Splash Pad Newsletter – September 2014


Studio Grand has an incredible Calendar of Events on  tap for the month of September.  One of the major highlights will be the Opening Night Reception on September 6th for their  Sung Kim exhibit – their artist in residence for the next three months. The reception on the 6th will conclude with a concert featuring original compositions performed on Kim’s unique instruments.  To whet your appetite for more, check out this video recorded at the Maker Fair in 2011 and also view this California Report broadcast on KQED in 2012.

In addition to hosting ten concerts over the next month, Studio Grand also continues to host a variety of classes for both children and adults.  Louise Garbarino (the fleece hat vendor from the Farmers Market) tipped me off to one of the latter.  It’s a Soca Rhythm Movement Dance Class that begins Sunday, September 14 at 10:00 am.

Danita and Tracey
Danita and Tracey

Urban Furniture will be celebrating its 5th anniversary next month with more details to follow. Meanwhile, this month, they will be hosting the second in a series of community workshops bringing together community based organizations, businesses and entrepreneurs.Expresso Grinder

This month’s September 21st workshop on building self-esteem (based on Nathaniel Brandon’s “Six Pillars of Self-Esteem) will be led by Urban University Director, Tracey Weaver.  The event begins at 4:30  and, since space is limited, reservations are recommended.

As always, the furniture shop and boutique have a wonderful selection of merchandise including currently two gleeming expresso coffee grinders donated by Williams Sonoma.

In the giveth and taketh away department,  subscribers to the Alchemy Bottle Shop email list were told last week “that we’re now open every day for all of your craft spirits needs!  In the next breath, subscribers were advised that Alchemy would be closed from September 1st through the 7th.  Peter and Tova do have a good excuse.  They are getting married.  Congratulations to the newlyweds.

As an aside, I missed the opening reception for the show in their second floor gallery.  The artist is Roxanna Shohadaee and the show is entitled, “HabRitual”.

Timmy at Miss Saigon
Timmy Nguyen

JJ Burger SignJJ Burger should be opening sometime soon in the space at 3415 Grand which previously housed the Kung Pao Kitchen.  Joe Huang, the owner, says the last hurdle he has to cross is to get a permit from the Alameda County Health Department and he’s waiting for them to schedule an appointment. Once open, they’ll be serving beef, turkey, veggie and chicken burgers plus a small selection of sandwiches.

Look for Shogun Sushi and Grill (which is right next door to JJ) to begin serving lunch before the end of the month.

Walking up Grand Avenue, I was so impressed by the two matching planters that are maintained by Miss Saigon that I asked owner, Timmy Nguyen to pose for a photo.

After doing so, I reminded him that, when we were collecting donations for the Splash Pad Name in Lights panels,  I urged him to reconsider inclusion of the restaurant hours “which would be etched forever in steel”.  Eleven years later, Miss Saigon is still open six days a week from 11:00 am until 11:00 pm.Pure 510 Sign

Newfangles has a big sale in progress – 50% off all summer merchandise.  In addition, Alyce will be open late for First Thursdays and will be offering 20% off  regularly priced items.

Lee Mun WahsThe Pure 510 T-shirt shop at 3224 Grand has been problematic for years but some changes are now underway.  A new partner has taken charge of the retail, front-end of the establishment and new shelving has been installed.  They are also talking about branching out to include Lp’s, accessories and locally produced goods.  This is such a key location, we’re all hoping that the new management can turn it into more of a neighborhood asset.

The Grand Lake Theatre has been bustling of late thanks to the Jewish Film Festival and a number of film premieres.  One of the latter was the August 7 showing of Lee Mun Wah’s latest documentary:  “If These Halls Could Talk”.  I took this photo just after he had purchased two bouquets  from Lydia at Grand Flowers.


Editor’s Note:  Since Pamela Drake, the BID Director, has been unable to provide us with a monthly blog on a consistent basis, I’m reluctantly resuming coverage of  Lakeshore/Lake Park Avenue businesses.  For additional information, visit the BID Facebook page that Pamela maintains and also their website.

A couple of years ago, I held my tongue and quietly gave props to the new fitness studio that had opened at 3411 Lakeshore.  When it closed and was replaced by an electronic cigarette shop, I used this platform to predict that they’d close within six months and complained about the loss of a ground floor space that should have been reserved for a neighborhood-serving retail establishment.Posh InteriorPoshExterior

And that, I’m pleased to say, is exactly what’s happened with the opening of Posh – a boutique specializing in clothing and accessories for all women.  A lot of thought obviously went into the shop layout and the high quality, colorful merchandise is beautifully displayed.  Zaina (the owner) has 15 years of experience working in the industry and noted that she is now pleased “to be a part of the growing fashion scene on Lakeshore”.


ShakewellPosterShakewell is going like gangbusters to the extent that I’ve been asked if I can help get reservations.  No, I can’t!  But I can recommend two perfectly acceptable alternatives. You can take advantage of Shakewell’s new brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am – 2:30 pm and/or their new Cocktail Hour.  The latter is available Tuesdays through Sundays from 4:00 – 5:30 pm with an after-dinner hour from 9:00 – 10:00 pm (except on Sundays).  Details are available on this link at the SF Eater web page.

Shakewell has been thus far blessed with two extremely positive reviews.  Jackie Burrell, the author of the more recent review in the Mercury News began by sharing this:

Shhhh. We have a new favorite restaurant, and we’re afraid that if anyone else stumbles upon this warm, inviting place, tastes those vibrant Spanish flavors, crunches the croquetas or sips the stellar craft cocktails, we will never manage to score a table again. So this is just between us, OK? Jen Biesty’s new Shakewell is utterly wonderful.

An earlier review was published on the SF Weekly website on July 9th.  The evening before, I’d met the author, Alix Wall, at Shakewell’s preview cocktail party and we’d talked for awhile about photography and about her work as a contributor to Jweekly.  I’ve since learned that Alix’s parents (way back when) were very close friends of my sister’s in Southern California.  And, yes, it is a very small world.Shirley's Designs Interior

While out taking photos last week, I stopped in at Shirley’s Designs (3405 Lakeshore) to say “hello” to owner Veda Anbeau.  My timing was nearly impeccable as they’ve recently re-painted the interior and currently have a trunk show in progress.  Carlisle Etcetera fashions are available for viewing through September 8th.  Appointments are recommended.

By the way, I’ve written about this previously but I owe Veda a huge debt of gratitude.  Packing for my fortieth high school reunion, I discovered that my rarely-worn suit jacket had a conspicuous moth hole in the collar.  Veda miraculously made it disappear.


This month’s blog by LZ, our anonymous (by choice) reporter, is about a new wine emporium at 376 Grand called Bay Grape.  Read all about it via THIS LINK.


Click once to open. Then double-click to enlarge.

This month’s edition of  the First Thursdays art walk falls on September 4th.  Hours are 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

Studio Grand will be previewing its exhibit of instruments hand-crafted by their Artist in Residence, Sung Kim, from 4:00 – 7:00 pm only.  A formal artist reception and performance is scheduled for Saturday, September 6, from 8:00 – 11:30.  Details are HERE.

Panorama Framing  will be hosting a reception for a new show of paintings by Mel O. entitled “Abstract With a Twist“. Refreshments will be served and music will be provided by the Medicine Ball Duo which consists of David Sturdevant and John Stafford.

Urban Furniture will be hosting an opening night reception for a month-long show of jewelry by Carolyn Pope who utilizes a wide range of recycled materials for her highly original creations.

Jau Jou Studio will be hosting an exhibit of artwork by Lauren Ari through the month of September. Ari’s works on paper include “Dictionary Pages” and “Animal Women”. A 15% discount on store merchandise is offered from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Newfangles’ show of photographs by Scott La Rockwell continues through the month of September. Owner Alyce Preston will be serving refreshments and offering a 20% discount on all regularly priced merchandise.

Additional information is available on the Grand Avenue First Thursdays website.


California Native Milkweed
Eriogonum giganteum. AKA: St. Catherine’s Lace

The new landscaping that Splash Pad’s Grand Crew has installed is mostly thriving and, as a result, we’re already seeing a major uptick in the number of bees and other pollinators that are visiting our native plant garden.  One of the most welcome sights is the California Native milkweed that has quadrupled in size in just a couple of months and is now beginning to flower.  Very shortly, we’ll be seeing Monarch butterflies which can’t reproduce without milkweed.



SplashPadPathsSplashPadPlanterOn the infrastructure front, steel borders have been installed in the two Cal Native expansion beds and, with a little luck, we will be laying decomposed granite walkways at our 4th Sunday volunteer work day on September 28 beginning at 9:00 am  and concluding with lunch at Noon.  We also have plans to install a six-foot diameter raised bed around the Queen Palm on the plaza side of the seating wall.  The rest of this bed which was originally planted with bunch grasses will also be converted to a decomposed granite surface which will be easier to maintain.

We’d love to have additional volunteers on the 28th and I’m also looking for a few individuals who can help with preparations during the work week.  This will mostly entail moving dirt and assembling the raised bed around the palm.  Please email info@splashpad.sitedistrict.com if you’d like to volunteer.


Home (Away From) Home
Home (Away From) Home

If you haven’t made up your mind about the District 2 city council race, you’ll have another opportunity to listen to the candidates at a public forum hosted by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce tomorrow, September 3, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.  The debate (scheduled for Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church) will focus on business development and job creation – but will include questions about crime issues.  According to the announced format, the public will also be invited to submit questions.  Even if you attended prior debates and have been following the election, you may want to attend to hear from Kenneth Maxey, a Government Affairs coordinator for Comcast who has recently thrown his hat into the ring.

A link to the Chamber’s debate calendar page is HERE.

The Ethiopian and Eritrean communities in Oakland are planning a week-long celebration of their new year called “Home (Away From) Home beginning this Sunday, September 7.  Most of the events are scheduled for Eastshore Park near the Lakeview Branch Library but special events are also scheduled for Studio Grand.  All of the details are outlined on their website.

WOBO’s Love Our Lake Day on September 14th will span a 3-mile route from the Pergola at Lake Merritt to Latham Square in downtown Oakland.  There’s going to be loads of free entertainment on two stages,  food trucks, dancing and lots more.  Also look for the Bike East Bay booth where they’ll be talking about proposals to make the Grand Avenue commercial district more bike and pedestrian-friendly.AutumnLightsPoster

Rhapsody in Blues

Mark your calendar for Oakland’s 3rd annual Autumn Lights Festival on October 17th and 18th.  This is a major fundraiser for the Gardens at Lake Merritt and a showcase for all kinds of exotic lighting and artwork. The upcoming event was featured in this article in Pacific Horticulture.


I missed the Inaugural Town’s Half Marathon but, judging by Larry Rosa’s photos posted on the Project Sport website, the event was very well received.

Billboards in Oakland have been in the news.  The Oakland City Council recently voted to ban eight digital billboards that were slated for installation at the foot of the new Bay Bridge.  Opposition was led by Scenic East Bay which was co-founded by Karen Hester.  The local non-profit’s victory was reported in the August edition of Scenic Overlook.

Coincidentally, a marketing expert in the very next article writes that “the kind of visual blight exemplified by roadside billboards is detrimental to an area’s overall business appeal and city and state governments would do well to clean up their images”.  Please keep in mind that the author is referring to billboards in general.

The above billboards photographed on Grand Avenue over a period of one year are extremely blighted more often than not.  The main reason is that Clear Channel doesn’t have paying customers for these locations and they are posting public service announcements instead with little reason to properly maintain them.  Frankly, I’m tired of having community members filing repeated complaints.  Is there any interest in lobbying Clear Channel to remove them entirely?

I exchanged emails this morning with Michael Ford who is coordinating the City of Oakland’s efforts to revitalize city-owned parking lots and structures – including those in our Grand Lake neighborhood.  We’ve already seen major improvements at the Trader Joe’s parking lot and new LED lighting has been installed at the Walker Avenue lot.  Otherwise, not much has been done.

Michael reports that the new outside contractor (City of Oakland Parking Partners) officially assumed responsibility for the operations of these lots effective August 1 and that improvements are in the pipeline.  The issues that will be addressed include deferred maintenance, safety and security, ADA compliance and more.  Michael also urges the public to continue to use SeeClickFix.com to report problems.

Coincidentally, David Flack has invited Michael to attend the Grand Lake Neighbors monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 17 at Lake Shore Baptist Church beginning at 7:00 pm.  Several others from OUSD and from the City of Oakland have also been invited to talk about violence prevention and Measure Y implementation.  At press time, none of the invitees have confirmed.


Click once to open. Then double-click to enlarge.

Our grand-daughter came for a three-week visit last month and I got out far more often than would have otherwise been the case.  We went to Pedalfest; toured the Oakland Museum;  watched the gymnastics at Art and Soul and rented a pedal boat at Lake Merritt – only $8 for an hour and wonderful exercise.  Well beyond Oakland’s borders, we went whale watching in Monterey Bay;  and then back to Sami’s home in San Diego.  On my return via train with bike in tow, I spent two days in San Luis Obispo County including five hours of kayaking on Morro Bay.  I don’t know if I’ll still be around when they finally open the waterway from Lake Merritt to the estuary, but I’d love to be able to paddle a kayak  from one to the other.  By then, otters may have established a permanent presence. 


  • Wednesday, September 3, 6:00 – 8:00 pm: District 2 City Council Candidate Forum at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church.
  • Thursday, September 4, 6:00 – 9:00 pm:  First Thursdays on Grand Art Walk
  • Friday, September 5, 6:00 – 9:00 pm: Oakland Art Murmur
  • Sunday, September 7 thru Sunday, September 14.  “Home (Away From) Home” – a celebration of the Ethiopian and Eritrean New Year.
  • Saturday, September 13, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm: Volunteer Fair at Lakeview School
  • Sunday, September 14, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.  Love Our Lake Day
  • Wednesday, September 17, 7:00 – 8:30 pm.  Grand Lake Neighbors meeting at Lakeshore Baptist Church.
  • Friday, October 17, 6:00 – 10:00 pm.  Autumn Lights Festival at the Gardens at Lake Merritt
  • Saturday, October 18, 6:00 – 10:00 pm.  Autumn Lights Festival at the Gardens at Lake Merritt

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All newsletters from 2007 to the present are archived HERE.



8 responses to “Splash Pad Newsletter – September 2014”

  1. David Elliott Avatar
    David Elliott

    When Susan and I were out walking on Lakeshore this morning, we noted that the disarray of trash and garbage bins in front of Starbucks and Noahs was much worse than usual, it that is possible. How people can sit and spend time in the midst of that filth is beyond us! It is certainly a shame that there is apparently no pride among the merchants in that section of Lakeshore and unfortunately that reflects negatively on the entire shopping and restaurant scene in that choice area.

    1. David, I’ve observed the same problem. Short term, I’d strongly recommend that you file a complaint (accompanied by a photo) via SeeClickFix.com. You should also discuss this with Pamela Drake. Long term, this red (no parking) zone would be ideal for a large parklet with landscaping and outdoor seating that could be designed to include a screened-off trash area.

      1. Or they could park their trash in back like everyone else has to, instead of storing it on the curb for everyone to enjoy 24/7.

  2. C.J. Hirschfield Avatar
    C.J. Hirschfield

    This is one of my favorite–and most informative–reads. Thanks so much for staying on top of events/people in our great neighborhood!

  3. Sarah Van Roo Avatar
    Sarah Van Roo

    Thanks for the shout out to the Gardens at Lake Merritt’s Autumn Lights Festival October 17-18, and for giving folks a way to buy tickets now!

  4. Great informative read Ken, as always. I know it’s a lot but I’m glad you are covering Lakeshore again.

  5. Patty White Avatar
    Patty White

    I too, enjoy reading the updates on our Grand and Lake Shore neighbors! Thank you!

  6. As usual a very informative and well written blog. I always look forward to reading the monthly blog. In fact I have saved a few. I will be in Australia for your October blog..


    Warm regards with appreciation,