Category: local

And then there were 7…The Oakland Mayoral Race continues…

The Oakland mayor’s race in 2014 could be the most competitive in recent memory now that Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan has decided to enter the contest. Kaplan’s announcement late last week means there are now seven candidates who have a shot at winning in November: Kaplan, Mayor Jean Quan, Councilmember Libby Schaaf, university professor Joe Tuman, civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, City Auditor Courtney Ruby, and Port Commissioner Bryan Parker.oaklandmayors_3507

Kaplan’s entrance into the race also gives both progressives and moderates plenty of choices to be excited about. Kaplan, along with Siegel, should help draw progressives to the polls, while Quan still enjoys the support of organized labor. As for Schaaf, she has crossover appeal among progressives and moderates, while Tuman, Ruby, and Parker promise to generate excitement among centrist voters, as well as among some liberals.

Kaplan, Quan, and Schaaf also appear to realize that they likely will need some combination of support from progressive and moderate voters to win in a city that appears to be nearly evenly divided politically. Kaplan, Quan, and Schaaf, for example, are all advocating to add at least 150 officers to the Oakland Police Department, bringing the total number of officers on the force to at least 800 — and staking out a position that is sure to please moderate, pro-law-and-order centrists. (Siegel is the only top-tier candidate in the race who maintains that OPD can function effectively with about 700 officers; it has about 650 right now.) Kaplan also apparently has mended fences with the Oakland police union, which had strongly opposed her in the past, while Schaaf is pushing for a rainy-day fund that promises to be popular among fiscal conservatives.

Over the past several months, several polls have shown that Kaplan would be a frontrunner in the mayor’s race. It’s also clear that she will be a formidable candidate. But it’s still early, and with so many top-tier candidates in the race, 2014 may produce one of the best mayoral contests we’ve ever seen.

MacArthur Station ~ May 2011 through 2021

MacArthur station
MacArthur station

MacArthur Station ~ May 2011 through 2021

MacArthur Station will provide 624 new homes on a 7.76 acre site, of which 516 homes iwll be market rate and 108 units will be below market rate.  The development includes construction of 5 buildings for high density, multifamily housing, with a new 478-space parking garage for BART patrons and guests.

In addition, 42,500 square feet of local commercial and retail space will be constructed, along with 5,000 square feet of space for community use.

Phase 1 – Infrastructure Development
Phase 1 started construction in May 2011 and includes:

  • Demolition of two existing motels located on West MacArthur Boulevard
  • Construction of a new BART parking garage, replacing the existing surface parking lot
  • Renovation of the Station Entry Plaza
  • Renovation of the existing frontage road that currently serves as the shuttle and passenger drop off/pick up loading zone
  • Development of two new pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets and walkways

Phase 2 – New Affordable Housing Development
Phase 2 includes Mural, a new 90-unit affordable housing community that began construction in September 2013 with an anticipated completion of Spring 2015.

Phases 3 through 5 – Market-Rate Housing Development
Phases 3 through 5 will include three market-rate housing projects that will include commercial and retail space on the ground floor. Construction is anticipated for the first market-rate phase in 2016.


Oakland’s real estate boom helps pay for more police

Oakland’s real estate boom helps pay for more police (CCTimes)

Oakland will have nearly $30 million more to spend next year than first anticipated, with public safety initiatives at the top of the list, Mayor Jean Quan said Friday. In releasing her amended budget proposal for the next fiscal year beginning in July, Quan is recommending that the City Council approve funding for two additional police academies, OPD-gradsexpand the city’s gunshot-detection service, increase availability of the Police Department’s helicopters and boost funds for the anti-violence initiative Operation Ceasefire.

The two police academies would increase sworn staffing to 722 officers next year — the highest level since 2010. The City Council, which has final say over the budget, is scheduled to review Quan’s proposal next month. Last June, the City Council passed a two-year budget that forecast operating revenues of $459 million. But thanks in large part to tax revenue from property transactions, the city now estimates operating revenue at $489 million.

Quan is proposing to better fund several other city services including sewer projects, a jobs resource center and technology improvements. Her proposal also would increase the city’s rainy-day reserve. “We’re making good investments in areas that will help grow the city’s economy,” she said during a Friday news conference. “And we’re in one of the strongest economic positions we’ve been in in a long time.” Quan also said the city will be revising its five-year forecast, which showed the city at risk of falling off a fiscal cliff. That forecast anticipated substantial structural budget deficits and mounting unfunded liabilities stemming from the city’s pension obligations and the delay of needed infrastructure repairs.

Even without addressing long-term liabilities, the report still forecasts a $27 million operating deficit by the middle of 2015. City officials said the forecast did not anticipate recent revenue growth. An updated forecast, they said, would be released early next year.

Hive mixed-use project gets buzzing with Numi Tea

The Hive, a retail and housing development in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood on the corner of 23rd Street and Broadway, welcomed its first two tenants, Numi Tea and Impact Hub Oakland. THE HIVE 5

The entire project will include 100,000 square feet of commercial space and 104 apartments. It was previously designed as the second phase of Broadway Grand, a condo project next door that Signature completed in 2007.  The space is just a parking lot now, but the transformation is underway.

Future tenants that have signed on include:

  • Truve, a personal training and wellness chain that uses the motto “Hella Fit.”
  • Calavera, a high-end Mexican restaurant from Chris Pastena, who is behind Oakland eateries Chop Bar, Lungomare and Tribune Tavern.
  • Bay Area office of Balfour Beatty Construction.
  • A brewpub from San Leandro-based Drake’s Brewing.
  • Red Bay Coffee, an artisan coffee roaster.

Oakland To Spend Next Several Weeks Fixing Potholes

Thousands of potholes are expected to be fixed in the coming weeks in Oakland, part of an annual blitz to fix city streets.Crews work to fix a pothole on 106th Avenue in Oakland, California on May 15, 2014. (Margie Shafer/CBS)

Crews on Thursday were filling potholes on 106th Avenue, the first of many roads to be repaired. “For the next seven weeks, each week, we’ll take one city council district and we’ll pave as many potholes as we can,” said Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. “Usually by the time we’re done, we’re up to 2,000-4,000.”

Mayor Quan herself reported a pothole problem on 106th Avenue with an app on her cellphone called SeeClickFix, and Assistant Public Works Director Jason Mitchell said mobile reporting is catching on.

“Since we started SeeClickFix, our intake in our call center has increased 30 percent,” Mitchell said. “And a lot through mobile apps. One of the exciting things about SeeClickFix is engaging a new user, a younger generation of Oakland.”

In California, many cities fund  their street repair through gas taxes, which have gone down with more efficient cars.

Mayor Quan said she is hoping for more regional money for Oakland street repair, citing the fact that because it is a port city, Oakland sees more heavy truck traffic than suburban areas.

Jack London Square to Get Bowling Alley, Beer Garden in New Entertainment Complex this Fall

JLSThe final concept will include casual dining featuring gastropub and coastal California cuisine, luxury bowling lanes, both state of the art and vintage interactive games and a large outdoor beer garden with a long bar and bocce courts.

In addition, the entertainment venue will offer live music and entertainment on weekends featuring local talent as well as an area that can be separated for corporate events and private parties. This centerpiece to Jack London Square will leverage the large outdoor elevated patio along with expansive communal seating areas to maximize the waterfront experience and serve as a community gathering spot.
Construction has already begun in Jack London Square, and the entertainment complex is scheduled to open this fall. The developers said they will announce more details about the project later this summer.  The development will transform the 34,000-square-foot indoor site and 15,000-square-foot outdoor plaza in the heart of Jack London Square.

Ellis’ statement added: “Since Barnes and Noble closed in 2010, we have been on a national search for a concept for the building that would accentuate the surrounding retail space and maximize the one-of-a-kind location at the foot of Broadway and adjacent to the Estuary.”

Oakland racing to meet demand for bike lanes

Oakland racing to meet demand for bike lanes

Bicyclists ride on MacArthur Blvd. during a ride to celebrate the new bike lanes in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, April 27, 2014. Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle

For years, neither the city nor its residents had the time or resources to worry about bike lanes or calm streets. But things are changing. The rise in demand for bike lanes and bike racks comes, in part, from the city’s changing demographics.

“There’s really significant interest (in bike lanes) now in North Oakland, West Oakland, downtown and the neighborhoods around Lake Merritt,” Patton said. In the past three years, the number of people riding bikes in the city has climbed 15 percent, Patton said. Between 2000 and 2010, according to census figures, the number of people riding bikes to work in Oakland has gone up 140 percent.

The city, meanwhile, has installed 30 miles of bike lanes in the past three years. Roughly 140 miles of bike lanes crisscross the city. “We’re basically installing bike facilities as quickly as we can with the resources we have,” Patton said.

Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, a regular bike rider, said she is concerned by the number of potholes in Oakland’s streets. In March, the city paid $3.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a cyclist who went into a medically induced coma for four days after she struck a pothole in the Oakland hills. “Pothole filling is really important for bicycling,” Kaplan said.

In addition to the roughly $1.6 million Oakland spends to repave roads each year, a “fair” portion of the city’s $350,000 bicycle infrastructure improvement budget is spent on filling potholes, Patton said.

This month the city unveiled a plan to install raised bike lanes – a separate tier from the sidewalk – along parts of Telegraph Avenue, one of the busiest biking streets in Oakland. “There is this really large volume of people that are moving from the North Oakland/Berkeley area to downtown,” Patton said. We want to improve the street “so that Telegraph can live up to its potential. Very few people are happy with Telegraph in its current form.”

It could be more than a decade before the raised bike lanes are installed, Patton said.

Oakland sets new rules to cap rent increases effective August 1

Oakland renters will soon have greater protection against major rent increases.

Under an ordinance approved by the City Council on Tuesday night, annual increaseApartment List Rent s related to capital improvements will be capped at 10 percent, and 30 percent over a five-year period.

The new regulations, which go into effect Aug. 1, also stipulate that landlords will be able to pass through only 70 percent of the cost of improving their buildings, and will have to issue a notice for rent hikes used to cover those costs.

Property owners argued against the new regulations. They say that restricting the recovery of costs for building improvements will remove the financial incentive for landlords to maintain tens of thousands of apartments throughout the city.

Oakland City Hall Celebrates 100 years

Oakland City Hall, located at 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza adjacent to 14th Street, was completed in 1914. At the time, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi, at 335 feet tall. The Beaux Arts building replaced an earlier City Hall building which formerly stood on what is now Frank Ogawa Plaza. The first day of business at the new City Hall was on Saturday, June 7, 1913. Cake

On October 13, 1911, President William Howard Taft laid the cornerstone for the new city hall. When city hall first opened to the public, it included a jail (complete with outside exercise area), a fire station, a police station, and a small hospital. Today it houses a variety of city offices, as well as various chambers used for city council meetings and other city meetings.

After suffering damage during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the building was immediately shut down. The building reopened in 1995 after an $85 million seismic retrofitting and can now move 18-20 inches laterally in an earthquake. 1 The most prominent feature, the “wedding-cake” cupola is earthquake prone .

The current Oakland City Hall was designated Oakland Landmark #28, under Zoning Case #LM 79-131, on June 19, 1979, and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Oakland surpasses 400,000 residents for the first time in its 162-year history

Oakland surpasses 400,000 residents for the first time in its 162-year history

oaklandmapAlameda County is the second fastest growing county in the state, boosted by Dublin, one of the fastest growing cities in the state, according to new state population figures released Wednesday.

Antioch (106,455) surpassed Richmond by about 300 people, becoming the second largest city in the county for the first time. Oakland, meanwhile, reached a milestone, surpassing 400,000 residents for the first time in its 162-year history.east_bay_oakland

Alameda County’s population increased 1.5 percent to 1.57 million people, while California gained 0.9 percent, an increase of 356,000 people. The East Bay’s largest city, Oakland, remained the eighth most populous city in the state at 404,355, increasing 1.2 percent from the year before.

In Contra Costa County, Antioch saw a 1.1 percent increase, and is now second in size only to Concord (124,656) in the county.The Highway 4 corridor saw additional growth with Brentwood (2.6 percent), Oakley (2.1 percent) and Pittsburg (1.4 percent).

The expansion of Highway 4 and future extension of BART into Antioch are signs that the “infrastructure is in place to support” East Contra Costa’s continuing growth, Harper said. Overall, Contra Costa saw a 1 percent population increase to 1.09 million people.

Oakland Board of Education Unanimously Elects New Superintendent Antwan Wilson

Denver Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Antwan Wilson named OUSD Superintendent effective July 1, 2014

Screen shot 2014-04-16 at 1.48.49 PMThe Oakland Board of Education voted unanimously to approve the nomination of Antwan Wilson as OUSD’s next superintendent. Wilson will take the helm on July 1, 2014, when Acting Superintendent Gary Yee steps down after a year in the District’s top administrative post.

“Antwan has numerous qualities to recommend him, but we were most impressed by his work in reinvigorating troubled schools, eliminating inequity and producing results for all students, and creating a strong college-going culture everywhere he’s worked,” said Oakland Board of Education President David Kakishiba.

Those achievements helped the Lincoln, Nebraska native and married father of three best more than 20 other applicants for the Oakland Superintendent position.



High-Fidelity: Oakland Museum Explores Sound and Culture of Vinyl


High-Fidelity: Oakland Museum Explores Sound and Culture of Vinyl

Artist Raphael Villet interviewed collectors and photographed them as part of the Oakland Museum of California’s new exhibition, Vinyl: The sound and Culture of Records. Photo: courtesy of Raphael Villet

People perusing the gallery can take an album out of the sleeve and play it on a turntable. With eight listening stations, and a social space outfitted with beanbag chairs, this is one exhibition that invites you to linger.

The launch of “Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records” was timed to coincide with Record Store Day, an annual celebration of the medium that sends avid collectors to independent sellers around the world to hunt down new releases and rare gems. The exhibit has that same participatory vibe: whole walls framed by stacks of empty black crates, giant beanbags decorated like sound waves and a bunch of working turntables.

“What I envision is a lot of people spending a lot of time talking to one another, listening to music, exchanging stories and then recommending records to play for one another,” de Guzman says.

Vinyl: The Sound and Culture of Records is on view at the Oakland Museum of California from April 19 to July 27. OMCA, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. 


Birdland Jazzista Social Club takes over former TeaCakes in North Oakland


Birdland Jazzista Social Club takes over former TeaCakes in North Oakland

Birdland Jazzista Social Club, located at 4318 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (about three blocks from the MacArthur BART station), is scheduled to have its soft launch June 20-21.

Beginning that weekend, six businesses along a five-block stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Way — including Marcus Bookstore, MLK Cafe, Ray’s Barbershop, The Fruit Basket, Gallagher’s Liquors, and Micro’s Market — will begin offering free music on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight. Opening weekend will include blues, samba, bossa nova, West African, neo-soul, jazz, and Cuban music.

The Birdland Jazzista Social Club plans to host live music two to four nights per week at its new location. Entry cost will likely be a $10 donation. By day, the 2,700-square-foot building will also serve as a retail space for Parayno’s birdhouses. Parayno said he expects dance and music classes to begin at Birdland in July, and for the cafe component to open by Thanksgiving.


Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin Project underway

Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin Project Breaks Ground

A rendering of a redevelopment project, called Brooklyn Basin, of 65 acres of property on the Oakland Estuary. Photo: Oakland Harbor Partners
A rendering of a redevelopment project, called Brooklyn Basin, of 65 acres of property on the Oakland Estuary. Photo: Oakland Harbor Partners

The Brooklyn Basin project broke ground March 13, 2014. After years of planning, challenges, and financial uncertainty, the project is underway. The first phase will include infrastructure development and 1,200 housing units.

Over the next decade, 65 acres of industrial land south of Jack London Square is slated to become Brooklyn Basin: a 3,100-home neighborhood with 200,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, 3,500 structured parking spaces and approximately 27 acres of public open space, two renovated marinas and a wetlands restoration area. Once finished, trails will tie the parks to the Bay Trail as well as Lake Merritt. brooklyn basin

The total project is estimated to produce about 10,000 construction jobs.

“This is a symbol of Oakland’s renaissance in so many ways,” Mayor Jean Quan said during a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday that was attended by the Chinese Consul General Yuan Nansheng.

The project is by far the biggest piece of housing boom that the mayor expects to yield 7,500 units in a city where rents have jumped 25 percent in only the last two years. David Kakishiba, who fought for the community benefits as the executive director of the East Bay Asian Youth Center, said he believes the project will be a boon to the surrounding neighborhood and the city as a whole.