The 4.0 magnitude earthquake that rattled windows in Oakland tonight at 9 p.m. had an epicenter a couple of miles from the community of Alamo, not far from Walnut Creek, according to the US Geological Survey and the California Integrated Seismic Network.

Click here for a map of who felt the shaking, and help out by reporting what you felt.

“Colby Park is encircled by 61st Street and tucked away in a quiet Rockridge neighborhood. On a sunny day, with children laughing and parents picnicking, it appears tranquil.

But the park is at the center of an escalating neighborhood dispute. Residents are divided on how to handle the communal toys that fill the park, an issue addressed at a July 21 community meeting.”

Click this link for my article on the Colby Park toy dispute, at the Contra Costa Times website, first published in the Montclarion.

Right of way

July 20, 2008

A pedestrian was killed in Montclair in a hit and run incident a few months ago.

Today I was crossing at a College Avenue crosswalk and a car zipped in front of me — clearly didn’t see me until too late, and beeped to let me know, but it was aggravating. (Especially the beep, since my first reaction was, of course, who the — are you beeping at?)

I’m not saying that Oakland is dreadful for pedestrians, but I definitely notice less attention from drivers than in San Francisco, so I’ve been trying to figure out why.

Here’s my theory. In SF, there’s a stop sign at nearly every corner, and there’s often somebody crossing there. So you get in the habit of looking for pedestrians. Oakland is much more of a driving town, and there aren’t so many places (like College) where people are crossing on crosswalks that aren’t at signals. So people just stop thinking about pedestrians?

More about Safeway

July 19, 2008

The RCPC comes out against Safeway, which is taking another look.

More about zoning

July 16, 2008

Zoning is always brought up when talking about development in Rockridge. Here are some actual quotes from the Municipal Code about College Avenue’s zoning (also know as C-31).

(Of course, the city is in the middle of a process that will change this zoning system, but more about that later.)

17.48.010 Title, purpose, and applicability.

The C-31 zone is intended to create, preserve, and enhance areas with a wide range of retail establishments serving both short and long term needs in attractive settings oriented to pedestrian comparison shopping, and is typically appropriate along important shopping streets having a special or particularly pleasant character.

17.48.070 Restrictions on ground-level uses.
A. Parking and Loading at Ground Level. No off-street parking or loading area or driveway shall be located on any portion of the ground level of any lot except upon the granting of a conditional use permit pursuant to the conditional use permit procedure in Chapter 17.134.

17.48.080 Special regulations applying to Commercial and Manufacturing Activities.
The total floor area devoted to Commercial or Manufacturing Activities by any single establishment shall not exceed seven thousand five hundred (7,500) square feet, except that a greater floor area may be permitted upon the granting of a conditional use permit pursuant to the conditional use permit procedure in Chapter 17.134.

17.48.100 Use permit criteria.
A conditional use permit for any use under Section 17.48.040, 17.48.060, 17.48.070, or 17.48.080 may be granted only upon determination that the proposal conforms to the general use permit criteria set forth in the conditional use permit procedure in Chapter 17.134 and to the following use permit criteria:

A. That the proposal will not detract from the character desired for the area;
B. That the proposal will not impair a generally continuous wall of building facades;
C. That the proposal will not weaken the concentration and continuity of retail facilities at ground level, and will not impair the retention or creation of an important shopping frontage;
D. That the proposal will not interfere with the movement of people along an important pedestrian street;
E. That no driveway shall connect directly with the area’s principal commercial street unless:
1. Vehicular access cannot reasonably be provided from a different street or other way, and
2. Every reasonable effort has been made to share means of vehicular access with abutting properties;
F. That the amount of off-street parking, if any, provided in excess of the requirements of this code will not contribute significantly to an increased orientation of the area to automobile movement;
G. That the proposal will conform in all significant respects with any applicable district plan which has been adopted by the City Council.
17.48.100 Use permit criteria.
A conditional use permit for any use under Section 17.48.040, 17.48.060, 17.48.070, or 17.48.080 may be granted only upon determination that the proposal conforms to the general use permit criteria set forth in the conditional use permit procedure in Chapter 17.134 and to the following use permit criteria:
A. That the proposal will not detract from the character desired for the area;
B. That the proposal will not impair a generally continuous wall of building facades;
C. That the proposal will not weaken the concentration and continuity of retail facilities at ground level, and will not impair the retention or creation of an important shopping frontage;
D. That the proposal will not interfere with the movement of people along an important pedestrian street;
E. That no driveway shall connect directly with the area’s principal commercial street unless:
1. Vehicular access cannot reasonably be provided from a different street or other way, and
2. Every reasonable effort has been made to share means of vehicular access with abutting properties;
F. That the amount of off-street parking, if any, provided in excess of the requirements of this code will not contribute significantly to an increased orientation of the area to automobile movement;
G. That the proposal will conform in all significant respects with any applicable district plan which has been adopted by the City Council.
See also Section 17.102.210.

My article on this will be out soon, but just briefly — RCPC has weighed in against the new Safeway plans.

Quoting from the letter RCPC sent to Safeway:

The Rockridge Community Planning Council opposes the current Safeway College
Avenue Rebuild Project for the following reasons:
• The project is too big and will cause major negative impacts on the community;
• In addition to the project’s size, its design is incompatible with the surrounding
community;
• The information provided to the public is totally inadequate for serious discussion
of the project.

Some people I spoke to last month felt the RCPC hadn’t been emphatic enough speaking out against the plans, so this is a new step.

I scream, you scream

July 8, 2008

This is another sort of news: ice cream news.

I usually slouch over to Ici, or stop at Dreyer’s if I’m heading that way. Now I see a new player on the scene, at the Sunday market at the Claremont DMV.

OK, it’s sorbet, not ice cream, but still, take a look at the flavors…

On the Oakland Tribune’s website.

After it was published, the founders of Concerned Neighbors wrote to me and said they thought it was more like 300. They got nearly 200 on their petition, they said.

A good day for a malted

June 22, 2008

This hardly qualifies as news, but with such a heat wave, my thoughts turn to malted milkshakes.

As a relatively new North Oakland resident (less than a year), I haven’t tried too many places yet, so I’m open to suggestions.

The best, but least traditional, I’ve had so far was at Ici. OK, that’s Elmwood, but let’s stretch a point. They were very generous with the malt, but it was pretty small.

I had one at the Smokehouse, on Woolsey and Telegraph, that was fine, but nothing special.

The one I had at Barney’s, on College, came with the extra in the metal cup, or bowl, or whatever that is, which is very nice because it stays cold. Plus it’s fun to top up.

I think perhaps Dreyer’s has only milkshakes? I did have a milkshake there, and I can’t imagine I would have passed up malt if it had been available.

Safeway meeting

June 20, 2008

Last night I attended a meeting to hear input from neighbors on a proposed redesign of the Safeway supermarket on the corner of College Avenue and Claremont Avenue.

There were more than 80 speakers — from the audience — plus presentations. It was clear people really had something to say. Most of it was along the lines of “too big, too ugly, too much traffic, too big, too ugly.” The question, of course, is how much influence local people really have.

More when I write the article, of course, but you can see renderings of the store here.