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GRAND AVENUE WEST OF 580 –
“The American Indian Child Resource Center (AICRC) is a hidden gem that has been in our neighborhood since 1974, promoting Native American culture, while serving the needs of Native American youth and their families.”
“If you were on a treasure hunt seeking interesting places in the neighborhood, would you know where to find the American Indian Child Resource Center (AICRC)? Door drop cards from AICRC recently asked, “Have You Seen Us?” Look up! AICRC is located high above the sidewalk in a Julia Morgan mansion at 522 Grand Ave. Beautiful bougainvillea vines tumble along one edge of the property into an unaffiliated paid parking lot at Euclid and Grand that displays a colorful mural on an adjacent wall.”
EXPLORING OUR NEIGHBORHOODS on FOOT and with CAMERA
by Sheila McCormick
A 7th neighborhood walk, 3.66 miles and 423 ft. rise in elevation. Start on Lakeshore, head up to Piedmont via Balfour, a bit steep going up Portal and Florada, then to Crocker Park to see the Bear and Cub statue, down Wildwood to Oakmont, then to the Davie Memorial Tennis Stadium, and back down to Lakeshore. You will see interesting fountains, flowers, gates, and even chimneys.
This walk is also posted on this Facebook link, but complete with a total of fifteen photos.
LAKESHORE AND LAKE PARK AVENUES
Wednesday afternoon about 1 PM, I called the Falafel Stop in Sunnyvale – hoping to find out why all activity at their future Lakeshore Avenue location had ceased. I was genuinely surprised when the young woman taking online orders handed the phone over to the owner, Jonathan Loar, who was working the counter. Jonathan apologized that he couldn’t talk as there were “sixty people in line” and he asked that I call back a couple of hours later.
When I did just that, he was as harried and apologetic as ever, but we did finally connect the next morning and had a long conversation. Jonathan explained that the delay in opening Falafel Stop #2 on Lakeshore is due to competing priorities. He’s simultaneously working on opening a “Cafe Stop” in Sunnyvale that will specialize in Israeli breakfasts and fresh-squeezed juices. Meanwhile, construction at 3256 Lakeshore is complete, and they’re expecting to open within the next couple of months.
Jonathan asked me to predict the likelihood of their success here in Oakland – a city with which he’s quite unfamiliar. My rote answer is that the key is always good quality food at the right price point. He responded that Falafel sandwiches are just over $6 and shawarma, in a pita, is just over $8. As for quality, the Sunnyvale location has 1527 Yelp reviews and an extremely strong 4.5 rating – which is consistent with a line out the door and the likelihood that Falafel Stop will be welcomed with open arms.
Editor’s May 10 update: We’ve just learned that Falafel Stop won’t be coming to Lakeshore after all as they’ve sold their lease to Peet’s Coffee which is going to expand into the adjacent storefront. More details next month.
Speaking of Yelp reviews, the new Moroccan Palace restaurant (pictured above) has only been open for a couple of weeks but they’re receiving mostly glowing reviews – not just for the succulent, well-seasoned foods but also for the friendly service and wonderful decor that features posters and enlarged photographs associated with Moroccan cities – a different one for each of the five booths. Among their new admirers were the Earth Day volunteers at Splash Pad, who were treated to a big tray of Moroccan chicken.
Shirley’s Designs at 3405 Lakeshore has a full line show of Doncaster, private label designer clothing on tap from May 1 through 13th. Hours are 9 AM – 5 PM Tuesday through Fridays; Saturdays from 9 AM – 2 PM and Mondays by appointment. For more information, check out the shop’s event blog.
I’d hasten to add that owner Veda Ambeau has been altering clothing for thirty-three years – eighteen here on Lakeshore. Whenever someone on NextDoor asks for recommendations, Veda’s name typically tops the list. I confess that she occupies a special place in my heart as an indirect result of the only high school reunion I’ve attended to date. Never known for being the least bit fashionable, I was mortified when I was about to pack my suit jacket and discovered a very prominent moth hole in the lapel. Overnight, Veda magically made the damage disappear. I’m pleased to say that I actually exceeded expectations at the reunion – given that many of my contemporaries had either lost most of their hair and/or developed an oversized midriff.
Lin Jia Asian Kitchen is participating in the “Dining for Justice” event next weekend sponsored by the Oakland Indie Alliance (more on that later). Actually, I would have been surprised only if owner Marcia Lam wasn’t participating, since her generosity is demonstrated constantly in small ways (for example, the Hunan fried noodles she donated for the Splash Pad Earth Day celebration on Sunday) and occasionally in extremely significant ways, as was the case last year when Lin Jia donated over $5,000 to be divided equally among four local non-profits. Splash Pad’s share instantly doubled the funds we had available for landscaping and other infrastructure improvements. On May 6-8, Lin Jia will be adding a number of special dishes to their regular menu. For each special item that you order, $2 of the purchase price, plus another $2 in matching funds, will be donated to Centro Legal de la Raza – the primary source of migration-related legal assistance.
Over the past several years, owner Wendy He has been gradually upgrading her Gelato Firenze shop at 478 Lake Park – beginning with the removal of the inside wall that separated the serving counter from the small seating area. Then she put in a glass front with a wider, more inviting doorway. Most recently, the shop has taken on a dual identity. It’s still Gelato Firenze but it’s also the “Q Tea Bar” which offers a much broader selection of the wildly popular bubble teas.
So much time has elapsed since we originally announced that Proposition Chicken was slated to move into the space to the left of Peet’s, you’ve probably forgotten. Me, I took to mistakenly referring to them as “Revolution Chicken”- which arguably has a better ring to it. In any case, Proposition Chicken it is and (drum roll, please) construction finally began at the start of this week. I peeked inside, and a big trench had already been dug – standard operating procedure for any new restaurant that’s going to need new drains, a grease trap, etc. Be patient! It’s going to take many more months to complete the renovation.
Just a reminder that Hipline is hosting its “3rd Annual Shimmy Pop-A-Thon” on Saturday, May 6 from 10 AM to 2 PM. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this free outdoor, choreographed dance party helps support Oakland’s Elizabeth House, which provides housing and counseling services for women with children who have experienced homelessness, violence, or addiction. For more information or to sign up, please visit the Hipline website.
Alyce on Grand has a pop-up planned for Saturday, May 6 from Noon – 6 PM in celebration of Mothers Day. Candles custom-designed for Alyce will be available – also a DJ, henna art, and complimentary mimosas. Speaking of Mothers Day, be sure to check out the fabulous artwork by Oakland resident Monica Santos, recently installed at Alyce on Grand. I asked owner Alyce Preston if Monica would be attending the May 6 pop-up and/or the First Thursdays event on May 4. Alyce replied that Monica has a full-time job and two little kids and does her artwork when time is available. She’s one extremely talented and very busy individual.
Sole Space is no longer just a great shoe store. Now, it’s a great shoe store that also features the Taylor Jay Collection clothing line, designed and manufactured right here in Oakland. In addition, you’ll find an assortment of CANDIDART jewelry, handcrafted by Oakland resident Candice Cox.
On Sunday, May 7, Urban Furniture and Director Tracey Weaver will be hosting, “Shine Bright! A Sidewalk Celebration For Mothers” from 2 – 4:30 PM. You can register in advance and get additional information from this link.
Friday afternoon I was walking by Aisle 5 and took note of a family group eating lunch out front. The guy had what looked like the meatiest barbecued ribs I’d ever seen, and the brisket sandwich looked awfully tempting as well – especially since I had had a bowl of cereal and a tangerine for breakfast and nothing since. Nonetheless, with camera in hand, I had photos to shoot and people to interview – but vowed to return sometime soon. Possibly, this coming Thursday evening, May 4, for the debut of Aisle 5’s weekly Comedy Night beginning at 9 PM. In addition to some great laughs, you’ll be treated to $5 drink specials and some food specials as well.
Saturday afternoon, I phoned the number listed on the “For Rent” sign at Margene’s Bridal Shop – partly to inquire about the size of the space and asking price – but also to check in on Margene Burns and find out if she is enjoying her well-deserved retirement. Her son Garry Burns answered the phone. He says that Margene is doing fine – although she does sometimes get a bit bored – even though she actively volunteers with the Navy League and periodically takes in an opera in Walnut Creek. As for the specifics on the rental, the space is 1,340 sq. ft. and the asking price is $2.80 per sq. ft. Given the current volatility of the retail market, they’d much prefer that it be used as office space.
Having said that, Garry went on to explain that they expected the need for office space was about to expand dramatically once the four-story, Piedmont Executive Center at 3645 Grand was converted to condos. To quote our esteemed President, “Nobody knew that!” Well actually, two other Grand Avenue tenants knew but were short on details. All I know at this point is that the 20,495 sq. ft. building was sold last year for $4.2 million; that it has a total of twenty suites; and that at least some of the tenants have been given notice to vacate. We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.
Only the first half of Studio Grand’s event calendar has been posted to date, but Adrian Arias’s fabulous show is still hanging. A new group voice workshop is about to begin and there’s three dance classes, including a beginner’s Capoeira Class. I have my fingers crossed that the magical Balkan Music Nights will resume this month.
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Stepladder Creamery is the newest vendor at the Grand Lake Market. The ranch is in Cambria, not far from Hearst Castle, and it’s been in the same family for three generations. Stepladder’s offerings are nearly diverse as the market itself. Yesterday, they had milk and goat cheeses, avocados, honey, avocado-fed pork and grain-fed, pasture-raised beef. From what I was told and read on their website, we can also expect to see papaya, citrus, and other fruits over the course of the season.
Yesterday, Triple Delight was back for their first of the season blueberries and Sunnyland Farms had the first cherries of the season. Due to the late season rains, the cherry crop will likely be diminished and prices may be a bit higher. If you missed County Line Farms, just look a bit harder, as they’ve moved about one hundred feet to a booth on the pathway facing the freeway. The palm tree that is adjacent to their former space is doing a number on the asphalt roadway, creating a tripping hazard. Unfortunately, I don’t know if there’s an easy solution.
Last month, I commiserated with Jay Gascon from Gascon Farms about the constant rains that I assumed were making farm life particularly miserable. Right on cue, he whipped out his phone and showed this photo of his tractor mired in mud. Taking it in stride were his two daughters, Jada, left, and Jennavy, right.
The community meeting held on April 5 to discuss future management of the Grand Lake Farmers Market attracted ten long-time residents of the immediate neighborhood. The Agricultural Institute of Marin was also represented by Market Manager Jonathan Ruiz and Chief Operations Officer Tanya Small.
After a long and spirited discussion, the community members voted eight to two in favor of the City Council issuing a Request for Proposals from other potential managers. There was also a clear consensus calling for a wide-open process in which AIM would be included.
I’m continuing to advocate for a proposal from a community-based non-profit that would hire experienced staff; provide operational guidelines; and, most importantly, ensure that those guidelines are enforced. If we want to resolve a host of infrastructure problems in the park, this is the only viable source of revenue. If we want to relieve the congestion within the market and make more room for people, this is the way to go. If we want to better support local schools, neighborhood businesses and the community, as a whole, we’re more motivated and better prepared.
Accordingly, I’d like to host a follow-up, small group meeting to explore the feasibility of establishing a non-profit community board and to discuss specific operational guidelines that the city should insist upon as part and parcel of any lease agreement. If you’re interested, you can comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPLASH PAD PARK
The Grand Crew regulars, supplemented by volunteers from Piedmont High School, Beattie Street Preschool, and a handful from other sources, dug lots of weeds and removed quantities of litter at the annual Earth Day Celebration this past Sunday. Hats off to the neighborhood businesses that generously donated provisions for lunch, including Ken Betts for bottled water, Lanesplitter Pizza (the Manager is an absolute gem), Moroccan Palace Restaurant (their chicken was delicious), and Lin Jia for Hunan Fried Noodles. Contributions from farmers market vendors included Bolani from East West Foods; oranges from Twin Girls; salad fixings from Ledesma and Happy Boy; apples from Eddie at Sunnylands Orchards; cucumbers from Green Produce; and asparagus and carrots from Jay at Gascon Farms.
In addition to getting lots of work done, we also tentatively signed on three new volunteers for our monthly work days. Rich, Eliza and Peter, thanks for volunteering on Earth Day – we hope to see you again on Sunday, May 28, beginning at 9 AM.
GRAND AVENUE FIRST THURSDAYS
Jau Jou Studio has a new show of artwork by Dominic Fontana whose “canvas” consists of galvanized sheet metal and whose “paints” consist of brightly colored reflective tapes. Thus the show title, “Taped Metal Canvas.”
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate (next to Camino) is debuting a show of fine art by Caroline Stern. They will be simultaneously celebrating “Cuatro de Mayo” with Mexican-inspired food and refreshments, including (at my request) Negra Modelo.
Studio Grand‘s “Angels in Times of a Dictatorship” is a solo show of original paintings and drawings by Adrian Arias. This may be the best show ever. You owe it to yourself to go and, if you’re in the market for art for yourself or your place of business, the prices are incredibly reasonable.
Ruth Stroup Insurance will be hosting a show of abstract oils by Judy Chamberlin. Complimentary beverages and small bites will be served.
Panorama Framing is hosting an Opening Night Artist’s Reception for “Wooden Icons, Works by Laura Schatzkin.” Complimentary beverages and refreshments.
Baraka Gallery is continuing to highlight its inventory of beautifully crafted tiny beads from all over the world, but particularly from Africa and Asia. Sip a cup of tea while you browse as Shiffen always has the teapot on.
The Libertine has an ongoing show of extremely tasteful nude photographs by Josh Stevenson.
San Francisco Fiber: Try your hand at spinning wool – hosted by Kate Colwell.
510 Brand‘s walls are liberally covered with paintings by shop employees, Culling Cahayag, Nina Simi, and Natasha Reh – supplemented with handful of original drawings by Connor Burke, who works next door at Modigliani, plus wonderful prints by a student at the Oakland School for the Arts known only as “Skye.” A DJ will be in the house and complimentary beverages and snacks will be served.
A complete list of participating businesses offering special First Thursday discounts is posted at: www.grandavenuefirstthursdays.com
ODDS AND ENDS
Marguerite Young, the District 3 East Bay Municipal Water District board member, made an impressive presentation at the Grand Lake Neighbors meeting in March. I listened intently, but failed to take notes and am just now reporting on the key points that she made – thanks to a follow-up email from EBMUD Community Affairs Representative, Ben Glickstein.
- In Fiscal Year 2014 customers used an average of 184 million gallons per day (MGD). Due to conservation efforts and the drought, customers used an average of just 128 MGD in Fiscal Year 2016, which is far below the 151 MGD that EBMUD predicted and budgeted for. EBMUD predicts that water use will increase somewhat now that we are no longer in a severe local drought, but that it will remain below pre-drought rates for the foreseeable future.
- The water main running beneath Grand Avenue is 24 inches in diameter. Even though it is in relatively good condition compared to other, lower-volume branch sections that are failing on a regular basis, its failure could be catastrophic. Accordingly, it’s a top priority and the section between Arroyo Avenue and Oakland Avenue in Piedmont (including short segments on Arroyo Ave and Lower Grand Ave.) will be replaced starting this summer. Construction will likely start in July or August 2017, and will continue through the summer of 2018.
- The water main beneath Grand Avenue between Santa Clara Ave. and El Embarcadero in Oakland will be replaced in the summer and fall of 2018.
- There are also some clusters of smaller distribution pipeline in the Grand Lake neighborhood that have been identified for replacement. The first of these is in the vicinity of the Morcom Rose Garden, on Mariposa Ave., Santa Rosa Ave., and Chetwood St. between Oakland Ave. and Grand Ave. These replacements are likely to take place in the late summer/early fall of 2017.
- EBMUD is using trenchless pipe renewal technology, as of last year. The technology we are using injects a structural liner into old pipes. You can learn more here: www.ebmud.com/about-us/construction-my-neighborhood/trenchless-pipe-renewal-improvements/
- The trenchless pipe replacement is part of a larger Pipeline Rebuild effort that EBMUD is embarking on. The program will evaluate the best materials and technologies, the system we use to identify problem pipes, the ways our crews do their work. Our goal is to significantly speed up the rate at which we replace pipelines, in order to beat leaks and breaks.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The above images are selected from an album of thirty-six photos that I posted on Flickr documenting replacement, in 2011, of the 80+ year-old, prone-to-failure water main that serves my street. From Day One, we were hugely impressed by EBMUD’s professionalism and the extent to which they bent over backwards to minimize the inconvenience. Make no mistake about it. The water main replacement on Grand Avenue is going to be problematic – but it has to be done, and residents in the area impacted will end up with a more reliable source of water and a new water lateral (ours was nearly 100% clogged with rust and sludge), increasing their domestic water pressure.
The Kebabery, the latest project from Camino Restaurant’s Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain is now open, as reported in this SF Gate article. Address is 4201 Market Street.
Tiffany Eng is best known for advocating a more family friendly Oakland and also for talking trash – or more specifically, trash receptacles enhanced with colorful mosaics. Last year, her Family Friendly Oakland organization paired with Keep Oakland Beautiful to win a major grant from KaBoom for ten new mosaics. This year, they’re delving into new ground with a Newcomer’s Guide to Oakland – that even old-timers, like me, may find invaluable.
Congratulations to the “East Bay Times” for winning the Scripps Howard Award and the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting. The press release for the latter notes their “relentless coverage of the “Ghost Ship” fire, which killed 36 people at a warehouse party, and for reporting after the tragedy that exposed the city’s failure to take actions that might have prevented it.” Details are in this East Bay Times article.
A couple of weeks ago, I learned that Ray Perman had passed away. Over the past several years, he had contributed financially to the Splash Pad Park landscaping fund (without being asked) and had physically volunteered at one or more of our work days despite the fact that he had been battling cancer for several years – leaving his body a shadow of its former self.
Against all odds, he continued living life to the fullest and, as he had done throughout his entire life, was actively giving back to the community – most recently as Editor of Oakland Lake Merritt Institute‘s “Tidings” magazine.
When Ray finally succumbed, it was on his own terms thanks to the availability of California’s End of Life provisions. Late last year, he was interviewed by KQED. On this link, you can read the text of his comments or actually listen to the recorded interview. I’d highly recommend the latter to give you a true sense of a truly remarkable and courageous individual.
The city’s annual Bike to Work Day takes place May 11. The Council District 2 Pedal Pool will meet up with Abel Guillen at Grand Lake Ace Hardware for a group ride to City Hall that begins at 7:20. Edible treats and bicycle bags will be free for the taking at the Pedal Pool assembly point and free pancake breakfasts with orange juice will be served in Frank Ogawa Plaza.
A big Fiesta Sin Fronteras celebration is scheduled for May 5 and 6, with a wide variety of activities scheduled across the city. The “Dining for Justice” fundraiser for Centro Legal de la Raza is one the major events. Thirty restaurants and bars are participating – mostly downtown and in the Fruitvale District, but, as mentioned above, Lin Jia is participating, as is May Seto at Grand Lake Kitchen. Details and locations for all thirty locations are available on this Dining for Justice map.
Oakland’s annual Mother of the Year will be honored at the Morcom Rose Garden on Saturday, May 13 beginning at 10:30 AM. Nominations are closed but, to the best of my knowledge, this year’s award winner has not yet been announced.
A Taste of Spring, the annual fundraiser for the Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation’s Youth Scholarship Fund, will be held on Thursday, May 4, from 5:30 PM – 9:00 PM at the California Ballroom, 1736 Franklin Street. Entertainment will be provided by Oakland-based artist and acrobat Nikki Borodi, as well as the East Oakland Sports Complex youth dance class and the Oakland Civic Orchestra. Food will be provided by the Red Door Catering Group. A wide array of silent and live auction items will be available for bidding.
Hats off to the committee that is organizing the 4th Annual Eastlake Music Festival. This is a totally grass-roots, community effort and they do an absolutely fantastic job. At the Lake Merritt Amphitheater on Saturday, May 27. Free music. Dancing. Arts & Crafts. Food trucks. Draft beer. Kids activities.
The monthly Grand Lake Neighbors Council on Wednesday, May 17th, has been moved to Barnett Hall to accommodate the crowd expected to hear the special guest speaker, newly appointed Chief of Police, Anne Kirkpatrick. Barnett Hall is up the driveway to the left of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. Meeting starts at 7 PM.
- Thursday, May 4: Grand Avenue First Thursdays
- Thursday, May 4: 5:30 PM – 9 PM: A Taste of Spring at California Ballroom
- Friday, May 5: Art Murmur Downtown
- Friday, May 5: Dining for Justice – Thirty bars and restaurants benefit for Centro Legal de la Raza
- Saturday, May 6: Dining for Justice – Thirty bars and restaurants benefit for Centro Legal de la Raza
- Saturday, May 6, Noon – 6 PM: Pop-up shop at Alyce on Grand – DJ, candles, free mimosas
- Sunday, May 7, 2 – 4:30 PM: Shine Bright: A Sidewalk Celebration for Mothers at Urban Furniture
- Monday, May 8, 6:30 – 8:30 PM: Budget Forum w/ Councilmember Abel Guillen at Lakeside Garden Center (changed from: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church)
- Thursday, May 11: Oakland Bike to Work Day
- Wednesday, May 17, 7 – 8:30 PM: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting featuring Police Chief, Anne Kirkpatrick in Barnett Hall
- Saturday, May 27, 1 – 9 PM: 4th Annual Eastlake Music Festival, Lake Merritt Ampitheater
- Sunday, May 28, 9 AM – Noon: Splash Pad Volunteer Work Day
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