No July PANIL Meeting Watch for the topic and speaker for the August Meeting
August 11, 2021
Low Income Housing Proposed for Piedmont Avenue Area Parking Lot
At PANIL’s June meeting, Councilmember Dan Kalb informed us to a proposal received by the City of Oakland to situate very low and extremely low-income housing over the public parking lot behind Piedmont Avenue shops between 40th and 41st Streets. The proposal was just recently received, and Kalb’s presentation was made in the spirit of early notification and transparency.
He said that a potential developer group, Essential City, has approached the City of Oakland asking to lease city property for $1/year to build much needed housing for this underserved demographic. Kalb explained that the city council is seeking new housing solutions, both transitional and permanent, in every council district of Oakland.
This proposal is at the “earliest of early stages,” with no application before the Zoning Dept. A subsequent conversation between Kalb’s staff and PANIL’s Valerie Winemiller clarified that before a formal application is even submitted there need to be a number of information-gathering meetings between the project proponents and city staff from the Finance, Zoning, and other departments. Public comment is also a part of the application process. Other affordable housing projects have taken from five to 10 years to work through the steps from zoning application, grants and funding, to construction.
There are no drawings of the exterior design at this time, and Kalb assured neighbors and merchants that the project would have to undergo design review—a process he considers important. An undetermined number of parking spaces can be expected to be lost to structural supports, lobby, utility rooms, and other building functions, which concerned merchants. But the row of parking nearest to CVS is on the privately owned property on which the CVS building sits and would not be built upon.
The project is a building that could house up to 200 mostly single residents in 25 to 30 “pods” arranged into three stories above the parking lot. As it is described, each “pod” would contain six locking single bedrooms radiating off a shared kitchen and living room, with two shared bathrooms. A manager and caseworker would live on site. HUD and legislative rules define what kind of tenant screening can be applied but sex offenders can be excluded. The project would have paid security.
During the PANIL meeting, neighbors raised many questions which could not be answered because the project proponents have not yet provided information. Is one caseworker enough for 200 people with traumatic experiences of homelessness? Would a covered parking facility be safe? Will tenants have cars and need parking (some may have even been living in their cars)? Merchants asked how deliveries and trash pickups, which now take place from the parking lot behind their stores, would be handled. How would the project effect a revenue-producing merchant district?
The biggest question is whether the project proponents from the organization Essential City have the experience to execute this plan. The group’s website shows an “About Us” page where the co-founders of the group appear. The information given about the group and the co-founders does not include experience with housing or housing projects, although some limited graphics depicting a sample building and interiors are shown on the site at www.essentialcity.org.
By Valerie Winemiller
Trash or Treasure: 27 Years of the John Street Jumble
By Lesley Mandros Bell
Holding a garage sale can be exhausting—you sort and price, haul your items to the curb and sit for hours hoping someone will stop by and decide to purchase something you have on display. And when your sale is over, you look at whatever is left and try to figure out what to do with it next.
Back in 1995, on John Street, when two neighbors decided that it would be a lot more fun to sort and sit with someone else, the seeds of what would become the John Street Jumble Sale were planted. Everyone on our block enjoyed our sale so much that we invited them to participate the following year, and we ended up hauling furniture and boxes between houses as we exchanged sale items in a dance of swaps and sales.
In the following year, we started making flyers to invite more neighbors and placing posters and ads to generate more customers, requesting a $2-3 donation to cover copying and advertising costs.
We chose “jumble" to echo John Street, but also because it is the wonderful British term for a garage sale, and half the 100-year-old houses on our street lack actual garages. At the height of the sale’s popularity in the early 2000s, we counted 65 households participating on John, Howe, Montgomery, Gilbert, View, Terrace and Mather Streets. As each year passed and more people joined in, we realized that many people liked the street fair atmosphere and treasure hunting that a big joint sale inspires.
At our house, we found that the discipline of an annual sale really made us view our own consumption patterns differently, and we began a designated box of “Jumble starter” to inspire us in new and further clearing of closets and attic.
We held the annual sales through the arrival of new babies and new neighbors, changes to the city and the world, and we always found something interesting and amusing every year. Friends moved away and came back to set up tables at the sale; others joined us and we made annual friendships with sellers and customers alike.
As our own daughters grew, they began a tradition of donating their proceeds to a different cause every year, often with matching funds from generous neighbors and friends. I estimate they have raised several thousand dollars in total. (Causes have included Cat Town Oakland, the Trevor Project, Flint Michigan Clean Water, Helping Hands Animal Shelter in Georgia and more.) We noticed other fundraisers over the years and loved seeing the generosity and enthusiasm of visitors to the events.
And, as with everything in the Piedmont Avenue neighborhood, there are always people weighing in with compliments and complaints on everything from our choice in bake sale items (another popular Jumble niche) to the date selected (either a Saturday or Sunday anywhere from June to August). All the comments and opinions make it feel even more communal. The sale takes a lot of effort to promote, but I feel like the end result is worth it in the community building, though I will say that over 25 years of dropping flyers on porches has given me a real appreciation of the idea of living somewhere more flat! But neighbors and friends have helped with that as well, and it feels like we now have a well-oiled Jumble machine.
Last year was the only one we have missed since 1995. (My brother died of Covid in June of 2020, and with that personal challenge and the pandemic raging, we all felt like a year off was a good idea.) However, with vaccinations well in hand and California reopening, we’d like to do a Jumble this year—and with many of us having spent a year working from home, we’re guessing that a lot of closets and basements are bursting and people will appreciate the opportunity to Jumble with us. We’re aiming from August 15th, two months after the official opening of the state, giving us all a little time to confirm that things are continuing COVID-free. We’ll be requesting “covid courtesies” from participants-being aware of crowding and cleanliness-and we’ll ask for a $3 donation this year. Details to follow!
National Night Out August 3, 2021
It's Time to Organize Your Block Party
National Night Out gets neighbors together and interacting, and that will be particularly enjoyable this year in light of the pandemic challenges everyone has been living with.
This year, National Night Out www.oaklandca.gov/nno is set for Tuesday, August 3, from 6:00pm - 8:00pm. City of Oakland staff, Oakland Fire and Police Department personnel and elected officials will be out roaming the neighborhoods and will visit as many parties as possible. They come to meet and greet and support the event. Research shows that when neighbors know each other, neighborhoods are safer. When they reach your gathering, take photos and send them to PANIL Newsletter at email@example.com.
As you plan, take into consideration who will want to wear their masks and who will want to maintain a social distance. You will have space because, if you want, Oakland will close your street for your block party once you register online for National Night Out. Register by July 26 to receive giveaways for the kids, and a special gift for the host.
Register HERE – (Note that there is a new City of Oakland portal called Oakapps that requires everyone to login with an account before filling out the NNO registration form.)
From years past
Gatherings of all sizes and shapes have been part of our history with neighborhood National Nights Out for many years. Take group photos this year (please) and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Brandon Street 2008
Entrada Avenue 2009
Montgomery Street 2009
Cerritos Avenue in 2010
Free Bulky Waste Drop-Off
Oakland residents will once again get to safely and legally dispose of large unwanted items at a free drop-off event series known as the Bulky Block Party.
Piloted first in 2018 and now expanded to a monthly service, the popular Bulky Block Party events have drawn hundreds of residents each month. The events were suspended in March 2020 due to pandemic safety concerns, but now with safer practices and circumstances in place, the City is offering them once again.
The Bulky Block Party events will occur at a City facility at 7101 Edgewater Drive in East Oakland the last Saturday of each month. The Bulky Block Party is open to Oakland residents only – proof of residency such as a household bill will be required (no businesses please). For the announcement from the City, seehttps://www.oaklandca.gov
Where is this?
The photo in May issue was of the relief statuary on the Piedmont Ave. Elementary building, as Margaret Shelleda knew.
What about this week's photo? Do you know where this is?
Correct answers get honorable mention in the next issue of PANIL Newsletter.
Do you have a photo of a unique element in the neighborhood? Send a jpeg copy tocontact@PANIL.org and it could become the “Where Is This” question in a future issue.
PANIL, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, is supported by donations to cover the regular ongoing costs of maintenance of the website, newsletter production, and fees associated with reporting requirements to California's Secretary of State and to the IRS. Donations to PANIL also build a reserve fund for the costs incurred when we pay the fee to appeal decisions of the Oakland Planning Department about development or construction in our area. Those costs include filing fees and hiring lawyers to advocate for neighborhood values. You can donate here.