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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Seven Days

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

See what Manhattan has become to see the future they want for Berkeley. ugly impersonal glass towers full of unaffordable units that block sunlight and destroy views. See the NY Times series "Towers of Secrecy" exposing this trend . 2211 Harold Way will protrude like a huge carbuncle in the vista of the Golden Gate. If BART is overloaded now, imagine it after this thing is built. To demolish the Shattuck Theatre in favor of dreary "screening rooms" such as the ones at the Opera Plaza shows a cynical disrespect for lovers of film and is a true obscenity. Why are modern architects creating such hideousness?

Posted by Rachel De Carlo on 01/12/2016 at 3:52 PM

Re: “Schaaf's Stance on Raiders Is Spot On

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Posted by Editor on 01/12/2016 at 6:44 AM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

To prop up and saddle Berkeley on a high horse by way of comparison to and maligning of Oakland or any other city, thereby crippling its chance of independent merit, seems tacky and reveals envy, in my view.

Posted by Dan Bruno on 01/09/2016 at 1:46 PM

Re: “Schaaf's Stance on Raiders Is Spot On

I believe any private business, especially pro-sports, and "super-especially" a Davis-owned "Raiders," should live or die on its own. Simply granting lucrative access to Oakland's and its surrounding areas' dedicated fan base, seems a hella sweet deal, and should be selectively bestowed to the franchise that promises, proves equipped, and shows genuine dedication to improving the lives of its people most in need, and not given to sniveling whiner owners claiming entitlement, because some long-gone mayor allegedly and dorkingly said so.

Libby cares, thankfully.

Have we not learned from our experience with Al Davis?
And why does it cost $500 Million to relocate to LA?

LA is already the headache of California, so paying to go there only to receive a concussion, makes no sense to me.

Posted by Dan Bruno on 01/09/2016 at 5:56 AM

Re: “Schaaf's Stance on Raiders Is Spot On

"Despite reports to the contrary, Schaaf and her colleagues actually have a viable plan for the Raiders to build a new stadium in Oakland. No, it doesn't include public subsidies of the kind that St. Louis and San Diego are offering, but it could still work. "We're obviously ready and willing to sit down with the Raiders to discuss it further," the mayor said in an interview on Monday."

A viable plan actually exists? Proof is needed.

Not $100s of millions in cash subsidies like some other cities, but probably significant subsides after all. It would be nice to know exactly what is being offered--acres of public land of real and increasing market value and/or $90 million in required infrastructure improvements?

The writer seems to have deep trust in Mayor Schaaf. Does he recall her campaign promise to make reducing violent crime her first priority? What's happened with that? Her promise to have a public safety plan in the first 100 days of her administration? Where's that? Oh yes, she has offered hints that she has now a public safety plan but no one in the public has seen it. Sounds to me Just like her Raiders plan.

The potential for a new Raiders deal being smoke and mirrors hiding the same-old, same-old is very high as far as I'm concerned. The writer may well find smoke and mirrors fascinating; I simply do not.

Bottom line is as Gary Patton observes: lots of fans and team support here. Combined with city and county pols utterly incapable of transparency or any new thinking.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 01/07/2016 at 12:44 PM

Re: “Schaaf's Stance on Raiders Is Spot On

So let me get this straight. The mayor of Oakland wants to build what politicians call "affordable housing" which means a SLUM. Right next to a bran new NFL stadium. Mark Davis needs to move anywhere rather than take those terms. If he can't move to LA. Then he needs to move to St. louis or somewhere that the politicians have a clue. Because the politicians in Oakland are making this into a joke and the people in Oakland should be smart enough to realize it.

Posted by Randy Walker on 01/06/2016 at 7:52 PM

Re: “Schaaf's Stance on Raiders Is Spot On

Raze the old coliseum site and build public-funded housing for the people who commute to jobs in San Francisco (with secure parking for their vehicles unlike San Francisco). That would add more tax revenues to the city and the county and revitalize an area that is closer to blight than a sports complex. Add shopping and access to the water for a livable, friendly, safe space for everyone.

Posted by J.J. Lasne on 01/06/2016 at 6:26 PM

Re: “Schaaf's Stance on Raiders Is Spot On

I'm a bit confused about the statement made regarding parking. Since when is a 15% reduction "close" to the original amount? I'm pretty confident if the author's salary was reduced by 15% percent he wouldn't sign off on it stating it was close enough!

Posted by Wendy Nathan on 01/06/2016 at 11:17 AM

Re: “Schaaf's Stance on Raiders Is Spot On

Mayor Schaaf is absolutely correct in her stance against spending more public money on keeping the Raiders in Oakland. However, she should find a way to leverage the land around the Coliseum owned by the City to get Davis to the table. Even if it means a land transfer of some kind to Davis to make it happen. What else is the City going to use the land for? They have just taken 2 years and wasted several hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove that the Coliseum City dream cannot be financed. Mayor, It's time to let it go! The reason the Redevelopment Agency originally acquired the land was for new stadium construction. Davis is not interested in housing projects and all of the complicated long term financial arrangements that would be required. Remember, Marc Davis is not a developer. He has one goal, get a stadium built to play football. Without a doubt, a third place finish in the NFL franchise race to LA should finally get Davis to the table in a meaningful way. So far, he is playing games and hoping that Carmen Policy's long history of relationships with league owners will get him over the hump. However, Policy has been out of football for a while and his legacy is tied to Eddie DeBartola, who did not exactly exit the NFL shining a bright light on the shield (gambling scandal in Louisiana). Similarly, major league baseball has finally ended Lew Wolffs hopes of moving to San Jose. The combination of these actions could finally get the right people to the table with a real world mindset to get a deal. At the end of the day, the NFL owners of today are a collection of billionaires, not millionaires. Marc Davis is not that. He also lacks the experience and relationships in the ownership circles that he would have garnered had he grown up in the organization and been an integral part of the operation when Al was alive. He was not. As I recall, he spent more time partying than sitting in the draft room, negotiating contracts or going to league meetings with his dad. It would seem that the Raiders would have learned a lesson from their last venture to LA. As Dr. Phil would say, how did that work out for them? Oakland and the people here are what makes the Raiders special. He needs to never forget that and do what it takes to celebrate this special place and City!

Posted by Gary Patton on 01/06/2016 at 3:01 AM

Re: “It's Time for Jerry Brown to Break His Silence on Coal

Robert Gammon’s article points out the influence that Jerry Brown could use to stop the threat of coal exports through Oakland. The No Coal in Oakland campaign has been working on several fronts to press Brown to intervene with his associate, Phil Tagami.

However, the article minimizes the power the City Council has to block coal exports through a facility on City-owned property. The Development Agreement clearly sets out the necessary steps to do this: a public hearing, which was held on September 21, and a finding by the City Council of substantial evidence of the danger to community health and safety.

The opponents of coal exports have amply fulfilled the requirement to produce substantial evidence and the city staff is currently reviewing the extensive documentation presented to them. Furthermore, courts defer to local governments’ finding of substantial evidence, even where there might be contradictory evidence. The city has full authority to ban coal based on the evidence submitted.

On February 16, the City Council will consider a possible ordinance to ban coal. Oakland residents who want to block coal can contact their council members in the meanwhile and urge them to vote for a ban. There will be a large turnout on February 16 to reinforce to the council that the extensive scientific evidence against coal is matched by intense community opposition to this toxic commodity.

Posted by Margaret Rossoff on 12/23/2015 at 5:43 PM

Re: “It's Time for Jerry Brown to Break His Silence on Coal

Once again people, what has to happen before you get it? Jerry Brown is all about Jerry Brown. He has a business relationship with Tagami and will never publicly comment on the coal issue. He has not gone after fracking, oil companies or coal. All of a sudden it's a national policy issue? As I recall, when he wanted to push his 10K agenda as Mayor of Oakland, his biggest tool in the basket was Redevelopment. But when he became Governor, he eliminated Redevelopment statewide and kept the money to balance his own State budget. He sacrificed a new Oakland A;s stadium project so that his developer friends (Forest City) could build apartments on the site. They, in turn, would deliver So Cal votes for him in his future (at the time) run for State office. He recently had state employees collecting data on his private family property in order to make a decision about potential future development. This guy talks out of both sides of his head at the same time and sees no problem. This is not new behavior.

Posted by Gary Patton on 12/23/2015 at 9:52 AM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

After the "commuter chaos" on the freeway this morning due to the paint spill on the O-SFB Bridge, and yesterday's report on I-80 between Richmond and our same bridge being the area's most congested commuter freeway in the Bay area, it seems that developing dense housing near BART in Berkeley and beyond is definitely the way to go - as long as those future residents decide to purchase an extra vehicle they then try to park on Berkeley Streets.

Posted by Francesca M. Austin on 12/18/2015 at 8:03 AM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

You sound like a cheerleader for this developer and his supporters on the city council. This building was opposed by many in the community for a number of reasons, including the fact it is greenwashing at its worst, it will drive up the cost of living in Berkeley in existing rental properties as those property owners are seeing a chance to make a killing, and there is the real possibility that the Shattuck Cinemas will never be rebuilt.

The loss of these film screens will mean the loss of 275,000-300,000 ticket purchases yearly, and the loss of revenue to downtown businesses who benefit from the foot traffic. So what we get is the loss of affordable entertainment for many who cannot afford other cultural events, and a degradation of our popular cultural offerings in Berkeley. A largely hidden fact is that 60% of the filmgoers actually come from outside Berkeley, because there is no other movie complex showing the range of films one sees at the Shattuck . Perhaps people in Oakland can appreciate this, since with the exception of the Grand Lake and the Piedmont and the Parkway, you don't get to see these titles there.
This hardly constitutes smart development, rather, it is a symptom of a larger trend in the Bay Area that will result in the economic dislocation of many middle class renters and potential buyers who can no longer keep up with the huge amounts of out of state buyers purchasing properties as second homes, and a place to park their excess cash. Even ABAG has pointed out that Berkeley is not building affordable housing, but is intent on building more "market rate" housing for the very few.
Long live "free market" capitalism.

Posted by Donald Goldmacher on 12/17/2015 at 3:39 PM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

Great coverage and forum. Keep it up!

Posted by Olin Jones on 12/17/2015 at 10:53 AM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

What land will be left in Berkeley to build affordable housing?
A "shot in the arm" for Downtown? Sure, if by "shot" you mean with a Howitzer. Shutting down the major steady economic draw to the Downtown (Landmark Shattuck Cinemas) & tearing up downtown for 2-4 years at a major intersection in order to build a level of expensive housing the majority of local downtown workers cannot afford (forcing longer & longer commutes to get to that low wage job--not very green) is not going to give Berkeley any kind of positive boost. Particularly when this is just the lynchpin for similar downtown projects to move forward, Berkeley will be unnavigable and downtown businesses will suffer as a result.

Posted by JJ Noire on 12/17/2015 at 10:41 AM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

What happens to those edged out by the bare bones treatment given affordable housing in Berkeley and the affect market-rate rents will have on surrounding rental housing? Well, while new well-heeled residents will BART or Rapid to work (somewhere else), those forced out but who still work (in Berkeley, for example) will have to drive in from wherever they went, and probably in older, more enfouling vehicles. In the world we have apparently left, affordable digs were readily available--with a little hunting--and we pretty much lived together. The subject of living close to one's employment is another matter.

Posted by Phil Allen on 12/17/2015 at 10:36 AM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

Matt Chambers,

On the contrary, there are major differences between the Harold Way project in Berkeley and the East 12th Street deal in Oakland earlier this year. First and foremost, the City of Oakland's proposed sale of the East 12th Street parcel was unlawful (which is why I opposed it) -- as confirmed by City Attorney Barbara Parker's legal opinion on the deal.

Secondly, the East 12th Street deal involved public land, while Harold Way only involved private land. As a result, Berkeley actually had less leverage over the Harold Way developer. It could not, for example, require that affordable housing be built on site. By contrast, the City of Oakland owns East 12th Street, and thus has the power to require that any project on the site include affordable housing. In fact, state law even requires Oakland to prioritize affordable housing on the property.

Finally, there are now at least five development teams vying for East 12th Street -- including a team that includes the originally proposed developer, Urban Core, and an affordable housing developer that want to jointly build a project on the site. In other words, the scuttling of the deal earlier this year likely will result in a much better project for Oakland.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 12/17/2015 at 10:19 AM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

Kate Harrison - The council only approved the additional $4.5 million in affordable housing funds ($6 million would have been required of any development) for this large project because of community pressure from housing advocates and the actions of the Zoning Adjustment Board.Initially, these extra funds were not in the cards - I am one of the people fighting for affordable housing who is not against large buildings. We are looking for a reasonable balance of housing at all levels.

Posted by Kate Harrison on 12/17/2015 at 7:05 AM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

Two small corrections to this piece, that is otherwise great:

1. Many other cities require TWO parking spaces per unit. One is less common.

2. UC Berkeley has done a lot more than "essentially nothing". In particular, several student housing projects have been built in the lasr few years, and a large new one was just proposed on an existing parking lot.

Posted by Chris Harrelson on 12/16/2015 at 5:40 PM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

Robert Gammon... there's virtually no difference between the way 2211 Harold was approved and what was planned for Oakland's E 12th parcel. Berkeley property values are nearly double that of Oakland's and so Berkeley was able to squeeze nearly double the benefits from the developer. Wow, how amazing of them. I suppose if developments keep getting torpedoed by "activists" (you champion) in Oakland our property values might just catch up. Then you'll write up a story about how wrong those "activists" are and how proud you are that Oakland got an empty lot developed after sitting empty for a decade. Bleh.

Posted by Matt_Chambers on 12/16/2015 at 5:10 PM

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