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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.

old picture of park blvd.

Before it was known as Park Boulevard, the Glenview's main drag was known as Walker Street and an extension of 4th Avenue.

How well do you know your neighborhood? Before Mandela Parkway grew flowers, the Cypress Freeway threw shadows over West Oakland. Pre-dating the Uptown swing in fine downtown dining, dives like the Hof Brau hung signs with blinking lights on Broadway. And who would’ve known that the Fruitvale, a mecca for Hispanic foods and festivals, was lined with cherry orchards?

City history rests just below the concrete surface in our lovely, multi-layered Oakland. This summer, the Oakland Heritage Alliance continues its walking tour series. Inspired by the architecture, landscapes and people that have characterized the Town, a few armchair historians continue to lead the curious on several strolls through time.

image of park blvd. apartment building

Today, Park Boulevard has a mix of single-family and multi-unit homes.

Tomorrow, I invite you to join me on a stroll through the Glenview. Oakland History Room historian Kathleen DiGiovanni and I will traverse a hillside neighborhood and share the stories of a growing Oakland. Before the gourmet restaurants opened, ranchers raised cows and crops along Park Boulevard. A train carried passengers up Trestle Glen and loggers hauled redwood trunks down Park from the hills.

When the “Glenview Heights” subdivision, as it was called in 1925, took shape, settling space ran for $150 a foot. Some scrambled for homogeneity while others welcomed diversity with the Key Route streetcars that rambled up Park to Leimert. As one property owner put it, “Just picture another Oakland built almost entirely around the outside of the present city. That will give you some idea of the coming importance of Park Boulevard. It is going to be Oakland’s great north and south artery, and it cannot be paralleled.”

1925 map of "Glenview Heights"

The Oakland Tribune ran this map of "Glenview Heights" in 1925.

Saturday’s route will start at Glenview Elementary School, wind through Dimond Canyon and head up E. 38th toward Hampel, ending on Park’s business district. The tour lasts from 10 a.m. to noon.

For histories and poems from all corners of our city, check out Erika Mailman’s compilation “Oakland’s Neighborhoods.” You’ll find a complete listing of the Oakland Heritage Alliance tours here.

It’s Third Saturday in Oakland, and a new set of live music at Lounge 3411. Bands from all over the Bay bring local talent together for a show you won’t hear on Clear Channel radio. Since its launch in January, the “Bands of the Bay” series has attracted music fans to Lounge 3411, a nearly new bar on the border of the Dimond and Laurel neighborhoods. Even our bridge-weary neighbors who prefer to stay in San Francisco make the trip to Lounge 3411.

Host Dan Eagan scouts the talent for this monthly showcase, and says his inspiration comes from his travels as a musician. He came through Texas in 2007, where he played his guitar at various clubs. He writes:

What moved me to create “Bands of the Bay” was Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, Texas. Music legends Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Strait were discovered here. Another legendary musician, Kent Finlay, hosts a Wednesday night gathering of songwriters, who would try out their original material hoping to hit the big time in Austin or Nashville. That Cheatham Street’s friendly, encouraging, and open creative discourse was something foreign to me. It felt very welcoming as a musician new to town.

In Texas, the musician is an occupation held in high esteem. This is a place where even the bus driver or police officer is working on a new song. Here in the Bay Area, I hope to encourage the same reverence for new music and spread that same encouragement Finlay gave to me.

After years of playing music in Oregon, Colorado, Texas and Wisconsin, I started hosting songwriter showcases in San Francisco and moved the showcase to Lounge 3411 when I returned to my native Oakland. We host full bands instead of acoustic songwriters and with less of an open mic format.

Tonight, Pennsylvania transplants Chris Morelli and Bob Pierce join forces with keyboardist Sarah Matthews to create a soulful sound with the Sarah Matthews band. Tyler Gordon of Falmouth, Massachusetts and his band Red Penny One emulates Ireland’s U2 and Jeremy Goodfeather plays a roots/blues with some western twang. Oakland’s own Caldecott delivers an alternative rock feel. Special guest Dylan Champagne opens the night with a songwriter set reminiscent of the late Elliot Smith.

The details:

Saturday, May 15
9 p.m.
Lounge 3411
3411 MacArthur Blvd.
$3