Letters for September 10 

Readers sound off on our Insider's Guide, purple prose, and the Oakland Redevelopment Agency.

Insider's Guide, 8/20

Setting the Record Straight

I enjoyed reading the newest Insider's Guide. Thanks for publishing it.

Although I've lived here ten years and know the lay of the land, I felt gratified knowing how many independent stores are here in the East Bay. We are so lucky.

I wanted to point out a couple of things for future reference. Bosphorus was a fabulous Turkish restaurant, indeed, but if you drive by its location on University, you will notice that it's no longer there. It closed a couple of years ago and has been replaced by an Indian restaurant, Rice N Spice. Speaking of things Indian, India Music World also is no longer in existence as of a few years ago. Instead, readers (and listeners) should head to Shrimati's (2011 University Avenue between Shattuck and Milvia, 510-548-6220) to get their fill of Indian music. It's a great resource. The owners are exceptionally kind, knowledgeable, and helpful; they took the time to talk with me about different types of music. Shrimati's has been in business thirty-one years. I hope it will continue to do well.

Eva Schlesinger, Berkeley

Great Photo, But

I cannot imagine how embarrassed the girl shoveling food in her mouth on the cover of the East Bay Insider's Guide must be! Great photo, but I'd hate to hear her reaction!

John Wheeler, Oakland

Editor's Note

That's just what we look like when we shovel Zachary's pizza into our mouth, but we are way less cute than her.

"Hints of Gallic Glory," Food & Drink, 7/2

Yummy Prose

I've eaten here. The chicken in the coq au vin was not nearly as purple as the prose in this review. there was very little here to merit this kind of vocabulary. Save it for a real restaurant.

Robert Y. Hood, Oakland

"Another Bad Deal," Full Disclosure, 8/20

The Same Mistakes Over and Over

It is no accident that the city council members and the Redevelopment Agency are one in the same in Oakland. It is no accident that revenue generated by the ORA stays in the ORA and is never redistributed to the maintenance of the city infrastructure: roads, police, fire protection, sewers, etc. Oakland's tax base needs to be increased through the addition of new homeowners. So the city and developer logic goes when the rubberstamp hovers and the carpetbaggers swarm. This is why the Redevelopment Agency exists and nearly every flatland neighborhood in Oakland has been turned into either an entitlement zone or a redevelopment area.

Nearly two-thirds of the new condos built, or abandoned midstream during their development, remain empty and unsold. Jackson Courtyard on the corner of 14th and Jackson shines as a too-good-to-be-true luxury condo development in a bustling Oakland neighborhood. Enter the Curtis Eisenberger and Jabari Herbert financial partnership. The Red Star Yeast Factory property in West Oakland and 14th and Jackson are both brownfields. Contaminated properties are greatly diminished in value because of their toxicity and the anticipated cleanup required if the land is to be reused. The $4 million price tag for the Red Star property is outrageous for this reason alone.

With politically well-connected developers such as Herbert and Eisenberger, it is impossible for Oakland to make any money, attract the well-heeled residents for which it vies, or gain the respect it seeks. In fact, as one of the jilted creditors in both the Red Star deal and the Jackson Courtyard debacle, the city of Oakland lost money, and created blight where there was none before.

It seems that in Oakland, the same mistakes are repeated over and over, with the same well-connected players, and with the same predictable results.

Anne Wellington, Oakland

This Deal Deserves Scrutiny

Across town at 14th and Jackson sits "Trojan Tower" a shrink-wrapped, unfinished mixed-use residential building that Curtis Eisenberger and his company, Mariposa Management, broke ground on ... five years ago this month. The building was sold during Eisenberger's bankruptcy and is still under construction, shrink-wrapped in soot-covered, white plastic. Because this building has high visibility on a prominent street corner in the Central Business District, near BART, it arguably serves as a scarecrow, chasing away meaningful economic investment from the neighborhood and Oakland generally. To say the least, I would like to be educated if Eisenberger has an inspiring track record elsewhere, but in my opinion this proposed West Oakland deal deserves strong public scrutiny.

Chris Kattenburg, Oakland

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