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City seeks support for Broadway redevelopment plan

on April 8, 2011

After two years of planning, the city of Oakland is now trying to win public support for a plan to create new homes, retail and jobs along Broadway, between 23rd Street and Interstate 580 in downtown Oakland.

The Broadway/Valdez District Specific Plan is a guide for city officials to come up with strategies to provide destination retail and mixed-use development along what’s regarded the city’s main street. Broadway also has a strong tie with adjacent neighborhoods.

“This project is a real coalition of labor, environment and affordable housing,” said Andre Jones, who is an aide at at-large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s office. Jones, together with a number of elected officials and non-governmental organization representatives, gathered at a public meeting at a former auto showroom on Broadway on Thursday to ask for people’s support for the plan.

“What we want to see here is a complete community … a place that’s walkable and inviting,” said Marla Wilson, a sustainable development associate for the Greenbelt Alliance, the land conservation and urban planning organization that put together the event.

According to the plan’s description, the potential development of the 50-acre section of Broadway could generate more than 800 residential units and 1 million square feet of retail space “with the potential to create $3 million annually in sales tax revenue.”

“I don’t know how anyone on the Oakland City Council can turn down a coalition like this,” said District 4 Councilmember Libby Schaaf. “I’m so excited that I have the opportunity to vote for a vision like this.”

The plan, according to Laura Kaminski, a planer with the city’s Community and Economic Development Agency, is relaunched recently after a delay due to staff changes. Kaminski said in an email that “the goal is for it to go to city council in 2012”. Wilson said the implementation of the plan largely depends on the recovery of the economy. “The plan is flexible, ” she said. “Whichever part of our vision can move forward first, we should let those move forward so that we get change quickly.”

Andreas Cluver, secretary-treasurer of the Alameda County Building Trades Council, said that the success of the plan hinges on Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget. In January, Brown proposed cutting billions of dollars in redevelopment funding across the state, arguing that those subsidies fail to stimulate economic growth or develop affordable housing, which is a premise of the use of such funds.

Brown’s proposed cuts are opposed by the leaders of a dozen of Bay Area cities, including Oakland, whose Mayor Jean Quan has said that redevelopment projects create jobs and generate billions of revenues to the city.

“If we lose that funding, it’s going to be very difficult to implement that plan,” said Cluver at Thursday’s meeting. He asked residents who are in support of the proposed Broadway project to continue lobbying in Sacramento to maintain funding for redevelopment agencies.

No groups sent representatives to Thursday night’s to oppose the Broadway redevelopment plan, and the residents who attended were supportive.

“Broadway has great potential to have housing and retail,” said Rosemary Dudley, a jewelry designer. Dudley said she knows there’re people who “get scared of density” but “of all our corridors, Broadway is the perfect place for density,” she said.

To voice your opinions about the plan, Oakland residents can attend the next City Public Meeting on April 28 at the First Presbyterian Church at 27th Street and Broadway.

Correction: April 25, 2011

The article originally stated that “the plan, according to the city’s Redevelopment Agency, is scheduled to go before the city council for approval at the end of this year“. But the Redevelopment Agency’s online schedule for the project has been updated after the article was published. Now the goal is to present the plan to the city council in 2012, as reflected above. For more information please visit


  1. len raphael on April 12, 2011 at 12:27 am

    re the “there’re people who “get scared of density”, I’d say that’s a perfectly rationale response in a city that is unable to provider quality basic services to it’s current residents, let alone a bunch more residents.

    It is simplistic to equate adding more residents and the restaurants, nail salons, and grocery stores for them would automatically provide enough tax revenue to provide the services for the new residents, let alone run a surplus to offset deficit of serving current residents.

    Encouraging what would essentially be a higher density bedroom community for SF and SJ might lower the overall carbon footprint of the world, but it won’t fix the serious economic problems of Oakland and its government. Quite possibly a denser Oakland would strain those already inadequate services to a breaking point.

    Just like a growing business has to have systems and long term plans in place before it decides how to grow and expand, we have to consider all the unintended consequences of encourgaging higher density.

    -len raphael, temescal

  2. Dollar Cover on April 13, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Since May 5, 1965, Oakland leaders have been trying to save, or restore downtown with dwindling resources. Now the resources are finally down to their last drop, and this committee is talking about redeveloping downtown? Downtown redevelopment has failed for decades, because of the lack of law “enforcement” and likewise negative external perception of Oakland.

    These guys can redevelop whatever they’d like but they shouldn’t count on public funds. If there’s ideas “good enough,” it will be good enough for private funding. I think the last thing anyone wants to see is the blight of new and very much empty condos (which by the way in this market – very few banks will give out loans for condos).

    • TE Wagner on April 27, 2011 at 8:46 am

      I attended one of the previous public reviews of this project early last year, and was not impressed. Most of the plans hinged around chasing big box retailers and devoting large amounts of space to parking structures to service same. Councilmembers are starry-eyed about the prospect of jumping on the retail experess that Emereyville and San Leandro have ridden with such success…but that train has left the station. Instead of this mega-planning, Oakland should focus on the success of existing areas like College, Piedmont, and the Grand Lake areas and come up with a plan that fosters more organic and dynamic small business growth. Repeating previous patterns of luring national retailers with sweet-heart tax breaks to only to have them pull out when the break expire leaving big a bigbox wasteland behind them is not the way to re-vivify Oakland. Emereyville’s latest stretch of moribund shops near the AMC complex are a good example of how fallible this model is.

  3. […] Broadway Valdez Planning Last week, the city had a session called "A Better Broadway" to solicit feedback on the Broadway Valdez specific plan. Another meeting is planned for late April. There is talk about turning it into a retail destination in the east bay, surrounded by housing etc and turning this into a dense transit oriented development. It is already ideally located, and well served by transit. Read about the plan, and how to comment. I actually submitted some feedback on the about a year ago, and now they are in the community workshop phase. City seeks support for Broadway redevelopment plan – Oakland North : North Oakland News, Food,… […]

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