Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Parks in Peril, Now Trees in Trouble

This piece is something of a follow-up to my January 2011 story "Parks in Peril," about the obliteration of Oakland's public works agency's park maintenance budget. In "Oakland Overgrown," which likewise appeared on the cover of the Express, I look at the effects of deep budget cuts on the city's Tree Services Division. The gist: No more preventive maintenance, and no more new trees. The result: Increasingly serious hazards and threats to public safety from trees, plus a reliance on volunteer organizations to keep greening Oakland, all in a city named for a native tree. How's that for irony?

A Serious Setback for Alameda Creek

Here's a story about Alameda Creek, fifteen years of efforts to restore its historical steelhead run, and a new CalTrans road-widening plan that may ruin the creek for fish. Give it a read.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dog Park Divides Lake Merritt

Hot topic? A total of 79 comments on the East Bay Express website seem to say so. Here's the deal: Some folks have been working to get a dog park in the Lake Merritt area since the late '90s. The park at the north end of the lake has only a few more hoops to jump through, but some nearby residents who recently learned of the plans are none too happy about the proposed location. There are good arguments on both sides. And I think that if you read other stories on the issue in the Trib and the Chron, you'll find that both give the opponents short shrift. I tried to represent a balanced view of the debate and not come down on one side or the other. The key is to increase awareness, which up til now has been sorely lacking, and let the city government make an informed decision. Whether the park is or isn't built, I hope that democracy, open government, and maybe even compromise -- rather than politics and back-room dealing -- prevail in this important decision regarding open space land-use at the heart of Oakland.