188 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. Patrick M. Mitchell

    The animated most recent posts area at the top of the opening page keeps changing size…and makes everything else on the entire page move with it. Makes it impossible to scroll down the headlines or recent posts column without getting a headache.

  2. Ken O

    “Morris Tabak, assistant chief of the San Francisco Police Department, is one of the highest-paid employees San Francisco has ever had.

    “Mr. Tabak earned $425,558 in 2009, according to city payroll records. After 32 years on the force, he announced his retirement this month. His annual payment from the city’s pension fund will be approximately $225,000. With that and San Francisco’s generous retiree health care package, compensation to Mr. Tabak will quickly climb into the seven figures.

    “But there is a hidden cost to the city beyond Mr. Tabak’s generous salary and pension benefits: Mr. Tabak owns a home, pays property taxes and, presumably, does most of his shopping in a residential community in San Mateo County, about 20 miles south of the city.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/us/05bcworkers.html

  3. Livegreen

    In the KQED discussion of SF’s local hire ordinance they mentioned it can’t apply to city workers due to State law (wonder who called to enact this?)

    Unlike NYC, municipalities can’t enact an income tax including on people who live outside the City but work there.

    So no way in CA to encourage City workers to live where their income is generated from. Something should b done about this…

  4. len raphael

    LG, stay on that “there outghta be a law” local muni employee residency path and you’ll be calling for 20% of city wages to be paid in Acorns.

  5. ralph

    I can appreciate that people want municipal workers to live in the city but there are some practical considerations:

    1) maybe one spouse works on the peninsula, so they move to Union City

    2) what happens if the other spouse worked in SF and SF had a similar residency requirement

    3) children and other family considerations (care for elderly relative, relative tends to kids while parents work)

    People have options.

  6. ralph

    Except people carpool and they do make other trade-offs. Good parents will pay the gas, buy food and clothes for the kids and tape up their own holey shoes.

  7. livegreen

    I was thinking more along NYC’s system. Have them work here, but let people live wherever they want to.

    Now Oakland couldn’t do that for private sector work (business would just vacate). But since the City jobs are here to stay it wouldn’t affect municipal workers as much.

    Of course we can’t do that in CA. How about “there oughta NOT be a law”?

  8. CitizenX

    Though the thought of having City employees, especially law enforcement employees, live in the community where they work sounds good (in a Mayberry RFD sort of way), reality is a little different. Most law enforcement personnel do not want their family living in the community where they work, because of concerns for safety. Law enforcement personnel have other protections (eg, employers must keep their addresses confidential) for the same reason.

  9. Daniel Schulman

    I am not really of the mindset that cities should try to force anyone to live anywhere. Instead, they should try to make it more attractive for everyone, including high wage earners, to want to live in the city. You know less crime, better schools, cultural amenities, etc.

    While cities should not try to “punish” people for living in other jurisdictions, they should also not encourage it. Naomi is absolutely right that raising the gas (or as I like to think removing subsidies) is the best way to encourage people to live in the urban core. Cities, though, have little influence on the gas tax. They do, though, need to stop subsidizing driving with car-allowances, cheap or even free parking, etc.

  10. ralph

    Re: Law enforcement living in the jurisdiction…at least one city which had a 2 yr residency requirement exempted law enforcement personnel.

  11. Naomi Schiff

    One thing about the new city administration: better image promotion of Oakland. Oakland has been suffering from not minding its p.r. What better place to start than to market ourselves to those who already work here? It worked for my company: a couple of workers who started out living elsewhere have moved into Oakland, We don’t have much productivity loss caused by transportation issues. Plus, it’s really easy to get to downtown SF clients, Berkeley, and points east.

  12. Oakland Space Academy

    Just to be clear, having a residency requirement wouldn’t be forcing anyone to live anywhere, simply because no one is forced to be an Oakland municipal employee. It would however, increase employee costs slightly at the margin, since you’d have a bit smaller pool from which to choose.

    To my mind, residency requirements make a lot of sense. Not only to capture those wages back as property taxes and shopping dollars, but also for the additional vesting it provides. Milwaukee has done this to good effect for years. All the cops live out on the southwest fringes of the city, in the most suburban neighborhoods. Oakland is a big, diverse city, with plenty of different types of neighborhoods for the differing tastes of its employees. I don’t see much of a downside.

  13. MarleenLee

    Oakland Space Academy: If you don’t see much of a downside, look to see how popular this option is in the private sector. NOT. Employers should hire the best people for the job – period. Their residency should be considered about as relevant as their skin color, religion, sexual orientation, gender or other issues that should have no bearing on how well somebody can perform the job. People live where they do based on a large spectrum of reasons; cost, quality of schools, where their spouse works, where their relatives live etc. People also tend to change jobs more than they used to. Oakland is in turmoil, with layoffs in the recent past, and looming into the future. Nobody should have to move here to work here, particularly if they could be laid off six months later. How completely unfair! We should hire people based on their actual qualifications for the job, period. Not that this has been past practice or anything, but no better time to start than the present!

  14. Oakland Space Academy

    MarleenLee: Of course residency requirements aren’t popular in the private sector, that is a silly comparison. If I had a company there is no way I’d have a residency requirement, though, like Naomi, I would encourage my employees to live in Oakland.

    But, unlike a private company, the job of Oakland isn’t to make money. Having people with good middle class municipal jobs payed with our tax dollars flee to surrounding cities on nights and weekends works against stabilizing neighborhoods.

    I just don’t think there any jobs in the Oakland municipal government that we couldn’t find qualified people that are already living in Oakland or willing to move here (within 6 months) to do. Umm…I guess that’s “unfair”…kind of like life.

  15. Oakland Space Academy

    Ralph: Property taxes are not only paid by owners, they are paid by renters as well, through the rent they pay to owners. I’m not sure what you are referring to when you write Oakland has nowhere to shop. I did about half my holiday shopping in Oakland, and I’m just about to step out of my office and purchase a newspaper, some tissue, and lunch. There are stores that sell all these things, right in downtown Oakland.

    Milwaukee is definitely not utopia. But Debbie isn’t looking very hard for a home, and government should be discouraging people from living halfway between two cities that are 75 miles apart. If we want to get the best and brightest employees, we should pay them more, though I’m not sure that is necessary in Oakland.

  16. len raphael

    OSA, in government, especially local government, I’ve never noticed much of a correlation between employee pay and employee performance. Have you?

  17. ralph

    OSA,
    I don’t count indirect pymt of property taxes as paying property taxes. Renters, as my kinfolk like to say, do not have a vested interest in the community.

    Places people shop but can not be found in Oakland: N-M, Saks, W-S, C&B, Macy’s, Borders (Dellums shops here), Ann Taylor, Nine West, Victoria’s Secret, Apple Store, Nike Store, Johnston & Murphy, Target, Good Vibrations…

  18. Oakland Space Academy

    Len: I haven’t, though I’m not sure I have enough experience to know. My guess is that, as in the private sector, compensation probably matters a bit, at the margins.

    Ralph: You may not count renters among those who pay property taxes, but economists do. We can discuss vested interests if you like, but that is different. Some of the most engaged folks on my block are renters, though certainly most of those engaged are owners.

    Finally, there are far more places to shop in Oakland that cannot be found outside it’s borders than the reverse: Ruby’s Garden, De Lauer’s, Urban Indigo, Paws & Claws, Kick City, Bent Spoke, Diesel Books…

  19. MarleenLee

    Why not have a law that requires all Oakland residents to purchase goods and services only in Oakland? That makes about as much sense as requiring employees to live there. It is not government’s job to tell people where to live and where to shop. If you provide good and safe living options, and good and accessible shopping options, that’s where people will live and shop. And that’s what government should focus on.

  20. livegreen

    Space Academy, Renters don’t pay property taxes through their rent. Property owners aren’t allowed to pass them through. That’s why for one of the tax measures that recently failed the City Council permitted 50% of it to be pass through (if it had passed). They don’t allow that for most Property Taxes, though it would be fairer if they did so automatically.

    It’s yet one more reason Oakland has a lower middle class tax base, and lower rate of home ownership, than surrounding cities.

    Renting is encouraged by the City Council, home ownership is not.

  21. ralph

    OSA,
    I like your perverted twist on shopping. I am not going to go toe-to-toe with you because you will continue with your own spin. For the record, I am pretty sure all cities, towns, burgs, and hamlets have nice shops that can not be found elsewhere. The fact of the matter is Oakland loses close to a billion in annual retail sales. The stores you listed are not filling that void. The stores I listed are a start and provide free advertising for smaller shops.

    You might want to know that there is a 2nd Kick City in Daly City. Additionally, should you find yourself in either Santa Monica or Malibu, you can always visit Diesel Books.

  22. Oakland Space Academy

    MarleenLee: The reason we shouldn’t have that law is because…that would be a stupid law! Of course it isn’t the government’s job to tell people where to live, and fortunately a residency requirement doesn’t do that. Oakland should use its large employer market power to the benefit of the city.

    Since a residency requirement would help provide better and safer living options, and better and more accessible shopping options, it seems we are in agreement after all.

  23. CitizenX

    “Property taxes are not only paid by owners, they are paid by renters as well, through the rent they pay to owners.”

    I believe the IRS would differ with you on this one, OSA. It would seem to me that you are making an assumption that rents are based on cost, when rents are based on market forces. Well, in the real world they are. In rent controlled cities, rents and costs have even less relationship. Rents in the city of Oakland do not change with property taxes.

  24. Oakland Space Academy

    Ralph: Touche on Kick City and Diesel Books, I should have used Jade Soccer and Walden Pond.

    I don’t think my take on shopping is “perverted,” just different from yours. I happen to agree that Oakland should be doing a better job of capturing shoppers by attracting national retailers. But this discussion began with you suggesting there is nowhere in Oakland to shop. I disagree, I think there is.

  25. Patrick M. Mitchell

    We are a city of over 400,000 people. We have 1 Sears and 1 Wal-Mart. That pretty much sums up the big name non-specialty retailers in our 52 square mile city (until March when Super Target opens). Of course, like the nearby Best Buy, I have no doubt that Super Target will list/describe/tout their location as Emeryville.

  26. ralph

    OSA, perverted in the sense that I have no interest in your literal translation of no place to shop in Oakland. I have bought taxable items in Oakland but less than 25% of my taxable purchases are in Oakland.

  27. Ken O

    @DanSchulman #14 ding ding ding ding! You hit it on the head.

    Stop conveniencing car-drivers who are already rather convenienced to everyone else’s inconvenience.

    urban real estate for the car, free or cheap at that, pollution, dangerous, noisy, waste of money for all involved – bay area people spend $40+ billion pear YEAR on gasoline… what kickass PUBLIC mass transit (vs private auto mass transit) etc would we have with that $40 ba-hillion doughlarz?

  28. James

    While people are on a quixotic quest for a car-free California, people are shopping outside of Oakland, taking sales tax money (and jobs) with them.

  29. Naomi Schiff

    It’s not quixotic, it’s forward-thinking and self-preservation in action. Our species is in some danger of dying out. But I’d say the thing is to use positive, not negative motivations, whenever possible. That means: more retail, yes, but better quality too, better transit, more support of local business, and newer better ways to use automobiles.

  30. Dax

    Shopping for groceries in Oakland without a car…

    Imagine the trouble. Two to three full bags from Trader Joes. What 35 to 45 pounds?
    Oh great, here comes the bus. I’ll just hop on, try to get to seat before he takes off, and I’m trying to balance 40 pounds of groceries while the bus jerks along.
    Then when I get off, I’ll just walk that 4 blocks up hill to my house.

    Oh, you’re over age 65… no problem, it will keep you fit.

    Of course all of the above assumes you live in a safe area, its daylight, and its not raining.

  31. Oakland Space Academy

    Livegreen and CitizenX: Don’t become landlords; if you can’t pass on property taxes to your renters, you will lose your shirts. Owners may not technically be allowed to pass on property tax increases to existing tenants, but in aggregate (all that matters), property taxes are absolutely captured by rents.

    In the real world, “market forces,” or to be more correct, market prices (like rent), include things like costs, property taxes, and laws that constrain rents and/or artificially reduce the supply of housing, whether they be height and density limits, or rent control.

  32. Daniel Schulman

    I am not on any type of car-free quest. I am multi-modal. I like driving. I also like walking and taking transit. Maybe I’ll get a bike one day too.

    Some transit modes are better than others depending on the circumstances. Regularly going to the same destination for 6-9 hours generally can be better accommodated by means other than an automobile.

    As in Dax’s grocery example, cars are often best for irregular, close-by, short duration trips (i.e. the opposite of driving to work).

  33. Livegreen

    Market forces r not all that’s allowed in the real world of rent control. Each city is different, but in Oakland landlords can only pass along rent increases according to the CPI and a few other cost changes:

    “Rent Increase Limits:

    Increases are limited to the CPI adjustment announced each year by the Residential Rent Adjustment Program unless the landlord can justify a higher amount. The law limits these to specific reasons for a higher rent increase.

    Only one increase is allowed in a twelve month period.
    Generally, if tenants do not file a petition within 60 days of receiving a rent increase, they will lose their rights to challenge the increase.
    In most cases, there is no limit on increases when a tenant moves out and a new tenant moves in. Once the new tenant moves in, future increases are limited by the Rent Law.”

    Note the CPI isn’t the real CPI but the “CPI adjustment announced each year by the Residential Rent Adjustment Program”.

    Here r the other reasons rent can b increased, 1x a year:
    http://cedaonline.oaklandnet.com/rentadjustmentsite/landlord/rentincrease/index.htm

    Note the last note:
    “NOTE: An owner may take the CPI Increase OR any combination of individual adjustments, but not both.”

    So if there r CPI increases AND some of these other increases to the LL’s bottom line, they can’t all b passed on to tenants.

    Oakland market forces (other than the negatives of being in Oakland) r not “real world” market forces, where increases in costs can b passed through.

    So how do LL maintain profits if there costs increase but income isn’t allowed to? A decline in income on an investment means they need to cut costs.

    That means either less upkeep, or get new tenants so they can lessen their losses.

  34. ralph

    I regularly observe foot people making multiple bag trips to the grocery store. I used to do it. But as I value my time more, I now let Safeway bring them to me. One can get by w/o a car.

  35. James

    The citiizens of Oakland, especially East and West Oakland, need retail. If that means putting in suburban-style strips malls with big box stores, then so be it. We are losing tax revenue and retail jobs.

  36. Oakland Space Academy

    Livegreen: We are writing past one another here. You are discussing what an individual landlord can do with an individual existing tenant. I am discussing what landlords as a whole do with all tenants (existing and future).

    Fortunately for me your quote makes my point, “…when a tenant moves out and a new tenant moves in,…”; When my cousin moves out of the apartment she’s been in for 15 years at the end of the month, the rent a future tenant will pay for that place will be dramatically higher, enough to capture not only the increase in taxes since then, but to reflect the increase in demand relative to the increase in supply of housing, and also probably a bit to capture future expected increases in taxes that won’t be able to be captured again until that new tenant moves out.

    You seem to suggest that Oakland is vastly different from other places due to its rent control. But almost everywhere (including I’m guessing, next door to you) it is illegal to buy a piece of land and build an 16-story building, including large swaths of Oakland. This is a huge infringement on market forces. By your reasoning, the existence of laws is the absence of “market forces.” Which may be true, it just makes the term meaningless.

    Almost everywhere and at all times, “market forces” are tamed and tempered, strengthened and supported, and clarified and confounded by laws. Some people call that socialism; I call it civilization.

  37. livegreen

    Space, That’s not my quote, that’s from the City website. & that ignores the whole issue of costs to existing tenants. (Everything between the ” “).

    You said earlier how in the real world market forces apply. I was only showing how market forces in Oakland are different from the market forces you so generally described.

    I also showed how in Oakland landlords are not allowed to keep up with increases to their bottom line. This was again to differentiate between market forces in Oakland and market forces you so generally described.

    I did not describe any other situation. I did not say there shouldn’t be any laws against land lords or market forces. And “laws” are not unique to “socialism”. We have plenty of them in democracies.

    What many (not all, but many) cities that have rent controls don’t have are laws that prohibit LL’s from passing along simultaneous & unique increases in operating costs (as detailed in the list) and the CPI. Or ANY increase in Property Taxes (unless specified by each individual tax).

    Prohibiting LL’s from keeping up with costs goes beyond “tempering market forces” like rising profits in an increasing market (which we are NOT talking about here). It’s actually trying to take control of them by forcing landlords to absorb increased costs, instead of the sharing with tenants.

    This deters investment in Oakland and reinvestment in the upkeep of properties. When new rental properties are built, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re artificially inflated (depending on the market) to factor in diminishing returns over time with any medium to long-term tenant.

  38. len raphael

    LG, i’m no fan of rent control, but it’s not as onerous and far reaching as you describe. There are many rental units that are exempt from rent control. Bigees are units newly constructed after January 1, 1983; and units “substantially rehabilitated” after that same date.

    i thought single family homes on single parcels were also exempt, but i could be wrong on that.

    Two or three units on a single parcel where one unit is owner occupied are also exempt.

    http://cedaonline.oaklandnet.com/rentadjustmentsite/landlord/exemptunits/index.htm

    I’d be curious what percentage of units in different price ranges are rent controlled.

  39. len raphael

    OSA, do we agree that there isn’t much difference in the macro sense between renting and owning, though currently the cost of owning is still abnormally higher than cost of renting here.

    Dusting off my econ 1a, it’s not as extreme as CX described to say costs are irrelevant, because in the long rents should drop or increase to equal costs plus some risk factor in an econ textbook.

    But some of the costs, especially the cost of land change in response to market conditions.

    Unlike say SF Marina District where there are no alternatives and 2% vacancies or somesuch, in most parts of Oakland, the resale values of rental property should drop when operating costs, including taxes, go up because landlords collectively simply can’t raise rents just because costs went up when tenants have alternatives to renting from you.

    Simple example. The residential or commercial landlord whose property taxes are half those of an owner who bought after the big run up in prices of the late 90′s will be paying a multiple of the ad valorem property taxes that the prop 13 protected landlord pays. For identical units they will charge identical rents.

    I’m not sure how to prove it, but i am sure that Oakland property values are lower than what they would be otherwise if the ad valorem and parcel taxes here were the same as neighboring cities. if that isn’t true now, it will be when buyers, whether landlords or owner occupants, figure it out.

    Which is to say that taxes, for better or worse, are a transfer of wealth from one group to another.

    -len raphael, temescal

  40. Steve Lowe

    The technology is available to allow us all very low cost door-to-door shuttle service that would be far better than bus service in that the system would run on demand, not pre-set routes that currently have way too many busses running up and down the streets nearly empty on non-peak hours. As such computer-dispatched shuttles can provide door-to-door access – or, even more to the point, door-to-store service and back again – the need for inner-city car ownership can drop to almost zero, particularly for poorer families.

    Other, richer communities will get this service sooner than Oakland, mostly because we have no relationship with MTC, CalTrans, CTC, etc., and the divisiveness on Council (as most accurately described by Sanjiv at Open Forum this Monday) still serves to define Oakland. Let’s support the Transportation Commission that Rebecca is championing and put an end to the absence of a clear Oakland voice st the Board level of our regional agencies, otherwise all the baloney that was blustered the other day ad nauseam about this burg being City of Hope will remain exactly that: Oscar Mayer pig snouts, all package and no product.

    Try this link then get back to tell everyone why, in your always-contrarian way of thinking, it won’t work; it’ll be interesting to see the results:

    http://www.taxibus.org.uk/index.html

    Happy New Year!

    – S

  41. livegreen

    Len, Thanks for the link. This does address my concerns about new constructions.

    I still don’t understand about the pass through of Property Taxes though. Would these be included in the “Justifications for Rent Increase Higher than the CPI Increase” under the

    “Increased Housing Service Costs: An increase that compares two years of operating expenses and allows for an increase in situations where there has been an increase in those costs.” ?

    If so, they sure make it hard to understand, and I also don’t understand why the City Council then had to approve a 50% Pass-Through on one of the recent Property Tax measures?

    PS. Market forces are still exempt from this discussion, and here that’s affected by Crime & Education (vs. neighboring cities) and Prop-13 LL’s (inside Oakland).

  42. len raphael

    LG, I’m not an expert on oakland rent control. My impression from someone who used to sit on the board for the landlord side, tells me that the way the formula works, it’s hard to raise controlled rents for tax increases.

    it’s possible but also difficult to raise rents for improvements and new appliances.

    Keep in mind that Oakland’s rent control laws, like most other cities that imposed them during the severe WWII and post WWII vet’s returning housing shortages, only cover existing residential tennants. Once a unit is vacant, it goes to market rate and thereafter increases are subject to controls.

    Regardless of rent controlled or not, all tennants are covered by the Just Cause Eviction rules.

    Unless it’s a unit in a gentrifying area, or occupied by the same tennant for 20 years, i doubt if rent controlled rents are all that much lower than market rents. is that a disincentive for people to buy occupied non exempt rental buildings in gentrifying areas. Yes. Does rent control actually encourage condo conversion in those situations? Yes.

    -len raphael, temescal

  43. ralph

    Len,
    Open Forum – speaker time at Council meetings.

    LG,
    Market forces are always part of the discussion. And what are Prop 13 LLs

    ———-
    And for the love of dog, can we quit it with the undefined abbreviations. CPI I get but what is LL?

  44. len raphael

    The other big, tennant activists would call a loophole, exemption is for increases for purchased debt service. Oakland is one of few cities with controls that allow buyers to essentially raise rents to market if they have debt costs. Unintended consequence is how that exemption encourages low downpayments or all cash or exchanges.

  45. len raphael

    Overall, i just don’t see rent control being some huge drag on the growth of this city, responsible for its problems.

    it slows rent increases in boom times, does discourage improvements and maintaining the units, but both landlords and tennants work fine with it just the way it is.

  46. Oakland Space Academy

    Steve Lowe: The technology of which you speak has been around for decades; they are called cabs. I took one home the other night, they work great. I highly recommend them.

    Livegreen: We seem to be pretty much in agreement here on urban land economics. But I have disdain for your term “market forces,” which I think dumbly simplifies a complex system. And you seem to think Oakland is somehow singular, while I think it ordinary. New rental housing in absolutely rent-inflated, both because of the diminishing returns as you suggest, and because I can’t buy the house next door to yours, tear it down, and build a beautiful 16-story condominium building.

    Len: We do agree. I believe the thrust of what you write is correct, though you know way more than I about the specifics of local taxation and land values, so I’m not sure I’d challenge you even if I thought you wrong.

    Ralph: My mistake – I thought you were serious when claiming there was nowhere to shop in Oakland. In the future, I won’t take you seriously.

  47. Oakland Space Academy

    Dax: Shopping for groceries in Oakland without a car can be wonderful. I used to live in Grand Lake, and stopped in at my local green grocer, Lakeshore Produce, most every night to do my grocery shopping for that night and the next day or two. It was quintessential urban living, and I loved it.

    In the neighborhood I now live, East Lorin, there are no quality green markets, and so I must drive to Safeway, Androncios, or Berkeley Bowl once or twice a week to stock up (two or three bags), and in comparison it sucks.

  48. livegreen

    Len, Our Property Taxes are already greater than surrounding cities, and a deterrent to live here. But for LL’s who can’t pass along these taxes and have to eat the costs, esp. if they have long-term tenants, that HAS to affect the upkeep of the property. Your margin shrinks, you cut back.

    Now how big a challenge it is for either individual LL’s to get those pass-throughs or how big a problem it is for the City, I don’t know. That’s why I’m engaged in the discussion. But I’m not as likely to dismiss the concern as you are without knowing more, given how complicated Oakland politics are and how Oakland seems more concerned about renters than property owners, and about its poor than it’s middle class.

    As a contrasting example, it seems VERY easy to understand where another liberal city, New York, stands on this same issue. Quick Wiki search:

    “In New York City… As set up in the New York City Local Law 30 of 1970, the formula reflects real estate taxes, water and sewer charges, operating and maintenance expenses, return on capital value and vacancy and collection loss allowance.”

    How complicated was that? My question is very simple: Does Oakland allow pass-throughs on RE taxes? If it does, spell it out! If it doesn’t, Oakland is actively deterring home ownership, while promoting renting. The proof is the results: Owners 40%, Renters 60%.

    By doing so Oakland is diminishing it’s own tax base. And that, my friends, is STUPID. However the City spends the money.

    LL = Landlord. (The 1st time I used it above wasn’t long after spelling it out).
    RE = Real Estate

  49. len raphael

    LG, simply drop by the Rental Housing Association in DTO and ask them what percentage of units here are subject to rent control vs exempt.

    They also have rent statistics.

    And ask them for the rent controlled units whether the expense pass thru rules are the typical limiting factor for rent increases or just depressed market for rentals here for all the usual reasons.

    -len

  50. Patrick M. Mitchell

    By not allowing tax increase pass throughs, the City also increases it’s chances of passing tax measures. If those increases don’t immediately and fully affect 60% of the population, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get to the 66.6% required for tax measure passage.

    It’s easy to tell when you’re in a city that has rent control. Just look at the older multi-family housing stock. For the most part, they’re dumps, just like in Oakland (and San Francisco to some extent. Slightly different because of the high degree of desirability). And that depresses the value of every single piece of real estate in Oakland. Rent Control provides huge benefits to a small subset of people – those who stay in their rent controlled apartments for many, many years – at the expense of every single other resident in the City.

  51. Patrick M. Mitchell

    I would also say that rent control has another unintended, adverse affect on those who are supposed to benefit: they’re trapped. After many years, they are often paying well below market rates, so moving to another apartment where the new rent is jacked up to capture monies lost due to rent control becomes a real hardship. Landlords know this…so there is little (ok NO) incentive to improve the property until the current tenants move out. So people in rent controlled apartments end up getting exactly what they pay for.

  52. len raphael

    Patrick, my point is that it’s a relatively small percentage of rental units whose rent is below market because of rent control. Nothing close to the 60% of the population that rents.

    The post 1983 units are exempt, and Section 8 units are exempt. (but then Sect 8 residents are unaffected by pass thru’s anyway). Then units with turnover have already reset a few times, and rents in many parts of oakland dropped a bit from a few years ago.

    Yes most residential tennants are shielded from quickly feeling the pain of property or biz tax increases, but that’s because those tax increases at most get passed thru very slowly or never because tennants move to cheaper areas or units if they’re rents are raised.

  53. Naomi Schiff

    I know quite a few landlords, and they don’t seem troubled by the relatively weak tenant protections in Oakland. This includes somebody who runs a management company. I just don’t think this is a huge problem. Yes, there are plenty of people who have philosophical or political objections, but people still find it a profitable enterprise to own buildings and rent out units. On the other hand, as the neighbor of some absentee-landlord buildings, it has been a good thing that tenants have at least some recourse, and it seems to help rather than hinder upkeep and proper management that there is an avenue for complaints. I lived here first as a tenant, then as an owner, before the rent rules passed, and I remember how it was before. Many renters are great contributors to our city and neighborhoods, and they shouldn’t be viewed negatively, any more than owners should.

  54. Oakland Space Academy

    Patrick: Good points on rent control, though I’m not sure I’d characterize someone benefiting long term as “trapped”, maybe “golden handcuffs” would be better.

    Unfortunately, rent control is probably a necessary evil in a regulatory environment that makes it so difficult to increase the supply of housing to meet increases in demand, whether from height and density limits, “affordable housing” requirements, or simply obtaining entitlement for what is nominally legal.

    And of course there are benefits that don’t only accrue to the renters themselves. Foremost of which is the vesting that likely occurs among long-term tenants in their neighborhoods.

  55. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Yes, being a slumlord can be very profitable. My point is that rent control could turn landlords into slumlords due to financial necessity.

  56. Patrick M. Mitchell

    I’ll stick with “trapped”.

    Yes, I agree that many of the regulations you reference strangle investment and keep our City struggling. But isn’t that what our City government excels at: feel-good governance that doesn’t produce the desired effect while simultaneously producing unintended negative consequences?

    I’ve had the “vesting” argument on this blog before. I maintain that the vested interest is in the BMR apartment itself; the neighborhood may or may not benefit.

  57. Dax

    Oakland Space Academy,

    “Dax: Shopping for groceries in Oakland without a car can be wonderful. I used to live in Grand Lake, and stopped in at my local green grocer, Lakeshore Produce, most every night to do my grocery shopping”

    Seriously, your age?
    You think people aged 50+–70+, and up, can lug 40 pounds of groceries blocks and blocks.
    Try lugging groceries in almost ANY direction from Lakeshore. Steep!
    Or that they can go shopping every other day as you suggest.
    Or that in addition to their groceries cost, they can afford a $5 to $7+ taxi on top of that?

    Of course the other 95% of residents do as you now do…use a car a couple times a week.
    A great choice for them. A economical choice for them or they wouldn’t do it.
    A safer choice for them.
    People drive cars because it makes sense.
    Cities don’t supply massive public transport because is is extremely costly.

    Cars, because they make sense, and because our air is more than excellent with the current equipment (despite the best efforts of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to scare us).
    BAAQMD staff could be cut in half and do nothing to lessen our air quality. A government agency that chiefly exists in its current size because it simply wants to maintain its staff and budget.

    Their big warning this year….

    “NEVER burn holiday wrapping paper,”

    OMG, will we ever survive. How in the name of God did my grandparents and parents live into their late 80′s and 90′s without the guidance of the BAAQMD regarding the proper disposal of “holiday wrapping paper”?

    Hrrumph!

  58. V Smoothe

    No, rent control cannot turn landlords into slumlords due to financial necessity. Oakland’s rent control ordinance allows landlords of building covered by the ordinance at all (which is far from all of our rental housing stock) to pass on the cost of capital improvement to their tenants, and well as operating expense increases in excess of the CPI increase (due to increased costs associated insurance, water, property tax, etc.)

  59. ralph

    Naomi,
    Renter / owner debate is an old one. And renters can contribute to their community. But the reality is the economic model would indicate that renters behave differently than owners. When was the last time you put premium gas in a premium rental?

    I have observed marked difference in units occupied by renters versus owners. The unit occupied by a renter for a year was more marked up than a unit occupied by an owner for over 3 years.

  60. mel

    Hmm. Not a peep of reporting or discussion about our recent mayoral inauguration and changes at the city council, or am I missing something?

  61. V Smoothe Post author

    What’s there to say about the inauguration? The new Mayor hasn’t done anything yet. I write about issues, not human interest stories.

  62. Oakland Space Academy

    Dax: I’m old enough to not remember the 60s, and about the age where my grandmother stopped telling people hers. I just might follow suit.

    My point though, was that it is possible to grocery shop in Oakland without a car. Not, it seems, with the kind of shopping you prefer to do. I don’t want to lug 40 pounds of groceries blocks and blocks on foot either. I had to do that some in college, and it wasn’t fun then. I’d rather not to have to lug 40 pounds in my car now, but it is either that or having to hop in my car every day or two. No thanks.

    The great thing about nearly daily food shopping is that you have nowhere near 40 pounds to carry, more like 10 pounds.

    But regardless of you grocery shopping preferences, it is difficult to do so in Oakland without a car from many (most?) residences. That’s because so many residences are blocks and blocks from a high street, mass transit is less than adequate, and on most corners in Oakland (including all four of mine) it is illegal to open a small market.

    It wouldn’t have to be that way, but it appears from the cuts to public transit and the update to the zoning code that it will be for quite some time. I think that’s too bad; I’d rather that most Oaklanders had more choices when it came to how and where they are able to grocery shop.

  63. Patrick M. Mitchell

    How does one prove capital improvements or increased operating expenses? By providing documents easily forged by anyone with a computer and a printer? Perhaps the situation for slumlords isn’t as grim as I feared.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I once owned 27 rental units, spread out over 16 properties. Although not always true, I would have to say that in general, renters do not take very good care of their units – certainly not as well as I would expect an owner to. Paint is a good example: though expressly forbidden by my rental contract, about 50% of the renters painted at least part of their unit. And universally, the quality of the work was bad – so bad, that it often required painting trim, scraping windows and stripping hardwood floors to mitigate the shoddy work. Would these same people do the same thing to their own homes, knowing that they were decreasing the value of their investment?

  64. Dax

    Oakland Space Academy.

    One note on the cutbacks in public transportation.
    I take it you mean AC Transit.

    Perhaps there wouldn’t be so many “cutbacks” if the AC Transit drivers weren’t being given the most lucrative benefit package ever devised by man.

    In case you didn’t know, the driver’s benefit package as a percentage of their official salary, is ……hold on…….
    Take a guess…… NO, higher

    Not a 40% benefit package…
    NO, not a 60% benefit package..

    NO, still higher…
    75%…? NO, still higher yet.

    Yes indeed, the AC Transit union drivers receive a 85% benefit package.
    Earn 100 dollars and they get another 85 dollars in benefits.

    So the next time you see cutbacks, think 85% benefits…
    Get out those boots and “start walking”

  65. Steve Lowe

    Space: great that you can afford a taxi; most of the folks in West Oakland cannot and are therefore compelled to take buses, especially difficult for seniors and others with any sort of physically restrictive malady. Imagine, however, what their mobility would be like if they could punch a button on their cell phone and have a shuttle roll right up to their front door, pick them up and take them right to wherever they wanted to go: hospital, grocery store, senior center, you name it. Maybe even get one or another citizen down to City Hall in time to sign up for Open Forum…

    Now imagine that these shuttles are all controlled by some sort of Google-operated cloud computer, pretty much the same thing that drove a car all the way across country without the operator having to touch the wheel even once. Under those conditions, a fleet of shuttles could be roaming the neighborhood – or maybe even the entire city – and dispatched according to demand, as opposed to having a bunch of buses out there running around with scarcely a soul on board because buses are basically mini-trains for the masses with set routes and schedules that can’t be deviated from. Taxis are, of course, the total opposite: didn’t exist much prior to the invention of the telephone, other than as roving, horse-drawn cabs in major urban centers. And, until the advent of the computer, taxis just couldn’t operate except on the idea of sharing and attaining thereby a greater efficiency than just picking up a single client at a time.

    Now we’ve got GPS and computer dispatch to add to the equation, the only thing stopping it being the same kind of politics that dashed Dial-A-Ride thirty years ago when that system began in San Mateo County. It made good use of the computer and was fairly successful even before the invention of GPS but was not supported by the County after awhile due to the local Luddite faction that, fearing the end of jobs for both taxi and bus drivers, lobbied various officials to end the program.

    Now with a third technology (computer dispatch + GPS + GoogleDrive), MTC could fund a very simple pilot project for an innercity neighborhood where the need was most acute. Will Oakland, hub of the Bay Area’s transportation matrix, get something like that? Nope: first on MTC’s list, as always, is AOTO – Anyplace Other Than Oakland.

    – S

  66. Dax

    In the Tribune today it says Jean Quan and volunteers will be going door to door in District 7 telling neighbors about several projects.

    One of those is the following

    # Recruiting neighbors for a street cleanup to happen Jan. 15 and Jan. 17;

    About that cleanup project on Jan 15 and 17.

    Is that kind of project really better than doing nothing?
    You clean it up. Looks good for about 10 days and then it slowly deteriorates back to its norm.

    Rather like in Afghanistan where a village is cleared and the American troops leave, only to have the Taliban return very soon thereafter.

    Each time a outside entity cleans up the streets, folks then wait, because they know, when it gets really bad, someone will come in again and clean it up.
    Why try to keep it clean in the interim.

    So you end up with a neighborhood where the norm is “littered” over 90% of the time.

    Isn’t there some other way that City Hall can cook up?
    You have to think even smaller than a neighborhood association that does this once each month.
    Think even smaller. Think incentive for one block, one person.

    Otherwise you are still ending up with garbage 90% of the time.

    BTW, a few months ago, Don Perata had a well attended cleanup day in East Oakland.
    I wonder when he has his next one scheduled?
    Think I should call and ask?

    (wonder what happened to all those brand new shovels, rakes and brooms)

  67. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Dax, Dax, Dax…this has NOTHING to do with “cleaning up” and everything to do with “good relations”. When she starts repaving streets, I’ll be impressed.

  68. Oakland Space Academy

    Steve Lowe: I can’t afford to take a taxi every day, which is why I’m glad to have a bus system.

    Your proposal seems just a bunch of fancy terminology for taxis subsidized by the government. Which is fine if that’s what you’d like to see happen, just call it what it is. But I hope you don’t expect this to replace buses – it would be vastly more expensive.

    Most of the time when I board a bus, which is most days, there are plenty of people on board, even outside of commute hours.

    I think it is fine to subsidize some sort of taxi service for the elderly, poor, and infirm. I feel like we may already do this; though I’m sure we could be doing more.

    I don’t have to imagine the system you describe, I live it when I visit SF. There I can punch a button on my phone and have a shuttle pull right up to where I’m standing. It’s an app called Cabulous. I’m not sure why we’d need to create a separate government entity to do the very same thing. Better to just give people money for cabs.

    But because what you propose doesn’t really address the environmental and social costs of automobile use, I don’t think it deserves widespread subsidy. Which, at the end of the day, just makes it a taxi.

  69. livegreen

    V, But landlord’s can’t pass on the costs of capital improvements and the CPI. only one OR the other. (Even if they’ve experienced both).

  70. V Smoothe Post author

    livegreen –

    One doesn’t “experience” CPI. CPI is used to set the annual allowed increase in rent that a landlord can impose without providing any justification for the increase. Landlords who experience increased costs beyond CPI, either for operating expenses such as utilities and taxes, or for capital improvements, are permitted to pass these costs onto their tenants so long as they provide documentation of the increased expense.

    I know that people like to complain about rent control, but the claims people are making here about the program are simply not grounded in the facts of our actual law or in evidence.

    Anecdotaly, I see little to suggest that Oakland’s rent adjustment ordinance is imposing some kind of untenable burden on landlords. I am not aware of any campaign from the Rental Housing Association to rescind the ordinance, which you would think they would do if it was a huge problem. Nor do I know anyone who lives in a rent controlled building who gets their rent raised annually, even by the permitted amount. My rent, for example, has not increased in four years, even though my landlord has been entitled by the rent adjustment ordinance to do so in each of those years.

  71. ralph

    OSA,
    Yes, paratransit is push button direct transport for the infirmed and elderly. Cabs for the rest of us.

  72. MarleenLee

    As far as I know RHANAC actively campaigned against the rent control ordinance at the time it was on the ballot, and has actively campaigned against proposed modifications recently that would make property ownership in Oakland even more burdensome. The costs of trying to remove a voter approved measure would be staggering, and property owners do not have much cash these days to fight these things, what with the property market so totally depressed.

  73. Livegreen

    V, If landlords can pass along increases in property taxes, why did the City feel it necessary to spell out that 50% could b passed through to renters? (Measure X, I think).

    This is the source of my confusion.

  74. Steve Lowe

    ?????

    But buses are already a subsidy, Space, and their bottom-line efficiency is pathetic. You may be one of the few folks in the universe who’s never seen a bus gliding by with maybe only three people on board, but I’ve seen it more than once a day whenever I’m out and about on foot. And I’ve also seen people waiting for buses late at night when it’s cold and rainy and no bus is in sight because of some goofy breakdown or something further on down the line. And there’s too many people out there who, not having had your generally pleasant experiences with Muni, ACTransit, etc., have had a rotten time with big, bulky, double-long things that they simply wouldn’t bother with if there were a cheaper, faster, more accessible means of transport to accommodate their real needs.

    But go right ahead and have a group hug with MTC and congratulate its Boardmembers on a job well done: everything works well enough for you to defend these bozos when all that’s really being asked is to get a response as to why we can’t make better use of the huge technological leaps that have occurred over the last thirty years (during which time, incidentally, access for the poor has deteriorated significantly, with bus routes through poor communities being cut back to almost none at all).

    Suppose we were able to put it to a vote, do you think the folks who are being denied service would want something better than what they’re getting, especially if better also meant door-to-door and no more than a five-minute wait? Even folks in the hills where no bus ever comes could benefit from such system improvements, and we’d all be a lot happier knowing that cleaner air would result with so many more cars off the road and so many more people confident that they could get from point A to point B without so much hassle as exists today. Last month, a woman had no choice but to hoof it seventeen blocks from the West Oakland BART station to her home. The story in papers the next day about the terror she and her friends were subjected to due to her vulnerability and no safe passage speaks volumes as to the inadequacy of our present day bus system, a condition that persists because, at rock bottom, the OAC-minded bureaucrats here in the Bay Area really prefer to see that riders don’t get their money’s worth.

    Time to start thinking out of the bus! I’m not suggesting that we give ‘em up altogether, just like I’m not advocating getting rid of BART or light rail so that buses can have free rein: let’s keep the main line where usage is heaviest and longer distances can be attained for the cheapest price. But let’s also encourage modern systems to improve access in our increasingly more isolated neighborhoods.

    Thanks,

    – S

  75. Oakland Space Academy

    Steve Lowe: If you think the bottom line efficiency of buses is pathetic, wait until the numbers come in on your proposal.

    I’ve got no love for AC Transit, and with the OAC debacle and the refusal to extend service later, I have less and less love for BART. I don’t doubt your plan would be faster and more accessible, but cheaper? That’s delusional.

    I think you are right, however, in that if we put it to a vote, your idea would win. Who among us would not want a personal chauffeur if someone else was paying for it? Not me, sign me up!

    And of course the folks in the hills would love it too. To be able to have one of the benefits of urbanism (timely, reliable transport) without having apartment dwellers as neighbors or having to live where they can walk to stuff – that’s super awesome! Another way to subsidize the wealthy!

    I wish I understood better why you think your scheme would result in cleaner air. It can’t be by taking owner-occupied single-occupancy vehicle trips, and turning them into government-owned single-occupancy vehicle trips, that doesn’t make any sense. So what is it, magic transit pixie fairy dust?

  76. len raphael

    Naomi, I had assumed that Oakland’s rent control dated from WWII and post WW veteran returning housing crunch, but I was off by a a few decades. Genesis was response to Prop 13.

    Allowable raises without using special cost formulas have been:
    The annual CPI increase rate effective July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011 is 2.7% and can not be implemented earlier than July 1, 2010. Tenants may only be given one increase in any 12-month period, and the rent increase cannot take effect earlier than the tenant’s Anniversary Date. In addition, California law requires that tenants be provided with either 30 days (for increases 10% or less) or 60 days (for increases greater than 10%) written advance notice of a rent increase.

    * July 1, 2010: 2.7%
    * July 1, 2009: 0.7%
    * July 1, 2008: 3.2%
    * July 1, 2007: 3.3%
    * May 1, 2006: 3.3%
    * May 1, 2005: 1.9%
    * May 1, 2004: 0.7%
    * May 1, 2003: 3.6%
    * July 1, 2002: 0.6%
    * March 1, 1995 – June 30, 2002: 3% per year

    Andrew, if your unit is not exempt, then you’re entitle to ask the rent control agency to order your landlord to refund all those rent increases. My recollection, is that if subject to rent control, even if the increases were limited to what the law allowed, if tennant was not given the full disclosure copy of their rights under the rent control law at time of signing and every time the rent was raised, then those otherwise lawful increases have to be refunded also.

    -len raphael, reluctant landlord

  77. Navigator

    Naomi, I know this is off topic but I have to ask if anyone has had a chance to walk by the 12th Street improvements and noticed the height of the footings for the auto bridge which will cross the Lake Merritt Channel? It looks like that anyone walking along the area of the current sidewalk on 12th Street will be looking at the underside of a cement bridge when this is all completed. The view of the Oakland Audotrium will be blocked by a very tall auto bridge over the Lake Merritt Channel. I coudn’t belive the height of those forms when I walked by this morning. I can’t believe the height and placement of this bridge wasn’t considered for the obstruction of views as wellm as a big eysore of cement which will no doubt be covered by our little urban graffiti terrorist in no time.

  78. ralph

    Off topic in Open thread?

    Nav,
    I am curious to what you are describing but I can not identify the area from your description. Can you add a few more reference points?

  79. Naomi Schiff

    Navigator–I’d recommend looking at the plans. Views would depend on from precisely which point we are talking about. We’ll be walking along different paths than previously so I’m not sure about sightlines. The plan is for a walkway under 12th Street and its bridge so one could go along the channel, toward Laney College etc. There will be two 12th St. bridges over the channel: one for pedestrians and bikes, closer to the water, and one for cars, the reconfigured 12th St. road.

    There is a wonderful blog of the construction, created by Erik Niemann, showing the view from 1200 Lakeshore, and updated frequently.
    http://oakland12thstreetproject.blogspot.com/

    Livegreen, of course you are right. I was thinking about the distant past, not the recent Meas X. I see we have come full circle once agian.

  80. len raphael

    LG, if the details of the rent control law mechanics start on page 25 of their regulations, http://cedaonline.oaklandnet.com/rentadjustmentsite/ucm/groups/hcd_rent_adjustment/documents/hcd/regs2007.pdf

    My impression is that increases in property taxes, landlord paid utils, long lasting improvements, can only be passed thru to the extent they would bring the increase in total operating costs as a percentage of the rent increase by more than the cpi increase.

    That’s why the council was making a concession to landlords by allowing a direct passthru of half that parcel tax, in addition to the cpi increase.

    And for the improvements, you divide their cost over 5 years to figure out what to add.

    All in all, it’s a royal pita for a landlord to document and get granted increases above the cpi. Usually not worth dealing with the hearing procedure where you have to bring in original copies of all invoices,checks, staments, etc.

    if a landlord otherwise gives proper notice, they can chose not to apply the cpi increases now, but “bank them” to hit you later.

    -len raphael

  81. len raphael

    rent control increases for “amortized” capital improvements end when the 5 years or whatever amortization period ends. basically, such a document and tracking pita, that only a landlord who had done a bunch of improvements and wanted to legally drive away their tennant would bother doing it.

  82. Steve Lowe

    Spaceperson, If I have to wait until the numbers come out, I’ll be long dead, as MTC does not want to study anything that it hasn’t most brilliantly thought up all by itself, precisely why OAC succeeded even though everyone else in town who hadn’t been lobbied out of their minds by Bombardier wanted to see comparative studies done so that the facts might inform a more reasonable dialogue.

    As to my delusions, how can it be more efficient for a bus to come by every hour or so to a stop that will always be difficult for many to get to when, instead, a roving shuttle can go straight to the doorstep of a prospective passenger and deliver him or her exactly where he or she wants to go? Naturally, as the efficiency of the shuttle rises in proportion to the number of riders it can accommodate, the direct delivery of Passenger A is always going to be subject to delays as the shuttle detours to pick up Passenger B or drop off Passenger C, an acceptable diversion since the cost of using the system is as about as much as the cost of a bus today.

    Such “enhanced jitney” service satisfies customer need and, because it’s demand-driven, keeps the shuttle fleet filled to capacity, something that the buses just can’t do because they can’t make a detour. How is it delusional to think that this archaic bus system that we’ve had for more than a century can’t be improved at least as much as a decade’s worth of improvisation brought to the airline industry? We have the technology, and it’d be criminal not to use it, especially if it means that the efficiencies we’d all gain would result in cleaner air due to less miles travelled per passenger.

    I think where you are probably off track in terms of synchronicity with this concept is in thinking that the shuttle goes from Point A directly to Point B just for Passenger X only, instead of having it detour to Point C in the event that Passenger Y calls in and gets entered into the system because the computer figures out how to accommodate him or her without breaking Passenger X’s implicit contract to be delivered to Point B within a reasonable amount of time.

    That’s not at all a “government-owned, single-occupancy vehicle trip”; instead it’s a governmentally subsidized means of delivering multiple passengers to their precise destinations in the most efficient manner possible, yes?

    – S

  83. Navigator

    Naomi,

    From what I saw this morning, anyone walking across the new pedestrian bridge, which will run over the channel where Lakeshore will meet up with 12th Street, will be looking at the underside of the auto bridge which will run closer to the Oakland Auditorium. Unless the new pedestrian bridge will have a higher elevation than the current sidewalk on 12th Street, anyone looking towards the Oakland Auditorium as they round Lakeshore and turn on the pedestrian bridge on 12th Street, is going to have an eye full of the underside of the auto bridge as they try to get a look at an obstructed Oakland Auditorium. This is based on the height of the new forms for the support of the auto bridge.

    Also, the condition of the improvements at Lake Merritt are once again looking very shabby and no one from Public Works or Parks &; Rec gives a dam untill someone like me takes pictures and posts them on line. Frankly, I’m tired of this. I’m tired of seeing months old gangster graffiti on the retaining wall in front of the tall condo building next to the Lake Merritt Hotel. The graffiti was there two months ago and its now been joined by additional graffiti on the wall and on those nice new black benches next to the retaining wall. The wood chips covering the new landscaping are all over the pasths exposing the ugly plastic sheeting, there’s litter everywhere and in the planter beds, we have large blue graffiti coveringbthe steps leading from the Lake to cross the street to the Kaiser Center, garbage cans are full of graffiti, missing doors and over filled with trash. It’s a sorry scene and it speaks volumes about Oakland’s committment to keeping up those expensive improvements. Oakland needs to be pro-active and have some one address these issues on a daily basis and not wait for months until someone complains. They have a Park and Rec utiliity yard at the Lake and yet Oakland’s “crown jewel” is a disgrace. How many times do I have to write Nancy Nadel and take pictures before a plan to maintain the Lake on a consistent basis is enacted? This is a disgrace and who ever is responsible for the non maintenance of Lake Merrit should be fired.

  84. Navigator

    Ralph,

    If you go to Erik Neiman’s excellent blog on the 12th Street Measure DD improvements that Naomi posted above, scroll down to the third picture which showns the forms for the support of the auto bridge over the channel. In that picture you’ll see two people walking on the sidewalk. From their vantage point the auto bridge is going to block the view of the Oakland Auditorium. The top of those forms already blocked my view of part of the Oakland Auditorium and I’m 6’1 and the top of those forms will only be the bottom supports of the new bridge roadway. I can’t believe something like this wasn’t addressed during design review.

  85. livegreen

    I have to agree with Navigator. I would have thought the roadway/auto bridge would have been set down somewhat so that all angles would have views of the beautiful Kaiser center and so it’s still integrated into the view of the Lake.

    But can anything be done about this now?

  86. ralph

    Nav and Naomi,
    Thanks. Seems like there has been quite a bit of progress since I last made a trip around the lake. Will try to check it out later today.

  87. Navigator

    I don’t know what can be done about it now, but I’m very disappointed. It seems like we’ll be trading a bunch of hulking concrete for more elevated concrete closer to the Oakland Convention Center.

    Also, let’s show some pride in “Oakland’s crown jewel.” Lake Merritt is supposed to be a place of beauty and relaxation, not a place to see graffiti and blight. It’s not a matter of money because the graffiti and blight that I saw yeasterday could be taken care of in a few hours. It’s amatter of not caring and leaving conditons as they are until someone complains. Lake Merritt is a public space, it shouldn’t be anyone’s responsibility to call Public Works to report every blighted condition around the Lake. It’s all right there next to the paths and retaining walls for everyone to see. The Lake stays in a blighted state for months. Oakland has the responsibility of making sure that Oakland residents have a place of beauty and relaxation where they can take some pride in thier city. It’s up to the City of Oakland to pay attention to detail and maintain Lake Merritt to an acceptable standard.

  88. gem

    “From what I saw this morning, anyone walking across the new pedestrian bridge, which will run over the channel where Lakeshore will meet up with 12th Street, will be looking at the underside of the auto bridge which will run closer to the Oakland Auditorium. Unless the new pedestrian bridge will have a higher elevation than the current sidewalk on 12th Street, anyone looking towards the Oakland Auditorium as they round Lakeshore and turn on the pedestrian bridge on 12th Street, is going to have an eye full of the underside of the auto bridge as they try to get a look at an obstructed Oakland Auditorium. This is based on the height of the new forms for the support of the auto bridge.”

    They had to make the bridge high enough for boats to pass under. The bridge is going to be higher than the current roadway because the current roadway is too low for boats and proper movement of water from the channel to the lake. The road has to slope back down to grade in front of the Kaiser Building, so I would not make any assumptions about the finished height of the entire road based on bridge supports. The pedestrian bridge will also be higher than the current bridge, but not as high as the auto bridge. They will get an eyefull of the underside of the auto bridge, but the auto bridge will also have pedestrian walkways under it, so that is a good thing. I want to be visible to other people when I am walking under a bridge.

    From all the plans and drawings I’ve seen, there is a view of the Kaiser building from the lake. Just keep walking past the bridge. The truth of the matter is that: the bridge needs to be higher than it is, if you want to walk next to the edge of the lake, you’re going to be lower than anything higher up from shore, and therefore to change the nature of things (have people next to the lake be higher than things inland) requires more time, resources, and money. As it stands, the Kaiser center is going to be obscured from view at certain points anyway, due to the new trees (if they go in as they are on the plan). So the view is controlled in such a way that you must walk onto the new lawn to see the entire facade of the building. Before the new construction, the Kaiser building was obscured by the embankment for the12th st underpass (and trees) up to the point of those pedestrians in the third photograph anyway. It was obscured on the other end by the 13th/14th split and the accompanying concrete walls as well. I don’t think the new viewing angle is going to be that much smaller (if at all), and will make up for any reduction of degree by a wider range of viewing opportunities and overall aesthetic improvement.

  89. ralph

    Gem,
    Thanks. Took my walk around the lake this aftn. I slowed my roll as I approached Kaiser to notice the views and work. Definitely noted the change in views.

    Forgot to check out the graffiti. I did notice some on the street boxes (not the community art projects). During the Mehserle verdict, PW was out there in less time than it took to tell them there was graffiti around the lake. Hopefully, this will get cleaned up quickly. But they can not clean what they do not know and they can not be at all places at all times.

  90. Navigator

    Gem,

    Thanks for your information. I took another walk this afternoon and it looks like the Oakland Auditorium will be blocked for at least 100ft as you come off of Lakeshore and turn on 12th Street. Hopefully the increased height of the pedestrian bridge will help reduce the amount of area where one loses sight of the Oakland Auditorium. The good news is that the Oakland Museum side of the improvements should have great sightlines from the new park area along with views back toward the Lake. I do have concerns regarding views from the Oakland Auditorium back to the Lake. I’m afraid we maybe looking at an elevated ribbon of concrete as we look back at the lake from the eastern side of the Oakland Auditorium. That’s a real shame because that view looking back at the Lake,the hills, and the skyline was, and is, one of the best in all of Oakland. I’m hoping this elevated bridge along with the elavated approach section of roadway doesn’t creat a visual and physical barrier between the Oakland Auditorium and Lake Merritt.

  91. Navigator

    Ralph,

    The graffiti on the retaining wall in front of the Lakeside One buiding has been there for months. You can even see it from Lakeside Park and now the adjacent new black benches along with the old green benches are all covered in graffiti. There’s also a big green utility box near Lake Chalet covered in big white graffiti. If Public Works hasn’t seen the graffiti in this area for two months it says a whole lot about how many times anyone in Public Works or Parks & Rec walk around the perimeter of the Lake inspecting areas which they know have needed attention in the past. There’s no excuse for this type of neglect. It’s not a very expensive or time consuming problem to take care of, it just takes a little dedication and a plan and a schedule for regular maintenance at Lake Merritt. If I had the time I’d take care of the problem myself like I did when I lived in the Laurel. I’d love to be one of Jean Quan’s volunteer army. Perhaps when retirement calls.

  92. ralph

    Is the graffiti streetside? If so, that goes a long way to why I have not seen it. Will try to check out the benches next time I go for a lake loop. I try to keep my eyes open for needed clean up in and around the lake. (I am surprised at the things people will dump in the lake.)

    In defense of PW, if one cleans up an area, then one may make fewer trips to check out how things are doing if one has observed sustained good behavior. Also, considering I walked by a graffiti covered green box twice and did not notice the graffiti until my second pass, I am willing to cut them some slack.

  93. Naomi Schiff

    There is a cleanup planned if anyone wants to pitch in:

    MLK Day of Service 2011 – Lake Merritt and Garden
    Location:
    666 Bellevue Ave. , Oakland CA
    When:
    January 17, 2011 08:30 AM to
    January 17, 2011 01:00 PM

    Beautifying Lake Merritt and the nature gardens, planting, mulching, brushing, tree planting and weeding and more. Be there rain or shine

    Also, every Saturday, Lake Merritt Institute invites volunteers to lend a hand cleaning up the lake. With our many rainy weekends, probably fewer volunteers have been showing up, but it is a great season for it–more trash gets into the lake when it is raining, and you don’t get so overheated working vigorously. Come on down!

    The Lake Merritt Institute provides gloves, custom-made nets, several pairs of hip waders (sizes 7 – 11), trash bags, and trash cans. Meet on the second floor of the Boating Center, 568 Bellevue Ave., Oakland, or call (510) 238-2290 to schedule an event for a group.

    Tuesdays at 10:30 am, Saturdays at 10 am.

    Location:
    Lake Merritt, Boating Center, 568 Bellevue Ave., Oakland, CA

  94. ralph

    Naomi,
    Good reminder. I normally skip the summer months because 1) every one volunteers during the summer and 2) no one volunteers during rainy season.

    Just to add to the LMI clean-up. It is great for groups. After you do it once, you can clean the lake anytime that you want to without being part of a group or at a regularly scheduled time.

  95. len raphael

    Jerry adjusted hils assault on the RDA’s by broadening the distribution of the captured treasure beyond k-12 supporters to city general funds.

    Now he’ll get the muni unions, local elected officials, plus the education lobby on his side.

    That should clinch it.

    Curious how he’ll propose the phase in and the phase outs. ie. what projects in the planning stages would be grandfathered and which not. Will the allocations of the existing tax increments be permanent or phase out like RDA’s. Will there be a moratorium on new RDA’s or a rush to create them.

    Feels a bit like eating your seed stock during a famine, but then the RDA successes were so hit and miss, maybe it’s not such a bad trade off to protect soft city services at the expense of hard cost development when no one has the stomach to fight to overturn the retirement obligations.

    Our new mayor will be happy.

    -len

  96. mel

    Things I learn at ABO: Holiday Lights at Picardy Drive, Blogoaksphere Party = issues. New mayor, changes at City Council = human interest stories. Makes total sense.

    V, it would’ve been easier – and more honest – to simply say you weren’t interested in writing about those two things. You’re entitled to that choice. No need to make up a false rationale.

  97. len raphael

    Public Policy Institute of Ca has some interesting stuff on RDA’s
    http://www.ppic.org/main/pubs.asp
    Looks like it’s equivalent of a Pew but maybe without the same funding?

    from their summary
    “RDAs currently receive over 8 percent of all property taxes collected in the state every year. This study is the first to estimate how much of that revenue results from redevelopment activities rather than general economic trends. The result: Three quarters of the redevelopment projects studied failed to generate most of property tax revenues they received. “

  98. len raphael

    Did i miss something on the Army Base? I thought just a couple of months ago it was a done deal to give it to a group that included PT?

    The other mystery is whatever happened after the announcement by Dellums that Gaye Cobb’s job training ngo was going to lose it’s contract? Wasn’t that the ngo with the highest training cost per trainee?

    -len raphael, temescal

  99. ralph

    LG,
    I am going to join Andrew and be the ninny. Can you post your “Chip” here? You are currently under the party thread.

    V,
    For clarity can you delete the misposted items?

    Also, are you able either to lock old open threads or keep the current open thread visible on the homepage? The misposting to open threads seems common.

  100. livegreen

    Weird. I swear I clicked on the open thread link. Sorry about this.
    Apparently have a Chip on my shoulder…

  101. livegreen

    Chip, You reading this blog?: (Note: Slight addition made re. Middle Class)

    “Jean Quan off to rocky start as Oakland mayor”

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/13/BAM11H8MRT.DTL#ixzz1B26FVLJs

    Jean is not likely to listen to Chip, given her long contacts with Ron Dellums and Andre Swanson, & Chip’s criticism of Dellums. & I don’t always agree with Chip. But I do agree with this column. And as both Jean & Chip have acknowledged, compromise and bringing Oakland together are important.

    As Max has stated, the City Council is much more moderate than before (still tilting left but not as far left as before). Addressing both the needs of poorer communities, the middle class (even if she doesn’t care for them, it’s important for the tax base), the budget, fair pay for City workers (subjective), continuing basic services, business needs, AND public safety is tricky and WILL take compromise.

    It’s tricky with Police & Fire because they DO need to give back the most, but they should not alone be held accountable for the deficit, as their current contributions were a result of negotiations with the City Council, market prices for Officers around the Bay Area (legit or not), and the greater dangers of the job in Oakland. And they, like the rest of Oakland, have suffered much from violence.

    Finally, I agree with Jean there needs to be more local Officers. But I also agree with the OPOA that many officers from outside Oakland DO care about the City.

    We need to look for areas of compromise and mutual assurance, NOT demonization. Dan Siegel’s personal feelings about the Police, and his open opposition in PRINCIPAL to the Gang Injunctions (ignoring that it’s one of the few resources OPD has, AND how the Chief & City Attorney have worked specifically to address many concerns), do NOT point to mutual assurances or compromise.

    Again, if Mr. Siegel’s feelings are being shared with the press and public, they are being shared even more liberally behind closed doors.

    This will not help negotiations with the OPOA, compromise that will lead to a safer city, or resolve the Oakland budget stalemate.

  102. len raphael

    Andrew, these are the people she feels most comfortable with.

    However critical I am of her and her goals, she is the rare politician who will try to do exactly what she has promised in her campaign and throughout her career in public life, with very little compromise. No triangulation for her. I admire that purity.

  103. Dax

    Not sure if Oakland is the “most liberal” city in the Bay Area, but it has some of the “most tired” leaders.

    I mean, any new idea or plan some of these folks have, has long since gone stale like a 6 week old loaf of French bread.
    Or flat as a re-capped bottle of 7-UP three weeks after being opened.

    Just think about the “fresh” ideas coming forth from Brunner, Nadel, De La Fuente, Reid,…
    Those minds have long since been wrung dry.

    Not sure Quan has any creativity left either.

    This weekend for example, the big cleanup.
    I await the plan or idea that will prevent the return of these same blocks to their prior state within 30 days.

  104. Naomi Schiff

    In my neighborhood, I’ve noticed that once we clean up, it lasts for awhile, and if we get on it right away when new litter or graffiti appear, it doesn’t get so bad so fast. Keeping after it does work. And sometimes people are inspired to step up and lend a hand.

  105. Dax

    Naomi, not sure the current clean up efforts Saturday in Beat 33 will hold their “cleaned up status” for very long without some other idea to have it continue at the individual block level.

    In fact, other than merchants taking responsibility for not only their parking lots but also down the street in either direction a hundred feet almost daily, is about the only way to keep the commercial streets clean.

    On the residential blocks they’ll need 1 resident per block, who is willing to take care of both sides of the street, corner to corner. More if they’re were willing, but thats a minimum distance.
    Then as the others on their short block see their efforts, and if very subtle and mild requests are made, a single block could make it. Then another block, then another.
    Of course, not every block will join in and I don’t doubt on some blocks, someone will resent someone cleaning in front to “their” house as though they were being diss-ed.

    So, for now, we can see what happens to the areas cleaned on Saturday, but I have very low expectations without a well thought out plan. I sometimes get disappointed in my neighbors in even much easier districts.

    One thing I’ve noticed in “better” neighborhoods, is that the piece of litter in the curb 60 feet down the street, isn’t theirs so they are willing to let it just sit there for a week or more, hoping that “other” person will do what they should do. Just walk over and….pick it up.
    Takes about 1 minute and then its gone, not having sat their for 7 to 10 days.

    Litter has POWER… It is undesirable, perhaps even dirty, and certainly not cool.
    People, even in some better neighborhoods, are willing ignore it.
    Perhaps in those instances, it’s in part because its a rather minor problem. But that is exactly the reason to go get it right away.

    Well, I do think it might have a much larger psychological on some neighborhoods than some may realize.
    A trashed neighborhood is dismal on many levels. If it were a “enviromental” issue, like lead or PCBs, everyone would be running around in Bunny suits at $150 per hour picking it up.
    Personally I think that the damage done by the trash is every bit as damaging to the lives of those residents as is some “dangerous” levels of air quality or toxins, much of which is exaggerated.

    Oakland has far more mentally toxic neighborhoods than, those suffering from any particulate/toxic substances.
    Having said that, the ONLY way for those neighborhoods to change if for the residents to be doing the cleanup. There is no amount of city staff that can solve the problem.

    I had a idea here a couple months ago, but it seems, unless I don’t know, they are just going to go back to the “clean-up” days.
    Of course Jean has only been in for less than a month. Ideas may develop.
    As little as 1 person in 100 is enough to solve the problem.
    Motivate that 1 person and you have found a solution.

  106. We Fight Blight

    Well, well, well sounds like Public Works and Parks and Recreation are not maintaining Lake Merritt and dare we say, contributing to blighted conditions through their lack of maintenance. As we have noted previously, Public Works has some serious problems in terms of their management and accountability. Perhaps a few less highly compensated managers and a few more staff would help. But hey we shouldn’t be so hard on such managers right?

  107. Dax

    Is San Jose being a Bay Area thug?

    They’re trying to take the A’s
    They’re trying to take Chief Batts

    So is San Jose being immoral, making life even more difficult for a troubled Oakland, or is Oakland chasing away its top assets.

    Would Batts have left if Perata was elected?
    BTW, what is it about 3 year contracts where one side only need honor it for 1 year?

    Wonder what Batts thought when he kept hearing Jean Quan in the news referring to the police officers as “my officers”, even before she was sworn in.

  108. Steve Lowe

    Len, I’m only saying that, of the folks here in town who can help transition the various unions into a more reasonable position regarding the City’s pension obligations, Sharon seems like someone who can be much more effective than many others who might be brought in, people with great memories perhaps and fast learners, to boot, but, in the end, unable to reach a resolution. Having identified that person almost at once shows that the team is forming and we here in the community won’t have to wait until the only card left to play is Chapter 9.

    Getting the State involved sounds pretty horrendous to me, sorta like when the State took over OUSD and left us with even more debt than we had before, thanks to the clearheaded leaders at the forefront of that debacle. Plus, it takes forever and adds in another layer of papering over for policymaker review. And do we really want a Jerry-brought solution, given the successes he’s had before here in Oakland?

    As to the top-dollar hire, I’m just guessing that anyone who’d take the job will want as much as he or she can get, just like Bob Bobb did back in the days when everyone was utterly convinced we needed someone with that degree of toughness. Whoops! Big mistake, even though his confirmation was unanimous on Council, and we ended up throwing even more dough out the window than you or I will likely ever see in our entire combined lifetimes. So let’s get someone like Flores who’s already here, a known commodity, a good guy and, best of all, has a resume that is trusted by pretty much everyone. A lifetime of professionalism, good work, respect and solid friendships in the community and throughout East Bay government means a lot more to me than hoping to find Mr, Goodbar by delving through some other city’s list of opportunists. Turns out that Goodbar usually translates into Goodbye after a few months of shopping around, if recent experience is any hallmark.

    * * *

    You’re right about the Port needing change, but Jean can’t do it all by herself, as she only has powers of appointment to the Board, and though our Port Task Force has tried in vain to get a Citizens Advisory Committee in place, the resistance from staff is monumental, meaning that we’re probably going to sail along as before unless the families who control China’s shipping agree that establishing relationships with specific individuals in Oakland is an important next step in Pacific Rim trade. This is an area of commerce that seems to be little appreciated on this side of the pond, as when John Loh was forced off the Port Commission for political reasons that had, as usual, everything to do with the cult of personality here in Oakland and absolutely nothing to do with trade, reportedly one of the major components of job creation (everyone’s favorite mantra when hand-wringing about what needs to happen for Oakland).

    As to Strong Mayor, it just hasn’t worked out very well from everything I can see. Most people I know think it’s because the Mayor isn’t obligated to sit through Council meetings anymore, and I think that Jean heard that complaint a lot as she walked the districts. So she’s trying to respond, and right away there’s all sorts of turf wars going on and the promise of still more division: great for blogs maybe, but cruddy for the citizens of this way too dysfunctional town.

    – S

  109. Oakland Space Academy

    Naomi said, “In my neighborhood, I’ve noticed that once we clean up, it lasts for awhile… And sometimes people are inspired to step up and lend a hand.”

    Huh? That sounds exactly like my house!

  110. len raphael

    Besides all the other intangible benefits (didn’t Jerry Brown once say that UC professors got “psychic compensation” or some such) serving as Chief of Police under JQ and Dan Siegal and our city council, Batts had the pleasure of Retired Fed judge Henderson responding to his request for the court to lighten up on the paperwork burden of the Rider’s court supervised settlement: the judge threatened personally take over OPD.

    The judge might just get his chance.

    -len raphael, temescal

  111. ralph

    On strong mayor, if you ask JQ she will tell you that Oakland has a hybrid form that could be made better.

    Having a seat at council meetings may be a nod to those who would like to see the mayor attend council meetings. But if the mayor is the executive and the council is the legislative arm, I do not see the logic in this and it just further perpetuates the hybrid form.

  112. charlie s

    The departure of Chief Batts is going to leave this city shaken and the OPD even more demoralized than it already is. I imagine it’ll be hard to recruit his replacement. Does anyone have ideas about how we might tempt him to stay? A massive petition? Some other show of support?

  113. Dax

    Charlie,

    For starters, Oakland would have to more than match the salary Batts would get in San Jose.
    In 2009, the San Jose position had a base salary of $230,000

    I’m uncertain what Oakland’ paid Batts in 2010 for his base.

    I’d guess anything less than $250,000 “base” wouldn’t be enough.
    You see, its all about the pension from age 55 to 85.
    Based on your highest years base salary.
    IF you can make a extra $30,000 per year, that translates into an extra $27,000 per year in pension for perhaps 30 years.
    Or about $810,000, even if you only stay in San Jose for a couple years.

    I don’t know Batts age, but he was said to be a 30 year veteran when Oakland hired him, so he could retire tomorrow.
    Go to San Jose for a year or two and get your $260,000 salary (base + other) and then pick up an extra $800K in future pension.

    So, I don’t know Oakland’s current base salary.

    Lastly, San Jose is a nicer gig. Not so much trouble.

  114. ralph

    In other news, the construction at the former City Walk seems to be coming along nicely. Are they still on target for a June 2011 opening?

    Also, did you know that there is a really cool African-American Library and Museum on 14th. And unlike the other library on 14th street, this library is in amazing condition and a beauty to behold.

  115. livegreen

    Yes Ralph, the African-American Library is beautiful. I wish they publicized their events and exhibitions a bit more…

  116. CitizenX

    The report from the City Administrator, when the Chief’s contract was approved in Sept. 2009, states that his total salary with incentives would be $255,000.

  117. len raphael

    Some signs at the Congressional level of the direction a more conservative Congress with a huge deficit will take towards helping states money problems.

    Not a bail out hoped for by unions but a variation on Chapter 9 muni bankruptcy which would allow the states under federal supervision to “adjust” unfunded but vested retirement benefits.

    The NYT’s article today quotes some supposed experts who talk as if Chapter 9 lets cities do that already if vital services are threatened.

    Not obvious why it’s relatively moderate republican members who are the ones talking about this semi publicly. Maybe because they’re anxious not to be forced into choosing between a massive bailout and watching the muni bond market collapse.

    This follows another article in the NYT’s discussing why even a large income tax increase in a few states such as CA would not come close to solving it’s money problems without massive spending cuts.

    -len raphael, temescal

  118. Livegreen

    Thanks Len, I was just looking at the Times article myself. “Path is Sought for States to Escape Debt Burden”:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/business/economy/21bankruptcy.html?pagewanted=2&hp

    I was curious about the same section myself:
    “Mr. Skeel said it was possible to envision how bankruptcy for states might work by looking at the existing law for local governments. Called Chapter 9, it gives distressed municipalities a period of debt-collection relief, which they can use to restructure their obligations with the help of a bankruptcy judge.”

    Then why has Vallejo had so much trouble restructurig theirs: local politics, State constitution or other?

  119. len raphael

    LG, worth reading the underlying Weekly Standard article by the U of Penn professor quoted by the NYT.

    Further changes or successful court challenges to Chapter 9 are needed to make muni unions and non union employees with vested retirements seriously weigh the risk of a bankruptcy cournt reducing their retirement benefits vs negotiating for a lesser reduction now.

    “The bankruptcy law should give debtor states even more power to rewrite union contracts, if the court approves. Interestingly, it is easier to renegotiate a burdensome union contract in municipal bankruptcy than in a corporate bankruptcy. Vallejo has used this power in its bankruptcy case, which was filed in 2008. It is possible that a state could even renegotiate existing pension benefits in bankruptcy, although this is much less clear and less likely than the power to renegotiate an ongoing contract.”

    Vallejo never tried to have the court reduce vested retirement benefits. It is a very pro union town with a lot of retired Mare Island union members. By the way is Vallejo “out of bankruptcy”. If not, would think they could still ask the court to lower vested benefits. My impression is that Vallejo still has two feet firmly planted on fiscal banana peels.

    The Weekly Standard article gave some historical background to Chapter 9. Author saying that it was muni progressives who pushed for Chapter 9 during the depression of the 30′s. But that was pre muni union.

    -len raphael, temescal

  120. ken o

    Not much of a comment: Oak and SF both have 8 bart stations. Huzzah.

    There should be a piss-o-meter ranking comparing sf and oakland bart stations.

    Probably worse in underground tube stations like 12th, 19th than above-grounders like macarthur, glen park.

    Of course, 19th has lots of subterranean stairs. Civic center station also has stairs but lots more people. And lots more homeless.

    “Better pissed off than pissed on!” –EBM

  121. Ken 0

    Info about how many City of SF workers take public transit, based on commuter benefits enrollment. Obviously many people walk to work or don’t take advantage of it, but it’s illustrative.

    “The current Pre-Tax Commuter Benefit Program has been in operation since June of 1999. Approximately 3,300 employees are currently enrolled. This represents a participation rate of approximately 12%, based on a total of roughly 27,000 CCSF employees.”

    Here’s how the data compares to public at large, including govt workers.

    http://www.sustainlane.com/us-city-rankings/categories/city-commuting

    (scroll for raw data)

  122. RdwithCypress

    A painful example of CEDA Building Services complete lack of internal control and governance has, once again, been uncovered by Audit Oakland CEDA.

    Raymond Derania has been placing special assessments on properties using repealed legislation.

    Records obtained by AOC from the Alameda County Tax Manager in response to a CPRA request reveal that from 2007 to the present Raymond Derania, Director of Building Services, has levied $19,654,541 million from property owners as special assessments siting repealed legislation. CCed City of Oakland staff include: Claudia Cappio, Antoinette Renwick, and the City Auditor’s Office.

    California Penal Code: 112 – 117

    115. (a) Every person who knowingly procures or offers any false or forged instrument to be filed, registered, or recorded in any public office within this state, which instrument, if genuine, might be filed, registered, or recorded under any law of this state or of the United States, is guilty of a felony.
    (b) Each instrument which is procured or offered to be filed, registered, or recorded in violation of subdivision (a) shall constitute a separate violation of this section.

    For the full story goto link
    For examples click on the image

    http://www.auditoaklandceda.com/index.php?news&nid=42

  123. RdwithCypress

    For full story click the link below and click the lower image for examples of all of the county assessments

    http://www.auditoaklandceda.com/index.php?news&nid=48

    What keeps me up at night…
    January 28, 2011
    Is the thought that thousands of households were forced to incur more than $19 million in debt by a man who didn’t go to the trouble of familiarizing himself with the most recent version of the Oakland Municipal Code, not just one year but every year since it changed.

    What keeps me up at night is the thought of Raymond Derania sleeping soundly not wondering how he is going to pay for the large debt he has had to incur to pay for the lien Raymond Derania levied in order to make people “see-the-light and get with the program.”

    If you got one of these “assessments” on your tax bill you should send this post to your attorney.

    CIVIL CODE SECTION 3412-3215
    3412. A written instrument, in respect to which there is a
    reasonable apprehension that if left outstanding it may cause serious
    injury to a person against whom it is void or voidable, may, upon
    his application, be so adjudged, and ordered to be delivered up or
    canceled.

    3413. An instrument, the invalidity of which is apparent upon its
    face, or upon the face of another instrument which is necessary to
    the use of the former in evidence, is not to be deemed capable of
    causing injury, within the provisions of the last section.

    3414. Where an instrument is evidence of different rights or
    obligations, it may be canceled in part, and allowed to stand for the
    residue.

    3415. (a) An action may be maintained by any person interested in
    any private document or instrument in writing, which has been lost or
    destroyed, to prove or establish the document or instrument or to
    compel the issuance, execution, and acknowledgment of a duplicate of
    the document or instrument.
    (b) If the document or instrument is a negotiable instrument, the
    court shall compel the owner of the negotiable instrument to give an
    indemnity bond to the person reissuing, reexecuting, or
    reacknowledging the same, against loss, damage, expense, or other
    liability that may be suffered by the person by reason of the
    issuance of the duplicate instrument or by the original instrument
    still remaining outstanding.

    Quiet Title Law In California- General Concepts
    The purpose of a quiet title action is to establish title against adverse claims to real property or any interest in the property. [Code Civ. Proc. §760.020] The remedy of quiet title can be combined with other causes of action or other remedies. In an action or proceeding in which establishing or quieting title to property is in issue, the court may, in its discretion and on the motion of any party, require that the issue be resolved pursuant to the Code Civ. Proc. provisions relating to quiet title actions. [Code Civ. Proc. §760.030]
    Jurisdiction/Venue
    A quiet title action must be brought in the superior court of the county in which the real property is located. Once the action is before the court, the court has complete power to determine title issues. [Code Civ. Proc. §§760.040, 760.050]
    Pleading Requirements
    A complaint to quiet title must be verified and must contain all of the following information [Code Civ. Proc. §761.020]:
    a description of the property that is the subject of the action. This must include both the legal description and the street address or common designation, if any.
    the title of the plaintiff as to which a determination of quiet title is sought. If the complaint is based on adverse possession, the complaint must allege the specific facts constituting the adverse possession.
    the adverse claims to plaintiff’s title.
    the date as of which the determination is sought. If the determination is sought as of a date other than the date the complaint is filed, the complaint must include a statement of the reasons why a determination as of that date is sought.
    a prayer for the determination of plaintiff’s title against the adverse claims.
    The plaintiff must name as defendants all persons known or unknown claiming an interest in the property. [Code Civ. Proc. §§762.010, 762.020] Any person who claims an interest in the property can join in the action, whether or not named as a defendant. [Code Civ. Proc. §762.050]
    Notice Of Pending Action (Lis Pendens)
    A notice of pendency of action is required in any quiet title action. [Code Civ. Proc. §761.010]
    A “notice of pendency of action” or “notice” is a notice of the pendency of an action in which a real property claim is alleged. [Code Civ. Proc. §405.2] Formerly known as a “lis pendens”, a notice of pendency of action provides constructive notice to purchasers or encumbrancers of real property of any pending actions affecting title to or possession of the real property and enables those parties to find notice of pending litigation in the recorder’s office in which the real property is located. It furnishes the most certain means of notifying all persons of the pendency of the action and to warn them against any attempt to acquire a legal or equitable interest in the real property.
    Proof Requirements
    A plaintiff seeking to quiet title against a person with legal title to property has the burden of proving title by clear and convincing proof, rather than by the preponderance of evidence usually used in civil cases. [Evid. Code §662] Evidence Code §662 does not apply when legal title itself is disputed. In that case, factual issues are determined by the preponderance of the evidence standard of proof.
    Trial
    An action to quiet title is an equitable action; there is no right to a jury trial. Quiet title is generally an equitable claim, and equitable defenses may be asserted against it. However, if the plaintiff is out of possession and seeks to recover possession by a quiet title action, the action is legal. [Medeiros v. Medeiros (1960, 3rd Dist) 177 Cal App 2d 69, 1 Cal Rptr 696]
    Judgment
    A judgment in an action to quiet title is binding and conclusive on all persons known or unknown who were parties to the litigation and who have a claim to the property. [Code Civ. Proc. §764.030] The judgment will not affect title of a person who was not a party to the action if their claim was of record or if the claim was actually known, or should reasonably have been known, to the plaintiff. [Code Civ. Proc. §764.045]

    Slander of Title

    In law, slander of title is normally a claim involving real estate in which one entity falsely claims to own another entity’s property. Alternatively, it is casting aspersion on someone else’s property, business or goods, e.g. claiming a house is infested with termites (when it is not), or falsely claiming you own someone else’s copyright (what allegedly occurred in the SCO v. Novell case). Slander of title is a form of jactitation.[1]

    Slander of title is a one of the “specialized” Common law intentional torts. The State of California has adopted the definition of slander of title set forth in section 624 of the Restatement of Torts reading as follows: “One who, without a privilege to do so, publishes matter which is untrue and disparaging to another’s property in land, chattels or intangible things under such circumstances as would lead a reasonable man to foresee that the conduct of a third person as purchaser or lessee thereof might be determined thereby is liable for pecuniary loss resulting to the other from the impairment of vendibility thus caused.”
    The term slander of title is somewhat of a misnomer as slander refers to that which is spoken yet the tort slander of title requires publication. A more accurate term would be “disparagement of title”
    A slander of title suit can be pursued with merit in a variety of circumstances including but not limited to” the filing of an invalid lien against real property or virtually any type of recordable instrument recorded against a property by one without privilege which is untrue….It is not a requirement that it be recorded merely published, and in the broadest sense of the word. Published can even refer to the placement of a lawn sign in front of someone’s property upon which is conveyed an untrue disparaging statement.

  124. Dax

    Final mayor’s race campaign finance reports are in.

    I just called the city clerk’s office and was told Marcie Hodge has filed.

    Will the East Bay Express, or Tribune or Chronicle (Chip or Zennie) please go down and look up where her “mystery money” came from?
    The money for all those billboards which was discussed many times.
    Or perhaps someone here will be down in City Hall and take a peek.

    I’m not going to drive all that way and park just to see, but I am curious since it was turned into a mystery.

    Let us know whats up.

  125. livegreen

    Dax, Re. Columnists who write opinions reporting the facts: If Don Parata’s campaign supporters gave money to Marcie Hodge, expect Chip not to write about it. If Jean Quan’s supporters gave money to Marcie Hodge, expect Robert Gammon not to report about it.

    Or the inverse.

    “Journalists” articles in the Bay Area are increasingly being written based on their political opinions, not on analyzing facts. That’s always been the case to some degree, but it was tempered with the need to be fair. Just like in the national press, it is instead increasingly changing to opinion in our liberal bay area press…

  126. Naomi Schiff

    There is a distinction to be made between columnists and reporters. Columnists should be responsible, I agree. But it’s the reporters who are entrusted with doing proper research and who are supposed to write evenhanded articles. By the Way, Gammon is a editor now, I believe. Chip is a columnist. Reporters are people such as Matthai and Cecily who are reporting news.

  127. livegreen

    Agreed in principal Naomi. What was Gammon before becoming Editor? & Since he’s still writing articles, which is he now?

  128. Naomi Schiff

    Gammon was a reporter. Now he is an editor. And still writing too. He was not listed as an opinion columnist, but he does work for a paper which has an alternative-press-weekly approach, wherein personal views are allowed into the writing more than is generally permitted in the mainstream dailies. I think the “Seven days” column is reportage in the sense that is researched, but tends to be written more like a political column on the Matier & Ross model.
    There’s nothing wrong with any of this, but the reader ought to adjust for the known proclivities of each source, as needed.

    Sometimes Chip has something useful, sometimes Bob does, sometimes Sanjiv comes up with something important. It would be great if a spectrum of people would take a look at the campaign finance reports and say what they notice.

  129. livegreen

    So the Eastbay Express is the liberal, print version of Fox News? I mean, at least at the Chronicle you know who’s a columnist and who’s a journalist.

  130. Naomi Schiff

    The East Bay Express is not a “liberal print version of Fox News.” Rather, it is following the model of “alternative news weekly” which has a long tradition, starting with the Village Voice and the Berkeley Barb of long long ago. I’d say it is more middle-of-the-road than many of its forbears. “Liberal” and “conservative” are not very useful labels in this description, though, because of the local focus. One could describe it with considerably more precision. I’d say: pro-retail, pro-marijuana (many of their advertisers), covers local performing and other arts in some detail, generally favorable to gender and sexual diversity, interested in food trends and politics, transportation issues, and tries to do muckraking on a local government level.

    There is a background assumption that many readers share a common east-bay worldview on many national and state-level issues, but it does not assume unanimity. Many of the writers and articles come from a middle-of-the-road point of view, much more so than in Berkeley’s and Oakland’s would-be-revolutionary past alternative papers.

  131. Livegreen

    Comparing the East Bsy Express to the Village Voice makes my point. But I realize Gammon is but one reporter and now editor.

    But if he’s a reporter, how come he’s increasingly writing articles that sound like editorials? Like his hit piece on Chief Batts?

    The Chronicle and NY Times at least make it clear who’s a reporter and who’s a columnist. Apparently the EB Express doesn’t feel it need that kind of integrity or to stoop to those heights.

    And how many of those larger papers’ reporters (note I did not say columnists) bask in the glow of praise from a politician they supported?

  132. Max Allstadt

    I think that there’s room for all sorts of different styles of journalism. Frankly it seems like everyone on this board can tell that some of what Bob writes is his take on an issue and some of it is factual. It isn’t really that hard to identify opinion vs. hard news. What’s the problem?

    Re: “basking in the glow of praise”: as far a politicians and reporters go, they really don’t hang out with each other very often, as far as I can tell. I’m in fairly frequent contact with both politicians and reporters.

    It seems like their relationships are very professional and not particularly buddy-buddy at all. Journalists who show consistent favor to a particular politician simply agree with that politician’s positions often.

  133. livegreen

    Well, Gammon got a special spotlight and words of praise from an appreciative Mayor at her victory party.

    When I see the article then on Batts, I wonder how much the POV is professional, and how much it is because of both personal friendship and political agreement.

  134. len raphael

    Naomi, Russo is protecting his primary client, us the residents by telling the city in effect that it is highly risky behavior to become the test case for the Feds on state regulation of marijuana.

    By implication he’s saying we dont’ have a more likely than not chance of winning. A million bucks a year or whatever the uncertain mj tax revenue projections are, aren’t worth the certainty of an expensive lawsuit against the deep pocket feds.

    On the other hand, if one opposes the gang injunctions, this would keep Russo’s and staff busy for months away from the GI’s.

  135. len raphael

    Re does Russo want another job rhetorical question. If he had wanted another job and had been willing to take a cut in pay and an increase in tsoris, I’m sure Russo could have run for Mayor and won by a landslide.

    -len raphael,temescal

  136. Naomi Schiff

    Hmmm. Not so sure, guys. Seems like a certain amount of grandstanding going on. Why are these discussions being played out in the press? It just doesn’t seem like a team effort, over all. More like a bunch of competing fiefdoms. I’m not at all sure I’m being represented (if it is the citizens who are being represented) and can’t be sure who is the real client here. But I can certainly see that Mr. Russo has a fulltime p.r. person.

  137. Max Allstadt

    Naomi, there were multiple closed communication memos from the City Attorney’s office to the council regarding cannabis cultivation. Russo only began to make publicly visible stances on the issue after the DA and US Attorney repeatedly said that large scale cultivation was a very big problem, and even then he only made noise after the city chose to ignore the DA and the US Attorney. That seems like a fair way to go about it, if you ask me.

    Frankly, I don’t think those closed memos are OK as a matter of process and transparency. If the Council has legal analysis that the public can’t see, how can the public show up to a meeting and know whether to speak in support of or against the ordinance? The council should release those memos. They’re allowed to do so. They just need to vote to release them. The public should know what’s going on here.

  138. Livegreen

    Naomi, Are you disappointed over Russo’s use of the press or policy? What’s the substantive issue?

  139. Naomi Schiff

    For me, the issue is that the city needs to solve some awfully serious problems, better done with an attitude of cooperation than with an every-person-for-themselves attitude. It seems like too much p.r. and self-promotion on the part of the atty’s office; I don’t mind him delivering his legal opinion, nor his stating his personal views. I do mind this relentless campaign mode.

  140. livegreen

    As I recall, the City Attorney combined efforts with the Police Chief to implement policy, and then the Mayor’s personal lawyer started to deliver opinions on public safety policy (while he was defending gangs against injunctions).

    Dan Siegel and his opinions were all over the press, before Russo even responded about the conflict of interest or legal concerns for the City about having a personal lawyer giving advice on public policy.

    So who started this? Whoever did, I don’t see a big difference between what he and the Mayor are doing. It’s the continuation of a very public feud.

    You just disagree with him and sympathize with the Mayor.

  141. Izzy Ort

    The whole local, and for that matter State, “medical marijuana” scene exists at federal sufferance. It is illegal under federal law, and the federal government has the right and power to end it whenever they decide it is worth the resources to do it. They have decided that going after home grown is not worth the trouble, but large scale cultivation is different. And that’s pretty much what the U.S. Attorney lays out in the first four paragraphs of her letter.

    https://citizen-media.s3.amazonaws.com/uploaded/documents/2011/2/us-atty-letter/US%20Atty%20letter.pdf

    Councilmember Desley Brooks’ dismissal of the letter as referring to a prior version of the ordinance is beside the point. The pot farm plan no matter conceived is fundamentally at odds with federal law, a conflict that will not be resolved by clever drafting.

    Based on what preceded it, the US Attorney’s statement of “concern” in the fifth paragraph should not be taken lightly. I doubt it was meant as an invitation to the Council to engage the DOJ in an interminable gabfest, much as that may be the Council’s style.

    The Feds, as Earl Long reminded segregationist Leander Perez back in the 50s, have the atom bomb.

  142. Dax

    All the time wasted by our council on “pot farms”, a concept that is fraught with problems and wild speculation about the taxes and “union jobs” it would bring to Oakland.

    Clearly some folks have been smoking something powerful enough to make them ignore the warning bells coming from every direction and every agency, including our own county.

    If and when it was ever made possible and did in fact bring in money, just how long before some central valley town or county allows their own farmers to grow the same crop at half the cost.
    Wide open cheap land, loads of water, FREE SUNLIGHT…cheaper undocumented labor and know-how for farming.
    My God, without even thinking, they could undercut Oakland pot growers by 50%.

    Why wouldn’t they do it if it was legal?
    The Oakland city concept has more holes in it than a water bucket at a rifle range.

    Meanwhile, the city council ignores a elephant in the room.

    Oh yes, my favorite, the city pensions.
    Everyone…I mean EVERYONE knows they’ll have to be changed, but NO ONE is taking any steps.

    Must reading from Saturday’s Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune.

    Read it carefully as it shoots down even more the pension myths put out by the various public employee pressure groups.
    Everything said is actually even more so in Oakland’s case.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/columns/ci_17299237

    They keep knocking Borenstein down, claiming he is anti-public employee, and he keeps digging deeper, bring out the real truth instead of the distorted talking-point “facts” we’ve been getting for so many years.

    The guy deserves a reward in journalism.

    One can only wonder how many on the Oakland City Council have even read it, or have the ability to fully understand it.

    Last year, ever so briefly, council member De La Fuente admitted we were facing a growing disaster.
    Then the mayors race took place and the subject disappeared from the scene.

    Oh, I guess that disaster Ignacio warned about last year just went away.

  143. Livegreen

    Actually Ignacio is working on it right now. Whether he’ll get very far, given the extreme left politicians we have and the Union paid for votes, is another question.

  144. Dax

    And 5 of the 8 current council members, plus Mayor Quan, are the very same individuals who will now have to admit they blundered “big time” when they jacked up all the regular employee pensions by a whopping 35% back in 2004.
    (need I add in that the 35% gigantic boost was also given retroactively to all the 10, 20, 30 and more years employees has previously worked.
    A give-a-way of public money amounting to from between $100,000 to over a MILLION dollars to individual employees.)

    Hard to admit such a monumental blunder.
    Of course, the public has never been told about the Golden Parachutes handed out, nor that long time council members were included in on the deal.

    But I repeat myself…

  145. Livegreen

    The Mayor doesn’t feel that way. At a budget meeting last year she said Ignacio voted for that but she wasn’t there. (I think u said she was there for one vote, not the other?). She’ll do the same again and then ignore the challenge at hand + blame the OPOA, as if either solves the problem.

    Oh, and they’ll cut services before they cut operating costs. First the police, next outliers like the Aquatic Center, then others. Pensions will be last.

    The question is how Ignacio will line up the votes once the Mayor and Unions come out against any major pension cuts. Oh, the bigger question: This will b two-tiered for future hires. But is that going to b enough ? After all the costs r with current or past hires.

  146. Dax

    Mayor Quan keeps saying she wasn’t there, but when I’ve heard that version, she was referring to the police pensions in particular which apparently were boosted prior to her becoming a council member.
    She was indeed in office when the 2004 pension boosts were voted in for all regular employees. That was the 35% retroactive boost.

    Her husband tried to tell me the same thing when he came knocking on my door during the campaign.
    They keep trying to shift the focus away, instead making the police 9% contribution into the whole issue.

    Of key importance in then need to fix the pension system is that from what I am understanding, even if they were to finally shift to a two tier system in December of 2011, ANY employee hired between now and then would get to keep the boosted rate of the old system until he/she retired, even if that was 35 years later.

    Thus any employee hired from today forward until the change is made, comes with a extra $100,000 to $500,000 price tag attached.
    Now, if you knew you could wait and hire a person in 2012 and save $100,000 or more, would you hire anyone at all now?

    Yes, I know, few if any employees are being hired, but until they change the plan there should be a complete freeze, with the possible exception being re-hiring some laid off police officers.

    I don’t have high hopes for the council acting quickly because they view the savings as being way out in the future when they’ll be gone…. each of them benefiting from the current pension boost they enacted.

  147. len raphael

    When the city council takes up their pension obligation bonds coming due this year, they might consider this article in today’s wsj:

    ‘One muni-bond issuer that didn’t manage to sort out its problems is Vallejo, Calif., which more than two years ago filed for bankruptcy reorganization. (Many cities can do that, though states can’t.) Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis says the likelihood his government won’t be able to borrow for many years has a silver lining.”

    “”We ought to stop living on credit and find ways to offer the same level of service for less money,” he says”

    Same services at lower cost. Not in Oakland City Council’s playbook.

  148. Dax

    “In other election news, Marcie Hodge finally filed financial statements, although they are incomplete and only cover the period from Oct. 17 through Dec. 31. ~~~~Hodge also did not account for payments to Clear Channel for billboards promoting her candidacy. She did not return a call seeking comment.”

    So what shakes here, does she just get to ignore the law regarding full disclosure?

    Are we to endlessly guess who paid for all those expensive billboards? Tens of thousands of dollars.
    There must be some agency that can issue fines for her failure to fully disclose the true facts.
    Let us not forget, Marci Hodge is still a sitting public official, apparently willing to laugh at the laws and campaign requirements/rules.

    Very simple… Who paid for those billboards?
    I hope the Tribune and Chronicle won’t just let this slip by.

    Combine this with her prior history of credit card abuse with the Peralta District’s finances and you get a picture of a individual who has little regard for the regulations.

    Imagine if she was mayor. I suppose the city couldn’t then expect us to meet their deadlines, nor be fined.

    Example… You pay your garbage bill a day late and the city fines you $50, or is it $75 now?
    Property taxes late, 10% extra.

    Marcie Hodge fails to file and what? What is her fine? Not to worry, she can put it on her Peralta Dist. credit card….”to be paid later”

  149. livegreen

    Didn’t she do this in a prior election too? & since nobody held her accountable, she’s not to concerned this time either.

    There’s a gap in between laws and enforcement. Not just at the City level, but State and Federally too. As it accumulates it causes a gap in credibility.

  150. len raphael

    interesting throwawayline in the baycitizen piece, that vallejo did cut retiree medical benefits down to 1/5 of original amounts.

    Saving 80% of our 600Mill retiree medical, 480Mill would justify 100Mill of legal costs but not the bad press. if it could save another billion of pension costs and help bust wages down by 25% instead of layoffs, Chapter 9 would be a no brainer.

  151. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Bad press? It would be refreshing to see an Oakland story that did not involve murder, gangs or children being sexually assaulted. Bad press about filing for bankruptcy would be a welcome change.

  152. ken0

    @nav – lake merritt will stay ‘blighted’ until people are tasked with painting actual art on its walls.

    i see that beautifully tagged murals in la mission and along i880 aren’t tagged over — they are appreciated.

    pay the taggers to do good work, and it should end. my penny penny.

  153. ken o

    Here’s another parking lot update.

    This one’s better, though still a parking lot.

    One issue I didn’t raise is that the remaining, shrinking pool of rich(er) folk are rather attached to their fossil fueled cars, and thus is may be inevitable that Oakland continues sustaining the unsustainable in this way.

    http://newoaktown.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/fox-uptown-parking-garage-terrible-car-onslaught-or-necessary-amenity/

    There really is quite a cultural deathgrip or electrocuted hand-in-the-cookie-jar about the private automobile. It’s all people know, or have known.

    What I mean:

    “It’s one thing to point out that a planeload of tourists flying from Los Angeles to Cairo to see the Great Pyramid, back when political conditions in Egypt allowed for that, used more energy in that one flight than it took to build the Great Pyramid in the first place. It’s quite another to understand exactly what that means – to get some sense of the effort it took for gangs of laborers to haul all those blocks of stone from the quarries to the Nile, load them on boats, then haul them up from the Nile’s edge east of Giza and get them into place in the slowly rising mass of the Pyramid, and then to equate all that effort with the fantastic outpouring of force that flows through the turbines of a modern jet engine and keeps an airliner poised in the thin air 40,000 feet above the ground for the long flight from LA to Cairo.”

    The human mind doesn’t grasp exponential anything.

    #archdruidreport

  154. Navigator

    Oakland needs to get that PR campaign going. I was reading some comments from Avis on the other thread and I couldn’t help thinking how some people are so misinformed about present day Oakland.

    Are people stil scared to work in downtown Oakland while having no problem in working in crime plagued downtown SF where there have already been 7 homicides including the killing inside a coffe shop? Downtown Oakland has not experienced one homicide so far this year.

    Also, downtown has 80,000 office workers, 4,000 businesses, packed streets with pedestrians during the lunch hour. Chinatown is constantly packed with pedestrians on the scale of Union Square on the Holidays and many Manhattan neighborhoods. New businesees are about to open on Telegraph to serve the thousands of people who flock to the Fox and Paramount theaters on a regular basis. Tonight I’m going to the Paramount to see Casablanca.

    So in short, people like avis don’t know what they”re talking about because their image about Oakland is manufactured in San Francisco in the editing rooms of the SF media. As long as people don’t understand where this incredibly horrible and out of whack image originates, we’ll never be able to deal with the problem. It’s rediculous to label a clean and modern downtown Oakland as “dangerous” while stepping over urine, trash, and dealing with the mentally insane, and thugs on 6th street, the Tenderloin, Mid Market, Civic Center and parts of SOMA.

    Oakland needs to begin to define itself or uninformed individuals will be fed the SF fear mongering propaganda. Oakland has to promote itself and inform people of what has transpired in downtown Oakland and Oakland in general in the last ten years.

    Let’s move on this because the SF media will promote SF for free and San Jose is a master of self promotion. I can’t turn on KCBS without hearing Mayor Chuck Reed of San Jose or some other officila tauting a biike race, or how “Lew Wolff isn’t interested in Oakland” or how “safe” they are. or how their “the capital of Silicon Valley.” etc. Frankly, SJ is the most unintetresting city in the Nation but that doesn’t stop them from constantly blowing their horn. Oakland needs to step up becuase Oakland has much more going for itself than a city like San Jose.

  155. Dax

    Alameda County school district’s “average” teacher salary AND superintendents pay for each district.

    http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/26/995141/see-how-well-your-school-district.html?appSession=612015739491060

    Oakland, highest superintendent and lowest teacher average.
    However this does not show what the average teacher salary is for a teacher with, say 25 years experience and X credentials.

    From what I understand the average years of experience in Oakland is much shorter than other districts.
    We’d need a apples and apples comparison.

    One interesting note.
    Los Angeles superintendent $250,000
    with some 570,000 students
    Oakland superintendent $265,000 with some 35,000 students.

    On the other hand, I think I’d rather take the Albany School Dist. Supt. job at $210,000 where there are only 205 teachers and a fraction of the troubles.

    3 years in the Oakland job would be like 15 elsewhere.
    But you do realize the Oakland superintendents don’t last long.

    And the little secret is that they don’t need to.
    Say you have a job elsewhere at $195,000 per year.
    Take the Oakland job at $265,000 per year for just a couple years.
    Viola, you’ve just upped your pension over the next 25 years by 25%..

    Or you’ve just added on $50,000 per year to your 25 year pension.
    Value to you in addition to your $265,000 per year. $1,250,000 extra.

    So think about it.
    $265K + $625K in pension, if you serve just two years in Oakland.

    Effective salary per year, $890,000 per year.
    Wouldn’t you endure it for a couple years?

    BTW, did ya notice the exiting San Jose police chief just retired.
    His salary +++ for just 2010, $534,000

    Oh yeah… public “servants”

  156. Dax

    A follow up on the average teacher salary post.

    Actually that link did include some more detail which I had not clicked on.

    Turns out the “average years teaching” for Oakland’s teachers is not all that different than many other districts.

    Most are between 10 and 11 years.
    San Leandro, one of the higher ones, at 13.2 years.

    So it would appear that we’d have to look further into the reasons for Oakland’s lower average salaries.
    Seems Oakland peak or “highest” salary is from $10K to $25K lower than some of the better paying districts.

    Yet, the spending per pupil in Oakland is higher than in many of those other districts according to a recent report.

    That was the report, credible or not, that showed among other things, spending per pupil in Oakland, on consultants at about $2,300 per year per student.
    Total spending per pupil was placed at about $12,900 per year.

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