Rainbow Crosswalk Painters Strike Again
Serial scofflaws hit downtown Oakland in boldest attack yet
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Rainbow crosswalk painters struck again in Oakland over the Labor Day weekend, this time adding splashes of color to the intersection of Franklin Street and Thomas L. Berkley Way. Oakland Police remain determined not to catch any of the perpetrators, an imaginary police spokesman informed Streetsblog. It was just one week earlier that these scofflaws first appeared, adding unauthorized rainbow crosswalks in Temescal. Some pretend sources in local law enforcement are starting to wonder if they have serial painters on their hands, ruthlessly determined to make Oakland pretty.
Seriously though, Matt Nichols, the Mayor’s Policy Director for Transportation and Infrastructure, made it clear the city is not particularly concerned about local community groups independently sprucing up their streets, as long as they do it safely. “Oakland Pride applied for a block party. I think the mayor is very supportive of Oakland Pride and will be in the parade next week… she’s also been working with DOT to let the community have more flexibility with their streets,” he explained in a phone interview with Streetsblog.
Carlos Uribe, an Oakland Pride Co-Chair who was at the painting event on Sunday, said they had a deadline this year to get this rainbow crosswalk in before the Pride Parade, Sunday, Sept. 9. He said Oakland police have been supportive and that Pride hired a professional street-closure company, in addition to buying the paint. So, yes, the street was closed officially for a block party, but they were painting with the city’s blessing. Total costs, he said, came to about $5,500. The work started at 7:30 a.m. and was almost finished by around 1:30 on Sunday, when Streetsblog stopped by. Uribe said it took about 30-40 volunteers to get the crosswalks painted.
Meanwhile, Ryan Russo, Director of Oakland’s Department of Transportation, emailed Streetsblog to remind us that the city’s official street-painting program, “Paint the Town” is also moving forward. The last project under the program was on San Pablo Avenue in West Oakland, where it meets 34th and Linden. It was done by DOT in conjunction with the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation.
The street mural, as seen above and below, was painted Saturday, August 25th. In that case, the paint is part of “a new pedestrian and cyclist safety project,” wrote Oakland DOT spokesman Sean Maher, in a release. He added that the art itself highlights “the rich musical past of West Oakland’s historic California Hotel.”
“We had an amazing event on Saturday and did an amazing mural that claimed space and made a wide open intersection safer,” wrote Russo in his email to Streetsblog. As seen in the picture above and the pictures below, this official project is integrated with safety work to narrow crosswalks and calm traffic. That’s in contrast to the unofficial painting projects, seen in the lead photo and last week’s story, which was kept within an existing crosswalk and doesn’t take any space from vehicles.
All in all, it seems Oakland’s current administration has taken a measured and collaborative approach to beautifying streets and making them safer, doing what it can as a city while not standing in the way of well-meaning scofflaws (unlike some cities). Do you agree? Post your thoughts below.