Posts Tagged ‘Westlake’


Reminder: Harrison/Oakland CBTP meeting this Thursday!

April 21, 2009

Okay, just another reminder about this meeting!

What: Harrison Street/Oakland Ave Community-Based Transportation Plan (CBTP) Meeting #2
When: Thursday, April 23, 6:30 – 8:30 (Open House begins at 6 pm)
Where: Westlake Middle School Cafeteria, 2629 Harrison (note the small location change!)
Why: Weigh in on the alternatives, which propose a number of dramatic changes to this corridor

If you live in Adams Point, Westlake, HarriOak, Glen Echo, Uptown, the Piedmont Avenue area, Piedmont proper, Pill Hill, Grand Lake, the Lakeside Apartment area, or anywhere else in that vicinity (or if you drive, bike, or bus through these neighborhoods to get to work in DTO)—you should be at this meeting! The proposed alternatives to be discussed include everything from bike lanes to street closures to freeway ramp changes. (Info from the first meeting is here.)



Oakland Earth Day 2009: April 18th & 19th

April 9, 2009

Earth Day 2009 is coming up, and it’s time for Oakland’s annual cleanup extravaganza. Check the Oakland Earth Day website to find a project near you, and join in the weekend of April 18th and 19th.


40th Street Median Project, 9 am to noon
Meet at 40th and Shafter to clean up the median.

Mosswood Earth Day Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at Mosswood Rec Center to clean sidewalk, curbs, and medians.

Mosswood Dog Park Gravel Spreading, 10 am to noon
Meet at the Mosswood Dog Park to help spread new decomposed granite (yay!) that the City is supplying.

Richmond Boulevard/Glen Echo Creek Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at 3600 Richmond Boulevard to cut, clean up, and plant.

Lake Merritt Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at 568 Bellevue (off of Grand) to clean up Lake Merritt.

Lakeside Garden Center, 9 am to noon
Meet at 666 Bellevue (off of Grand) to clean up Lakeside Garden Center.

First Christian Church Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at 111 Fairmount (at 29th) to clean sidewalk, curbs, and medians.

Glen Echo Park Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at Glen Echo Park (just east of Piedmont between Monte Vista and Montell) to clean up the park.

Morcom Rose Garden Cleanup, 9 am to noon
Meet at 700 Jean to clean up the Rose Garden.

Can’t come on Saturday? There’s a special Sunday event this year, too!


Mosswood Earth Day Cleanup & BBQ, noon to 5 pm
Meet at Mosswood Park near Broadway and West Mac to continue Saturday’s cleanup, have some food, and play some frisbee. Food will be provided by, among others, Bakesale Betty and Lanesplitter’s Pizza. (Plan to come? RSVP on Facebook.)


Plan Oakland this spring

April 8, 2009

There are lots of chances to do it this month!

2009-2014 Oakland Housing Element Update
Like the rest of the Bay Area cities and counties, Oakland is updating its housing element to reflect new site constraints and options, changing conditions, and the new regional housing needs allocation (RHNA) numbers assigned by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) last spring. Hopefully, the city will also take the opportunity to develop some creative strategies to tackle the foreclosure crisis.

When: Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 6-8 pm

City Hall, Hearing Room 3
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza (at 16th between Broadway and Clay)

Alta Bates Summit Medical Center
From our neighborhood list: Alta Bates Summit Medical Center has announced expansion and hospital replacement plans. The medical center met with community members in February and March. The Environmental Impact Study is underway. Please come to the next community meeting to learn more about the facilities project design. For more information, please email ABSMC at absmcpublicaffairs AT sutterhealth DOT org.

When: Thursday, April 16, 2009, 6:30-7:30 pm

Summit Campus, Providence Pavilion (Building 4)
Family Resource Center Conference Room, 1st Floor
3100 Summit Street (near Hawthorne Ave), Oakland

Changes proposed at the ABSMC include a new 11-story patient care hospital tower, a 7-story parking garage and proposed absorption of Summit Street into the medical center as “green space.” The fate of the 59 bus line, which serves medical offices on Summit Street, is unclear. Coordination with Kaiser’s construction impacts and mitigations will also be important.

The location of these facilities would be along Hawthorne Avenue between Webster Street and Elm Street. The hospital tower is proposed at the site of the current Samuel Merritt University classrooms and dormitory, which would be demolished. The parking garage would be located on a site that currently contains two small medical-related buildings and surface parking.

Central Estuary Plan
The second meeting is coming up for the Central Estuary Plan, which is designed to build a vision and provide a framework to support development and enhancement of the Estuary from Adeline Street to 66th Avenue. The project examines land use along the Estuary and the associated environmental, economic, quality of life and health-related impacts. This month you’ll have a chance to discuss the vision and the healthy development of the area, according to the website. I didn’t go to the first meeting, but luckily the folks over at Oakland Streets did, so you can read up on it there. (The CEDA website also includes meeting presentations and other materials.

When: Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 7-9 pm

The Unity Council, Fruitvale-San Antonio Senior Center
3301 East 12th Street, Suite 201 (Fruitvale Transit Village)

Project Area

Project Area

Harrison Street/Oakland Avenue Community-Based Transportation Plan
This is the second meeting for this project, too. (Future Oakland has a post about the first meeting.) The Caltrans-funded plan looks at Harrison Street and Oakland Avenue from the Piedmont border to Grand Avenue.  DC&E consultants and city staff will be presenting alternatives for the corridor to address access and safety for pedestrians, bicycle facility improvements, traffic calming, I-580 signage and modified access, and AC Transit stop improvements.

When: Thursday, April 23, 2009, 6 – 8 pm

Westlake Middle School Gym
2629 Harrison Street (at 27th)

Budget Town Halls
Last but not least, the City is hosting a series of budget town halls to gather community feedback on how and where to make cuts to close the projected $83 million budget gap. (Yes, that would be a new one, not the one Council closed last year….) Cities across the state are holding similar meetings; the general goal is to get input and buy-in on where to make the cuts that are most definitely coming. Whether the feedback will be heeded is another question altogether, but if no one shows up we certainly won’t find out! (All residents are welcome at all meetings; I’ve just listed them by district for geographic purposes, and because in several cases the relevant Council reps will be there.)

Districts 6 & 7:

When: Tuesday, April 14, 2009, 6 :30- 8 pm
East Oakland Multipurpose Senior Center
9255 Edes Avenue (at Jones)

Districts 4 & 5

When: Monday, April 20, 2009, 6 :30- 8 pm
Edna Brewer Middle School (tentative location)
3745 13th Avenue (at Park)

Districts 1, 2, & 3

When: Monday, April 27, 2009, 6 :30- 8 pm
Lakeside Garden Center
666 Bellevue Avenue (off of Grand)

OUSD Budget Town Halls
Last but not least (really this time!), there are a series of meetings on OUSD’s budget coming up, too. Oakbook has already covered that front, so I won’t duplicate the schedule here.


What’s in a (neighborhood) name

December 17, 2008

So last week, V Smoothe over at A Better Oakland sparked a big debate over Oakland neighborhood names when she asked where East Oakland was. Where do neighborhoods begin and end, and what are they called? Earlier this year, Brooklyn Avenue and the DTO wrote about their neighborhoods’ many names and borders, and I’ve actually been wondering the same thing about my own neighborhood. Since I was already poring over old editions of the Oakland Tribune in my house genealogy, I decided to tackle a project I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while now: figuring out exactly what my neighborhood was called, back when it had a name. It occurred to me that with the society columns, school reports, and real estate listings, the Trib would be a great place to look for signs of neighborhood identity. This weekend, I did just that.

Reading through the old real estate ads is like peering through a window into an alternate universe. In 1917, key selling points of homes in Oakland included proximity to train lines and whether or not there was a chicken house in back. Scout troops ran bicycle safety classes at the schools on weekends. People swam in Lake Merritt. Not bad! It’s a bit sad to see how much of the Trib’s coverage once focused on Oakland youth and schools, though. This coverage drops off pointedly in the 1960s—perhaps a harbinger of what was to come for OUSD. I focused my hunt on newspaper listings and articles between 1907 and 1960 on the theory that the coming of the freeways fundamentally changed Oakland’s neighborhood identities and organization. Obviously our neighborhoods have grown and changed in the intervening years, and names and identities are dynamic things, but I primarily wanted to see what secrets the history held.

A few caveats: first, early Oaklanders used the term “district” with abandon. Some districts were within other districts. Others were tiny. Several overlapped. Some were formally defined. (Residents of Peralta Heights held a community meeting in 1926 to decide whether to expand their neighborhood’s boundaries!) Schools typically commanded districts of their own, which added to the confusion because there were both elementary districts and junior high school districts. Developers sometimes named districts when they built on tracts of land. There wasn’t a lot of rhyme or reason to what was called a district and what wasn’t—it primarily seems to have been a way to refer to your community in relation to key landmarks. Also, this post is based only on surveying real estate and society listings in the Trib, which means it may or may not be an accurate reflection of actual usage, though I did exclude names that didn’t appear consistently. And lastly, neighborhoods change over time, so some of these names have since vanished, while others have moved. (The transition of Eastlake from an area name to a micro-neighborhood is an especially interesting one.) So this is a snapshot of a moment in time.

Oakland neighborhoods in the 1930s (revised)

Oakland neighborhoods in the 1930s (revised)

Area: The Lake District
In the beginning, it was all about the lake. From the post-quake years through the 1960s, “the Lake District” referred broadly to all of the development around Lake Merritt, our neighborhood included. It seemed to extend north to the Piedmont Avenue area, west to Broadway, and east all the way to Park, where it transitioned to the Park Boulevard District. Adams Point, Lakeshore, and Grand Lake were in the north Lake District, while the west Lake District was home to the Lakeside Apartment District and my neighborhood. Trestle Glen was sometimes called the upper Lake District (and included an assortment of neighborhoods). By the 1920s, the Eastlake District was its own entity, with fifteen member neighborhood organizations.

An early zoning map around the lake allowed apartment houses against the lake, but not in the residential area to the west and north

An early zoning map around the lake initially allowed apartment houses against the lake (hatched line), but not in the residential area to the west and north (solid line), where we live.

District: Westlake (part of the Lake District)
West Lake or Westlake (and in real estate ads, “Westlake District,” which explains why the modern-day MLS uses that) was a sub-area of the Lake District. The name was reinforced by the existence of Westlake Junior High School in the midst of the area. Oakland society in the 1920s and 1930s largely revolved around youth and the schools, and a number of neighborhoods were referred to by their junior high school or park names (Mosswood, Bushrod, Westlake, Golden Gate, Cleveland, Bella Vista, and more). Before the school came into being, the paper more commonly listed the area as “west of the Lake District,” but after the school’s creation, this gets merged into “Westlake District.” By the 1930s, there were also apartments along Grand near Bay Place advertised as being in “Westlake.”

Zoning debates didn't always work out so well....d'oh!

Zoning debates didn't always work out so well....d'oh!

Neighborhood: Oak Park (a neighborhood in the west Lake District)
It’s hard to explain how cathartic it was to to discover that once upon a time our neighborhood really, truly had a name of its own. I didn’t find it right away—many of the real estate listings used street names to denote location, and there are very few references to the neighborhood itself in the real estate pages. (On occasion, listings near my house did call it the “Edison district,” a reference to Edison Elementary, which still stands but is now condos. The school served our neighborhood and Adams Point from 1927 until 1975, when OUSD was forced to close it because they could not afford needed seismic retrofitting. However, many of the staircases cut through the hill to provide access to the school still exist.)

From the 1920s through until the 1960s, though, our ‘hood did indeed have a name: the Oak Park District. There was even an Oak Park Improvement Club that met on Richmond Boulevard. The neighborhood seems to have stretched from Oakland Avenue to Broadway, and extended north to Moss Avenue (now MacArthur/I-580). The southern boundary is less clear, in part because the street grid has changed dramatically since then. (For instance, Richmond Avenue and Richmond Boulevard once connected, and Napier Avenue, a side street, evaporated when the freeways came.) In the mid-1950s, the city wanted to put a highway in over Glen Echo Creek, which runs down the center of Richmond Boulevard, as the “ultimate answer” to community complaints about crime along the creek bed. (This was proposed after repeated resident complaints about overgrown vegetation and trash, which probably sounds frustratingly familiar to those who live nearby today!) The fight to stop that plan seems to be the last point at which the uphill and downhill residents organized collectively. Use of the neighborhood name vanishes from the Trib archives by the mid-1960s, and I’ve certainly never heard it used, though there is still an Oak Park on Kempton. For now, I stand by my theory that dropping the 580 into the neighborhood fundamentally changed how the Richmond Boulevard area relates to the hill above, and thus the neighborhood lost cohesion. I’m going to have to ask around and see what some of the area’s older residents remember, though.

As a postscript, though: after years of preparation, construction of Oakland’s first urban creek reserve along Glen Echo Creek finally started this fall. The project will restore riparian habitat along the section of the creek on Richmond Boulevard and 30th Street. Additional restoration of the creek above MacArthur is planned as part of the Kaiser project, as well.

Some other interesting finds along the way…
Broadway Auto Row (part of the Downtown District)

Wow: I knew this name had been around for a while, but it turns out that Upper Broadway has actually been “Broadway Auto Row” for most of its existence. References to the “upper Broadway automobile row” appear regularly by 1913; this is soon shortened to Broadway Auto Row. “This street is growing at the rate of 25 percent per year,” one developer ad notes. “Get busy.” In 1917, the Trib hailed the opening of the jewel of Auto Row at 3331 Broadway—the Studebaker building. Today Honda of Oakland’s used car lot sits on the site; the Studebaker building is long gone. (Incidentally, the same edition of the paper calls for reader suggestions on a new name for the then “pleasure car,” noting that “a motor car is no longer a vehicle that is bought or operated solely in the pursuit of ‘pleasure’….the automobile has ceased to be a plaything.”) However, the name seems to have been reserved exclusively for the commercial properties.

Linda Vista District (part of Piedmont District)
This also isn’t exactly my neighborhood, but it is commonly used up until mid-century to refer to the neighborhood along Harrison Street and Oakland Avenue north of the 580. I’ve never known that neighborhood’s name either, so it was interesting to discover. (Today, it typically gets lumped into either Grand Lake or Piedmont Avenue.)

And here’s how realtors thought about Oakland in the 1930s:
Downtown District:
Estuary to 29th Street, Fallon [western edge of Lake Merritt] to Market

North-of-the-Lake District:
Broadway to Park Blvd, Lake Merritt to the Piedmont limit

North Oakland:
29th Street to Berkeley limit, Market/West to Piedmont limit

East Oakland: Estuary to Hopkins, Park Blvd. to Seminary

Elmhurst District: Estuary to Foothill, Seminary to San Leandro limit

Hillside District: Bounded by Grizzly Peak to Lake Chabot, Piedmont, Hopkins, and Foothill

West Oakland: Estuary to Alcatraz, Bayshore/Emeryville limit to Market/West

And finally, an amazing resource for Oakland street and geographic changes:


The Westlake District

August 17, 2008

I recently saw a real estate listing describe a home near us as being in “one of Oakland’s most sought after neighborhoods, the Westlake District.” While I’m glad that this particular agent thinks our ‘hood is sought after (it isn’t, exactly, though we think it’s lovely!) I especially love hearing what people call our little slice of the city. Our neighborhood, tucked at the northwestern edge of Lake Merritt, doesn’t officially have a name, though you hear everything from Adams Point (though that neighborhood technically ends at Harrison Street) to Uptown (we’re too far north if you ask me) to Harrioak (some locals came up with this one a few years ago; sounds silly but it does capture the geography, at least) to my personal favorite, “Lower Temescal.” (You guessed it, that one came from a realtor! I should add that we’re over a mile from the southern boundary of Temescal, a newly-trendy part of the city as far as realtors are concerned…)

I actually like Westlake the best, though (minus the “district” part, which is apparently a neighborhood in Daly City). It’s what appears on MLS listings for our neighborhood, though I rarely hear it used in conversation. The middle school down the street is Westlake, too—it was originally Lakeview Junior High School but the district changed the name in the 1920s because the corresponding elementary school had (and still has) the same name, and it got too confusing to have the schools called the same thing. So there may be something to it, historically. A neighbor of ours recently mentioned that she likes to tell people she lives in Westlake, even if it does take some explaining. I think I’m going to start doing this, too, and see if maybe it will catch on.


A place of our own

August 1, 2008

This is the story of life in our little Oakland bungalow. We’ve got a big dog, a little garden, and a 93-year-old house about a mile from the city’s center. At just over 1200 square feet, it’s a tiny footprint, but there’s always something going on (or getting fixed!) We’re lucky to have a home that’s been well cared for over the years, so many of our projects focus on updating our home to make it green and sustainable. (And most recently, able to withstand the earth moving under its feet!) I’m way behind on getting photographs up online, so bear with me as we do the grand tour for friends and family….