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Editor’s Note:  To a great extent, change is a recurring theme in this July 2017 edition of the Splash Pad News.  For starters, we’re welcoming our first ever summer intern, Margo Rosenbaum, who is a senior at Piedmont High and the Editor of the Campus section of this year’s Highlander, the school’s newspaper.  Simultaneously, we’re saying goodbye to Liane Zimny, who, until today,  preferred to work in anonymity as author of her Grand Avenue, West of 580 blog.  Over a four year period, she perfected her craft and I was proud to call her a valued contributor and also a friend.  In addition,  there are changes that may or may not happen depending upon the number of individuals who recognize that the Grand Lake Farmers Market has the potential to be so much better and so much more than it is now – but only if they are sufficiently motivated to make it happen.   Without further ado, here’s Liane’s final blog.

GRAND AVENUE WEST OF 580
by Liane Zimny

On Tuesday, July 4th, the Oakland Municipal Band will launch its 106th season of free afternoon performances at the Edoff Memorial Bandstand, Lakeside Park, Lake Merritt. This season is dedicated to the memory of Anne Woodell, who led the all-volunteer Friends of the Oakland Municipal Band (FOMB) organization that supported these performances from 1998 to 2016.

There will be five concerts at the Edoff Memorial Bandstand in Lakeside Park, beginning with the traditional July 4 celebration, followed by four Sunday afternoon concerts, July 9, 23, 30, and August 6. There will be no concert July 16 to avoid conflicting with the U.S. Rowing Southwest Masters Championships on Lake Merritt.

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Previous Grand Avenue West of 580 blogs are archived HERE.

UPDATE ON CONDOS AT 601 MACARTHUR – LATER THAN SOONER
by Sheila McCormick

There was another informational meeting on June 20th, held at St. Vartan’s church. The developer, Lake House Development (LHD) was represented by Public Affairs Director Valerie Camarda and Architect Tony Pantaleoni. As there was a city council meeting that same evening, Councilman Abel Guillen was not there, but Michael Drayne from his staff attended. At the first meeting about 20 neighbors attended – this time, about 10. The attendees enjoyed sampling three different pizzas from Leaning Tower, and Half-Moon Cookies from Trader Joe’s.  Thanks Ms. Camarda!

Mr. Pantaleoni said that the planning department is slow/overwhelmed – that soon after the first informational meeting on Feb. 9th, LHD submitted an initial pre-plan for review – they had no feedback for about 6 weeks, and some additional feedback came as late as mid-June.

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AN OLD GENERATION TREAT FOR A NEW GENERATION CONSUMER
by Margo Rosenbaum

10:15 pm on a Tuesday night and Lakeshore Avenue is dead. A few cars whiz past on the street and some stop to park outside closed shops and restaurants. The thick, sticky, sweet scent of sugared treats wafts down the sidewalk pulling people into the only business that’s open at this end of the block. Inside, the brightly lit glass cases hold towers of sugared, glazed and sprinkled donuts. A man and woman greet you behind the cases. Low yellow lights bounce off the shining marble table tops and black leather chairs. The white, old fashioned lettering on the maroon outdoor awning and logo perfectly describes the shop’s mellow, classic, old-timey vibe. It’s all so simple and simply perfect. Donuts and coffee. Donuts and milk. Colonial Donuts.

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LAKESHORE AND LAKE PARK AVENUES

Last month, I joked that Netflix was filming a movie detailing all the plot changes revolving around the Burrito Shop space.  Now it looks like they may have to do it as a two or three-part series.  At the annual meeting of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District on Monday,  BID President Barry Gilbert, who owns the property in question, confirmed  that Peet’s was going to expand into the now vacant space next door. He also noted that the Falafel Stop owner walked away from the nearly completed project only after signing a deal to install chain restaurants in China, which will occupy much of his time.

Oakland Wiki Photo

A day later, I heard that the exterior wall facing the parking lot was leaking and would have to be resealed and, in the process,  Peter Lee’s “Lakeshore Mural” would have to be removed.  To some extent, the subject of possibly compromising the mural had come up previously when Cholita Linda was talking about installing windows and I believe that Peet’s may be planning to do the same.

Whatever, I’m just hoping that Peet’s and the property owners know what they’re getting into.  Parenthetically, I have to confess that I have a vested interest since I’m pictured in the mural, riding my bike around Lake Merritt.  The image is only about two inches wide and very high on the wall but it’s a very good likeness.  That said, if Peet’s and the Gilberts want to know what may be in store for them, I’d highly recommend a Google search for “Kronner Burger Mural”.

They’ll turn up several pages of relevant articles about the outrage that ensued when Rocky Rische-Baird’s  “Key Route Plaza” mural was destroyed but the best of the links is to the Local Wiki article.  For the record, when we’re comparing the Key Route mural to the Lakeshore mural, we’re talking about apples vs. oranges since Riche-Baird worked on his highly-detailed mural for over six months and it was of historical importance.  Peter Lee spent a fraction of that time. Nonetheless, I predict that there will be … if not blood, at the very least, lots of angst.

Paul Chinn Photo

The good news is that Barry and Elaine Gilbert have pledged to replace the mural but my guess  is that Peter  has no interest in being the artist that does so. Once the prototypical starving artist, he’s now painting in tony Southern California and thrilled to be working in oil on small canvases – not on ladders!  The Gilberts are also likely to be surprised by the prices quoted for a replacement mural.  The price increase won’t be in the same league as the meteoric rise in the cost of commercial property rents, but they’re unlikely to get the kind of deal they got in 2004.

Speaking of commercial rental rates, one of the presenters at the BID meeting was Mayor Schaaf, who noted that Oakland’s rates have increased more, by percentage, than anywhere else in the entire world.  She also trumpeted the good work that Kiva.org is doing by granting zero interest loans to small, independently owned businesses and had similar praise for “Oakland Promise” whose goal is to triple the number of Oakland students graduating from college.  Asked about long delays in granting permits for new businesses, Schaaf announced that their budget proposal called for twenty new planning positions.

Other presenters included Council member Guillen, who is confident that the New Navigation Center that the city is proposing to build will make a significant dent in our homeless population – currently. 1,940 individuals which is up 30% from previous years.  The overwhelming majority are folks who are and were Oakland residents and, as Mayor Schaaf pointed out, a shocking percentage are families and students who are reduced to living in cars.

Steve Banker, who is the BID Treasurer and a prominent commercial realtor, had a number of thought-provoking comments.  Specifically, he said that market forces (particularly online sales) were making brick and mortar neighborhood retail less and less viable. Currently, there are three vacancies on Lakeshore.  A year or two ago, there were none. Banker also said there are eight to ten vacancies on College.  He added that you can only have so many exercise studios and restaurants.  (Note: He should have added cell phone stores – but didn’t.)  The net result, Banker said, is that commercial rental rates are eventually fated to decrease and, in addition, at some point in the future, property owners may have to band together and request a change in Lakeshore zoning so they could begin leasing ground-floor spaces for office use, which is currently verboten.  For the record, I don’t approve of any of these changes but suspect that Banker knows what he’s talking about.

New York Times Photo

Just as we were about to go to press, we received the following message from Seth Bregman, the new owner of Michel:

“We are grateful for the support of our local neighbors and patrons and are excited to be hosting lápero – Michel’s happy hour featuring craft cocktails and tasty bar bites every Monday through Friday, from 4:30-6:30pm. Also, every Sunday we are offering Beats and Brunch with Dj Yens on the decks spinning feel good classics, sultry soul and new school hip-hop. Brunch hours are from 10:30-2:30pm.”

GRAND AVENUE 

There’s so much going on at Studio Grand, I’m not sure where to start – but I’ll do so by observing that the Source Trio concert last week was awe-inspiring. The impeccable performance by Jon Santos and Melecio Magdaluyo, combined with spoken word provided by local rapper, Rico Pabon made me feel privileged to be in attendance.

Amaryllis Dejesus Moleski

Lots more is in the works at Studio Grand including an Opening Night Reception on Saturday, July 8 from 6 – 8 PM of  “Time Piece: Simultaneous Contemplations on the Femme Frequency for a Lost and Fertile Planet”, a solo exhibition and mural by Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski.  It will be followed on July 22 with an artist talk and art-making event from 4 – 7 PM. This event is funded in part by a grant from Galeria de la Raza with additional support from the Akonadi Foundation.  The latter is also funding a Son Jarocho month beginning in mid-August that will include two fandangos, as well as  free Zapateado dance classes and free Jarana lessons.

Speaking of the Akonadi Foundation, a press release last week announced the appointment of Vanessa Camarena-Arredondo to the position of program officer for the Beloved Community Fund.  When Holly Schneider passed away shortly after founding Studio Grand, Vanessa (her long-time friend) stepped up to the plate and assumed the Directorship – helping it to continue thriving as a living memorial in Holly’s honor.  She leaves Studio Grand on a solid footing and, in a very timely gesture at last week’s concert, Jon Santos noted that La Pena is now celebrating its 42nd Anniversary and he’s played there every year.  Looking around the intimate space on Grand Avenue, he noted that this is exactly how La Pena began. Here’s to another forty some years!

My introduction to Son Jarocho music began last year with a Fandango at Studio Grand.  One of the lead musicians was Luis Balthazar, whom many may remember as a long-time server at Spettro.  Here for your enjoyment is a video on Facebook depicting the San Diego border area where the annual Fandango Fronerizo takes place.  The video is accompanied by a Son Jarocho song composed and performed by Luis.

By the way, the 4th Friday BALKAN NIGHT CONCERTS at Studio Grand are absolutely fabulous.  Here’s a link to a video that was filmed last year.

GRAND AVENUE NEWS IN BRIEF:

  • Film crews took over the Walker Avenue parking lot a couple of weeks ago as Daveed Diggs (of Hamilton fame) was filming a scene at the Alley – allegedly for “a buddy film exploring issues of class, race and gentrification”.
  • Eric Hughes and Russell Hill (with support from the Sierra Club and Derek Schubert from Trees for Oakland) are at it again.  Most recently, planting a new Sycamore in front of Pure 510.
  • The Margene’s space has a new tenant called the “Late Night Boutique” and the sign in the window promises “Really pretty (sexy) things are coming”.  This sounds like a dramatic change from the exceedingly sedate bridal shop it replaces – but a welcome addition nonetheless…or because, depending on your point of view.
  • The large Urban Furniture space at 3241 Grand is about to be fitted with thirty spin bikes – echoing its earlier use as the long-time home of Cycle Sports.
  • GABA had a mixer at Aisle 5 a couple of weeks ago and I was introduced to Thieny Hoang, who recently opened an acupuncture studio called “Thien Lake” at 3735 Grand.

For an always up-to-date business directory, click and save the…

GABA Logo

FARMERS MARKET

The neighborhood group that’s urging the City Council to request proposals from additional farmers market operators now has a name.  We’re the “Friends of the Grand Lake Farmers Market” – a name that underscores our commitment to making the market better than ever; more shopper-friendly; a better steward for the park’s infrastructure; more supportive of the community, the market vendors and the City of Oakland.

A planning meeting this past Wednesday was well attended and highly productive.  We are in unanimous agreement regarding the problems that need to be addressed – most notably, the market congestion, the lack of a coherent policy regarding customer parking, the ongoing damage to the park’s infrastructure and the Agricultural Institute of Marin’s lack of responsiveness to community concerns as was the case with the proposed Operational Guidelines that we published early in the year and just updated.  In addition, we’re convinced that seeking proposals from other farmers market operators – not just AIM is in all our best interests.  It’s the only way we can be assured that Oakland is getting the best deal possible financially and in terms of community benefits. 

As things stand now, AIM is on a month-to-month lease.  Although, a new contract has to be approved by the City Council as a whole, they’ll almost certainly follow the lead of our District 2 representative, Abel Guillen.  To his credit, when the Property Management Division went to his office late last year asking him to sign off on a new five-year lease pegged at $1,000 per month, Abel called me and after I explained why we were adamantly opposed, he declined to sign .  In the interim, AIM  has made a series of concessions but none of them are sufficient to offset their Marin-centric focus and their long history of abusing the park and ignoring community benefits.  If you agree, please send Abel an email  (aguillen@oaklandnet.com) or call his office (510) 238-7002.  If for no other reason, please do so to counter input generated by the flyers and petitions that lied about who we are and what we want to accomplish.

SPLASH PAD PARK

This is a dirty little secret we’ve been hiding for years.  There’s a major rat infestation at Splash Pad Park and previous efforts to resolve the problem through Alameda County Vector Control have only been temporarily successful. The best solution would be bait stations similar to those that are installed at the Lakeview Branch Library, the Lake Merritt Garden Center and probably dozens of other locations throughout the city. This is an ongoing health hazard and also a thorn in the side of the Splash Pad Park Grand Crew volunteers who regularly work in the park maintaining the California Native plant garden and more.

If you’re a SeeClickFix.com member, you can help us address this situation once and for all by clicking HERE and then voting to fix.  If you’re not on SeeClickFix, you can accomplish the same objective and vote to fix by emailing the Public Works Call Center directly using THIS LINK.

The park has yet another pressing problem that was first reported to SeeClickFix last October.  A wooden cleat that runs alongside one of the Names in Lights panels has rotted away and one end of the Ipe wood decking has sunk several inches creating a major tripping hazard.  You know the drill.  If you’re on SeeClickFix, click HERE to vote.  If not, send an email directly to the PWA Call Center using THIS LINK.

The Grand Crew’s next volunteer work day is Sunday, July 23 beginning at 9 AM and ending with lunch at Noon.  New volunteers are always welcome – experienced gardeners or not. Tools and gloves are provided.

GRAND AVENUE FIRST THURSDAYS

NEW ARTISTS THIS MONTH

This month’s First Thursdays event on the 6th will be a bit smaller than usual due to the 4th of July holiday – but will feature five new artists and two Opening Night Receptions.  The big draw will be “Signs of Resistance” at Panorama Framing featuring selections of contemporary political propaganda from the Lighthouse Collection.  Details for all ten participating galleries are on this Grand Avenue First Thursdays page.

ODDS AND ENDS

Any doubts about our prospects for Bike Fare stations have been thoroughly allayed thanks to not one, but two recent articles.  THIS ONE was published by the Ford Motor Co.  which has a big investment in the project and the SECOND ARTICLE is from the San Francisco Chronicle.  

Locations in the immediate vicinity include the foot of East 18th, Adams Point near Fairyland, the Pergola and Colonnade, Grand Fare Market and curb space in front of Starbucks, Noah’s and the Moroccan Palace.  As mentioned previously, we’re hoping to build a parklet adjacent to the last location – pending approval of new parklet regulations.

If you have kids and they’re of a much younger generation than mine, chances are you knew Ron Zeno – Fairyland’s Santa Claus and the voice of numerous characters in their puppet theater.   Fairyland Director, C.J. Hirschfield mourned his untimely passing with this moving tribute and separately, on Facebook, quoted from this 2014 article by Carvell Wallace.

Fairyland will have another opportunity to honor Zeno when their 50th Anniversary at the end of August features Puff the Magic Dragon in which he provided the voice for the title character.

We usually don’t report on businesses outside the greater Lake Merritt area,  but I’m going to make an exception for The Kebabery at the corner of 42nd and Market since the owners, Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain were the pioneers that started the food revolution on Grand Avenue back in 2008.  The impetus came from my Grime Busters’ buddy, Mary Ellen Navas, who called the property owner with a plea for a high end quality restaurant.  As they say, the rest is history.

As is the case at Camino, the menu doesn’t offer a lot of options but everything I ordered was just superb – especially the lamb which was extremely tender and very well spiced.  The most unusual and, in retrospect, maybe the best part was the large pile of fresh herbs that accompanied the kebab, along with yogurt, flatbread,  a carrot salad and mashed beets. Herbs included perilla, shiso, cutting celery, spearmint, cilantro and lovage.

And, just in case someone wants to give me a hard time for straying beyond our usual geographic boundaries, the lovage is grown right here in the Grand Lake District by Tim Drew and Chris Hwang, Walk Oakland/Bike Oakland’s Board President.

The Golden State Warriors got a lot of well-deserved love from their Bay Area fans at their celebration on June 15 and I was really pleased that the rumor about holding the parade in San Francisco turned out to be false.  I’m just hoping that when they make the big move, they don’t insult us by morphing into the San Francisco Warriors.

P.S. More parade photos HERE.

The Town Biz II event at Splash Pad Park had approximately sixty vendors and seemed well attended and very well received.  I’m hoping they return and that similar events are scheduled in the park as it isn’t being used to its full potential.

HAPPENINGS


The pedal-powered, always popular Pedalfest returns to Jack London Square on Saturday, July 22.

If you’re itching to explore Fairyland but don’t have the requisite child to make it past the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe and through the hallowed gates, Fairyland for Grown-ups on August 18 is geared especially for you. 

The Oakland Walking Tours program continues through October. The free tours are offered Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:00 a.m. Tour options include Old Oakland, Chinatown, Uptown to the Lake, and Preservation Park. More information, including details on the eight different tours, can be found at THIS LINK

Oakland’s National Night Out is set for August 1st.  More information is available HERE.  Registrations, which close on July 14th, can be filed at THIS LINK.   If you want a block party that focuses less on crime and more on community-building, the Ella Baker Center’s National Night Out event is also on August 1.   

 CALENDAR

  • Thursday, July 6:  Grand Avenue First Thursdays
  • Friday, July 3:  Art Murmur Downtown
  • Wednesday, July 19, 7 – 8:30 PM: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting in Lakeshore Baptist Church Family Room
  • Saturday, July 22:  Pedalfest at Jack London Square
  • Sunday, July 23, 9 AM – Noon: Splash Pad “GRAND CREW” Volunteer Work Day
  • August 18: Fairyland for Grown-ups