Worth reading this weekend

  • Becks sounds the alarm about a new Berkeley initiative to halt BRT:

    Regardless of any issues one may have with AC Transit’s current BRT proposal, this is just bad planning. This initiative would mean that anytime the City wanted to convert lanes to transit-only lanes, the decision would have to be made by the Berkeley electorate. Even if the dedicated bus lane only extended one block into Berkeley from Oakland or another neighboring city, Berkeley residents would have the final say. Projects could be held up for months or even years if an election wasn’t approaching (I don’t see the city holding special elections for this issue).

  • dto510 publicized an upcoming Chinatown meeting about downtown zoning. The meeting is tomorrow, and it’s still not posted on the city’s official zoning update page, nor have I recieved any notice of it from, well, anyone, including Nancy Nadel, who spoke so proudly of the downtown zoning update process on Thursday. Planning staff has already made it pretty clear that they aren’t interested in public input (or market realities) when developing the zoning code, but this is beyond the pale. They were explicitly instructed by the Zoning Update Committee to continue to solicit public input before coming back on the 16th, and their response is to hold one meeting and not tell anyone about it? Disgraceful.
  • Are you reading Oakland Geology? I discovered it last week, thanks to new blog Brooklyn Avenue, and it’s already secured a spot on my favorite blogs list. You probably expect it to be all about the Hayward fault. Of course there’s some of that, but this blog is so much more. Started in October with the mission that “Oakland needs more awareness of the ground it lies upon,” the site features tons of beautiful photography, neat bits of local history, and a perspective on land use that generally doesn’t have much of a voice in our debates.
  • Don’t miss the premier issue of CEDA’s new newsletter, Redeveloping Oakland, a new quarterly publication designed to share redevelopment success stories. The first issue isn’t particularly meaty, but does a nice job laying out our current redevelopment areas. I’m completely in favor of anything the City does to make information about local government more accessible and available to citizens, so I’m eagerly looking forward to future versions.
  • The CEDA newsletter had an feature about Lion Creek Crossings, which reminded me of this New York Times story about Hope VI I’ve been meaning to link to for a while, and never got around to it. I adore Hope VI, and feel that replacing unsafe and unpleasant public housing with more integrated communities is among the best things we can do to help the less fortunate among us. Not everyone likes Hope VI – the projects have attracted a healthy amount of criticism, in both local and national spheres. As with everything, success depends heavily on the quality of local implementation and planning processes (PDF!).
  • dto510 highlights some of the major problems with the downtown zoning proposal on FutureOakland:

    Finally, restricting high-rise development to Broadway goes against two immutable forces: the market and the earth.

  • I found myself in the unusual position of agreeing wholeheartedly with Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor this week, who criticized the Chronicle for their sloppy coverage of the responses to the Army Base RFQ:

    There are two things to note about the inclusion of the Wayans Brothers prominence in the Chronicle story about the response to RFQ of the Oakland Army Base. The first is that it is old news, reported—although prematurely at the time—eight months ago in the Chronicle. The second is that it is told entirely from the point of view of the Wayans Brothers, making it appear as if this is another “Oakland screwed up a development deal” thing.”

    Allen-Taylor also points out how pathetic it is that the Express’s primary source of news now appears to be the SF Chronicle, which means that they’re frequently wrong (not that they need any help in that area).

  • Can someone explain to me why I have to endure a flurry of newspaper stories and blogs about how Jerry Brown might run for Governor like every two months? He said in the newspaper the day after he was elected attorney general that he was open to another shot at the seat – why must people keep treating it like it’s exciting news?
  • And on a cheery note – Friday afternoon I popped by City Hall to watch the ceremony honoring the McClymonds Warriors, our undeafeated basketball team, ranked third in the nation by MaxPreps. It was so sweet! I didn’t have my camera on me, but I snapped a few pictures with my cell phone.


    They’re so cute! They looked both proud and overwhelmed with all the attention. Most exciting was seeing how many people came out to celebrate them. The whole event was just really heartwarming.

14 thoughts on “Worth reading this weekend

  1. Ralph

    not that this is a reason but doesn’t a huge chunk, if not all of chinatown fall inside of D2 not d3. and for obvious reason i am guessing all of chinatown falls within d2, thus nancy’s indifference is for once to be expected

  2. V Smoothe Post author

    Chinatown is in District 2, but the meeting is about the zoning proposal for the whole CBD. It will be the only public input meeting on the zoning update to have been held inside the CBD.

  3. Andrew

    Thanks for the shout-out! Oakland has wonderful geology; I just wish I could post about it more nearly every day. I think it’s time for me to start an Oakland blogroll on the Oakland Geology blog.

  4. Ralph

    V smoothe, true but i thought the purpose of this meeting was just to get input from the residents of chinatown (who just like about all others, but more noticeably so) have been missing in these meetings. from what i understood the purpose of tomorrow’s mtg is to cover ground that has already been covered at the over meetings for the express purpose of soliciting input from a select population.

    clearly anyone with half a brain can see the flaw in their plan. so the commission talks to chinatown to discover that they want a self-contained neighborhood. others living in the downtown area might find this type of proposal counterproductive. but if you let said element into the meeting, they might speak over the chinatown voice. and chinatown, once again, goes unheard.

    it was a half baked idea. they should have done been doing this and all meetings inside the core and doing a better job of announcing them. but what the heck do i know i am only a citizen who has to scour the internet to find news that my councilmember should be telling me.

  5. Ralph

    ps: can you tell i am bit annoyed with the whole thing.

    Note: someone should probably do some research but I think this meeting in Chinatown was planned before the ZUC told the planning committee to have a mtg within the CBD. Correct me if i am wrong but this mtg was scheduled as a response asked at the boathouse mtg.

    looks like the planning peeps plan to use this as that CBD mtg and claim to have met their requirements. honestly for the most part I am not opposed to the development in the CBD. I would probably prefer varied heights and footprints across all zones. But more than anything I want construction.

    I can envision an Oakland with a downtown arts center like the DTC in Denver. A couple of restaurants. A hotel or two for visiting artist. why do they perform in Oakland but sleep in SF?

  6. V Smoothe Post author

    Andrew –

    You’re welcome! Thank you for writing the blog. I have to confess, as the daughter of a geologist, I endured to more than my fair share of enthusiastic lectures about rocks as a child, and of course I hated it and decided that the earth was unbelievably boring. As I get older, I find myself realizing that my parents were right about an awful lot of things after all, and geology is definitely one of them.

    Around these parts, we spend a lot of time fighting about responsible land use – the costs of sprawl and the benefits of infill development, and the congestion, parking, and quality of life changes that may accompany it. I never spend any time thinking about land use choices in the hills, so your thoughts on the matter were really interesting to me.

    Ralph –

    You’re probably right. Chinatown has been shut out of the process, and they deserve their own forum to talk about it. I’m just so frustrated with this entire process and really resentful that the draft zoning chapter is coming back to CED ZUC next week and there has been no additional opportunity for input since the last meeting.

    edited a day later to correct some errors

  7. Becks

    Thanks for the mention… I’ll hopefully have some updates soon on BRT, though I’m a bit distracted by state politics right now.

    I too am annoyed by the repeated coverage of politicians who might run for higher offices… Jerry Brown might run for governor, Schwarzenegger might run for Senate. The fact that these stories are treated as big news repeatedly shows not only how understaffed mainstream media has become but also how short term the political memory of the public really is.

    On a happier note, I too am loving Oakland Geology and was glad to stumble upon it via Brooklyn Avenue. It’s nice to read about the non-political side of Oakland sometimes.

  8. brell

    those berkeleyans need to get a clue!

    either rescind Measure G (90% ghg reduction) or don’t complain about being in the iraq war for oil for your way of life. don’t rain on the BRT parade… what happened to economic opportunity and decent and fast transportation for the lower classes??

    The Berkeley fogies against BRT are Hating on Poor People and are too attached to their CARS. Every bus rider i’ve asked is highly in favor of bus-only lanes. Common theme: “it’s about time.”

  9. dto510

    It is really shocking how hypocritical Berkeley is being about BRT. Aren’t they a Transit-First City? This is exactly what Transit First means. I think we can expect opposition, but the lack of support from elected officials and the local media is very disappointing.

  10. Max Allstadt

    Well what do you expect? Show me a liberal, eco-conscious, transit friendly citizen. Then make them a homeowner and watch them drop all their principles in the interest of their equity. There are flyers up in cafes all over town that tell of the horrors of BRT. One of the things they complain about is the fact that BRT will change neighborhoods along telegraph. They don’t want the landscape to change from single-family detached homes. Guess what? Berkeley isn’t a college town any more. It’s a component of the Bay Area megalopolis.

  11. dto510

    That’s a broad stereotype. Only Berkeleyans seem opposed to BRT, not Oakland homeowners, so there’s more going on than that. I don’t think everyone drops their principles in favor of equity, but it’s certainly true that the anti-BRT crowd is made up of neighborhood preservationists, who probably realize that better public transit is makes the Smart Growth argument stronger. But the cool reception it receives from the city’s political leadership and local media is what’s so disappointing – there is simply no will in Berkeley to make tough choices, even if it’s something as straight-forward as fulfilling a Transit First pledge.