110 thoughts on “
Open Thread

  1. V Smoothe Post author

    Lots of interesting talk on the last open thread, but it was getting crowded. So here’s a fresh one.

    I’ll start by sharing a post from a local sports blogger that made me laugh out loud. From The Sharks And Thoughts On The City of San Jose Being Overshadowed In The Bay Area:

    San Jose has always been overshadowed by these two cities. I mean seriously, San Jose is not cool. If the big three cities were brothers, San Francisco would be the cool artsy one that gets all the chicks, Oakland would be the tough guy that gets all the street cred, and San Jose would just be the loser yuppie nerd who spends most of his time trying to impress the other two. Basically, we’re the Screech of the Bay Area while San Francisco is clearly Zach Morris and Oakland is AC Slater.

  2. Chris Kidd

    And now San Jose is compensating for their little brother mentality by buying a shiny new car, um, I mean rerouting high speed rail through the Pacheco pass and extending BART to their downtown! Who knows, they might even add the A’s to assuage their tormented ego.

    So if we’ve got the three guys from Saved by the Bell nailed down, which cities would be Jessie Spano, Kelly Kapowski and Lisa Turtle? I nominate Berkeley for Jessie.

  3. Azn Oaklander

    I think you should talk about the issue about Oakland A’s moving to Fremont, and how Oaklanders and A’s fans want them to stay in Oakland.

  4. Patrick

    I am perplexed by the KCBS story link “Oakland Mayor hopes to Revive Ballot Measure” – the Measure being NN. What is most striking, to me, is the last line: “Dellums told KCBS he thinks a parcel tax is necessary beacause the city is facing a $42 million budget deficit.”

    As V. so ably pointed out, Measure Y money may have been used to beef up the police force, but the actual objectives of Measure Y have never been met. Then, he canceled the Police Academy due to money issues, which means that the increased police force size for which the Measure Y money was ostensibly used (though in ways not intended by Y) can’t even be maintained. Now, he wants to reintroduce NN because of the $42 million dollar budget deficit?

    Is it me? Does this sound like Dellums intends to cut the budget of the police force by $42 million and then use the projected Measure NN #2 receipts of – surprise! – $41 million to re-fund the police department budget without any increase in police force size? From what I remember, the NN parcel tax can be collected as long as the police force is at least 740 strong. Isn’t that what we had even before Measure Y?

    I waffled greatly about Measure NN, for several reasons. Like most, I don’t have any faith in our city government. Also, Measure NN is one of the most reprehensible forms of taxation, as it is so regressive. As the East Bay Conservative blog notes, regressive taxation leads to gentrification, because those who can’t afford it move away. EBC thinks this is a great idea; I find it appalling. And, although it is a complete rehash of my comments from months ago, unless there is pass-through, the benefits purchased with parcel tax receipts benefit all Oaklanders, but are paid by only 40% of them.

    The budget deficit of $42 million works out to $100 for every man, woman and child in Oakland. But Measure NN #2 places a flat tax on residential property at $267 (in year 3 and each thereafter). 40% of $267 = $106.80, not surprisingly my “share” of the budget deficit.

    Sorry, Mayor Dellums. But you and your budget busting 23 person staff are just going to have to come up with some other underhanded LLAD Tax-style scheme – or at least one that is not so transparent.

  5. oaklandhappenings

    Ditto, Nav. I have boycotted that team almost entirely when Wolff said that regardless of what happens with Fremont, Oakland is no longer a choice. With the bad economy, Wolff and them will be drawing crowds between 5-7,000 next season.

  6. oaklandhappenings

    On a different topic, here it goes: 2-3 weeks ago, some of us were complimenting Oakland for being such an interesting city to do long walks in. Or, in Andrew’s case, from south(east) to north(west)! :-) Well, today, with the bad weather, I stuck to the car, for my next leg of “tour de Oakland”…this time, primarily in the hills. On my way to my volunteer work at Chabot Space & Science Center (www.chabotspace.org for those curious), I took my time, and drove out of my way on some roads somewhat more scenic than Park Blvd and Jaoquin Miller. Instead of jumping onto 580 from Lakeshore/Grand, I continued north on Grand, and eventually reached Pleasant Valley Rd. From there, I took Moraga Ave towards highway 13. On the way up, on the right (east) side, there were neighborhoods still with very colorful trees. Had I had the brains to do this drive a month or so earlier, they would have been at their peak! I forget street names, but I guess they are near the border with the city of Piedmont, if not in it (?). Anyway, I reached Mountain Blvd, at Montclair Village, headed on Mountain where it splits to with Ascot Dr., heading further uphill quickly. After more zig-zagging on neighborly streets, I went up Castle Dr., which takes me onto Skyline near the center. BTW–the Skyline/Castle T-road is right by one of the best Oakland/SF/other views in the entire city, just east of it by less than 1/2 mile.
    Anyway, on the way back, I took Shepard Canyon Road back to Montclair, with some other nice residential neighborhoods before that.
    My goal by telling this story, is this: regardless of how many of these neighborhood residents want to say they live in their neighborhood–and not Oakland–because they are safer than many flatland neighborhoods (ESPECIALLY some Montclair folks who seem to think that they are another “Piedmont”), those good folks are still in the city of Oakland. If your neighborhoods up there are safe and pleasant as well as very pretty,, kudos! Keep them that way, to prove that Oakland has several square miles of safeness! And, that they are in Oakland– not Berkeley, or somewhere across the county line.

  7. oaklandhappenings

    Highland, Mesa, Monte and Pala Aves, all intersecting Park way, are the ones I couldn’t remember at first, just south of Moraga…very pretty and abundant trees. However, s see them before this storm knocks the rest of the leaves down in the next 24 hours!

  8. Robert

    That is a lovely drive that way. The view can be spectacular after the wind or rain has cleared out the haze. There are several spots off Skyline you can hike dow into the valleys in Redwood park.

  9. driver

    So You pass homes on Moraga Ave in the upwards of 1,500,000 (Highland, Mesa, Monte and Pala Aves) Those homes aren’t in Oakland.You only commented on trees in PIEDMONT.Didnt you see any trees in Oakland?I say this only because Piedmont staff save the trees by grinding sidewalks and replacing when needed.Oakland staff cut the tree fill with blacktop and call it a day.

  10. len raphael

    driver, the city contractors recently did a really nice job replacing tree root damaged sidewalk on 51st btween tele and bway, and then providing generous tree cut-outs. it might be the first and last time i’ll see that in oakland, but it makes for a much more pleasant walk down 51st.

    -len raphael

  11. Navigator


    That’s a very scenic drive that you described. I love the Shepperd Canyon area. It’s hard to believe that you’re in a large urban city when driving in that area. That’s the beauty of Oakland. Oakland has areas with the same topography as Marin County or with redwood trees like the Muir Woods. Also, how many cities in the Country can you hike in a redwood groove like Joaquin Miller Park and ten minutes later be eating lunch at the waterfront at Jack London Square.

    As far as the A’s, I completely agree with you. I’ve also boycotted the team since Wolff announced that he’s abandoning Oakland. Wolff burned his bridges with Oakland, and now he’s painted himself into a corner as the housing market collapsed for his Fremont housing development.

    Wolff is going to rot on the vine in Oakland. Wolff alienated many die-hard Oakland A’s fans with his foolish decision to take a part of the fabric of Oakland and tear it to shreds in a foolish attempt to chase non-existent corporate dollars in the South Bay.

  12. oaklandhappenings

    Navigator, I blame Bug Selig too, for hating the A’s (saying that the Giants are THE Bay Area team)…that guy is slime.
    Getting back to the drive story, you are right: when I was on Shepard Canyon, I was like, “where the hell am I?? –I wasn’t lost, btw, just a bit amazed. Still in Oakland?, I thought–holy sh*t! As for the trees on the south-Moraga drive streets, if they are Piedmont, so be it. When I made my last statements, I forgot that I had mentioned those. In any case, Piedmont has very nice scenery, and it kindof makes one wish that it was actually part of Oakland. Ah hell, it’s still the East Bay and easy to get to! I ain’t complaining. :-)

  13. Coolhand Luke

    I once got lost in Piedmont with my mom and brother a number of years ago. We were more scared then we have ever been driving in Oakland. We literally could not find our way out, all those windy streets kept depositing us in the same places. Not cool at all. Give me the Town any day.

  14. Coolhand Luke

    We don’t have a navigator. My mom was born and raised in Oakland, but couldn’t figure out Piedmont to save herself. It was pretty amusing, if a little scary and weird

  15. driver

    oaklandhappenings I find it ironic that in the origial post you only describe the beauty of Piedmont.So be it Piedmont,Berkeley San Leandro, Emeryville or Canyon.(All citys that touch Oakland) In the other citys staff maintain streets, sidewalks,Parks,medians.When was the last time anyone saw public works work in Oakland?

  16. len raphael

    driver, yes public works didn’t do the actual work, but in my limited experience (mostly limited to concrete contractors), the average quality level of licensed smaller concrete firms is much lower than that of average city employee. which is mediocre to acceptable, sometimes inspired.

    so i’m figuring that for the entire stretch of 51st to have been done decently, either it was blind luck, or someone in public works selected well and monitored the work properly.

    -len raphael

  17. oaklandhappenings

    well, driver, _I_ find it ironic that despite your ability to read my “original post”, that you cannot comprehend it. Try again. My post itself, has to do with the fact that Oakland has very scenic roads, and neighborhoods that make it seem like a much better place than many naïve, ignorant, biased people publicize it as. The whole public works thing…I don’t see exactly what that has to do with my discovering nice neighborhoods in Oakland on my own. ??

  18. driver

    So point out one other thing on your drive that you describe as much as the trees in Piedmont. You mention a bay view, but the only thing you go into detail about are trees in Piedmont.
    A division of Public Works in Oakland maintains trees.Walk down Piedmont ave(oakland),College ave and count the wholes where trees once were.Trees help make neighborhoods.

  19. driver

    len raphael Are you saying that city employees are better qualified?On 51st. AJW did the work, who are licensed with the state.Are city employees licensed by the state? Are supervisors lisensed by th state?Who’s Licensed for the control of problems with the city.So where is all this higher grade city work in Oakland.

  20. len raphael

    there are quite a few highly competent city employees who wb be fine for the manager job, but that wb asking them to trade a relatively secure civil service job for the guarantee of having to move to another city every few years the way professional city managers usually do. that’s not the risk profile of a typical civil servant.

    maybe council could grant a “leave of absence” so they got their old position back. hmm. ain’t gonna happen.

  21. Mike Spencer

    Off-off topic (but we are freestyling aren’t we?): My fave hiking place these days: the trails between Keller and Grass Valley up along Skyline. Beautiful, like a 30 or 40 mile network of trails around Oakland, Castro Valley, San Leandro, etc. Pretty quick to get to too, about 15 minutes from DTO. Great mountain biking as well. Just the sounds of birds. I often go on a 5-mile loop without seeing anyone else on the trails. You can probably get to Skyline and Keller by AC Transit too.

    On on a very different note, check Private Eye Confidential for your true crime fix http://www.spencerpi.blogspot.com/

  22. oaklandhappenings

    driver, my goal was not to “point out” every little thing; I picked on thing on the drive that found attractive, elaborated a bit. As for Oakland, there are houses with some very interesting European styles of architecture, including tudor-era. The overall peacefulness of the streets and long roads–although quite deserted as a result of the poor weather–still made me relieved that Oakland has many good–or great–neighborhoods that city residents can be proud of. They may not all differ from each other in distinguishable ways, but they are well kept, and don’t even include the most pricey of homes…based on overall square footage and design, to my guesses.
    Anyway, whether that clarifies anything or not, it doesn’t matter to me; it was a fun, pleasant drive, and I look forward to discovering more interesting parts of Oakland that I haven’t walked or driven in before.

  23. VivekB

    I can’t find VS’s post about violent crimes which is where this comment belongs, but I just refreshed my stats through 12/1 for all the regular geographies. My #s, which are a count of individual crime reports, seem to true up with hers. It’s higher in 2008 than 2007. The token exception is May, 2007 was just barely higher than 2008.

    This time I also plotted 2 graphs comparing 2008 with 2007 & 2005 as this blog made me curious as to what it would show. I did:

    - Oakland Wide, Violent/Drug/Property crimes. (what I like to call “crime we should care about”, excludes shoplifting/jaywalking/etc)
    - Oakland Wide, Violent Crimes (crimes we should *really* care about)

    The YTD for Violent/Drug/Property shows a 24% increase oakland-wide over 2007, and 72% increase over 2005. I just realized I didn’t do a “violent crimes only” table and can’t do that until tonight so I can’t quote you the numerical growth in violent crimes, but the graph is unmistakeable.

    There’s roughly 18 bazillion other #s I could quote , but I’ll just leave you with that unless there’s specific requests. I have the tables generated for:
    - Area 1/2/3
    - 4X/7X/9X/10X/11X/12X/12Y&13X

    If someone tells me how I can put an image in a comment, I can put the actual graph here.

  24. 94610BizMan

    Thanks for your work on providing these stats.

    As per the discussion on the “Susan Gluss has a point, folks.” thread, crime is up and not just a perception or PR problem.

  25. V Smoothe Post author

    Good news about the animal shelter. It will not be closing over the holidays after all. From this afternoon’s press release:

    Mayor Ron Dellums announced today that the Oakland Animal Shelter will be exempt from part of the mandatory business closure scheduled for December 24, 2008 through January 5, 2009 to protect the welfare of animals and the community.

    “It was always our intent to maintain staffing of the Oakland Animal Shelter during the mandatory business closures so that neither the animals in our care nor our community would suffer,” said Mayor Dellums. “Still, I applaud staff and the animal welfare community for coming together to arrive at a creative solution that balances the need to sustain the vital services provided by the Oakland Animal Shelter with the economic reality that we must cut costs to close a $37 million budget deficit.”

    The Oakland Animal Shelter will remain open as usual on the two weekends during this holiday closure period, as well as Monday, December 29 – Wednesday, December 31, 2008, when other City facilities are closed. The Oakland Animal Shelter will close on all the remaining, regularly scheduled mandatory business closure days in 2009, and may close on an additional three (3) Fridays spread out over the remainder of the fiscal year (through June 30, 2009).

  26. MIke Spencer


    The above story about Oakland cops cleared of one lie but telling a whopper in a case involving an informant should scare the crud out of people. Buried way down in the ninth paragraph is the juicy item that Officer Francisco Martinez lied when he told a judge that an informant knew about the location of a firearm.

    That is staggering. It’s perjury. A cop openly lied to a judge and the Tribune would make you think that all is grand. Yikes. And the cop is not alone….Also, the judge who made the “ruling” on the two cops is pretty low down on the judicial totem pole for Alameda County.

    They lie because they know they can get away with it.

  27. V Smoothe Post author

    Seriously! The scariest part was the Department’s response:

    But Sgt. Michael Poirier, chief of staff for police Chief Wayne Tucker, said the ruling about the informants proves that officers did not exhibit “evilness” in writing their faulty affidavits.

    Evilness? That’s now our standard for acceptable behavior? What happened to the law?

  28. Jennifer

    Does anyone know where to find information about Shepherd Canyon Park? I thought it was an Oakland park, but it’s not listed on the City Park and Rec website.

  29. Patrick

    Was it the lack of horns sticking out of the officer’s head that tipped them off? This is an admission that in a vain attempt to police Oakland properly, the woefully understaffed force must resort to lies.

  30. BMac

    Hello folks, wanted to introduce myself. Now that Election 2008 is over, except in MN, I’ve got like 38 extra hours a day to waste on the internet. I’ve been meaning to ‘find’ the good local blogs for awhile, finally did.

    >late response to the ‘touring Oakland’ discussion….
    my favorite local walks/hikes include the hills of Rockridge bordered by Broadway/24/lake temescal and Broadway Terrace. There are some amazing views, awesome houses (mostly post-fire rebuilds) and a great network of city stairways that cut through the neighborhood. All withing 5-10 minute walk of College Ave/Rockridge BART.


  31. Jennifer

    I did google Shepherd Canyon Park and the links were to a homeowner’s association. No site for the actual park.

  32. Jennifer

    What I’m actually looking for is information about trails, facilities, etc. If it is a City park, I’m assuming I can’t take my dog there, but I want to make sure.

    Believe me 94610BizMan, I clicked through a lot of links when I googled it and there wasn’t much.

  33. MIke Spencer

    You cannot take your dog to Shepherd Canyon park. However, below it you have the Dimond Canyon Trail on Monterey near Montclair Driving Range and above it you have Redwood–both dog friendly places and Redwood is off-leash.

    Shepherd Canyon is pretty much a soccer field for kids with a little dirt track jogging trail around it.

    You can take the dogs offleash at Dimond Canyon trail but you cannot also tenchincally get a ticket.

  34. Debby Richman

    Hi there. Shepherd Canyon is a very active park used for the Montclair soccer teams of all ages. Recently a new parking lot was completed, so there’s no more dangerous driving while soccer parents are there. Regarding the park itself, there’s a lot of active restoration and brush clearing taking place too.

    In terms of dogs, this isn’t the place to take them in the hills. There are several specific “runs” set up nearby. The best one is Joaquin Miller, which has run areas based on dog size and welcomes them there. You can also walk dogs up in Redwood Regional Park, and the West Ridge is a favorite spot.

  35. Jennifer

    Thanks for the info! I hike at least three times a week in Redwood Park with my dog . . . but we may also try Dimond Trail.

  36. oaklandhappenings

    Has anyone seen the California Revels yet this season at Scottish Rite Center? I went this evening, and enjoyed it very much! Some parts were great, and I really dig the music played between the 13-17th centuries. Lots of happiness too. Be sure if you go, to take some kind of backrest, however, as many of the seats in the 81-year old building have hard backs to them in the balcony, anyway). I had never been in there, but ithe building has a gorgeous interior; better than the distinguishable exterior. Speaking of the exterior, does anyone know what kind of work is going on, for the back side? Are they finally cleaning up and decorating it?
    Here is the revels’ link:

  37. BMac

    I am slated to go to the Revels Sunday afternoon. I’ve been the last three years w/ wifey and MIL (wifey grew up in Piedmont) and enjoyed it each time. I’m excited about the earlier period setting this year, as I love the older music of the Isles instead of the Dickensian/Victorian that they’ve done in the past.
    The Revels are pretty fantastic Oakland holiday tradition, I recommend to anyone making it part of yours.
    Don’t know about the work they are doing, I’m sure the mother-in-law will have some info for me on Sunday though.

  38. Steve Carney

    Yes, great great show. The Scottish Rite Center is scraping away the peeling paint on the west side (Madison Street) of the building and applying a stucco type of durable finish so that they don’t need to repaint every few years. The Center submitted Design Review plans a few years ago to build a 3 story parking garage where the surface parking lot is. The garage would have mostly obscured the blank and boring west side of the building, but they have had trouble finding investors and have kind of given up. The next time you are there, ask for Alex, the property manager, who will show you a rendering of the parking structure.

  39. BMac

    I’m sure most of you have seen the snippets from DataQuick this week about 44% price drops on homes. Obviously that number has to be taken with a giant salt lick, something I tried to cover over at my place but I’m curious what you guys are noticing in your neighborhoods on the property value front. I’ve only been here a year (first of many I think), but there seems to be a dearth of good real estate blogs that cover the east bay well, and have current info on prices/trends on the neighborhood level. Am I missing them?

  40. Charles Pine

    Emeryville’s sales tax collections fell 23 percent in the third quarter this year from the same period last year, among the steepest drops in the state.
    –from a long economic profile of the city in the Sunday NY Times, Dec. 21, 2008

  41. Max Allstadt

    Charles, that makes perfect sense. Emeryville sells almost nothing but useless discretionary crap.

    I wonder if over-investing in a hyper-vulnerable sector of the Market will be their undoing.

  42. Max Allstadt

    That only holds true as long as our standard of living stays far ahead that of developing nations. The average income in China in 2006 was $2025. What do you think happens when that doubles? How many Chinese will retain their interest making Happy Meal toys 70 hours a week? What happens if they hit triple their current average?

    The average income in the world when you consider all humans is about 5-6000 US Dollars per year. Are you ready to be an average human?

  43. Patrick

    Well, now that the can of worms is opened…

    What do we “make” anymore? OK, automobiles, with the help of the government…we export some high-technology items (though we’re slipping), some very specialized heavy equipment, coal, agricultural products, scrap metal and paper… our most recent economic crisis, I propose, was simply the result of the theft of the average American’s piggy bank without a manufacturing base to replace the wealth that was redistributed.

    When our country was at its peak (past tense intended), we utilized our incredibly abundant resources and turned them into salable products for end users the world over…and thus added value and created wealth. Now, we export our refuse so that the Chinese can add value, enriching themselves, and we impoverish ourselves in the process. It’s kind of like Oaklanders shopping in Emeryville.

    The Chinese decided to emulate the American model, and have done so convincingly. Unfortunately, though the planet allowed 5% of the world’s population to exploit 25% of the world’s resources to their economic advantage, in order for 20% of the world’s population (China) to accomplish the same thing, they will require 100% of the planet’s resources. I’ve checked the math; it won’t work.

    If you haven’t visited http://www.thestoryofstuff.com, please try to watch the 20 minute presentation this weekend. Do not be put off by the animation aspect; it has a powerful message.

  44. len raphael

    MA, aren’t you’re being somewhat schizoid about wanting to increase Oakland’s retail base but criticizing consumerism? or do you want oakland stores to specialize in the other green stuff like expensive hybrid cars? economies of every country are based on growth, and don’t see how that’s gonna change outside of the berkeley hills.

    CP, emeryville will have the last laugh about that article. I don’t know the size of Emeryville’s redevelopment acquistion debt, but i assume it was financed years ago at cheap fixed interest rates (can anyone confirm that?). even if it takes years for retail to recover, because emeryville has a miniscule number of full time residents to service, has a strong base of successful non retail businesses which chose it over berkeley and oakland and sf, all emeryville has to do to balance it’s budget is raise it’s business gross receipts tax from the extremely low rate it is now, to something still very low compared to berkeley or oakland. when retail does recover, emeryville shopping with all of its poor mass transit access, is a much more attractive place to shop than downtown oakland.

    -len raphael

  45. Max Allstadt

    No Len. Not Schizoid. Just identifying the problem.

    I do want retail attraction, and I don’t really want the city to regulate it to the point where it’s impossible.

    I certainly would oppose creating big box, car oriented retail anywhere outside of areas that are already parking lot wastelands. I might even want to see new, denser models of development surrounding big boxes, around and above. But the only aggressive planning intervention I’d support would be about preventing sprawl. If a development is made to be car friendly, it should be pedestrian friendly too, and it should be effectively tied to the rest of the urban fabric.

    There is nothing wrong with retail. My snit about Emeryville was more saying that on a systemic level, if the US doesn’t shift it’s focus to less discretionary and less disposable items, we’re in more trouble than we already think we’re in. The paradigm that created this last boom, and in fact the paradigm that created the explosive growth of the US since WWII… it’s not going to recover or return in any recognizable form. We need to start pondering how to bring back prosperity in a different form. I don’t really expect government to figure that one out for us or force it upon us. Businesses just need to think further ahead than usual in order to create models that keep them going for the long haul.

  46. Navigator

    Speaking of Emeryville, what’s their secret for capturing all of that retail? Why can’t the same thing be done across the freeway in West Oakland and also in downtown Oakland?

    Emeryville started off as a blighted industrial high crime area with horrible access to public transportation. If it can be done in Emeryville, it certainly should be able to get done in a more transit friendly downtown Oakland or even in Uptown Oakland.

    Emeryville looks like it was artificially cut away from Oakland as some sort of duty free zone with a separate tax rate and an emphasis on catering to businesses and development. I see Emeryville as a sort of an East Bay Hong Kong where the business, development, and taxation policies are separate from those of the rest of the dominant area of Oakland and Berkeley. Was that their secret to retail success? Was that how a city of less than 10,000 residents becomes a sales tax depository for Oakland and Berkeley and their combined 500,000 residents? What’s wrong with this picture?

  47. len raphael

    only a percentage of sales tax receipts goes to to a city; most goes to state and some to county, some to bart. so you need a ferocious increase in of retail sales to make a dent in the fiscal shortfalls of oakland.

    then as the state always rediscovers, sales tax is an unreliable, unstable source of revenue compared to property tax and to a lesser extent income tax.

    in the absence of state level tax reform with predictable and fair revenue sharing back to localities, oakland has to make the best of a hodge podge of revenue sources, vastly increase sales tax, attract for profit business that pays biz tax, and pull off the politically unpleasant feat of putting away a large rainy day fund during good times to smooth out revenue drops.

  48. Patrick

    I think Emeryville’s “secret” is what I mentioned in the other post – they decided what that wanted, streamlined the system to make it easier to attract retailers, made promises to retailers, and kept them. In other words, they actually worked for it, as opposed to issuing endless policy statements and silly reports.

  49. Charles Pine

    Gee, I thought this blog was A Better Oakland, not A Better Emeryville. :)

    Len hit it: sales tax receipts move in sync with the business cycle, accentuating the fiscal crisis of a city.

    Incidentally, you can thank those of us who campaigned against and defeated Jean Quan’s Measure N two years ago. That was her $148 million bond issue to build a palace library. Imagine City finances with that liability on top of it, or alternatively what a waste of millions gearing up then putting it on hold because of the condition of City finances.

    What about revenues from bringing in on-location film production? See http://www.orpn.org/pimpTV1.htm

  50. Max Allstadt

    I think Emeryville’s secret is… hmmm…

    1. freeway oriented retail on a corridor used by great hordes of suburban commuters.
    2. Because they’re sandwiched between Oakland and Berkeley which move much slower, they were able to do it first, making is somewhat pointless for us to follow suit.
    3. small enough population to successfully bribe with the promise of disproportionally huge sales tax revenue.

    the problem is that too much of their model is the same car centric low rise mess that James Kuntsler calls “the greatest waste of resources in human history”. Nothing west of the train tracks is pedestrian friendly. Bay street doesn’t count, because it’s not attached to anything – you have to drive to it before you can walk around it. Plus they slapped enormous big box retail on North Edge of Dogtown, basically using it as a wall to keep the riffraff out.

    I still think that in the long run, as global income equality starts to level itself out, Emeryville will be forced to change or to eat itself. Perhaps they’ll be alright precisely because they’re nimble enough to act faster than we can. What they’ll come up with, who knows.

  51. Max Allstadt


    I just read your blog about Dellum’s hypocrisy regarding that HBO show. The only criticism I have is that Too Short is not really all that thuggish. Read his wikipedia entry. In terms of general menace and social irresponsibility, he’s not in the same ballpark as anyone else you go after in your piece.

  52. 94610BizMan

    ” streamlined the system”– If a business can’t move reasonably quickly with the City or is unsure what bureaucratic hurdles need to be completed the business won’t pursue the investment.

    “made promises”–vacuous PowerPoint vision isn’t a contractual/regulatory commitment. Departmental confusion as to what commitments and requirements will extend over the life of the project scares off business investment.

    ‘keeping the promises’–No offense to the recently joined, hard working Oakland City Staff members. However, City staff can’t make promises that are guaranteed to be kept over the life of a business investment. When the city executive functions are dysfunctional businesses won’t take the chance. Plus Oakland officials have a track record of not ‘keeping the promises’.

    But now I’m just repeating myself

  53. Navigator

    Who cares if Oakland city officials are being somewhat hypocritical when they oppose a pimp production set in Oakland. The bottom line is that this is a bad proposition for the city.

    I’m not worried about making a point about their hypocrisy, I’m worried about compounding the damage done to this city by irresponsible and unfair journalism. If Hollywood wants to bring a positive show with a wholesome message to Oakland, that’s one thing, but, to capitalize on an image partially manufactured by our friends from across the Bay, is wrong, and would do more harm than good to Oakland economically.

    Hollywood loves to use San Francisco for movies, let them take their pimp show to San Francisco. Don’t bring your trash to Oakland!

  54. V Smoothe Post author

    I find it absolutely unbelievable that any City official would oppose having a major television show set and shot in Oakland, especially when they’re constantly talking about wanting to capitalize on and grow our film industry. What an incredible opportunity for Oakland!

    Those who worry about Oakland’s image should devote their energies to actually tackling the problems at the core of the image instead of trying to prevent the media from displaying the truth.

  55. Patrick

    And Nav, the show is about an aging pimp who wants to get out of the business. What could be more wholesome and positive than that? If you’re hoping for a series about Children’s Fairyland, you’re in for a long wait.

    I want to see a show about a family from DEO switching places with a family from Montclair for a week.

  56. Navigator

    V, It looks like you want to throw a few logs on the fire. Let’s go!

    This is an incredible opportunity for Oakland? In what way? What benefits does Oakland get out of this? Can we compare the benefits of a few hotel rooms being reserved in San Francisco to the further erosion of Oakland’s image?

    V, I know that you think that Oakland gets fair coverage in the media. Obviously you feel that Oakland is a crime ridden ghetto where the average citizen or visitor is in danger of being shot at any moment. I happen to disagree with you about the entirety of the city of Oakland. Criticizing the media, which has a double standard for reporting crime in Oakland vs San Francisco, is a positive step taken to make sure that Oakland receives fare and equitable coverage. I don’t view my city as a pimp haven any more than any other major city including San Francisco. If that’s your opinion of Oakland, that’s fine. But, to allow Hollywood to capitalize and perpetuate this horrible image of Oakland to the world is wrong. The additional damage done to the city’s reputation far outweighs any tangible economic benefits.

    V, do you know that many car commercials are shot in Oakland. And without anyone ever knowing the location. I see downtown Oakland around the City Center area depicted all the time in car commercials. Did you know that a car commercial was shot on Redwood Road and Joaquin Miller in Oakland but the location was depicted to be Big Sur because no one would believe that the beautiful bucolic location was in Oakland? That was a case of the actual physical area of Oakland being denied because of a widely held negative image. That was a case of an image trumping a physical reality. That’s why image is very important. San Francisco uses image all the time to nourish its tourism industry.

    Hollywood now wants to use Oakland’s NEGATIVE image to make money for itself. You seem to be OK with that. I’m not. I don’t think Oakland should be defined and glorified as a sanctuary and haven for pimps. I don’t see any economic benefit in further denigrating Oakland’s image. Do you?

  57. Navigator

    Hollywood already knows that Oakland offers wonderful locations for movies and car commercials. That’s not the issue. Movies like Tucker, Made in America, Bee Season, Mrs. Doubtfire, True Crime, etc., have all been shot partially in Oakland.

    Hollywood can think of something more positive if they want to use Oakland as a location. Yes Patrick, I’d love to see a family from Montclair trading places with a family from Elmhurst. That would be absolutely fascinating.

  58. Patrick

    How about a show that focused on two people…the man trying to move on from being a pimp and a man or woman from a hills neighborhood who has been downsized? An interesting juxtaposition…a man WITH a job, though one associated with the seamier side of life, and a person WITHOUT a job, but still managing to maintain an enviable but at-risk lifestyle. Would you have a problem with a show of that nature, if it showcases the bad along with the good?

  59. Navigator

    Yes, a show like that would be more balanced. I think a show that shows the struggles of everyday day citizens going about their lives and dealing with the realities of living in a large urban city would be fascinating.

    An affluent family from Montclair trading places with a family from Elmhurst or Fruitvale would be a very interesting show to watch. I’d like to see them do this for one year. It would be interesting to see how each family would react to the challenges and surprises of living in different neighborhoods of the city. There’s many fascinating sociological aspects which would no doubt develop in their lives. For instance, would the family from Elmhurst or Montclair adapt well to their new surroundings? Would they be welcomed with open arms by their neighbors. Would they feel isolated in Montclair? Would they miss the color, flavor, and social interaction of their former neighborhoods? On the other hand, would a much lower crime rate and better schools be the overiding factor?

    Would the family from Montclair, struggle with the density, diversity, traffic, and with social insulation in Fruitvale? Would a Spanish speaking business district make them unconfortable and resentful? Would they live in an inordinate amount of fear living amongst a culture foreign to their familiarity? Would the negative image they had of that part of town change as they formed relationships, dined in restaurants, and walked the bustling streets? Would they learn to appreciate the culture, color, and energy of the area, or would they long for the serenity and isolation of Montclair?

    This would be fascinating. That’s the type of show Hollywood should consider for Oakland. Not a stereotypical show about pimp life. I resent the insinuation!

  60. Max Allstadt

    If the show is treated with the level of thought and honesty that HBO has become known for, I think it would be a boon to the city. Particularly if it was shot here and cast here.

    Since when do HBO series glorify anything? They may seek to understand tony soprano, but his ugly side is shown as just plain ugly. The action is traumatic, not exciting. Same thing with the Wire. No chase scenes, no drawn out fights. A lot of horrible truth. Shit, if we establish Oakland as a desperate place in the psyche of the liberal elite HBO lovers, maybe we can get some federal funding out of it.

  61. dto510

    It is sublimely ironic for our abject failure of a mayor and the hapless City Council to say that a major TV show set in Oakland would make the city look bad. What makes the city look bad is Dellums being asleep at the wheel (people are using him as a simile for incompetence, like a blogger who said today that “Heather Fong ran the SFPD like Dellums runs Oakland”) and the City Council not doing anything about public urination and defecation (it’s Ignacio’s fault that pro-crime Councilmember Nancy Nadel sits on the Public Safety Committee). No amount of positive press will obscure Oakland’s blight, and a major TV show will indeed provide the economic investments that city officials have repeatedly failed to deliver.

  62. len raphael

    If Dellums put half as much energy into dealing with prostitution here, especially teenage prostitution, as he does trying to manage Oakland’s image, maybe i could listen to his pr guy David Chai without gagging.

    I don’t know how many investigators are currently assigned to teenage prostitution here, but about a year ago it was a total of 2 to handle a major cause of local crime and personal destruction. at that time, the situation was nearly hopeless with not even a safe overnight place for cops to place young girls they separated from the pimps.

    What Dellums might consider, is granting the permits in return for a hefty contribution to a half way house, etc.

  63. das88

    It is not just about this one TV show. The best way to attract Hollywood production is by having Hollywood production. This stuff builds upon itself. For example, a location manager scouting for one show might see a location that doesn’t work for the current show but does for her next project.

    Similarly, the best way to limit future production is by saying “No” to proposed projects and giving current ones a hard time.

  64. Brooklyn Avenue

    I reject the whole notion that city officials should be in the business of picking and choosing who gets to film in Oakland based on whether they think a particular project promotes the right image or values or morals. That is exactly the kind of nannyish meddling that leaves Oakland stagnating while other places thrive.

    People are suggesting alternative show ideas, and that’s great — maybe someone in Oakland can take one of these other proposals and run with it (a “neighborhood swap” reality show, or whatever). But good luck getting a big-league production company to do one of those shows in Oakland if the city gets a reputation for being unwelcoming to people who want to film here.

    I’m reminded of the fuss last year when “Out of the Closet” wanted to open one of their thrift stores at the vacant GapKids location on Lakeshore Ave. Some of the more vocal neighborhood residents complained to Pat Kernighan that an “Out of the Closet” wasn’t a “good fit” for the neighborhood. Kernighan agreed that a thrift store wouldn’t attract people with enough “disposable income” and therefore wasn’t an appropriate tenant for that space. Out of the Closet quickly gave up their efforts. Guess what? That storefront is still vacant, a year later.

  65. len raphael

    MA, Oakland’s reaction time to losing most of it’s retail not simply less nimble than Emeryville’s, but glacial.

    We lost our retail in the 50′s and early 60′s and Emeryville started it’s redevelopment, sometime in the 80′s?

    Even Berkeley did it’s 4th Street redevelopment years ago.

    -len raphael

  66. Max Allstadt

    Len, agreed on the glacial thing.

    Brooklyn, Out of the Closet is about the only issue I ever thought PK went too far on. She has to represent her constituents, I understand that. But when they get that namby-pamby, the best way to serve them is to tell them to chill out.

    A store. That sells clothes. Why the hell would anybody but the lessor and the lessee get to have any say in it at all? Basically what happened is a bunch of overprivleged people decided that it might attract poor people. Heavens to betsy run for the hills, the riffraff are coming. Do you even need a CUP to open a clothing store in a commercial district? Downright silly.

  67. Navigator

    There’s still a lot of retail in Oakland, in the neighborhoods. Oakland just doesn’t have the major high end retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Sack’s etc. However, Oakland still has a Walmart, Sears, and Home Depot, to go along with the many small businesses which give Oakland’s neighborhoods a unique charm that you don’t find in many cities throughout the Country who have Malls everywhere.. Maybe, the lack of the big stores is Oakland’s saving grace from becoming “anywhere USA.”

    Also, I can’t think of many major retailers that Oakland has “lost.” Many of the stores who were once downtown just don’t exist anywhere anymore. What did Oakland lose? I Magnim & Liberty Bell? Capwell’s?

    Also, there seems to be this idea that if you defend Oakland from the unfair, biased, and slanted coverage from the SanFrancisco media, that you’re somehow defending Dellums and the City Council. I think Dellums has done a miserable job as Mayor. I miss the visibility and energy of Jerry Brown.

  68. Patrick

    Oakland could have had a Macy’s, if they had converted the I. Magnin store they purchased as they did in other cities. And now it’s just another office.

    I think, at times, many Oaklanders would be happy to be a part of “anywhere USA”, especially if that anywhere included a working government and a relative lack of urine and feces on the streets.

  69. Brooklyn Avenue

    Max, I don’t think Out of the Closet needed any kind of city approval; Kernighan acknowledged in her open letter to the GL Guardian that there wasn’t anything she could do to stop it, except trying to persuade the landlord to lease to someone else. I don’t know exactly what caused Out of the Closet to back away from that location, but it seems likely that the opposition from Kernighan and the nimbies had something to do with it. We were spared the horror of a “garish” pink sign, and are blessed with an empty storefront instead. Mission accomplished!

    I’m one of PK’s constituents too, and while I think that she generally does a decent job, that wasn’t one of her finest moments.

  70. Max Allstadt

    Yeah, she oughta run for mayor, or city attorney if Russo makes a successful Mayoral bid. It’s frustrating to see her common sense diluted so often by some of the rest of the council.

  71. Jennifer

    How about a movie about a former Berkeley City Council member who runs for Congress and becomes respected by many. Then he allows his ego to take over and runs and is elected to be Mayor of Oakland — but that same ego gets in the way of him making any decisions or showing any leadership. The City is finally saved from his incompetence when he is appointed to an ambassadorship by a newly elected president. I’d love that movie to be based on a true story.

    But about the proposed HBO production — I think it would be great to have it here, even though the title is a bit odd. If it is like other HBO productions, it will have complex characters. And I agree with the previous post that the more filming that is done here with ease, the more will follow. After all, despite trying to lure more and more productions, San Francisco hasn’t put very good programs together and the productions have ended up footing huge, unanticipated bills. Come on over to the East Bay! The weather is better, anyway. Better here than Vancouver.

  72. oaklandhappenings

    Nav. regarding the films/commercial settings, I have a question of something that you brought up: Mrs. Doubtfire had an Oakland scene? Which one? Can you find the link for me? Thanks…I’m curious, having seen that movie twice years ago, and remember nothing but the SF scenes (sadly enough– I knew very little of Oakland streets/landmarks then though).

  73. Jennifer

    Here’s what I found on a web site about Mrs. Doubtfire:
    On 26-27 April 1993 they filmed the swimming pool scenes at the Claremont Resort and Spa. The shots at the KTVU television station (near Jack London Square) were done during the week of 3 May 1993. The Alameda County Courthouse (1225 Fallon Street, Department 8) was scouted, but it appears that no filming was done there.

  74. Mike Spencer


    How about a movie about convicted felons back in the palm business in Oakland (see link above). The state licenses dog groomers for goodness sake. About running checks on those who open palm shops. Where is parole?

    A while back this site had a funny/sad item on the rash of Subways in Oakland. Palm readers are a close second, now have one on Grand AVenue next to Gold’s Gym and one on Park Boulevard. Not saying all shady but I would rather have Subway than another palm reading place…..

  75. ConcernedOakFF

    As usual, the city administration is being short sighted about the HBO filming. It will not only help the economy, it could show the positive and uplifting struggles of a down and out person, and the fact that Oakland can offer other opportunities OTHER than pimping.

    Here is a question for those that are making these decisions: Was Miami seen in a worse light after Miami Vice?? Was NYC city a worse place after NYPD Blue? Was Baltimore seen as worse after the wire??

    Or was there MORE interest, and LESS crime after these shows were shot?

    Do the math yourselves, but it is plain to see the benefits, and hard to see any reason NOT to encourage this revenue generation.

  76. Robert

    FF, do you serioously believe that those shows helped the image of the cities they were staged in? And those are shows that spotlight the cops, we are looking at a show that spotlights the criminals. The Sopranos is probably more relevant, and while I am sure that tourists go to Newark more now to see the locations, I really don’t think it helped the image of the city. I think you are being the short sighted one and looking to temporary revenue over long term interests of the city.

  77. ConcernedOakFF

    What harm could this show do? Every city has it’s underbelly…this could show the underbelly and also the beautiful buildings, weather and people that live here..and bring in REAL money that could do REAL good for the people that live here.

    It certainly will not make Americans think worse of this city than they already do.

    Most people that I know that have never been there ask me two things about Oakland:

    1) So, are there any good and/or safe parts?
    2) So, is it like Detroit, all vacant and scary?

    Please tell me how a show about the reality of any major city will HURT Oakland’s image, which is already as far down as you can get it.

  78. James H. Robinson

    Yes, Baltimore was seen as worse after “The Wire.”

    People are easily manipulated by television. In fact, for may folks out in America, TV is how they vicariously live their lives. I think it is sad, but that is how it is. Oakland’s reputation is bad enough, why allow HBO to make it worse?

    Oakland’s reputation is not down as far as it can be. If it were, there would be no million-dollar homes being sold. Home prices in Oakland are still higher than that national average, despite the burst bubble. However, no city can withstand a continued media beating forever. That’s why most cities have people who are tasked with improving their image.

    It is rare when I agree with Dellums, but I would rather we scarifice a few jobs and deny HBO than to cause more damage to the city’s image.

  79. Navigator

    Oaklandhappenings ,

    I believe one of the shots for Mrs Doubtfire in Oakland, was at KTVU. Also, the swimming pool scene was filmed at the Claremont Hotel which is in Oakland. Also, the big restaurant scene was filmed in the East Bay in Danville. I can’t recall the name of the restaurant. It’s a very well known restaurant in Danville. The name starts with an S. I’m blanking out here.

  80. Navigator

    Oakland already has a great history of cooperation with Hollywood. Wasn’t the series “Hanging with Mr. Cooper” based in Oakland? Also, many other movies have been shot in Oakland over the years. Many movies with San Francisco credits have scenes which are actually shot in Oakland. Of course Oakland rarely gets the credit. The movies which actually took place in Oakland were Made in America, Tucker, True Crime, and Bee Season. I also recall a series with Carl Weahters which didn’t last too long. I believe it feature a private detective. I can’t recall the name of the show. There was also a cop show shot in Oakland. They showed many scenes of Oakland except the name of the city was changed to “Bay City.”

    Oakland has a long history of cooperating with Hollywood. Oakland doesn’t need a Pimp Show. I say give the pimp a bus transfer to San Francisco. I wonder what image conscious San Francisco would do with this? Why come to Oakland?

  81. Chris Kidd

    I’m sorry guys, but let’s be honest here. Parading out Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper as the primary evidence of our “great history of cooperation with Hollywood” is just proof that almost no relationship exists at all. “The Coop” is the best we’ve got? Really? Cleveland had the Drew Cary Show. That means we just got beat by Cleveland. *Cleveland*, people.

    The two biggest examples cited (Coop and Made in America) both were in the early 90′s. Having nothing approaching their level of visibility since then speaks volumes.

    Just curious: all you folk that are so down on “Gentlemen of Leisure”, how would you feel about an equally gritty historical drama following the history of the Black Panthers? Would that be fair game for filming in Oakland?

  82. Navigator

    V, I guarantee you that San Francisco would reject this HBO pimp show out of hand.

    I can just picture pimps shooting it out in the Tenderloin and prostitutes on Mission Street. Don’t hold your breath. It would never happen. There is no city in the United States as insecure and image conscious as San Francisco. That’s why they excel at homicide cover ups. Recently the French government had to send detectives to unravel a “suicide” in San Francisco of one of its citizens. There’s a city that knows how to protect its image.

  83. len raphael

    listened to the ktop video of the recent council public works hearing on sidewalk repair budge planning; and Russo’s proposal to make property owners jointly/severally liable for slip/fall claims.

    At that hearing, city public works staff recommended that for the next five years 65% of repair funds be dedicated to transit and commercial corridor streets; 15% to slip and fall complaints with priority to ADA complaints; and 20% to other complaints.

    Upon question by pat k., and desey b., staff confirmed that there will be 0 funds available for any repairs of residential street sidewalks except for those generated by ADA complaints and slip and fall claims.

    Staff flatly admitted that the entire plan was geared to keep state ADA commision happy; to show “good faith effort” even if it had little to do with quality of life for most residents walking around.

    The lack of reality of that part of the hearing was highlighted by Sanjiv H who pointed out that all the sidewalks have been neglected for decades and yet the city staff doesn’t even apologize for past maintenance failures that were clearly the responsibility of the city.

    In the second part of that meeting, the councilmembers’ discussion on Russo’s proposal to make property owners “jointly and severally liable” for slip and fall claims.

    my understanding (please correct) is that “jointly and severally” means that if someone sues in a slip and fall, they can collect the full amount of the judgement against whomever they go after. eg. go after the property owner for the full amount, and then the owner has to try to collect a proportion from the city. imagine how hard it’s going to be for an owner to collect much from the city even for say damage caused by a city planted tree, when the city will argue that it was an 80 year old sidewalk that wouldn’t have buckled if the owner had replaced it 20 years ago. and this assumes that the owner could even prove that the city planted the tree or city utility caused the damage. (the city staff is convinced it has accurate records of city trees going back forever, on hand written index cards.)

    The wierd sense i got from viewing this long session online, was that our council member never question the hardship that will come from shifting liablity to owners (other than for damage caused by city actions such as tree planting).

    The council members were more concerned about spinning this to their constituents. other than a timid question by pat k (she asks good questions but then accepts insipid answers from staff) about how can the city use its contractor buying power to make it affordable for owners to perform needed repairs. They don’t look at city problems like this as an opportunity to make it easier for owners to work with the city to improve the infrastructure. The council members look at it as a “gotcha” chance to shift costs to the property owners.

    The staff came across similarly as more interested in protecting the city’s budget than making this a better city.

    There were moments of Oakland comedy that HBO could use. One by a angry resident who in betwen ranting, righteously landed a couple of good verbal punches. Then at the end Nadel asking what the requirements for sidewalk construction and recusing herself from voting. (anyone have that video link to nn’s asphalt sidewalk patch?)

    This was pushed to the full council meeting in January.

    -len raphael

  84. Max Allstadt

    I totally don’t get how anybody is liable for somebody else being clumsy. I mean I know there’s legal precedent, but aside from ADA, it’s just stupid.

    In this time of fiscal crisis, I pledge to help the City of Oakland by taking responsibility for my own dexterity. If I fall on my ass because I wasn’t looking and there was a bump in the sidewalk, I shall accept it as my own fault.

    The other thing we can do here is fully support Obama’s push for universal health care. If people had it, they’d be less likely to need to sue over their own clumsiness.

  85. len raphael

    most people, including most property owners, assume that the city is responsible for maintaining sidewalks, adjacent public alleys, adjacent public stairs (think of the stairs near Lake Merritt). but apparently under an old state law, those are all the obligation of the property owner, unless the city’s actions cause the damage. eg. trees, utility lines.

    if there are no sidewalks, the owner is still obligated to maintain the walkway and arguably could be forced to pay for sidewalks and curbs (curbs are very expensive).

    so yes this is one case where oakland legitimately doesn’t have to do any maintenance unless the city caused the damage.

    somewhat odd, but liability doesn’t mirror maintenance obligation in that the city has the obligation for slip and fall under current state and local law. the idea might be that it is often unclear who caused the sidewalk damage and the city is best position to handle slip and fall claims. that the city has an obligation to monitor sidewalk conditions and has the power to force owners to repair before someone gets hurt.

    considering that a high percentage of sidewalk buckling and cracking comes from city planted trees, it’s a reasonable deal. especially reasonable because several speakers pointed out there was no possible way that the city’s index card system could have accurately kept up with the city’s tree planting program over the last 20 years, so who knows who planted which tree.

    (of course why should that even matter, if a property owner doesn’t want to wait two years for the city to plant a scrawny sapling, and plants an approved healthy tree at their own personal expense. city shouldn’t punish that behavior by making the owner fully liable for future sidewalk damage)

    Now along comes the council and Russo proposing a change (which some other cities have also made) to put the slip and fall liability on the owner. theoretically reasonable, because in other cities the municipality actually fixes sidewalks broken by city planted trees. and most of the trees are planted by the cities. Of course in oakland, the city staff described the sidewalk situation as “vast amount of damage and so little resources”. Staff proposed and committee passed it to full council, that for the next five years the only repairs done by the city will be on transit and commercial corridors, and in response to law suits and ADA complaints. forgetabout residential sidewalk damage caused by the city. unless you know a handcapped person who will file an ADA complaint for your walking route from major corridor to where you live, there will be 0 residential sidewalk repairs done by the city for next five years.

  86. Max Allstadt

    maybe its a difference of degree. Someone who falls down a set of stairs on a public path and breaks their leg because parks and rec messed up and the stairs are missing a tread… to me that’s a person with a grievance and a reason to sue.

    If a tree pushes up a section of sidewalk half an inch and somebody trips on it, breaks their wrist and sues… to me that person is a clumsy litigious douche.

    But where to draw the line?

    As far as city vs. personal liability, since we’re stuck with litigious douchebags all around, I guess we have to figure that one out too.

    This new scheme is totally unfair, because exactly as you say Len, liability doesn’t match maintenance obligation. What’s unfortunate is that we have no recourse to minimize litigation passing an ordinance that classifies certain reasonable levels of damage to sidewalks as normal, and the accidents caused by them as automatic no-faults. We can’t do this because of state law, right? messed up.

  87. Born in Oakland

    This is only an insertion to the more meaningful posts but I also remember the Whoopy Goldberg movie that was filmed in Oakland and parts of Berkeley.

  88. len raphael

    Dellum’s Projected Deficit +100Mill


    the projections are accompanied by well written explanations of the categories, and assumptions. a little weak on the methods used to predict future revenues, but that’s crystal ball stuff no matter how you do it.

    looks like the document was overseen by someone like Bobb who was given orders to come up with something that’s credible but doesn’t panic the bond rating agencies or engender anything like the successful kidsfirst initiative.

    the revenue assumptions look like what is given as “reasonable”, but in between conservative and optimistic. This is not a normal business cycle, so we need to see both the reasonable and the conservative (pessimistic) projection.

    If the reasonable assumptions about real estate values and sales, business gross receipts tax, sales tax collections, Calpers losses, and calif state revenue sharing are wrong, we’re in very very deep sht. eg. How bad our finances will be if real estate market doesn’t “recover” by 2010-2011 as this report assumes.

    The 100Mill deficit assumes freezing all wages including cops. it assumes we delay an additional 13Mill per year of funding actuarial shortfall for retiree medical benefits (do they get lifetime 0 copay medical and dental or ?)

    Tables are given showing the effects of making employees pay for a pct of their med insur, weekly city shutdown, delaying repairs and trying to raise local sales tax and fines for false alarms. Other than increasing local sales tax rate, and the weekly shutdown, the other stuff barely makes a dent in the deficit.

    ottomh, if 75% of the 500mill general fund goes for personnel costs, and we’re “reasonably” short 100Mill, and the revenue tinkering amounts to maybe 10Mill, then we need to cut people costs by close to 25% less the other cost cuts that don’t seem to add up to huge amount. Since i assume cops and f ire have higher average people costs, we might have to lay off fully 25% of non public safety if you assume that cops and fire are untouchable.
    (i’m being lazy and not double checking this numbers against the document. )

    How Dellums is going to use this as an opportunity to make our town into his Model City will be subject of the upcoming HBO series on Oakland produced by the Wayman brothers.

    -len raphael

  89. oaklandhappenings

    This week, the Chron did a very nice job with an article on the Fox Theater http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/12/26/MN6714U0HU.DTL
    (I am guessing that the Trib is waiting to do one closer to opening night).. Anyway, I am already counting down the days…the way I was all those months before the original grand opening date (Oct 28 or 29th…something like that). I can live with the delay, if it means getting extra retail and restaurants there, but I hope they don’t delay it again. Oakland needs the Fox! It will add to the nightlife provided by–albeit not nightly for all of these–The Paramount, Luka’s, Arsimona, the various small clubs, Yoshi’s, Kimballs, The Uptown, Van Kleef…need I go on? There IS nightlife in Oakland, with lots of restaurants to go with the entertainment. Even better, the Fox opens the day before Art Murmur…what a week it will be for the uptown, and I’m there.
    40 days to go! Once we get to down 10, someone better be ready to bust out Europe’s song “The final countdown”, as corny as that song can be!

  90. Navigator


    I agree with you regarding the opening of the Fox Theater. It should do wonders for Oakland’s nightlife. I can’t wait to see the Paramount and Fox having shows on the same night with their beautiful marquees lit up. Having those two magnificent theaters at capacity could mean 5,000 people downtown during the evening.

    I’m hoping they can sign a restaurant for the commercial space at the Fox. Also, I wonder if anyone knows what the commercial structure being renovated on Telegraph is going to be? The structure I’m speaking of, I believe is three stories tall, and also has a frontage on Broadway. It’s a beige colored building with large plywood covering the front ground floor facades on Telegraph and on Broadway. Is work still going on? It seems to have been under renovation for quite some time. It would make a great multi story nightclub with perhaps a large restaurant on the second floor overlooking the Fox and Uptown.

    Also, Oaklandhappenings, the restaurant featured in the Mrs. Doubtfire restaurant scene was Bridges, in Danville. It finally came to me.

  91. Hayden

    The Chron published an article commemorating Dellums’ first two years:


    It includes comments about crime–already fairly thoroughly discussed here statistically by V Smoothe.

    But as a downtown Oakland worker, I’ve seen a resurgence of street prostitution over on MLK between 14th and 16th. It was there (and over onto Jefferson) in 1998, when the State Building was being finished. At that time, it was not unusual to see folks doing the deed in cars parked on Castro. Then, under Jerry Brown, it was pushed elsewhere–I always assumed across I-980, into West Oakland (where I live)–and I got used to walking there at night without being propositioned.

    In the past year, it has returned–these two blocks are of particular interest because they feature an indoor soccer gym and a fencing gym that have a fair number of kids around at night. The cops do show up when called, but in terms of Dellums’ tenure, the trend is going the wrong way.

  92. Patrick

    California likes to pretend that it is still progressive…why can’t we agitate to make prostitution legal in Oakland? As Dellums stated in his letter attached to the 5 year financial forecast: “Let us turn these challenges into opportunities”.

    Have you ever met anyone who used that tired, throwaway line that ever accomplished anything of merit?

  93. oaklandhappenings

    Nav, I’m not sure about that comm. structure. Also, further down the St., is anything happening with the Cathedral Bldg? I see signs about it being converted to condos, but I have seen no work done with the interior– ground floor anyway. Thanks for mentioning the MDF Danville restaurant; I had looked that up, actually.
    *38 more days until the Fox opens!*