Montclair Library, At Risk?

There’s plenty of concern about whether most of Oakland’s libraries can remain open, with the severe budget crunch.

Mayor Jean Quan has laid out three budget options, and Budget A translates into 14 closures — including our Montclair Library.  No one wants this worst-case outcome, given the painful cuts which would impact many city services.

Here’s a recap of the budget options, from District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf:

  • Budget A — Assumes no voluntary employee concessions, so is all-cuts; cuts 395 city jobs.
  • Budget B — Assumes 10-15% concessions from all employees; cuts 162 city jobs.
  • Budget C — Assumes 10-15% concession plus an $80 parcel tax is adopted; cuts 104 city jobs.

Save Oakland Library has outlined all the library closures and cuts caused by Budget A.  There would be only $3.6 million available from general funds, a pittance.  And Measure Q parcel taxes, earmarked for libraries, would evaporate.  Why?  These taxes only get collected if the City funds $9 million minimum from general funds.  (Measure Q contributed around $14 million this past year.)

We hope that Budget A won’t see the light of day!  So let’s move to Budget B which, according to Council Rep Schaaf, will keep the libraries open and hours intact.  She explains this budget scenario:

The total Library budget would actually increase by about $1.3 million and authorized staffing would increase by 1 FTE.  The only change required is shifting $400k in General Fund costs to Measure Q, which staff assures me won’t change services AT ALL.

But believe me, other Councilmembers and I love our libraries and understand their value.  I’m confident that even without full concessions, we’ll be able to preserve current library services and Mayor Quan’s Budget B shows it can be done.

That leaves Budget C, which involves an election and more parcel taxes. It’s a little hard to contemplate that option. Would we even have an election?  Would voters approve another tax, in this climate?  Who knows?

Hey, maybe we will somehow luck out — like Governor Jerry Brown’s recent, surprising revenue projection gift at the state level.

Why Not Overstock.com Coliseum?

Yesterday, Overstock.com announced that they will spend over $7 million for naming rights!  The Coliseum will be officially called the “Overstock.com Coliseum,” at least for the next six years.

This hits home for yours truly, the original Today in Montclair blogger.  First, I’m an Oakland loyalist who is currently living in Utah.  Second, I ran marketing for Overstock.com nearly a decade ago.  While Utah-based Overstock has become a well-known national brand since then, getting more Bay Area exposure could be a smart move.

According to Overstock Chairman and CEO, Patrick Byrne:

Overstock is thrilled to become a part of the City of Oakland and Alameda County.  The Overstock brand is a perfect fit with the excitement and culture of the area.  We look forward to becoming part of the community and doing our part to give back.  Residents of the area can look forward to many great events taking place in the Overstock.com Coliseum.

More importantly, CEO Byrne follows his beliefs.  While I was working at Overstock, he launched Worldstock to help distribute goods created from third-world workers.  The department still exists today, and has given back directly to NGOs and workers around the world.

Start thinking about how Overstock might help Oakland…an interesting opportunity.

Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, RIP

The Oak Knoll Naval Hospital’s carcass will be demolished this Friday, sometime between 10:00 am and noon.  There’s been an awful, silent and ignored hulk shadowing the Oakland Hills for 15 years.  Good riddance, we say.

According to the Oak Knoll Coalition, a group of neighbors, the main hospital will be exploded this week.  They reported that developer SunCal will raze all the remaining masonry buildings by year-end.  However Club Knoll, a relic of the country club which preceded the hospital, will be saved for later refurbishment.

Over the past few years, there have been several visitors to this supposedly off-limit place.  Check out the fascinating coverage (part 1, part 2), images and videos which document the derelict hospital compound — and also honor what once took place on the hill.

The hospital base was opened from 1942-1996, which means the East Bay’s filled with former workers, their families, patients and even those born there.  Please visit the Facebook petition underway to create a fitting memorial on the hillside.  It’s a nice idea, we think.

So what’s next?  After the demolitions, we wait for new homes and a little open space.  Presumably housing developers will get capitalized again, whether it’s SunCal or someone else — though nothing is truly known or scheduled at this point.

Update:   Courtesy of The Bay Citizen, here’s a video showing the hospital implosion.

for Oak Knoll Naval Hospital Memorial

Piedmont Votes “Yes” On Blair Park

We didn’t stay awake, but the City of Piedmont voted “yes” on Blair Park’s sports complex — just before 3:00 am this morning.

The City of Oakland’s concerns were officially communicated and acknowledged, based on a letter from Eric Angstadt, deputy director at CEDA.

Is Blair Park development a foregone conclusion now?  Stay tuned until the next meeting, on April 4th.

More Parking Meters, More Love

Did you hear about the extra parking meters that Oakland’s going to install in Montclair?  There will be 25 metered positions on Mountain Avenue, placed between Snake and Scout Roads, and another 25 units positioned on Moraga Avenue, over on the Montclair Park side.

It’s been a long time since Today in Montclair has touched on that touchy subject:  parking in the Village.  The last time we asked you about parking, rates were raised, and times were extended and later rescinded by Oakland’s City Council.  However concerns about our village vibrancy were never really addressed.

District 4 Rep Libby Schaaf has expressed her concern about these extra meters.   The decision to add these and other city meters happened last year, and Schaaf will protest them as unnecessary at the next Council Meeting:

Our office convinced staff to limit the Montclair meters to the east side of the street only.   While I must respect the need to generate revenues already budgeted for, I have many concerns about this proposal, which I’ll be voicing when this issue comes to the City Council this Tuesday, March 1st at 6:30pm.

Parking meters shouldn’t be [a] cash cow; they only make sense when part of a thoughtful policy of managing parking availability in support of our commercial districts.

If you want to hear the live Oakland City Council meeting, then plan to visit KTOP online or Comcast Channel 10 on Tuesday evening.  Also please check out out the upcoming Council Meeting Agenda, to figure out when the topic might come up!

Update:  Here’s a little good news.  At Tuesday’s meeting, Council Rep Schaaf was able to reduce the new meter count from 50 to 22, split by the two locations.