Rebecca Kaplan: To Dream the Possible Dream – Fundable Projects for Economic Revitalization and Climate Protection

Happy Passover. This is a good time to reflect on how to bring about important societal change. On Tuesday, the Oakland City Council discussed the proposed Climate Action Plan (PDF).

As the report of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition notes: Transportation is the largest contributor of GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions in Oakland, comprising nearly two-thirds of all emissions.

We can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, become more energy independent and create jobs here in Oakland. How?

Transit Oriented Development (TOD).

What is Transit Oriented Development?

Since we know that the transportation sector is the most important contributor to GHG, strategies to reduce consumption in the transportation sector must be central to our solutions.

It will be essential to rebuild our city in a way that makes it easy for people to walk, bike, take transit, and more — which, in addition to being one of the top ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will also dramatically improve quality of life in the community.

Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is a mixed-use residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership.

A TOD neighborhood typically has a center with a transit hub surrounded by relatively high-density development with progressively lower-density development spreading outwards from the center. This is often called Smart Growth or TOD.

Funding & Planning Opportunities

In recognition of the fact that TOD is one of the top needed strategies for traffic congestion relief and reducing oil consumption, increasing amounts of funds are being made available to support “TOD” projects, at the Federal, State, and regional levels. The upcoming Federal Transportation and Energy Bills will likely include substantial new funding for TOD.

At the regional level, target “priority development areas” (PDAs) will be eligible for funding this year through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). Implementation of the State of California’s own greenhouse gas reduction strategies are also anticipated to include funding for TOD projects in California. Many other opportunities exist to fund TOD projects — Oakland must ensure we are ready to capitalize on these opportunities.

What Does This Mean?

In Oakland, right now, there exists an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create thousands of jobs, in construction and improving our sidewalks, streets, bike lanes, and streetscape, and ongoing in new commercial and mixed use development and for which outside funds are being made available.

It is vital for Oakland to complete the appropriate plans to position the City for these upcoming State and Federal funding opportunities. This is a major opportunity that we cannot afford to waste. We must track the grants, prepare the plans, and seek the support we need to make this possible.

Coliseum Village

One example of a large project which would transform Oakland’s economy is the Oakland Coliseum Transit Village. A coordinated TOD improvement plan for the Coliseum BART station area should be adopted and implemented as soon as possible. This plan should rebuild the area around the Coliseum BART station into a thriving, mixed-use destination with restaurants, bars, shops, and more.

Coliseum Overhead

  • Provide an opportunity for the millions of patrons coming for games or concerts to have a great place for dinner and more (over 3.2 million visitors in 2009).
  • Thousands of jobs in the community would be created, both during construction, and beyond.
  • Make the area between the Coliseum BART station and the Coliseum/Arena into an Asset instead of an Embarrassment!
  • Improve surrounding streetscape, traffic signals, sidewalks, lighting, and signage.
  • Attract business and increase local sales tax revenue with amenities such as a Dave & Buster’s and an Everett and Jones, along with a conference center hotel where businesses and community organizations can host their meetings and then go to a game together would help establish the Coliseum Village as a sports and entertainment destination.

Coliseum Walkway

Next Steps Should Include:

  • Conduct planning/design/engineering for these projects to enable them to be ready-to-go for grant applications
  • Conduct Environment Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement as needed
  • Ensure zoning is compatible with these projects
  • Ensure these projects are included in County and Regional plans as eligible projects for funding

With the right kind of vision and leadership we can move Oakland forward with a Coliseum Village TOD project that will provide jobs, help reduce GHG emissions, improve Oakland’s image and create more revenue for the City.

Rebecca Kaplan is the At-large Councilmember for the City of Oakland.

169 thoughts on “Rebecca Kaplan: To Dream the Possible Dream – Fundable Projects for Economic Revitalization and Climate Protection

  1. jack b dazzle

    Can’t we make Oakland safe and financially solvent first? Why do we keep making these grandiose plans before we figure out how to run the city we currently have?

  2. Mary Hollis


    Of course.

    But put yourself in the position of being a City Councilor. Which would you prefer to do out of these 2 options:

    1) Try and solve the near intractable problems of Oakland i.e. public safety and the budgetary disaster, by making massively unpopular choices like firing thousands, increasing taxes and tearing up pensions contracts?


    2) Produce white papers on Global Climate Change and debate quota’s on yogurt stores?

    It’s really not a fair contest.

    But if I had the power, I’d tell the Council they could do nothing else until they have balanced the budget.

    Oh, and they couldn’t draw any salary until it is solved either.

  3. Christian Stuart

    Even if Oakland could afford such a project, it would not be able to sustain itself after the grand opening. What we will be left with would be similar to the eastmont mall, a big shut down ghost town, and a giant debt. The interest on that debt will impact everything from police services to Schools for years to come. We should concentrate on solving are current problems both financial and Social. Then we will be positioned to make some real positive developments that will sustain themselves.

  4. MarleenLee

    I have to agree with the other comments. Oakland is in the middle of a fiscal crisis of unprecedented scope. In addition, from what I have seen, City officials cannot seem to manage the smallest, most mundane tasks. For example, they can’t seem to manage to organize their records or respond to public records requests within the mandatory timelines. They can’t seem to manage to comply with virtually any aspect of Measure Y, and are now at risk of losing $100 million because of it. There is no leadership. There is no accountability. There is no consensus amongst council members on what to do. Last night, they listened and debated for hours on potential budget cuts and revenue options, and as usual, couldn’t agree on anything and passed on making any real decisions. If the Council doesn’t focus on the real, pressing issues soon, there will be no need to deal with “traffic congestion” issues in Oakland because anybody who can afford a car will be long gone! Or maybe that’s the strategy?

  5. livegreen

    Three questions about such a project:
    1. What happens if planning & development start and then all the teams leave?
    2. The land such a project is on looks to be industrial/light industrial. Will we help the displaced businesses relocate elsewhere in Oakland? What happens to the lost long-term blue collar jobs, and will it create less jobs/more unemployment in that sector? (Or worse yet, if #1 happens, a net loss of all jobs).
    3. I thought I read the City’s Redevelopment Fund is in deficit. Is this true or not, and if so do we even have the money to fund this? (Esp. during this budget crisis the City has been moving GPF expenses over to Redevelopment Budget).

  6. Ralph

    So basically, no one thinks that our councilmembers can walk and chew gum at the same time.

  7. livegreen

    Adding on to my question #3 above, what’s the breakdown between potential Federal Funding & local funding (assuming Redevelopment)? It’s a big difference if it’s 1/5 federal funds vs. 2/3 federal funds (for example).

  8. Ralph

    if those ballparks are to remain where they are then that land needs to be developed. there is money to be made by people spending their entertainment dollars and right now we are not even capturing it. Baltimore, SF, DC, Cleveland you name the city and each one of them has built a thriving residential / entertainment district near a ballpark – we are centuries behind the game

  9. Marcus

    Ha ha. A Better Oakland tea partiers are stupid. A Councilmember lists specific funding sources for a project that would bring a substantial amount of revenue to the city, which would in turn make city operations more fiscally sustainable long term without raising taxes, all without costing oakland anything and what is the response? We can’t afford to build it and we need to think about the budget. I know reading is hard. But I advise trying it once in a while before opening your mouths.

  10. jack b dazzle


    Oakland’s current situation is proof that they can’t. In the last year, can you think of anything that the city council has done that you are proud of or has “paid off” or met expectations?

    Competency is needed in Oakland now.

  11. MarleenLee

    Marcus: I didn’t see anything in Kaplan’s post indicating that it would cost Oakland nothing. The post mentions possible funding sources – nothing about full or guaranteed funding. Moreover, pardon my cynicism when Oaklanders are promised they’ll never have to pay for anything, or that a project will be fully funded from non-taxpayer sources (think Chiodo sculpture…) Also, Kaplan says that the project depends on “leadership,” something the City simply does not have. The City shouldn’t try to design a spaceship when it hasn’t mastered a paper airplane.

  12. R Kaplan

    Good morning, thanks for your questions about how this relates to the fiscal crisis…

    The biggest crisis facing Oakland is the economic crisis. The dramatic downturn in sales tax revenues, loss of revenue to local business, and rising unemployment are central to all of the major problems facing our city. In the city’s own budget, the lowered sales tax revenues are a huge part of the problem, and thus, are a major reason we face cuts to public services that people want.

    Oakland has a lower than average sales tax yield, not because our residents don’t spend money, but because they don’t have enough places to spend it in Oakland. Similarly, we create fewer local jobs and business opportunities here than we could, by failing to capture money and energy locally.

    Since the topic for Tuesday was exclusively on “Climate Action” (and not on public safety or other public services) I thought it important to share an example of a “climate action” activity which can simultaneously create jobs and help restore our city’s economic picture.

    Providing access to shops, restaurants, jobs, housing, and more in transit-oriented locations can happen in a variety of different spots in Oakland, and can genuinely reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also providing economic benefit. Since there are grants being offered of outside funds to do these types of projects, we should be working to identify ways to harness these efforts in Oakland. (For example, a planning process is underway for the area around Lake Merritt BART and others).

    Lastly, many sports teams and concert promoters strongly prefer to be in locations which have these kinds of amenities….

    I’m not saying it’s quick and easy, (and we certainly also have to improve internal efficiency of city services, and make basic changes like letting businesses do the licenses and fees online) but rather, that our budget problems and service-provision problems won’t be solved without also taking action to improve our jobs and revenue situation for both now and the future.

  13. Max Allstadt

    Just because the city has other problems doesn’t mean we can’t be ambitious.

    Oakland’s most intractable problems, blight, crime, failing schools – these are problems we have to chip away at. One of the ways we chip away at them is to set up paths to create new business successes and new revenue.

    I also think all the gloom and doom I’m reading above is premature. It’s not as if zombies are roaming the streets and people are fleeing in droves. We have problems, sure, but the problems we’re facing are certainly less catastrophic than other times within the living memory of this city.

    Oh, and Livegreen, regarding issues of industrial displacement, I invite you to take a drive down coliseum way and the other through streets in the area. A huge amount of the industrial land that the council “preserved” is currently being used as truck parking, and it’s barely half occupied.

    Taking a few acres a round the coliseum and using them to create development is a far better use than unused parking lots. And the number of jobs per acre that could be supported by a thriving coliseum complex is at least ten times if not twenty times what we can get out of industrial land.

    Downtown Oakland is already rapidly becoming where the East Bay comes to play. The Coliseum is currently losing money, but if we give people to spend before and after games, we can have a second hotspot destination on the other side of the city.

    Can it work in this economy? Maybe, maybe not. But the entitlement process in california development is arduous, we might as well get started while there’s nothing else going on in the construction economy. The fact that we’re putting together this sort of initiative is also part of a comprehensive strategy to help keep our teams.

  14. livegreen

    Ralph, I get that. I get that in the best of scenarios it might help all 3 teams stay, and possibly two. & I get that if we have only 1 team that remains (for example, the reliable Raiders) it would still be beneficial.

    But I still want back-up plans built in should the worst case happen the City can adjust to it, and not end up with empty buildings & wasted money. & I also want the City to step up on Business Retention, which Naomi in all her history and experience here advises is greatly lacking.

    Any planning for big projects has to be backed up by improving daily services, like jobs and crime & safety. If these aren’t also done new residents and businesses aren’t going to want to risk moving here anyway…

  15. jack b dazzle


    This area actually does have a lot of jobs, and generates a decent amount of tax revenue. The Golden Gate Truck center alone generates hundreds of thousands in tax revenue. If you start discussing changing the zoning to be more “friendly” you risk scaring off new industrial business from the area. Oakland needs a place for these types of gritty businesses that are loud and work off hours.

    If the area was safer, there would be more economic activity without government help.

  16. Max Allstadt


    One of the things that makes the Coliseum zone so attractive for business development is the fact that it’s very defensible.

    Because the high crime areas in East Oakland only connect to the Coliseum by a handful of streets, and because any development at the Coliseum would not include the kinds of residential space that makes violent crime likely, we can expect such a development to be a haven.

    As for business retention, business attraction IS business retention. More reasons to come here are also more reasons to stay here.

    Business retention, as envisioned by the far left of Oakland politics, seems to be all about industrial preservation. Well guess what? We set aside industrial land, and industry is still leaving. We can’t afford to subsidize it. We’re at the whim of a global trend. And more often than not, “preservation” is code for “no-growth”.

    The far left of Oakland politics is either thinking like it’s 1969, or trying to rehash and restate their position on growth and industry so it sounds new, but still means pretty much the same thing it meant in 1969. They just put “green” in front of everything and expect us to think it’s a new idea. It isn’t.

  17. Max Allstadt


    Name one industrial business that really wants to come to Oakland, but can’t because of a shortage of industrial space. We have a surplus of industrial space. Industry isn’t coming because it’s cheaper to be in the exurbs.

    There is a small subset of industry that needs to be located in an urban area. And R&D and Green Industry will be much more attracted to being here if we have world class entertainment and sports infrastructure.

    The Army Base is being redeveloped for logistical use. Move the trucking there. Done.

  18. Ralph Sklar

    Thank you for all of your work on behalf of our city. At this time I am hoping that you will focus your attention on improving our police department and getting our finances back in order. Improving the area around the Coliseum is important, but we can’t do everything at once. Please just focus on safety and finances right now. This is an international economic crisis and we are not China. We don’t have tremendous reserves available to fund projects that may pay off in the distant future. We need to run our city like a real business concern – which it is.

  19. jack b dazzle


    The business that I work for has been looking in Oakland for many years. There was just nothing around until now. We left Oakland 10 years ago because of crime. We are coming back because we are big enough to defend ourselves.

    If you speak to most of the commercial realtors in the area, they will tell you that there are a lot of businesses looking to move to Oakland. They don’t want the burbs because of traffic. Unfortunately, most realtors recommend against Oakland for a lot of reasons. Most related to crime, taxes or inability to work with planning.

    We don’t need a revolution in Oakland. We just need to do a better job with what we have. If we want more industrial businesses in Oakland, just lower the tax rate. You would be amazed what lowering the tax rate in this economy will do to move jobs here.

  20. Ralph

    What I appreciate about Ms. Kaplan’s post is even though things suck today, they will not suck tomorrow. However, if we do not plan for tomorrow we increase the probabilty of things still being sucky.

    I agree with Max. Industry is moving, and the global economy is changing. You can preserve yesteryear all you want, but if your are trying to preserve industrial land for a service economy, I don’t see what you have done other than squander an opportunity.

    LG, as to new residents moving here, the statistics tell a different story. Despite, the poor public schools and unfair reputation, people continue to move to Oakland. I forget where I was, but the other day I met an SF couple who until they set foot in Oakland had not considered living here. Now, they don’t want to leave. These new projects allow Oakland to increase revenue and provide desperately needed services. We need to grow our middle class and preserving unused land for a job that is never going to come is not the way to do it.

  21. livegreen

    Max and Ralph, I am not from the far left, and I am not a Green Jobs solves-all-the-problems activist. There are a number of fallacies in your argument that you’re skipping over in theory that are simply not supported in practice.

    –”business attraction IS retention”: In theory, IF it happens, well yes. But if it DOESN’T work out as planned, then you’ve got problems. Buildings go vacant, and you lose jobs and businesses. All I’m saying is we should simultaneously support existing jobs & businesses we have and not lose them, even if they’re relocated.

    (I notice you just skipped over my previous point about Business Retention, and Naomi previously mentioning Oakland isn’t good at it. I guess it’s easier for you to just ignore the point or ignore the problem?)

    –Safety: Businesses aren’t crazy. They’re not going to come here in mass if they’re going to get robbed, or even if there’s a high risk this will happen. The Oakland CC isn’t doing much so far to support Chief Batts’ initiatives, and they’re talking about another property tax just to maintain the same # of Officers. How do we get to more Officers, which we really need to make Oakland safer, for both businesses and new residents? (Chief Batts tells the story about businesses that wanted to relocate here from SF but couldn’t because their employees revolted).

    Because until you address this problem it’s not going away. & it’s a REAL problem for all business (service, industrial, office OR mixed-use).

    –The cost of renting industrial & light-industrial is NOT necessarily cheaper in the Valley. My warehouse rental in SL is cheaper than in the valley, and I understand it’s the same for medium and bigger spaces in Oakland.

    –Putting more diesel trucks on the highway driving longer distances is not going to cut emissions. It’s going to replace car emissions with truck emissions. Of course if you ignore this problem you might THINK it’s going to, but it doesn’t mean it actually will.

    –Ralph, is the one couple you spoke to anecdotal or representative of broader stats? Aren’t there still a # of unfinished properties DT?

    I know some very committed Oakland residents who also have great things to say about Oakland and who are working hard to improve it and their schools. But is Oakland attracting significantly more Middle Income people, especially with the greater amount of Affordable Housing & ongoing safety problems? & aren’t there just as many leaving to safer East Bay cities? Show me the stats showing a net increase in middle income or ex-SF’s, because I haven’t seen them.

    –Manufacturing vs. Service industries: I love how you “all in”, pro-residential development types throw this out all the time, when in fact we need both.

    First, not all manufacturing has gone to China. We have a large # of food-based businesses here in Oakland which a lot of Residential Developers don’t want to support.

    Secondly, even for those manufacturing jobs that have left, businesses still need to warehouse and distribute goods to get them to market. & With it’s Port, that would be a natural fit for Oakland, but Oakland is not working in any significant way to develop or attract those businesses and jobs. So instead the businesses go elsewhere and we’re left with the unemployed and, gradually, unemployable.

    & then you want other businesses to move here? Good luck.

    I’m not arguing against this project, I’m only advocating that we should help increase safety, retain businesses and jobs simultaneously while looking at new projects like this one. Are you saying we shouldn’t? That we should put all our eggs in one basket with residential development being a panacea?

  22. Mary Hollis

    I’ll give Rebecca courage for posting here.

    Paradoxically I think many of Oakland’s problems arose precisely because it never “thought big”.

    So while San Jose was building up its tech industry, LA was building theme parks and movie studio’s, San Francisco was becoming the world’s favorite city and even humble Emeryville was making itself the retail heartland of the Bay Area, what was Oakland doing?

    We just don’t have the large-scale projects and developments that suck in the crowds and the dollars. We have never had the larger-than-life visionaries. Oakland is kinda, ordinary, you know?

    Rebecca also adroitly notes that Oaklanders do spend big – they just spend it outside of Oakland. It’s unfair to say “there is no here here” but there certainly isn’t any major attraction here.

    So on a historical basis, Oakland needs some grand scheme. Could it become the Green Capital of America, for instance? With an Environmental Epcot Center beating as a heart?


    The question is more whether, having just struck an iceberg, we should re-arrange the deckchairs on the Titanic or rebuild a grand new version, preferably with a double-skinned bottom?

    Successive French Presidents have always left their mark with grandiose public projects. Maybe Rebecca will be our very own and better looking Charles de Gaulle. But first she needs to defeat a problem of Hitlerian proportions waiting at the gates of Paris.

    Rebecca, dream big, but plug the holes in the dinghy first.

  23. jack b dazzle


    Oakland is not ordinary. We are extraordinary. We have a massive port, 3 major league teams, an airport, great weather, a zoo, and proximaty to major business hubs among other assets. Not only that, but we have a population of great people who care about our community. Our problem is not the lack of a long term plan. Our problem is the lack of leadership.

    It is great to dream, and we should, but those dreams have to stop getting in the way of today’s reality.

  24. Mary Hollis


    I wasn’t disparaging Oakland itself and certainly not its people. I’m here, after all.

    I was disparaging the same thing as you – the lack of leadership that has left Oakland bereft of taxes because people prefer to spend elsewhere, and to an extent live and work elsewhere. And this is caused by a failure to make grand investments in the past along the lines that Rebecca proposes.

  25. J.D.

    Transit villages are not new planning ideas. But the anchor of this plan is 2 sports teams that act like they don’t want to be here and a third team which is draining public funds and would bolt in a flash if it had a better offer. Since the rail lines and port already connect to overseas commerce, why isn’t effort being made to create light industrial green jobs in West Oakland, or is industrial use too dirty to advocate for? Sometimes leadership isn’t telling people the easy plan which likely won’t happen, it’s having a plan that is best for the many even if not perfect for everyone.

  26. Max Allstadt


    Maybe the reason the teams are acting like they don’t want to be here is because the location they’re in doesn’t have enough growth and vitality. And maybe the way we get them to stay is to bring that growth and vitality.

    The Coliseum is losing money, but an empty coliseum will lose more money. We need to fight tooth and nail to keep our teams. This plan is a part of that fight.

    I think we also need to get on local blogs in San Jose and make sure that all the fans and politicos and activists in that town know that San Jose taxpayers will shell out substantial amounts of money to get the A’s there.

    Right now, the leadership of the A’s and of San Jose are pitching the idea as if it’s a freebie. If we want to keep our teams, we need to actively sew the seeds of dissent in any town that hints that they want to take them from us.

  27. Ralph

    LG, my attn span is short but as to your question regarding the couple, they are one of many. If you check with the leasing people in the new DTO bldgs, a number of the tenants are coming from SF and the burbs. They are looking to be in places that are transit friendly.

    Ms. Kaplan’s posts are always forward thinking. We like that. I wish we had more of it.

  28. Ralph

    LG, if you the owners of Oakland’s sport’s teams to stay in Oakland we need to help them. At the end of the day, owner’s are business people and when they decide to sell they would like to make a profit. We accomplish this by improving the facilities and the surrounding community to enhance the fan experience.

    We need upscale hotels for teams and fans (this can be an additional revenue stream for the team if they own the land). Right now visiting teams, fans and broadcasters stay in SF. And when this people come to town, we would prefer they spend their entertainment dollars in Oakland. Same holds true for concert goers. No one spends entertainment dollars in an industrial park.

    And I might counter Max’s argument on the seeds of dissent by pitching a viable proposition that improves the owner’s franchise. Because if it isn’t San Jose, then maybe the new city is Portland or SLC. We need to present a viable plan that meets the owners needs.

  29. livegreen

    Ralph, I agree with these comments and also that RK’s plans are forward thinking. I’m more inclined to vote for her for Mayor, right now, than either of her potential opponents.

    But we also need plans that are holistic and address the challenges I’ve mentioned, and the concerns of governing for today that others mentioned above.

    We need both. And it would be easier to drop the concerns about Safety, business retention and governing for today if we saw these concerns were actually being addressed, or there are coherent plans that they will be.

    How many recent solutions and decisions for the budget did the CC decide on?

  30. Ralph

    I’d be inclined to vote for her as Mayor, too, but despite winning over the black vote in the citywide seat, I think she may face two issues in her quest for mayor: 1) the wait your turn syndrome and 2) the lack of a professional image. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want your chief of staff outdressing you.

    If packaging didn’t matter, companies wouldn’t spend a boatload of money on it. But as the old saying goes, you can always improve packaging, but if a product sucks no amount of fancy packaging is going to make it better. Maybe voters overlook the packaging by why even let it be an issue.

  31. Max Allstadt

    Ralph, Andre Jones outdresses everybody. That’s hardly a fair contrast to draw.

  32. livegreen

    I’m sure she will, but that hardly counts for a big deal. I still appreciate meeting RK after a public safety meeting a couple years ago at the beginning of her campaign.

    After we finished talking about safety, jobs, and businesses, she gave me one of her campaign cards and rode off on her bike. I thought it was pretty down to earth. There’s something to be said for that too.

    But the key is solutions, on a # of these issues. Keep em coming.

  33. Born in Oakland

    Dressing is a big deal and a professional requirement. Oakland isn’t some hip, rich Silicon Valley start up. Take a page from Willie Brown and then see if RK can get my vote. Maybe she dresses down to demonstrate she is “of the people” despite elite and impressive academic credentials. But many of “the people” want the face of Oakland to appear “smart” as well and she could offer a bone to those constituents. If RK wants the next level, she will have to show me. City Hall is an 83 million dollar showpiece, the Council Chambers are formal, politics is the religion there and, yes, you can wear jeans to church. But what message does that send?

  34. Max Allstadt

    Jerry Brown used to walk into planning commission meetings in a sweaty T-Shirt, having just come in from a jog.

    And while we’re at it, one of the things that started the rumors of a possible Kaplan candidacy was the very fact that she’d started wearing suits all the time.

  35. Ralph

    Andre may outdress everyone, but RK isn’t walking around Comm Ave either. She is part of the leadership of a major US city. Further, there is nothing wrong with wearing age appropriate clothing and dressing in a manner appropriate for the office. Few of us professionals, if any of us, would last long if we showed up at our workplace similarly attired.

    As to the people /elitist argument…When given the choice between Clarence “Du” Burns, a grassroots of the people politician, and Kurt Schmoke, the City College, Yale educated, Rhodes Scholar, Harvard trained lawyer, the good people of Baltimore went with Schmoke. What voters want to know is do you understand their issues and can you move the city forward. Riding a bike and taking the bus may work in that crazy liberal Berkeley, but this is Oakland.

    Whether she runs or sits this election out, I would prefer she dress for the office.

  36. Steve Lowe

    What if the Coli had a retail infill component that was really exciting; the kind of place you’d go to even if the teams weren’t there as anchors of a sports-themed super-center?

    If Santa Clara votes down the 49ers, the likelihood of the Raiders / Niners shared stadium is quite high, better than most of us snakebit Oaklanders might ordinarily believe. If the Coli were thus all spiffed up with such a retail dynamic, then the A’s would have a devil of a time convincing MLB that they had to move to SJ, Fremont or even Portland (where the numbers apparently don’t work at all): a new, all-baseball stadium could then be built in the South Lot and
    a smart-park garage in the North Lot to make up for whatever we’d lose by the South’s secession.

    In that case, Elison could be pesuaded that this super-sports dynamic would be better for the Warriors than going through the building of an entirely new stadium in San Francisco (at which the citizens there will not throw a single dime, knowing that someone of his immense wealth doesn’t need public subsidy), then just maybe he’ll stay, especially if Rebecca is successful at getting a WBA team here to round out the count.

    Five Major League teams here in the very center of the Bay Area, each bringing in lots and lots of retailers, customers, events, excitement and enough money to finally pay off the “Curse of the Bonds from Hell,” which is right now that $10M+ sucking sound you hear flowing from the bottomline of our budget.

    I don’t care if she comes to work dressed as Napoleon if we’re finally going to see some actual improvement at the Coli coupled with something to do before and after the games other than stand in the parking lot while all the beer-bloated bladders empty their contents on your and my hubcaps

  37. Freddy

    Oakland already has a Transit Village. One that is built but nobody uses it. It’s called Downtown Oakland. It’s a ghost town.

    Rather than sinking more money in pre-stressed concrete, why don’t you fix up Downtown Oakland? If you can’t fix a Transit Village you already have, why should you build a new one?

  38. Chris Kidd

    Rather than turning our backs on planning and the future because of the budget crisis, now is the best time to prepare for the future and make certain that Oakland does not miss a single opportunity once the economy turns.

    Things like planning, zoning updates, general plan revisions, specific plans, PDAs; nobody wants to do these things during a construction boom. It’s why Jerry Brown put zoning updates on the shelf from 2002 onward(well, it was also because he’d rather secure variances from the planning commission by claiming that the zoning was too old, but I digress…). It’s why we’re wrapping up the residential and commercial zoning updates right now, even though the general plan LUTE for Oakland was completed in 1998. It’s only when there’s no new development and construction (i.e. right now) that we can really take the time to focus on these projects and make sure they are done the right way.

    When the economy turns, we need to make sure that we are prepared for it. That means we need to have zoning that wasn’t written in 1964. That means we need to have project parameters in place for the types of projects that can be developed in Oakland: namely, TOD. We need to get all our ducks lined up in a row so that it’s as easy as possible for developers to invest in Oakland once private investment returns in a few years.

    Smart Growth isn’t necessarily the future of planning and development, but it certainly is the future of planning and development in Oakland. We don’t have anywhere to build more single family homes. The city is built out. If we hope to capture new residents, new industries, and new businesses, we need to build up, we need to build smart, and we need to build green.
    What Council member Kaplan is proposing is a promising first step in this direction. We would be fools to throw it away because we doubt the capacity of our council members to handle two issues at the same time.

  39. matt

    Freddy, as far as I can tell for about 60 years Smart Growth policies were not involved in DTO planning and DTO is not a “transit village”. For whatever reason, epic social change, really awful regional planning and so fourth -over the past 60 years all that made DTO a livable walkable functioning community, an example of Smart Growth, were dismantlement. Freeways eradicated walkable established neighborhoods. Closure of the Key System changed established travel pattens effecting neighborhood congestion and prime business locations. Construction of BART eradicated locally owned and very successful DTO businesses (same happened on Market St in SF).

    Anywho, JB did some great things to change that (10K). The Uptown and Fox redevelopment did change the direction of the area which is influencing development all over DTO. Even in this economy I still read of investment coming to DTO in fits and starts.

    I’m 100% behind Rebecca’s vision. I’ve studied urban planning for a long time and she makes sense. People who say what about crime and all that -crime is a symptom of bad economics and can be reduced by a stronger Oakland economy.

  40. len raphael

    At first RK’s staking out the position of resident futurist for the CC struck me as playing to a particular constituency that might propel her up and out of Oakland. But as time passes and the other CC members are busy running around plugging up the ever growing holes in the city’s finances with spitballs, at least RK has some interesting ideas, no matter how much I disagree with her on Smart Growth.

    Don’t blame her for not taking the lead on very politically unpopular financial decisions when the very incumbents who created the problems won’t do. Heck, as LG pointed out, most of the CC members won’t even give Batts free moral support.

    Ralph, if clothes made the person, then old c-top would be the best mayor we’ve ever had. But the comments here about the importance of dressing for Oakland’s success would surely please our local business success and charitable benefactor, George Zimmer of Men’s Wearhouse. Someone should ask him to contribute a guest op piece as to why even an Oakland booster like himself located his HQ’s in Fremont and Houston. Don’t think he’ll say it was lack of TOD.

    -len raphael

  41. Navigator

    I’m astonished at some of the anti-Oakland comments. There are some people on this forum who just don’t like this city. The idea that to improve Oakland’s economy you have to first reel in all spending and completely eradicate crime is really shortsighted. Oakland needs to invest in its future and be a forward thinking city. When will the Oakland naysayers stop hitting themselves over the head and realize that crime is not unique to Oakland and the city should not be paralyzed because we have crime? Crime is a National problem. Some cities hide it better than others and some cities get better publicity than others.It’s depressing reading this blog at times. There is a whole lot of Oakland self loathing going on here.

    I think it’s a great idea to build up the Coliseum area. For those of you who have a problem with ethnic neighborhoods in Oakland and rarely leave Rockridge or Montclair, take a look at what’s happened in Fruitvale and how much that transit village has invigorated that part of the city. Fruitvale is an amazingly vibrant and colorful neighborhood with packed sidewalks, the highest percentage of leased storefronts in the city, and even new construction on International Boulevard. In my opinion, Fruitvale is even more vibrant than Rockrige or Montclair village. Let’s stop with the constant anti-Oakland negativity for a second and think of the possibilities which exist to transform parts of this city

  42. len raphael

    Nav, re Fruitvale transit villiage, are you sure that it is successful because it located next to a bart station, transit node?

    It could be because it is in the center of a densely populated high foot traffic area and to a lesser extent the predominate latino residents prefer to buy certain things at spanish speaking retailers? ie. are less mobile because of a combo of preference for latino oriented retailers, lower mobility because of lower income, and a much higher percentage of young children and stay at home mom’s than the rest of Oakland other than say the predominantly lower income asian areas of town?

    -len raphael

  43. We Fight Blight


    Fruitvale was way vibrant before the TOD and was vibrant before all the trendy folks who are tweeting discovered taco trucks. That TOD did little to further enhance existing street activity except to creat a passageway lined with retail to and from BART. The TOD did not create Fruitvale. What created Fruitvale was a high a density population of hard working latinos and Mexican and Central American Immigrants looking for the American dream. While I support the concept of TOD’s and visionary planning, it’s hard to get all visionary when the City cannot even pave its streets or provide enough police to protect residents. There are some fundamental issues the City has to get a handle on if it really wants to stop the leakage Rebecca mentions–that’s crime (the reality and perception), blight and the mismanagement of our tax dollars.

    It’s like the alcoholic who can never do anything about his drinking until he admits he has a severe problem that affects himself, his family and his friends. The first step is acknowledging the problem (s). The City of Oakland has some severe problems that no City Boosters can overcome with some positive press pieces. Navigator I understand where you are coming from, I just simply do not agree.

  44. Navigator


    Fruitvale has always been a densely populated area. It’s a combination of things which have transformed Fruitvale over the years. I remember ten to fifteen years ago Fruitvale and International Blvd (East 14th back then) was a dirty, crime filled, graffiti filled area with blighted and vacant storefronts. The Spanish Speaking Unity Council, among others, spearheaded efforts to secure funding for the Fruitvale Transit Village, storefront facade improvements, litter and graffiti abatement, crime reduction efforts, senior housing, street and infrastructure improvements, etc. The Fruitvale Transit Village was a major catalyst for the transformation of the area and now serves as a gathering point for seniors, families, and all residents. It’s sort of like an old town square for the neighborhood. Festivals and other community events are also celebrated there.

    Fruitvale and the Transit Station should be held out as a great example for what is possible in lower income neighborhoods throughout the United States. Fruitvale also gets shortchanged when it comes to the broader conversation regarding Oakland because it’s not a well- to-do wealthy yuppie enclave. Oaklander’s need to come together and embrace their entire city. Get out of your immediate neighborhoods and get to know what’s happening all over town. The balkanization and the inferiority complex mentality of this town is the number one problem holding this town back. Let’s all get behind the Transit Village concept for the Coliseum. Let’s also get behind retaining businesses in Oakland including the Oakland A’s.

  45. MarleenLee

    I know nothing about urban planning, but I’m sure what Chris Kidd is saying about the need to plan ahead and timing is all conventional wisdom and generally a good idea. But I can’t imagine that most cities or other government entities function the way Oakland does. I have a frame of reference, given that I represent public entities for a living and deal with them every day. In my two years of dealing with Oakland on my Measure Y issues, I have to say that the dysfunction I have witnessed in Oakland is at a level that most of you cannot possibly imagine. Most of you do not actually see what goes on inside the City, its inner workings. Trust me, if you saw how the sausage actually got made, you’d understand my perspective. So my preference would be for the entire City Council to really focus on the immediate crisis and deal with it, and not get distracted by anything else.

    The crisis is financial, but it is also organizational. Fixing those problems will ultimately help pave the way to getting projects like the one Ms. Kaplan dreams about get realized. But unless the Council addresses problems like incompetency, lack of accountability, disorganization, lack of cooperation, waste, fraud and the like, I don’t trust the City to be able to get a project like this off the ground. The crisis is also one of public safety. People are dying in the streets. People are being held up at gunpoint. People don’t feel safe. It is literally a matter of life and death. If we cannot keep our police force at an acceptable size, and support our police chief in his goals, the problems will get worse. So, Ralph, things suck now, and they may actually suck worse in the future unless the crime problem is squarely addressed now.

    This is not a matter of the council walking and chewing gum at the same time. The problems that need to be fixed are very, very complicated and difficult, and I think that is where the attention should be focused.

  46. len raphael

    Would agree w ML on this. For our town to have defeated its natural advantages of climate and location and people over the last 5 decades took a lot of bad decisions and hard work.

    For a while we pinned our hopes on Jerry’s field of dreams approach to fixing Oakland. Yes planning intelligently for growth is necessary, but it is vastly insufficient to replace and offset the forces going the wrong way here.

    -len raphael

  47. dto510

    I completely agree with Rebecca Kaplan that we have to invest in jobs and growth for the future. While it’s true there needs to be great attention paid to solving the structural problems underlying the budget, tax revenues need to grow as well. In fact, one of the Oakland budget’s structural problems is that our business-related tax revenues are not growing nearly as much as they should. Ralph is right that we should expect our elected leaders to be able to handle multiple issues at once.

    This isn’t about industry vs retail. The ORA, the Coliseum Authority, and BART already own all the land needed for creating a sports-anchored development. CM Kaplan has outlined an appealing and realistic project that can create jobs where they’re needed, improve some of the bigger parts of the economy like transportation networks and major retail, and increase the tax base without gambling General Fund receipts. WFB, you are just totally wrong that Fruitvale’s success had nothing to do with visionary TOD – I certainly remember when Fruitvale was “vibrant” but I still wouldn’t want to go there. Now it’s not only vibrant but clean, safe, and appealing, thanks to public and private investment.

    Oakland has a lot of problems. Saying that our leaders should do nothing but negotiate with city employee unions is not only reductionist but self-defeating. Without vision and a plan to improve jobs and the local tax base, Oakland can’t ever balance its budget or become the city we all want it to be. I applaud CM Kaplan for taking the risky move of putting out a specific idea in this contentious forum!

  48. Max Allstadt

    I’m gonna second DTO’s comment with something short and sweet: Multitasking is possible, particularly for somebody like Rebecca who appears to work like 100 hours a week.

    If we want to fix this town we have to dream big about the future and simultaneously bust our asses trying to fix the mistakes of the past. It really boils down to how much sleep you’re willing to lose. That’s part of the reason I’m glad to have a young councilmember at-large who has no outside commitments.

    Only half of the council has no outside employment, Kaplan is among them. We ought to make this level of commitment mandatory.

  49. MarleenLee

    I am certainly not suggesting that all the City do is negotiate with the unions! Of course, they should negotiate with me as well! ; )
    Seriously, what I am suggesting boils down to this: when the patient is lying on table waiting for you to administer CPR, you do not give him a lecture on how to reduce his cholesterol. When the patient is on the floor bleeding to death, you don’t set up a meeting with the insurance industry to discuss health care reform.

  50. Max Allstadt

    This city is much bigger and more complicated than that. It’s a huge system, with many subsystems which self-sustain with only subtle changes when government fails.

    Using a critical medical patient as an analogy is simply inappropriate. One of the biggest mistakes we can make in trying to understand a city is to oversimplify.

    For example, VSmoothe and I spent a day last week trying to get an understanding of the state of highway blight in Oakland. We learned a lot, we saw a lot, we saw potential ways to improve things. But more than anything, I walked away feeling utterly overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to understand the physical geography of this town in any holistic way.

    Add in the social and governmental systems on top of physical space, and it’s truly an awesome proposition to try to comprehend it all.

    So if we want to fix it, what do we do? First off, I intend to keep overwhelming myself. It’s good for the soul to try to see the whole picture and fail. And every time you look at a picture that’s too big to see, you’re likely to walk away having absorbed a new detail or two.

    Second, atomize and find little causes and little effects, and chip away at as many as possible for the greater good. But I’m never, ever, ever going to try to create an analogy that says a struggling city is like anything else, particularly anything smaller. A struggling city is like a struggling city, and nothing else.

  51. Ralph

    I really do not think that you can reduce the city to the dying man bleeding out. The city is a multiheaded organism and you simply can not focus on one issue at the expense of all others.

    I am probably the only one that would like to see the Mayor take a pay cut and re-allocate those dollars to city council. Let them dedicate their entire time to the business of the city.

    Len, that was my point. People are easily duped by fancy packaging. Why let the forward thinking of bright politician be overshadowed by wearing an Obama hat in chambers.

    Max, can you post the pictures on Flickr. I am curious to see the differences in neighborhood blight that you encountered.

  52. We Fight Blight

    DTO 5,

    I am not saying that the Fruitvale TOD had zero benefits. What I am saying is that the Fruitvale TOD is not Fruitvale and Fruitvale is not the TOD. It is totally overblown to credit the TOD with creating the vibrancy of Fruitvale. I have been eating tacos at the taco trucks along International Boulevard since the early 1990′s. Since at least that time, Fruitvale has been vibrant with lots of pedestrian activities. Clearly, there were blighted properties all along East 14th Street as it was called back then between Chinatown and the Colisuem area. That was the opportunity that Mexicans and Central Americans capitalized on to revitalize this area.Yeah sections were gritty. But it was and is the hard work of many immigrants and locals–not the TOD–that created and sustains the vibrancy of Fruitvale. To place the success of Fruitvale on the back of the TOD, which is only a very small section of Fruitvale, ignores the true architects of Fruitvale–hard working Latinos. There is no other part of Oakland–including Rockridge or Piedmont–that has the amount of pedestrian activity as Fruitvale. No matter how you slice it, the TOD was a latecomer to the party–not the party itself.

    Having said that, I do believe TODs have a role in economic development. My problem is that Oakland tries to be all things to all people. That’s what got us into the budget morass. There is no focus on core local government services. Just as there is no focus on core development strategies. A shotgun approach spreads resources and attention too thin so that very little actually gets done. Nice ideas, but is the timing right? Why not capitalize on all that has occured in Downtown Oakland and the Uptown Area and focus on bringing more housing, shopping and dining opportunities there first? We still have way too many surface parking lots for a vibrant Downtown. Why not focus on making Downtown Oakland a safe, clean, attractive place to eat, recreate, live and shop? The Downtown Area has transportation, infrastructure, beautiful historic buildings, the lake, the waterfront, etc. The framework for success is already there.

    Can the City Council and Government Bureaucrats chew gum and walk at the same time–not so sure. They can’t seem to balance the budget and pave the streets at the same time. Core responsibilities, but ultimately elusive.

  53. len raphael

    MA, mid size cities are certainly complex systems. no doubt there are people at mit and ucb who could give us some useful info on how the city govt could be reorganized to run more effectively, if the political forces allowed it to happen.

    that is not the same as saying a zoning, transportation, oriented methodology or for that matter strictly a crime reduction approach will be sufficient.

    i am not impressed by standard city planning methods of solving our major interconnected problems.

    on a much smaller, simpler level, the NPR piece today on why GM failed to learn from the early successes of NUMI is a good example of why it is so hard to change dysfurtional organizations.

  54. len raphael

    MA, mid size cities are certainly complex systems. no doubt there are people at mit and ucb who could give us some useful info on how the city govt could be reorganized to run more effectively, if the political forces allowed it to happen.

    that is not the same as saying a zoning, transportation, oriented methodology or for that matter strictly a crime reduction approach will be sufficient.

    i am not impressed by standard city planning methods of solving our major interconnected problems.

    on a much smaller, simpler level, the NPR piece today on why GM failed to learn from the early successes of NUMI is a good example of why it is so hard to change dysfuntional organizations.

  55. Patrick M. Mitchell

    I hold no enmity against Ms. Kaplan for this post. Like others, I applaud her willingness to engage and to offer hope for the future. I do not know her personally. But, based on posts such as this one, what I’ve read in other media and the expressed opinions of people I admire, I believe Ms. Kaplan to be intelligent, forthright and goal-oriented. At this point, she would have my vote for Mayor should she run (amongst current stated candidates).

    But, there’s a problem. See, I’m worried. No, actually, I’m petrified. I hear gunshots frequently (though distant). Several of my neighbors are making plans to “get the hell out of Oakland”. My single largest financial investment (my house) is at risk of exacerbated reduction in value with each and every dollar the CC tries to tack on to my property tax, especially in view of the complete and utter lack of services we receive for the highest ad valorem tax rate in all of California (see We Fight Blight, above). Oakland is crumbling, literally. Just look down at what’s below you when you’re on nearly any city sidewalk. Assuming you can see the sidewalk beneath the filth.

    I have no problem with multi-tasking. The Council is doing a great job of it: worrying about climate change goals 10 years hence that we’ll never achieve; Transit Oriented Developments for which funding is specious at best and the overwhelming preponderance of nail shops that have besieged our fair city. Call me old school, but I think that the imminent specter of insolvency is more important. And on that we’ve heard nothing of any substance.

    Thanks for listening. I’m a property-owning, taxpaying voter in the City of Oakland and I want someone to actually care about my concerns. To date, that has not happened.

  56. Mary Hollis

    Marleen and others,

    In the 2nd response to this article, I argued that the CC should focus on the deficit and public safety, and ignore most everything else until that is fixed.

    Various others have echoed the idea that the CC should focus on the hemorrhaging now before doing a heart transplant or inserting an artificial heart (analogies for RK’s grand scheme).

    But listening to some of the comments above, from people who know far more about the City and its workings than I do, I realize that it is entirely possible that the Mayor and CC could spend 24 hours a day focusing on this and still not solve it, because they quite simply lack the insight and courage to do what is painfully necessary. Their effort could simply be futile.

    Which leads me to the tragic and ironic conclusion that what actually needs to happen is the crisis needs to get far worse. Like a person with a bad drug habit, we need to hit a cataclysmic bottom and only then can we rise again.

    And this would happen because in such a scenario (Bankruptcy, State or Federal takeover) the entire City Administration would be rendered moot, and outsiders could come in and make the tough calls that elected representatives won’t make.

    In other words, we need a dictatorship and some tough love. For a while anyway.

    Rebecca appears to me to be easily the most capable candidate for Mayor, and is the least tainted by the past errors.

    But I think maybe I should vote for Jean Quan since she is easily the most myopic and deluded candidate, and therefore most likely to bring this City quickly to its knees, whereupon the real, necessary change can finally happen.

    And then Rebecca can take over a renewed Oakland and implement these grand plans, which I believe Oakland does need to become great again.

    I think that is what is often called a paradox.

  57. len raphael

    if were king of oakland, i would bet that i could just balance the budget for one more fill fiscal year with a combo of parcel taxes, fees, additional furloughs, modest layoffs, and shifting more costs to RDA. At the same time i would convince myself that there are enough cities, counties, and states in the same dire financial straits that collectively we are too big for Congress to let fail.

    Whether that be a change in muni bankruptcy and ERISA rules to make it easier to reduce retirement plan obligations combined with more direct grants for cops and maintenance.

    I don’t think that’s as unlikely as it seems. If you were a politician whe believed it might play out that way, why commit certain political suicide coming forth as the first to push now for massive cutbacks and changes? meanwhile you are able to do what you can to help your constituents while your own city retirement benefits are accruing …

    in the NPR NUMI discussion, the point was made that unlike NUMI it was extremely hard to change the attitudes of management and workers at the GM Van Nuys plant because those groups simply didn’t believe that their plant would close down if they didn’t make major changes.


  58. Izzy Ort

    The improvement of the Fruitvale District preceded the Transit Village. More plausibley it was the prior improvement through the efforts of the Unity Council and others that enabled the Unity Council and its allies to “make the sale” to bring the Fruitvale Transit Village to reality – they had the pre-existing record of success to back them up.

    Not to knock the project, which I would characterize as a “qualified success”, If the Transit Village has been a catalst to anything else in the Fruitvale District, other than Phase II of the Transit Village, it is not apparent to me what that would be. It is not a destination on its own, nor is it well integrated into the rest of the district.

    The original (and as-built) conception of the retail element of the Transit Village had two serious flaws regarding foot traffic. One anticipated source of foot traffic – commuters to the Fruitvale Bart station – did not pan out, for reasons that should have been obvious from the start. The commuters who drove to BART went straight from the garage to the station, and never ventured into the Village itself. Those who arrived by bus – well, the spiffy new bus loading/unloading zone was on the other side of the tracks from the Transit Village.

    The other anticipated source of foot traffic – people coming down from International – where the “vibrant foot traffic” was, also did not work. Between E. 14th and E. 12th was an empty plaza with two blank walls, and benches that probably looked nice in the architect’s drawings but drew the homeless. You had to cross this block, and then E. 12th, before you got to the Village. About the only reason to do this would be if you were already heading to BART.

    Retail business struggled mightily the first several years. Stores, including some that seemed to take forever to open up, died quickly The original Mexican restaurant closed almost immediately. A succession of pizza/burger joints and Louisiana Fried Chicken came and went in another unit. Fruitvale veteran Acapulco Records opened a second location there, and then gave it up.

    The retail situation seems to have stabilized, but still has plenty of room for improvement. The Fruitvale Public Market behind the pharmacy has helped somewhat to bridge the gap between International (E. 14th) and E 12th.. Other efforts have been made to draw in foot traffic including a farmers’ markets on Sundays and a similar one on Thursdays where you can also get your spine adjusted and pick up a copy of the Socialist Worker. I don’t know what sort of traffic is there during a typical weekday.

    While the Transit Village may be the showplace of the Fruitvale District, it was the beneficiary, not the source, of the strength of the district, and there are still some bugs to be worked out. It may be that Phase II will shift the center of gravity in the district closer to BART, but for now the center of gravity is where it’s always been, on International.

    FWIW, regarding Len’s speculation that the success of the Village may be due to Latinos patronizing Latino businesses, two of the longest lasting retail businesses in the Transit Village are Vietnamese owned or Vietnamese themed – Powderface and Saigon Wraps. The gold shop which has been there for several years now appears to be Vietnamese owned as well.

  59. len raphael

    IO, so basically, Bart users bypass the retail stores other than the delicious beignet place, and even the residents of the Village continue to shop on the Blvd? Then I gotta ask whether many of the Village residents use Bart, reducing greenhouse gases by living so close :)

    -len raphael

  60. Born in Oakland

    IO…great analysis of the problems with Fruitvale Transit Village and Civic Center Plaza. I always intuitively saw a disconnect but could not quite understand it until you posted. Jack London Square is similar and suffers from a separation from the rest of downtown. The price of convenience at these sites, making it easy for auto parking and quick in and out access is a problem in our town. Oakland traffic engineers and planners have always viewed our City as a good place to get in and out of……to the detriment of commercial and neighborhood development.

  61. len raphael

    remembrance of beignets past, motivated me to go Powderface this sunday morning to research on the ground. (and no, i didn’t take Bart) The proprietors were there and there were 6 or so customers, some local latino looking, rest oakland mix on the older side.

    bottom line: Powderface is the exception that raises more questions then it answers re evaluating the Village as a TOD. Without the Bart customers, PF would not have succeeded. About 50% of their sales are to Bart customers. But the owners observation and their conversations with other retailers over the years is that Bart customers seldom venture past Powderface to try the other retailers.

    Several factors: The biggest: 1. the commuters are afraid of crime, 2. the retailers were not experienced/saavy enough to figure out what appealed to Bart commuters and produce it with consistent high quality; and I would add 3. the retailers didn’t have the capital to stick it for say two years until they developed a clientel.

    Security and the appearance of lack of security is a big problem. Powderface deals with by having their employees encourage homeless and loitering kids to move away from the store where they scare away customers. The cops are helpful.

    So the owners of PF believe that higher end retail chain operators (PF is not worried about national chains) such as Chipotle would do fine there and draw a bunch of Bart commuter business if the crime issue were addressed so well that it was obvious to those same national operators.

    PF had the impression that most of the residential tennants were paying high market rate rents comparable DTO and Temescal. Web site for the project says 10 out of 47 (that’s high density??) units are below market rent. PF impression is that quite a few of the residents commute on Bart.

    Saigon Wraps closed down last week.

    -len raphael

  62. len raphael

    TOD footnote. Powderface owners mentioned that they had turned down the offer of opening a branch in a suburban Bart stop that wouldn’t have any crime considerations and would have excellent street and Bart exposure. They decided against that location because it would be totally dependent on Bart commuters, with 0 car parking avail. Not sure which Bart that was, but i don’t think it had residential units.

    the overall conclusion about Fruitvale is that it hasn’t succeeded as TDO but that it could under the right conditions.

  63. dto510

    I don’t know how one can assert Fruitvale Village is not a successful Transit-Oriented Development. Who are you going to believe, haters or your own eyes?

  64. Steve Lowe

    Fruitvale is okay DTO, but the program and tenant mix that I saw last time I was there a couple of years ago needs adjustment if it is ever going to be the regional destination it could be. My enthusiasm for making a return trip is pretty low right now.

    Meanwhile, Patrick Mitchell’s concerns for the investment he’s made in his home will never be adequately addressed by any single thing – or concentration on any specific group of things – that this City has as its main challenge; instead, we all have to nerf our imperfect leaders into improving performance on every level so the supplemental funding that this underfunded hub city should be getting from MTC, the Port and other regional agencies for infrastructure upgrades helps out with the ability of the Project Area Committees to identify and erase blight, and that in turn gives Rebecca or anyone else on Council the basis on which to approach a WBA team and get it here as a Coliseum tenant or, for that matter, approach any business and get a commitment to come here to Oakland because the comprehensive plan we ought to be able to throw down on the table shows the whole of the City as a blueprint to success. It’s more than just multi-tasking; it’s also mega-gardening with the most holistic vision we can assemble to enable a complete City, one that isn’t divided up into fiefdoms and known nationwide for its turf wars and political dissension.

    So, no matter what negativists like Chip think, Dellums has to be correct in saying that he would prefer to have that vision come directly from the people via the Task Force process, or am I missing something: that we need a strongman who may or may not have a clear-eyed vision for this town, but who has strength and enough votes on a political bloc, enough to get something done? We could opt for a midseason trade and maybe get Hugo Chavez, and I guess that’d satisfy some folks I know who ascribe to the notion that follow-the-leader is the traditional path that brings results. I’d rather go with the person who thinks that democracy is difficult but essential, and if that means more public input and less backroom arm-twisting, then the result, unfortunately, simply has to resonate with more hoi polloi, and less elites, insiders and bloc-heads.

    Here’s a test: let’s see how much desire there is on the part of the Council to get the Transportation Commission up and running right away – the best means of getting MTC to free up real dollars for Oakland. I know it means that some on the Council may feel threatened – just as they did with IRV – but it’s too important to Oakland’s future to be given over to some ego trip. If we start there, the framework for the comprehensive plan can be overlaid on our densest-of-all-Bay-Area-cities transportation grid and the major part of Patrick’s concern will be on its way to resolution.

  65. len raphael

    DTO, haters? PF are the success retail success story of that development and they happy to be there. They’re not haters, (nor were the rest of us who commented here) just hard headed business people who say that it has not realized its potential as a TOD. When was the last time you shopped there?

    -len raphael

  66. len raphael

    SL, agree w you that looking for a single strong leader who will somehow make the troops march in synch is neither desirable nor likely to happen. the closest we came was JB, and his cult of personality left us nothing but the residential developments and a decimated city budget. The residents are no more trained in civic participation and self governance, and the bureaucracy is as inefficient as ever.

    (I don’t know a thing about Whitman, but the idea of JB running California the way he ran Oakland is scary)

    Wasn’t it the same looking for a savior voting behavior that led residents to vote Dellums in? Dellums sold the voters hope.

    And like Brown, Dellums doesn’t bother with details and doesn’t delegate all that well either.

    Nothing wrong with appointing task forces, and wb a good thing if they really were broadly selected and not self serving selection of people who agree with Dellums. The problem was that Dellums (and Brown except for development approvals) rarely followed thru and made sure policy was implemented.

  67. Ralph

    Steve, or anyone, do you know where to obtain the workproducts from cottontop’s Task Forces.

    I saw a preliminary report for education and it appears to be the work of a group of braindead 3rd graders. I would like to know what problems are being addressed, the programs implemented to address these problems, expected outcomes, and actual outcomes.

  68. We Fight Blight

    This whole stream reminds me of how Oakland has gotten so waylaid with little or no focus.

    So remind here…we are talking about a TOD at the Coliseum. Why? We have the Oakland A’s looking to leave town if the South Bay can ever get their shit together. Al Davis, the perennial vagabond, is always looking for the next best deal out of town, and the Warriors are up for sale and possibly looking to relocate across the Bay with a highly capitalized, new owner.

    For all of these franchises, Oakland just cannot pony up the corporate sponsorhips nor can it support guaranteed season ticket sales. Ever wonder why? First of all the Coliseum is ancient. Second we are not that deep in healthy corporations with enough advertising money to toss around. And third we have a real and perceived crime problem.

    So we are going to spend planning staff time and energy and political capital trying to develop a TOD at a dying white elephant?

    Is this TOD expected to save the Coliseum? Is it expected to attract a WNBA franchise or just have the occasional heavy metal concert, tractor pull, and BMX race.

    Yes, TODs are good in concept and in the right place can drive economic development and address greenhouse gas emmissions. But are we really interested in spending limited resources and limited capital on resuscitating the Coliseum with a TOD plopped right in the middle of ground zero–yes the traditional killing fields of Oakland. Nice idea when you are flush with seed money and flush with staff. Sounds like a Measure Y program.

    Visionary planning is important, but there has to be a focus and there have to be priorities. Is a Coliseum TOD really where we should be spending our time and efforts? Can anyone tell me what Oakland’s economic development priorities really are?

  69. Max Allstadt

    This whole stream of negativity reminds me of how Oakland’s most dedicated activists have become factionalized and competitive.

    The fact that someone is discussing something other than one’s own greatest concern doesn’t mean that one’s concern is going to fall by the wayside.

    Oh, and WFB, the Coliseum is, again, well isolated from the “killing fields”. The troubled neighborhoods of Brookfield, Elmhurst, and Sobrante Park, to the East of the Coliseum, not a threat to Coliseum development.

    You don’t have to walk or drive through any of those areas to get to the Coliseum, and in fact, one of the reasons those neighborhoods are in so much trouble is because Brookfield and Sobrante Park in particular are isolated because they’re surrounded by highways, railways and a creek.

    The 880 and BART are by far the most common modes of access to the Coliseum, and the notion that any new development will somehow become overrun by crime is wildly pessimistic, if not preposterous. Oh and did anybody notice that crime is taking a major nose dive?

    The PR problem that East Oakland has could be helped enormously by building beautiful new buildings near the Coliseum. Simply envisioning them helps too. I’ll say it again: to save this city, we have to dream big and work on small neighborhood problems – and we have to do both at the same time!

  70. jack b dazzle

    Thank you WFB. I think you are saying what a lot of Oakland is thinking.

    MH, I agree with your thoughts, but Bankruptcy is the worst possible option. While the problems in Oakland appear to be financial, they really are not. Our financial problems are only a symptom of our lack of leadership. Oakland’s Assets (weather, port, airport, people) far exceed our debt. We have so much opportunity!

    Ralph, I am glad that you got a laugh out of Mary’s comments, but whether you agree with her thoughts or not, many business people agree with her, and it hurts our ability to attract the businesses and people that we need.

  71. Solace

    @M.H: I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. Strangely, with all the shaking up and down the coast and everywhere…but here, you would think they get some kind of message about what we are definitely not worred about.

    this is Southern Style thinking. When the Hurricanes hit, the oil companies have to hire like crazy, leaving vacant the few jobs available to the disenfranchised and primarily white, middle-class population. The crush to fill those jobs results in a spate of job-hopping and importation of well, lower-paid and usually NOT indigenous people.

    The only difference is that we do it with Schools and Transit Agencies…et al.

    I agree, we need somebody like Fidel Castro today, but it is looking like we won’t have much longer to wait.

    I’d like to think of it this way: Turn over a rock, a pile of multch, put a spade into the earth and see all the life that emerges. Do this gently and consciously because you do disturb an entire world when you do something as simple as that.
    When you spot an ant or a snail, roach or misquito, or anything detestable to you or which threatens your abode, your garden…just remember, we are in someone else’s garden.

    We have to learn compassion and own up to the disease all this human waste is spreading.

    We totally depend on these minions beneath our feet, and they deserve our respect.

    Money, deficits, guaranteed pension plans? What a joke. It can all end, like that.

    Let’s just hope there are not others we share this place with who regard us as an infestation.

    See the analogy?

    The system breeds two-legged maggots.

    They’d better move a lot faster than they are now and stop this pestilence.

  72. len raphael

    Max, valid point that the Coliseum area could be easily secured from the high crime areas of East O. In time with lots of good expensive pr, consumers and sports fans could be persuaded of that, but you can’t expect them to know the micro geography of East O.

    The flip side of that isolation, is that revitalizing the Coliseum area will have reduced impact outside of it’s borders.

    We don’t have to theorize completely here. I went to the new Toyota dealership on Friday to buy a fossil fuel mobile. Guessing most of you are not car dealership aficionados, but this one is stunning. Maybe the best looking one in the Bay Area. It’s now run by an experienced team from AZ with the young owner on the premises, with normal looking Oaklanders staffing sales and technical positions. They have a pricing model of one discounted no haggle price that will appeal to consumers ( i prefer haggling). And they ran big ads touting the 0 percent 5 year financing ending today.

    Anywhere but Oakland, that place would have been crammed. But not here, not yet.

    In time they’ll probably do fine. Yes, a revitalized Coliseum would greatly help them. If they were located at Eastmont Mall, don’t think so.


  73. Solace

    one more tid-bit and I will drop this moniker, for now.

    If you have not ever familiarized yourself with the USGS on-line data-base, now would be a great time to start, just to steele one’s self, and to appreciate the fragility of this life-style everyone has become conditioned by.

    Briefly, the faults now clearly delineated were not readily available until about a year ago; you had to click at least one more time to see them.

    They know, the media knows, that many of us around the world are on this all the time. So immediately after the “trigger” quakes around the geysers, following the jolt down South, we get an update stating there is no connection….etc.

    It’s a lie, probably. California IS an orogenous zone, dotted with ancient volcanic vents. It may very well be that the recent deluge we have experienced here in the Northern Latitudes is the saving grace. Those volcanic beds stretch from Shasta all the way down to Mammoth Lakes, with steaming vents here and there.

    Who can say what a bullet we have just narrowly missed due to the sheer mass of water bouying the strata all around us. Note that we ARE NOT going to be drilliing off the coast HERE. THAT is prudent.

    we are on the precipice, money is the least of our perils, and our leaders are not being honest about anything. Maybe, just maybe…somebody knows.

  74. Max Allstadt

    Well, that settles it. The world’s gonna end. I guess I’ll just roll up a joint, start a bonfire with all the letters from my debtors, fill my pockets with shotgun shells and MREs and head for the hills…

  75. annoyed

    So let’s see if I have this right. We can’t plan for future development until we have solved the crime and blight problem, ooo, and the pot hole problem. Sure, that makes pefect sense. Then you all can bitch about why everything went to Emeryville or anywhere but here. Oh wait, you have already been bitching about that.

    I used to think that it was the elected officials who had backward vision but it turns out to be the locals. Who knew. Oakland truly has the government it deserves.

    A big chunk of this funding is going to SF where there is a neighborhood plan or area development plan completed or underway for just about every square inch of the city.

    I’m giving myself a whiplash from shaking my head. Unbelievable.

  76. jack b dazzle


    It is not that we can’t plan for the future without solving blight and crime first. We can and should. We can’t plan the future until we have the gov’t that can execute these types of plans.

    If we had someone like Robert Bobb running the city, I would be much more open to these types of plans.

  77. annoyed

    Oh, my gawd. This is really worse. We can’t plan the city”s future until Jesus comes to town. Got it.

  78. livegreen

    Ralph, Continuing the comparison to Baltimore, is the Coliseum more like Camden Yards or Memorial Stadium?

    If they’d built BART or similar rail to Memorial Stadium, & put a TOD there, would it have become Camden Yards? For that matter, does Campden Yards have rail access that brings any significant number of fans to it, and is that what makes it a destination?

  79. Al

    I have it! Domes. Able to withstand Hurricane force winds and 10.0 on the Richter.
    Designed by Danes, built in China, and fully-funded using Bloom-box technology to grow hypronic marijuana. Ginourmous potential.

  80. Max Allstadt


    What you and I are seeing here is exactly what Chief Batts is going around town making speeches about. The first thing we need to do if we want things to get better is stop accepting that “this is just how it is” in Oakland.

    Optimism doesn’t win by itself, but without it, we can’t win at all.

  81. Al

    Whoa, hold on there partner. Don’t hate, after all, Davis is like…Elvis to Raiders image…like Hell’s Angels and Sportsters. We should just pass a resolution to have him bronzed, in his car, and mounted atop Mt. Davis.

    Is nothing sacred?

  82. Patrick M. Mitchell

    I’m optimistic that Oakland’s city government will screw the citizenry over AGAIN to ensure re-election via public union support. Mary Hollis, bless her funny black heart, is absolutely correct. Go ahead Max – roll that joint. Perhaps it will take the sting out of the continued, city government sponsored devaluation of your West Oakland properties. Well, assuming one can devalue something that is virtually unsaleable. Wanna buy the Kaiser Center? I can get you a great deal. Perhaps you can trade your home for a box of Nadel chocolates? I don’t enjoy them – the blood, money and incompetence they ooze is just not tasty to me. Same for Quan Dim Sum.

  83. len raphael

    Not to be negative, but is there a negative effect on the RDA ability to redevelop areas such as the Coliseum if we keep selling city buildings to it and drain it’s cash? or is RDA money really “found” money that would have just sat there?

  84. dto510

    Redevelopment makes its own money. Development leads to higher tax revenues. City properties aren’t worth anything to the City unless they’re being used, and they’re worth more the City if someone’s paying taxes on them.

  85. Livegreen

    I have to agree with Len’s comments above. The Coliseum is isolated to money spending, walkable areas. The only areas near it are industrial or high crime. Who’s going to want to move there to live?

    The Fruitvale TOD has had enormous challenges and it’s in a busy, if poor, area. And still there is limited interaction between the TOD, the parking lot, and the neighborhood (with commuters fleeing after they hop in their cars–is that he purpose of a TOD?).

    The advantage of the Coliseum’s location compared to Fruitvale is it’s proximity to the highway for auto access. So IF the project were big enough to include lots of living and an Emeryville-Bay Street style mall to keep people there after hours + make it big enough for people to live there, then it might attract the high #’s to work.
    Then it’s a big project (maybe bigger than those two little arrows look) and private financing & the RRE market become key questions.

    Note the importance of autos to this TOD, though I guess that’s beside the point. Also note the project would have to b big enough to significantly help out the surrounding community with sustainable jobs. Otherwise it becomes just another hulk of empty concrete that is empty and undesirable esp. at night.

    I still think crime will have to continue declining to make such a project attractive to businesses, residents and customers. And although the City Council SHOULD b able to walk and chew gum at the same time, they haven’t yet show (to me at least) that they can. I would b put much more at ease if & when they are able to demonstrate this…

  86. Ralph

    LG, my last post got wiped out, so here is the Sparks note version.

    Memorial Stadium was built into an existing residential hood; it would not have been possible to do the TOD you envision.

    Camden Yards or OPACY as it is officially called and M&T Stadium were part of a long term plan to revitalize the IH. The Harbor had fallen into disrepair. Some teardowns were sold for a $1, other were turned into parks, MD Science Center found a home, the pavilions went up, new hotels (that actually host visiting teams), restaurants (ESPNZone, Phillips, McCormicks, Rusty Scupper etc), outdoor bars, Cross St Market, shopping

    The area is accessible via subway, MARC (commuter rail), I-83, I-95. With the new development there is definitely more of a connectedness from the IH, to Little Italy to Fells Point.

    Baltimore is in the 21st century while Oakland looks like Mayberry.

  87. Ralph

    While I am in favor of development at the Coliseum. I think we would be better served if we moved the ballparks downtown. The owner of the Phillies regrets not building his new ballpark closer to downtown.

  88. Livegreen

    Ralph, That’s exactly what I was thinking. In all your other examples the stadiums are DT. The Colisium is from the 60′s and reminds me more of the older stadiums of that era. Even if the A’s stay all of Oakland’s proposals are for closer to DT.

    A project around it like what RK is proposing has to b significant enough to attract shops, customers, apartment dwellers, etc. A small project won’t do that. Only one that has size will…

  89. Ralph

    I could be wrong but I thought the Coliseum TOD plans were grand. To be honest though I don’t think you can make TOD at the Coliseum work. Admittedly, I do not spend a lot of time at the Coliseum, but I don’t foresee the residential plan coming together. I think it comes to better in some of the other plans being discussed. I think it is important to remember that any plan will need to substantially improve the value of the franchise.

  90. We Fight Blight


    Thanks for your insightful critique. I certainly am not saying that we cannot plan and cannot implement until we solve all problems of crime, blight and crumbling infrastructure. Nevertheless, crime, blight and crumbling infrastructure are fundamental problems both real and perceived and create significant disincentives for growing our tax base. It becomes very hard to attract businesses, shoppers and residents if we have these albatrosses around our neck.

    As an avid and somewhat nuerotic planner, I had to laugh at being labeled as an anti-planner of sorts. Rather than chasing federal dollars using limited staff resources for a development strategy at a somewhat isolated location that relies on three professional franchises that are planning or have been thinking about relocating to more lucrative markets, I prefer smart planning for the City based on core priorities and well thought out strategies. TODs for some are sexy and hip and should be pursued at all costs. For me, they are but one development strategy that can be implemented at the right locations at the right time. We should not pursue planning for planning sake because we have to do something and it might as well be a TOD at the Coliseum because doing nothing is just a bunch of negative nellies being naysayers with no vision.

    My solution isn’t no planning at all–rather my solution and “plan” involves actively eliminating the disincentives for people to locate, recreate, dine and shop in Oakland–the major disincentive being crime or the perception of crime. Once we address the disincentives it becomes easier to grow the tax base by volume rather than increasing the overall tax rate on the dwindling middle class. Increasing the tax base by volume allows us to have more resources for planning and visioning.

    At this point though, the City is on life support and the City Council is trying to figure out which programs and which staff get slashed. Rather than spreading City resources too thin in a time of diminishing resources to accomplish just anything, I would rather focus on maintaining and building the momentum in Downtown/Uptown/Broadway Corridor/Temescal.

    Annoyed, you can go on being annoyed or hopefully you can tell us why a TOD at the Coliseum makes market sense, makes planning sense, and from the long-term perspective adds value to the Coliseum area in a way that would actually keep the A’s, the Raiders or the Warriors from moving. Why should a TOD at the Coliseum be a development priority for the City?

  91. Steve Lowe

    Lemme see, Jerry, Ron, Bobb and Al Davis all in one fell swoop: Jerry did not want to save the Produce District (or the A’s) and agreed with Ignacio that it was time to kick butt in the preservationist community, putting him, along with Bobb and Davis into the Castro / Chavez camp of “strong leader” – or is that, more correctly, isolated egomaniacal elitist? Having been on Jerry’s Jacques-maintained “enemies’ list” for a time (at least until Jacques was reluctantly let go for pushing his wife down the stairs at the Compound), I have to say that, though I’ve never met Al and have had only one chance to hiss at him from afar, this idolatry of the strongman dates back in human history to Attila and earlier when the good old days allowed you to get away with just about anything so long as your fearless leader appeared to know what he (and sometime she) knew what what they were doing, even when they didn’t or had some sort of bible to thump before leading their troops on to the next massacre: my personal favorite being El Cid who was deader than even Francisco Franco when they tied him to his horse to lead the charge against the Moops back in the day.

    You know what, I’m sick of these guys who run such a tight ship that everybody thinks they must be descendants of Wotan or something. Give a break, please: these are the same quail-like lemmings who are willing to give over the country to the Sara Palins and Dan Quales and George Bushes who, as actors, can at best only mouth the pre-prepared platitudes and palliatives that the Karl Roves and/or James Carvilles crank out for them as part of the colossal game of My-Ego’s-Bigger-Than-Yours that they’re all playing. Bobb ran such a tight ship and terrified staff so much with threats of job loss that any creativity in CEDA was stifled almost entirely. Think back and remember what got done on the Army Base during his entire tenure here – zilch.

    So, during Ron’s infinitely less autocratic reign, the Army Base was finally put out to bid, a new Chief of Police has been found, strikes were averted at the Port, City Administrator replaced, twenty times the amount of funding from Washington secured than in previous administrations, a Transportation Commission established (soon to be announced), real community people on the Port Board, etc. Okay, I know most of the people on this blog really hate Ron because he didn’t pay his taxes and so forth, but I really hate Chip with equal vigor because he’s just out to get Ron and, like a lot of you, NEVER copped to anything good that Ron has done for Oakland, including all of the above. And I’ve yet to meet anyone who hasn’t gone light on his or her taxes when they knew they just couldn’t afford to pay them and stay solvent, especially when they knew there was a bigger payday down the road somewhere – a refi or something. So let’s get down to the nitty gritty and start thinking about what we can get from this American icon before he leaves and somebody new comes in to manifest their own personality disorder and imperfections on wee the people.

    For me, it’s the person with the ideas, ideals and energy to see it through. including getting the WBA here – immediately after Trish Vanderveer enters the Valhalla of Fame tomorrow night. It is tomorrow night, right?

    As to WFB’s question, you just have to do both at the same time, sorta like when you’re upstairs paying the bills and a fight breaks out among your kids in the back yard. You get both things done because both are equally important on different levels.

  92. Ralph

    Steve, just for the record I disliked Ron long before his tax problems surfaced. He did not want to run. He has opted to avoid making the tough decisions – M2O comes to mind. He is a flat out joke. I’d rather have Luther Mahoney running the city. At least, we knew Luther cared. Ron cares about one person – himself. Heck, it was Ron who had the Army based closed but had no plans for its future. Ron was far from present when a 10 year old boy at a piano lesson was shot by a stray bullet. A real mayor would have been out in front. A real mayor would be present. Personally, I wish he would simply disappear. And like all sphincters before him, he will not be missed.

  93. annoyed

    Thank you, Steve. I am terrified that WFB is a planner in Oakland. If you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, you should be working on an assembly line, not trying to bring a city into the 21st century.

    Steve is right. That’s how we got stuck with a two-faced like Jerry Brown who one day was all down with the people and the next, day wearing designer clothes and trying to eradicate CEQA in order to further his 10,000 units in downtown Oakland.. That’s how we got a Governator who’s unbending style helped to pound the state into sand. You bitch about what a financial mess Oakland is, maybe because the state took money from cities to plug it’s own leaky budget? Where’s the hate for Arnold? That’s how we ended up with an actor who hated free speech on college campuses, went on to invent the Evil Empire, had more of his administration end up in prison than any other, regularly slept through White House briefings and probably suffered from dementia while in office. But the people love his rusty behind even now. People love rock stars, never mind whether or not they know what the hell they are doing. I almost want Don Perata to win so that you can truly have the government you so richly deserve.

    And the only problem with redeveloping the Coliseum area is that it is too brown, too many poor,folks live nearby and most of you are afraid to go there. The Coiseum is adjacent to a BART and Amtrak stop. It’s a hop skip and jump from the airport. Yeah, what a dumb idea to develop that bit of real estate. It’s to laugh. SF spent $650M on a rail extension through one of the poorest sections of town and look at the 3rd St. corridor today. Look at the ballpark that is not in downtown. Look at Mission Bay that took DECADES to plan and buld. That could never happen in Oakalnd. Look at Emeryville. Do we give out awards to the most bilndly short sighted in this town?

  94. Born in Oakland

    Anyone want to play SimCity? Or is that what Oakland leaders have been doing the last 20 plus years? The game model allowed you to build a city, build infrastructure, grow business and residential, but you had to be careful to maintain a balance or the tipping point would come if there was a disaster or fiscal shortfall. Then people would leave the City, streets would crumble, revenue would fall and well, it would kind of become like Oakland is today. Can’t believe (Yes I Can!) SimCity was not required study for those working or representing our fair City! Even my 10 year olds learned how to manage a City.

  95. annoyed

    Then let your 10-year old run for mayor. The people on the CIty Council and the Mayor did not elect themselves. If you want to know what”s wrong with Oakland, look in the mirror. You bitch about too many nail salons, or yougurt shops. Better closed up store fronts than a functioning business.

    You killed the parking fee increases and extended enforcement because it was going to kill you to pay a few extra quarters.

    Any effort to raise revenues is met with a big fat no. Efforts to bring business is met with oppostion. What is it exactly that you people want? I get that you hate Ron Dellums. I don’t think that is reason enough to torpedo revenues because you are still pouting that Ignacio did not win.

  96. Steve Lowe

    With respect to the Army Base (which was originally supposed to revert entirely to the Port upon its surrender by the Army and Navy, as per the terms of their takeover in WWII), you’d have been delighted a couple of weeks ago to hear everyone at the Mega Regional Conference down at the Marriott going on and on about what a great gift the Army Base is to the future if Northern California trade – and all the other goodies that come in and out of the Bay Area bound for Chicago and the rest of the midwest. That gift from Ron, at completion, will be a lasting legacy to the health of Bay Area commerce. The dollars that will be coming from Obama – who clearly admires Ron and probably has since he first began thinking about a career in politics – earmarked specifically for the Base are as important as anything Oakland has ever done, including the institution of the Port itself back in the late 20′s.

    Lots of military folk lost jobs they’d had for quite awhile, and the local economy took a dip accordingly, but the land there was hardly being used to its highest and best, especially when viewed from the global perspective of the Bay Area as a city-state like, say, ancient Athens or some other classical example. The port is the fundamental reason for the city, right? San Francisco didn’t grow were it was because a bunch of cowherds got together one day and said, “Let’s build us a city right where we’re a-standing!” A deep water port was there, and we all grew up around it, building warehouses and docks and stuff until that side of the Bay could no longer handle the overload of cargoes, especially those that required offloading by fifty zillion longshore guys for each barrel on each ship. With Oakland converting over to container-only shipping, SF allowed its waterfront to transition to housing and other commercial real estate, in effect ceding the nexus of port trade to Oakland, even then radically constricted by the amount of available land for container stacking, warehousing, trucking and ancillary support.

    Having the Army Base to expand our port activities onto means less pollution for those trucks that otherwise have to drive all the way up to their yards in Richmond, Tracey or wherever else they might be located, usually due to the cheaper cost of land there. It means a better, more efficient, more economic utilization of the Bay Area’s most primary function, and I think the bad rap on Ron for closing the Bases (which he certainly didn’t do all by himself) needs to be seen in that context: the Army was okay to have here – kinda, sorta – but what we can do with that land to improve the lot of everyone around here, from Mill Valley to Milpitas to Millbrae and maybe even as far away as Missoula, Montana is all too obviously a huge improvement we should all salute.

  97. len raphael

    BIO, I once asked a staff planner why it was that simcity had financial parameters but real life city planning staff do not. he shrugged and said that’s not our job. he’s right, but no one at city hall was doing it except to promote or kill specific projects.

  98. Ralph

    Steve, if numbnuts had some vision maybe he could have jump started Army base redevelopment 10 years ago when he thought it would be a good idea for it to be barren wasteland. It isn’t that people hate the man for closing the bases, bases were going to be closed. Hate the man and probably a few others for taking too d— long to figure out what to do with the land. What numbnuts fails to understand is the art of the long view. Even after he left office he could have come back and done something. Right now the best thing pinhead could do for the city he claims to love is apologize and fall on his sword.

    Barack admire Ron – now that is a stretch. Q-tip certainly did not think much of Barack or was Q-Tip’s position as Chair of National Urban Policy for HRC just a gimmick. If anything Barack is probably thinking there goes that old geezer just another Marion B. minus the crack problem.

    Seriously, we need to get ourselves a Booker, Fenty or Rawlings-Blake.

  99. Al

    I wish i were more informed about the present power politics between the council and the mayor; it does seem that the strong council vs. strong mayor debate has gone on throughout Oakland’s history. Lionel Wilson was what? and for 16 years. Still and since then, back and forth, back and forth…has that ever been put to rest or is all this still kicking at the same damn horse?

    I thought, like england today, the mayor-though elected, is largely ceremonial, diplomatic and someone who can address ALL the people in sincereity through both good and bad times, a TRUSTED figure, beyond reproach.

    I think for all that the politics imply, and given his role in a lot of advocating for basic human rights everywhere, we could do a whole lot worse. Mr. Dellums has a legacy to preserve and be assured, he didn’t leave Oakland to not come back.

    Be patient but please don’t disparage the man with remarks about his appearance when that doesn’t even begin to address a more fundamental problem: how to fold all these overlapping governments into fewer, more responsive units, and end the incessant tug of war over public money and wasted human resources.

    change is comin’

  100. We Fight Blight

    Okay Annoyed, clearly you are still annoyed. Since we obviously don’t see eye to eye and since I terrify you, I won’t try to change your mind with any rational planning or market based argument. However, I do want to understand why you believe the Coliseum is a no brainer for a TOD.

    According to you “…the only problem with redeveloping the Coliseum area is that it is too brown, too many poor,folks live nearby and most of you are afraid to go there. The Coiseum is adjacent to a BART and Amtrak stop. It’s a hop skip and jump from the airport. ”

    So essentially, if I understand your underlying argument it is that the locational advantanges of the Coliseum being near a BART Station and Amtrak Station and the Airport greatly outweigh any other negatives including all the brown people, all the poor people and the people who are afraid of presumbably the brown people and the poor people. So all we need to do is simply stop being so negative, envision a shiny bright TOD, stop being afraid, throw some planning dollars at it and maybe in 25 years we will have the equivalent of Mission Bay and all will better. If San Francisco can do it, Oakland can.

    Thanks for the insightful and and well-thought out rationale Annoyed. However, personally I’m not convinced the Coliseum is comparable to the 3rd Street Rail, Mission Bay or Emeryville as a development opportunity. Seems to me a little more complicated, but hey what do I know. Like I said, I have nothing against planning. Just don’t like planning for planning sakes. I would much rather focus on DTO/Uptown/Broadway and Temescal and keep that momentum going. But if others can chew gum and walk at the same time, all the more power to them.

    Happy planning.

  101. Steve Lowe

    I don’t remember Ron being Mayor for much of the time between the Base Closure Act and 2007, the period when OBRA ran the show out there and steadfastly pursued businesses like Reefer Depot, the owners of which are friends of mine, so that those operations were almost sure to go out of business. Lots of others simply left when their month-to-month leases became too financially painful to manage anymore, many of them core support businesses that should be as close to the Port as possible. That all ended when Ron became Mayor and got CEDA to issue the RFP that Phil Tagami has since converted into an ENA in hopes of getting a full DDE by the end of summer. So I just don’t get the reasoning that somehow Ron is responsible for all the bad stuff in town when it was he who finally got the ball rolling on the Base after years and years of inaction on the part of previous administrations.

    But hatred for political figures seems to endure forever, and I remember folks I knew as a kid cursing Roosevelt for leading us down the road to socialism, etc., venom that ought be better directed, it seems to me, at the banking institutions in this county whose ever-stealthy manipulations of the law have led us into one morass after another, time and time again, no matter what the politicians thought they could do to rectify the situation.

  102. annoyed

    WFB. You did not present either a rational planning or market based argument against Coliseum except it’s too brown for your taste. Let’s be straight, here, too black because white folks slum all over the Fruitvale District, even though it is ethnically as diverse as any segment of the city and there’s plenty of crime. It’s so offputting to yout that you can’t stand the thought of the city even considering further development.

    If attendance is off at the Coliseum it’s because we have lousy team performance, not because people are afraid to go there. Have you ever attended an event at the Coliseum complex or is it just too scary for you? The connection to BART/Amtrak is ideal. You barely have to mingle with the great unwashed. This is a personal issue for you, not a basis for making planning or development decisions.

    Third St. is a perfect example of people not making a decision based on ethnicity and look at the bigger picture. The corridor from the ballpark out to the county line has undergone /is undergoing tremendous change. Even in a segregated city like SF, people were able to think outside the box and not decide that nobody dark deserves an investment of resources. One can debate the impacts of gentrificaiton, I don’t think gentrification a bad thing personally, but to decide we won’t even study an entire section of the city because of the skin color of the people who live there is disgusting.

  103. We Fight Blight


    Wow…you really have begun to shine. Thanks for the color based, race based, ethnicity based, assumption based rant. I see how you will be really successful in convincing people with your rationale that the Oakland Coliseum is ideal as a TOD. I am sure your approach will work wonders to engage the community to support your planning efforts. Just assume anyone opposed to your ideas are rascists. Don’t actually engage and debate the ideas, just call them rascist. Thanks for the laugh. It’s good to know that there are people even more irrational than me.

    Oh, by the way did you even bother to read and comprehend any of my posts? Your assumptions and your rant seem to stray quite a bit from reality.

    While I had a good laugh at your post, I have yet to understand from you why an Amtrak and BART station in and of themselves constitute the perfect opportunity for a successful TOD? You have yet to articulate any comprehensible argument as to why we should spend limited public resources on this idea. Can you enlighten us with any rational market and planning based assessment other than “The connection to BART/Amtrak is ideal”? For example who would develop the TOD and how would we pay for it? Is there enough of a market return to convince a private developer to pay for such a development or would we rely on public subsidies? If there a public subsidies, how much? What about public infrastructure improvements? Who pays for that? Environmental studies, economic feasibility studies, etc. etc. etc.

    As with much of life, if you want something you gotta figure how to pay for it. Nothing comes for free unless of course you expect someone elses tax dollars to foot the bill. Too many bright shiny ideas end up as plans on a shelf because no one was strategic enough to think through whether or not the idea had any merit in the first place or really made sense.

    Like I said, happy planning Annoyed. If you can walk and chew gum at the same time, go for it. Just don’t bit off your tongue.

  104. Livegreen

    WFB, I don’t know why u don’t think Property Taxes can’t b raised for this sort of thing. After all they’ve been used successfully to pay for all other sorts of things. You might even say the City has a proven track record for this sort of thing. That’s
    probably why RD, DL and JB are so supportive.

    And Oakland taxpayers have proven time and again that they support them. So what’s the problem?

  105. Navigator

    Let’s face it, “Annoyed,” has a point.

    We may not want to talk about it, or face it, but the reality is that race and perceptions of safety play a huge role. We may take care of blight and keep the streets paved and squeaky clean, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into more businesses, more foot traffic, and more retail.

    For example, let’s take a look at the tremendous job those kids in the orange shirts do keeping Broadway spotless. The area looks clean, crime is down, graffiti has been abated, and yet foot traffic north of City Center is low, and vacancies remain high. Why is this? We have two Bart stations with links to the entire region on Broadway. The area is clean and safe and yet I see empty storefronts up and down Broadway and virtually no retail.

    Let’s now go a few blocks to safe, gritty, graffiti filled, dirty, and… vibrant Chinatown. Why are Fruitvale and Chinatown thriving and vibrant commercial districts, while a clean and safe Broadway, with access to two regional BART stations, struggles? Answer, image and a perception of crime. I’m afraid that Oakland talks a good game as far as diversity, but the fact remains that ethnic neighborhoods in Oakland survive without any outside help from more affluent Oakland neighborhoods.

    We can spit shine the sidewalks on Broadway until kingdom comes, but as long as folks are prejudiced against Oakland, no retail will locate in the heart of downtown or near any proposed East Oakland Transit Station. We better start fixing Oakland’s image because cleaning the city and fixing blight by itself just gives us nice clean safe empty streets.

  106. livegreen

    Nav, Annoyed was talking about how people who voiced concerns over the TOD were prejudiced, not DT. & Annoyed was saying this about people who live here and are on this blog, not people who live somewhere else. Two different groups and two different locations.

  107. We Fight Blight


    I have never said that taxes cannot or should not be raised for economic development. I certainly favor tax increment financing for redevelopment purposes. My point missed entirely by Annoyed is that I question whether the Coliseum is a good investment of our limited public resources at this time or whether we should be investing in other sites or locations that already have shown a degree of promise and momentum. I am not so blinded by the idea of TODs that I want to plop them down anywhere without a serious understanding of the site specific goals of the TOD, the likelihood for success, and the type of public investment needed for a reasonable return. Also, I am not willing to blindly toss public dollars at just any investment because of the color of the community served. Any public investment regardless of the community should be properly vetted.


    I agree with you that no one wants to talk about how the perceptions of race and safety are intertwined and how they affect investment in Oakland. All too often the discussions, even those that are fact based and focused on assessing the problem, end in charges of racism and then no one feels comfortable exploring the issue for fear of being labeled a racist. For example, it seems impossible to have a discussion on who commits crime in Oakland and why they commit crimes? If we cannot identify who commits crime and why, how do we really adress it?

    If we can eliminate the perception of Oakland as being unsafe by actually reducing crime and blight to levels that are comparable to other successful communities, perhaps we can determine whether the reluctance to invest in Oakland is truly about race or public safety. I suspect many people who are afraid to shop and recreate in Oakland–whether they live in Oakland or not–associate the lack of public safety with particular ethnicities, or races, or age groups or gender. Is that perception borne out by the actual crime statistics? Who knows? That discussion rarely progresses in Oakland.

    With regards to Fruitvale and Chinatown they have something very important that Broadway doesn’t and it has nothing to do with race– a relatively high population density, a core of relatively recent immigrants who are highly motivated to succeed, and communities who are willing to invest in and support their own businesses.

    In a very simplistic demand model, there are two ways to attract businesses. Either you need a high enough density of people to create the need and demand for businesses or you need a smaller density of people with high enough incomes to create a demand and need for businesses. Broadway has neither the built in population density nor residents with high enough incomes at the moment to support a strong business core. Couple that with the perception and reality of crime and blight in Oakland and you have the perfect recipe for high vacancies and an unwillingness on the part of businesses to invest in DTO.

    Some part of that equation has to change or you will never reach a threshold for businesses to invest. My point is that we need the City to continue to focus on improving DTO by facilitating more housing downtown and converting the massive number of surface parking lots to housing. But to ensure that people are willing to move to DTO you also need to remedy the blight by creating pleasant streetscapes and ensuring appropriate public safety through a strong police presence. More housing means more eyes and activity on the streets, more activity on the streets and more police presence enhances perception of safety. Deserted Broadway at night doesn’t feel safe. I agree– a nice clean empty safe street will not necessarily attract businesses. People with money to spend will. People will congregate and spend money where they feel safe.

    Investing time, effort and limited public resources at a relatively isolated location at the Coliseum right now seems fruitless–particularly since each of the three professional franchises have expressed interest in moving to either a more modern facility or another market. Focusing on attracting more development in DTO to me is a much better investment with a higher potential return. For me, not investing at the Coliseum is not about the perception or reality of safety or the color of the neighborhood. It’s about focusing the City’s development priorities and limited resources to ensure success. However, for those who do have money to invest the perception of crime and safety may very well be factored into their economic model, as it may very well affect their economic return. Bottom line, the higher the perceived risk, the higher the return or public subsidy must be to attract the investors.

    In any event, why spread ourselves so thin that neither location really succeeds? Who does a shotgun approach really benefit?

  108. Al

    WFB, you are so so close to hitting this nail squarely on its head. What most of us except the news-hounds, and insiders, aren’t exactly aware of is the extent of self-investigation and outside investigation taking place right now-all over the bay area.

    Can anyone surmise just how profound the illegal drug complex here has become and where it will lead?

    One way to actually rid ourselves of this invisible nexus is to cut off the source of funding, and the inflluence it has had and will have on the area’s overall development.

    We are at a crossroads, and like prohibition before-time, the one’s who successfully transition to legal statuls, or a way to finally legitamize their revenues, will eventually have a qualified basis to operate at will, furthering their agenda, whatever that is.

    We don’t know yet how much of our economy is being manipulated and mis-directed towards protecting interests that lie outside Oakland, outside Alameda or other counties, or even outside California or the U.S. for that matter.

    We tacitly accept that these nebulous financial instruments and the global network makes this life possible They have behaved criminally. What makes anyone think the two kinds of entities are not related in some aspects.

    we have to determine where all the public money goes, especially that which is skimmed right off the top and into the payrolls throughout the state.

    I have relative who lives in the Lower Grand Area, identifying with Piedmont or Montclair. Here the view is that the Lakeside areas are the primary consumers of illicit drugs while East Oakland is primarily the source, as is West and North Oakland.

    This is the perception. Without even knowing the factual basis for this kind of statement I can tell you that it is an over generalization but an informed one nonetheless.

    There is only one way to really find out, Local script. Until then, all bets are just that, guesses.

  109. annoyed

    Be clueless. The fact is, people are going to the coliseum complex for sporting events, concerts, whatever. You can be in denial about this all you want but people go there and they take public transportation. BART runs long trains when there are Coliseum events. If there was someting else for them to do out there, are you suggesting that they wouldn’t do it becdause of some fear, a fear that doesn’t keep them from going in the first place?

    People don’t go to downtown Oakland because there is nothing there. I have respectable disposable income and when I think shopping, I do not think downtown Oakland. Some decent restaurants, further up Telegraph and Broasway, but forget about shopping. But when Oakalnd hosts its downtown Labor Day weekend Soulfest or whatever it’s called, there is get a good turnout from all over the Bay Area. I know folks from SF who attend. What the hell are you people talking about? Maybe you need to step out sideof your constricted comfort zone.

    As for retail coming to Oakland, it was reported years ago that Macys would never go to Oakland in order to protect its flagship store in Union Square. Probably true for Nordstrom. You will notice that neither of these stores are in Alameda’s Towne Square either. Trader Joes’ wouldn’t come to Oakland for years. The CEO reportedly walked INternational Blvd and said he wouldn’t have one of his stores in Oakalnd. Now there are two. I Magnin and Emporium did very well in Oakland.. Emporium in Oakland was one of their highest performing stores until Macys parent company bought out Magnin’s and Emporium and promptly put both chains out of business. I read about Emporium’s performance in the business section of the Chron. Or maybe they just made it up.

    And I hate to break this to you, but Fruitvale is loaded with crime. There is gang activity and prostitution everywhere. And shootings. Have you ever spent any time at the Fruitvale TOD? I pay to park downtown so I don’t have to leave my car at the Fruitvale Stationl, one of the highest crime stations in the BART system. You all are incredibly selective about what you choose to believe in order to support your preconceived notions.

    By the way, people in East Oakand, even homeowners near the Coliseum, are also taxpayers.

    Finally, I did not call anyone a racist. Touchy, touchy.

  110. Ken O

    I do not think of Fruitvale TOD as real TOD. Real TOD looks like Hong Kong or NYC.

    At the smaller end, it looks like Berkeley.

    Fruitvale is clearly none of the above. Whoever built it pulled punches. 2-3 story buildings do not cut it. Same with the “transit village” built by Richmond BART. That is not TOD either.

    What would be TOD along BART? The Uptown apartments, but for the complete shopping, grocery and services desert. Avalon apartments by Union City BART is part of a real TOD plan which still has yet to be built. (and may never be.)

    If we are to build anything anywhere, it better damn well be workable without cars since everyone and their Richard Branson is figuring peak oil happens between now and 2015 including DOE, Pentagon/DOD, Obama’s administration (thus the new “drill baby drill” which won’t help one iota but sounds good), Colin Campbell and others.

  111. Ken O

    Coliseum plan sounds good in a world of growing crowds of consumers. We live in a reality of fewer “consumers” every month due to job cuts.

    Now I realize Romans had a Coliseum as part of their “bread and circuses” to keep the masses opiated and it worked just as well in the end as ours will.

    Agree we should keep momentum going in Uptown/midtown/Temescal. But like most of us, politicians want to build, not maintain. Capital improvements. Legacies.

    If we can be unfocused and win on building out Coliseum to re-gentrify the city, great. Oakland really isn’t just RockTem+Downtown. It is an amoeba of at least THIRTY-FORTY towns/commercial centers. I do not see Coliseum happening in the future but would love to be proved wrong. There is newly built market-rate housing near there now… which is good!

    City of LA is close to shutting down the entire city other than public safety over their pension over-obligations.

    On a long enough timeline we will follow LA’s lead.

    Since unions aren’t giving in in Detroit, that city will go bankrupt too.

    On a long enough timeline we will follow Detroit’s lead also.

    And it’s all good! Institutions are not sacred. Think GM, Microsoft, ADM, Monsanto, JP Morgan Chase, British Empire, Nazi regime. We will carry on with or without them. We’ve had big government. Now we’ll have big men. We’ll still be striving and hustling.

  112. livegreen

    WFB, My earlier comments were sarcasm. Ralph, same for the other one you responded to. WFB, I agree with your analysis except that I’ve not heard the owners of either the Raiders or Warriors saying they would leave. Of course Al can’t be counted on. The Warriors was media speculation based on the economics of the price tag.

    Given the risks, and questions about what all the teams will be doing, on the one hand it would be too bad not to consider the TOD as an incentive to help retain the Raiders & Warriors, but on the other hand would be a boondoggle if the TOD were built, then still lost the teams.

    So IF a TOD is to be done it MUST: a) Start planning to make the Coliseum part of the City’s retention pitch. If the teams agree to stay the project then proceeds;
    b) If the teams decide not to stay then, based on the availability of funds,: either kill the project -or- if there’s enough make it into a BIG retail restaurant focus.

    In either case it would have to be large enough to attract more than just people coming to games (out-of-towners will be the hardest to convince about safety in Oakland). IF designed like Bay Street in Emeryville, with a mix of restaurants and stores for varying income levels, it could attract enough customers from both near and far to be viable.

    But ONLY if. If it is too small and focussed on retaining outsiders from the sports games, I don’t think it will work. & I also agree with you (and not Annoyed) that Public Safety go hand in hand in deterring customers to stay. This is not against any one color, it is (unfortunately) both the perception and reality of Oakland that deters development & new residents every day.

  113. livegreen

    And Annoyed, you did not call anybody a racist. You said to WFB: “You did not present either a rational planning or market based argument against Coliseum except it’s too brown for your taste.” Those comments and the ones after mean you came as close as you can to calling WFB a racist without actually doing so.

    Where I do agree with you is the high crime rate in Fruitvale. One thing that actually has been in the paper for the better part of this past decade is how much the merchants there get robbed…

  114. Al

    Thanks Ken O. I may even follow up those links. Finally, someone dares to speak what it is, even if it is rhetorical, but YES, it is just like Rome, just like Rome and everything before and after, that sank.

    I think I get the reason for “side-shows”; that’s local entertainment. People used to get excited about the A’s, but even that’s become a class divided pastime. Only the people with fat wallets can move freely about these high-end venues.

    It’s a conundrum. There is nothing to offer the growing demographic which resides in East Oakland-it is an outsider’s venue, primarily.

    We won’t even talk about the Raider following.

    Peasants get 3rd rate seats, or are not seen except hawking.

    But wait a minute-why do we pay these modern day gladiators so much money?
    what a racket, but it’s cyclical.

    Im not kidding, bronze Davis…let the A’s walk or play for the same pay as their “constituents.”

    No way, they’ve got Unions too. Ha.

  115. Navigator

    Of course there’s crime in Fruitvale. There are also many thriving businesses, the lowest vacancy rate of any business district in Oakland, and new construction on International Blvd.

    The main problem in Oakland isn’t crime or blight. The main problem with Oakland are prejudiced business owners like the executives of Trader Joe’s who snubbed this city for year after year, and now have stores packed with customers. Let’s look at San Francisco for a minute. Take a look at all the crime in the Tenderloin, South of Market, and Mid Market just blocks away from Union Square, the San Francisco Shopping Center, hotels, theaters, etc. There were 20 homicides in the various downtown SF neighborhoods in 2008. Crime and blight doesn’t effect businesses going into San Francisco, does it?

    I’ll ask the question again. Why can’t a clean and safe Broadway linked to the region by two Bart stations and within a 2 mile radius of neighborhoods like Crocker Highlands, Lake Shore/Grand, Adam’s Point, Gold Coast, Piedmont Ave. Uptown, Jack London Square, and the City of Piedmont, attract retailers to Downtown Oakland? The answer is a prejudiced view of the city of Oakland held by wealthy corporate executives. Trader Joe’s is a perfect example of how these people think. It’s OK to locate next to crime and filth in San Francisco, but to come to relatively clean and safe downtown Oakland, or many other parts of this fine city, is such an incredible chore.

    What do we do? We’ve already scene that making Broadway clean and safe won’t do a damn thing to change the minds of these prejudiced executives. It really is a white elitist problem. People in this Nation respond to image. That’s why SF can have all the crime in the world downtown, and it still doesn’t matter. By contrast, Oakland has to be squeaky clean and virtually crime free, in order to even be in the conversation for retail. Oakland needs to ask Trader Joe’s what they think of the city now. Also, let’s thank Trader Joe’s for snubbing Dimond and giving Farmer Joe’s a chance to open up a nice big store in the former Lucky’s store.

    Oakland needs more events like the Oakland Marathon so that people from throughout the Bay Area can see that people actually do recreate in Oakland without wearing bullet proof vests, and there isn’t a mugger behind every hedge. Oakland also needs to entice the Oakland A’s to Jack London Square. A ballpark on Victory Court would allow the Bay Area and the Nation to see Oakland in a different light 81 dates a year. Remember, our neighbors across the Bay have proven that image is everything, while at the same time we’ve proven that no matter how clean and safe our streets are, no one gives us a second look.

    Where is American Apparel? Where did Tesla locate? Where are the A’s going?

  116. Al

    Is this all just water under a bridge, that hasn’t even been built? Let’s suppose Wolf and Co., or just him, make the leap and Fremont becomes the new “host” of the “A’s.” I do have sympathy for the largest “storybook” community in the west, if not the country. Now, no NUMMI. Pow.

    But guess what? It’s still Alameda County. We now move the debacle to Fremont after spending countless hours and dollars to fight amongst ourselves over who gets to support MLB’s pipeline from where, the Dominican Republic? Sure, that’s a stretch, but does anyone see this picture?

    I say Good Riddance to anything that is hyped up for our consumption only. I am so tired of MLB shadowing the 60′s movement and now this ultimate good boy, bad boy scenario the media now juxtaposes on Tiger Woods.

    It’s too late to turn the TV’s off and roll back the cost(s) of things, but the sooner all the baby boomers get broken, the better for every body.

    There’s even more to be done in our education system. Half of the information we are now teaching these kids doesn’t even relate to society anymore. By the time children reach kindergarten they are already diverging into distinct profiles-have’s and have nots. It’s all relative after that.

    It is not so much about whether Christopher Columbus was a monster and we trivialize and hide his exploits, in plain site, nor about Lincoln and his well-documented aversion to freeing slaves. They also get it about what they are in the system, haves or have-nots.

    In some respects we are no better off than we were in the 60′s, maybe even closer to imploding than ever before.

    It’s really time to tell the truth, all around and stop speculating. There shouldn’t be one idea taken up to the city council, which hasn’t been explained to everybody, as we go…that’s the new way to do business. How long would a system like that last?

    If you included the input of the actual populace when it comes to making the actual decisions then and only then are we going to finally realize how small the minority really is that has us handcuffed to bankers, cops, prisons, and the dole.

    Can I get a second? And none of this crap about how it would impossible to figure out or coordinate something like this. Crap, just plain crap. If we pursued the “opinions” of everybody like we do wanted criminals, drugs, or whatever, we might have a major breakthrough and a real end to this grid-lock.

    So this goes back to something about community organizations. Wouldn’t it be so forward if our council persons mandated it for themselves? Elect me for this, I’ll get the details and nuances out there on the table and if I fail to perform according to the people’s will then I’m out, simple.

    It never really happens except in theory. Let’s make it happen. I just moan when I hear these people making diplomatic statements-to each other as often as possible. It’s a pleasant stage but will never get us out of the trench or the barrel.

  117. len raphael

    Nav, you’re not blaming the SF centric media anymore for our woes? Thirty years ago, I could see that large national chain execs let their personal prejudices cloud their biz judgement re where to open new stores. These day the execs tend to be multi national themselves, and willing to open all over the world.

    Preconcieved notions of affluent consumers. Yes there’s a lot of that.

    As someone else here put it, the execs measure the likelihood of either a modest number of very affluent consumers, or a pantload of poor consumers flocking to Bway and just don’t see the numbers there yet.

    We either have to make it chic and upscale, or dense and mass market chain friendly.

    Consider firing the entire city economic development staff and management and then rehiring the good ones back as consultants. Hmm, can’t outsource.

  118. Navigator


    We can’t talk about media bias here. The media influences the attitudes of these generally white corporate executives. Oakland needs to run a public relations image changing campaign. No one cares if we reduce crime 25%, or if our streets are clean. We keep throwing money at the police, crime goes down, and we still get one great big yawn from retailers.

    However, It’s OK to locate in Emeryville adjacent to one of the poorest and most crime plagued areas of Oakland, but if you go 50 yards into “Oakland” all of a sudden you’re in “danger” and the “economics” don’t make sense. It’s ALL about image. Let’s see what city the new Target which has located in “Oakland” adjacent to Emeryville, uses in their advertising.

    So, if we just change the name of the area next to the Coliseum ands cal it, say, East Mayberry, there is no reason that a transit related development can’t be successful. If retail can succeed in Emeryville bordering West Oakland, than why can’t it succeed in a TOD next to the Coliseum?

  119. Robert


    Have you considered that there may be very legitimate business reasons to locate in Emeryville instead of Oakland that have nothing to do with bias by retailers? Such as Emeryville actually working with developers and businesses to bring in new retail? Or the fact that the planning process in Oakland can take a decade to work through, even before any construction can take place. The Auto Row area planning process will have taken a decade before we even get to a discussion with specific businesses to locate there. Maybe if the planning process had been completed, Target could have been enticed to locate in the Auto Row area. A lost opportunity due to the glacial pace of planning in Oakland.

  120. Brad


    Correct. Emeryville, after all, allowed the Public Market development in 1988 – a development idea that Oakland rejected, and a development which arguably was the catalyst for the Bay Street development a decade later. Put that together with Emeryville’s success at bringing in biotech and software companies and what you get is a large number of high wage workers compacted into a small area. Where do those workers go for lunch? Where do those workers pick up gifts and necessities on their way home from work? Where do those workers go out for drinks at the end of the day? The nearby Emeryville retail establishments, that’s where.

    Emeryville’s efforts at making this possible include more than just allowing development, but also include working with those companies to provide the infrastructure necessary to support those companies, such as the Emery-Go-Round, a privately funded free bus service that whisks workers from the MacArthur BART to their Emeryville employers. Those private employers also play a role in supporting public safety in Emeryville. Take a short drive through Emeryville on any given day and you will notice, I’m not exaggerating, dozens of private security officers — on foot, in vehicles, at stations.

    So what are the lessons to draw from Emeryville? It’s not all about public perception — remember, in recent memory Emeryville had a terrible reputation as crime ridden and as having abysmal public schools (which were eventually taken over by the state, just like Oakland’s). The lessons are that in addition to development, a city requires the appropriate infrastructure – transportation, public safety, etc. Oakland’s infrastructure is not great, even in Uptown. Look at the streets, public safety, etc. And Oakland is definitely not good at working WITH companies.

    The other lesson is that all of this takes time. Look, the Emeryville Public Market opened in 1988, and only recently are the real dividends being reaped. Oakland’s Uptown has been “squeaky-clean” for, what, a few years at most?

  121. Brad

    Let me add one more thing. It’s the companies in Emeryville that provide the presence of workers who then support the retail!

    In a way, Oakland is like a micro-image of America. We clamor for retail to drive the economy, but we forget that it’s the jobs that actually MAKE things that are the foundation of an economy.

    The industrial and manufacturing jobs that actually MADE things are not going to disappear entirely from the US, but they are not the future.

    The new jobs that actually make things are information-age jobs that Emeryville has in spades. Novartis, Pixar Animation Studios, Amyris Biotechnologies, Lithium Technologies, Bayer, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Chiron Corporation. All companies that have or had large or small presences in Emeryville.

    Oakland needs to attract these kinds of jobs. Or at least retain the jobs that actually make things that we still have. But we’re not doing either. Instead, Oakland chases after retail, like the plan to replace old school industrial jobs on the estuary (jobs that actually make things) with retail.

  122. livegreen

    It certainly will take longer when Oakland’s Redevelopment funds are raided by switching costs to it from the General Purpose Fund (GPF). Less money to put change into action because the City’s refusing to look at cutting operating costs.

  123. Ralph

    Chasing retail is not about the job creation. It is about the sales tax dollars. Job creation is just an added bonus. Where do I go to buy my clothes? Union Square – no shortage of stores to meet my various clothing needs. Where do I go to buy my housewares? Again, I go to Union Square no shortage of stores to meet my needs. Books? Again Borders Union Square. I should note this Borders is a favorite spot of your Mayor Cottontop.

  124. Ralph

    And I don’t need a car to get there. So the faster Oakland can develop Auto Row the better.

  125. livegreen

    We need everything. The key is to plan it well so retail is put where it has the best chance to succeed, and if industrial / light industrial is forced to move we help them find new space to relocate to so we keep that employment base & those tax $ too.

    When industrial / light industrial is forced to relocate, do any of the Redevelopment funds get spent on keeping them here in Oakland? If not, they should be.

  126. Ralph

    I don’t think every business needs to be preserved; some of them are going to die as they are no longer needed. It is a fact of life.

    If you look at the income numbers of the Lake, Temescal, Rockridge, Uptown, JLS, OO and probably a few other areas I am inadvertantly excluding residents, retail has a great chance for success on B-way.

  127. livegreen

    Right, Ralph, but in that case you’re not letting the market decide. You’re letting government pick the winners & losers and run out on a rail the business that fails politically. Not consumers.

    For a long time Auto dealers have been the #1 source of sales & sales taxes for Oakland. (Don’t forget they’re retail too). & they have a lot bigger price tag than a sandwich or a diaper.

    Now auto sales are down, but they’re ticking back up like the rest of the market. It makes little sense for Oakland to just give up it’s biggest source of sales tax revenue because somebody has decided they’re not needed anymore.

    So for Broadway, for example, are you saying car dealers are going to die a natural death? Or are you saying you just don’t want them there. It’s not the same thing.

    All I’m saying is, fine, but other retailers on Broadway that help Oakland’s DT continue to expand and make the artery become more vibrant and a more central connection to the rest of the City.

    But don’t kill that tax base & simply trade it off for retail that isn’t even there yet. Spend part of the Redevelopment funds to help the businesses locate somewhere else. And DOUBLE (or whatever) the potential tax base by retaining both.

  128. Ralph

    Please, spare me….LG, in case you have not walked auto row recently, it is underutilized. Have you considered that autos bring in the most sales tax because there is a significant lack of comparison goods shopping available in Oakland.

    I did not say the auto dealerships should die. (I believe Ken O would like for them to die.) Whether they are replaced before or during the retail expansion is really not up to me. If you walk Broadway, there are already a number of vacant former auto related buildings; so vacancies are happening just due to the market. so like it or not, market conditions are forcing some dealerships to close before comparison good retail is located in the area.

    Some time ago, there was once a package in place to move the auto dealerships to the Army base; so I am not overly worried about the auto dealers being kicked to the curb without so much as a handshake. We will take care of them. Maybe they coexist with other retail maybe they don’t. But given that we were prepared to take care of them once, I am not overly concerned about the auto dealers. One way or another they will continue to exist in Oakland; so don’t go getting your panties in a bunch.

    I do not care for the ghetto fab retailers on Broadway, Telegraph and the side streets. They add nothing and may even subtract value. From 12th up to 40th, there are a number of ghetto fab stores I could do without.

  129. livegreen

    Ralph, You spare me. Your picking businesses. If somebody were doing it for businesses you disagreed with, you would call them a socialist. But for businesses you agree with, no problem?

    I agree with you on the density of retailers. I agree with you the ones who go out of business naturally should die a natural death. However the ones that haven’t died will still continue to offer good solid sales tax revenue as the economy improves.

    All I’m suggesting is such a business is forced to relocate because of Redevelopment, some Redevelopment funds be spent on helping them relocate. Then we get the businesses where we want them, but we come out with more businesses, more jobs and more tax base.

    Regarding smaller ghetto fab stores, they are not the auto dealers I’m talking about. They don’t provide the same tax base. BTW, there are plenty of mechanics on these side streets that are legit and not “ghetto fab stores”. I’m not sure what should be done with them, as that gets into another complicated issue: eminent domain…

  130. Ralph

    LG, what do you want me to say. I am not picking businesses, and you were a bit vague “other retailers on Broadway that help Oakland’s DT continue to expand and make the artery become more vibrant .” Auto repair shops do not add to the vibrancy of Broadway. People drop off a car and either take a shuttle to BART or walk to work. At the end of the day, they pick up a car. When I think of vibrancy, I think of stores and restaurants which keep people walking the streets to the next place. And right now the only stores that meet that description are the ghetto fab. I am okay with them now, but I will not miss them if they either go out of business or if they are replaced later.

    I think I have been fairly clear some auto dealers are closing as a result of the economy. There was a plan in place to move them to the Army base. And outside of any business interest, I am fairly certain no one in Oakland has any plans to shutter these buinesses. When the time comes, I am sure there will be another plan in place to move them. Why was there a plan in place because these are businesses we want and there will be a plan in place later. Do I need to beat you over the head to tell you that we are in agreement that this is really not an issue?

    As the auto repair shops, some will probably close as more residential development occurs. Based on past experience, I do not think the city is going to spend the dollars to relocate all of them. I think the residents will dictate what will happen. For example, I believe Chinatown residents made a big stink to preserve the auto reapir shops in Chinatown. I don’t think that is going to be the same along upper Broadway.

  131. Livegreen

    Ralph, I go back to my original point which was that some Redevelopment funds should b used not just to redevelop an areas, but also relocate viable businesses that are already playing an active role both in the market and supporting our tax base.

    My understanding is that this is not generally done now, and Oakland puts little emphasis in business retention (as Naomi previously mentioned). If Oakland did a better job of this it would increase the tax base that much more.

  132. Livegreen

    BTW, haven’t heard from Naomi in a while. Anybody know if she’s ok,or just taking a break/vacation?

  133. len raphael

    Ralph, how were you planning to get rid of auto repair shops? zone them out of existence? raise biz taxes on them in certain zip codes? or eminent domain?

    i have to dig up the percentage of sales tax that goes to the oakland general fund. it’s quite modest. turning upper bway into piedmont ave won’t cut it. curious what emeryville gets to keep.

    btw, doesn’t even emeryville have fiscal shortfall despite massive sales and biz tax relative to tiny full time resident population?


  134. Naomi Schiff

    Thank you for enquiring, Livegreen. I am okay, but family member was in the hospital, and too, I have to work for a living, so not much spare time.

    I have many thoughts about Broadway, retail, car repair, etc. Here’s one: mechanics earn a whole lot more than salespeople in retail stores. What is the comparative business tax and sales tax from car repair vs. cheap clothing? Sometimes it isn’t all that obvious who is contributing most to the city budget. For instance, the engineering firm on Broadway that has 50 engineers and a lot of large projects may be generating more money and keeping more local income in our town than the shoestore down the block.

    Here’s another: even with subsidy, it is really expensive to move one’s business, and requires finding an equal or better location and non-astronomical rents. Moving takes time and attention too. When I moved my business a couple of years ago it was a major momentum break, even though we moved into less expensive quarters. In the meantime, given the glacial pace of developments through CEDA, a lot of income can be lost while we wait for our shining knight national chain retail that may or may not come, and whose profits leave Oakland.

    And a third: Don’t you folks think it might be wise to develop Broadway starting at the Uptown area and filling in, going up Broadway without leaving big gaps? Uptown is not consolidated and thriving quite all the way yet! I think the Broadway-Valdez study should begin at 20th/Thomas Berkely Way, and immediately address some key locations such as the parking lot opposite the Paramount. Perhaps the city should be engaging with Sears to either upgrade or reconfigure that store, (and OPEN UP the BART entrance directly from 19th St. station into the basement level of the store–Len, remember this?).

  135. len raphael

    concur w NS. retail tax revenue and contribution to local economy can be greatly inferior to profitable service businesses. service biz currently don’t pay sales tax (that will change, i guarantee it)but pay way higher biz tax that goes 100% to the general fund. you don’t have tinker around with living wage laws and such to get decent paying service employment.

    supports and attracts residents who can afford to stay here and spend their sales tax at their favorite oakland tod.

    my hunch is that service businesses require fewer city services, but that depends.

  136. Ralph

    I do not know how the city planned to move the auto dealers, but they did plan to make it attractive. I am somewhat mixed on relocating the dealership. I think some of the bldgs are visually pleasing, but they would need to reduce the number of cars kept on the premises. Further, given the income demographic of the area, I believe that some of the dealers are consistent with the neighborhood demographic.

    Part the retail attraction strategy includes making the area pedestrian friendly. The auto repair shops are everything but pedestrian friendly. Some of these business might leave naturally. Others may be forced out by changing land uses / zoning. Some may be prevented from operating in some locations based on the property use (deed) restrictions.

    The comparison with Chinatown is informative because large parcels of land remained less developed than they could be because the neighborhood essentially said we don’t want to leave here to conduct any business. And some parts of of Chinatown are less pedestrian friendly because of it.

    Like Naomi said, moving a business is disruptive. The business owner will find the appropriate spot to relocate. Some will survive and others will not. I don’t see a real value in using Redevelopment dollars to relocate the auto repair as Redev has no idea of which shops will survive and which will fail. With less obvious benefits, I see no reason to throw dollars at the repair shops.

    I believe the sales tax dollars from auto are in the Conley report. I can’t seem to find the report and I hesitate to hazard a guess based on my memory for fear of people clinging to it.

    Random thought…Cheap clothing? Naomi, I don’t know where you shop but a decent pair of jeans easily runs me $100, buttondown shirts $50+, shoes $130+, eyewear all in $700+ There is nothing cheap (quality) or inexpensive about it. (This is not to say that this is more important than auto repair shops, just one person’s experience.)

    I to would have preferred that the redevelopment reached down to 20th but I think I can understand why it doesn’t. Everytime I exit 19th St Station, I ask myself why does this not walk me into a mall. I recommend that Eddie bomb the Sears and give the property to a forward thinking developer. It is the least he can do since he has absolutely no interest in improving the bldg.

  137. Ralph

    One thing to keep in mind for the redeveloped area, many downtown buyers like to sell excess vehicles and go to CarShare model. Changing car use patterns may dictate a reduced need for auto repair. Further, if the TOD takes off and you have more hospital and downtown employees living in this area you will also observe a lower demand for auto repair services in these parts.

    I don’t know if these business will provide more sales tax revenue once we have a fully functioning retail strategy, but I do know people will always have a demand for clothes while we continue to think of ways to reduce our reliance on the automobile.


  138. len raphael

    Ralph, other than being slightly shocked that you as planning czar you would wave your eminent domain/rezoning wand and kick out legitimate car repair shops because they don’t fit in with your redevelopment plan.

    where did the court cases leave off re. use of eminent domain to favor one private business over another? wasn’t it something that yes you could do that, but get ready for a hornet’s nest of nationally organized opposition.

    but no, i wasn’t favoring auto repair shops over other service businesses, just over consumer goods retailers where most of the income leaves the area and the taxes with it. big high volume mass retailers probably bring in a lot more tax revenue net of city service costs, but a thriving high density general service business district can be even better.

  139. Ralph

    I am A5 but will return briefly to respond. First, on the service business, I did not see your comment before I posted.

    It is not a question of eminent domain. The City/Redeveloper needs to acquire the parcel, and from what I understand there are a number of owners so a number of deals need to occur. The owners may not be the actual shop owner.

    I am no planning/zoning tsar. Just someone who cares that a pedestrian friendly development actually be pedestrian friendly. Broadway above 40th is also far from being pedestrian friendly and most of the stores cater to teens at O-Tech. But you have some fairly well-off people living on either side of B-way. You can expect similar planning and zoning discussions for that stretch of land as well.

    I know Oaklanders like to keep each and every existing business because it is someone’s livelihood, but if we want to be a green city, it may mean making some changes some of y’all do not like. You are either for progress or against it. And what type progressives would you be if you couldn’t take a little progress. :’)

    If I can learn to deal with the potheads in Oaksterdam and the hipster potheads smoking their blunts while walking the lake without regard to children, then surely you can accept a little pedestrian friendly development. :)

    Officially A5

  140. Navigator

    As far as Emeryville retail goes, I have to say that I’m pretty sure that all of that weekend traffic heading for IkEA and other establishments are not employees of Emeryville’s burgeoning biotech or motion picture industry.

    Let’s face it, Emeryville is a small city which has the ability to cater to developers and basically draws shoppers away from Oakland and Berkeley. Emeryville prospers at Oakland’s expense.

    Also, crime and blight are always mentioned as the main reason that businesses don’t locate in Oakland when we know that Ralph will go to Unionj Square to buy socks and doesn’t care that the Tenderloin and Mid Market are only blocks away. Same thing for Emeryville. It really doesn’t matter how many private security guards are around in Emeryville. The area is still basically a corner of West Oakland and North Oakland which goes by a different name and has been marketed as a “safe” regional shopping destination.

    Sure, because Emeryville is small and has a history of being run for developers, it has many advantages in siphoning Oakland’s and Berkeley’s retail tax base. These retailer know that Oaklanders with disposable income will go outside the city to shop. They’ve encircled the city and have no reason to locate within Oakland city limits. They realize that fear of Oakland has been used wisely by other municipalities to enhance their own tax coffers. Why should they attempt to fight an unfair and broad brushed perception of the entire city of Oakland to try to convince outsiders to spend their money here, when they can just go with the perception and continue to perpetuate anti-Oakland negativity and still get the Oakland shoppers?

    As I’ve stated previously, we better fix our image. As SF and Emeryville have proven over the years, image trumps reality. There is no way that Broadway should have all of those vacancies. If Oakland residents were loyal and supported their city, Broadway would be a vibrant and pleasant boulevard representative of a large American city of over 400,000 residents linked to a region of over 7 million residents by Bart and a converging highway system. At present the vibrancy of Broadway north of 14th Street is a sad joke.

  141. Al

    I’ll bet if Oakland had come up with an idea to use green power to operate a local streetcar system, say, up and down Broadway and/or Telegraph, and elsewhere like along Macarthur or any other “destination” corridor we would have a tourist attraction and all the service jobs and small mom and pop stores along the way, but caving into these nebulous ventures and union juggling has kept us in the shadow of our neighbor.

    it might even have been funded largely by Federal dollars. SF has muni and cable-cars, bicycles and buses, all integrated. Nobody wants to attempt something like that in Oakland, but for the sake of this city’s image alone not to mention the economic benefits as well as health benefits from a “green zone” we should let the whole city have some input and decide on these things and not leave it in the hands of few representatives.

    What our leaders plan for the next 10 years the children should be talking about right now. Their parents, brothers and sisters should be weighing in on these issues.

    Ask them if they just want more cops, safe streets, and more car dealerships, ad infinitum.

    If it’s a good idea, let the entire city decide. Everybody would like that. Just an idea.

  142. Navigator

    The problem is that Oakland just sits here and tries to get by without a grand long-term vision for the city.

    For example, Oakland sits back and allows San Jose and San Francisco to redirect High Speed Rail so that no stations will be located in Oakland or the East Bay. Small towns like Palo Alto, and Burlingame will likely have a station while Oakland with 400,000 residents and the geographic center of the Bay Area, not to mention being the center of the Bart system, will not have a station. Another asset that Oakland is allowing to slip through its hands is the Oakland A’s which are also being redirected by San Jose.

    Let’s think about what a HSR station near Jack London Square along with a new ballpark would do for Oakland’s downtown economy and Oakland’s image.

    Oakland has no fight and these other cities take advantage. Oakland needs to draw a line in the sand and let these aggressors know that enough is enough. May I suggest we send a message to San Jose and others that we will stand up for ourselves and fight to keep what is rightfully ours.

    We in Oakland need image enhancement along with a good shot of testosterone.

  143. Ralph

    Nav, you are so right. Every blogger, any person with half a brain has come to the same conclusion – without a vision Oakland is going absolutely nowhere.

    Mushmouth think that his sole responsibility is bringing federal dollars to the city and half of city council thinks their responsibility is acting like social service directors.

    This town needs an enema.

  144. Born in Oakland

    Saturday noon (broad daylight on a weekend) and we drive down Broadway from 12th Street to 27th and see maybe one dozen people walking the street and 6 of those are crossing Broadway from a bus and heading for BART stairs. Pitiful.

  145. Robert

    Nav, You are right about a lack of vision among Oakland’s leaders. It has been this way for generations now. I do disagree about Oakland’s problem with retail is reputation. The reason that I, and many, many others, shop in Emeryville and other surrounding cities is not perceived safety – it is because they have the stuff I need. Emeryville has Home Depot, Best Buy, Williams Sonoma, and many other stores. Walnut Creek has mid/high end department stores. What do we have? Sears. Oakland has plenty of space to use for retail, but we want to talk for 10 years about about a plan of where to put retail. And even at the end, who do you see in the city to actually go out and hustle retailers to get them to come to Oakland?

    Maybe I am biased from a career of working in corporate America, but when a corporation decides to do something, it doesn’t take them 10 years to get it done. We spend years worrying about whether the plan is perfect. What we get at the end is not perfect, and even whether it is better depends on who you talk to. Oakland needs to learn how to make a decision and move forward.

    That is one thing that JB did. He made a decision to bring more housing downtown, and got it done. You may not like that focus on housing, but something got done, and could have served as an example for taking the next step. The failure has come after, with no plan being pushed forward for the next step, and little being accomplished. Oakland just can’t afford to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    And with all due respect to several commenters on this blog, there is a huge difference between somebody who exercises leadership, and a dictator who forces his ideas on others. A leader will listen to others, but then reach his own decision, and convince the mob that his is the right way to go. But a leader won’t sit around for months while a focus group discuses things and tries to come to a consensus. A friend of mine one told me that consensus is a fine decision making strategy when nothing is at stake and you have lots of time. Does anybody really think that is Oakland’s situation?

  146. Robert

    First off, kudos to Rebecca Kaplan for having the courage to post here with ideas to help revitalize Oakland. And I do think it takes courage to do this, even with a generally friendly audience, as witnessed by some of the negative comments in particular and in general towards the idea. I think there is nothing conceptually wrong with working toward TOD in East Oakland. I am skeptical of the synergy between any TOD and the coliseum area, but I don’t think that really matters. RK has come up with an idea that at least for now would take minimal city resources or financial commitment. And it the idea is viable, should not really consume the city’s financial resources as we go along. This is a type of project that will ultimately give the city additional financial resources.

    Now, I do have a concern about whether the city can commit the resources to planning for this, but it has nothing to do with figuring our the budget crisis or public safety issues. Oakland is a billion dollar a year organization. And any organization that large has to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. It is not an option. On the other hand, Oakland has a number of large scale planning projects under way, O29, the Estuary, Auto Row, the Army Base, city wide and downtown rezoning, along with a number of smaller, but still significant, projects, that consume planning resources. So I have the concern that this would distract planning from the other projects, and just lead to another 10 year long planning process, that when we get to the end will lack a leader to move it along into reality. Planning staff would be in the best position to know if they can really handle one more project.

    The city needs to focus, and get some things done.

  147. Navigator


    I understand that many Oaklanders have no choice but to shop outside of the city. This city has a woeful retail base and we lose an incredible amount of revenue to other cities. The question is, what can Oaklanders do to stop this hemorrhaging?

    We’ve seen that a lower crime rate and clean streets don’t necessarily translate to more businesses locating in town. We’ve seen that proximity to well-to-do and middle class citizens in neighborhoods like Crocker Highlands, Rockridge, Temescal, Montclair, Adam’s Point, Lakeshore/Grand, Piedmont Ave, Jack London Square, and the City of Piedmont, isn’t enough to get retailers to locate in Oakland.

    What’s the solution? Do we boycott the stores which refuse to come to Oakland? Do we protest in front of their headquarters? Do we call them racists? Do we call them uninformed and prejudiced? What does it take? Why was it like pulling teeth just to get a couple of crummy Trader Joe’s stores in Oakland when San Francisco has had about 20 for who knows how long? Now those Oakland stores are packed. They should have been here ten years ago and should have three times the number of stores they currently have in Oakland including one in Jack London Square. I really don’t know what the answer is.

  148. Patrick M. Mitchell

    Nav, Oakland has two Trader Joe’s and San Francisco has four, not 20. As they have twice the population that we do, and a much higher per capita income than we do, we come out ahead. We also have a Wal-Mart and they don’t. We are about to get a Target and they don’t have one. I only point this out because media bias works both ways.

  149. David

    Part of the problem is that the Coliseum is in the middle of nowhere. Broadway, Chinatown, heck, even West Oakland in between downtown and Emeryville are all close and able to be gentrified. Laurel/Maxwell Park….China Hill/Lakeshore. What’s close to the Coliseum? Nothing. It’ll be really hard to gentrify it. It’s easier to gentrify something that’s adjacent to somewhere nice. Like Dutton Manor next to San Leandro.

    And really, let’s lay off the greenhouse gas crap. It’s a fraud, people. Efficiencies are nice, but let’s stop pretending we control the weather, and focus on things we can control.

  150. Navigator


    I remember hearing the number 20, a while back. I may be wrong., I’ll take your word for it since I know that you’re a former San Francisco resident. Never the less, they took way too long to come to Oakland and Jack London Square, Montclair, and Fruitvale could easily support three more Trader Joe’s in this city. Also, thanks for the information regarding Target and Walmart..

  151. Patrick M. Mitchell

    I disagree. Trader Joe’s business model requires high density population and a specific demographic (high disposable income; real or perceived lack of time to prepare food). JLS doesn’t have the people (fgs they can’t even support their pathetic farmer’s market), and the Fruitvale shops at Mi Pueblo. Last time I checked, Trader Joe’s does not have 8 kinds of Aguas Frescas with people standing 4 deep in two lines to buy them. And I seriously doubt Trader Joe’s would be stupid enough to locate in pro-union MontQuanClair (even though they pay above union-average wages). Assuming Montclarions would allow that sort of traffic to infringe upon their advantaged, bucolic setting. Trader Joe’s is far too pedestrian and belongs in the lower hills with the rest of the help. Cute to visit after lunch with the girls, but certainly not an appropriate neighbor. Trader Joe’s swooped in at the right time and in the right places. Funny how successful businesses figure that out.

  152. Navigator


    Trader Joe’s sells good healthy quality food at affordable prices. They are much less expensive than Safeway or Lucky’s. Jack London Square desperately needs a super market and there’s plenty of density there when you consider that Trader Joe’s has a store in Concord next to a Home Depot and a business park adjacent to the Concord Airport. There is no one living within a 1/2 a mile of the place and you can forget about walking near those six lane car oriented areas. Trader Joe’s also has two locations in Walnut Creek. One is next to downtown and the other is near Treat and Oak Grove. They also have a location in Lafayette on Mount Diablo Blvd. ay+Area&ei=ZuLBS5PjEo-mngezsL38CQ&sa=X&oi=local_group&ct=image&resnum=1&ved=0CBAQtgMwAA

    These are all suburban areas with a fraction of the density or walk ability of Jack London Square or Fruitvale. I think Fruitvale would be a great location . It’s a lower income area but it’s a very dense area with many families who no doubt would love access to good wholesome food at affordable prices.

    To me, Trader Joe’s is symbolic of the thinking which goes on among many corporations. This is the same thinking which keeps businesses out of Oakland. They only realize how great and overlooked the Oakland market is when their stores are so packed that you cant even move around in them. Take a look at that Lake Shore store some time. They could have made the place bigger but decided on a very small store. This is called Oakland under expectations.

  153. Robert

    For an anecdotal story about why business is reluctant to locate here, you need only remember what happened to Trader Joe’s. There was a last minute attempt to deny them a liquor license unless they agreed to unionize their employees in Oakland. It took Kernighan stepping in to deny this attempt by the pro-union forces to bully Trader Joe’s. Why would any company willingly put up with this sort of stuff when they can easily expand their business in some other city.

    As an FYI, I don’t think that the small Lakeshore store was Trader Joe’s decision. I believe that the landlord really wanted to have the Walgrens co-located in the building.

  154. Al

    Strange place to insert this, but for the sake of those of us who haven’t traveled to say, border towns, in the U.S. lately, Have a peek at Nogales or El Paso, up close and personal. You’ll find oddly that the same mix of business, same packing boxes, same-same, no matter where you go. It’s the same thing at Airports. Fly out of Oakland to John Daly and you’d swear the very same people must have packed up, got there before you and then set up shop again. It’s mind-boggling NOT.

    On a smaller scale, our cities are the same. We have to assume that there are plans already on the boards, in city hall somewhere, paid for with taxpayers money, which will probably never come to pass no matter who gets into office.

    The city should be actively disclosing all the plans it has undertaken completely above board. Those entitiies already doing business with the city should also disclose what properties they own as well. When the citizenry votes an official into office we need to know everything about his/her loyalties to what entities/organizations.

    What the heck am I talking about? Just a pattern that emerges over time, again and again.

    Naturally, the real-estate agents “farm” east-oakland, every 5, 10 and now another 20 years. Unfortunately, the ongoing blight is really in those areas of the city which NEVER really changes hands.

    The legacy has to end, a new paradigm has to be invoked, and emminent domain should be what it implies-not what it has become in practice.

    Force me to move and I’ll drag it out for 50 years, and before I do cave in to your peasant demands, allow me inflate my worth a few hundred per cent. Get it?

    If we all volunteered our time, energy, a few hours x a few thousand, waivers and all, there is nothing, nothing that couldn’t be built or maintained in this city. The volunteers and consultants are there, pro-bono at every level and caliber.

    We were and have been the skeleton of a war-machine. God forbid we should ever have to go back to building boats and factories for canned goods, etc. We now have entire neighborhoods enmeshed inside this nexus of rail and freeway, ugh.

    At least we got rid of MW. Thank whoever for that. But I have no clue what to do about the train vs pedestrian situation. It so reminds me of border towns…just more dangerous here…or for some reason we affluent northerners have more of a tendency to walk right in front of moving vehicles. If you hit by a car on Nogales’ Grand ave, you get the ticket, not the car.

    Whatever we do, it will take the cooperation of everybody to save just one life along San Leandro street till the end of rail in this corridor. That’s gonna have to be a people oriented solution entirely. I don’t see the rail going away.

    Thus, we have this structural anamoly from West to East, but from JLS to the affluent hills is all just city, bordered by a Lake, and a lot of purely profitable real-estate.

    We need to identify and seperate those tracts from the war-boom(s) from those
    that are related to housing alone.

    Nobody, nobody, nobody should be allowed to have their hands in both ends of the pie. No way, no how.

    That would be my mandate. NO double-dipping, at any level.

    So, unfortunately, we take baby steps, even to this day, while the big kids get all the real booty.

  155. Ken O

    Nav: Oak has testosterone all right. But money? No. SJ and SF have most of the money, don’t forget Google in mt View and Stanford/VCs along sand hill road.
    People with money and power get what they want.

    Oakland has a smattering of it but it’s all fragmented, disunited.

    TJs opening 2 locations in Oakland greatly reduced traffic to their Eville store. I don’t like how much plastic packaging they use for their vegetables. It’s silly.

    Perhaps perception lags behind reality. Stock market traders know that. Oakland will get all the TJs you can ring three bells at before long. Then you will wish there were other options.

    The Sunday farmers’ market at JLS is pretty nice actually, especially in sunny weather unlike today.

  156. Patrick


    Trader Joe’s does not rely upon foot traffic, it relies on people in cars (which should be obvious to anyone who has ever tried to park there). It doesn’t matter that nobody lives within 1/2 a mile of their Concord store; what matters is the 6 lane road than runs past it. Comparatively, JLS is a ghost town.

    Nav said: “I think Fruitvale would be a great location . It’s a lower income area but it’s a very dense area with many families who no doubt would love access to good wholesome food at affordable prices.” Um, are you serious? Or just seriously delusional? Have you ever been to the Fruitvale? There are small, family-owned grocery stores/produce markets everywhere you look, in addition to the aforementioned Mi Pueblo (which if you haven’t visited, blows Safeway, Lucky et al out of the water). That neighborhood has more good wholesome food available to them than any other neighborhood in the city, most likely (with the possible exception of Chinatown). That crowd buys corn tortillas, not organic spelt/flax pita wraps.

  157. Ralph

    Sales tax numbers:

    ’05 estimates
    Auto sales and repair tax: $3.9MM
    Other sales tax: $19.5MM
    Other lost sales tax leakage: $10.0MM
    Auto sales and repair lost sales tax leakage: $2.0MM

  158. Navigator


    I agree, money and power trumps what’s best for the region most of the time. San Jose and San Francisco got together and decided that the HSR was to be used to divert traffic to their cities as well as a jewel in their crowns. It doesn’t matter that the East Bay region with a larger population gets no station. It also doesn’t matter that most of the tracks running through those affluent neighborhoods in the Peninsula will have to be placed underground so as to not inconvenience the elite and the privileged

    It’s unfortunate that we need this expensive boondoggle to go all the way to a dead end up the Peninsula and under downtown San Francisco just so that SF can claim the prestige of having a downtown station. HSR could have been run above ground to a station at Jack London Square were it could have connected to BART, Ferry and Amtrak. The train could have then paralleled the Amtrak route to Sacramento..

    We like to waste money is this country so that a few business interest can prosper at the expense of the inconvenience of the masses. There’s a reason why Amtrak doesn’t go all the way to San Francisco. It’s because San Francisco is at the very end of a Peninsula and it costs to much money to run yourself into a culdesac.

    However, regardless of money and power, Oakland should still be fighting for what’s best for the East Bay and the 2.5 million residents of the region. Oakland sits back and doesn’t even make a whimper. San Jose has seen the lack of testicular fortitude and now is coming after our baseball team as well. Now, that’s kicking a man in the groin when he’s down.

  159. david vartanoff

    @Patrick and all. I am of course, not typical, but I do walk to TJ’s on College. There are also well used bike racks indicating some other non auto traffic. I don’t see many shoppers get on the buses, but that is because I am walking a different route and not using them. The mix of convenience foods and actual staples is quirky but useful.