuff.

  13. V Smoothe

    Thanks, Dustin! The photos were way overdue for a change. I’ll tell you what the middle photo is soon, but first I’d like to see if anyone knows. How about it, readers? Anyone?

  14. livegreen

    Paraphrasing the ACLU: If OPD & the City takes action against gang members who are african-american, then they are racist.

    2nd Paraphrasing of the ACLU: It’s better to have a Gang-Run Injunction. Then blame OPD if they do something, blame OPD if they don’t do anything. Whatever it is, it’s OPD’s fault.

    Often when the ACLU rep was asked a question by Michael Krasny she ignored it & went to a topic she preferred to address. She also refused to acknowledge any of Russo’s efforts to narrow the Injunction, which specifically addresses her concerns. It’s easier to stick to one’s narrative, however wrong, if one ignores the opponents points and answers.

    Paraphrasing Maya Dillard Smith: OPD Officers are not from the community, therefor they don’t know the community or belong in it. This also makes Officers just plain wrong (an opinion shared by some of the callers). Two points:

    –While I agree Oakland needs more Officers from Oakland or living in Oakland, it is simply not true that there are not Officers from the Community. I know or am acquainted with 3 Officers that are from or live in Oakland. & I don’t know many Officers…

    –Maya also said the NCPC’s don’t offer enough access. What does that mean? There are NCPC’s over the entire City. All you have to do is get up, go out the door, and go to a meeting. If you don’t have one you can get them started. There’s NW programs all over too, and they’re easy to get started…

  15. John Klein

    I’m wondering if the middle picture is a portion of the long mural on Park Blvd at Oakland High.

  16. Ralph

    While having more police who are from and live in Oakland would be nice, it is not a requirement to being a competent successful officer. Isn’t a similar argument used in education re the black male learning problem? Studies indicate that black males will learn if the teacher is good independent of race. I would hope that the key criteria for hiring police is individuals who want to be employed by OPD and are committed to the mission.

    If gang members are African-American are star-bellied, then it would sensible to take action against them. I would think the same would apply if the gang members were white. Now stopping and targeting African-Americans and star-bellied Americans when you know the gang are neither that would seem racist. Someone needs to take the ACLU to the woodshed. Personally, I am huge fan of Chief Batts and the city’s new gang initiatives.

    And while people are going to the woodshed, someone please take the “convinced the cops are racist” individuals down there too and smack them into the 21st century.

  17. Patrick M. Mitchell (Patrick)

    Yikes! V., that teensy-tinesy font in the News of Interest area – especially in pink – is not working for this man of “a certain age”.

  18. Ralph

    happy: lighter background good for a man of a certain age; not so happy: comment font size not so good for a man of a certain age

    RtO

  19. livegreen

    Me no like. But it’s not my blog. Do whatever you want V. Re. Officers, I think some people have the concern that Officers are stereotyped to be white & therefore representative of the emigration from Oakland to the burbs (presumably to flee African Americans, as you’ve made not of before Ralph). Or alternatively representative of white slave holders(?), take your pick.

    But as long as they have a balance from both inside and outside the City & the Cops are well intentioned & perform well, I agree, keep ‘em. If they’re bad, get rid of them. If they can relate to the communities they work in (wherever they’re from) that will only help…

  20. V Smoothe

    Gosh, I’m sorry. The whole point of the typography change was to improve readability. I tested on a variety of platforms and browsers, the larger fonts seemed like an improvement in every tested instance. If people really don’t like it, I suppose I can change it back…

  21. livegreen

    I think the reason I like the smaller fonts is because I can see more comments & links on the page in one glance, without having to scroll down. But V, its really no big deal. Change is good. It’s already growing on me…

  22. Al

    I guess this is for V. Maybe there is a specific thread for this topic: local script.

    Briefly, jobs, housing and quality of life are are related issues and are usually addressed in terms of money and legislative efforts. Rules, laws, ordinances get introduced, batted around, and in turn, money goes in and money goes out.

    i think the issues are ultimately about where the money ends up. Does it circulate in the population where it is intended to provide benefit or is it funneled out of the city?

    It does really boil down to that, and not just in Oakland. There are measures being implemented all over the country to keep money circulating locally. I think the real obstacle to something like this working in Oakland, where it does seem the problem is very prevalent, is the sheer denial of the fact that there is a shadow economy in Oakland, perhaps as large as the pie we are always fighting about.

    So, really…how much of the budgeted money actually ends up going to legacy costs for existing bureacrats, and other than Oakland entities, and how much is kept in circulation? I think that is the real issue.

    In Oakland, it seems fairly obvious that there must be a flourishing underground “cash” economy. To prove it and repair this situation does require something of a big brother approach.

    Maybe, to offset these budgetary constraints, a new interpretation of the pie should be considered. Instead of just granting concessions to Unions the old-fashioned way, a portion of every person’s pay should be limited to a percentage, a percentage automatically alloted to every unemployed/valid resident of the county or city. Unlike food stamps, or EBT cards, or other networked “cash” cows, a local monitoring system would insure that money distributed for basic food stuffs and other amenities is spent in the intended fashion.

    Two phenomenon occur simultaneously with such limited controls. One, the actual percentage of money going out of Oakland entirely is subject to strict limitations at every level of purchasing power, and two, the invisible “cash” can no longer be used to purchase items other than what is approved of or non-essential items.

    It is like welfare, again, but with so many people already compromised and the dollar amount always factoring into service levels and staffing levels, there has to be a way to make all the real Oakland residents feel included….right now…and for the forseeable furture…regardless of the economic ups and downs. The perpetual enrichment of a few, on the backs of the many, is still the existing paradigm.

    Drastic times call for drastic measures. If we can’t manage the budget now with the present government, what are the chances we will reach a balance with the ever increasing and anticipated population growth.

    It does undermine all the existing labor agreements but historically, these institutions have never gotten to the core of the problem, the invisible, “cash” network that underlies every metropolitan hub.

    Without a way to dissect this cancer fed by money, drugs, gambling…and all the associated crimes, at the individual consumer level, there is no way to get a handle on the city’s real problem(s).

    One little aspect to a system that begins to acknowledge and quantify this is that it would immediately illustrate how very little actually ends up circulating within the city. Aren’t we entitled to know this?

    It’s not a perfect idea, but it’s a start.

  23. Ralph

    Am I the only person excited about the possibility of a stadium built for 2 in Oakland? Football travel is a booming industry. Anyone ever notice how many people come to town for a 49′ers game. A sig. number lodge on the penisula. A stadium built for 2 could possibly transfer the demand from peninsula to oakland and could stimulate the economy. If Dellums and team can pull this off, I may give him credit for laying a partial foundation.

  24. Ken O

    Propaganda from Ken:

    Are you a Citibank customer? Read this.

    Get your money out of Citigroup/Citibank today. Get angry. And do it now.

    http://digitaljournal.com/article/287902

    Same goes for BofA, Wells, Chase.

    These banks aren’t lending to small businesses. They are raising fees on you. They’re saving themselves by feeding off us.

    Don’t be dumb and fly a plane into a building. Starve the Wall Street vultures who are taking your taxmoney to cover their stupid mistakes and pay for $20 Billion in bonuses for 2009 “performance” by closing your account. Much more effective.

    Not every vote is counted, but every dollar is, and usually more times than once.

    Bank on Oakland for real with a local bank or local credit union!

    End of rant.

    Ken

  25. Ken O

    new design is even more strawberry yogurty, but hard to decipher. slower to load. eh, i guess i’ll get accustomed.

    Ralph thanks for your common sense comments about police.

  26. Robert

    KenO, try +, to make everything bigger (ctrl + plus keys) or – to make things smaller. There is also a plus scroll wheel if you have a wheeled mouse. (In IE, other browsers most likely have something similar.)

  27. Ralph

    LG, is it too late to get my free lunch?

    And if Oakland has a revenue problem, why don’t they start charging people for 911 service like Tracy?

  28. Matt

    Here’s a new one…

    Why does the downtown ACTransit office have a huge private parking lot for its workers?

  29. dto510

    They don’t, Matt. Their parking lot is tiny, especially compared to other high-rise office buildings downtown. The goal of bus improvements is not to force everyone into a bus, as some BRT opponents appear to assume.

  30. Art

    BTW, V—the new layout is still not working on Firefox 3 on Windows XP. Headings show up as random character streams. Other wonkiness with names of commenters, too, such that only 3-4 comments fit on a page because the names are so big (though the text of the comment is sized normally, oddly enough).

    On the upside, I am probably not supposed to be reading ABO at work anyway…. ;)

  31. len raphael

    How much substance to the statement in the Perata article http://oaklandlocal.com/article/wheelings-and-dealings-don-perata-short-take-long-subject that Oakland gave a large subsidy to Signature on their estuary development about 8 or so years ago?

    And was there an exemption for EIR only for DTO supported by DP?

    Amazing what a little competition in the mayoral race seems to uncover info that if true should have been reported by mainstream media years ago.

  32. Naomi Schiff

    SB 1925 is the bill that limits environmental review downtown.

    The Oak to Ninth development was on land controlled by the Port of Oakland. The original deal was to sell OHP (signature props plus some others) around 60 acres for 30 million dollars, which was to include environmental remediation. The complexities of this are too much to go into here, and the deal is subject to many negotiations. They just stretched out the payments recently, so OHP is only paying 4 million up front (I think). Some of us felt that 500,000 an acre for waterfront land was pretty cheap. Sen. Perata also secured legislation enabling a swap-out of publicly held tidelands to make it possible to build residential on some restricted acreage. This swap was approved at Port Commission last week. I haven’t looked lately, but three or four years ago, the Secretary of State contribution reports showed at least 20,000 from Signature to Perata’s “defense fund.”

  33. Max Allstadt

    I don’t see what the problem is with limiting EIRs in dense urban areas. California’s EIR requirement is unique and in many cases makes growth much much slower than in other states.

    I know NYC based developers who moved out here and expected the process to be less insane. Wrong.

    As to the unfollowable string of dozens of streams of money: Len, while Bob Gammon and JDAT may pepper their work with a biased tone of voice, they aren’t making up public records, financial disclosures or anything like that. If they were, somebody would have called them out on it.

    Look at the comments on Bob’s article in the Express, and you’ll see the people who attack the piece don’t ever dispute points of fact. It’s all ad hominem, or accusing Bob of witchhunting. But no rebuttals on his sourced facts. Not one.

  34. Naomi Schiff

    One reason the web is wonderful thing. If you like delving into this sort of thing:

    http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/

    Just as an aside: Oakland’s own veteran archives expert, League of Women Voters stalwart, and Cleveland Cascade heroine Barbara Newcombe wrote the seminal work on public access to government records for the Center of Investigative Reporting: Paper Trails, (before the web!).

    http://www.centerforinvestigativereporting.org/articles/papertrailsaguidetopublicrecordsincalifornia2nded

  35. Brad

    I’ve generally supported Kaplan and thought she’s been doing a good job, but I dunno, I found this report from the Bay Area Reporter (http://www.ebar.com/news/article.php?sec=news&article=4586) to be just a little odd . . .

    “Oakland LGBT commissioners wanted

    In the meantime Kaplan is looking for qualified LGBT people to serve on two public oversight committees. As Oakland’s rep on the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority, Kaplan can appoint two people to serve on the body’s citizen advisory committee. Those positions recently came up for renewal, and Kaplan is asking interested applicants to contact her office by March 15.

    Kaplan is also looking for LGBT people interested in serving on the Paramount Theatre’s board now that Dellums’s slate of four nominees to that governing body has been put on hold.”

    Is Kaplan saying that she’s only going to appoint LGBT people to Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority’s citizen advisory committee? What relevance does sexual orientation have to transportation?

    I’m guessing she doesn’t have a litmus test, that would just be extremely silly, but that’s the way it comes across as reported. Kaplan should really make sure her positions & requests are accurately reported.

  36. Max Allstadt

    Brad,

    Kaplan doesn’t have the power to appoint anybody, she only has a vote in some of their confirmations.

    The relevance here is that the LGBT community in Oakland is among the largest per capita in the nation. The Lesbian population is the highest pre capita in any large city in the US, possibly in the world.

    However, the LGBT community is very underrepresented on volunteer boards in this city. There’s no litmus test, but it makes sense to seek talent from this community.

    Michael Lighty, our newest port commissioner, is an example of seeking remarkable talent from the gay community and having that talent apply for a high ranking commission seat.

    I believe that the local Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and the LGBT Roundtable are working this issue, as are other members of the community. But no, no litmus test, just a talent search within a particular community.

  37. Ralph

    Brad,
    If the LGBT were the only qualification she were seeking, I, too, would find it a bit odd. But the sentence you did not reference re the Paramount Board included having particular skill set. A diverse board for the sake of diversity is stupid and it looks like every effort is being made to identify people who have skills that would be beneficial to the board. I hope that they can find some rich sugar mommas and daddys who can start a capital campaign and truly make the Paramount self sufficient.

    To follow up with what Max said. Ms. Kaplan can only identify. I believe the PT Board actually comes up with the slate, the Mayor more or less signs off and council approve. (Thus, no one can really fault Cottontop for submitting LH to council. This process has been in place for some time and he probably just went with the flow.)

  38. Ken O

    For David:

    ‘if we somehow manage to solve every other env. problem except population growth, we will have solved nothing for all.’ -jared diamond

    http://www.thesamosa.co.uk/index.php/comment-and-analysis/society/257-populated-with-ignorance.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    China has contributed more to solving “climate change” than any other country, with its 1 child policy. (Tho emotinally, I would have preferred 2 child policy.) They estimate they have 400M fewer people due to that policy. Which, of course, worked better or worse in different areas. On the whole though, it probably helped.

    If every California couple has octuplets, how long would it take before all Californians were starving? Soon I’d say! It’s selfish to have more than 2-3 kids. In a psychopath CEO kind of way.

    Similarly, if we are subsidizing housing for people (ie, OHA or BMR housing) that leaves more money for folks to pop out more kids… which sets us up for a bigger fall off a taller cliff later.

    Bad, bad, bad. Even more reason to love our LGBT community. Is it coincidence there are more LGBT people in crowded, dense cities?

    Ken

  39. len raphael

    becks, what were the bad financial results of the golden handcuffs that at least two councilmembers, Q and B, had pushed. Seemed worth trying to me at the time. Did too many employees sign up?

  40. KenO

    Job creation: Oakland, sfbay, cali, US could stop killing their local economies and jobs if they wanted to.

    1. cancel nafta “free trade” which offshores our jobs faster and faster to Asia.

    2. immediately slap huge tarrifs on all imported manufactured goods (shoes, clothes, equipment made in china, mexico, beef and broccoli from brazil and china, etc) everything would start being made here.

    details here: http://emsnews.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/ibmll-be-seeing-you-all-later-tech-offshoringfiring-us-workers-accelerates/

    this would create local jobs, instead of increasing brain drain, money drain, job drain and essentially, local slavery.

  41. livegreen

    Budget: Is the CC finally getting the message?:
    Oakland council president says elected leaders must cut budgets by 15 percent

    By Kelly Rayburn
    Oakland Tribune
    Posted: 03/03/2010 01:17:24 PM PST
    Updated: 03/03/2010 01:17:24 PM PST

    OAKLAND — City Council President Jane Brunner said Tuesday night all of Oakland’s elected leaders should prepare to cut their office budgets by 15 percent within two weeks.
    Her remarks came just before the council shed roughly 40 jobs — about half of them filled — from its payroll as the city struggled with deficits in funds for transportation-related projects and economic development.
    “I think we all need to suffer together,” Brunner said.
    Cuts of 15 percent to elected officials’ offices would be relatively minor from a budgetary standpoint, as offices for the mayor, the City Council, the city attorney and the city auditor make up about 4 percent of the city’s $420 million general fund budget.
    Still, such cuts would be symbolically important because critics of the city’s spending habits both inside and outside City Hall often zero in on the way elected politicians are spending tax dollars.
    The council’s next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 16.
    “We have been discussing this year’s budget for months,” Brunner said. “We cannot wait until the end of June to make all the cuts we need to finish this year’s budget and go into next year. We need to move as fast as possible.”

  42. Max Allstadt

    LG,

    That’s purely symbolic. She just wanted to get in the paper as an advocate for fiscal responsibility. If those cuts happen, they’ll have minimal effect. But they will give her the ability to take credit for demanding accountability among politicians.

    There have been extensive cuts already proposed to council staff, along with extensive cuts to the city attorney’s staff. Those cuts were postponed at the council meeting 2 weeks ago. It is totally unclear if the 15% Brunner demanded includes those cuts or if her 15% is in addition.

    So depending on what it means, she either proposed something that’s already on it’s way to happening, or something that unfairly targets certain councilmembers and the city attorney’s office for extra cuts on top of what they’re already about to lose.

    I think more than anything she was looking for attention. It was a boring meeting, she had the opportunity to take the floor at any time and go on a rant, because she’s the chair of the meeting. She timed her talk tactically to happen at the end of a depressing vote that laid off a bunch of people and that also pissed off the Union (Local 21).

    Theater. Nothing but. Again, even if she gets it to happen, it’s effect will be barely noticeable in terms of the overall deficit.

    What they’re really going to do about the deficit is move debt around again and pray their revenues don’t drop any more, even though they will. Property owners are appealing their tax assessments in droves. And they’re all winning.

    DOOM DOOM DOOM!!!

  43. Naomi Schiff

    I think the city should cut work hours across the board, say to a 30- or 32-hour week, rather than decimating key departments and leaving upper management relatively unscathed. How about just shutting all office operations on Friday afternoons, or all day Friday, instead of having these random furlough days that the public cannot keep track of? Employees would get a three-day weekend so at least there would be some benefit in exchange for pay cuts. Granted, the unions might be unhappy, and there would have to be some negotiating, but that will be necessary anyway. From the union point of view, they’d be maintaining positions that otherwise would be cut.

    I regret the way various groups of employees are being pitted against each other: union v. mgmt, one union v. another, and classification v. classification. It is bound to lead to a demoralized and less-productive workforce. And, it encourages brain drain, in which the most competent people (who can find other employment) leave first. You could end up with a leaner but less productive staff. Cuts across the board are more egalitarian, and while not quite as much of a savings in benefits costs, serve to keep the departments functioning instead of spending all their time a) grousing and b) reorganizing the workload continually. As an employer, I believe that morale counts for a lot; a threatened and traumatized workforce is unlikely to perform well.

    A lot of cities in California are taking every second Friday off as furlough days. It isn’t ideal but it does seem to work.

  44. Max Allstadt

    Naomi,

    It’s a city government, not a jobs program. We need to make cuts that are efficient and that generate savings.

    Department heads have an interest in keeping their departments working, so deferring to them is exactly the right thing to do.

    Actually one of the most ghastly pieces of hypocrisy last night was when Jane Brunner said that in order to be non-political, the best thing to do was to trust the department heads. Prior to saying that, she did the most political thing possible: moved a motion to save Betty Marvin’s job based on political pressure from dozens of speakers, many of them influential folks such as yourself.

    Betty is valuable, but she’s also very expensive compared to her subordinates, and generates little direct revenue. Eric Angstadt’s plan to find revenue streams from her work is a decent compromise, but really, part of CEDA’s entire concept is that they’re supposed to self-fund.

    Cuts hurt. I’m particularly sad to see the man from the Buildings Department information desk go. He’s charming and very competent. That vote was an incredible downer. But we’re hemorrhaging money. I think it really is best to leave the triage decisions to the people who know the departments and know what they need to keep going.

  45. Naomi Schiff

    The Survey has made possible millions and millions of dollars of tax credits, property improvements, neighborhood improvements, etc. and I won’t go on at length, as too tired. A good many developers and builders want to keep the Survey staffed because it facilitates successful projects and speeds permits and environmental review. Betty’s only “subordinate” is a single part-time intern. I don’t think it makes any sense for Permits to let Memo go, and I don’t understand the decision. I saw how the employees are pitted against each other, and it is really hard to imagine a lot of work getting done in departments that are plunged into turmoil and acrimony. Cutting hours is one way to keep people productive and more efficient, not less. Ask the city of El Cerrito, offices shut every other Friday. It isn’t ideal, but it is easy to figure out.

  46. Ralph

    Deferring to departments might seem like the right thing to do but in reality is has not been the best process. Was it not just 2 weeks ago that one department head submitted all Planner IVs for execution.

    As a city, I would think we have an on-going mission to ensure our future growth, not just close the current budget gap. The Department assumed his only mission was close the gap. And as we all know planting the seeds for future growth does not smart tomorrow.

    City government, heck all governments, are businesses; all businesses strive to remain in business and be profitable. You do not stay in business if you cut the people who are core to your growth.

    I would love to see the city eliminate non-core positions and “the unfilled” positions, trim current working hours for others, and renegotiate the pensions. But it has been my general experience what I want and the city does are vastly different.

  47. Max Allstadt

    I’m sure there are a host of reasons to keep Betty on. But at the same time, what reason do we have to think Eric Angstadt didn’t assemble his pink slip list in good faith, in order to preserve function as best as he can?

    The only duplicitous motive I can come up with for him putting Betty on the chopping block would be that he knew damn well she would be protected, but he also knew protecting her would be a great excuse to start charging for her consulting time and for mill act contracts and the like.

    If it was a trick, good for him! I don’t think it was, but based on what I’ve heard about other cities preservation staff, we charge nothing for services that would bill the user significantly in other cities. Getting the council to mandate more revenue from that office is very smart.

  48. Born in Oakland

    I think Betty Marvin is great and good for saving her hide. However, many “good” people have lost jobs in private industry over the last 10 years in fact. Businesses have been downsizing and cutting employees for years to enhance their bottom line as well as competitiveness in the face of a world economy.Life is not fair, not for the under served residents of Oakland nor the many City employees who will be walking the streets next year.

  49. Naomi Schiff

    You are right: “life is not fair” is just what is always on my mind these days. But as someone said to me yesterday, “Well we’ve been promised a four-day week since before we were born. Maybe now’s the time to finally try it!”

    I’m not sure which article it wasin which I read the explanation yesterday that in some ways, our increased productivity results in an economy that does still manufacture and produce, but employs a lot less person-hours to do it, and that’s why employment is so lagging. If that’s true, a four-day workweek would indeed spread the employment around and perhaps we would learn to do a few other things with our time as well as work. Compared to many countries, US people who have jobs work more hours and take fewer vacations. It may be that we should be rethinking this.

  50. livegreen

    So why not just keep staff on, and everybody take an even cut? The unions are just saying “no” to everything, even though they know there’s no other choice. So what’s their plan? At least if they accept an even salary/benefits cut, their members will be able to keep their jobs.

    Are the Unions interested in representing their members AND do what’s right for the City? Or just yelling and calling the City & Taxpayers names? (As if it was our fault the economy tanked).

  51. livegreen

    Naomi, And what kind of services do we get during these service outages? You’re asking for MORE furloughs? Under your proposals Libraries, Parks & Rec, etc. will be closed how many days a week?

    What happens if that isn’t enough? Then cancel Thursday too? Woops there goes Wednesday…What alternate reality is this?

  52. Naomi Schiff

    Hi, LG: Well, I said “office” operations, because I agree with you that it would not work for departments that operate a 7day schedule. For some years now I have been fairly active in trying to have libraries open 6-7 days, and I don’t approve of less. But as to the office-visit types of services–the stuff at City Hall and 250 Frank Ogawa–already now with intermittent furlough days folks are often nonplussed when Building Permits or some such is closed. The days selected are somewhat random (due to union negotiations? I don’t know why). It might be more predictable to be closed on the same day of the week every time. Many cities have started taking every other Friday off. (And then there’s our hapless closed-on-Friday State govt as well). It is pretty hard to cut hourly pay. It is also difficult to cut back hours, but then you are not demanding that people work for less per hour. I can see some benefits to doing it that way.

    I accept there may be some layoffs. But we and the unions too should be open to varied methods of accomplishing cutbacks. The people being laid off or whose salaries or benefits or hours are cut back are our neighbors and colleagues and do deserve respect, and still we want the city to function. To see the unions and workers pitted against each other AND against management is really depressing.

  53. Ralph

    LG. I don’t think the current method of laying off people just to meet a fiscal objective is a smart approach. I don’t think furloughs are a good solution, but hte unions stand in the way of real change and department heads take the easy way out.

    This whole idea that seniority trumps need is the worst union practice ever. It ignores actual business need to save your buddy. Businesses don’t survive because managers saved either a bunch of long-term punks or dismissed all the highest paid employees to protect the bottom line. You stay in business because you have a workforce which addresses your needs.

    The union is a barrier to progress as their sole purpose is to protect jobs. But I do appreciate the union attending council meetings objecting to everything proposed and asking to be involved. I bet everybody in the profit sector wishes they had the chance to plead their case before getting the ax. We need to do some union busting. Heads need to roll. And management is a ballless wonder. When someone on either side finally understands how to run a business, then and only then will we see real change.

    Absent that, it almost seems that the best way is to just furlough people.

  54. len raphael

    lg, i have sympathy for the employees but none for the union leadership. Over the last decade they negotiated contracts with our Mayors and the CC, with retirement benefits that would have created large deficits even if the real estate bubble had continued a few more years.

    In effect the union leadership negotiated a great package for their members at the time, but sold out younger and future members.

    The tragi-comic part of all this, is that Jerry Brown sailed out of terms as Oakland mayor with a reputation as “tough Mayor” or some such nonsense even though much of our fiscal and police problems was created on his watch .

  55. Naomi Schiff

    I agree with you Len. It seems that the employees would need to take control of their unions in order to have any fresh ideas, and in order to avoid pitting more senior against less senior employees, one classification against the next. It is made more complicated because there is not one union; there are a number of them, and they may not all take the same approach. But it’s also true that managers don’t usually cut back on managerial staff. He who draws up the budget always has a safe job. I hope someone is looking at upper administrative jobs, and making sure they are needed. Those are big salaries; one of those might fund two or three less glorious but perhaps more effective staffers.

  56. len raphael

    Naomi, case in point is the older Hispanic guy Max said was laid off. He can’t have been highly paid, but made it his job as front desk gatekeeper to greatly help newbie contractors and home owners navigate the byzantine zoning and building permit process.

    Since dept heads and CC members will muck up the layoff process to feather their nests,we should get the power to the voters to use IRV to make the cuts. :(

  57. Robert

    The city needs to determine what programs it needs to have and how large those programs need to be, and then staff accordingly. Across the board cuts or furloughs are nothing but a way for the cc to avoid making hard decisions about what is important. Furloughs are particularly bad because they presuppose that this is a temporary situation, and those workers can go back to full time employment sometime in the foreseeable future. That just isn’t the case in Oakland. If the unions what to spread the pain, then maybe the union should collect 20% of the salaries from the remaining workers and distribute it to the ones who were laid off.

    Layoffs do not need to only focus on the lower level employees, and that is not how large organizations do it. When they need to lay off people, they make the cuts at all levels.

    In Oakland things are going to be complicated by having most of the managers, except at the very top, also be union members.

  58. Mike Spencer

    Just wanted to say thanks today for an Oakland parking officer in Glenview. I will not name her because I hope she would not get in trouble. I had bought a parking slip and stuck it in corner of my car dash but left an old one in middle of dash. I saw that I had received a ticket, despite paying for the time, and approached the meter person. At first she told me to contest it but then I showed her the current parking slip stuffed on the corner of the dash. She took the ticket back from me with the proof that I had paid for the time. She couldn’t have been nicer. She has a very tough job.

  59. Ken O

    oh what a beautiful day it is in oak land.

    i was going to paste in a bunch of info from other California cities about how they are handling their big budget cuts and how big they are but Mr. blog engine told me it looked “spammy.”

    time for a beer! our city will become one of beer, bikes and boats, not one of guns, drugs and gangs. (in my dreams)

    here’s to a better, union-free tomorrow.

    have a great weekend everyone.

  60. livegreen

    FYI. Thanks for your response on this Pat K:
    Posted by: “Kernighan, Pat” Thu Mar 4, 2010 1:09 pm (PST)

    Folks: Oakland’s Director of Information Technology, Ken Gordon, says
    that Oakland will be submitting an application for the Google pilot
    program before the deadline, March 23.

    Pat Kernighan
    City Councilmember,District 2
    1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 2d Floor
    Oakland, CA 94612
    510-238-7002
    pkernighan@oaklandnet.com
    http://www.patkernighan.com

    Subject: [PSA3] Google Inc. asking for cities’ interest in a fiber optic
    pilot project

    Your new ISP? Google launches 1Gbps fiber-to-the-home trial
    By Nate Anderson

    People have wondered for years what Google might be up to with all that
    dark fiber it had bought up around the country. Now, we may have an
    answer: delivery of open-access, fiber-to-the-home Internet service at
    speeds of 1Gbps. That’s right: 1Gbps.

    Google has just announced
    a trial run
    of its new scheme, and it’s asking city, county, or state officials to
    let it know if they’re interested in a pilot project. In its initial
    phase, the fiber optic network will serve anywhere from 50,000 to
    500,000 people.

    As for the speeds, they make cable’s DOCSIS 3.0 and Verizon’s FiOS look
    like also-rans. Google promises 1Gbps home connections, which have
    previously been the province of boutique builders like Paxio in San
    Francisco.

    The goal is to use the system as a high-speed testbed for next
    generation apps and deployment techniques. “We want to see what
    developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it’s
    creating new bandwidth-intensive ‘killer apps’ and services, or other
    uses we can’t yet imagine,” said Google’s announcement. “We’ll test new
    ways to build fiber networks; to help inform, and support deployments
    elsewhere, we’ll share key lessons learned with the world.”

    Perhaps the best part of the announcement was the “open access” bit.
    Other countries like the UK (through OpenReach) and Australia are
    working on fiber networks that will be maintained by one entity, but
    open to all ISPs. “We’ll operate an ‘open access’ network,” said Google,
    “giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent
    with our past advocacy, we’ll manage our network in an open,
    nondiscriminatory, and transparent way.”

    It’s hard to know how far the company plans to take this. Running a
    national fiber backbone is one thing; getting out in the streets,
    digging trenches, and wiring homes is another. As Verizon’s FiOS project
    has shown, stringing fiber to the home can be hugely expensive.

    Google stresses that this is an experiment, and it may simply be used as
    a proof-of-concept and a data-gathering project. Still, it can’t help
    but put at least mild pressure on other ISPs. Once people recognize that
    1Gbps are available in the real world today at a “competitive price”
    (Google’s words), they’re going to take a look at their own speed/price
    tier and start asking some hard questions.

    Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation praised the plan, and said
    that Google’s actions showed the soon-to-be-released National Broadband
    Plan needs to think big.

    “The Recovery Act committed $7.2 billion in broadband investment
    defining high-speed access at most 5Mbps, while Australia is investing
    $31 billion in an 100Mbps effort. When you break it down per capita,
    Australia is outspending the US 60 to 1. Google is sending a shot across
    the bow-we need to set far higher standards here in the United States.
    Our national broadband plan must take this into account and our
    leadership needs to stop shying away from the challenge.”

  61. Ralph

    LG, I’ve been reading the articles about RK as they are released and all I can say is political backers are a funny people. I am willing to bet dollar to donuts that GP supported BO because he was the future and while he readily admits that RK is Oakland’s future, he would be content to support Cottontop, Oakland’s own Marion Barry, sans the crack and ho problem. Yet another thinks RK lacks the experience yet that backer probably supported BO. At least in the latter’s defense, I can say BO has proven without a shadow of a doubt that political neophytes have no business in the executive office.

    All that being said, if she campaigns on fiscal responsibility with a promise to place before the voters a measure to repeal the more onerous measures that the dimwits of Oakland said yes to, renegotiate with the unions on pay, retirement benefits, and who can be laid off, commitment to economic growth, market housing, and bringing more corporate offices to downtown Oakland, I could support her. She certainly can’t be worst than our current ballsless wonder. Of course, I said the same thing about GWB, and now, I am stuck with a joker trying to pass healthcare when 10% of the population is jobless.

    As for the unions, I would like to see younger and new employers go to a thrift savings plan like the Fed, the older workers with x number of years can either keep their pension plans or opt to switch over. Layoffs should be determine by need not seniority.

  62. Born in Oakland

    I am sorry but unless RK gets a makeover or decides she doesn’t want to look like John Russo, I cannot support her for Mayor. It’s just too weird for me and she is otherwise a well intentioned person I am sure. Please give us Oaklanders a break!

  63. livegreen

    Ralph, I’m willing to accept the funds, if she (or anybody) can get the City employee’s unions to get real, present realistic alternatives to just more property taxes for the middle class, focus on the middle class (not just rich vs. poor) & get businesses of all sorts downtown (as you say) AND industrial areas that employ not just white collar but also blue collar.

    As Batts said, Safety comes first. I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs in a few years…

    BIO, “It’s just to weird” is not a reason to oppose anybody. Give some specifics please.

  64. len raphael

    RK has played the hilary clinton as new senator game by keeping a low profile on everything except her niche interests (ok, maybe that’s my prejudice, calling green oaksterdam mass transit stuff a niche interest when the city finances are in a tailspin).

    silght problem is that we contributed money and sweat to her campaign in the (dare i use the word) hope she would shake things up, not play it safe for her to run for higher office.

    odd how she and don p both owe labor unions big time for election support. don has somewhat offsetting real estate developer support (though they seem to join with construction unions on large development issues), rk has lgbt help to offset some of the unions golden handcuffs.

    i just don’t see either of them telling the municipal unions to take a flying leap, but since rk considers herself a progressive (don p probably once did too) she’d more likely to try higher parcel taxes to avoid decimating oakland’s social services and union muni employment.

    it wb nice for rk to let her supporters know where she stands on fixing oakland financial disaster.

  65. Max Allstadt

    Len,

    You’re forgetting that she passed ballot measures which balanced our city budget last year, and which created dedicated revenue streams for programs people love.

    Not one of those measures was a parcel tax. All of them passed with ease, and Kaplan is personally responsible for them passing.

    She’s also one of two councilmembers who voted against the reckless way in which the council is trying to “fix” this year’s budget.

    On the flipside, Jean Quan was head of the Budget and Finance Committee during a period when Oakland had more revenue than it had ever seen before and more revenue than it will likely see for at least another decade. What did she do? She spent it all. She saved nothing. And even that wasn’t enough: She also spent our reserve funds. During a boom.

    So by comparison, yeah, I think Kaplan’s shaking things up. And I think I have a pretty good idea of where she stands in comparison on fiscal responsibility.

  66. Max Allstadt

    Len:

    The Ballot Measures weren’t all written by Kaplan, but if you’ll remember, she lead the campaign once they were decided upon by the full council. She had very direct input into the writing of all of the measures, and wrote at least one of them herself.

    One ballot measure was a hotel tax, which creates a dedicated revenue stream for Chabot and the Zoo, and the city’s arts programs. By finding a source outside of the general fund, these programs become far more sustainable.

    Another measure rolled back the idiotic Measure OO. I think it should have killed OO all together, but that wouldn’t have passed. Sometimes you have to go with what you can get.

    A third measure clarified the city’s transfer tax policy to close a loophole used almost entirely by large corporations to avoid paying any tax.

    And the fourth upped taxes on Marijuana businesses by more than 15 fold, with the enthusiastic support of these businesses.

    Kaplan was instrumental in getting all of these measures passed with a large mandate. The ability to evangelize is a huge part of leadership, as is the ability to recognize what can be won. As they say, politics is the art of the possible, and I think Rebecca is extraordinarily pragmatic in a field which can be extraordinarily dogmatic.

  67. Robert

    I agree with len, RK has kept a very low profile, and I really don’t have a clue as to where she would stand on any major issue in Oakland, including meaningful budget balancing.

  68. V Smoothe Post author

    It’s always interesting (and almost always surprising) to me to see what kind of perceptions people who don’t follow the day to day of the City Council have of its members.

    For example, the idea of Rebecca Kaplan has focused only on “niche” issues or “played it safe” during her just over a year in office is totally bizarre to me. Just off the top of my head – she jumped head first into three long-standing hugely controversial issues – addressing foreclosed buildings, condo conversions, and billboards. In two of those three cases, she was successful in pushing through a way to reduce existing blight in our neighborhoods while also generating revenue for the City’s coffers. On condo conversions, her proposal could have brought in a couple million dollars, which would of course go a long way towards preventing service cuts, but sadly the rest of the Council was just too hung up on their battles from ten years ago to do anything about it.

    But what I appreciate most about Kaplan is her attention to detail and sense of pragmatism. The Council, in general, doesn’t seem to have much stomach for the nitty-gritty of either budgeting or policymaking, which I find depressing. So their output is often un- or counter-productive relative to the goals they say want to achieve.

    While the rest of the Council was totally out to lunch on the downtown rezoning and then sat around complaining building heights and Beijing in the 1970s and about how they couldn’t read maps when it came to them, Kaplan was attentive throughout the whole process made sure that we took out burdensome and expensive barriers to opening businesses downtown. That would just not have happened without her. Try talking to another Councilmember about how there are too many CUPs, you’ll get, like, a blank stare. Other measures to help business that come to mind include her work on cabaret reform and efforts to allow for online permit applications.

    Another one that comes to mind is the City’s ongoing efforts regarding performance measurement. The Council keeps saying they want to institute a real performance measurement system for City departments, but of course none of them have the faintest idea what that actually means. They came up with this brain-dead list of like every ridiculous and random metric that popped into their heads and wanted all the departments to report on them once a month. Rebecca was like “So, what is the point of this? What will happen with this information? How is it going to improve service delivery? And how can you possibly say that adding all this work isn’t going to take any time or money” And the rest of the Council is just like “Oh, gosh. I never thought of that. That’s a good point. What is this going to do?” Thankfully, because of Kaplan, they did not pass that version and now will hopefully actually end up getting a real performance measurement system.

    Certainly, during the budget hearings over the last year, she’s been more realistic and more responsible about how we need to move forward than any of her colleagues. They sit there talking about program cuts, she talks about looking for efficiency. They keep acting like this deficit is a temporary thing, she keeps reminding them that our two and three year projections are actually worse, and that we need to plan for long-term spending reductions rather than pretending cuts are just temporary. When it comes to fiscally responsibility, I trust her far more than any of her colleagues.

    Kaplan doesn’t make a big show out of the work she does, it’s true. But I’ll take governance over grandstanding any day of the week.

  69. V Smoothe Post author

    Oh, and speaking of where various candidates stand on the issues. Well, we know where Jean Quan stands, I suppose, based on her tenure on the Council. With respect to the budget, she chaired the Finance Committee during the greatest period of boom revenues Oakland is likely to see for I can’t even imagine how long. And not only did she not manage to save any money for when things got worse – she actually couldn’t even live within the boom means and had to go spend the entire reserve we had previously built up. As far as I’m concerned, Quan has already done more than enough damage to Oakland’s finances. And her campaign literature is all about how we need more social services.

    Perata, on the other hand – well, it’s not like the State is doing so great either. I, of course, realize that there are many barriers to effective work in the State legislature and that it’s not fair to place all the blame for California’s meltdown on the Senate’s leadership. But when it comes to Oakland, I can’t seem to get a single concrete idea from the guy. Every event I’ve seen him at, he tells the same boring story about how he got a pothole fixed or something in front of Adesso, and that’s it. One time he tried to tell me how Oakland needed to spend more money on youth programs. When you try to get specifics out of him, there’s like, nothing there. All I know about his positions from his literature is that he’s against cancer. Great, dude. What’s next? Do he also hate gangs? And the KKK? Dude, you’re going to have to give me a little more than that.

  70. Naomi Schiff

    In terms of a track record of participation in this city’s life, either Jean or Rebecca is head and shoulders above Perata. And neither of them is beholden to the state prison guard’s union, which I would say is a big plus. I do see a potential war between the unions, in which each candidate lines up a different group of unions, and that could be pretty silly. But I’m optimistic that this could be the year that proves that Larry Tramutola is not the only path to campaign success. On neighborhood issues, I think Jean has the deepest background. I appreciate her local focus. I’m still not certain about Rebecca’s priorities, and her relatively short tenure on the city council means we don’t have that long a record to look at. On the other hand, Jean’s long record means you will find a lot of both good and bad to scrutinize. At any rate, I hope we can get a woman in the mayor’s seat, and about time.

  71. Ralph

    RK is a bit more fiscally responsible than some of the other women on council. I thought she could have taken a stronger position on OO but maybe she knew that cottontop would be incapable of making a decision. (i wonder how he gets dressed in the morning.)

    Frankly, if she could lay out a vision (which we all know DP hasn’t and propably won’t), set some goals and define a mission for the city (and while that may not be the task of a council member, the 1st person who can step in and fill an obvious void merits serious consideration), write policy that is consistent with those goals, and communicate with the citizens in a more substantive way (i love the events happening in my district and in the city emails but sometimes you want to hear about the real issues), i could be convinced of her potential.

    Naomi, “At any rate, I hope we can get a woman in the mayor’s seat, and about time.” What happened to being the best qualified candidate. That being said, I’d be ok with a woman who can govern from the head and not the heart. JQ is all about the heart, which sadly results in decisions that are not fiscally responsible.

  72. len raphael

    Ralph, please stop calling our mayor the c word because i might slip and use that term myself.

    re RK, the hotel tax prop was a good deed; the forclosure rule was an improvement except for the signage requirement which was surprising counterproductive, and the condo proposal seemed reasonable if a bit special interest. You know what i think about OO and nothing that’s happened since has shown me that it was “responsible” to tweak Kids First measure so that it was just merely dangerous instead of
    catastrophic. to this day, i can’t figure out if rk really believes in Kids First and wanted to save it, or was just being pragmatic.

    interesting that someone like myself who follows cc about an infinite order of magnitude more than the average oakland resident (which is o), but nowhere as much as some here, only associated the marijuana tax with rk.

    she needs to some grandstanding.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  73. livegreen

    I agree with V about Perata. What are some of his ideas for Oakland? He hasn’t given anybody a reason to vote for him. Maybe he’s planning on sharing info during the campaign.

    JQ & RK will start off talking about what they’ve already been doing here. But they better get into both the vision thing, and some details on implementation. This means going beyond Social Justice & Rich vs. Poor. (Does anybody care about the Middle Class, or even know we exist?).

    How do they plan to address Safety, growing jobs & businesses (both), growing the Middle Class & tax base (organically and externally), while paying for it all (cost & efficiency of Government)?

    There are other important issues that greatly tie into these, but the candidates should be able to address all these issues. Anybody who can’t (or doesn’t want to) isn’t ready to be Mayor.

    We need a plan, stan…

  74. LoveOakland

    The decision to up spending during the boom times was a collective one – residents wanted more programs, the Mayor and City Council wanted to say yes.

    If anyone has learned anything from the financial crisis, it is the importance of building and maintaining reserves so that we can make it thru the next economic downturn. I am not sure how much the Council/Mayor have learned this lesson, so it is important that all of us who care about Oakland to raise it again and again.

  75. V Smoothe Post author

    Well, I wouldn’t expect to see a platform from Kaplan until she actually decides whether or not she’s going to run, but if you want to hear her ideas about job creation, she talks about that fairly frequently. In fact, she’ll be addressing that exact issue at this month’s Mix It Up East Bay. 6-9 PM on Thursday at Shashamane Bar and Grill (2507 Broadway). Speakers usually talk at 7.

  76. John Klein

    What’s bothered some of us about Kaplan is her well known “Open Door” policy for Carlos Plazola and Oakland Builders Alliance. “Carlos doesn’t need an appointment” is the policy, I believe. The plot thickens on this because the Ethics Commission has refused to regulate OBA, so undisclosed lobbying is going on with abandon.

    There is nothing wrong with development, but those folks, who include the crowd that brought SF its affordability problem. don’t just build, they like to take over City Hall. This concerns me if she wants to be mayor.

    She’s not particularly open about it, either. When I requested records from her, she responded with all the email addresses redacted, even mine. I had to remind her that an email address is not the same as a medical record regarding privacy. But, it took slinging ‘legalese’ back and forth to get unredacted records from her. I’ve gotten better responses from De La Fuente than from her, believe it or not. As a lawyer, she should know better.

  77. V Smoothe

    John, I have had it with your habit of just making up paranoid accusations out of nowhere about everyone and anyone you perceive in your twisted mind to have ever had a civil conversation with anyone involved in the Oakland Builders Alliance.

    I have warned you several times before, both online and offline, and I’m warning you again. You need to take your OBA lobbying witch hunt and your paranoid fantasies somewhere else. If you want to fabricate lies about people whose political positions you disagree with, go start your own blog and do it there. That sort of behavior is not welcome here and I am completely out of patience with it. Continue the practice and you will get yourself permanently banned from commenting on this site.

  78. Max Allstadt

    V, I know that the windmills in John’s mind can get aggravating, but I think banning him would be overkill. Everybody knows he’s got a grudge against OBA, so it’s not like belaboring the point is going to do any harm. John also has plenty to say about non-OBA related issues.

    John,

    I don’t know where you got the idea that Carlos “doesn’t need an appointment” to see councilmembers, but I highly doubt that’s accurate. Kaplan, in particular, is busy as hell, so it’s a pretty funny idea that anybody could just come tromping into her office unannounced and expect an audience.

    Rebecca is known for having positive and engaging relationships with groups that are often in conflict with each other. She also appears to be one of the few councilmembers who’s been able to develop a strong working relationship with our absentee mayor. Everybody else resents him. She somehow found a way to reach him.

    A huge part of the reason I’m interested in seeing her get into the race is the fact that she doesn’t have any ongoing blood-feuds with any of her peers. In a city full of leaders who’ve held office for decades and who’ve become entrenched in one camp or another, Kaplan’s ability to remain objective and distance herself from petty squabbling is truly refreshing.

  79. V Smoothe

    I don’t think it’s overkill at all. If John has worthwhile things to say about other topics, and wants to say them here, then he can stop making up lies about people and repeating them as though they are fact. I will not allow my blog to be used as a platform for slander, and John has been warned about this exact problem at least a dozen times.

  80. Mike d'Ocla

    Two points made here have helped me think more clearly about Rebecca Kaplan as a mayoral candidate, and they correspond with my own observations at CC meetings:

    V: “What I appreciate most about Kaplan is her attention to detail and sense of pragmatism.”

    These are certainly basic skills for a political leader, and obviously are not all that abundant in Oakland.

    Max: “She doesn’t have any ongoing blood-feuds with any of her peers. In a city full of leaders who’ve held office for decades and who’ve become entrenched in one camp or another, Kaplan’s ability to remain objective and distance herself from petty squabbling is truly refreshing.”

    Absolutely.

  81. John Klein

    There are no lies in what I said. If there are, please point them out. At the LWV forum two weeks ago with Andrew Wiener, he agrees that it is a problem for groups of businesses to form non-profits for the purpose of lobbying. Ask him yourself – but I doubt you will.

    In the amendments being considered now, the PEC will be adding volunteer board members of non-profits as being subject to lobbyist registration. This is in direct response to my OBA complaint. There is no lie here; you just don’t like it. If you need to ban someone who disagrees with you, let it be known, then.

    Everything I said about Kaplan is true, also. I walk the walk and talk the talk. It was my records request, my interaction, my discussions with people around town. There is no lie here, either. V, honestly, I have no idea what happens to your common sense when someone says something you disagree with. Pitiful.

  82. livegreen

    Well, this gets into RE Development vs. Low-Income Housing. An outsider might wonder why we can’t have a well-planned balance of both?

    Since they’re battling each other for CC support, & land availability, and both want access to lower cost lands, the one area they have in common is reducing industrial land (including light-industrial & mixed-use industrial) thereby decreasing the # of businesses that can employ blue collar workers (working class to middle class).

    I liked what Carlos had to say earlier about balancing development with industrial, & I hope the OBA walks-the-walk (some OBA supporters on ABO do not, from previous discussions on the subject).

    However this points to not just the OBA needing to abide by lobbying regulations: professional non-profits that dominate Oakland (including low-income housing advocates) should too.

    Otherwise this becomes yet another example of where the middle class gets squeezed between the simplistic “rich vs. poor” debate in Oakland, and middle class interests get lost in the debate…

    Better described as a free-for-all (along with name-calling) than a debate…

  83. V Smoothe

    As you know perfectly well, John, I welcome disagreement and healthy, informed debate in the discussions on this blog. If you want to talk about you how disagree with positions held by me or Rebecca Kaplan or Carlos Plazola or dto510 or anyone else in Oakland, you are more than welcome to do so. But I am done with your psycho OBA lobbying conspiracy obsession.

    There will be no more comments about “well known policies” and “last minute deals” that exist only in your head, no more alternate reality accounts of PEC discussions, no more attacking people over jobs that you only imagine them to have, and no more publicly lambasting normal Oakland residents for having the audacity to e-mail their Councilmembers.

    If you can’t keep your comments within the bounds of common decency, you need to take it somewhere else.

  84. len raphael

    Lg, i’m with you on the impression that the influence of professional non-profits, developers, and i’d add union professionals crowds out the rest of us. to prove this “power elite” hunch would be hard. but heck, you don’t have to be paranoid to think that ordinary residents just don’t have the time during the day or even the evening to visit or talk to officials because they’re not getting paid to do it. the main exceptions are the few highly organized neighborhood groups, and OHA. that’s why the resident participation in matters civic is skewed to the young and the retired old.

  85. len raphael

    LO, wasn’t it the terminator who said that without a statute requiring rainy day reserves, you can’t expect politicians to keep their hands out of the reserve candy jar to give the voters the stuff they want.

  86. V Smoothe Post author

    Well, yes. People who show up to speak and contact policymakers about their views are much more likely to be heard than those who don’t. If “ordinary” people want to influence decision making, they have to make an effort to do so.

  87. Ralph

    so for something completely different – who is watching Trauma? The bank hostage scene was shot at the vacant Kaiser FCU Branch on Broadway

  88. len raphael

    V, yup but that doesn’t stop the common complaint that the people who show up hurl at each other, accusing the other side as an unrespresentative self selected group.

  89. V Smoothe Post author

    That’s why I always say people should focus on making the strongest arguments they can, give policymakers good reasons to do what they’re asking, rather than saying they should be obeyed just because they showed up.

  90. len raphael

    what caught my attention in the trib artcle on rk possible mayoral bid, were the comments by the self labeled Dellums’ backer who said he’d look favorably on rk if Dellums didn’t run again.

    Was that an attempt to shape rk’s platform or is do Dellum’s supporters know something about rk’s current position or vision thing that appeals to them?

    or do some oakland african american faith based orgs find more in common with a self described religious lesbian than agnostic type straights? i’m not saying it’s impossible, just oaklandish.

  91. len raphael

    quote from nyt article on state and local pension actuarial assumption that investment returns twill be at least 8.% (i think Oakland assumes 7.5% for it’s non CalPers old cop obligation).

    “A growing number of experts say that governments need to lower the assumptions they make about rates of return, to reflect today’s market conditions.

    But plan officials say they cannot.

    “Nobody wants to adjust the rate, because liabilities would explode,” said Trent May, chief investment officer of Wyoming’s state pension fund.”

  92. livegreen

    Great. Sticking head in the sand is a lot better. BTW, one of the articles on possible candidates said Maya Dillard Smith is also considering a run. She was on Forum arguing against the Chief’s plan for a Gang Injunction. She’s also the ex-Chair of MYOC, and currently is RK’s Appointee to the OFCY POC.

    It would be ironic if MDS & RK end up running against each other. RK would have given MDS her platform to stay relevant…

  93. Max Allstadt

    I think Maya Dillard Smith is talented, conscientious and very promising, and I think that’s why she shouldn’t jump in to the mayor’s race.

    If Dillard Smith is smart, she’ll pick something she can win and a seat where that victory will put her in a position to create real change where it’s really needed. For Mayor, she’d be a long shot. For District 7 in 2012, she’d be a front runner, and that would put her in a position to run for Mayor in 2014 and 2018.

  94. livegreen

    I’d agree with your suggestion Max. But I’m worried about Maya’s stance on the gang injunction, and her implications that an injunction on gangs is racist. I’m also concerned that she has a hills vs. flatlands, rich vs. poor mentality and oblivious to the Middle Class.

    Since she also works for Youth Uprising, which, while having some good programs for inner-city youth, also has an “us vs. them” narrative, can make open dialog stifling.

  95. Max Allstadt

    Nobody in the flats is oblivious to the middle class. The middle class is what keeps the flats from falling apart into total mayhem.

    My block in West Oakland has union carpenters, glaziers and landscapers, all of whom own their homes and are fighting for the neighborhood every day. The middle class is who is saving the flats, and who’s active in the flats. They’d wouldn’t be a group Dillard-Smith could neglect, they’d be her base, because they care and they vote.

  96. Livegreen

    Max, while you might find support for the Middle Class obvious, I seldom here Oakland politicians expressing these concerns when implementing policy or finding ways to pay for costs. Instead it’s a poor vs. rich dialog, and there is little to know acknowledgement of the role u rightly mention the Middle Class pays (I mean plays).

    So if that role is so obvious to us, why aren’t Maya and the other politicians speaking about it?

    As part of this, watch what programs the OFCY POC recommends for cutting. They have put both Geographic & crime Stressor non-acedemic criteria into the scoring process. Since Hills schools already don’t have enough FRL families to even qualify, what schools are these Criteria meant to tilt the scoring against?

    The schools in Middle Class areas. And Maya is front and center on that…

    And we haven’t even begun to talk about her views on the other issues I mentioned above…

  97. David

    Livegreen. As to why you can’t have a “well-balanced” RE development and low-income housing, I will again repeat my trademarked Econ 101 pizza analogy:

    Let’s say you are a pizza maker trying to sell a pizza. You are planning to sell 10 slices of this pizza for $1/slice for a total revenue of $10.

    A government official comes in and says, “That’s racist! You’re discriminating! Poor people can’t afford $1 for a slice! Oppressor! I now mandate that you sell at least 30% of your slices for $0.50!”

    You: “Um, ok, I didn’t know I was racist, but I can’t fight the law, so, how am I going to make up the $1.50 I’m losing on those 3 slices?” …Hmmm…I know, I’ll sell the remaining 7 slices for $1.21/slice…but wait…no one will buy the same slice these poor people are buying for less than half as much…so I know!…I’ll make the remaining slices bigger….So now I’ll sell the 5 slices for $1.70/each!

    Now everybody’s happy. The poor people get a smaller slice for a pittance, rich people who could always afford pizza still buy their slices, albeit they’re a bit overpriced….but the middle class who could have bought at $1, can’t afford the $1.70.

    And that’s why the middle class leaves places with “affordable housing” mandates.

  98. Ralph

    David, excellent!!!! I must remember that analogy. It sounds so much better than my std argument which goes along the lines the developer still needs to make his nut and I can’t afford to subsidize the poor.

  99. Mary Hollis

    David,

    Yes, that’s it i a nutshell. Or maybe in a crust.

    I think the mistake that the pol’s and activists make is thinking that the ability of the rich to pay more is somehow magically inelastic.

    So they think that any deficit, shortfall or inequity can be bridged simply by hiking rates, fees and taxes on the affluent.

    After all, they’re a minority (in the bad sense of the word) and so will always lose in a ballot.

    And they’re mostly straight white folks so there is no PC risk in bashing them.

    But where it falls down, of course, is that they can relocate with their money just a few miles in any direction, and escape. It’s not like Oakland has a real established wealthy community like in SF or Marin. It’s no hardship for a wealthy guy to live in Piedmont, Orinda or Mill Valley.

    Which leaves us with less money and even less rich folks to ding it to. So we try and get even more out of those who stay.

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

  100. Livegreen

    Isn’t that Inclusionary Zoning? I thought Affordable Housing receives funding from HUD & States, and a whole AH development sells to the same income bracket? As opposed to IZ that attempts to split the pie in the manner you mention…

  101. Ken O

    David, good analogy. We agree on real estate development policy.

    I am quite against “affordable housing” and public housing social experiments since they often lead to easily avoidable friction.

    Anyway, AH will go away within a decade or two as more people are cramming into housing these days.

    “Public” housing in all forms will be broke by 2030 so who knows what will happen to those living spaces. Probably taken over as “owned” by the people who live in them, which is good for accountability and proper land use.

  102. livegreen

    Len, Oakland Fund for Children & Youth (OFCY) is the ballot measure (K, OO, etc.) that was nick-named Kids First. Not to be mixed up with the Non-Profit by the same name & who’s website you’ll get if you websearch under “Kids First”. http://www.ofcy.org

  103. len raphael

    My very crude understanding of state law density bonuses for low income, senior housing etc. is that if a developer can show that her project is not economically viable after adding in a specified fairly low percentage of units for the targeted population, then the local authorities must grant variances to the developer for higher density. eg. additonal floors, floor ratios, reduced setbacks, less or no parking.

    the units are supposed to be similar to the market rate units, but don’t need to have same views or quality of finish.

    so my nimbyish conclusion is that for residential projects, regardless of what
    the zoning or rezoning is, it shouldn’t be that hard for a developer to tuck in a few senior housing units to get a variance. I suppose if it’s a luxury building market forces would discourage doing that.

    http://www.cacities.org/resource_files/24444.Analysis%20of%20Density%20Bonus%20Law.pdf

  104. John Klein

    V. You continue to astound me with your biases for/against particular individuals & views and by your blindness to those biases. It is with great pleasure that I “take it elsewhere.”

  105. len raphael

    Lg, i mix them intentionally. But back to the situation, what is the impact of OFCY’s policy change (is it proposed or adopted?) on schools that have under a certain percentage of poor kids? is it that those schools won’t get any funding for those kids?

    ie. is it that schools with majority of kids above poverty level will have to provide certain services such as tutoring out of their overall budgets? Tell me that the lunch and breakfast programs are unaffected by this.

    -len

  106. Livegreen

    Len, Because the OFCY budget is reduced (a reflection of the City’s budget) the OFCY POC (Oversight Committee) made the decision to limit programs ability to apply based on the # of Free & Reduced Lunch (FRL) -or lower income- kids a school has.

    Even for schools that meet that threshold the RFP scoring process then takes into account where the schools are located by giving higher scores to poorer & less safe areas. Even if in middle income areas the programs were benefiting FRL (lower income) kids from both inside & outside their neighborhoods.

    For schools that lose programs, they will have to either come up with the money themselves or lose the programs.

  107. len raphael

    LG, so the % of free lunch participation is being used as one of the cut-off’s for OFCY funding, but the lunches themeselves are not affected.

    huh, so the end result is that kids whose parents chose to send their kids to either standard pubilc or a charter school (did they get OFCY funding?) will now be doubly resented by parents of kids in the relatively middle class and above areas?

  108. livegreen

    Ken, FRL is being used as the standard to determine who is low-income. There’s no distinguishing of FRL kids & families in schools in poor areas vs. in schools in middle class areas, since an FRL kid/family is an FRL kid/family.

    & OUSD uses “options” so kids can go to any school, if there’s room outside their district.

    OFCY has decided they want to score programs in poor areas higher than programs in middle class areas, even though they serve the same students…

  109. David

    LG/Len.

    There are 2 problems with your responses. First, there is a limit to land for development. Now personally, I believe there’s plenty of land available for re-development and growth, but it is artificially restricted. Admittedly, a lot of the restrictions have been voted on, so I can’t argue the will of the majority; I just register my disagreement and point out the effect. With a limit to the buildable land, ANY set-aside, incentive or whatever to build “affordable” housing will have the effect I write about. It’s not really a pizza maker (obviously), it’s a pizza maker with only one pie to sell. But, you’ll say, the developer doesn’t have to “make up” lost income because he gets subsidized for those 3 slices.

    Which leads to the second problem, the developer has to SELL the remaining slices. I’m not going to buy the same ****-box apartment some poor person has for a “market price,” I’m going to demand something bigger and better. The same result occurs. At best, the result is that, because the pizza seller gets his money back in subsidies, he’ll sell the remaining slices at $1. BUT, those slices must be bigger, and he’ll be selling fewer (20% fewer total units in my example). THEREFORE, prices go up anyway as a result of scarcity; they just go up 20% in my example.

  110. Livegreen

    David, I don’t disagree with your example, I was just distinguishing between IZ & AH. In your example you said AH but it sounded more like IZ.

    Re. IZ and your pizza, I agree with your theory. My one question regards practice: Is there a standard gross profit & margin developers work with? Orissa it whatever they can get? For example, product wholesalers try to work on a 30% gross profit margin (higher for high-end, lower for low end high volume). Retailers try to work on a 50% margin. What do Bay Area developers work on?

    Matching this with what you say, high margin developments sold to the rich MIGHT have more room for IZ than developments built for the middle class.

    Regarding land availabiliy for AH vs. freemarket developments, good point. BTW, isn’t this balance part of the equation that goes into determining how much AH the State requires to b planned, & also for setting City policy?

  111. len raphael

    one more ballot proposal, taken from the NYS democratic governor’s office proposal (the deputy governor Ravitch, who also handled NYC’s financial crisis in the early 70′s).

    per the NYT today: “Switching to generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, would also mark a significant shift. While the principles are used by public corporations and in New York City’s budgeting, New York and most other states prefer what is known as cash budgeting.

    The change would make it much more difficult for the state to defer budget problems into future years by holding off on paying bills. ”

    if Oakland did that now, our deficit would be some multiple of what the council and the Mayor is permitted to tell us now.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  112. David

    LG, the builders I know are all in Chicago and work on a 30% gross margin. Bribes are a fixed cost there. Here they’re a variable cost, so I suspect gross margins here have to be higher.

    Issue I have with your response is that I don’t think any development should be required to have set asides for poor, middle class or rich people. And again, fundamentally, anything like this will result in distortions of the kind I detailed.

    As for the state requiring stuff, again, that’s part of what’s wrong with this state. Why does the state have any input on what kind of housing a municipality zones for? How many bribe taking parasite ex-politicians are we paying for in Sacramento to decree Oakland must have XYZ buiilt? It’s too early for a headache. argh.

  113. Ralph

    LG, a cursory glance of builders indicates that the GPM is between 23 – 30%. Market doesn’t matter. Consessions can really screw with the GPM and the above GPM is all in includes building and financial services

    What I don’t get is why you think a builder with a higher gross margin has more wiggle room. The builder still has a margin to maintain and investors still expect a certain return.

  114. livegreen

    Ralph, It’s like Apple vs. Microsoft, or Hermes vs. GAP. A higher margin product has greater profits per sale, even if they have lower sales volume. Two different models. When a producer or brand can sell for a higher price, even sometimes at the same GPM or NPM, they can make more money per unit.

    There’s no reason developers are any different.

    If you’ve answered my second question, about AH vs. IZ, I’m not understanding it: Isn’t your pizza example IZ, and not AH?

    For AH, how does the # of units get decided? Is it a balance of land availabiliy for AH vs. freemarket developments? I would guess this plays a role, but that is logic and logic & law are not always the same.

    Max and V might know the answer to this…

  115. Ralph

    LG, I get that there are more gross profits per sale, but why do you think the high end developers are any more willing to supply IZ housing? They still need to protect their margin. So they are either going to really go cheap on the material used in the IZ housing or they will make up the difference on the MR homes. So you either screw the poor by selling them an inferior product or screw the rich by forcing them to pay more. Frankly, I am of the mindset that the only person who should be screwed is Mr. Wallace and only by Mrs. Wallace. Am I missing something?

  116. livegreen

    BTW, re. my original statement “why can’t we have both”, even if you disagree about having that, this would actually be an IMPROVEMENT over recent policy.

    Checking the ABO issues AH topic, read one of Tom Thurston’s “Oakland’s War on the Middle Class”: http://www.abetteroakland.com/tom-thurston-oaklands-war-on-the-middle-class/2009-04-13

    Oakland is building FAR more units for AH than for Moderate Income. So Oakland is DECREASING it’s tax base as a matter of policy! This isn’t just bad for Moderate Income. It’s bad for poor people too!

    BTW, in the past V has mentioned how wealthier Municipalities ignore what they’re mandated to build. I recollect some discussion at the time about how it would be nice if somebody sued other cities for not implementing these mandates.

    Somebody recently told me that it’s actually not a mandate because the #’s are what should be “planned”. Looking at the ABAG link in Tom’s article entitled “mandates that Oakland produce nearly 4,000 homes (PDF)”, the ABAG Bay Area Housing Report confirms these requirements are what every area “must plan”.

    Apparently other cities abide by planning, but not actually building. Meanwhile Oakland actually builds it’s Very Low Income (VLI) and LI housing but DOESN’T BUILD IT’S MODERATE INCOME HOUSING.

    Oakland has no balance and, with less Middle Income & therefor tax base, it actually DECREASES our ability to take care of our VLI & LI residents. & we wonder why we have so many problems?

    What is the City Government & City Counsel doing about this?

  117. livegreen

    Ralph, I’m not of a mind that we should have IZ. I’m just trying to learn more before I make a decision. If there is more margin to do IZ, it seems to me it would be in higher margin developments built for high income (HI). I’ll consider further your point about it decreasing margins even for HI properties. That is a point, but in & of itself it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

    For example if Hermes is more expensive than GAP, or Apple more than Microsoft, it doesn’t prevent people from buying the more expensive product. Same even for one high-end brand vs. another.

    On the other hand, IZ might destroy the HI brand if VIL or LI is built in. On the other hand again, maybe not in the Bay Area. I think this is more complex than either-or. Whatever the case, and whatever the final decision (this being theory, at least so far in the conversation), I do think your & David’s concerns are valid and I will think about them.

    In the meantime re. my other post, we’re not even close to a balance. Why even worry about IZ when Oakland’s AH for VLI & LI is so much greater than MI housing? With less jobs for VLI & LI available?

    & David thought he had a headache from the earlier discussion! This is much worse than I realized…

  118. Ralph

    LG, the one key piece of information the builder whether they are high or low margin still needs to preserve the margin. The highend developer can provide your IZ but to preserve margin he will either jack up price on the highend home or find a way to go cheap on the IZ.

    Also, do not make the assumption that a high end developer has higher margins. This happens if they are able to apply some type of pricing premium. So a mid-market guy could have a high margin if he consistently outperforms competitors on qualtiy.

    I would not worry to much about brand erosion, if it is a quality house, most buyers are not going to care who built their house once the italian marble is in place. For years, high end designers have been making there product available to the hoi polloi. Think Jimmy Choo for Target. (I don’t think you are going to find hte low rents living with the high rents.) Finished.

    Personally, I am of the mindset that the only thing that needs to be built is market rate housing and we certainly do not need anymore housing for the poorest of poor.

  119. livegreen

    Has Oakland tried using Recovery Zone Facility Bond for any new/existing DT high-rises? If other cities are getting interest free bonds for such projects, why aren’t we?:

    http://www.globest.com/news/1614_1614/inlandempire/183888-1.html

    Last updated: March 8, 2010 05:29pm

    Hotel in Mixed Project Wins $21M Financing
    By Bob Howard

    Project Rendering
    RIVERSIDE, CA-MetroRiverside LLC has teamed with the City of Riverside to tap into new federal bond program to finance construction of a 125-room Hyatt Place and related improvements. The program, called Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, that will provide $20.66 million design, development, construction installation, equipping and furnishing of a 125-room Hyatt Place hotel on property bordered by Fifth, Market and Sixth streets and three story parking structure located at 3605 Market St.

    The Riverside City Council voted unanimously to approve the financing of MetroRiverside’s Hyatt Place, which will be in the heart of Downtown, across from the Riverside Convention Center. MetroRiverside is scheduled to break ground this summer on the hotel, which is phase one of its two-block mixed-use project known as Fox Plaza. The hotel’s opening is anticipated for first quarter 2012. The Hyatt Place will anchor the residential and retail components of Fox Plaza, scheduled to be under construction by 2015.

    The Recovery Zone Facility Bond program is a new type of tax-exempt bond created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by Congress in February, 2009.

    It is intended to spur private development in economically challenged areas.

    The principals of MetroRiverside, LLC, Siavash Barmand and Mark Nicholson, pursued this unusual source of funding due to the lack of conventional financing options. “New construction financing is all but impossible these days,” Barmand points out.
    MetroRiverside LLC is a partnership of San Francisco Bay Area based MetroPacific Properties LLC and the Nicholson Co. MetroPacific is headed by Siavash Barmand and has over 25 years of experience in urban mixed-use development. The Nicholson Co. is headed by Mark Nicholson and is a family-owned business with over 50 years of experience in land entitlement, real estate development, general contracting and property management.

  120. David

    Correction: It’s not “interest-free” it’s tax-exempt, like most Muni bonds (except the new Build America Bonds, which I suspect this is). The Build America Bonds are essentially a federal subsidy on the interest paid by the municipality, so the muni sells a bond with a, say, 6% coupon, where the Feds pay 2 percentage points, or 33% (actually it’s 35%, IIRC) of the interest. As we all know, Oakland really can’t afford to issue more debt, even if the Feds subsidize it, it still ain’t free.

    In the meantime, yes, I agree, there should be more zoning, or more permits, or the gov’t should get out of the way of developers who want to build market-rate housing in Oakland. In the long-run, again, mandates distort the market, with the effects mentioned above.

  121. livegreen

    David, Thanks for your correction. Re. the mandates, what amazes me from Tom’s post is Oakland is permitting Moderate Income (MI) developments even below the mandates.

    Talk about D.U.M.B. As Tom says, this is truly a war on the Middle Class.

    Does this stuff need to go through the Planning Commission too? Besides the City Council, isn’t the PC keeping track of this? Or anybody?

  122. len raphael

    I would guess that as soon as real estate financing finds an equilibrium point, non-profit housing organization sponsored rental housing for lower income people will have an inherent advantage over market rate developers in oakland. combo of their not needing the same profit % as market rate people, low income housing federal tax credits, and maybe government loan guarantees.

    On the regulatory side, it is an article of faith among most of the fair skinned city council members (maybe not PK) that more low income housing is a wonderful thing as long as it isn’t in the hills or Rockridge. I would assume our Mayor also believes in that goal. In my life I won’t see a high density transit village at Rockridge Bart with a significant percentage of low income rental units.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  123. livegreen

    It’s nice to see the “Oakland moves on disabled placard abuse” link on the left. Both to see the State & City are moving on something, and that they are in agreement with merchants & even disabled people. Common ground is especially important following related issues that practically split the city in two…

  124. Ken O

    random news that portray Oakland’s worst case futures…

    Vallejo, Oakland’s model city to emulate soon
    kalwnews.org/audio/2010/03/16/vallejo-struggles-keep-city-safe-during-bankruptcy_233869.html
    “Vallejo struggles to keep city safe during bankruptcy
    By Adelaide Chen on Tuesday, Mar 16, 2:39pm”
    Police officers union refuses any benefit cuts and fights for more salary increases — they don’t care how many police get cut as long as individual benefits remain high. (They are 12% higher than Richmond’s. Go figure.) Violent crime increasing due to massive cut from 150 police to 100 police. (Oaklanders who consider themselves “progressive” and that police are “pigs” will hate living here once we start cutting OPD staff down by 50% from our already understaffed numbers — that will probably happen within five years without major changes to union behavior and a strong PD fundraising foundation)

    Mexican Drug Cartels Raid Massive Rave Parties, Crack Down On Rival Pushers… (Remember the fake “OPD” home invasion yesterday? Expect this to become more common.)
    exiledonline.com/the-economy-is-bad-for-mexican-drug-cartels-too-zetas-start-shaking-down-kids-at-raves/

    Nigeria is falling apart, says Nobel prize-winning author
    Veteran writer and activist Wole Soyinka says his country is now a failed state. Daniel Howden reports from Lagos
    independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/nigeria-is-falling-apart-says-nobel-prizewinning-author-1921835.html
    Sounds like good old US of A’s future in ten years.

    “Stripmining the Citizenry, and the Future of Work”
    http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjan10/stripmining-compliance01-10.html

    “Public Safety” indeed. It’s obvious to me that our local police force has become nothing more than “Revenue Enhancement Officers.”

    –As much as I like the pedestrian “sting” Opd did recently… sounds like revenue eh?

    NYTimes- filling budget gaps with stealth taxes. Woohoo!
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/business/global/18tax.html?ref=business

    “Last year, Northern Ireland announced that it would raise the cost of a dog license tenfold to £50, ostensibly to better tackle the problem of strays and violent attacks.”

  125. livegreen

    Ken, I really don’t appreciate your saying that enforcing pedestrian stings is only for revenue enhancement. I’ve heard this argument before from defenders of hit-and-run suspects, and also of traffic speeders. The people who attack tickets or police enforcement of these rules tend to be people who either don’t care about others, who like to speed, and/or who get tickets.

    There are laws & a manner of enforcement is to ticket them. If ticketing is a manner for enforcing laws while deterring those who break them AND raises revenue for the City, so much the better.

    And just because it does the latter doesn’t eliminate the former.

  126. Ken O

    LG agree that revenue enhancing city activities don’t necessarily mean the actions don’t have merit.

    This is one instancce where I think it is worth it. Just keeping in mind that this could spread to other less-worthy areas.

  127. Patrick M. Mitchell

    But not in the least bit unexpected, Ken O. Isn’t this exactly what we get for paying the highest taxes in the state? Shoddy services with little or no oversight? Most people would have to try to make that many errors. Don’t be upset that the person who typed that paragraph probably earns more than 80% of Oaklanders and will have health and pension benefits after retirement superior to 99% of Oaklanders. Nothing to see here…move along.

  128. matt

    Neighborhood Councils Anyone?

    From what I can find Oakland does not have a comprehensive neighborhood council system. I’m intrigued by what I’ve read about LA’s neighborhood council system. I’m curious about the potential of what city supported community based participation in city government could be for our town.

    Here’s an example of one neighborhood council in LA.

    http://www.lincolnheightsnc.org/about.php

    It seems that by setting up neighborhood councils the concerns of neighborhood stake holders have a clearly defined way to organize their neighborhood and convey their community issues to city council.

  129. Don Macleay from Oakland CA

    answer to: Neighborhood Councils Anyone?

    I am very for it if they can be representative and empowered.
    Many places use an ELECTED neighborhood council or committee.

    Add some clear areas of local authority and control over some local assets and we may come up with something positive. We might be able to roll the current ad hoc local groups into this kind of system. With the right election process the neighborhood committee could have a publicly respected and credible mandate to express to the views of the local community. The ad hoc groups are good examples of positive volunteerism, but can not claim to represent their neighborhoods because they are self appointed.

  130. Max Allstadt

    NCPCs in Oakland cover areas that are probably too small function with fully elected membership. Currently many NCPCs have elected Chairs, Vice Chairs and/or Secretaries. That can work, but the task of getting more than three people to even show up, let alone have an election and repeatedly show up… tricky.

    It’s also problematic to have a neighborhood council where only the elected members get to vote on anything. If the point of the councils is engagement with the police and coordination for the common good of the neighborhood, I think anybody who shows up and lives within the beat should get to vote on any motion made by the council.

    On the other hand, the sheer competitive nature of human beings might get more people to show up to NCPCs if they think there’s some sort of power struggle at stake.

  131. matt

    I for one feel there is a profound disconnect between the city council and the citizens of Oakland. I’ve never received a single reply to an email I’ve sent to my council member or to the mayor. I haven’t even got back a form reply. Maybe that’s normal for a city approaching half a million residents. It would be best if we all had a way to take our concerns, our volunteer time, and especially our grievances to a party that will take them seriously and then effectively articulate the most serious issues to the city council. I think it would also help us feel less powerless when a neighborhood wide issues starts to drag down the community.

    I think I’ll look into this further and would enjoy others to join me. It seems like good idea -all the nice neighborhoods in Oakland sort of already have them.

  132. livegreen

    There are Neighborhood Councils all over Oakland. (The NCPC phrase has been abbreviated to NC as the role has expanded). I agree with both the concerns and challenges of their being elected.

  133. len raphael

    Gang Injunction Hearing Thurs 2pm. Be there or be square.

    Court Dept. 20 located in the Alameda County Administration Bldg., 1221 Oak St. in Oakland. (This is located across the street from the Main Library and the Art Decco Renee Davisson Court House on the edge of Lake Merritt.

    Repost of Don Link’s on opd.yahoo site “as most of you know, the Ella Baker group and some others have been leading opposition to the Injunction. The ACLU has filed an Amicus Brief with the court opposing the Injunction on some questionable grounds which I have challenged in the PSA 2 and some neighborhood list serve groups.

    I got a call from the City Attorney’s office on Friday asking for backers of the Injunction to turn out for the Court hearing on Thur April 22, at 2 pm. The hearing will be held in Court Dept. 20 located in the Alameda County Administration Bldg., 1221 Oak St. in Oakland. (This is located across the street from the Main Library and the Art Decco Renee Davisson Court House on the edge of Lake Merritt.

    The important thing here is that we have a good turnout of people who support the Injunction to counterbalance the expected turnout of opponents at the hearing. Please let your engaged NCPC members know about the event so that those able to attend the event are there.

    As I see it, the Injunction is a creative way of separating the worst of the bad from their colleagues and victims. The constant drumbeat of murders in Oakland, nearly always of young men by young men does not seem to be susceptible to ordinary enforcement efforts, and the body count keeps growing. The Injunction disrupts the cycle and empowers the citizens who can help the police by identifying gang members not complying with the requirements of the Injunction. It is either this or living with Dodge City type of shootings in our neighborhoods of North (and other parts of) Oakland.

    Chief Batts has said that he will end the violence connected with drugs and guns. He used Gang Injunctions in Long Beach and the results in that city were dramatic.

    Rather than restricting gang members’ civil rights to offend, the Injunction is guaranteeing an even more important right: gang members’ right to stay alive.

    Please get the word out and attend if you can. We need a mob of law-abiding citizens in Court on Thursday to show the judge that citizens in Oakland support this Injunction.”

  134. len raphael

    btw, add a question about mayoral candidate’s position on the gang injunction to the list of specific hard to wiggle out items.

    Besides NN, are any other cc members Ella Baker Center or ACLU supporters? If yes, that’s cool, but would ask them if they would publicly disagree with their position on the injunction.

    -len raphael
    temescal

  135. Born in Oakland

    2PM meetings during a work week are next to impossible to attend for those of us still employed.

  136. len raphael

    BRT, what’s the likely compromise after the Berkeley council vote?

    Berkeley seems to have gotten more conservative over the years, maybe as it’s become sort of a liberal Piedmont. The relatively small stretch of Telegraph affected by BRT, and the no parking on the most dense business section makes me wonder what the politics of that decision was.

  137. David

    Berkeley’s always been conservative in the sense that the city leaders and most of the non-student populace want to crystallize the town in 1968-1973, and in the sense that conservative means opposed to change.

    It’s also a perfect embodiment of the rich white “liberal” attitudes to most things, like mass transit is great for everyone else, apartments are great as long as they’re built 2, 3, 20 miles away for the peons, black people are poor victims (and cool and diverse too!) but we don’t want them living nearby, etc etc. (always thought it hilarious that the bastions of “liberal” diversity thought are nearly all white–Seattle, Portland, SF, Berkeley, Hollywood/Bev. Hills, Manhattan, Boston…look it up sometime…they all have low to non-existent black populations)

    D

  138. Buzz

    ken, the seeno contribution total was not small potatoes. but compared to what unions gave dp and (wasn’t there something about ron cowan the developer? that the feds pursued and gave up on?) seeno is small stuff.