Lakeside Apartments District in Oakland

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The Lakeside Apartments District neighborhood, also known as The Gold Coast, and simply as The Lakeside, is one of Oakland, California's historic residential neighborhoods between its Downtown district and Lake Merritt. In the context of a Cultural Heritage Survey, the City of Oakland officially named most of the blocks of the neighborhood "The Lakeside Apartments District," and designated it as a local historic district with architecturally significant historic places, and Areas of Primary Importance (APIs). The greater neighborhood includes the interior blocks officially designated as a local historic district and the 'Gold Coast' peripheral areas along Lakeside Drive, 20th Street, and the west edge of Lake Merritt, areas closer to 14th Street and the Civic Center district, and blocks adjacent to downtown along Harrison Street.

The district is characterized by a predominance of rent-stabilized apartments, mixed-use buildings, and a long history of regional mass transit connections serving its central location. In recent years, mid-rise, mixed-use, market rate, and affordable rental housing has been planned, proposed, approved, constructed, and inhabited. At the present, other developers have proposed market-rate condominium skyscrapers and other high-rise towers which have idled in various stages of the planning process. From 2007 to 2009, the Oakland Planning Commission revised zoning and building height regulations for the neighborhood.


The neighborhood was built on what was originally an encinal or Coast Live Oak oak grove on the west shore of the San Antonio Slough, which was later dammed to form Lake Merritt. Prior to the California Mission era, locations around the Slough were fishing and waterfowl hunting grounds for the Ohlone. Later in the Mission era, under the proclaimed authority of his Crown, King Ferdinand VII of Spain deeded the land to Sergeant Luis Maria Peralta in 1820 to become his Rancho San Antonio.

After gold was discovered in 1848 in present-day Coloma 125 mi to the northeast, Anglo squatters led by lawyer Horace W. Carpentier took control of the East Bay area which was to become downtown Oakland, including land along the San Antonio Slough.

Before Oakland was even incorporated by the State legislature, by 1850, a trio of three ambitious men, to include Carpentier, had leased land from one of Luis' sons, Vincente Peralta. They hired a Swiss engineer, Julius Kellsburger, to prepare a street grid map. They began selling lots, whether through a good faith belief that US sovereignty superseded Mexican claims, or through deliberate fraud perpetrated on Peralta.

The street grid of Kellsburger's map starts at the Oakland Estuary waterfront, and ends at 14th street, the neighborhood's Southeast boundary. The current streets of the neighborhood show up on E.M. Sessions' 1869 map of Oakland, with long sweeping blocks north of 14th Street. That same year, the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad at Seventh and Broadway brought passengers from New York that had been confined to a train for a week, eager for the comforts and amenities of a city. By this time, horse-drawn streetcars brought passengers up Broadway to 14th Street and points beyond. By the 1890s, the neighborhood had become home to large homes on the lake and interior streets.

By the 1920s, apartment buildings and luxury hotels began to sprout up within walking distance from nearby streetcar lines, and Downtown Oakland.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the neighborhood saw continued development of multi-family, mixed-use apartment buildings with the planning and construction of nearby Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) underground rail lines. Starting in 1961, Oakland's "Downtown Property Owner's Association," and the "Central Business District Association" repeatedly advocated for extending Alice Street directly through Snow Park, which was then the grounds of the Snow Museum, past the Schilling Gardens and the Bechtel Building, and down to 20th Street to alleviate traffic congestion that might be caused by the closure of Broadway during construction of the nearby BART line underneath Broadway. The plan met stiff opposition from Oakland's City Council in October 1964, and caused then Mayor Houlihan to remark that "One of the things which has bothered me about Oakland is the presence of these small time feuds. The city could be better advanced by using their (downtown businessman's) energies in more progressive ways." As reported by the Staff of the Oakland Tribune at the time, the City Council in essence told downtown business interests to "quit wasting its time."

In the early 21st century, the area continues to be attractive to developers as AC Transit's bus rapid transit lines are currently being planned for 12th and 11th Streets in the neighboring Civic Center district, and on Broadway downtown.

Historic places and landmarks

The district has an outstanding concentration of club buildings, historic luxury apartments, and a significant cluster of Deco structures, including the terra cotta Charles Jurgens Co. building, the Elks Hall on Alice Street (now the Malonga Casquelord Arts Center), the Hill Castle Apartments on Jackson Street, The Hotel Harrison on Harrison Street, the Scottish Rite Center at the lake's edge on Lakeside Drive, the Alameda County Courthouse in the neighboring Civic Center district, which also features the Civic Center Post Office on 13th Street. The "Ideal Cleaners" shop features a neon sign and period appointments in the Art Deco style. Many of these historic buildings are protected as official city landmarks. During a city Cultural Heritage Survey in the 1980s most of the district was designated as featuring historically significant architectural resources. The Survey was conducted by the city of Oakland's Planning Department and its Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board from 1980–1985. It also features a garden center with several cultivated gardens, and the Municipal Boat House on Lakeside Drive. A large restaurant has opened in the Boat House building, which has undergone extensive renovations, and was re-dedicated by city staff in 2009 in anticipation of its re-opening.

Malonga Casquelourd Arts Center

The neighborhood also features the Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts on Alice Street, a public community asset owned and administered by the City of Oakland and its Department of Parks and Recreation. Formerly known as the Alice Arts Center, this building was renamed in 2004 in honor of Malonga Casquelourd, a Congolese dancer, choreographer, singer, percussionist, and cultural ambassador of the arts who was killed in 2003 by a drunk driver traveling in the wrong direction on a blind curve on Lakeside Drive in front of the Essex condominium building. The Alice Arts Center was opened in 1987 under then-Mayor Lionel Wilson. It has a 400-seat theater and fine arts and dance studios where numerous dancers, percussionists, and other musicians study and create music and visual arts. It has become a vibrant center for dance and music, particularly African- and African-American-influenced dance forms from Congolese, Guinean and Afro-Brazilian to jazz and hip-hop. City officials estimate that the center serves 50,000 people a year through classes and performances. The Oakland Ballet has had offices and rehearsals at the center.

The building also features 74 S.R.O. hotel rooms where artists in residence reside. In 2003, then-Mayor Jerry Brown proposed expanding his Oakland School for the Arts, which was at the time housed in the basement and first floor of the Alice Street building, to the entire six-floor center. Numerous hotel rooms were withheld and kept vacant while plans were made to displace the artist tenants from their S.R.O. hotel rooms and studios in the center.

The building also features a prominent ground floor retail space next to its main entrance. Over the years the space was the home to a cafe with poetry readings. From late 2003 until early 2007, the space was home to the "Jahva House" cafe, owned by Oakland musician Dwayne Wiggins of the music group Tony! Toni! Toné!. The cafe relocated there following its move from a Lakeshore Avenue space. The cafe featured Wednesday night poetry slams, a traditional African drum craftsman with a sidewalk workshop, and regular live music performances. At present Oakland's Real Estate Division is seeking a retail tenant for the space.

Oakland main library

The neighborhood is also walking distance to the Main Branch of the Oakland Public Library on 14th Street between Madison and Oak Street.

Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum of California is located at 11th and Oak Streets in the neighboring Civic Center district.

Snow Park

The district is also adjacent to Oakland's Snow Park a 4.2 acre, public city park bordered by 19th Street, the Schilling Gardens Parcel, Harrison Street and Lakeside Drive. Snow Park, which is named after Oakland resident Henry Snow, was once the site of the first Oakland Zoo, the Sidney Snow Zoo, named after Henry Snow's son, which opened in 1943. It currently features public restroom facilities, sitting benches, mature shade trees, a grassy, sunlit meadow, and a golf putting green, which many neighborhood and citywide residents, and nearby office workers enjoy.

Schools and colleges

Residents of the neighborhood are zoned to schools in the Oakland Unified School District. Zoned schools include Lincoln Elementary School (K-5), which is the local public elementary school. Westlake Middle School, and Oakland Technical High School are the respective intermediate and secondary schools.

Laney College is a public community college located at the south end of the Civic Center neighborhood. Cal State East Bay has the Oakland Professional Development and Conference Center at Broadway and 11th Street. Continuing education courses are offered.

Land development

The neighborhood is located between Lake Merritt and Downtown Oakland. In recent years, market-rate housing developers have proposed constructing a variety of residential and residential mixed-use buildings which have been proposed to be anywhere from five to forty-two stories high. Neighborhood residents have voiced their concerns and objections to various proposed developments. Others have pressed developers to include meaningful community benefits to improve proposed projects at "community meetings," and before Oakland's Preliminary Design Review Committee, the City's Planning Commission and City Council.

In recent years Oakland city planning authorities have approved proposed residential mixed use development projects in this neighborhood in part because they are considered by some to be "infill". In other words, they are "filling in" under-utilized "vacant" lots in an urbanized setting. Most all such lots have had daily commercial use such as surface parking for the neighborhood's drive-in workforce by day, and for some of the neighborhood's automobile driving residents and drive-in bar and restaurant patrons by night. One such vacant lot on 14th Street at Madison, directly adjacent to the boundaries of the neighborhood, is used as a preschool playground for several neighborhood children who attend the school, as it is within walking distance for their 'car-free' parents. A developer recently proposed a project for this particular lot which has been tentatively titled "1301 Madison".

Some developers purport that projects proposed for the district's parcels, developed and undeveloped, are substantially exempted from the environmental review provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act(CEQA) because they are considered "infill" parcels. In other words, CEQA has a special provision for streamlined environmental review for infill projects located in urban areas of Oakland. Conversely, some activists have pointed to the applicability of the "Cumulative Impact" provisions of CEQA arguing that the residents of the neighborhood have already been subjected to several consecutive years of construction, dust, pile-driving and general construction noise, and carcinogenic diesel fumes from idling trucks and heavy equipment.

Mid-rise, mixed-use apartment buildings

An unfinished building languished in the neighborhood from 2003 to 2009. Originally planned as "Jackson Courtyard Condominiums," the mixed-use building at 1401 Jackson Street features transit oriented development characteristics such as ground-floor retail shop spaces and a dedicated bicycle parking room at street level. For several years, the incomplete project sat partially finished, shrink-wrapped in white plastic sheeting, reminiscent of a condom, hence its local nickname: "Trojan Tower." In September 2008, the shrink-wrap was removed for the second time from the building. In the summer of 2009, after years of extensive reconstruction work, the building finally received its certificate of occupancy and has been replanned for monthly rental apartments. Its first residents began moving into the building in August 2009, a full six years after the original developer of the project broke ground.

In 2008, "Affordable Housing Associates," a Berkeley, California non-profit completed a seven-story, 76-unit apartment building which has been funded in part with affordable housing entitlement funds and pre-development loans from the California Department of Housing and Community Development and the City of Oakland. It includes studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom units that feature a combination of traditional floor plans as well as two-story lofts with flexible layouts. The building features transit-oriented development characteristics to include multiple ground floor retail shop spaces, a transit information kiosk, and 54 parking spaces for 73 units, a ratio of .74 parking spaces per unit, which departs from Oakland's current 'one to one' parking ratio planning law. This project came under intense scrutiny from neighborhood activists for its architectural design which contrasts with the character of a mosque next door to the project, the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, a historic mission-revival building that was originally the Scottish Rite masonic temple.

Proposed condominium skyscrapers

(a.k.a. "222 19th Street"/"19th Street Residential Condominiums Project") In 2005, a group of land speculators purchased a historic 1920s luxury apartment building at 244 Lakeside Drive on Lake Merritt. The Greenfield land behind the building features the historic Schilling Gardens. The Shilling Gardens is the last remaining portion of a cultivated Japanese garden originally planted in 1886 behind spice magnate August Schilling's Victorian mansion once located on the West shore of Lake Merritt. Today the garden features a shaded grove of several mature Coast Redwood trees, ferns, a sunny lawn area, and hundreds of other cultivated plants laid out into a multi-tiered, brick masonry landscape design, with artistic concrete floral canopy arbors and walking paths. The garden as a whole is considered by the City of Oakland's Register of Historical Resources, and Oakland's Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board, to be a landmark "of highest importance." After purchasing the parcel, the owners divided the parcel into two pieces, one along Lakeside Drive featuring the apartment building, and another parcel behind the building featuring the gardens. The owners then sought to donate the gardens parcel to the City of Oakland in exchange for Historic Preservation property tax credits. Oakland's Real Estate Services Division and Office of Parks and Recreation Staff entered into discussions with the owners. City staff asserted the parcel would need disability accessibility improvements as per the ADA and its own dedicated bathroom facilities, despite bathroom facilities immediately next door at Snow Park. The city staff also insisted the owners pay $760,000 for the aforementioned upgrades, and an additional $178,000 per year, in perpetuity, for ongoing maintenance.

Subsequently, the negotiations fell apart and Oakland's office of Parks and Recreation Director said she didn't bring the decision before the Oakland City Council because she thought that the department dealing with the owner, Oakland's CEDA Real Estate Services Division, was doing that. Notable incidents of extremely violent and heinous crimes have occurred in the nearby downtown edges of the neighborhood to include a June 2011 shooting outside a nightclub at 13th and Webster that seriously wounded three men, to include a man in a passing car who was hit by a stray bullet. A shooting murder and robbery occurred at 19th and Webster in July, 2010. In this case a man leaving a nearby professional office building was shot three times, "for no apparent reason," police said, after he handed over $17.

In April 2008 several men staged a firearm takeover robbery of a restaurant and its customers at "Pho 84," 17th and Webster. On December 30, 2007, a man was shot in the 300 block of 14th near Webster "after leaving a downtown nightclub." A fatal shooting occurred in January 2004 at "El Reventon," a former nightclub at 14th and Webster when a dispute between two groups inside ended in a scuffle outside on the street and the shooting death of a 23-year-old Oakland man. On the afternoon of December 31, 2003, a man was shot to death in broad daylight in front of the Bank of America branch at 300 Lakeside Drive. On the afternoon of Saturday March 2, 2002, A murderer fatally stabbed a man several times in the face and head with a knife at 14th and Franklin in broad daylight after chasing his victim, a man in his 50s, down the street after an argument. The murderer broke his leg after trying to flee on BART, and was apprehended by police thereafter.

Nonetheless, serious and heinous acts of familial and random violence occur periodically, directly within the interior of the neighborhood. The neighborhood lies completely within Oakland's Police Beat 4x, one of 35 across the city. In recent months of 2009, violent crimes, as reported by the Oakland Police Department, included five burglaries, twelve robberies, and multiple assaults during the summer of 2009.

A bomb scare occurred on Madison Street in May, 2006 Strongarm carjackings have occurred in the neighborhood to steal a 1990 Cadillac Deville at 1428 Alice Street on April 22, 2005, a 2003 Chevy minivan on February 26, 2006 at 14th and Harrison, and a 1978 Ford in front of the Essex condominiums at 1 Lakeside Drive on November 27, 2007

On the evening of Saturday, July 8, 1989, a seven month-old Oakland girl died after an 85-foot, seven story plunge down the central stairwell of the Hillcastle Hotel. The baby girl's father, a restaurant worker in his twenties, allegedly slapped the baby's mother; the blow jarred the infant from her mother's arms and over the waist-high stairway railing on the seventh floor of the building where she had moved only a week prior. The girl's father was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In August, 2005 a man was found stabbed to death in his Harrison Street apartment near the downtown edge of the neighborhood. In September, 2005, a victim reported a panhandler stabbed him in the chest in the 1500 block of Lakeside Drive after he refused the panhandler's requests for money. On the morning of Saturday March 3, 2007, a man wielding an 11-inch samurai sword stabbed a 43-year-old man in the lower stomach and beat him on the head with the sword's scabbard in the 300 block of 17th Street near Harrison.

A fatal stabbing at the Hillcastle Hotel on Jackson Street occurred in January, 2009.

On March 19, 2009, an armed, 21 year-old man and an unknown armed accomplice robbed "Gourmet Market" at 1549 Jackson in the heart of the neighborhood. The pair shot a 30-year-old clerk and two customers. Despite sustaining gunshot wounds, the customers and clerk fought back, commandeered one of the robbers' guns, and beat him down with improvised weapons to include an iron dumbbell. While one of the robbers escaped, the subdued robber was later indicted for felony gun charges by a federal grand jury.

On March 25, 2009, a man suspected of breaking into cars on Jackson Street fled to the same Jackson Street market to take refuge. The same clerk who had sustained a gunshot wound to his neck the previous week locked the door to the market to detain the man, and fought with the suspect until police arrived. In late 2009, the neighborhood police beat, "4x," leads the city in the incidence of auto burglaries ranking in the top six out of thirty-five police beats throughout Oakland.

On December 1, 2010, a 26-year-old unemployed security guard attempted a firearm robbery at 15th and Madison, shooting another 26-year-old man man at least twice in an attempt to rob the victim of his iPhone before fleeing. The victim was rushed to Highland Hospital and survived his gunshot wounds. The shooter was apprehended by police and booked into jail on suspicion of attempted murder and attempted robbery.

Chauncey Bailey assassination

On August 7, 2007, Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey was killed near the southeast corner of 14th and Alice Streets, as he walked to work from his apartment near the south end of Lake Merritt in what Oakland Police describe as an assassination. At the time of his death, Bailey was working on a story about the finances of Your Black Muslim Bakery, involving its pending bankruptcy, and is believed by Oakland Police to have been assassinated because of his investigative journalism about the bakery organization.

Bailey was known to walk to work as a daily routine, and to stop for breakfast at a McDonalds fast-food restaurant at 14th Street and Jackson Street, about a half-block from where he was killed in the 200 block of 14th Street. After being followed from the vicinity of his apartment, the assassin spotted Bailey leaving the McDonald's restaurant, he then got out of the van, parked on Alice Street. Wearing a mask and dark clothing, he approached Bailey with the shotgun. A witness claims he recognized Bailey, and that he was in trouble, but stopped in his tracks when he saw the shotgun. Witnesses said the single gunman wearing dark clothing and a ski mask approached Bailey and fired at least three rounds from a shotgun, hitting Bailey at least once in the chest, before fleeing on foot to the waiting getaway van. Police Chief Wayne Tucker described the killing as "unusual" because it occurred downtown and in broad daylight.

To continue Bailey's work and answer questions regarding his death, more than two dozen reporters, photographers and editors from print, broadcast and electronic media, and journalism students are launching the Chauncey Bailey Project. It is convened by New America Media, a project of Pacific News Service and the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. The Chauncey Bailey Project's Web site states that though Devaughndre Broussard has confessed to the crime, according to police, many questions about the possible motive for the killing have yet to be answered.

Oscar Grant murder riots

In the days following BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle's shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year's Morning 2009, and the ensuing reaction by the Alameda County District Attorney's office, justice activists and community members organized response actions and demonstrations. On January 7, about 200 people marched in protest into Oakland's Central Business District. Some became violent and began rioting. Police lines pushed the rioting east from Downtown along 14th Street and into the neighborhood, where rioters continued rioting on Jackson Street and Madison Street. After helicopter-mounted television cameras broadcast images of rioters smashing the windows at a McDonald's restaurant at 14th and Jackson, the rioting briefly wound down after Mayor Ron Dellums and other Oakland leaders came out to the scene to plead with the crowd for calm. Rioters caused over $200,000 in damage while breaking shop and car windows, burning several cars, to include one on Madison Street, setting trash bins on fire, and throwing bottles at police officers. Police arrested over 100.<ref name="3charged"/><ref name="merc108"/>

See also

  • Community land trust
  • Gentrification
  • Inclusionary zoning
  • Planned shrinkage
  • Rent Control
  • Principles of Intelligent Urbanism
  • Transit Oriented Development
  • Transit-proximate development
  • Urban renewal

Further reading

External links