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Study shows stark consequences of IZ

The long-awaited Hausrath report will be presented to the Blue-Ribbon Commission tonight. Despite overestimating sales prices and ignoring capital costs, the study found the inclusionary zoning will bring development downtown and in marginal neighborhoods to a screeching halt (“infeasible” is the term). It also notes that development near Emeryville and in North Oakland or the Hills would be less affected because of their larger profit margins and mid-rise, wood-and-concrete construction type, perhaps explaining why the councilmembers representing Oakland’s wealthiest neighborhoods are IZ’s primary backers. Despite being commissioned and supported by the officials and staff who are most pushing IZ, the study strongly confirms what opponents have said all along – Oakland, especially the areas most in need of development (“lower-priced housing in neighborhoods and higher-priced housing downtown”), simply can’t afford gigantic condo fees.

In other news, the Chronicle wrote an ultra-bourgeois editorial complaining about “unsightly” billboards and dismissing the revenues they provide to important institutions like the Oakland Zoo as “pet projects.”

The Tribune had a long article about the Wayanses, which made me support their project less (and why did they earlier meet with Councilmembers Reid and Brooks? Neither represents the area or chairs the relevant committee). Keenan Ivory Wayans didn’t mention rollercoasters, emphasized retail and a hotel, and suggested housing construction, all of which are terribly inappropriate uses of isolated land. What’s the point of putting a hotel next to the Bay Bridge? There are hotels in SF. We need hotels downtown, by the airport, and in Rockridge. Even if I weren’t having second thoughts about the project, they have no need for special treatment. They will have a big leg up on the RFP alread. I look forward to seeing the proposals later this year!

Finally, I’d like to encourage political junkies (and who else is reading this?) to watch City Council meetings. Streaming video, if you don’t have cable, is available on KTOP’s website. If you missed Tuesday night, here are some highlights:

Sanjiv Handa blamed “problems with city’s website,” the lack of solving real issues, and general Council laziness (reflected in “the usual light number of people in the audience” and “the lightest meeting load in the country”) on councilmembers’ ambitions. “Ms. Quan, Mr. De la Fuente, want to run for mayor; Ms. Brunner for city attorney.”

There was no discussion, and not a single speaker, when the council endorsed AB45, that would transfer OUSD oversight from Jack O’Connell to FCMAT. Yesterday, the Assembly Appropriations Committee deferred action to later this month. See my last post for contact info for the committee.

Several councilmembers rambled during the discussion of the “city of refuge” extension. Jean Quan speculated about what would happen without migrant workers: “if we were to pay the true cost of producing those melons, they’d cost the same as in Japan… five dollars a pound.”

“As an American, I’m afraid there’s always bits of racism in me,” said Nancy Nadel. “I don’t see the encouragement of the immigrants to (transform) their countries,” she added. “There are people in this country who will not work for slave wages, and feel the immigrants are coming here to work for wages just because they’re higher than in their own country.” She concluded, while voting for the measure, that “we cannot just let everybody come to the United States and work here.”

Desley Brooks revealed that she used to be an INS prosecutor (and didn’t like it), and that she recently attended a Hillary Clinton fundraiser. She also pointed out that there are many European illegal immigrants, supporting the resolution’s call to extend Oakland’s offer of refuge from Central American political refugees to any and all immigrants.

Ms. Brooks brought up storefront churches, when discussing the expansion of the facade improvement program. “Storefront churches become problematic, and so they blight our commercial corridors. Each one of these places is a church, and we can’t do anything to uplift the area. Redevelopment law will allow us to … help churches upgrade their exteriors.”

Heny Chang thought additional money for architects and guidelines is unnecessary; he called it “red tape.” Brooks responded, saying the design review is “critical.” She’s right – poorly-designed storefronts are a major problem throughout the city. The Dimond District is a good example of how bad architecture can discourage merchants’ investment, and Old Oakland and Uptown owe no small part of their resurgances to large windows and handsome facades.

Even though Council meetings are very long and often deal with uninteresting issues, having the stream in the background is a great way to hear these sometimes-provactive statements.

Posted in armybase, breakingnews, citycouncil, housing, iz, oakland, ousd.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Great Expectations » Blue Ribbon Commissioners should be ashamed of themselves linked to this post on August 9, 2007

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