Stop the Condo-Glomeration in North Oakland

STAND is currently working on its own website. Meantime, below is the gist of one document urging neighbors to attend a recent Planning Commission hearing. This sums up neighbors' concerns for our area in a passionate way. This was in response to developers' proposal for a 5+ story market-rate condominium to replace 11 well-maintained rental units in a turn-of-the-century apartment house.

To Temescal and North Oakland Neighbors


Condomania -- the current answer to developers’ prayers for short term gain --- is sweeping the commercial corridors of MLK Jr. Way, Shattuck, Telegraph, and Broadway.

Variances and conditional use permits are being handed out like candy by the Planning Dept. to exceed height limits, eliminate or reduce setbacks from neighboring properties and residences, and provide the barest minimum of off-street parking and required open space. Inadequate noticing of projects under consideration means most neighbors are in the dark, until too late to do anything. No existing buildings are safe from developers' deep pockets, counting on maxing out the smallest parcels with the maximum number of units.


Many individual projects, some known some unknown, are already in the pipeline. The developers and their allies are cloaking themselves in the rhetoric of Smart Growth, Density, and In-Fill. They ignore the tenants being forced out of rent-controlled units to make way for the upscale market-rate condos. We already have woefully inadequate infrastructure--overwhelmed police and fire, failing schools--that can't cope with existing conditions.

There is no legal linkage and no guarantee that building generic condo high-rises in North Oakland preserves farmland and open space elsewhere. Nor is the city making the developers put their money where their rhetoric is. The city has not demanded mitigation of money for parks and schools and very little for street and traffic improvements for our neighborhoods.

Yes, some people love urbania in all its buzz. But we must insure that those of us who live here (true "stakeholders" in the jargon of the day) be major creators in this scene before we transform this area with false claims used to back-up this architects' playground.

If it's a matter of facing the influx of millions to save the wilds, as we are lectured by ULTRA and others, those who live here need to be part of a solution that includes schools people move here FOR, not, as now, schools sad residents move FROM. If sacrifices are to be made, let's make sure the architects and developers share in those as well. STAND members have long supported increasing density along Telegraph to encourage a lively retail area. And STAND members are certainly in favor of true green building that diminishes our "carbon footprint."

There are LIMITS to density, both for economic reasons (a reasonable cap on density discourages the sky-high land prices that preclude affordability) and for building that respects nature and keeps the infrastructure truly green. Minimizing impacts, recognizing the enormous impact of transporting so many additional goods IN to a dense urban area wiped clean of local production - let's attend to these proposed changes.


The Planning Director serves at the whim of the Mayor, and planning staff may have to rationalize these projects in order to keep their jobs. Staff are not likely to oppose politicians who receive contributions from developers, who justify their projects saying they contribute fees, taxes, and jobs.

But our ELECTED officials are as responsible as WE want to make them.

COUNCILMEMBER JANE BRUNNER should be aware of our concerns. She can't pass the buck, blame Planning, or just throw up her hands. This is HER problem, too.

* Building Community means a more representative Planning Commission that's not just a developer's Rubber Stamp! Appeals to the City Council of Planning Commission "decisions" are time-consuming and expensive.

* Community-building means variances and conditional use permits be thoughtfully granted, not routinely so every new building exceeds the height limits or crowds neighbors.

* Community-building means developers' profits underwrite the additional costs of police, fire, schools and other services their projects require.

* Community-building means requiring a master plan--as Jane Brunner once upon a time proposed--from developers Ron Kriss, Roy Alper, and Pat Zimsky, who are single-handedly transforming Temescal into their own vision--before more of their projects are approved.

* Building Community means consideration be given to the impacts these out-of-scale projects have on the residences on the "side streets."

Property values may rise on the transit corridors with these over-sized projects, but ours will fall as we lose on-street parking spaces, views, sunlight, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly streets, a livable decibel level, cleaner air, trees, birds, etc.

* Community-building means TRUE in-fill housing--vacant lots, truly blighted buildings, NOT removal of functional, useable buildings.

* Respecting Community means adequate noticing, including LARGE posted notices and project descriptions in front of development sites, articles in newsletters more than just 2 days before public meetings, with time to circulate information to others.

* SAVE what's left of historic, interesting buildings on our shopping streets!


An ad hoc, growing coalition of concerned neighborhood groups, including:

Neighborhood Preservation (655-3841)
North Oakland Coalition for a Sustainable Community (654-2329)