Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends – April 2022

The Chronicle‘s Elena Kadvany scooped everybody on March 21 when she reported that Vegan Mob is going to relocate to 1500 Broadway but was unclear as to the circumstances of their moving. Tessa Quintanilla, the Project Manager for EAH Housing, responded to an inquiry from Eric Hughes, the Co-Chair of the Grand Lake Neighbors Group, with the following message:

We have indicated to Vegan Mob that our construction start has been delayed and we are happy to have them stay until that happens, but of course it makes sense that they would want to take an opportunity to get settled permanently somewhere if that became available. We will wish them the best of luck in their new location but it would have been great to have them stay a bit longer and keep this stretch activated until the housing comes.

To answer your question about the ownership, the Oakland Housing Authority owns the land, but EAH manages it via a lease, so we will coordinate with OHA and see if it is possible or makes sense to find another temporary tenant.

Unfortunately, construction on the affordable housing likely won’t begin until mid-late 2023, as disheartening as that is. State funding for affordable housing has been extremely competitive the last couple years and our recent applications haven’t been successful. We do have two awards under our belt, but need to secure additional state and/or local funding before we can apply for the final source – low-income housing tax credits and bonds.

The reason some of our past state applications haven’t been successful range from lack of local assistance (before we had the partnership with OHA, this was an issue; typically the City provides the first dollars in the deal, but the City of Oakland did not allow new projects to apply for a couple of years as they had a backlog of projects), average affordability was not low enough to be successful despite being at about 40/45% of area median income (successful projects had average income limits around 30% of area median income which is difficult to make work without a project heavily subsidized with project-based rental assistance; we have 14 vouchers but would need more to lower affordability to 30% average), and the high cost of building in this location and with this design. The scoring is changing for the upcoming state funding application, and we hope that we’ll be successful the next time around.

A 21st-century version of a public restroom adjacent to Astro Park was unveiled on March 18. Vice Mayor Kaplan learned about the Portland Loos on a trip to Portland a few years ago and advocated bringing these modern, durable cost-effective bathrooms to Oakland. Council President Bas and Kaplan included three of these Loos in the City’s 2019 budget for Astro Park, Madison Park, and Concordia Park. Additional funds were needed for the full installation and Bas successfully worked with the District 2 Community Block Grant District Board to obtain funding for the full costs for the Astro Park location.

The Oakland Public Works Department led the project management, designing the placement of the Loo and managing construction for the water and sewer connections. The Loo is solar-powered and has a hand-washing station and potable water. The Portland Loo company says this about their product:

The sleek and modern kiosk discourages crime with graffiti-proof wall panels and open grating. And, they’re easy to clean, with commonly used components that are easy to replace or upgrade.

Is Oakland up to the challenge? According to Portland Loo, “The proof is in the potty.” P.S. The cute kid on the far right goes down in history as the first to use the Loo.

Debra Israel, the new neighborhood liaison from Council President Bas’s office, organized (more or less on the spur of the moment) an extremely successful neighborhood clean-up on Sunday, March 13 with a total of approximately thirty volunteers. The clean-up spanned both sides of the freeway, with a big faction from the Trash Falcons, a volunteer group that meets at 9 am on Sundays in front of 400 Perkins to clean around Adams Point and Lake Merritt. Other involved groups included the Grand Lake Neighbors, District 4 Councilmember Sheng Thao 陶盛, Lake Neighbors, Rotary Nature Center Friends, The Lakeshore Business Improvement District, Grand Avenue Business Association, Lakeshore Homes Association, Lake Merritt Community Advocates, and the Splash Pad Grand Crew. The next neighborhood clean-up is scheduled for Sunday, April 24 from 9 – noon beginning at Splash Pad Park. This will again coincide with the Grand Crew’s fourth Sunday workday, and Mary Jo would be absolutely delighted to have a few additional volunteers willing to help with weeding and planting.

If you’ve been a Splash Pad News subscriber for more than a few years, you’re well aware of the extent to which the Grand Lake Farmers Market Advisory Committee was concerned about the nearly total lack of community benefits being provided by the Agricultural Institute of Marin. The extent to which this situation has been remedied is epitomized by this recent announcement:

AIM’s Farmers Market Racial Equity Fund: As part of our work to make markets more inclusive and accessible, we are thrilled to officially announce AIM’s new Racial Equity Fund! The Fund will initially cover the start-up costs and offer mentorship for seven beginning BIPOC farmers, small food businesses, or artisans who are approved to join AIM’s Bay Area Farmers Markets, including Oakland’s Grand Lake Farmers Market. Each year, we’ll award funding to new cohorts. To qualify, producers must identify as BIPOC and be within the first five years of participating in any AIM Farmers market. The Racial Equity Fund Application period will be open March 28th thru May 4th, 2022. More details are available on our website.

Unless you’re a very recent subscriber, you may also recall  articles by Joanne Devereaux and Ken Katz regarding the plight of the homeless — especially those who are mentally ill. If you share these concerns, we urge you to take part in the ZOOM meeting on April 4 to discuss what Alameda County needs to do in order to provide more comprehensive mental health services. Details are in Sheila McCormick’s monthly calendar.

You can nominate your favorite neighborhood business for Oakland Magazine‘s Best of Oakland annual awards before April 15 at 11 pm by clicking on this link.

Hats off to long-time subscriber Shelby Solomon for alerting us to a KTVU News report (with videos) about Donnie Williams, the 38-year-old, former contestant on American Idol who sings regularly at the pedestrian bulbout in front of Chipotle.





2 responses to “Odds and Ends – April 2022”

  1. Sad and frustrating to see the lot at 500 Lake Park continue to be sorely underutilized and in such a prime location as well. Politics continue to make it so difficult to build needed housing and it appears that the desire for perfect remains the enemy of good in this case. Especially since eligibility for public housing per OHA is for those who “Earn 80 percent of area median income or less as a household”.

  2. Many thanks to Shelby for sharing this article! This man’s singing is phenomenal! He sings totally from the heart. I always thought he must sing professionally somewhere. I look for him every time I go down to Lakeshore.