Splash Pad News – March 2019

All the News That Fits


Judging by the record number of subscribers who clicked through to read last month’s featured articles about Oakland’s homelessness crisis, this is obviously a huge issue. If you share those concerns but didn’t have time to read the February edition, it’s available at THIS LINK.  If, on the other hand, you did read the news but did so the morning of the blast email, you missed out on the link I posted a couple of hours later, after I happened across a remarkable Ted Talk by Doniece Sandoval, Lava Mae’s founder. I recommend it very highly.


Rico Rivera, on left

The September 2018 Splash Pad News  included an interview with Rico Rivera,  the new chef/owner at Penrose, who was quoted as saying that they would only be keeping the name temporarily. Six months later, a  sign in the front window just announced that they are soon to become Almond & Oak – a tribute to the two hardwoods they typically burn in their grill. In the September interview, Rico had also mentioned wanting to use the massive grill more extensively, which they’ve been doing incrementally. In addition, he expressed a desire to serve more seafood and, to that end, oysters are always on the menu along with at least one other seafood dish (currently, grilled swordfish). Come spring, the menu will be expanding and diners should expect to see a wide range of appetizers and other, lighter fare.

Dr. Natasha Bernard

The formal renaming will most likely coincide with the debut of the Almond & Oak website. Meanwhile, dinners are served seven nights a week; brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 AM-2 PM; and look for live music – a  jam session led by Grammy award winner, Tony Peebles, every Sunday from 8 – 10 PM.  As an aside, “The Cohen,” the Penrose cocktail featured in the aforementioned window sign, has nothing to do with “Michael.”

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of meeting Natasha Bernard, the Doctor of Osteopathy who recently moved her Alchemy Restorative Medicine practice into the space next to Connie’s Cantina – the storefront occupied by Queen at Home for a couple of decades. Her office is only partially furnished, but Dr. Bernard graciously agreed to pose for a photo. Her office was previously located in Berkeley, and she says she’s delighted by her move to Grand Avenue and is looking forward to meeting neighborhood residents and fellow business owners. She has a good head-start in that Ross Turner, a long-time Grand Avenue resident, is doing all her graphics.

Urban Boutique and Furniture will be celebrating Women’s History Month with a women-centric art exhibit entitled, “Burst in Bloom” accompanied by a series of Thursday night “Chat Circles.”  A major highlight will be a festive artists’ reception to be held on the lush patio at Brother and Sisters Flower Shop on March 21 from 6 – 8:30 PM.

Urban University’s work with single mothers is being documented online at the Beacon of Light website, which features photos by Amir Saadiq and a blog written by founder and director, Tracey Weaver. By the way, Tracey apologizes that Urban Boutique and Furniture won’t be open for this month’s First Thursdays as she will be in New Orleans addressing a conference on poverty, but she encourages everyone to come to the artists’ reception on the 21st or to stop in when you’re on Grand Avenue.

Damián and Diego Nazzal

Damián and Diego Nazzal, the twin brothers who were in the process of moving into the storefront vacated by Sole Space as we went to press last month, are now settled in and also have their Custom Sofa website up and running. From what they tell me, they grew up in the furniture trade, following in their father’s and uncle’s footsteps. As an aside, yesterday afternoon I told Damián, or maybe it was Diego, that I’d have to charge them extra for this plug since it would take me half an hour to figure out how to add the diacritical mark over the “a” in one of their names. I was just kidding as it only took five minutes, or maybe a little bit more.

Studio Grand’s calendar is pretty limited as we go to press, but that’s in part due to the fact that the volunteers who manage this wonderful non-profit are stretched pretty thin at this point. That said, the concert tomorrow (Saturday) night featuring “Pretty Fire” and an improv band that incorporates musical comedy and a loop machine sounds like it should be a lot of fun. Also scheduled for Monday nights, March 4 and 11, is the Oakland Freedom Jazz Society.

If you have any doubts as to how fortunate we are to live in this neighborhood, one good measure is the number of local businesses that are listed as nominees on Oakland Magazine‘s Best of Oakland ballot. Between Lakeshore Avenue’s list and the one I’ve compiled for Grand Avenue, just about every base is covered – in some cases, two or three times over. Although you very likely already support at least some of these independently-owned  businesses financially, you can also do your part by filling out their Best of Oakland ballot no later than March 8.


Best Breakfast/Brunch – Grand Lake Kitchen
Best Chef – Rico Rivera, Penrose
Best Dim Sum – Qi Dumpling Lounge
Best Ethiopian/Eritrean Restaurant – Cafe Romanat
Best Farmers Market – Grand Lake
Best Greek Restaurant – Ikaros
Best Indian Restaurant – High Peaks
Best Korean Restaurant – Jong Ga House
Best Pizza – The Star on Grand
Best Wine Bar – Bay Grape and Ordinaire
Best Wine Store – Bay Grape
Best Pilates Studio – X-CORE
Best Place to Take the Kids – Fairyland
Best Yoga Studio – Left Coast Power Yoga


Best Barber Shop – Slick and Dapper
Best Bike Shop – Cycle Sports
Best Book Store – Walden Pond
Best Chocolate Shop – Michael Mischer
Best Clothing Resale – Knimble
Best Frame Shop – Galleria Scola and Panorama Framing
Best Hardware Store – Grand Lake Ace
Best Insurance Agent – Ruth Stroup
Best Place to Get a Manicure or Pedicure – Natural Nails Plus
Best Plant Nursery – Ace Nursery Grand Avenue
Best Shopping District – Grand Avenue
Best Veterinary Clinic – Grand Lake Veterinary
Best Waxing Salon – Skin & Tonic


by Kira Pascoe

Kira has a ton of news to report this month, including an announcement about Buckingham Wine and Spirits being offered for sale. For old-timers like myself, this represents the end of an era, since Jessie and her late husband, Max, have been the best of neighbors for the past thirty years. As a loyal customer – to the point that I asked the City to install a bike rack out front, I’m going to miss Jessie and her entire family.

The other big news is that the much-anticipated Rico Rico Taqueria opened on February 18 with little fanfare but with a very warm welcome. Also, in the news, a total of fifteen Lakeshore businesses are on the Best of Oakland ballot AND vegan pizza is coming to Arizmendi.

This abbreviated summary barely scratches the surface. For all the details, please peruse  Lakeshore Avenue’s Latest News.


Jerry Barclay, chair of the Grand Lake Farmers Market Citizen’s Advisory Committee has just announced a community meeting to discuss the current state of negotiations between the City of Oakland and the Agricultural Institute of Marin. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 14 beginning at 7 PM in the Family Room at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church. Our new District 2 Councilmember, Nikki Fortunato Bas, should be in attendance. The proposed agenda includes:

  1. A progress report from Nikki on the AIM/City agreement.
  2. A report from AIM on its various initiatives and information about the ongoing market – issues/challenges/farmer and vendor updates.
  3. Discussion and plans to implement a survey of merchants on Grand and Lakeshore avenues regarding their views of the market, its benefits, and problems it may create for them.

With a big assist from Eric Hughes, Jerry has also just updated the Farmers Market Advisory Committee’s page on the Grand Lake Neighbors home page.

After snapping the above photo several weeks back, I ambled over to the Same Day Seafood booth and suggested to owner Gary Root that he could diversify his offerings by planting trout in the adjacent “lake.” He politely declined, which is just as well since all the water percolated through the gravel within a day or two.

Last month, I mentioned that Paschal (one of the homeless individuals camping in the parking lot under the freeway) was on the waitlist for one of the Tuff Shed villages. What I didn’t realize at the time was that these facilities are being managed by Operation Dignity. Until this past week, I also didn’t have a clue as to what Katie Derrig, the long-time volunteer in the Farmers Market Information booth (who doesn’t get nearly enough recognition) does for a living. It turns out that she is Operation Dignity’s Program Manager in charge of fundraising, grant writing, and fostering community relationships. A tip of the hat to Katie for all that she’s doing.

An up-to-date list of all the Grand Lake Farmers Market vendors is available at THIS LINK.


This month’s First Thursdays on Grand art walk takes place on March 7. Hours are 6 – 8 PM unless otherwise noted.

Alchemy Bottle Shop’s second-floor gallery has a new show entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” featuring art with detailed line work by Oakland-based artist Kayleen Dejesus, also known as “Kayleendaa.” Urban Furniture and Boutique will be hosting an Artist Reception for a new show featuring assemblage by Sonoma-based artist, Lindsey McAllister. Reception will include beverages and snacks.

Panorama Framing is hosting an Opening Night Artist’s Reception featuring paintings by Carol Ladewig. Live music + complimentary wine, cheese, and small bites.

Most of the artwork filling the walls at 510 Brand is newly hung – featuring new works  by Steven Haman, Natalina Simi, Jeremy Reule, Cameron Bowman and more. Live DJ + complimentary drinks and snacks. 6 PM – 10 PM.

Jau Jou Studio has a new show of photographic collages by artist and musician Daniel Lippincott.

The Libertine is again featuring Josh Stevenson’s nudes printed on aluminum that focus on the interplay between light and shadows.


In last month’s News, I enumerated a very long list of major, long-standing infrastructure problems in Splash Pad Park and concluded by saying that I have a hard time blaming Public Works employees, since the entire department is so terribly understaffed. Coincidentally, on Tuesday, March 5, two different City Council committees will be receiving a report from the Oakland Parks and Recreation Foundation decrying what they are describing as a crisis in park management. If you can attend to speak in support of more hands-on staffing, please do so. If not, you can email the council members in advance. Meeting details are available at THIS LINK.

At the volunteer work day last Sunday, Grand Crew volunteers landscaped the second of the two fern beds and enclosed it with bamboo fencing. The newly planted California Natives are a huge improvement over the ferns. The downside is that, while they’ve been focusing on this project for the past two months, the weeds in the older California Native beds have been flourishing, especially with the heavy rains. The volunteers would love to see some new helpers at their next work day on Sunday, March 20 from 9 – Noon. Tools and gloves are provided. No gardening experience is required, but please wear shoes and clothing that can get dirty.




As s I mentioned last month, neighborhood residents Lucy and Randy Glover have proposed a 14-by-70-foot mural at the southern end of the City of Oakland parking lot between Grand and Walker Avenues. The mural, which will feature the Grand Lake Farmers Market at Splash Pad Park with the Grand Lake Theater looming in the background, will both beautify our community and support local art. The muralist, Stefen, is a local artist who recently painted the mural in the Trader Joe’s parking lot on Lakeshore, as well as many others in the East Bay. As residents of the adjacent condo, the Glovers are seeking $6,000 in donations to make their dream a reality.

For the latest updates about their fundraising campaign or to make a donation, please visit their GRAND/WALKER MURAL page. 

On February 23, Heart & Dagger Saloon shared a Facebook post that included a link to an article in USA Today about Allen Michaan and the Grand Lake Theatre marquee that serves as his personal protest sign. We shared it on our own Splash Pad Facebook page, as did at least sixteen other groups and individuals including my brother in Perris, California. USA Today also brought Haddon Hill resident David Gans into the discussion by sharing the link to the Flickr page on which he’s been documenting the marquee since at least 2005. For the historical record, Jim Ratliff’s Grand Lake Guardian scooped the national press by a good dozen years with this 2006 article on the very same subject.

David Gans Photo

David Gans also figures tangentially in one of the most consequential stories that we’re reporting this month thanks to the article he wrote for the December 2017 Splash Pad News entitled, “Fairyland’s C. J.Hirschfield: We’re in the Memory-Making Business.”  C. J., who has been Fairyland’s director for the past seventeen years has just announced her retirement effective this summer. Not surprisingly, the accolades are pouring in for what she managed to accomplish over this span. From what I’ve read, Fairyland was in disrepair when she assumed her post. She has totally transformed the grounds and the scope of Fairyland’s overall mission by opening the park to a broader audience including low-income children, not to mention the adults who’ve more recently flocked to the park for special fundraising events. This is going to be a very hard act for someone to follow.

Another hard act to follow is Tora Rocha, the recently retired Parks Supervisor who created the Autumn Lights Festival and the Pollinator Posse. Tora has been honored by KPIX with a Jefferson Award and that segment is tentatively scheduled to be broadcast sometime later this week.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Tessa Quintanilla, the Project Manager at EAH Housing who is in charge of planning for the fifty-four units of affordable housing proposed for the Kwik Way site. Currently, they are continuing to arrange financing and don’t expect to break ground until late 2020 at the earliest. As Kira Pascoe reported in the Lakeshore Avenue News, Merritt Bakery has relocated – leaving the premises vacant. EAH would prefer to see the space occupied as long as possible and welcomes your suggestions, which you can share via email to info@splashpad.org or, better yet, with comments registered via the link at the bottom of this page. I’m also happy to report that, regardless, EAH has a janitorial service that will continue to keep the property clean and free of blight.


On the last day of this month, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church will be honoring Jim Hopkins for his thirtieth anniversary as their pastor. I’m more familiar with Jim and LABC than I might have been otherwise as a result of helping then Council Member Pat Kernighan with the content for a City of Oakland proclamation that she presented to him in 2012. Even without that experience, I know first-hand that the church, under his leadership, agreed to perform same-sex marriages way back when. I know that virtually every neighborhood community meeting I’ve attended since the formation of our Splash Pad group circa  2000 was held in Barnett Hall or the church itself. And,  I’m also very aware of Jim’s hosting the Cease Fire call-ins in addition to the church’s efforts to feed those less fortunate than ourselves. Also, Jim was a key member of the Greater Mandana Action Coalition – the group that brought Noah’s and Starbucks to Lakeshore, which were in a steep decline at the time. Subsequently, the same group convinced Arizmendi to open on Lakeshore. Currently, Jim is the chair of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District.

The church’s plans for the 31st include a family-friendly, 10 AM worship service featuring a sermon in which Jim will talk about what being a pastor has meant to him over the past thirty years. Following the worship service, the church will host a lunch and short program to which the community, at large, is invited. If you’re unable to attend, you can also express your appreciation with a written message delivered to the church or church office next door no later than Wednesday, March 27.

Newly elected District 2 Councilmember, Nikki Fortunato Bas, is hosting a Community Forum to discuss the redevelopment of the Kaiser Convention Center on March 2  from 10 AM – 2 PM at The Forum on the Laney College campus.


Here are a few highlights from this month’s Event Calendar:

  • Oakland Museum WHITE ELEPHANT SALE – this Saturday and Sunday
  • Community Forum to discuss redevelopment of the Kaiser Convention Center – Saturday, March 2, 10 -2. The Forum at Laney College.
  • Grand Avenue First Thursdays art walk – March  7, 6-8 PM
  • Grand Lake Neighbors Meeting – Wednesday March 20, 7-8:30 PM, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church Family Room
  • The Plant Exchange – Saturday, March 23. 4500 Lincoln Avenue
  • Splash Pad Work Day, Sunday, March 24, 9-noon
  • SPRING FOR PARKS – Oakland Parks & Recreation Foundations’ 16th Annual Fundraiser – Thursday, April 25

 We typically publish the Splash Pad News around the first of each month. If you’d like to receive an email announcing publication, please email us at info@splashpad.org with “SUBSCRIBE” on the subject line or click on the link at the very top of this page. Comments are always welcome via the link below.





6 responses to “Splash Pad News – March 2019”

  1. Karen Hunt Avatar
    Karen Hunt

    Terrific issue, as always. Greatly appreciate your hard work.

  2. Janis Clark Avatar
    Janis Clark

    I always look forward to your publication about our great neighborhood.

  3. C.J. Hirschfield Avatar
    C.J. Hirschfield

    Thanks so much for the kind words re: my stepping down as Fairyland’s chief fairy. As a resident of Adams Point, and a lover of all things Lake Merritt, I definitely plan on staying involved in this great community!

    1. Ken Katz Avatar
      Ken Katz

      C.J. That’s the best possible news we could ask for.

  4. Thank you, as always! You are a tremendous asset to the community. I am proud to be a contributor in my modest way.

  5. Excellent neighborhood coverage as usual