Letters for Week of May 13, 2015 

Readers sound off on gentrification, race, and local music.

Page 2 of 3

Jeffrey Dickemann, Richmond

"Flow Jack City," Feature, 4/1

Oakland Has Always Held Its Own, Musically

With no disrespect to these (to borrow jazz phraseology) "young lions" of East Bay rap, Oakland and the greater East Bay has already gone through at least two or three cycles as a hip-hop hotbed. The mid/late Eighties saw Oakland well represented by Too Short with his low and slow deep bass tracks, and even MC Hammer was a well respected rapper before being ostracized and ridiculed for being commercial (unfairly and only to see the likes of P-Diddy gain fame by taking up that mantle). The early Nineties saw back packers like Souls of Mischief and the rest of the Hiero collective, the emergence of the Luniz, Digital Underground and its introduction of some guy named Tupac Shakur, the first iteration of E-40 and family (The Click), and the continued presence of Too Short (others of prominence include Spice1, the first iteration of the Coup). All of these groups and others were prominent nationally in the mid Nineties. The likes of 3x Crazy with Keek the Sneek, etc., are essentially the bridge to the Aughts hyphy and today's current crop of Oakland/East Bay rappers. Oakland has always held its own, musically, and rap is no different.

To imply that Oakland is just now being recognized serves as a poster child for "New Oakland" ignorance to what was here before the '99ers began to settle here.

Anthony Moore, Richmond

Miscellaneous Letters

Cell Antennas Make Bad Neighbors

About a month ago, I woke up and took the dog for a walk on our quiet street in North Oakland, a mostly residential neighborhood of small bungalows, some artists' warehouses, and a few remaining industrial businesses. Passing the music studio across the street, I saw a public notice posted announcing plans for a Verizon Telecommunications Facility that proposed eight ten-foot-tall antennas, two generators, gas lines, and cooling system. It was on the Oakland Planning Commission's consent calendar and was set to go before the commission in the next ten days. I was shocked!

My neighbors and I started talking and calling the phone numbers listed on the notice for the City of Oakland Planning Department and the wireless consultant. We realized we never received any public notices in the mail though some of us live right next door, within 100 feet of the proposed project site. We were able to postpone the Planning Commission hearing to the following month and take what was to become a "crash course" in federal telecommunications law, Oakland city municipal codes, the hazards and risks of living near cell antennas and towers. We learned there are many communities in the Bay Area and all over the country fighting these battles, which usually involve  large sums of money offered by the company that wants to build the antennas and tower in exchange for a lease and a release of liability for any damages incurred.

But what has been really shocking is how the agencies mandated to protect us are actually protecting these large corporations. Municipalities have their hands tied, and planning departments are sometimes bullied by the telecommunications companies if they delay the permitting process. Cities are threatened with lawsuits if they deny permits or rule against the telecommunication company and side with the neighborhood. The Telecommunications Act prohibits a municipality from basing a decision against an installation due to  health risks — which is really the elephant in the room — leaving us combing through municipal codes and looking at the "aesthetics" of these things when really they are dangerous! 

We in the Golden Gate district have been working hard to make our neighborhood an even better place to live by planting trees, working with the city to fight blight, to rein in noise and businesses that aren't compatible with a residential neighborhood. We have supported new businesses moving in: the Destiny Arts youth program, Phat Beets, and other art organizations and projects compatible with our residential neighborhood. Right now we are in the midst of fighting this project and saying to Verizon "this is the most intrusive place for  a large telecommunications facility." This is through a grassroots effort and the support of communities and organizations that came before us, such as Stop Smart Meters.

I only wish the City of Oakland would do more to protect its citizens from telecommunications companies. How about a Wireless Ordinance for starters to at least set a boundary and prohibit cell installations from residential neighborhoods and places where there are schools or facilities that serve children. We have the right and the power to protect our neighborhoods from projects and development that are harmful to residents. Visit our website FightheTowers.com to learn more about this struggle and how you can help.


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