The news from Lakeshore is that there are many changes about to happen, but we aren’t privy to what all of them are. Sansome Pacific, owners of the lease on the old Albertson’s, will be making an announcement (which maybe made by now) on new tenants in which the property will be split into two uses. The good news is that we hear that Trader Joe’s is still in the running.

The Business Improvement District had hoped to come up with a partnership of property owners on the Avenue and community members capable of buying out the leaseholders and wooing Trader Joe’s with a better lease. However, the leaseholders are not interested in our proposition and are going ahead with their own plan. The community has repeatedly shown its determination and creative thinking in designing the center of our neighborhood. I believe that Sansome Pacific will take this into consideration. If we are unhappy with their choices for this very important space, we have some options and must work closely and quickly with our city-council member and the Planning and Building Department to demand that every contingency is covered, every “i” is dotted and “t” crossed.

We’ve seen more empties on Lakeshore than we have in many years, because of the rising values and costs of doing business in our successful district. Some merchants and uses have been forced out. It’s hard to see them go, but we will soon see some exciting new establishments. We will be hosting an expansion of Piedmont Avenue’s L’Amyx Tea Bar, a new home décor store, and are very excited that Luka’s Taproom and Lounge’s owner and local resident, Rick Mitchell, will be opening a wine bar bringing in food from his well-regarded kitchen.

Folks, please don’t ask me the story on the Kwik Way project, which we all had such high hopes for. Someday it’ll run as a miniseries on an as yet undiscovered cable channel. Keep tuned for the developing (or not) story. I predict that we will ultimately see a good outcome; because we’ll demand it and we’ll work to get it — yeah neighborhood power!

Beyond our little neighborhood and its namesake lake, are bewildering projects being proposed and opposed by various local grassroots organizations. When Jerry Brown came to town, he set about building 1) a “ginormous,” vainglorious cathedral over our lake, 2) proposing all manner of skyscrapers enveloping the lake, 3) skyscrapers along the waterfront, and 4) skyscrapers in his new “elegant” down-up-town — whoops — we were told that those downtown skyscrapers didn’t pencil out. Odd, that’s where I thought they belonged.

As for me and many others, some of this building boom has been exciting, some has been bewildering, and some has been downright scary. It’s often wrongly perceived that those of us who don’t welcome anything Jerry’s pals think up are retrograde, anti-development NIMBYs. Hey, and some may be that, but Oaklanders and especially Grand Lake denizens have shown themselves to be open to new ideas, new uses, new architecture, and, even occasionally, new skyscrapers. But we want, expect, and demand to be part of the process. We are smart, enlightened, and thoughtful. We aren’t afraid of living in a real city. We’ve already got many urban problems, now we want more of the urban pleasures. We expect public land to be developed for public purposes using public processes. I believe our new mayor understands and will act on those principles. But we must be careful, vigilant, and thoroughly educated. So let’s keep our eyes opened and not depend on the mainstream press. This is a good start.

Please remember to attend the last so-called public hearing on the sale of our public schools land. The demographic study, that seeks to tell us whether we can afford to give up expensive-to-replace land for future schools, and the appraisal are slated to be ready for viewing by then. There was no public input into this project or on the need for it. There are still no serious numbers to tell us whether our community can benefit from this sale. Please attend the September 16th final hearing and demand answers to all your questions! Let Superintendent Jack O’Connell know if you didn’t get them.