Sunday, August 2, 2009 neighbors

First, and most exciting (to me, anyway):

The City of Oakland Redevelopment Agency has been talking about installing pedestrian-level streetlights on San Pablo for some time now. The project is officially underway, and a crew came out late last week and marked off their locations (photo). Ground will break this week on the project. They should be in well before we get our doors open.

Streetlights by themselves aren't all that exciting, but in combination with other things happening in the neighborhood, they're an indicator of an end to years of neglect of the San Pablo corridor by the city. I'm not unreservedly pro-development, but I do think there's much that can and should be done to attract residents to the corridor - it's a major public transit route, it's close to freeways and shopping (including the new Berkeley Bowl West, which is pretty incredible), and has lots of small and medium sized businesses throughout. There are plenty of opportunities to add new housing to the area, with minimal impact to existing area residents, and with adequate services, folks can live, work, eat, shop, etc. within walking or biking distance, or take transit into or out of the neighborhood.

More residents add up to louder voices in local government, more eyes on the street (which has a positive impact on crime), and more successful businesses, all of which can help build a cohesive neighborhood.

But I digress. Streetlights. I don't have art on the actual ones going in, but I think they'll look something like these. Which are not ugly.

As a side benefit, in the process the city will be tearing up a big strip of sidewalk in front of the cafe, and pouring fresh concrete. Which leads to more space for anchorage of city-installed bike racks in front of the Cafe. On the existing sidewalk, the concrete is so broken, there weren't many options. I'm trying to get the bike parking coordinator, who's been really nice and helpful so far, to come out for another look.

I've been getting construction bids for weeks, and although I'm not entirely done with the process, I'm pretty close, which is good. I'm used to doing a lot of work myself on my construction projects, but because I'm getting reimbursement from the city from some of the Redevelopment Agency programs, I've got to get licensed contractors for everything that I want reimbursement for. Which makes containing costs a bit harder. But I've found some guys who are pretty flexible and creative, and I'm hoping we can get everything done for less than a boatload of cash. I'd rather save what money I can for better staff and more reserves to carry us through to break even.

I've also started networking on the bike front in earnest. I've got a decent design for indoor bike parking, which basically involves hanging bikes by one wheel from hooks on a wall (thanks to AB, who spent a bunch of time helping figure this out). I'm also trying to figure out how to have things like a pump and tools on hand to lend to cyclists who need to change a tire or make an adjustment. I'm planning to have small accessories (mostly tubes and patch kits) available for those in need. Also, since I'm fairly car-free, and want the cafe to be as well, I'm looking for partners who will sponsor a cargo bike for the cafe to use for running errands, making deliveries, etc. I've got some really promising leads, but nothing concrete yet. Will post more when there's more to post.

I'm expecting the Health Department to complete plan check this week. I'm also submitting all my planning permits this week (signage, awnings, lighting, sidewalk encroachment, and the conditional use permit for beer and wine). After I've passed the Health Department plan check (which might require a re-check depending on the scope of their comments), the plans go to the building department for review. Then construction starts.

I learned a week or so ago that Clif Bar is relocating its headquarters to 65th and Hollis sometime next year. Which is really exciting - I use and like their products, respect the company and would love to have their employees in the neighborhood. Especially when they come by for coffee and sandwiches.

Also, there's a building a few doors south on San Pablo which had a fire a while back, and is just finishing being rehabbed. One space was a small restaurant at one point, and has a little kitchen inside. I'm hoping for another restaurant neighbor, and the return of the barber shop in the same building. Also, there's a new cafe which should be open soon on 65th and San Pablo, joining Bailey's on 65th and Cafe Aquarius and Cocina Poblana in the up-and-coming 65th st. corridor.

Stuff is rocking and rolling in the Actual world. Stay tuned for more fun and games.



  1. I can't believe how much red tape is involved but it sure sounds like you're making good progress.

    The street lights will really add a nice ambiance. That's great! I can't wait to see it all - and you :-D

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