50 thoughts on “
Open Thread

  1. das88

    Ada Chan is back.

    Sanjiv Honda mentioned this at open forum for the Landmarks Board, and she is now listed in the city directory, so I guess it is true. It looks like Rebecca Kaplan has hired Ada Chan as her Policy Analyst.

    I find it unbelievable that Kaplan has made me regret my vote for her quicker than Dellums made me regret my vote for him. My big reservation with Kaplan was her dogmatic stance on creating “affordable housing.” Her hiring of Chan seems to imply that we are headed for more lunacy.

    Still, that is not what gets me the most about this hire. Rebecca Kaplan kept making noises about getting Council and the varied interests in the city to work together. Her policy of Smart Development is supposed to help everyone which allowed her to get wide ranging endorsements from politicos, business, developers, and labor. If Kaplan, really wants to bring people together why would she hire the most divisive person currently on the civic stage.

    Driving a wedge further into council at the start of your term doesn’t seem a very smart thing to do if you want to get things done.

  2. Max Allstadt


    she’s a policy analyst, working for Rebecca Kaplan. Not a planning commissioner.
    Let’s hypothesize about this for a second. Kaplan was supported by a wide variety of interests and faces in Oakland politics. Sharon Cornu was a big supporter of Kaplan’s campaign. Cornu also advocated forcefully for Chan’s appointment as planning commissioner.

    If Chan is working for Kaplan, we can assume that part of the reason she is doing so is that Kaplan said that if she was elected, she could not vote for Chan to be a commissioner. That’s speculation, but I think it’s pretty sound reasoning. If she had put Chan on the Planning Commission, OBA would have gone apeshit and become Kaplan’s mortal enemy overnight. I don’t think OBA is particularly concerned about this appointment.

    We’re looking at Kaplan making a savvy compromise in order to maintain support in a tough campaign, and in order to maintain broad support while in office. Chan is not in a position of authority. She’s in a job she’s qualified to do. She’s accepted a job that will not make her anywhere near as divisive a figure as she has been in the past. Chan was also never mean or nasty in any way during her campaign to get a seat on the planning commission. The divisive rhetoric came from her supporters.

    While it is clear that on a political level, this appointment is about grooming an heir apparent for Jean Quan, the assignment for the time being seems benign to me.

    What’s more, from everything I’ve seen from watching Rebecca Kaplan, my theory is that Rebecca Kaplan’s most important policy analyst will be a woman named Rebecca Kaplan.

  3. V Smoothe Post author

    The only problem with your theory, Max, is that Rebecca Kaplan wouldn’t have the power to place Ada Chan on the Planning Commission even if she wanted to. If the Mayor resubmitted Chan, and Kaplan voted in favor of the appointment, the vote would go from 5-3 to 4-4. Confirmation of a Mayoral appointee requires five affirmative votes.

  4. Max Allstadt

    Actually, the vote you and I attended was 4-3-1. I wouldn’t put it past some of those supporters to convince themselves into thinking they could turn Desley around. I mean you saw the crowd. They were a little unrealistic about their prospects. That said, the whole thing was such a nail biter! I remember Pat Kernighan (possibly accidentally) pacing her remarks in such a way that it wasn’t until she was close to done that we weren’t afraid anymore.

    Anyway, the most important part of my theory is the last bit. This is a gesture of unity, and Kaplan will be doing her own in depth policy analysis anyway, ’cause she clearly loves doing policy analysis.

  5. V Smoothe Post author

    Oh yeah. In any case, that’s still only four affirmative votes, unless someone changed their vote, which I seriously doubt any of the Councilmembers who didn’t vote in favor in the first place would. In any case, the question is irrelevant now. But this does remind me that we’re STILL short a Planning Commissioner. Ugh.

  6. Rebecca Kaplan

    I’m seeking contact info for Hughes Brothers.

    Does anybody here have their info? (e.g. a direct phone line)

    Please send info to kaplanforoakland (at) gmail (dot) com.


  7. Fruitvale Res

    Our school is on the agenda tonight – however – the meeting is postponed (for tonight’s hopefully peaceful protest). We were also on the December meeting agenda and the commission did not reach quorum.

  8. Springboardz

    Was in City Center when a group of kids got loose and started throwing stuff. Planters are shattered and the sports club down there lost their windows.

    Shame a few gladiators messed it up for what was a pretty peaceful protest.

  9. oaklandhappenings

    No more protests– as much as I hate to say it, things have failed twice now. City Center gets too much foot traffic on a weekday to have to go through such embarrassing destruction. Even worse, I don’t know at the moment if anything else got wrecked downtown– overall, it sounds as if the bulk of those creating the vandalism were arrested.

  10. oaklandhappenings

    On a positive note (provided that protest-anarchists don’t try to burn it down), it is now only 21 days (3 weeks) until the Fox’s Grand Opening. Phil T– if you are still out there and reading this, put an imaginary force-field or something around that place to keep it safe! After two vandalism-rampages, no where is immune downtown anymore from those f’n vandals.

  11. John

    Ada Chan is not “back”…she never went any where as she’s been around for a long time – she was simply rejected as a Planning Commissioner. Those of us who supported Ada Chan for the Planning Commissioner are feeling positive about Kaplan hiring her. It calms fears that Kaplan may be too favorable to the developer community, OBA, etc. It was a very smart move, and a good hire, by Kaplan.

  12. SF2OAK

    I am stuck by the twin news events of the rioting/looting/mayhem/destruction of downtown Oakland by an admittedly small group of thugs and the passing of Hal Ellis the man who developed City Center.

    For one there was optimism and for the other pessimism. The optimist has died, the pessimists live on (maybe a few were arrested but their negativity will be back on the streets pretty soon with a clogged judicial system and nowhere to store these folks.
    How can we turn the pessimists into optimists? You cannot do it by shattering the dreams of the store owners who were vandalized. Perhaps it can be achieved thru carrots and sticks. Perhaps living a right life will be viewed as getting you somewhere.

  13. Mike Spencer

    I was just reading the story about firing the 11 cops for lying on warrants. Something is missing, like a bigger investigation by a law enforcement agency far from here to scrutiinize the agency. If two sergeants and 9 officers were lying on warrants, where were the supervisors above them while this was going on? I think some real bombshells are about to drop regarding OPD. Some very high ups will be trying to get a bus off of them….And Dellums and otherswonder why many of us don’t feel like jacking taxes for more police.

  14. Butch

    Mike Spencer wrote:
    Something is missing, like a bigger investigation by a law enforcement agency far from here to scrutiinize the agency. If two sergeants and 9 officers were lying on warrants, where were the supervisors above them while this was going on?

    Jeeez Guys……. it all goes into the lap of our crummy mangement. Honor, leadership, integrity. I thought we were paying these folks for something noble, like democracy. Cut ‘em off, the deadbeats. I used to be frustrated……. now I’m angry. Please speak up everyone.

  15. Max Allstadt


    Good to hear that you and the anti-development organizations were as jittery about how Rebecca would govern as pro-smart-growth folks were. If everybody was a little bit nervous, it means we elected a centrist.

  16. John

    Hi Max…thanks for your comment although I am not sure why you grouped me with the “anti-development organizations.” I am with the pro-smart growth folks, too, so……. I forgive you.

  17. Max Allstadt

    John, you’re right, that was semantically a bit unfair.

    To rephrase:

    People who don’t like tall apartment buildings near the lake and people who do like tall apartment buildings near the lake were both watching and waiting to see some sign of the direction Rebecca Kaplan would take in office. So far, so centrist.

    Also, wasn’t this hire announced weeks ago?

  18. das88

    Max, I think you are still splitting the sides wrong.

    It is not left versus right.

    It is not pro-developer versus anti-developer.

    It is not big buildings by the lake versus no big buildings by the lake.

    I am a centrist who doesn’t particularly want new big buildings by the lake, and I am all in favor of making developers jump through a bunch of planning hoops to ensure their projects meet the larger needs of the city (let’s get some more design review!).

    However, I draw the line at making developers responsible for social policy. Making developers fund “affordable housing” does not make housing more affordable in the aggregate and frequently has many negative effects.

    Also, I didn’t realize their was an expiration date on topics in the open comment thread. I was probably out of town when this hire was announced.

  19. Max Allstadt


    That last comment was meant to detach John’s pet issue from from any other semantic or partisan verbiage. I don’t really know what all else he advocates, so I’m just pointing out that on the particular issue of the Emerald Views, all factions seem to feel like Kaplan’s victory was a reason to party – but everybody’s still not exactly sure what’s in the Pinata yet.

    I want a pro-Fun agenda, street performance liberalization, and mini cabaret reform in the Pinata. And parachuting plastic army men. And inexpensive crowdsourced beautification projects under highway overpasses. And I like those mini Skor bars. And I really like canned anchovies.

  20. Patrick

    Although anchovies stuffed in olives help make an exceptional martini (GIN martini), boneless, skinless sardines dominate the canned-little-fish pack.

  21. John

    Max: I’m with you…I”m for the pro-FUN agenda, too. Especially, lots and lots of girls/guys in the streets but without the “F*ck BART Police” signs – I don’t find that to be particularly sexy.

  22. das88

    I want more fun too! Today’s the 17th, so I’ll be at the 17th Street Streetfair supporting local merchants.

    Max if you bring a Piñata, I’ll try to find some mini Skor bars.

  23. oaklandhappenings

    I was happy overall with 17th on 17th, but here is what pissed me off: of the merchants who’s windows/property was not boarded up or affected, they STILL didn’t show up to be open for at that period. Ichi Japon, Henry’s Gallery Cafe, Take It Easy, and a few others on the retail side also, I know that this event was somewhat spur of the moment, but it still was embarrassing to see doors locked and lights out with CLOSED signs in the window. Over 150 people must have attended today, if not as many as 200. Folks were friendly to one another, and police presence never became necessary; they were not there, since merchant security was probably high enough(?).
    I really want to see more of these events happen here, and maybe on other blocks downtown/uptown, similarly to how Old Oakland did back last fall (or summer) with a major block party. Whatever can draw Oaklanders and out-of-towners together (some today were from Berkeley and Emeryville), to get to know neighbors, can work out well. People become friends, get on each other’s facebook groups etc., it is well worth it, and help builds a stronger community.
    Did anyone else here go…besides das? sorry that we didn’t meet, D, if you were still there.

  24. oaklandhappenings

    Oh yeah, and only 18 more days until The Fox Theater opens up! I’m getting sick of the suspense, damnit! ;-)

    One other correction in that last post– I meant to say _some_ merchants without boarded windows/unaffected didn’t show up, but several others did.

  25. Brian

    17th on 17th was worthwhile to go to. I normally wouldn’t be there on a Sat. afternoon. I wished there was more going on in the street. Maybe chalk drawing, kids games, or something to take advantage of all that pavement (more segways!). I love it when a street is closed to auto traffic for a community celebration. Too bad some of the shops were closed. I wanted to try Take It Easy Thai.

    Come on Fox Theatre: open, open, open …

  26. oaklandhappenings

    Brian, Take it Easy Thai has friendly folks and service, and good food. I went with a few neighbors there 2 nights after the vandalism. They still had one (or two?) windows broken that evening (we sat next to them in good spirits), but new ones are in now. I think they really appreciated our patronage, all things considered. Fortunately for them, the wait at Pho 84 was too long for us, so we went there.
    Good thoughts, regarding the kids activities.

  27. Michael H

    I’d like to make a comment regarding the article “Economic Recovery Must Include Transit”.

    I could not agree more, however I don’t believe that the local transit systems have in place plans which coordinate amongst the different transit authorities, in order to accomplish an efficient system for the system. On the contrary, it is clear to me that the current transit authorities engage in conflict to receive the maximized funding possible, and in turn provide similar services down the same streets. Take for example the current plan by the AC Transit to provide rapid bus system fully integrated with bus stops and bus only lanes. This plans sounds wonderful if it is the sole mass transit system, however it isn’t and it clearly conflicts with the BART and could steal ridership. We the voters are all about voting to fund these endevours, because we want efficient mass transit, but we have to engage these authorities and make sure they are working together to provide us with what’s needed and not more waste. We do not need to waste any more money, period!!

    Please visit these links to see their vision and understand why this is a waste of money, which could be put to better use.


    Michael H.

  28. Becks

    Michael – V Smoothe (and other bloggers, including me) have discussed the BRT/BART issue in depth again and again. Please read V’s excellent posts on these issues here and here before getting further into this discussion.

  29. Fruitvale Res

    V –

    Were you at the planning commission last night. I was hoping you had a chance to see our school community.

  30. V Smoothe Post author

    I wasn’t able to make the meeting, as I work on Wednesday nights, but I was able to catch up from KTOP’s streaming feed once I got home. I personally think the location is a little bit odd, but if that’s the best spot you guys were able to find, then who am I to complain? I think it’s wonderful that Lighthouse will now have space for a playground (and a library/media center!).

    And all the kids were totally charming and inspiring (Michael Colbruno obviously thought so too).

  31. Fruitvale Res

    V –

    Thanks for posting Abigail’s speech. It is going to make her day and Lighthouse parents proud.

  32. oaklandhappenings

    update: With less than 2 weeks to go (13 days), it looks as if the Fox Theater will be ready for the “grand” Opening–from the outside anyway. Barring really bad rains, they are getting ready to pour the concrete in upcoming days for the parts of the sidewalk going across the main entrance. Front doors are already in place for the adjacent offices/restaurant that will go on the bottom floor. Construction inside is still in progress, and may still be by Feb 5. However, the marquee already has events posted, including the first two concerts there. Unf, ticket prices were through the roof, and most were gone for the first 6-7 major shows during the first few months, including BB King. We are talking 3-figure prices for many of them. Hopefully prices go down, despite the legacy of this theater. Hopefully uptown Oakland benefits greatly; this could be huge for that part of Oakland. Anything to add, Phil?

  33. V Smoothe Post author

    I’ve really enjoyed having such excellent guest posts this week. I have one more week left of vacation, so if anyone feels up to writing something for next week, please, e-mail with your ideas at v at vsmoothe dot com.

  34. Navigator


    It really is a shame that Shorenstein is delaying 601 City Center. The building won’t be finished for a couple of years anyway, why contribute to the pervasive economic negativity by stalling a project like this? Large companies need to step up and show some faith in the economic future of the Country, not shrivel up like a wilting violet and contribute to a self-fulfilling prophesy of economic doom.

    Also, I’m glad to hear that the Fox already has sold out for the first couple of months. That’s great news indeed.

  35. oaklandhappenings

    Nav, do you know why they even bothered start it during the recession’s earlier stages, in October? As if they didn’t see this coming (with Bush still in office until early this week)? That is what makes this complete bulls*it. A big hole in the the ground, being a block long on each side, is one extra eyesore that Oakland doesn’t need. All one has to do is walk two extra blocks to see another one–the Citywalk project. This is almost the heart of downtown, and these idiots are f-ing it up.
    On a brighter note, here’s the latest Trib link regarding the Fox.
    11 days to go, with “the final countdown” starting tomorrow…someone get the Europe song ready to blast through that brand new sound system inside! :-)

  36. PinoyOaklander

    Anyone know any recent news on the Oak to 9th project? I thought City Council were to vote on it again last week or so. I’m very sad to hear that the 601 City Center building has been stalled. It’s only a couple of years to completion why stop now? Anyways, I’m very optimistic of Fox Theater jazzing up Downtown Oakland.

  37. Navigator

    Oaklandhappenings, I thought that Shorenstien was making a good decision in starting 601 City Center back in October based on their long-term confidence in our economy. That was the right move. Stalling this project is the wrong thing to do in a time when everyone and every corporation needs to do their share to stimulate the economy.

    There is no question that the future of Downtown Oakland based on its central location, transportation options, restaurants, great climate, etc, is a bright one. Why not continue to send a positive message regarding the future of our local and National economy by keeping this project on track? This makes no sense and will just contribute to a self-fulfilling prophesy of economic doom.

  38. Navigator


    I’m hoping that the current economy doesn’t also derail Oak to 9th. What a tremendous project to reclaim the Oakland waterfront and give the public 34 acres of waterfront parkland in the process. This project along with the current expansion of Jack London Square will transform Oakland into a truly magnificent waterfront city in the likes of Seattle, Portland, San Diego, and Vancouver, BC.

    Here’s a great link with a video and photographs depicting what this incredible Oakland waterfront transformation will look like. Enjoy! http://www.oakto9th.com/

  39. V Smoothe Post author

    The Council voted unanimously on Tuesday (minus Brooks and Reid, who weren’t at the meeting) to certify the new Oak to Ninth EIR. Nobody seemed to have any illusions that the project was going to get going anytime soon, though.

  40. oaklandhappenings

    V, thanks for the O29 update. It would be nice to see these waterfront areas developed to the fullest of potential.
    Navigator, I respect your opinion regarding 601 CC getting started when it did. However, it is one of my biggest pet peeves–as you seem to agree–to stop what is started. I am starting to think that it is a huge mistake to keep letting San Francisco companies be given the opportunity to do something “grand” in Oakland, only to see it fade away, or take a decade or longer to complete. Ellis Partners is a case in point: this whole Jack London Square redevelopment is something that could have been complete already, yet they take their own sweet time. The result? Lots of vacant spaces, a currently undeveloped area (until the Market and a couple of other buildings broke ground), and no reliable public transportation system to get down there. True, JLS has some great draws for certain events. However, many which have done well up to now, were doing so before Ellis came along. Their actions, leading to a deserted Square at many times of the week, have led to one-time successful businesses hurting. Am I correct? Also, I will not believe the economic crisis should have anything to do with it: they had a plan, and they should have implemented accordingly. That bs about JLS rivaling pier 39 in SF is–and will be–nothing about a rumor, until they get their heads out of their asses.

  41. PinoyOaklander

    Thanks oaklandhappenings, I really want to become an Architect/Real Estate Developer one day. A lot of my friends aren’t aware that I know many things (outside
    of school at the very least). I always bug some of my friends with new development projects in Oakland, or something related to that. :P

  42. Navigator

    Oaklanndhappenings, I agree with you regarding JLS. Ellis Partners has taken too long to develop the Square and in the process created the feeling of a ghost town down there. I’m hoping that the five signed restaurants begin construction soon. 66 Franklin is still gutted after all this time. I remember when that part of the Square was a happening place with several good family restaurants. Unfortunately, Ellis Partners wanted to go upscale and kicked many of the restaurants that drew families down there like the Old Spaghetti Factory, and El Caballo out. Now, they have an upscale Mexican restaurant on the Embarcadero next to the Jack London Cinemas that sits empty most of the time.

  43. oaklandhappenings

    Did you mean El TORITO, Nav? I don’t recall an El Caballo, but maybe that was before I started going there often. I remember when [Pizzaria] Uno seemed to draw well. Then someone did a stupid thing by renaming it Pizzaria SFO. Helloooo! This is Oakland, NOT SF, peoples! Thank gawd that it is gone, I never did get around to visiting the Spaghetti Factory. It seems as if Ellis Partners wanted to ditch most of the chain-restaurants, and Tony Roma’s may be next to go.
    Once again– Oakland should say “no” to firms coming in from San Francisco to try to develop, because all they do is delay the process.