Friday, June 19, 2009
Oakland Airport Connector
I was just listening to KPFA on a short segment on the Oakland Airport Connector... you can read about it here, here, and here for starters. Funny that this blogger wouldn't post my comment. Even Don Perata is against the OAC.
Anyway, I'll post my comments here, because even though it doesn't affect the Jack London District directly, it does have relevance.
First, I love it when BART spokespeople say that they can add stops later. Really? That worked out so well for our neighborhood, didn't it? Oh, wait, that's right. It didn't. Have they ever added a station to the middle of an existing line? Maybe they have and I just am not aware.
I also love it when they talk about how this connector will go to the airport, but gloss over the fact that it won't be a direct line like the SFO connector. Just like now where you have to leave the platform and go downstairs and take the AirBART (which I'll just say I've always found an ironic name for something that in my opinion should be called OAKBusBart), you'll also have to change platforms to take the proposed OAC. When the voters approved this originally it was sold as being a direct line connection just like SFO.
Let's see... there's more.
The alternate proposal that most transit activists are for is called BRT. Bus Rapid Transit. It's where a bus has a dedicated lane. It won't get stuck in traffic because it has it's own lane. Are there chances for failure? Yes. Have you ever been stuck or delayed by BART? Yeah, me too.
BRT would cost significantly less than the proposed people mover to implement, plus as an added bonus would take significantly less time to implement.
The proposed OAC fares are being touted as $6 EACH WAY. Isn't AirBart (Bus) only $3? At some point the cost is less to take a taxi, especially from our neighborhood. You're not gaining any significant time in transit reduction, especially not enough to cover the significant price increase. Keep in mind you'll still have to change platforms at the Collisium, which they never seem to mention.
What I really don't get is why BART employees are for this. Yes, the voters voted for the connection years ago, but things have dramatically changed financially since then. It's also been found that their cost estimates were underestimated. They've also overestimated the riders that would be using this service - just as they did with BART to SFO. If they go through with this, at some point they'll have to layoff emps. Hmmm, but if they used the stimulus money for extending service hours, they'd need more emps, right? Long term jobs vs short term construction jobs - which are usually people that live outside the area.
That said, do I think SFO BART was a bad idea? Not necessarily. I have used it many times. If financial conditions were different today; if we had pot loads of money to spare; if the existing BART system didn't need significant improvement (add service hours instead!); and if the proposed OAC were a direct connection to the airport just like at SFO, then yeah, I think I'd be for it. Okay, even deleting the pot loads of money, I'd still only be for it if it were a direct connection.
Just like BART is representing the BRT option as "replacing a bus with a bus", the proposed people mover isn't replacing a bus with BART. They're replacing it with another transit system. A VERY expensive transit system.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
January 14, 2009 Demonstration for Oscar Grant
The latest information that Oakland Police Department (OPD) has is only one demonstration will occur on Wednesday, January 14th. The event is scheduled to begin at 4 PM at City Hall. A ‘rally’ for approximately ½ hour and then a ‘march’ to the Alameda County Court House (12/Fallon) OPD will facilitate the demonstration and march.
14th Street between Clay and Lakeside will be closed to vehicles, vehicle traffic also will be re-routed a block above/below 14th Street . Parking on 14th Street will be impacted/not allowed (not sure of boundaries yet) Bus service will be re-routed.
Crowd estimates 800-1000 (organizer estimate) OPD has no firm figures. OPD expects peaceful demonstration but prepared for all contingencies.
For More Information:
Sergeant Michael Poirier
Chief of Staff
Office of the Chief of Police
Oakland Police Department
Office: (510) 238-3131
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Nia Sykes Responds to the Chronicle
I did not receive a response from the California Coalition of Women Prisoners, but a reader was kind enough to let me know that Ms. Sykes had written a letter (scroll down to "I do not advocate violence") to the San Francisco Chronicle. She says the quote was taken out of context and that she does not advocate violence. She goes on to say that she was praising the peaceful protest and that when things got violent, she moved to another block.
If this is the case, the Chronicle should be ashamed.
Friday, January 09, 2009
An elegant post about.... Oakland
I read a variety of Oakland related blogs. I keep saying I'm not going to keep up with what's going on in my community, but obviously I do. Why? I don't honestly have an answer.
But this one post about the riots the other night makes me stop and think.
What does your Oakland look like?
I don't really need to know, but just think about it for a minute. There are lots of good things here, and sometimes we need to stop and think about them.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Open letter to the California Coalition of Woman Prisoners
I saw Ms. Sykes on the news the other night. I had no idea at the time that she worked for your organization. Now that I know, I'm even more appalled, if possible.
As an organization, I'd like to ask you to call for her resignation, or at the very least ask her to offer a sincere and public apology to the business owners of downtown Oakland that were affected by the nonsense the other night. Burning down cars and breaking store windows is not going to help the case of Oscar Grant, no matter how tragic and awful it is.
There are certainly ways to go about getting publicity and awareness for your cause. But to say, "...she should be glad she lost her business and not her life..." regarding property destruction at Creative African Braids - owned by a black woman no less. What kind of influence is she giving women in jail in San Francisco? I know that this is not the role model I'd want for a sister in need of advice.
I think that if she wanted to "make some noise" in Oakland, then she should have gathered a group of friends to go to every single BART stop with signs asking people to boycott BART. Think of what kind of pressure that might have pressed on BART administration versus the property destruction in Oakland, which did nothing to pressure BART to do anything. Think how a peaceful way of handling the situation might have done more damage to this public entity, rather than destroying the hopes and dreams of small business owners in Oakland who are already struggling in this economy in a City already with enough problems. For once this problem wasn't even caused by OPD. Ms. Sykes is giving the absolutely worst message possible to people who need as much good advice and direction as they can get. Ms. Sykes hasn't proved to be much of a role model based on what she had to say on the news.
Maybe it was just the heat of the moment that she said what she said in which case a public (and sincere) apology won't be so difficult. But in any case, saying what she said in the heat of the moment is no better than what that cop did.
I appreciate your time and attention in reading this correspondence and hope that your organization is truly sincere in helping women. All women, regardless of whether they are in prison or not. All women, regardless of whether they own a business or not. All women, regardless of whether they are black, white, pink, purple, or blue. ALL women.
Oakland resident, business owner, and a woman.
Local Developer Hal Ellis Dead at 77
SFGate has reported the death of local developer, Hal Ellis at his home in Piedmont at the age of 77. Mr. Ellis was a partner in Jack London Square Partners and along with his partner, Jim Falaschi, worked tirelessly to bring a new vision to Jack London Square. His efforts will live on with the new Jack London Market which should be finished in Fall 2009.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Construction Meeting Review
On Thursday, December 11th at 6:30pm, what may have been the last construction meeting - or at least the last for now - was held at the Egghouse.
Don Smith from the City of Oakland facilitated the meeting as he has in the past with representatives from the projects under construction and interested parties from the neighborhood. It was nice to reconvene and get an update on all the new (not rehab) projects in the Jack London District.
The Ellington - 222 Broadway - has their temporary occupancy permits, and should have their final occupany permit at the beginning of the year. Typically we've seen people move in at this point, but at this point it is not clear what the developer intends. They are handing out marketing information and taking appointments to tour the building, but I've not seen pricing or move in dates. In any case, because the construction is basically finished, no representatives were at the meeting.
311 2nd Street - also known as The Colony - was represented by San Jose Construction. Bud (sorry, didn't catch the last name) says that they are 70% completed. Windows are in progress, and we should see the final floor (8th) arched windows go in next week. Cabinets have arrived, and the painters have started. The sanitary sewer project is complete, although the City continues to dig up areas throughout the District as part of a different project. The trench plates on 2nd Street should go away next week. This building will be painted before completion, and if their choices with Aqua Via are anything to go by, it should be a great looking addition to the neighborhood. Although the final name for the project has not been chosen, it is clear that they will not ultimately be going with "The Colony". They expect temporary occupany permits to be issued in late June or July. This building is being built as condos, but just like it's sister building, Aqua Via, they will be rentals to begin with. I'm sure that when the market heats up again, we'll see some of these units hit the market. Renters will have first choice, which is something to think about with the prime penthouse units with fabulous views.
66 Franklin (previously home to El Torito and the Spaghetti Factory back in the day) was discussed as having permits processed for a bakery. Meg Ray, of Miette in San Francisco, is opening another site here, although I've heard it will not be called Miette. Oakland Convention Visitors Bureau has a press release that you can read.
55 Harrison - also known as "Jack London Market" (and previously known as "Harvest Hall" during the planning stage) was not discussed, but obviously the building is well under way. This is the building directly behind (almost appears to be surrounding) Heinold's First and Last Chance Saloon.
255 2nd Street - also known as "Site G" - is well under way, with completion scheduled for mid-February. There will be an art installation on the two sheer walls - one facing the Amtrak station and the other facing what is currently known as The Colony project. Last weekend the installation of the pedestrian bridge crossing over towards the Jack London Market went very well. This building will have some feature elements painted, but overall will retain the plain concrete look. The arches facing 2nd Street were part of the improvements suggested by the neighborhood during design meetings coordinated between the architect and local interested parties. The security lighting was discussed as being invasive to residents facing the project, and project manager Frank (again, sorry no last name) from Pankow was quick to respond and headed over after the meeting to make some changes. Thank you's from various community members have already been voiced and his actions are greatly appreciated.
The other discussion, which comes up at every single meeting, was in regards to construction worker parking on the streets of the neighborhood. While the streets are indeed public streets, the terms and conditions of the conditions of approval for all projects being built (not rehabs), are that construction workers must NOT park on City streets. They must park in designated off-street parking provided by the developer. Both Bud & Frank said that they continue to have a morning meeting with their workers for that day regarding the parking situation and obviously they are paying for off site parking, and they don't want the neighborhood calling, so I do think that they are doing more than has been done in the past. No fines have ever been levied, although a few years ago several (2-4?) were forced to pay into a fund to enforcement when the problem got out of hand.
There was no word on 377 2nd Street (where Mingles & the Oak Tree used to be) and what was going on at that site. Demolition was done in late November and they are still removing debris from that site. Don Smith was going to check on whether it was properly permited, because certainly no notices were sent out as they should have been. Considering the blight that the empty spaces had become, it's probably better that it was knocked down.
As for future meetings, there are none scheduled at this point. If enough people call and complain, another may be added in the future, but things have definately quieted down from the events of 2002-2004.
Each project continues to maintain contact information signage at their projects so if you do have an issue, you can contact the project directly. They also have City contact information, which is a good second chance place to look for help if at first you don't get the help you need directly from the project.
Lastly, I mentioned that this meeting covered new projects and not rehab projects, such as the rehab going on at 3rd & Webster. The earthquake retrofit of what used to be home of Bay Cities Produce, is the future home of Blue Bottle Coffee. This is an exciting new arrival expected in 2009, that the neighborhood can look forward to. We'll have more information on it coming soon.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Weekend Construction Friday Night - Saturday Morning
The Embarcadero will be closed Friday, December 5th from 4pm to Saturday, December 6th at 10am so that a new overhead pedestrian bridge can be put into place. The pedestrian bridge will link the parking garage (known as "Site G) to the parking lot at Jack London Square.
This construction work - on the weekend and at night - HAS been approved, as it was the best time for traffic concerns, as well as shutting down train traffic on the Union Pacific tracks. This includes Amtrak traffic.
Here is the info from Matt Wickens, local resident and project manager for Ellis Partners:
We will be installing the long span of the new pedestrian bridge between the new Garage and Market buildings in the early morning hours of Saturday December 6th. The bridge will span across the railroad tracks and Embarcadero Avenue , and is in line with Harrison Street . Unfortunately, we are constrained to a short over-night work window by both Amtrak and Union Pacific train schedules, hence the need to work outside of normal hours. We anticipate that Embarcadero will be closed from 4pm on 12/5 to 10am on 12/6 to allow for set-up and dismantle of the large crane needed to place the bridge. All required street closure and building permits have been obtained from the City of Oakland . Union Pacific Railroad has approved the installation and completed design. We are in the process of alerting Oakland PD Traffic Division.
Actual bridge installation will begin just after 12:00 am on Saturday, and should not take more than a few hours if all goes as planned. The work area will need site lighting for obvious reasons, but we do not anticipate any extremely loud noise from the site.
We apologize in advance for any disruption this causes, but we do not anticipate any major impact to the neighborhood.
I can be reached at 415-264-4903 with any questions or concerns. Please feel free to forward this on to any appropriate parties in the neighborhood.
Ellis Partners LLC
111 Sutter St. Ste. 800, SF , CA 94104
Won't it be great to have a night without train noise???!!!!
Construction Meeting to Reconvene
There will be a construction meeting on Thursday, December 11th at 6:30pm. The meeting will be held at the Egghouse, located at 229 Harrison (cross street is Third Street).
If you have questions or concerns regarding any of the projects in the Jack London District, this is the place to ask.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Jack London News Endorses Rebecca Kaplan
The Oakland City Councilmember At Large race is a good one. I believe both candidates are quite capable, but one stands out for me: Rebecca Kaplan.
She's a smart woman, and she's a self proclaimed policy wonk. Wow, someone who actually reads those stacks and stacks of paper created through City Hall. She gets what the average Oakland citizen is dealing with, and having served on the at-large seat for AC Transit, and I think she'd do a great job for the people of Oakland. Another benefit? She's considered an outsider, or at least compared to Kerry Hamill. Ms. Hamill worked with Don Perata in the past and was endorsed by quite a few of the current council members. Right there Rebecca Kaplan gets my vote.
That she's mature, smart, and into all that policy stuff is a bonus.
So VOTE FOR KAPLAN for the AT LARGE Council Member race.