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Now that the long-awaited Lake Chalet is open, one would think everyone in Oakland's happy that it's done and the boathouse is restored. But no. I'm told some Oakland councilmembers are still upset over a vote that took place three years ago. So much so they won't even set foot in the Lake Chalet!
Let's go back three years to 2006, when San Francisco restaurateurs Lara and Gar Trupelli, known for the Beach Chalet and Park Chalet restaurants, were selected over the always good and very popular Everett & Jones Barbeque, in Jack London Square. The Oakland City Council was deadlocked four in favor of the Beach Chalet proposal and four against it.
Specifically, Nancy Nadel (Downtown-West Oakland), Oakland Councilmembers Larry Reid (Elmhurst-East Oakland), Desley Brooks (Eastmont-Seminary), and Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel) against the Beach Chalet proposal. Then Oakland Council President Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale), Vice Mayor Jane Brunner (North Oakland), Councilmember Patricia Kernighan (Grand Lake-Chinatown) and then-Councilmember Henry Chang Jr. (At-Large) voted for it.
It was left to then-Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown to cast the tie-breaking vote, selecting the Beach Chalet proposal. Why? Because the Trupelli's proposal called for them to spend $2 million of their own money to create the new eatery, a sum Ms. King could not match at the time (her proposal called for $1 million in spending.
The City of Oakland's plan was to use $12 million to refurbish the boathouse; some councilmembers believed that expenditure should be coupled with "capacity building" an Oakland business, in this case, Everett and Jones.
The outcome caused King to charge that racism was the reason for the vote outcome, and that then-Mayor Brown promised to give her the lease if she would defend him from charges of racism; Brown vehemently denied King's claim calling it "crazy". Councilmemeber Reid also disagreed with King's claim, stating that race was did not play a role in the vote outcome.
The controversy also helped to cause the petition drive that caused Ron Dellums to run for Mayor of Oakland. Because De La Fuente voted against King, it was believed by some that he would not be supportive of African American business interests. He lost to Dellums, who's now Oakland's mayor.
King was not notified of the competition
King said she learned about the restaurant competition after seeing it advertised at the boathouse and called Mayor Brown. The submission deadline had past, but the process was restarted to give her time to submit the appropriate documents and review her proposal. In all, 10 proposals were considered; the Trupelli approach won.
It's over; enjoy the result
It's sad to learn that some councilmembers can't even bring themselves to visit the Lake Chalet and congratulate Gar and Lara for the work they've done. It's an incredible place with great food at the right price. We've always talked about increasing investment in Oakland, but when it happens, some of us seems to take pleasure in finding something wrong with the result.
If those councilmembers are so concerned with building the capacity of women and minority businesses in Oakland, they need to set up a program that does just that. But what's happened historically is Oakland gives out loans - not grants - to such businesses then makes public examples of them when they can't pay them back.
The City of Oakland needs to put its money and effort where its mouth is rather than pay lip-service to a problem that needs to be addressed and indeed should have been a long time ago.
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