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On May 1st, Oakland Urban Paths and WOBO hosted a variety of Jane’s Walks. The walks were very well attended, with nearly 100 walkers participating. Some walkers even double-dipped, participating in both morning and afternoon walks.

Click on the links below to access the maps generated for each walk and check out the paths, stairs, views and architecture for yourself. Let us know what you think of the maps and if you find them helpful. If you have ideas for other walking routes, we’d love to hear about them!

Crocker Highlands/Grand-Lake Stair Walk

Lake Merritt, Roses and Glen Echo Creek

The Oakmore Stairs

An Advocate’s Walk

Coming up on May 1st and 2nd, Oakland will play host to a crush (6!) of free walking tours as part of the Jane’s Walk event. Jane’s Walks inspire citizens to get to know their city and each other by getting out and walking.  Jacobs famously declared that walkable, diverse and mixed-use neighborhoods are the hallmark of a  healthy city and its people.

You can read more about the Oakland walks here.

Four of the walks start at 10:00 am on Saturday, 5/1, so interested folks will have to make some choices. An afternoon walk starting at 2:00 pm will wrap up at the Grand Tavern! A Sunday walk goes long distance, starting at the MacArthur BART station and wrapping up near Lake Merritt and the 19th street BART stop.

We’re looking forward to seeing you during this exciting walking weekend. If you can’t make it, but are interested in further events, drop us a line and we’ll add you to our mailing list.

2010 should be a great year for Oakland and Oakland Urban Paths. We look forward to sharing more information with you soon!

Our monthly 1st Tuesday planning meetings will begin anew this Tuesday night, January 12th at AC Transit’s 5th floor conference room from 5:30-7:00pm (map).

These meetings are open to anyone interested in learning more about the organization and getting involved. If you plan to join u on Tuesday night, please send an email so we can add your name to the list.

For those marking their calendars, a presentation of the stairway inventory results is on the Oakland Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) agenda for February 18th.

Updates from the field
We’re always looking to hear from Oaklanders about their path and stairway knowledge and thanks to all who have sent us notes about various neighborhood stair conditions. We’re also happy to spread the word about any walks you may have written about. Ralph Alcorn sent us a link to his great hiking blog timecheck00 that has some excellent Oakland hills walking posts, go Ralph!

Patsy Eagan is a our main blog advisor and has a great writeup of the Glenview in her blog, Oaklanderonline.
Our media section is growing. There’s an article from an earlier issue of Oakland Magazine about Montclair stairs to check out (scroll down the screen a bit to find the article).

The voting closes on December 7 for the San Francisco Bay Area’s 2009 Cox Conserves Hero award. There are 5 finalists and the winner will get a $5,000 prize for their project. All of the finalist are worthy, but I’ve got to put in a plug for Barbara Newcombe, a driving force behind the Cleveland Cascade restoration project in Oakland. The project website speaks for itself and this effort is perhaps an uber-model for what Oakland Urban Paths hopes to foster in Oakland.

And the winner is….
Lennie Roberts from Committee for Green Foothills. Congrats to all and keep up the great work Friends of Cleveland Cascade!

And the results are in….sort of

We know you’ve been waiting to hear about the results of the much ballyhooed Oakland Urban Paths/WOBO confab of stairway investigation. We’ve surveyed and photographed 90% of Oakland’s stairways and paths are coordinating with the City of Oakland staff to analyze the information that will inform a 5-year prioritized improvement plan for that stairs. Stay tuned for more information.

In the meantime, Oakland’s Urban Paths are waiting for you. Grab a Walk Oakland! map and set out on foot to enjoy Oakland’s prime climes, views, and people.

In 2010, we’ll be posting more information on stairway walks and related neighborhood history. In the meantime, check out some stories from our recent inventory efforts:

Thoughts from Districts 6 and 7

After becoming smitten with Oakland’s maze of stairs and paths and having traversed many of them, I was a bit nonplussed about conducting an inventory of the stairways and paths of Oakland’s City Council Districts 6 and 7. For one thing, I knew the Walk Oakland! map did not show many of them in the area, so I figured that my effort may be short-lived. Secondly, the distance between the area and my residence did require some driving, but nothing that the prospect of new stairs would deter me from.

The highlights:

The Eastmont Hills Hop
Walking to the end of Seneca
The Short Cut… No Longer
Small Houses Above Mills College
Other Thoughts

The Eastmont Hills Hop

Leading a volunteer crew up and down the Eastmont Hills along mostly unpaved and overgrown pathways was an excellent exploration:

We trekked around the hilly streets in search of paths,

marveled at the street way convergence at the entry way of the King Estates Open Space,

and met neighbors with plenty to say about the stairs. Some were ecstatic to learn how many paths existed in the area and others shared that they used the paths during the summer, but not during the wet months as the unfinished paths turn into a muddy mess. Others wanted us to get away as quickly as we could and still others told us that they wished the City would close the paths adjacent to their homes, as they have fostered illicit activity and an entry way for potential burglars.

Undeterred, we were able to hack our way through densely overgrown paths…

…and ponder the potential for vacant city-owned properties: urban agriculture, goat mowing anyone?

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Walking to the end of Seneca

Across the street from Castlemont High School, a complex stairway climbs and traverses a ravine above MacArthur Blvd. to Seneca Street:

Seneca Street lies along a ridgeline above the densely vegetated riparian zone of Arroyo Viejo Creek to the east. Walking to the end of Seneca to find Stairway #153, I was excited to encounter another EBMUD reservoir:

The Seneca Reservoir is fenced. The large property made me think of efforts by water agencies across the country and throughout the Bay Area that are opening some of their previously restricted lands for recreational purposes. Could this chunk serve as a connection in the larger East Bay outdoor-by-foot puzzle?

Path #153 was another exploring opportunity that required some ducking and dropped us out onto the convergence of Burr and Lawlor streets via a wood stairway where we took in a view across the Oakland expanse:

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The Short Cut… No Longer

As Oakland Urban Paths moves forward, we’d like to see these unique pedestrian resources included and labeled on Google Maps. Many of Berkeley’s stairways and paths are already included on the maps and I’m not sure if this is due to the diligence of our beloved brethren to the north (the Berkeley Path Wanderers Association), a pro-stairway google cartographer or otherwise. Regardless, I’ve been surprised that many of the prominent stairways and paths in Oakland are nowhere to be found on Google Maps.

Imagine my excitement then, to find the Short Cut (AKA path #78) clearly labeled on Google Maps:

My interest in the path grew as I approached it and all looked good upon first glance, but a few steps into the Short Cut, I noticed a red fence barrier. Peaking through the fence, I could see the path continuing on through the neighbor’s yard:

A peak around on Majestic Ave. where the Short Cut used to punch through left me scratching my head. Privatized paths are not uncommon, for whatever reasons: overuse, under-use, the Oakland/Berkeley Hills ’91 Fire or an overly ambitious DIY homeowner, some paths have been taken out of the public realm.

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Small Houses Above Mills College
Oakland has houses large and small and traveling The Town via Oakland’s urban paths provides an unrivaled introduction to the various architectural styles we enjoy here:

Path #120 is identified on the Walk Oakland! map, running between Wyman St. and MacArthur Blvd., above the western end of the Mills College campus. The City no longer maintains the path…

…and a recently completed housing development project on MacArthur Blvd. has blocked off that end of the pathway.

Being able to check out these small homes and their proudly placed garages provided some relief to the otherwise sad site of another path taken out of use.

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Other Thoughts

To be expanded on later …

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