83 thoughts on “
Open Thread

  1. Andrew

    I just got back from an odd personal achievement: I walked the length of Oakland, from the San Leandro station to the Ashby station. It wasn’t all beautiful, but very little of it was uninteresting. We have a bunch of different communities and enterprises, a lot of cool old houses, and after lunch at Lanesplitters I gotta say we have some damn good pizza around here.

  2. Max Allstadt

    What an awesome thing to do! I would love to be part of a group that did walks like that as a sort of urbanist get together. Is there anybody out there that’s making a social event out of studying the city?

  3. Andrew

    Let’s see, I got out at San Leandro at 9:30 and arrived at Ashby at about 2:30, so 4-1/2 hours plus lunch. The route was simple: San Leandro Blvd -> E 12th St -> E 10th St -> Broadway -> Telegraph (Uptown is amazing!) -> Shattuck -> Woolsey.

  4. Ken O

    Easier: biking. I’m slow though, so it took me 1.5 hours to get from Temescal to 2nd and Ohio in Richmond, a couple years back.

    Another time, it took me about 3 hours to walk from 4th Street in Berkeley to Temescal. I stopped in at a few shops and the Berk YMCA though.

  5. V Smoothe Post author

    Wait, what does Courtney Ruby have to do with anything? Revenue and expenditure reports come from the City’s budget office, not the auditor.

  6. Max Allstadt

    Great Oakland Mysteries Part 1:

    Who decided to carpet the sidewalk on the east side of the Cathedral Building and why?

  7. Max Allstadt

    Great Oakland Mysteries Part 2:

    Who is this man who anchors a 25 foot fiberglass sloop in the nastiest part of the estuary, and could be seen this morning stretching and drinking something warm out of a metal mug?

  8. oaklandhappenings

    Andrew, great achievement! I had a similarly long walk today. Starting where I live, at 17th & Alice, here we go:
    *To Jack London Square via Chinatown (with a short stop at Pacific Renaissance Plaza– nice complex, btw
    *to the Uptown condo complex via Washington, Clay and Jefferson Sts.–it looks to be almost done, as is the case with the Ellington near the Square, which I walked by on the way.
    *To Lakeside Park via 21st, Webster and Grand, with a quick pass by the new Cathedral…niiiice!
    *Up the Cleveland Cascade stairway (from Lakeshore Dr.) after some back and forth through the park
    *About 10 different streets in the Haddon Hill neighborhood before getting back to Lakeshore via Hanover
    *around the southern end on the viaduct, all the way up Lakeside to Madison
    *up the Madison slope (southbound), right on 17th, and left on Alice, back home…and my feet hurt!!
    Overall probably about 9-10 miles of walking, over about 3 1/2 hours; I was walking slowly and taking my time, overall, to save my energy after only a small lunch.

    Has anyone else done an Oakland tour of any other variation recently??

  9. Andrew

    That’s a good one. The Cleveland Cascade is where I go for my cardio workout, which consists of running up the steps and walking back down. (These days I can manage seven runs.) And Haddon Hill is good for hill-climbing no matter what direction you take.

  10. oaklandhappenings

    Thanks! After all of that, and a good night’s sleep, I also walked to the Square earlier this evening (only 17 minutes) for the tree lighting and festivities after work today. It was a fun evening, and the Kincaid’s prime-rib chili was good too (served at their booth)!

  11. Navigator

    Oaklandhappenings, was the tree lighting ceremony well attended this year?

    Also, another interesting walk would be what I call the Oakland Yuppie Commercial District Tour.

    Starting at Broadway and College, head north for about a mile, passing by many interesting boutiques, antique shops, book stores, cafes, and an incredible variety of top rated restaurants, until you reach Alcatraz Avenue. Then head west on Alcatraz until reaching Telegraph. A more interesting route maybe to take charming residential tree covered streets like 63rd & 62nd, until you reach Telegraph. These are some of my favorite flat residential streets in Oakland. When reaching Telegraph make a left and head towards the heart of the Temescal District at 51st & Telegraph.

    Take a stroll through this reinvigorated and interesting commercial district taking note of the new highly acclaimed restaurants and shops. Walk all the way to 45th and then return to the plaza next the Genova’s Delicatessen. After touring both sides of Telegraph you maybe interested in cutting through some of the interesting residential streets in Temescal. Heading east on 49th Street you’ll notice many homes set far back on long narrow lots. Many of these older homes still feature the old Italian vegetable gardens in their front yards as was the case for decades when Temescal and lower Rockridge were home to many Italian American immigrants. Across 51st Street,on streets like Cavour and Lawton, you’ll also find more of these quaint and charming front yard vegetable gardens.

    After touring some residential areas in Temescal and lower Rockridge, head east up 51st Street, crossing Broadway , where the street changes to Pleasant Valley. Take Pleasant Valley passed the Rockridge Shopping Center, the Crematorium, and Saint Mary’s Cemetery, until you reach chic Piedmont Avenue. Take in the flavor of Oakland’s “main street” neighborhood. Perhaps take a peek inside historic and ornate Saint Leo’s Church. Walk past landmarks like Fenton’s Creamery, the Piedmont Theater, the former Key System intersection at Piedmont Ave. & 41st. After touring Piedmont Avenue’s shops, and perhaps sampling some of the many great restaurants on this quaint street, take Monte Vista street next to the Piedmont Market, and head uphill through some quaint and dense housing, until reaching the Oakland Rose Garden.

    Make your way down the steps and through some beautiful roses until reaching Jean Street. Take Jean Street one block to Grand Ave., turn right on Grand until reaching the magnificent Grand Lake Theater. Keep walking on Grand until reaching Harrison. Turn Left on Harrison passed the new Christ the Light Cathedral, make the 3 mile treck around the lake. Tour the Lakeshore Avenue Shopping District until you get to Mandana Avenue. Make a left and head over the hill to Grand Ave. Take a right on Grand Ave passed some nice residential areas until it meets up with Pleasant Valley, which then takes you to a right turn on Broadway,and a left at the convergence of College Ave where you started your walking tour.

    You maybe tired but it’s an interesting walk through some of Oakland’s most charming neighborhoods. It will make you feel good about this wonderful and diverse city.

  12. Becks

    That’s funny Navigator – I just got back from doing part of this walk, from Telegraph to College almost up to Broadway and back through the neighborhoods. I had thought about walking up to Piedmont but got distracted by many stores. It was a beautiful walk for a sunny day like today.

    I highly recommend walking down 61st to Telegraph from College, as you’ll pass through a great little circular park that is a hidden gem of Rockridge.

  13. Joanna


    I made a quickie trek to the tree lighting – got there just in the nick of time – and it was super crowded. I couldn’t handle all the people, so I went to BevMo and moved on with my evening plans. Couldn’t get through the throngs of people leaving to see what booths were even there!

    I was glad to see it so busy, but I have to laugh when I overhear other conversations around me. “When did TGIF close?”, “Let’s go to the Spaghetti Factory”, “I have a reservation for a zipcar, but they’re not here!” (moved to the space in front of Cocina Poblano), and my personal favorite – “Why did they take away all the park space [in front of the ferry terminal]?” I heard lots more, but I’m seriously trying hard to tune it out. I think it was great to see it so packed.

    I just hope the economy can rebound… I’ve just had my worst month ever in six years owning a business here in Oakland. Wow, cannot quite believe just how bad things dropped in a 6 week period.

    Anyway, hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. V – I loved your T-Giving Blog entry. I know Simon and I are thankful to find others that care out there. So often we see so many who can’t be bothered to find out info, much less take action. It can be incredibly frustrating.


  14. Navigator

    Becks, I know exactly what little park you’re talking about. It IS an absolutely hidden gem as you wrote.

    We are very fortune to have so many wonderful places to walk here in Oakland. As a matter of fact, I walked around Lake Merritt this afternoon and I was very surprised to see so many people out walking even as the Necklace of Lights was already coming on at about 4:00 PM. I usually walk in the mornings and figured that’s when most activity happens around the Lake. I was wrong. I’ve never seen so many young families with kids playing at the play structure near the bird sanctuary area. It was almost a festive atmosphere with many people out in the late afternoon as dusk approached.

  15. Navigator


    Thanks for the info. I’m glad to hear that the tree lighting ceremony was well attended. It sounds from the comments that you overheard that people want to come to Jack London Square. I also have great memories of the old restaurants at the Square. I understand that the spaces at 66 Franklin have been leased to restaurants along with space at the new building across from the Ferry Landing. The large Jack London Market Building still under construction, also has signed leases for two restaurants. In all, 15 additional restaurants are planned for Jack London Square. This should prove great news for the many people who want to come enjoy themselves at the waterfront.

    I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and I know business will pick up for you soon. Hang in there.

  16. len raphael

    I assume that the recent mini spate of newspaper articles about west coast ports facing significant permanent and temporary declines in volume, aren’t a conspiracy to overcome funding/envoirmental obstacles to expansion.
    eg. http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ports28-2008nov28,0,1371553.story

    could someone explain the basics of the port’s financial relationship to the city’s finances. eg. how much if any has the port directly contributed in the past to the city’s general fund?

    what are the indirect financial benefits of the port for the city finances? is it mostly biz tax from the shippers?

  17. oaklandhappenings

    Joanna and Nav, thanks for keeping the tree-lighting topic going. Yes, it was crowded, and much more so than last year, it seemed. The only annoyance was the guy kept asking “”are you ready to light the tree?!”, got a loud response, and then kept introducing city council/Port members, to the point where the crowd didn’t ghive a rat’s a** and started booing. So, what does the so-called “master’s of ceremony say??” he said “that type of attitude will NOT be tolerated”. Well, sir, if you would quit keeping people in such suspence, while introducing people that hardly any of them (seem to) know, maybe they won’t boo! Not a good move on his part. Dellums closed out the pre-lighting with a nice speech (which once again the impatients seemed to ignore), regarding his hopes for Oakland over the next year. He ended it humorously by saying “Obama” will get us there!”, which at least drew some laughs. Despite any unnecessary suspense, the tree lighting itself, Oakland School of the Arts choir, and rock band to follow, all made the evening fun. It is too bad that so many left right after the lighting and didn’t hang around for the music (some of which was great, consisting of covers of oldies and contemporary hits. Still, at that time of evening, I guess that I shouldn’t be surprised, with people hungry for dinner. At least the restaurants did good biz, and some of the retail shops…or lack thereof! Ellis Partners really needs to get that square in a position to keep drawing loyal patrons and visitors.

  18. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Yes, JLS does have a few signed deals which gives me hope for the coming years. I think it will be some time before these places open, but when they do it should be a good thing for Oakland. My point with the overheards is that people are relatively out of touch and don’t realize that those places have been closed for some time.

    The Jack London District is still in flux, with the Ellington still empty. The sales office wasn’t open yesterday, so I can’t quite figure out what their status is. Last I heard a month or so ago was that they were on track to start moving people in “soon”.

    On a brighter note, some serious blight was knocked down through last week (they were even working on Sunday, which is a no-no, but I’m not complaining). The buildings that used to be home of the Oak Tree, Mingles, and other assorted establishments, was demolished! Yeah, another step forward for the neighborhood! I’m betting that they’re not going to start building anytime soon though.

    Speaking of walks, do you all know about the Oakland Heritage Alliance walks in the Spring and Summer? They haven’t updated their site just yet for 2009 info, but here’s the link for the 2008 tours so that you can see what they do. I’ve been on a few and they’re quite enjoyable.


    Also, they have a lecture series at the Chapel of Chimes that I’ve always wanted to go to, but always seem to have a scheduling conflict. Here’s a link:


    Oh, and back to Jack London Square! The annual lighted yacht parade is Saturday, December 6th at 5:30pm. This is also a lot of fun! It’s usually cold, so I’d suggest lots of layers, but it really gets you into the holiday spirit seeing people so merry.


  19. das88

    The OHA tours are good. They do charge a fee, though, and they are usually pretty crowded. I do highly recommend them. You might also consider joining the OHA as long as you agree with their lobbying on development issues. Members receive a discount on their tours and lectures and they also receive a very good newsletter.

    The City of Oakland also offers walking tours which are free

    The quality and attendance at the City tours varies greatly depending on guide and subject matter.

  20. Steve Lowe

    Posted a fairly long email as to the soul of Uptown (the importance of public plazas in real cities) and can’t find out whether there was agreement, dissent or yawns galore. Have you dropped that string out of boredom, lack of response or simple dismissiveness? Or just decided arbitrarily that anyone who believes public subsidy = public equity is off base?


    – S

  21. Andrew

    Ken O, thanks for the greenway link. That is a long, desolate stretch of San Leandro Blvd that could use the amenities (not to mention a toilet or two).

  22. Patrick


    Questions: What parts of Oakland are most likely to improve within the next 5 years? What parts will decline in the same time period? The definition of “improve” is up for discussion.

  23. James H. Robinson

    CEDA has been working slowly and steadily on improvements to MacArthur Boulevard from around 88th to the San Leandro border. Also, Eastmont Town Center is undergoing a facelift and maybe Foothill Square will also get one if this recession ever ends. The improvements (thanks largely to City Councilman Larry Reid) should give that part of town a fighting chance.

    Also, it is obvious that Jack London Square is in for some massive changes.

  24. oaklandhappenings

    Real quick, regarding the post about the yacht parade: don’t forget that earlier before that, is the kick-a** holiday parade on Broadway! It will be a fun-filled day in downtown! Who’s goin’?? :-)

  25. Shamrock

    Totally different subject —

    Question for those of you who know how this city operates. We noticed a “special surcharge” on our property tax bill (which nearly doubled it). Apparently, it’s a fine for having our trash bins on the street (as we know this is among Oakland’s worst problems).

    We never received one notice about this, and when we went downtown to code enforcement to see what the deal was, they admitted they were sending it to a house we haven’t lived in, owned or so much as driven by in more than 7 years.

    The kicker: The “supervisor” in the department is refusing to take off or even reduce the penalty. We have no problem (well, a little) paying the original fine (which is in the hundred dollar range I understand) but more than $5K?

    We will be working through our councilwoman (Quan) but are wonder if anyone else is facing this? I know I’ve seen traffic/parking cops out ticketing more often in Montclair and Rockridge, and I’m sure this is an “easy” way for the city to generate income as the economy falls off a cliff.

    But really, $5K for a trash bin infringement?

    Any insight, experiences, etc. are most welcome.

  26. Navigator


    You need to drive down Broadway, and for every garbage container that you see vandalized by graffiti, take a picture and send it to the City of Oakland with a blight notice and a fine of $100 deducted from your outrageous bill for leaving your garbage container at the curb. This is incredible coming from a city which treats its main downtown thoroughfares with such neglect and contempt.

    Shamrock, if you have the time, take your camera to the bus stops at the heart of downtown at 14th & Broadway, 12th and Broadway and the new Transit Center at Broadway and Berkely Way, and document the filth and litter which is allowed to accumulate in the very heart of this city. Take in the fast food cups, the napkins, the soda cans, and even the empty pizza boxes. This is an absolute embarrassment. I’ve contacted Nancy Nadel many times. She directs me to the Public Works hot-line and then nothing gets done.

    BTW, when you drive down Broadway, take a look at the side wall of 2100 Broadway. I’ve contacted Public Works Graffiti Abatement four weeks ago about that Pediatric Dentistry Building and nothing has been done.

    This is par for the course for this incompetent city which NOW wants to make money off of your simple infraction when they can’t even keep Oakland’s “Main Street ” from looking like a neglected third world thoroughfare. The City of Oakland should be refunding you your tax payment for dereliction of duty. I suggest you send them those pictures of blight downtown with a copy of your infraction bill. Also, send them a picture of your garbage cart out in front of your house, and tell them to compare THAT “blight”, to the neglect at 2100 Broadway and all of the graffiti on parking meter boxes, traffic modulation boxes, newspaper racks, light standards, traffic signs, etc. downtown. Ridiculous!

  27. Shamrock

    Thanks, Navigator. That’s actually a great idea. I’m sure we can easily find 50+ violations (probably within a half hour) … we’ve put in an appeal and the photos will definitely strengthen the appeal.

    We’re pretty sure it’s a neighbor who was pissy when we remodeled who called us in. which is just sad, really.

  28. Navigator

    There’s going to be a Holiday Parade on Broadway on Saturday. I’ll bet you that the City of Oakland will leave the graffiti and blight as is. These people have no common sense and no pride in the city that they’re suppose to manage.

    If any of you go to Broadway for the parade, take notice of all the graffiti on public property up and down Broadway. Take a look at the garbage containers, newspaper racks, traffic signs, light standards, mail boxes, traffic modulation boxes, parking meter boxes, etc. It’s a free for all in downtown Oakland and the City of Oakland doesn’t give a d@m. Not even for a Holiday Parade. They have no shame. Contact Nancy Nadel and Mayor Ron Dellums with your complaints

  29. Driver

    Has anyone really seen city employees work? All I ever see are cars and trucks on the move to coffee houses and places to eat. Let’s start a poll! Did anyone see a city worker or crew work today. Lets not count street sweeping.

  30. Patrick

    Does anyone know ANYTHING about the “unprecedented” renewal plan that Dellums/Schwarzenegger are planning for our fair city? Like what parts of our city will be affected?

  31. Navigator

    Have you all noticed the twin coordinated columns by the San Francisco Chronicle planting the seeds of fear about Oakland? The Column by Chip Johnson and the other whiny column about it “being better to commute from far far away rather than living in Oakland,” is an orchestrated attack on Oakland by San Francisco interests. Any Oaklander who spends a dime across the Bay Bridge is a traitor.

  32. Max Allstadt


    That’s a bit of a stretch to call it a conspiracy. For quite a while, Chip Johnson has been expressing his frustration with Oakland by hinting he might move.

    I still think it’s lame, and inaccurate, to paint our city as unlivable. I live in one of the parts of Oakland that the press likes to depict as something resembling Beirut in the 80s. We may have crime, but it’s not the hyperbole that we see in the press. Unlivable? Absolutely not.

  33. V Smoothe Post author

    I don’t see it as planting seeds of fear, I see it as an honest call for the City to get its act together. I know lots of people who have moved out of Oakland because they just can’t stand the crime and blight any longer. The woman moved to a nice neighborhood and had her car broken into, her wallet stolen, and all her jewelry stolen from her home within a year. Moving seems like a pretty reasonable reaction to me.

  34. Navigator

    Give me a break. I’m harder than anyone on this board on Oakland. But fair is fair. She starts off her column with a whimsical look at the beautiful sail boats drifting by her unattainable San Francisco. She moves to Oakland for convenience and afford ability. She leaves her purse in her car in full view and its stolen. Of course, this would never happen in her unattainable San Francisco neighborhood where the sail boats go by and everything is peachy. Then, Chip Johnson piles in with a rehashed list of high profile crimes committed through out the year. Keep in ming that this twin barrel assault on Oakland, comes at a time when San Francisco has eclipsed the entire homicide total of last year along with setting a decade high in homicides. http://www.sfcrime.blogspot.com/

    Also, keep in mind that any negative study ever conducted on Oakland gets an incredible amount of publicity in the San Francisco media while studies which show that San Francisco in consistently ranked #1 in the Nation in homicides after adjustments for demographics are buried. http://www2.gsu.edu/~crirxf/HomRates-PR-2007-02-02.htm

    It’s mind boggling how people in Oakland sit hear content in watching their city being denigrated by a media from a cross-bay rival city which has a vested economic interest in portraying Oakland in the worst possible light. Absolutely mind-boggling.

  35. V Smoothe Post author

    I find it more mind-boggling that some Oaklanders are so obsessed with competing with San Francisco (for what, I don’t know), that they would prefer to hide their heads in the sand and pretend things here are just fine than see any media attention highlighting the City of Oakland’s many failures.

  36. Navigator

    V, you really don’t know why Oakland would want to compete with San Francisco? How about competing with San Francisco for a corporate headquarters like Levi Straus which has been taking a serious look at the Oakland office market? How about competing with San Francisco for a small share of the huge Bay Area tourist trade? A site for a “better Oakland” which virtually ignores the historic anti-Oakland San Francisco media bias as ONE of the reasons Oakland struggles with a horrible image which keeps businesses and residents away? You would think Oakland is the only city in America with a crime problem. How come San Francisco isn’t stigmatized by murders in Golden Gate Park, in North Beach, in the Richmond, the killing of three members of the Bologna Family in the Excelsior, the killing of a man on 280 in front of his two young boys, the killing of a mother of six driving a mini-van etc.?

  37. V Smoothe Post author

    Navigator, I understand why Oakland wants to compete with SF in those areas. Why I find baffling is the people who want to blame our failure to do so on the media. It isn’t the media’s fault that Oakland can’t maintain a downtown suitably clean to attract major businesses, and it isn’t the media’s fault that crime in Oakland is completely out of control.

    Susan Gluss didn’t move out of Oakland because of what she read in the Chronicle, she moved away because of what happened to her when she lived here. If we ever want Oakland to be a more livable, successful, and competitive City, it’s important to address these issues, and I can’t see how the media highlighting them is anything but helpful in that respect.

  38. Navigator

    V, Isn’t interesting that the San Francisco media loves to highlight Oakland crime but somehow when a young man from San Diego is killed in Golden Gate Park after only three weeks in San Francisco, that story has a shelf life of about one day. V, I understand that you’re relatively new to Oakland. I appreciate the great service that you provide to Oakland residents. However, you need to take a historic look at the media coverage coming out of San Francisco as it relates to Oakland.

    What Chip Johnson does is not “highlighting” issues. What Chip Johnson does is rehash old issues in order to denigrate the city as a place for businesses and residents who maybe contemplating relocating to Oakland. V, you will never hear me defending Oakland City Hall for the way things are run in this city. I’ve written numerous times regarding the blight on Broadway and in certain other areas of downtown Oakland. What I resent tremendously, is a columnist who uses his Oakland residency as a tool to denigrate Oakland in service of a San Francisco agenda. Johnson’s columns offer no solutions other than rehashing problems which are not unique to Oakland and serve only to frighten prospective businesses and residents from locating in the city.

    I was at Fenton’s last night with my family. What a pleasant experience. The place was packed. As soon as one table opened up there were more people in line to take their place. We left at around 9:00 PM and people were still coming. Every parking place in the neighborhood was full. Even the City of Oakland parking lot at 41st & Piedmont was packed. We eventually found a place to park and walked three blocks, in the dark, in Oakland, without our flack jackets, passed filled restaurants, until reaching Fenton’s.

    My experiences in Oakland are a far cry from Chip Johnson’s and Susan Glusse’s portrayal of the city. When we leave these biased articles regarding personal crimes, which can, and do happen in every city, unchallenged, and attribute them to “living in Oakland,” we do this city a great disservice. When the hysteria is so high and the focus so intense, that any crime committed against any individual will be perceived by that individual as them being victimized strictly because they were either, in Oakland, or lived in Oakland it takes crime in the Bay Area out of context. If those same crimes happen in San Francisco, or Martinez, or Berkeley, or Concord, the respective cities aren’t necessarily held responsible for that crime. How can Oakland ever prosper with a cross Bay media who is more than willing to highlight the negatives and has absolutely no desire or interest in covering positive stories like the Oakland Holiday Parade?

  39. Max Allstadt


    I think the bias in the media is more of a bleeds-it-leads problem. I’m sure you have a much better shot than I do at visualizing a pie chart of which sources the Bay Area turns to for local news. But anecdotally, my impression is that we are still cursed by the coverage that prevails on local TV network affiliates. That is, shitty coverage that is largely designed to make you keep watching. Fear based coverage. The kind of coverage where the headlines says “a gunman on the loose in an Oakland School, are your children safe?” and then the anchor deliberately keeps putting off telling you which school until the end of the broadcast. These are the kinds of douchebags would tell you that Christ had descended from heaven at the beginning of the show, but make you wait until the end to hear what he said, and where it happened. These are the kinds of douchebags, that you, VSmoothe are a righteous force against.

    Oakland is diverse and has areas of peace and areas of trouble. But the reputation is that it’s all trouble. Two years ago, on the Amtrak to LA, I told a couple of kids who looked like total wannabe gangstas that I lived in West Oakland. They looked at me like I must be some sort of ridiculous gunslinging badass just to still be alive. I get similar impressions from other folks all the time.

    The mainstream news media is to blame because they propagate good drama, not accurate information. Since our best source of drama is violence, that’s what they propagate. Berkeley has silly hippies in trees, so that’s what they see propagated. San Francisco has the Fulton Street fair and Gay Marriage, so that’s what they see propagated. Any chance to pidgeonhole will be taken.

    So if the douchebags at Kron4, CBS5 and ABC7 won’t buck institutional and commercial pressure to do shitty journalism, we still have a path to change our image. The question is, what outlandish activity can we come up with to host in Oakland? What is relatively harmless but will still be seen by these fools as more profitable to put on the air than a body count?

  40. Navigator

    Max, it’s a little more nefarious than that. San Francisco has plenty of bodies pilling up. They just don’t receive as much attention as when stuff happens in Oakland.

  41. V Smoothe Post author

    Question for my readers. There’s, like, a huge abandoned looking construction site somewhere on MacArthur, I think. I go by it on the NL. I could hop on the bus and track it down, but I was hoping to save myself a trip and see if maybe one of you could identify its location for me. If you know anything about it, please share?

  42. driver

    601 mac is the one past lakeshore on the right ( big hole in ground). The other one is past 14th ave, but that ones just moving slow

  43. David

    Not sure if this is the one you have in mind, but the construction site at corner of MacArthur and Wesley (about 2 blocks up the hill from Lakeshore) has been a giant hole in the ground/hillside behind a fence for at least 5 years. The site seemed to have been permanently abandoned, but I’ve heard that they recently started working there again.

  44. David

    There was a bad fire in an apartment building on MacArthur near 14th Avenue 4 or 5 years ago. I think the building was a total loss. I don’t pass by that stretch very often, so I don’t know what happened to that site, but I wonder if that’s where the construction near 14th is taking place.

  45. Mike Spencer

    I am coaching a high school rugby club and it is a real tough time finding a good lighted field near the Fruitvale District. The one field, am told by a Unity Council person, is booked way in advance so we practice on this little tiny pitch at Carmen Flores Rec Center that does not yet have lights.

    I cannot think of a better and cheaper crime prevention measure than youth sports. You can’t be running your butt off on the field and at the same time running from the cops or breaking into cars……

    I am tired of my City doing things second best if at all. Look at the new fields Berkeley built next to the freeway on Gilman Street. I would like to see OUSD partner more with the City to make fields available to kids. I know there are liabilty issues but it really is a good solution for kids and adults.

  46. Kevin Cook


    Your right on about what youth sports with some adult supervision can do for kids. Butting heads on the pitch is a good way to get rid of that excess testosterone that young guys often channel into stupid stuff. It worked for me. Kids First programs are great, but not every high school boy wants to go to some interpretive dance or art class after school. Rugby is cheap–ball, cleats, jersey–that’s it. Oh, and the field. Clearly there’s a demand for sports fields in this town and there ought to be a way for the city to provide them. I played back in the day–if you ever need some help running drills then let me know.

    Here’s a link to NYT video clip about a high school club in inner city DC


  47. Mike Spencer

    Thanks, Kevin.

    Yes, please everyone feel free to come by Carmen Flores Park at E. 16th and Fruitvale Monday and Wed from 5:30 to 7:30 pm to help run the Warthogs. (The field also has soccer leagues on other nights.) Better yet if you know a high school boy who wants to burn off some energy and learn rugby.. The end goal is to have outlets for kids, and not all of these outlets cost that much, whether its arts, sports, journalism, etc. It’s easy to sit back and gripe about our City. It’s also a lot of fun to interact with our larger community. ( I have this weird little thing where I try to get the kids to pick up garbage near the field that is not their own–it is a work in progress.)

  48. Raymond Johnson

    Getting back to the discussion about the Susan Gluss essay…

    [...the points Max and Navigator make also have validity. The most interesting analysis of crime coverage in Oakland I've heard was a couple years ago by a spokesperson for Forest City Development discussing their Uptown project. She pointed out that when you hear about crime in Oakland, it happens in Oakland. Whereas when you here about crime in San Francisco, it is typically attributed to a specific neighborhood, usually Bayview-Hunter's Point or maybe the Tenderloin. Max makes a similar point...]

  49. Mike Spencer

    As someone who has spent a bit of time in “media” there are a couple things to be considered. It is an entertainment medium that likes to perpetuate stereotypes. Gluss hit a rough patch that I believe is atypical even for long-time Oaklanders. The stuff about the car breakins and the purse being stolen can literally happen anywhere. She was scant in her description of the burglary at her apartment. What is frustrating is the Chron gives front page attention and ink to a tiny minority. i.e. her very negative account. ( We can write all the rebuttal we want but it will never catch up to her and Chip’s slanted splash. ) She also drew heavily on the sad but isolated ,horrific account of the boy being shot during the piano lesson. Since we are less well-known than SF, media likes the blanket term “East Oakland” for an area that is about 50 square miles–Park Boulevard to the San Leandro border…..You would not sell many papers with the headline: “250,000 Oaklanders More or Less Content.”

  50. Peter Seidl

    Subject: police force size, budget questions

    A few days ago I read this article in the Times, entitled “Police Project Credited With Cutting Crime in Tough Precincts”

    Therein, stats about the NY City police department got me wondering about Oakland. In NYC, “the Police Department, with 94 percent of its $4 billion operating budget devoted to personnel costs, is facing budget reductions of $45.4 million for the remainder of this fiscal year,…”
    “After the next cut is made, the Police Department’s uniformed force will have shrunk by 4,400 officers, from a peak strength of 40,800 in 2001…”

    In other words, the NYPD costs approx. $4 billion to fund around 36,400 uniformed officers. That is, $110,000 per officer, and one officer per 220 citizens.

    Meanwhile, in Oakland:


    “Police services” costs $196,093,007. We have approx 1000 officers, corresponding to $196,000 per officer, and for a population of approximately 400,000, and is one uniformed officer per 400 citizens. Should I conclude that Oakland spends nearly twice as much per officer and employs half the officers per capita compared to New York? What’s wrong with this analysis and comparison? ( I hope I’m wrong.)


  51. Brooklyn Avenue

    Peter, your analysis sounds about right. It may even be overly optimistic, since OPD’s police force is just over 800, not 1,000.

    NYPD’s starting base salary is maybe about $40,000 (raised from under $30,000 earlier this year), whereas Oakland PD’s starting base salary is about $80,000. And since OPD is eternally understaffed as a percentage of the population, overtime costs are probably higher as well. Mayor Dellums’s recent budget projections warned that it would cost an additional $10 million just to keep the number of police officers above 803, the minimum number mandated by Measure Y. So the city would have to spend another $12,400 per officer just to sustain the low staffing level that we already have. Ain’t Oakland great?

    It makes some sense that Oakland’s salaries are among the highest around — how else could you entice qualified people to join the police force of a city where crime is high, where the department is chronically short of resources, and where many residents are hostile toward the police?

  52. Peter Seidl

    Subject: Re: police force size, budget questions

    Brooklyn Avenue, thanks for the feedback and info back on Dec 27th. I still find it surprising that the Oakland police salaries are a factor of two higher than in NYC. You suggest that the reason might be to compensate for the hardship of working in hostile Oakland. I’m not convinced that our citizens are a factor of two more hostile towards the police than New Yorkers!

    Can anyone else confirm the analysis I presented a few weeks ago? Here it is again:

    A few days ago I read this article in the Times, entitled “Police Project Credited With Cutting Crime in Tough Precincts”
    Therein, stats about the NY City police department got me wondering about Oakland. In NYC, “the Police Department, with 94 percent of its $4 billion operating budget devoted to personnel costs, is facing budget reductions of $45.4 million for the remainder of this fiscal year,…”
    “After the next cut is made, the Police Department’s uniformed force will have shrunk by 4,400 officers, from a peak strength of 40,800 in 2001…”
    In other words, the NYPD costs approx. $4 billion to fund around 36,400 uniformed officers. That is, $110,000 per officer, and one officer per 220 citizens.
    Meanwhile, in Oakland:
    “Police services” costs $196,093,007. We have approx 1000 officers, corresponding to $196,000 per officer, and for a population of approximately 400,000, and is one uniformed officer per 400 citizens. Should I conclude that Oakland spends nearly twice as much per officer and employs half the officers per capita compared to New York? What’s wrong with this analysis and comparison? ( I hope I’m wrong.)

  53. Brooklyn Avenue


    My suggestion for why the salaries are so much higher here was just a suggestion. As for the numbers themselves, I don’t think there’s any doubt that OPD starting salaries are about 2 times what NYPD starting salaries are. NYPD recruits start at 41,000, up from only 25,000 (!) earlier in 2008. OPD boasts that salaries for 1st-year officers are 71,000 to 90,000 at their recruitment website. Factor in higher overtime in the understaffed OPD, higher salaries for veteran officers, benefit costs, administrative costs, etc., and there’s your 196,000 per officer.

    There was a fair amount of talk about how low NYPD salaries were before they raised them last year, which is why I happened to know the rough numbers. While the starting salary at NYPD went up dramatically last year, I believe it is still lower than most other major city forces. I don’t know how NYPD has been able to keep recruiting with such low salaries, especially considering the high cost of living in the 5 boroughs and the surrounding metro area.

    As for hostility toward the police, I didn’t suggest that it was twice as great here as in NYC. I do think that it is probably higher here on average, although comparing per capita hostility-to-police rates is probably impossible. All I meant to do was to throw out some possible reasons why OPD starting salary might be higher than others in the bay area and around the county.

  54. Peter Seidl

    Subject: Re: police force size, budget questions

    Thanks for the comments, Brooklyn. I know you weren’t suggesting the “factor of two … hostility”. I was only trying to connect the possible explanations for the cost differences to the magnitude of the difference, which is huge!
    Alot of police and firemen live on Staten Island. Another possible place to live would be Queens. The cost of living in Queens is 5.2% higher than in Oakland, according to
    Based on this, I am still puzzled by the size of the difference in cost, and also the local recruitment problems. I know the jobs are very challenging, but what a difference between these two urban cities!

  55. len raphael

    Peter, have you compared salaries to SF, SJ, and LA? we might have somewhat higher base salaries, but not as dramatically different compared to Midwest and East Coast. i don’t know if the benefit packages are much better.

    Some kind of police compensation compensation race developed in Northern California which Oakland had to join, especially because the intangible job satisfaction factors are so bad cf to say SF or SJ.

    But now it’s time to rein in those opd base salaries, increases, and benefit costs. eg. start by making cops contribute the same percentage of their wages to their retirement plan as firefighters and other city workers.

    -len raphael

  56. Max Allstadt

    The last time V posted data on this, weren’t the numbers all-in, with benefits accounted for in the totals?

  57. Peter Seidl

    Re: police force size, budget questions

    I haven’t compared to SF, SJ or LA. I’d be interested to see them, but I’m not about to do that research any time soon. It was very easy to do for NYPD, since it was laid out simply in the NY Times article. The Times was trumpeting the successes of crime control and prevention there (in spite of the lower wages, which were not noted). Then, with little searching effort, I found some OPD numbers. My initial query to the thread was “are the numbers I’m using legitimate for the calculation and comparison of per officer and per citizen costs?” So far they are ok, or perhaps underestimated for Oakland, as noted by Brooklyn. If a previous post has done a thorough comparison, I’d like to see it and would apologize for the repetition and distraction here.

  58. len raphael


    SF cops:
    The current annual entry-level salary for Police Officers is:

    $75,868 to $101,556


    * 10 paid vacation days a year during the first five years of service.
    * 15 paid vacation days a year during the next 10 years of service.
    * 20 paid vacation days a year after 15 years of service.
    * 4 floating holidays.
    * 13 paid sick days a year and several healthcare plans.
    * Bilingual pay and special assignment pay.
    * Retirement Eligibility at Age 50, with a maximum of 90% benefit based on years of service.

    The Behavioral Science Unit: