Splash Pad Newsletter – October 2015


As  I reported last month, the dedicated volunteers at Studio Grand were supposed to take a well-deserved vacation through the month of September.  Judging by their event calendar, it must have been a working vacation as they have eighteen events scheduled for this month including five concerts sponsored by the Oakland Freedom Jazz Society plus the incomparable Valerie Troutt performing on Sunday, October 18.

On October 16, they will be hosting a closing reception for “Eyes on the Movement” – a group show of photographers  documenting social movements in the Bay Area and on the 25th, the opening reception for “Altar of My Passing” – a group show curated by Adrian Arias accompanied by music and dance.

“Altar of My Passing” will tie in directly with a Day of the Dead Celebration on Sunday, November 1 from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m.  Details are not yet posted but last year’s celebration was free and absolutely delightful unless you hate crowds – in which case, arrive early. In addition to their event schedule, Studio Grand is also continuing to host group voice and dance classes.  The latter includes Son Jarocho, Bomba and Soca Rhythm dance forms.

The entrance to Grand Fare Market was boarded up on Tuesday when I was out doing interviews and taking photographs – but I did get a few shots through the window where Freya’s floral shop is located and it looks stunning – which, I suspect,  will be in keeping with the overall appraisal of the building and patio.  Within a very few days, Doug should be opening the doors for the public and we’ll see (and taste) for ourselves.Men'sClothingatAlyce's

Alyce from Alyce on Grand relishes change and her latest innovation is a line of men’s clothing and accessories that apparently is selling quite well.  Check it out when your in the neighborhood -particularly since Oak Common is right next door and Knimble across the street.

A couple of days after publishing last month’s newsletter, I met the folks who are moving into the Boniere Bakery space.  It will, in fact, be a French bakery and it sounds like a good fit that will complement Grand Bakery across the street and Grand Fare two doors up.  Hopefully, I’ll have more details soon.

Better Homes and Gardens Realty, which is being displaced by the E. W. Trapp project, has signed a lease for office space in the building just beyond Camino.  Office Manager, Melissa Case, tells me that we should watch for an Open House sometime in November.  She also indicated that the agency has resolved to become more involved in the community.  One current example is their support for Clausen House’s 3rd Annual Walk for Independence  fundraiser on October 10.  In addition to walking, agents will be providing a table supplied with water and “healthy snacks”.  By the way, Clausen House is the subject of this month’s “Grand Avenue – West of 580 Blog”.

Speaking of E. W. Trapp, I just exchanged emails with John Quinn who indicated that they are currently in the midst of finalizing interior and exterior plans while finishing their permit applications with the Alameda County Health Department and the Alcohol Beverage Control District.  John predicted that they could open by April or May “unless there are hiccups”.  Unfortunately, there always seem to be hiccups and sometimes it seems, much worse.  Realistically, I’d look for the taps to flow sometime next summer.

Baraka Gallery at 432 Santa Clara has been open for quite a while but the hours have previously been severely limited.  Owner Shiffen Melaku is now working full-time at the gallery,   Six days a week, the doors typically open at 11:00 a.m.  but  9:00 a.m. on Saturdays to accommodate the Farmers Market crowds.

Offerings include an eclectic mix of jewelry, antiques, baskets, folk and tribal art, textiles and locally-made crafts and most recently, cacti and succulents – many in ceramic pots at extremely reasonable prices.  Stop by when you can and linger over a cup of hot tea.  Shiffen always has the kettle on.

Big changes are in the works for Urban Furniture.  They’re scheduled to open a furniture warehouse at 1960 Adeline on October 10 that will provide a steady stream of furnishings  for  the Grand Avenue shop while also opening for retail sales on weekends.

In addition, it will serve as an “urban learning center” that teaches customer service,  contextualized math and reading literacy while simultaneously providing self-esteem workshops for single mothers transitioning from public assistance. Eventually, the learning center will include a GED component.  Program Director Tracey Weaver is looking for volunteers to help with merchandising this weekend.  If you have time available, stop in or phone 835-3165.

Uhuru Furniture & Collectibles is also expanding.  They’ve leased the adjacent, long-vacant storefront which more or less doubles their available floor space.  They will be hosting a Grand Opening celebration featuring refreshments, music, prizes and amazing deals on Saturday, October 10th from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.Maven2Maven1

Maven, the new hair salon at 3602 Grand, looks like a winner based on the decor as well as fantastic Yelp reviews.

Owner Kayla Thai had been styling hair in Alameda for more than a decade but this is her first independent venture.  A good portion of her Alameda clientele followed her to Oakland and they’re largely responsible for the salutations that now decorate the front counter.

If you’re a first-time visitor, mention the Splash Pad Newsletter and request a 20% discount – not to mention, cookies and beverages which are always available.

Peter Brady just informed me that he’s sold the long-closed, Grand Lake Smoke Shop.  The new owner is the father of Parisa Hemmat, who took over operation of Grand Flowers in July.  Peter said it would remain a Smoke Shop but that’s not yet confirmed.  Will provide updates next month.Rasul Salahi

Rasul Salahi doesn’t offer magic carpet rides but, for approximately twenty years, he’s been buying, selling, cleaning and repairing Oriental rugs in his shop at 3704 Grand Avenue.  He’s just posted a “Liquidation Sale” banner in his front window and he tells me that everything is discounted including the very large, circa 1890 Agra carpet with a design based on the Taj Mahal.

Alchemy Bottle Shop will be hosting an Opening Night Reception for a show entitled “Tahiti and Beyond” – featuring oils by Tana Sommer.  Date is  October 17 from 6:00 -8:00 p.m.

In addition, Alchemy is continuing its regular series of tastings this Saturday with bourbon, rye and wheat whiskeys provided by Sonoma County Distillers.  Visit the Alchemy Bottle Shop website for more information. Kyle Runyon at Walden Pond

Walden Pond Books began buying and selling LP’s a couple of years ago and, under the guidance of Kyle Runyon,  they’ve come to specialize in esoteric recordings featuring soul/funk/blues and international psychedelic rock.  Much of what’s available is used but the rarest are new pressings of old recordings – as is the case with the Erkin Koray album that Kyle is holding.  If original, Kyle says,  “…it would be worth thousands”.

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The old saying goes, “The more things change, the more they remain the same”.  Except when they don’t – as is increasingly the case on Lakeshore.  Lakeshore Produce and the Burrito Shop have both just closed to make room for a major expansion of Peet’s.

Although Chip Johnson reported in his September 25 column that the Burrito shop had offered to pay three times as much rent as previously, that offer was trumped by Peet’s apparent willingness to pay big bucks for rent while also assuming the cost of interior renovations including new electrical and plumbing. Lakeshore Produce is in the process of relocating to 3312  Lakeshore and should be reopening fairly soon.  The Burrito Shop, on the other hand, is still looking for another location in the area.

EDITOR’S CORRECTION:  I heard earlier this evening that Peet’s is expanding into the Burrito Shop but not into the Lakeshore Produce space and that the latter has been leased to a different tenant. I can’t yet confirm either scenario.

Just up the street, Hollywood Pizza was shut down by the Alameda County Health Department which would indicate some pretty serious infractions.  Meanwhile, according to Abebe Lema, Lakeshore’s long-time security guard, new owners are aboard and changes are most definitely in the works.

The Cheese Steak shop nearby is also closed – but voluntarily.  The contractor working there indicated that they were “putting a new face on an  old building” with new paint and wainscoting.  From what little I saw, it should be a bright and cheery space.  Plans are to re-open on Monday.

Across the street, the new juice bar called “The Main Squeeze” is belatedly scheduled to open next Monday.  It’s located at 3435 Lakeshore (next to Lin Jia) and partners are James Gatts,  who was the Bar Manager at Shakewell, along with Nimer Musleh and his brother, Omar from Flipside.

Lin Jia 5th Anniversary
Lin Jia 5th Anniversary

Speaking of Lin Jia, it’s hard to believe how fast time flies.  In November, they will be celebrating their 5th Anniversary with a generous nod to the community of which they are very much a part. Owner, Marcia Lam is pledging a portion of their total proceeds during November to four local non-profits:  Splash Pad Park, the Morcom Rose Garden, the Gardens at Lake Merritt and Fairyland.

For Splash Pad Park’s “Grand Crew”, this is a very generous and timely offer since we’re planning a big expansion of the California Native Plant Bed but currently have zero funds.  Please watch for more details in the November Newsletter.

This year Halloween falls on Saturday.  There’s currently no information available on the Lakeshore website or Facebook page but I’m assuming that the parade and other festivities will be centered at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church beginning around 10:00 a.m.



In this month’s blog,  LZ reports on Clausen House which has been providing invaluable services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1968.   All previous West of 580 blogs are posted on This archive.


This month’s First Thursdays Art Walk takes place October 1.   Hours are 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.

Panorama Framing  will be hosting a mid-show reception for  “Urban Alternativesbright acrylic paintings by Debra Jan Bibel who will be present to greet gallery visitors.  Refreshments will be served.

San Francisco Fiber  at 3711 Grand extends an open invitation to try your hand at weaving and spinning.

Studio Grand should be open between 6:00 and 8:00  for viewing of  “Eyes on the Movement” – a group show of photographers  documenting social movements in the Bay Area.

Alchemy Bottle Shop is exhibiting landscapes and large format, waterfowl paintings   by Kim Snyder.   Open to 8:00 p.m. only.

Jau Jou Studio is exhibiting “This Show is for the Birds” – quirky portraits of wild fowl by Anson Cyr.   Jau Jou is open to 8:00 p.m. and they offer a  15% discount on all salon merchandise between 6:00 and 8:00.

Baraka Gallery (432 Santa Clara) is focusing this month on textiles from South Asia with a show entitled “Dazzling Textiles of India”.  Tea will be served.


Farmers Market Jack-o-LanternAutumn’s onset heralds the seasonal departure of two farms.  Kashiwase and Lucero should return next Spring.  A third farm, Life Food Gardens has been absent for the past couple of weeks due to fires raging in Lake County.  Although the farm property hasn’t been damaged, access is apparently very difficult.

On October 31, in celebration of Halloween, the farmers market management will be giving away 150 small pumpkins while providing fruit and veggie ornamentation.  Patrons are invited to come in costume – G or PG rated only, please.


Splash Pad Grand Crew’s work day in September was even more productive than usual. The California Native beds were thoroughly spruced up under Mary Jo Sutton’s guidance and the last of the cardboard weed barrier was installed behind the fountain.  At the opposite end of the Plaza, we also laid the first few pieces of cardboard in the remnants of the large Dogwood bed into which we’ll be expanding the California Native Garden.

The Grand Crew also welcomed two new members:  Angela Martinez and Joyce Sherman. Our next work day on Sunday, October 25 starts at 9:00 a.m. and ends at Noon with lunch. This past month, I made a big salad and Mary Jo baked a loaf of lemon-rosemary bread complemented by bolani graciously donated by East West Foods.

RSVP’s to info@splashpad.sitedistrict.com would be appreciated.


The 4th Annual  Autumn Lights Festival has quickly emerged as one of the most creative events in the East Bay and it’s also a major fundraiser for the Gardens at Lake Merritt.  So “Get Lit for a Good Cause” on Friday and Saturday, October 16 and 17.  Tickets can be purchased on the Gardens at Lake Merritt website.  If you’re planning on attending, buy your tickets early as attendance is limited to 3,000 each night and Parks Supervisor, Tora Rocha is convinced that the event will be sold out.PlantExchangeFlyer

The biannual Plant Exchange which first took root around the corner from me on Lakeshore Avenue has since moved to 2619 Broadway.  The Autumn 2015 edition takes place on Saturday October 17 from Noon to 4:00 p.m.

GiftFaire The 2nd Annual Neighborhood Gift Faire at Regeneration Church on December 5 is a collaboration involving half a dozen neighborhood organizations.  It will feature local arts, music, crafts and food.  Artist submissions should be sent to sashaesposito@gmail.com no later than November 1.

The Clausen House Walk for Independence is Saturday, October and there’s still plenty of time to sign up as a walker or to volunteer.


The proposed road diet on Grand Avenue is tentatively on the agenda of the Public Works Committee for Tuesday morning, October 13.  Several individuals are making a concerted effort to block implementation of the proposal and you may, in fact, have encountered them in front of Safeway over the past couple of weeks.  For the record, these are the same folks who fought tooth and nail to block the proposal for a similar road diet on Lakeshore above Mandana that’s been hugely successful – so much so that the most vocal opponent now admits that he was wrong.

Partly in response to their accusations,  the City of Oakland has recently issued a document that should answer any questions you may have about the project.  It’s available HERE.  As I’ve said previously, the proposed re-striping will represent a major first step towards making Grand Avenue above Mandana safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.  I’d add that we also need to begin talking about long-term infrastructure improvements on the entire stretch of Grand above Lake Park that may or may not include lane reductions between Lake Park and Elwood.

If you’d like to weigh in on this discussion, you can attend the Public Works Committee meeting and/or send emails to Philip Ho (pho@oaklandnet.com) with carbon copies to Councilmember Guillen (aguillen@oaklandnet.com).East Side Sushi Cast-2

East Side Sushi Cast-1If you haven’t already done so, make a beeline to the Grand Lake Theatre where East Side Sushi should be playing through the weekend and possibly, quite longer.  It’s a wonderful film shot entirely in Oakland on a shoestring budget.  The restaurant scenes were shot in Coach Sushi, Mijori and B Dama.

Most of the actors are locals including one parent I remember from Crocker thirty years ago.  The reviews have been phenomenal and it’s garnered twelve “Audience Awards” at various regional film festivals.  A big shout-out please to newsletter subscriber, Gary Meyer who is the former Director of the Telluride Film Festival.  Gary has been volunteering overtime promoting the film and helping to find a distributor.

Jim “Old School” Copes, the t-shirt vendor who frequently sets up shop in front of Sprint, clued me in to the upcoming broadcast of a KQED documentary entitled “First Fridays” in which he’s featured.  He also indicated that it has just been selected for broadcast nationally on PBS.  The local broadcast on Channel 9 will be on Sunday, November 22 at 6:00 p.m.  A brief preview is available on THIS LINK.

Next meeting of the Grand Lake Neighbors group will be Wednesday, October 21 in the Lakeshore Baptist Church Library beginning at 7 p.m. In last month’s newsletter, I failed to relay some very important information that Michael Ford had shared at the August GLN meeting – the minutes of which are posted on the GLN website.  Here are some highlights:

  • The city has put in place a $450k contract to add security cameras to the Walker Lot and the Lake Park lot, i.e. under I-580 with cameras tied into a surveillance center in Frank Ogawa Plaza that is manned at all times.
  • The Walker lot will be ground and repaved. Electric wiring will also be redone to support the new cameras. Electric vehicle charging will also be added.
  • The city will soon begin reducing the hourly parking rate in the Walker and Lake Park lots from $2/hour to $1.50 or $1/hour to encourage usage.

The city is also hoping to initiate similar improvements on a much broader scale.  Just this week, they released copies of an application for $2 million in grant funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission that would better facilitate transportation and parking throughout the metropolitan district.  Initiatives would include more designated loading/unloading zones and flexible parking rates.  The latter has already been successfully implemented in Montclair.  The full text of the grant application with supporting documents is available HERE.

If you’re a long-time subscriber to this newsletter and/or Jim Ratliff’s short-lived, “Grand Lake Guardian”, you’re undoubtedly familiar with my rants about the collection bins that are scattered throughout the city.  Next Tuesday, the City Council is prepared to vote on an ordinance that will, after about five years of lobbying, result in regulations governing the bin operators.

The ordinance won’t be nearly as stringent as it should be – but it’s better than nothing.  I’m hoping that long-term, the individual council members will urge their constituents to donate locally and boycott the collection bins whose operators give back virtually nothing to the City of Oakland and its residents.  The same applies to the multi-million dollar businesses masquerading as charities that periodically send out postcards announcing that their truck will be in your neighborhood picking up donations.

In both cases, none of the donated items stay in Oakland where they are available for resale to low-income families.  None of the proceeds from their sale stay in Oakland.  With one possible exception, none pay taxes in Oakland.  For more information including a list of local non-profits that welcome donations of salvageable goods, please bookmark DonateOakland.org.

In the midst of a crippling drought sparked by global climate change, there are very few positive repercussions.  The only two I can think of is that our weather isn’t nearly as boring and predictable as it used to be.  The other is that we’ve been treated to an almost constant stream of incredibly beautiful sunsets.  So much so, that I’ve entitled the last of the photos posted above, “Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel”.


  • Thursday, October 1, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m: Grand Avenue First Thursdays
  • Thursday, October 1, 6:30 p.m:  Meeting at Our Lady Lourdes Library on Boden Way to discuss Astro Park Tot Lot improvements
  • Friday, October 2,  6:00 – 9:00 p.m: Oakland Art Murmur
  • Saturday, October 10: Clausen House Walk for Independence
  • Saturday, October 10, 9:00 a.m – 1:00 p.m: Morcom Rose Garden Volunteer Work Day
  • Friday, October 16, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m:  Studio Grand Closing Reception for “Eyes on the Movement”
  • Friday and Saturday, October 16-17, 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m:  Lakeside Gardens Autumn Lights Festival
  • Saturday, October 17 Noon – 4:00 p.m:  The Oakland Plant Exchange, 2619 Broadway.
  • Saturday, October 17, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m:  Alchemy Bottle Shop, Opening Reception for “Tahiti and Beyond”
  • Wednesday, October 21, 7:00 – 8:30 p.m: Grand Lake Neighbors meeting at Lakeshore Baptist Church
  • Sunday, October 25, 9:00 a.m. – Noon:  Splash Pad Park Volunteer Work Day
  • Sunday, October 25, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m: Studio Grand Opening Reception for “Altar Para Mi Muerte”
  • Sunday, October 25, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m:  Otsukimi Moon Viewing Festival in Lakeside Gardens.
  • Saturday, December 5, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m:  Neighborhood Gift Faire at Regeneration Church

To join our email list, email: info@splashpad.sitedistrict.com with “Subscribe” on the subject line. All newsletters are archived HERE.



3 responses to “Splash Pad Newsletter – October 2015”

  1. Lisa Young Avatar
    Lisa Young

    Thank you Ken for yet another informative and inspiring letter!

  2. Vicki Wong Avatar
    Vicki Wong

    Thanks, Ken, for the kind words about East Side Sushi! I am one of the filmmakers, and the support we’ve gotten from the community has been incredible. It has been a huge challenge for a little indie film like us to go up against the huge Hollywood movies… and although response has been enthusiastic and we got extended for another week, we are in danger of being cut after Thursday if we don’t get great box office numbers this weekend (10/3-10/4). If you liked us, please come out and see East Side Sushi this week- and this weekend- especially at the Grand Lake! There are.multiple show times at all of the theaters (complete list at http://www.eastsidesushifilm.com or on our Facebook page). Juana wouldn’t go out without a fight, and neither will we. We are doing Q&A tonight Saturday at the 7:30 pm show. Thank you all for believing in our film!

  3. annette f. wood Avatar
    annette f. wood

    Ken, Thank you so much for keeping us so well informed.