Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends – September 2021

A tip of the hat to Miya Saika Chen, the Chief of Staff for City Council President Nikki Bas, for providing the Grand Lake Neighbors with a status report regarding a significant number of issues which we are summarizing below.
EAH Housing has sold the property which is currently occupied by the Vegan Mob to the Oakland Housing Authority but they will continue to oversee construction and manage the facility once it’s completed. The new building will provide fifty units of affordable housing plus a ground-floor retail space. According to Tessa Quintanilla, Project Manager for EAH, the Housing Authority has committed to contributing $7.5 million toward the $50 million currently budgeted. She also reported that EAH was awarded about $5 million in funding through the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) Veterans Housing and Homelessness Prevention (VHHP) program last year. Through this funding, twenty of the units will be reserved for formerly homeless veterans and their families. She added that current projections anticipate obtaining all the necessary financing in fall 2022 at the earliest, unless the State of California somehow comes up with additional funding.
Coincidentally, earlier this week, a poster that we printed in opposition to plans that were announced in 2015 to lease the Kwik Way building to Dunkin’ Donuts and 31 Flavors turned up. It was a déja-vu moment, as the Hahn family had twice previously attempted to lease the property to chain restaurants beginning with McDonald’s in 2004 and Fatburger in 2007. On all three occasions, the overwhelming consensus was that neighborhood stakeholders wanted a mixed-use development, not franchise restaurants. Emails to Eric Hughes earlier this week elicited a link to a recording of him singing “The Dunkin’ Donuts Blues,” as well as the above photo of a spur-of-the-moment protest at the farmers market. It was one of the shortest protests on record as the Hahn family caved the following day. Here’s the rub: when Alex Hahn sold the property to EAH, he retained the rights to the 1,500-square-foot commercial space. Our prediction is that if this community wants Vegan Mob (if they’re still available) or any other independently owned local business as the tenant, we’re going to have to fight for it one more time.

The other issues covered in Miya’s report include:

  • Status of 601 MacArthur – This is a vacant parcel at the corner of MacArthur and Wesley where a condo development was originally planned back in 2017 as reported by Sheila McCormick in the February edition.  The Lakehouse Development Team reports that no progress has been made on this project partially due to the pandemic and delays from the City Dept. of Building and Planning.
  • Paving Rand Avenue, which we understood was scheduled for 2021. From OakDOT: “Unfortunately we are down by two staff (out of 6) and that has set our design work back. Many streets we thought we could prepare plans to get paved by the end of 2021 are no longer on that trajectory. I am hopeful we can get to Rand in early 2022.”
  • Status on supporting 911 on cell phones and dispatcher staffing.  Two more dispatchers were hired in April, but we should ask about the cell phone question.
  • Portland Loo at the Lake (Astro Park): From OPW: “Everything was set to start construction at Concordia, Astro, and Madison Parks, but when I checked the status of the delivery/receipt of the Portland Loo units manufactured be Madden Fabrication in the beginning of June, the manufacturer had pushed the delivery date back to late November due to difficulty w/ meeting the initial manufacturing timelines. Due to the above, we elected to postpone the start of construction on the utility lines and foundations since the restroom units were not scheduled to arrive until late November.  The contractor will be starting on the construction of the bathroom foundations and utility line connections this week, and they will be secured until the receipt of the pre-fabricated restroom units.”
  • Getting cameras and functioning auto charging stations in the Walker parking lot. From Michael Ford, OakDOT: EV charging at the lot: our original electrician was not able to finish the installation and we have been working on a work around which was delayed due to the pandemic. I hope to have a new electrician in place soon, but no definite time frame at the moment. We originally planned to build the security cameras solution off of the EV charger installation; if there is interest among the abutter businesses to host the equipment and connection, then I am open to exploring that option.

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Comments

3 responses to “Odds and Ends – September 2021”

  1. Why is there so much trash around Vegan Mob? I want to love this business but all the trash gets me down.

  2. I think most of us are happy to have more housing in the Vegan Mob spot although the farmers market will lose important parking. That said, I hope it isn’t too late to get a better design for the building than that pictured in the article. It is neither appropriate for our neighborhood, nor good contemporary design. Can you let us know who to reach out to at the City on this?
    Thanks.

    1. Deborah, Thanks for your input. Honestly, I don’t think that the loss of parking will significantly impact the Farmers Market and, if you’re not already aware of this, the parking lot (including the playground) at the school across the street is available for free parking. As for the proposed design, Lowney Architecture met with a number of representatives from the Oakland Heritage Alliance early in the planning process and they were hugely impressed with what they were seeing–primarily because it wasn’t the kind of cookie-cutter contemporary buildings that are going up all over the city. Their big concern is that many of the design elements on the facade will be lost due to cost-cutting measures.