Decision-making process

UPCOMING MEETING:


On December 4, 2012 the Oakland City Council will meet to decide the fate of Astro Park. The proponents appealed the Planning Commission's unanimous rejection of the dog park plan, so Council decides. The formal business starts at 6:30pm. The meeting takes place in Council Chambers in City Hall. We await information about overflow rooms and speaking and ceding. Here people have the opportunity to speak - be sure to collect a speaker card at the beginning of the meeting and hand it in up-front to ensure your voice is heard.


On May 2, 2012 the City of Oakland Planning Commission met and unanimously rejected the plan to put a dog park at Astro Park. Over a hundred people spoke on each side of the issue. Commissioners had also read 1436 pages of written testimony. After all of that they agreed that Astro Park is the Wrong Place to put a fenced dog park.



Background

Oaklanders were invited to comment on the Lake Merritt Master Plan in 1998 and 1999. The Oakland Dog Owners Group (O'DOG) collected signatures from 740 dog owners around east bay parks who indicated they would be pleased to see a dog park at Lake Merritt.

In July 2002 the Lake Merritt Master Plan was published.
It describes the Lake as “a connector - a common thread that joins the surrounding communities”.  Here is the mission statement from the Master Plan: “Lake Merritt should continue to be a park for all of Oakland.  Its green space, water area, playgrounds, and attractions should serve the widest audience of Oakland citizens and visitors.  From the programs we should learn about the park as a natural resource - a unique ecology within our urban city.  The needs of human users must be carefully balanced with goals for improving habitat value and water quality.  Our City's youth should take their first sail and grow comfortable in a kayak on this water.  We should be free to explore our park in all modes of transport.  The grand perimeter roads should be made grand for bikes and pedestrians too.  The rich botanical collections should be made inviting and in keeping with their famed status.  As our Park ages with each generation, we must make the needed repairs that maintain the glory of Lake Merritt.”
It marked a site of a "potential" off-leash dog area with a small icon in Chapter 3 (see attachment below).
In the “Maintenance” section of the Plan document, it notes that “Public comment throughout the LMMP's process indicated a high level of enthusiasm for improved maintenance practices- funding, operations, skill levels, etc.  It was well understood that the current level of degradation in the park is mostly attributed to lack of proper maintenance.  The public was critical of potential,  future funding sortages [sic] after improvements are made.”

Also in 2002 the Adams Point Urban Design Plan was developed and presented to the Community and Economic Development Agency of the City of Oakland. The City Clerk has no record of the document being accepted by the Committee, but we were recently able to obtain a copy from the Berkeley firm who had the $90,000 contract to produce the work. See the PDF attachments below. (Note, each is 6MB so not recommended if you are on a dial-up or cellphone connection.) The Plan focuses on Commercial Revitalization of the Grand Avenue corridor and traffic analysis prior to reconfiguration of El Embarcadero. There is evidence in the documentation that one community meeting was held to discuss the plan at a Senior Center, at which 99 individual comments were collected across all topics (possibly more than one comment per participant). There's no information about how that meeting was advertised. Here's an extract of the goals of this effort:

"The following goals were developed with GreenLink Coalition members and City staff during the initial preparation of the Adams Point Urban Design Plan.
- Develop an identity for Adams Point that preserves the historic character, unique resources and pedestrian quality of the neighborhood.
- Increase the connectivity between Grand Avenue, Lake Merritt and the surrounding neighborhoods so that Grand Avenue becomes a destination for visitors.
- Encourage new development on Grand Avenue that enhances neighborhood-serving retail and commercial uses for the Adams Point neighborhood.
- Establish consistent design components, including gateway features and streetscape improvements.
- Improve pedestrian safety through the implementation of traffic calming measures and pedestrian-serving street features.
- Organize and manage parking spaces."

This Plan document includes proposed layouts of "Library Park" which increase the overall size of today's recreation field area by moving the parking lot closer to the toilets/tot lot, and show a long, skinny dog run alongside MacArthur with no frontage to Lakeshore or Grand.

On December 8th 2010, a hearing was held at the Parks and Recreation Committee (PRAC). The meeting was poorly noticed. Most residents within the Lake Merritt neighborhood groups were completely unaware of the meeting. Dog park proponents, including O’DOG members, attended and voiced their support.

The next stage is for the City of Oakland’s planning department to review O’DOG’s application for a Conditional Use Permit, which will allow the lawn to be removed and fenced off for dogs. Within the coming weeks, it is anticipated that there will be a 17-day public comment period with the opportunity to submit written comments to the staff. The comment period will be publicly noticed with bright colored signs at the site. There is currently some confusion about whether or not a public hearing will be heard on the Conditional Use Permit (CUP).

If the Change of Use Permit is issued by the City Staff, the item will move to the City Council. An appeal of the CUP decision can be made. The appeal is heard by the Planning Commission.

On Wednesday, March 23, 2011 a Community Meeting was held regarding proposed dog play area at the corner of Lakeshore Ave and MacArthur Blvd. 

Sponsored by Councilmembers Pat Kernighan and Nancy Nadel, and co-sponsored by Adams Point Action Council, Cleveland Heights Neighborhood Network and Grand Lake Neighbors.

 In Pat's own words on February 28, 2011:

"Dear Cleveland Heights and Grandlake Neighbors,
 
The dog park proposal is certainly a topic of great interest and I think the neighborhood listserves have been a good forum to notify more residents about it.  The volume of comments indicates to me that a community meeting is in order.  I have asked Councilmember Nadel if she would participate and she said she will.  We are still in the process of finding a date and location for the community meeting and will notify the listserves when we have it scheduled.  (I'm thinking the date will be in about three weeks.)
 
In the meantime, feel free to email your opinions to me and Councilmember Nadel.  I am keeping a tally. Perhaps that will be an alternative that can take the debate off the listserves, as I see that some of you are annoyed with the volume and intensity of the comments.
 
Pat Kernighan
Oakland City Councilmember, District 2
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, 2d Floor
Oakland, CA  94612
510-238-7002
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Grace Popple,
Feb 26, 2011, 7:19 PM
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Chapter3PlanOverviewCombined.pdf.download
(3902k)
Grace Popple,
Feb 26, 2011, 7:15 PM
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Grace Popple,
Mar 8, 2011, 11:48 AM
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Grace Popple,
Mar 8, 2011, 11:48 AM
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