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As young as age 15, Libby Schaaf took to the streets to promote Oakland. This photo shows her passing out fliers on Broadway for the Wee Pals Concert Series with Morrie Turner.

Today Oaklanders approach voter booths with three-page, two-sided ballots. The flurry of mayoral debates alone has crowded public discourse in the past months, with little attention paid to the candidates for Oakland City Council. I urge you to support Libby Schaaf, who is running for Jean Quan’s soon-to-be vacant District 4 seat. Her signage may not dominate the cityscape, and recent reports indicate she has raised less than half of her opponent, but Schaaf is a resident model of progress.

Born and raised in District 4, Libby has lived in Oakland her entire life, including three neighborhoods within the district. She has worked as a city activist since joining the Girl Scouts in kindergarten, and helped form a habitat restoration project in Redwood Heights and restore the Sausal Creek Watershed.

“My whole life, I have done an amazing amount of community volunteer work,” Schaaf said. “And all this touched or took place in District 4.”

A recent campaign mailer details her volunteer history and a several bloggers and writers have endorsed Schaaf for the job. Her experience in city government as Chief of Staff for City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente and as a Chief Aide to Mayor Jerry Brown adds to her credentials as a lifelong proponent of Oakland.

“I really am an optimistic, upbeat person who truly gets along with a lot of people,” Libby said. Her plan for City Council is to mediate the in fighting and expedite progress. “Oakland gets held back because we’re squabbling with each other so that golden opportunities pass us by.”

In keeping with her neighborhood spirit, Libby hopes to organize and empower residents to better protect the city.

“A crime puzzle has three parts to it: Neighborhood (you need organization and physical improvements to communities that discourage crime and enhance a sense of safety; Crime prevention and intervention (there are lots of critics of Measure Y but I believe the prevention money has been spent well, including Project Choice that I oversaw that yielded some positive statistics); Fiscal reform (we need to change the way we spend our money).”

Of her plan for fiscal reform, Libby wants to start with the pension plans for Oakland Police Officers. She plans to open a second tier system of benefits for new hires that requires they pay more than 0% toward retirement.

She also claims that city government needs to tighten its belt in fatter economic times. “We shouldn’t yield to the temptation to add more programs and staff but instead save the surplus for capital improvement.”

Financial mismanagement has certainly led the refurbishment of city infrastructure down a dead end road.

“The roads and sidewalks don’t show up at city council meetings with tears in their eyes,” she said. “Infrastructure is not sexy but that is one of the main priorities of this city. I have concrete ideas that are practical and doable and know how to make things happen.”

One needs to look no farther than the drawing still posted in the Paramount Theater. In the belly of this Broadway establishment, on the other side of a stage door, is a brown piece of butcher paper. A giant sun wearing shades smiles over the words, “Libby Schaaf, age eight.”

Over the sun are the words, “The Paramount Theater is on the sunny side of the street.”

Vote for Libby Schaaf: for District 4, for a sunnier Oakland.


(Glenview street banners, courtesy of Maja Brugos Design:

Yesterday’s clouds dumped another inch of rain onto Oakland. More t-storms may be in the stars for the Bay today, with more precip. into next week.

Some of the banners along Park Boulevard have buckled in the harsh weather, flapping in the high winds and in some places, coming loose from their streetlight mounts. Below them runs the garden median; the city nearly shut off its drip water system last year due to budget cuts. Today it’s soaked. Water brims, then runs down the Glenview slope and into the sea.

Next spring, the Glenview Neighborhood Association (GNA) plans to host a gardening party on the median. But while winter still reigns in Oakland, they’ve been busy with a little virtual refurbishment.

Yesterday the GNA launched a new Web site, and invite you to tour their virtual home today:

Visit your GlenviewNeighbors online and consider making a donation. Your membership will go to feed the plants on the median; they will fund online projects with the neighborhood youth. It could also purchase new flags for the Glenview—a nice distraction from the potholes on Park.


The old Design Framing storefront will soon house another fixture in the Gourmet Glenview

A new eatery is set to open in the Glenview. And not to worry: it’s not an Italian restaurant. Sushi Park will serve the finest in Japanese dining (and sake) by the year’s end. Not to be confused with the other Sushi Park establishments, this is a single business enterprise headed by sushi chef, Zandong Guan. He plans on providing quality food and excellent service, saying that he’s “looking forward to being a part of the Glenview community.”

As of August, the opening date is fast approaching. An aide to Ignacio De La Fuente notified a GNA board member to say that the City of Oakland has granted Guan a Conditional Use Permit. It’s just one of many permits (including a building permit, electrical, plumbing and another for hood exhaust) to obtain before construction begins, and designer Tommy Woo steps in.

“We’ve designed for many Japanese restaurants,” says Woo, whose firm is based in Fremont. A peek inside the storefront on 4209 Park Blvd. shows a the remnants of Design Framing, with a few wide counter tops and a shallow hall. Woo confirms that “Sushi Park is a very cozy space, for some 20 seats.” But he’s certain the decor will draw in neighbors.

I for one am excited. Now I have a second choice in Asian cuisine next to Banana Blossom, which I’ve visited only a handful of times since the beloved Purple Plum closed. It will also be great to sample Sushi Park’s sake selection in anticipation of San Francisco’s Sake Day on October 1.

So great is my anticipation of Sushi Park’s opening, I can’t decide which of the five Glenview nail salons to get a pedicure for my first visit. The one that might win out is the newest to the neighborhood: the Beauty Box. It’s right next to the future site of Sushi Park. A sign sprinkled with red hearts says that new clients get a 10% discount, and 2-for-1 haircuts as part of their “Recession Special.”

With all these high-class establishments moving onto Park Blvd., one has to keep up appearances.

02/01/10 UPDATE: According to the offices of Ignacio De La Fuente, Sushi Park is due to open in mid-March.