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This week, citizens raised a ruckus at City Hall about Oakland’s parking meters. Yet, despite their outcry, the City Council has maintained its extension of meter operation hours until 8 p.m. To add insult to injury, Oaklanders face increased ticket fees starting at around $50 and credit card operated meters require a minimum of $2. And the coin-operated meters? Parkers beware: meter maids will write up a ticket regardless if they’re broken.

Perhaps drivers have Carl C. Magee of Oklahoma City to thank. He is widely known as the inventor of the parking meter, which he patented in 1935; the debate over paying for public space has been raging ever since.

When Magee’s invention hit Oakland’s Park Boulevard circa 1979, one Glenviewer took issue. His neighborhood newsletter can be found in the Oakland Public Library’s Oakland History Room:


A realtor named Donald C. Smart published this rag as a thinly veiled advertisement for his business. More compelling than his business slogan “Be Smart!” were his columns on neighborhood lore, events and a curious rant about the installation of parking meters in the Glenview:


“Shoppers in the Glenview district have watched the recent installation of parking meters with mixed emotions. Sure enough—meters deter all-day parkers. Parking space is a scarce resource and as the economists observe, if you want to optimize the use of scarce resources, you should charge the user.

“It is interesting to note that two-hour meters were installed in preference to meters of say, one-hour or one half-hour, etc. That should please the beauty shop operators, whose customers often require that much time.

“But the basic anchor stores of the Glenview shopping district—the stores that do the largest dollar volume of business and attract the greatest number of customers (such as the grocery and hardware stores)—those stores and their patrons can hardly benefit from two-hour meters.

“Perhaps experience will change some views in this matter, and changes will be made, especially if you have feelings in this matter and make them known at City Hall.”

…Twenty years later, Oaklanders seem to have answered Smart’s call to action. And while the move to rollback the cut-off time to 6 p.m. fell one vote short this week, the City Council will revisit the topic, wrote Councilmember Jean Quan in her newsletter today, at their October 6 meeting.

Adding to the mix is the proliferation of cars in Glenview’s business district. Some residents have expressed concern that the growing number of popular restaurants will overwhelm the number of meters along Park Boulevard.

Looks like the best option for Oaklanders is to exchange their four wheels for two.


Autumn is here and what better time to fall into an exercise routine? Qigong is an ancient Chinese exercise regimen that combines movement and breathing techniques. There are hundreds of varieties and Dayan is one of hundreds of them; it translates into “Wild Goose.” In China’s Zhou Dynasty, a wild goose symbolized marital fidelity and was given as wedding presents.

These days in Oakland, wild geese symbolize infestation in and around Lake Merritt. But the benefits of learning the Dayan movements today in Dimond Park will start you on a path of lifelong health. This free event at 5:30 p.m. will introduce anyone interested in stirring their qi, or “life force.” The Dayan Qigong poses are designed to enhance the circulation of energy throughout the body. Self-acupressure, stretching and meditation are all facets of qigong, or “life practice,” and the after-effects include alertness and well-being.

I practice qigong and find that I sleep more soundly and have more balance. Even my internal organs feel exercised. As my instructor Kirstin Lindquist says, “Qigong practice is centered around the kidneys. And your kidneys are the key to lifelong health. You could say they’re your body’s 401K.”

After you preview some qigong today in Dimond Park, consider taking a course at the Park Boulevard Yoga Center. You’ll learn the history of the practice and all 64 movements of the Dayan. Check out the details:


Elsinore Walk, aka Path #49

Elsinore Walk, aka Path #49

Walkers, strollers, bikers, and especially all you four-wheelers: Oakland needs you to restore its pedestrian paths. Tomorrow, at 9:30 a.m., volunteers from Oakland Urban Paths will lead a group of ped-lovers through a few stairways in the Glenview. Volunteers will measure stairs and other data while trekking in the footsteps of old Oaklanders.

Not since the streetcars ran the streets did these walkways etch their way into, beside and behind the street grid. Now OUP, in partnership with the City of Oakland and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, leads its citizen recruits to preserve them from overgrowth and ruin. Come be a part of the action tomorrow and get micro on the following routes:

These are the paths that OUP plans to chart this Sunday.

These are the paths that OUP plans to chart this Sunday.

If you’ve explored a handful of the city’s walkways, you’ve noticed that they’re in varying states of disrepair. Glenview paths, for the most part, have retained their early 20th-century splendor. Elsinore Walk still has good signage. Others, like Paths #53 and 54 off Trestle Glen, have needed some major renovation. Some have leaning handrails and concrete cracked open from seismic shifts or erosion, and the Trestle Glen side of Glendora Path (#51) is completely blocked off:


That’s where OUP comes in. Its inventory project will track each of the city’s seven districts. Volunteers have already set out to collect information on Oakland’s walkways, and after October 19, OUP will share its data with the city for the next step: renovation.

So GlenFriends: bring yourselves and the following items tomorrow, Sunday, September 19:

1) water bottle
2) sunscreen
3) clip board
4) measuring tape
5) pen
6) digital cameras if you got ’em

We will meet outside Ultimate Grounds at 9:30 a.m. Be sure to look over the volunteer waiver and sign it when you arrive. (You could even save the effort a few cents by printing it out yourself and bringing it with you.) If you’d like to hear the latest inventory updates on Districts 3 and 5, log on to Yahoo! Groups and sign up with oakland_upd3d5.

If you’ll have to miss this Sunday, but want to help out with other stairway inventories, check out the following District Leaders. They will happily sign you up for a data trek:

09/20/09 UPDATE:

This morning, OUP volunteers took stock of five Glenview walkways. Both legs of Elsinore Walk and #63 off Park Boulevard didn’t yield many unusual findings. Glendora Path, however, was a surprise. A sign at the top seems to indicate that it’s a public path:


Yet, a few paces into the bamboo-lined walk, the path makes a sharp right and dead ends a few houses down. If you’ve wandered this way, you’ve probably tripped over the loose rocks and yellow “Caution!” tape. Rather than wind down to Path #52 on Elbert Street, Glendora leads right into someone’s backyard.

A couple neighbors met us on our visit. They had one thing to say about Glendora Path: it isn’t public.

“This was created by the city for fire department access,” said one mother with kids in tow. “The houses along this path were built without outlets to Elbert Street, so we use this path and our Elbert neighbors’ personal paths to get home. It’s really a private path, and it would be nice if the city removed the sign so people don’t walk along here.”

Since the climb from Elbert Street (and through her neighbor’s property) is a little steep, she tends to park on Glendora and take the path to her backyard gate. Another neighbor returning to his Glendora Avenue home claimed that the path has been only loosely private since the 1970s.

Either way, public or private, Glendora Path is little more than a sign. GlenFriends and other urban explorers might want to skip this leg of their walking tour and give these path-dwellers their privacy.

Not to worry, Oakland has more then 200 paths and stairs from which to choose. Check out walk-bike-oakland-map to plot your next walk.