Education in Oakland

Garden Secret

Posted by novometro on September 13, 2006

Something stinks in this garden. The San Francisco Chronicle reports this morning that Oakland City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel was kept in the dark about an offer to donate a 31,000 square feet garden once owned by spice mogul August Schilling in downtown Oakland to the city. After the owners, a group that includes Willie L. Brown, hit an impasse with city officials who balked at the notion that this new public park would only be open for special events, the property was sold to a developer.

The villains in the story are the bureaucrats in City Hall who failed to consult with Ms. Nadel before allowing the proposed transaction to die. But it is hard to believe that if the owners really wanted the deal to go through, they would not have reached out to local politicians when the bureaucrats were being difficult.

Meantime, the new owner is looking to build a residential skyscraper on the site, a proposal which has drawn predictable criticism from preservationists.


One Response to “Garden Secret”

  1. Chris K. said

    The very same things that make this parcel valuable to the developers (that it is four blocks from the 19 Street BART station, upcoming Bus Rapid Transit-B.R.T., and 1/2 block from the Lake, and separated bikeway) also make it valuable to the city as a transit oriented park.

    As the citizens of a progressive and forward thinking city, we need to consider our transit modes in the future: many more of us will be taking BART/BRT, and riding bicycles. There will also be more residents in downtown nearby. Thus we need to enhance and acquire existing green spaces for park use, such as the Schilling Gardens parcel, that are near transit.

    The Schilling Gardens could be an attractive and valuable park and a piece of the economic development puzzle, considering this park is proximate to downtown office buildings. Organizations and companies wishing to locate in downtown Oakland will enjoy having a beautiful space nearby to host banquets, meetings, and other functions.

    As a city we must find the will and the way to acquire this parcel with Redevelopment or General Fund money, bond money, and/or philanthropic funds. It would be a mistake to destroy a historic, existing green space for a project that doesn’t even have ‘affordable’ inclusionary housing units.

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