Planning Commission – Wednesday, June 20th 6:00 PM
Sparks flew at the Planning Commission’s last meeting when Commissioners Doug Boxer and Michael Lighty attempted withhold a permit to sell alcohol from two new Trader Joe’s stores until the company agreed to have the stores’ employees to submit to a union query . Both men are union advocates by trade – Boxer is a labor lawyer and Lighty is director of public policy for the California Nurse’s Association. Although the Commission has no explicit authority over labor issues, Lighty claimed that the demand was consistent with the Commission’s mandate to consider the impact of major projects on the surrounding community. At the last meeting, the Lakeshore location prevailed, but the Rockridge store, at the former site of Albertsons near BART, will have to try again on Wednesday. The new downtown Whole Foods (another famously anti-union grocer), at 27th and Harrison, will share the spotlight with Joe’s, as they seek an alcohol sales permit of their own. Will Boxer and Lighty repeat their stunt?
City Council – Tuesday, June 19th 6:00 PM
College Avenue development appeal
Kirk Peterson & Associates, a Rockridge-based architecture firm, wants to demolish a single story building on College Avenue and replace it with a 3 floor project, featuring ground level commercial space topped with six residential units. Based on the size of the lot and its location on a major commercial street, the General Plan allows for up to 23 units on the site.
Residents of nearby Desmond Street have banded together to halt the development, and have filed an appeal that, if approved, would require the developer to undergo a lengthy environmental review process. Letters submitted to the city in opposition of the project feature a litany of complaints, calling the building an “overwhelming blemish that will dominate and transform the ambiance of the neighborhood”. The letters further assert that the project will “seriously degrade the property value and quality of life of all of its neighbors,” that it is “too big to conform with the character of the neighborhood,” that the “influx of cars” from the project would “overwhelm this street…increasing the danger for all pedestrians,” and that the project would create “congestion and parking misery.”
In response to an earlier appeal of the project, the Planning Commission stipulated that the developer must construct a 10 foot tall solid wall on the rear of the property and limit roof access for the building’s residents. Meeting attendees can expect a lengthy period of complaints from the appellants, followed by the City Council’s denial of the appeal.
Feral Pigeons Vote Delayed
Faithful readers might remember that District 4 Councilmember Jean Quan proposed a ban on feeding feral pigeons in commercial districts. The ordinance advanced from the Life Enrichment Committee to the full Council. The second reading and final passage was originally scheduled for Tuesday’s meeting, but got pushed back until July 3rd. So pigeon lovers who like to get your kicks in Dimond, consider yourselves relieved – you have a few more weeks with your breadcrumbs before you risk a ticket.
Citywide retail strategy – Community Meetings
In 2005, the Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee considered a staff report concerning the City’s efforts to attract and retain retail. The study found that Oakland residents were spending around $1 billion a year shopping in nearby cities. That translates to about $10 million annually in lost sales taxes for Oakland. The report acknowledged that it would be impossible to capture all the sales, but noted that there was abundant potential to improve our current offerings.
Based on the report, the Council decided to create a comprehensive citywide plan to develop a better retail base, and has contracted the Oakland-based Conley Consulting Group to craft the strategy. As part of the project, the Conley Group is seeking input from residents about what they want to see in their neighborhoods. They have partnered with ShopOakland.com to solicit responses to a survey, available in four languages, about shopping in Oakland. Respondents are asked to describe what types of stores they frequent in Oakland, what they leave to buy, and what they perceive as major barriers to shopping within the city. Pro-parking activists have an opportunity to complain about the dearth of garage space, while cheerleaders for specific retailers can tell the City where they should focus recruitment efforts.
The Conley Group will also seek input at a series of four public meetings.
June 23, 2007 – 10:00 am to Noon – Mosswood Recreation Center, 3612 Webster Street
June 25, 2007 - 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. – Oakland City Hall Hearing Room 4, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 2nd Floor
July 9, 2007 – 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. – Allen Temple Baptist Church, 8501 International Boulevard
July 11, 2007 – 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. – Fruitvale/San Antonio Senior Center, 3301 E. 12th Street
*I am no longer writing for Novometro. From now on, I will be publishing my weekly overviews of what the Oakland City Council is doing here every Monday.