Economy

Safeway silent as some residents criticize building plan

Safeway supermarkets plans to demolish its Pleasant Valley shopping mall  — which at 185,000 square feet is about half the area of the Great Pyramid at Giza — and replace it with one almost two-thirds larger. The new mall would be 304,000 square feet with 1,066 parking spaces, or 50 percent more spaces. Neighborhood critics say the new mall, which would include Long’s Drug and other retailers, would be too big, attract too much traffic and therefore endanger pedestrians accustomed…

School district resumes local control, but where’s the money?

After six years of state control, the Oakland Unified School District resumed local control last week and new Superintendent Tony Smith, an Oakland native, was inducted into office.  But what exactly does this mean for Oakland residents in terms of change? Not much, apparently.  While the OUSD Board will now be in a position to make independent decisions – versus advising a state administrator –  the looming budget crisis seems to be tying everyone’s hands. One reason why school officials…

Council unanimously passes Oakland Energy, Climate Action Plan

The Oakland Council members unanimously passed an Energy and Climate Action Plan late Tuesday night. The approval by the eight-member council now sends the city to preliminary planning to see how it can reduce greenhouse gasses to 36 percent below the 2005 level by 2020. Targets listed in the plan would meet international standards of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a unit put on partly by the United Nations Environment Program. “We are unlikely allies,” said Ian Kim, member…

A day with AC Transit

  Ever since I moved to Berkeley from Japan a year ago, my friend, Josh Allen keeps asking. “How can you survive without a car?” Allen,  an associate movie producer, who drives his three-year old Mercedes convertible everywhere he goes, will never understand. But those who ride the buses and need the buses do. AC Transit serves more than 230,000 of us a day. When Privately owned Key System started its streetcar and bus services in East Bay in 1903,…

Budget Diaries 3 – The end or just the beginning?

To balance an $83 million general fund deficit,  the Oakland City Council passed an amended budget proposal Tuesday night  that leaves many departments’ budgets substantially smaller. The most controversial change, Council member Jean Quan noted while reading the proposal aloud, was the $13.4 million cut to the Oakland Police Department’s personnel budget.  It’s equivalent to the 10 percent cut the city requested from all departments. The police union is still in talks with the council and how the money will be…

Safeway talks bigger, Piedmont wonders if it’s better

Residents gathered Thursday at the Chapel of the Chimes Mortuary on Piedmont Avenue for a second meeting  called by Safeway officials to talk  about the store’s plan to redo the shopping center in Pleasant Valley. “Obviously, it is a corporate sponsored meeting,” said Eric Edwards, a resident of the Rockridge Manor condominium next to the shopping center, referring to the Safeway brand foods and beverages offered those who attended. Safeway, which also has a development plan underway at its College…

Decoding the buzz around Mama Buzz

The Morning Shift. The flat, wide stretch of Telegraph Avenue that runs through the Koreatown-Northgate district is mostly empty when I arrive at Mama Buzz café a few minutes after 7:00 a.m.  A man pushes a shopping cart and some bags of bottles and cans down the sidewalk. A lone woman loads up her car with groceries in the parking lot of Koreana Plaza Market.  One helmeted biker has already beat me to the door of Mama Buzz; he tries…

Budget vote approaching

The roller coaster ride of city budget-balancing will not come to an end on July 1, at least according to several Oakland City Council members at last week’s meeting.  However, looking at Mayor Dellums’ original proposal to balance an $83-85 million general fund deficit in comparison with the revised proposal that four city council members put forth on June 11 gives us a slightly clearer picture of what to expect . Here’s how some of the departments will be affected:…