In her latest monthly newsletter, released this evening, Council member Pat Kernighan announced that she is using an online forum to assess “what the neighborhood thinks” about “Should a Fatburger Restaurant open in the Kwik Way Building on Lake Park Avenue?”

[Editor’s note: See related articles in the Guardian: “Hahns try again to replace Kwik Way with major hamburger chain,” “Local developer: mixed-use development on Kwik Way site still works,” and “FatBurger should earn high level of official scrutiny.”]

The first step to participate is to go to, where you can read an article written by Kernighan, which gives a summary, a recent history of the site, “where we are today,” and her take on the pros and cons of the FatBurger proposal. Kernighan ends the article with her view of “The Choice”:

So, neighbors, we are faced with a “bird in the hand, two in the bush” situation. While a Fatburger restaurant may not be ideal, it certainly is a lot better than the status quo. And I believe that neighborhood reaction may affect the outcome. If there is widespread opposition, it will likely kill the deal. If that happens, what are we left with? The same old blighted property, with the uncertain hope that in four or five years when the housing market strengthens, the Hahns might be inclined to sell it to a developer. It’s a tough choice. Please let me know your preference.

A running tally of votes so far (“yes,” “no,” “neutral,” and “maybe”) is displayed on the poll’s front page. You can also choose to “Read Voter Comments.”

When you click on “Vote,” you are taken to a page where you can choose one of the four options and optionally leave a comment to “convince your neighbors.” You can optionally add your signature, which the site’s organizers say will make your argument more persuasive.

Only votes left by self-identifying registered Oakland voters will be counted in the tally. Other residents living within 50 miles of Oakland can still leave comments, even though their votes won’t count toward the official result.

You can vote and post your comment until Sunday, February 11, at 10 PM.

Every comment is read, by Kitchen Democracy volunteers, before posting, screening them for “personal attacks and obscenities.” (They provide guidelines for what they consider an attack.) Therefore your comment will typically not be posted immediately.

Kernighan is using, a Berkeley-based nonprofit web site, which aims “to earn and hold the public trust by managing a transparent process which strengthens democracy.” It was founded by Robert Vogel and Simona Carini to provide a mechanism for civic involvement for those “too tired for a meeting which lasts until late at night,” who find it “too exhausting to sit through a meeting while a few people dominate and say unkind things about a lot of people.”