Justin Horner 
Member since Nov 4, 2011


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Recent Comments

Re: “Oakland Eases Rules on Secondary Units to Add New Rental Housing

I am pleased to say that I heard from CM Kalb and there is an important part to the story that I am happy to add.

Initially, staff did not include the 1R and 72R lines in the program at all, and it was CM Kalb who went to the Planning Commission and pushed them to be added. For that, he gets credit in my book, and thanks.

This doesnt mean the changes were great, but thanks to CM Kalb (and CM Guillen), the program is even more extensive than initially proposed. So, while I'm not happy that RCPC continues to ply NIMBYism, CM Kalb's not exactly the villain here.

Oh, and is that Gary Patton, who retired in his 50s from the City of Oakland as the Assistant Planning Director blaming an ex-council aide of nearly a decade ago for poor planning in North Oakland? I'll put Jane's increase in the redevelopment affordable housing set-aside and increases in affordable housing at Uptown and Oak to 9th, beating back attacks on Rent Stabilization and increasing local hiring practices up against your legendary work ethic any day.

Since your memory's so spot on, what great idea(s) did you have that you couldn't get past a Council aide in his 20s?

Posted by Justin Horner on 01/07/2016 at 10:07 AM

Re: “Oakland Eases Rules on Secondary Units to Add New Rental Housing

This is indeed much needed policy change, and kudos to the Mayor and Planning staff for bringing it forward. Props also to Councilmember Guillen, who moved to add areas of his district into the new, more permissive regulations.

It should be noted though that Councilmember Kalb, at the behest of the Rockridge Community Planning Council, put forward amendments to restrict the program's applicability to North Oakland. Not only did they restrict residents of secondary units from getting residential parking permits--as though people living in granny flats aren't residents--but, more importantly, the amendments restricted the program to areas only within 1/4 mile (as opposed to 1/2 mile) from the 1R along Telegraph Avenue.

The fact that Rockridge was the only community in the city that came forward to push for a more restrictive program is a shame, and the fact that Kalb sponsored the amendments is a major disappointment. As a Rockridger myself, Ill say that if any neighborhood needs to open itself up to more housing options, it's Rockridge.

I cant help but feel RCPC is stuck a bit in the past (to put it politely) with its deep deep obsession with parking and kneejerk suspicion of people who would build or live in secondary units. The fact that such simple and sensible reforms can't go through without the usual Old Guard pearl-cluching about parking shows we still have a way to go.

Posted by Justin Horner on 01/06/2016 at 8:15 PM

Re: “Special Deal Would Benefit Influential Oakland Developer

Looking at the Broadway Valdez Specific Plan Height Areas Map (http://tinyurl.com/ooo8ybt) it looks like 85 feet on that side of Broadway was the plan, save for the little 45 foot carve out between 24th and 25th Street (which I assume is the property in question). Id say allowing more density there is fine, and certainly not inconsistent with the general intent of the community plan, in my view.

So, seems to me to be a) good planning practice; b) crap process. Typical these days, sadly.

Nefarious and corrupt? I doubt it highly

Posted by Justin Horner on 11/04/2015 at 9:37 AM

Re: “Berkeley Merchants Say a Moved Bus Stop Has Been Bad for Business

Agree with Dan: losing five parking spots is simply not going to make your business "plummet," particularly when Safeway has just built a parking lot for local businesses a half-block away (yes, the conditions of approval require that Safeway allow shoppers at area businesses to park in their lot for free).

Oh, and spots on the street don't belong to any home or any business. It's public parking.

20 likes, 12 dislikes
Posted by Justin Horner on 03/10/2015 at 8:19 PM

Re: “The Express Is Looking for a Few Good Interns

No minimum wage?

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Justin Horner on 12/10/2014 at 5:03 PM

Re: “Oakland Renters Concerned About Seismic Upgrade Costs

Everybody wants to go to heaven; nobody wants to die

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Justin Horner on 06/12/2014 at 1:54 PM

Re: “Why Private Security Patrols Are Not the Answer

Id like to offer my comments in response to my dear dear friend, Joel’s, opinion piece above. Like him, Im a former (or is it “recovering?”) Oakland City Council aide, husband and father. Im also a supporter of looking into whether private patrols work, and I helped (a bit) in organizing the Rockridge effort.

First, to concede: indeed, there are no long term studies that can demonstrate the effectiveness of private patrols. There are one or two small, limited ones, but not super duper science. All of the organizers in Rockridge, and most of the people who signed up, Id argue, are not necessarily convinced that the patrols will make a difference. What we are interested in is exploring the notion and seeing if it can. Some initial analysis suggests some benefit in Rockridge; this does not make me unhappy. At the same time, I join many of my neighbors in not being interested in paying for something that doesn’t make a difference, and, in fact, am eager to stop paying if there’s no result.

Rockridge’s pilot is with VMA Security for unarmed security patrol. VMA is an Oakland owned company with an employee base that reflects Oakland’s diversity; a lot more than OPD, in fact. We considered armed security, but decided on unarmed after responding to significant, and convincing, community concerns. That was a good idea, and looks like an even better one after what happened in Oakmore. I know of no incidents of racial profiling, intimidation or just general lame behavior registered during the pilot period. This is also good. Nobody I know involved in the effort wants that type of “protection.”

Unlike vouchers, for-profit prisons and other privatization schemes, private patrols do not divert public dollars to for-profit companies. They are paid, privately and voluntarily, on top of taxes. They do not take money out of our libraries, schools, the OPD or rec centers. Nobody I know supports the idea of taking the city’s general fund and paying it to private patrols. That would be “privatization,” and that would be dumb. It is not a goal, or, frankly, a likely outcome, of private patrols in Oakland.

Oaklanders are historically very generous and are willing to pay more in taxes. I must say, however, that if Measure Y fails to pass, it will not be the patrols that made the difference. As another commenter already mentioned, the City itself has done far more to undermine the case for reupping the Measure than these patrols ever will. Yes, for some people, maybe the $40 a month will be enough to make the economic case for them not to support the measure. I think it’s more likely that people want actual cops and would just stop paying for the security, if, again, it was purely an economic issue for them.

I would also argue that private patrols will not necessarily push crime into other neighborhoods, although Im open to the possibility that they could. The “water balloon effect” Joel describes does not, however, really exist. If that were the case, crime would never go down, ever, as every effort to combat it would simply displace it elsewhere. As Joel undoubtedly knows, crime is influenced, among other things, by geography. For example, we are told that my area of Rockridge is particularly vulnerable to armed robbery because there are a) lots of pedestrians; b) lots of pedestrians with the income and preference to own easily stealable iStuff and c) we have easy freeway access. This is not true of all areas of Oakland. Deterring crime here does not mean that robbers will all of a sudden start committing crime in areas that have none of these traits. All that being said, part of the initial Rockridge analysis focused on whether crime was simply being displaced, and it didn’t appear to. A study of BID-related private patrols in LA also showed declines in crime and no displacement. In any case, I, and the people I know that are paying for the private patrols, are not interested in just displacing crime out of our neighborhood. That’s not meaningful progress on public safety for me.

While I probably shouldn’t bury it way down here, this does lead me to take issue with what is a common criticism of the private patrol effort: that, somehow, by hiring private security, neighborhoods are rejecting community, turning their backs on their neighbors, approaching all problems militaristically, peeking through their windows with suspicion and paranoia and otherwise pulling up the drawbridge to exist in some libertarian fantasyworld. This is not the case, at least not for me.

Let me tell you how I look at it, as a participant. The process of hiring private security by neighborhood residents is actually an example of community working, of people coming together, in mutual aid, to solve a problem, explore solutions, and, yes, put their resources where their mouths are. Many of us have already explored the purely individualistic ways Joel recommends we use to protect ourselves and our property (alarms, The Club, locks), and many of us also participate in our neighborhood organizations, blocks, and NCPCs. Frankly, I already know all my neighbors, take care of their kids, volunteer at my school, pick up litter, keep my bushes trimmed and, of course, say “hi” on the street to people. This is also true of many of the people paying into the pilot now. We are now looking into other strategies to see what else we can do, because, well, all the stuff the city is doing, and all the stuff we are already doing to secure our homes and neighborhoods, is not enough.

I know a big rhetorical strategy of our neighbors opposed to patrols is to paint supporters in a negative light, as somehow detached from their own communities, selfish and alienated. Id just suggest that Joel, and others, check themselves before they accuse me, and many of my neighbors, of not caring about Oakland, my community or the lives of others. I can live with the fact that communities organize and work together in different ways; I think it’s important for others to realize that as well.

45 likes, 3 dislikes
Posted by Justin Horner on 02/20/2014 at 11:04 AM

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