Oakland's 146 neighborhoods, in their own words

I was happy to make a small donation and even more happy to hear it is now fully funded!  Stephen Texeira's The Oakland Neighborhood Project is a very cool photographic story telling about Oakland and its vast array of people.  Please click on the links below to find out more! [embed]https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2056607570/the-oakland-neighborhood-project?ref=checkout_share[/embed]



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A huge asset to living in Oakland are the local amenities.  Are you utilizing what Oakland offers in your neighborhood?  So many of us, are stuck in our routine and do not venture out to explore the oaks and redwoods that are clustered throughout of town. Check out this Trailhead documentary of Oakland that I am proud to be sponsoring and was interviewed for, "Discovering Oakland's Gateway to the Redwoods". We filmed this @Bellanico in the Glenview.




Majestic Metal

The other day I was showing my daughter's friend from Ann Arbor, Michigan around Downtown San Francisco and Oakland. As we crossed the Bay Bridge into Oakland, I was pointing out the cranes at the Port.  I love the lines of these majestic metal creatures and how they are a landmark to our city! Photo credit: http://www.karlya.com

Below is Jack London Square with the cranes in the background.

Photo credit: Deidre Joyner

lunch on the lake

When Lake Chalet first opened up almost two years ago, I was so excited about this multimillion dollar restaurant opening in my beloved Oakland on a transformed section of Lake Merritt.  I was disappointed the first few times that I dined, but I kept coming back, as I loved the space and lake view.  I recently had brunch at Lake Chalet, the service was great and I loved my Crab Louis salad! Lake Chalet

Lake Chalet
Lake Chalet
 Lake Chalet crab louie

 Lake Chalet crab louie

North West Oakland, Time to Visit


If you follow my blog, you know what a foodie I am.  I love exploring new taste treats in Oakland and Berkeley.  A coworker told me about the new storefront for James and the Giant Cupcake. Eurydice Manning opened her concept in 2008, but realized her dream of opening her own shop, when her North Oakland location opened for business, just last week.

My Daughter, Nia has already made a special request for these cupcakes in lieu of a birthday cake for her next special day. Here you can also order gluten free and vegan varieties.

A thriving retail corridor, the area along the Oakland Berkeley border at San Pablo has been growing and is part of the Walk Score Renaissance that Oakland has experienced. This week Walk Score announced that Oakland ranked number ten in the nation’s most walkable cities.  In the past ten years, walk-ability has become more important to Oakland families and is part of the reason that home prices have remained relatively stable in our neighborhoods. Click here to read the article.

While I was there, I happened along the Actual Café, which is, as the name states, (with tongue firmly in cheek,) an ACTUAL Café, not a cyber one.  The owners invite you to unplug, kick up your feet and stay a while. There is a wonderful bike rack, free WiFi and they sell seriously local coffee, McLaughlin Coffee that is roasted a few blocks away in Emeryville.

A Verb for Keeping Warm is one of those Etsy-esque artisan knitting shops whose purveyors have a penchant for doing things by hand.  I discovered knitting classes and yarn dyed by hand right on the premises.

I love exploring my City, and it’s always a great time to support local business.  Consider a stroll in your very walkable Oakland!

Insurance Stories

True Insurance stories by Byron Taylor of AIS Insurance in Oakland (names were altered to protect clients identities, you can contact Byron at btaylor@aisinsurance.com for superior service.)

John K.* was resting comfortably in the bedroom of his Lakeshore Avenue apartment when the methodic sound of dripping water caused him to stir.  Thinking he had left the faucet on in his master bathroom, John rolled out of bed and trekked through familiar darkness toward the intermittent plopping sound.  He was only able to make it half way across the room before it hit him; a drop of water on his head, and then another.  At first he thought it was something else until his bare foot sloshed into a puddle where dry shag carpet used to be.  John quickly flipped on the light and soon discovered the water was dripping from the fire sprinkler nozzle on the ceiling.  Amused, John chuckled to himself and casually hopped on his dry foot toward the bedroom door en route to the kitchen for a bucket and a paper towel.  John opened the door and uttered a string of expletives not fit for print after seeing the threshold to his bedroom was now a make shift shore to the easily one inch deep water that had accumulated over the course of 4 hours in his living room, hallway and kitchen.  John had officially suffered his first insurance loss.

Let’s be honest, it's no secret that most people hate insurance.  Over the years the concept of personal coverage has been co-opted by the image of greedy businessmen working in a windowless back room of Evil Incorporated.  More often than not, the average American seems to think insurance is a scam, a scheme or any other euphemism associated with separating you from your money and getting nothing but a big fat bill in return.  And while it may be true that most of us will go through life without ever experiencing property damage or loss, isn’t it good, not to mention smart, to have coverage in place just in case you do?  Let's go back to the example of John K. who is still standing at his bedroom doorway, mouth agape like one of those Scream Halloween masks.  The following day John would learn the unit upstairs had sprung a leak in the wee hours of the morning and it would be an indefinite length of time before an at-fault party could be determined and the resulting losses addressed.  In the meantime John was stuck with thousands of dollars in personal property damage and no one was stepping up to help.  It was then John remembered he had bought renters insurance months earlier as a way to help reduce his auto insurance premium.  John made one call and his insurance company sent a team of adjusters that very same day.  John was even further relieved he had coverage once it was discovered that his hip 1970's era apartment was an asbestos playground and it would now have to be gutted to the studs.  John dodged a very expensive bullet because his insurance carrier packed his family up, paid for his temporary living expenses and he was soon able to move into a new place and carry on with his life.  That's the happy ending we all want.  Now let's look at the flipside.  Dick M.* purchased a new house and went to see his insurance agent hoping to keep a few bucks in his pocket.  More concerned with money instead of his client’s best interest, his agent offered George a landlord policy which only covers the house itself and pretty much nothing else.  Thinking the chances of a total loss were slim to none, Dick agreed and signed on the dotted line.  Over the years to follow, Dick would pat himself on the back over the thought of saving so much money and beating the system, that is until the day an electrical short in the garage caused his beloved home to burn to the ground with everything in it.  Dick filed a claim and was able to get his home rebuilt, but when he inquired about the over $150,000.00 in personal property lost in the fire, his agent broke the terrible news that there was no replacement coverage because he didn’t have the right kind of policy.  Dick was left with only a house and not enough money to fill it with the things that make it a home.  The expensive lesson to be learned here: don’t be a Dick.

The most important rule of thumb for any form of property insurance should always be coverage over price.  Saving a few hundred dollars every year will mean nothing if you don't have enough to repair or replace your home in the event of a covered loss.  If you absolutely have to save more money, consider a slightly higher deductible that will not cause a financial hardship should you suddenly need to pay it.  You will also want to avoid filing excessive property claims as this could potentially limit your options if you ever wanted to switch insurance companies in pursuit of a better rate.  Once you are ready to purchase property insurance, you should always shop around for the best coverage to premium combination.  You can also ask your family, friends, or even your realtor to refer you to a trustworthy insurance provider.

And for those of you who still think insurance is some kind of unholy rip off, think about that secure feeling you have every time you leave your home, or that deep relaxing breath you take right before drifting off to sleep at night.  That dear reader is called peace of mind.  And that is what property insurance buys you.  I suppose it would make you feel better if you could touch insurance or watch television while it curls up on your lap.  But insurance is not warm and fuzzy, and you shouldn't want it to be either.  Insurance should be formidable and serious and be able to protect you when you need it the most.  You should leave the cuddling to your cute puppy dog that is peeing on the power strip behind your new flat screen LCD TV which is now going up in flames as you read this.  But not to worry, your insurance will cover that too.

Can you make the cut? So You Think You Can Dance hits Oakland.

One of my favorite reality television shows is, So You Think You Can Dance.  I grew up in the dance studio.  From the early 1970's I was always at Everybody's Creative Art Center turned City Center Dance Theater after school.  To my mother's disappointment, I quit dancing when I turned 20 and I often regret it as well.  What I love about this show is that it showcases all forms of dance, from hip-hop to ballroom, contemporary and many more.  I was so excited when my friend Karlya called me this morning to tell me that auditions were being held at the Paramount Theater on Broadway.  After dropping my children off at school I headed downtown to see the dancers line up.  I am glad to see that Oakland was selected to be an audition city.