Piedmont Neighborhood News

What's happening in Piedmont, CA

Emeryville, Well, what do you know?

Posted by Len Gilbert on January 11, 2009

How much do you know about the proposed Emery-Piedmont campus? One great way to learn more is to visit the site for a tour either Saturday, January 17th 10-12 or Saturday January 24th 10-12.

You may not realize how many of your Piedmont neighbors work in Emeryville. Novartis, Leap Frog, Jamba Juice, Kodak Gallery (formerly Ofoto), Peets Coffee & Tea, and Peaberry’s Coffee and Tea all have corporate offices in Emeryville. Peets and Jamba also have retail outlets as well. And then there is Pixar. I think they make movies…you may have heard of them.

For the foodie, there is Trader Joe’s, Arizmendi Bakery, Townhouse Bar & Grill, Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe (2008’s Best East Bay Diner) and Charles Chocolates (5 blocks from the Emery school site! THAT could be a problem for me.). I usually go to the Peets in the Public Market, but if Peets is not your cup o’joe, there is a Starbucks about 4 blocks from the campus. Your child may already be familiar with Head over Heals Gymnastics, and they will surely love the new Doyle-Hollis park going in about 1 block from the school. Aquatic park is also just a few blocks away.

Shoppers have Bay Street or Ikea for a little retail therapy, and if the big stores are not your thing, Berkeley’s 4th Street is 5 minutes away. Also nearby is the Berkeley’s Farmers Market (Tuesdays, 2-6 Derby@MLK).



Let me know if you  have other cool Emeryville tips.

8 Responses to “Emeryville, Well, what do you know?”

  1. lavendersmith said

    I have indeed visited the Emeryville site and used to go to Emeryville weekly for my kids’ gymnastics at Head Over Heels. I’m not sure you’d consider this a “cool tip” but I’d like to share an excerpt of the letter I wrote to the city and school board:
    Much has been stated publicly about the potential safety risk to students generated by high crime around the Emeryville site, but an equal or greater concern may be the safety risks posed by an earthquake and by transportation. Let’s not forget the entire Havens retrofit/rebuild was sparked by seismic safety concerns. Measure E was passed largely out of fear of the “life risk” posed by Havens’ structurally unsound kindergarten wing. Why, then, would we move our children to a school site that is much more hazardous from a natural disaster perspective? I urge you to view the earthquake scenario maps available from the Assoc. of Bay Area Governments (http://www.abag.ca.gov/bayarea/eqmaps/mapsba.html). Because Emeryville is built on infill (similar to the San Francisco Marina), all of Emeryville is in a dark red or red zone, indicating “violent” or “very strong” shaking, and has the highest probably of liquefaction in the event of a major quake. Piedmont, by comparison, is in all green and yellow zones, indicating “moderate” or “strong” shaking susceptibility, due to the more stable ground composition here. Imagine if a major quake, or some other natural or manmade disaster, struck. It’s not unreasonable to assume that surface streets and the freeway maze around Emeryville would be gridlocked, perhaps impassable, and that Emeryville’s emergency responders would be overwhelmed. How would we reach our children? We might not be able to. As for transportation, we should not underestimate the risk posed by bussing kids back and forth 15 or more minutes each way, or the risk posed to parent volunteers and teachers from driving back and forth. More driving equals a higher chance of traffic-related accidents. … Additionally, has anyone considered the pollution our community would generate on a daily basis by transporting this many people to another town? In 2008, we celebrated the slogan “Havens Goes Green.” I’d like to try explaining “Havens Goes Brown” to my third-grader next year.
    Thanks for listening,
    Sarah Lavender Smith

  2. Thanks for the perspective. On the risk front, I think that the driving risk is real and usually underestimated by most people in our car-focused culture. But the risk is also ignored when convenient. We don’t hesitate to drive our kids to Alameda through the tube for soccer, to Orinda through the tunnel for baseball, and all over Northern California for club-level baseball, basketball, and soccer. We drive our kids up to Tahoe on the weekends in snow and wind or for ski week. So a 15 minute drive on flat city streets for school seems a low-risk venture.

    On the “green” front, reuse of existing facilities may offset the extra driving/bus emissions. Especially if you consider a split campus where parents have to drive from Scenic or Pala to Wildwood to drop off a third grader, then to Beach for the kindergartener.

    Good points all around for consideration by the school board. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. annem13 said

    I think the driving effort to the proposed Emeryville location is greatly underestimated and hope people do the drive more than once to understand. I used to live near the Emeryville school site in Oakland, so am familiar with the many offerings of the location, but that is also part of why we don’t live there anymore. We liked the Piedmont area for a much less urban, stressful day to day life.

    I could be one of those who would have kids split up between schools, having a 2 year difference between 3 siblings just about to enter elementary school, and would rather go to 2 different Piedmont locations to pick-up my kids than drive to Emeryville every day, maybe twice a day, if a carpool doesn’t work out.

    And what about all those times when things go awry; like a kid gets sick, the car doesn’t start, the other carpooler is late or has a sick kid, or one of the kids wants to stay late or go early…there really is no end to these type possibilities. Or Oakland decides to tear up the streets on the route, or Emeryville, which happens ALL the time, I know, I actually drive the route a lot. Its just a lot lot lot easier to deal with this situations closer to home, within the community. And if the location is within Piedmont, the Piedmont city offices will have the effects of their operations upon the residents factored into decisions, or will quickly hear, adjust or respond quickly to any problems.

    I do hesitate and think about driving distance, time and ease as part of my decision to partake in activities for my kids and myself. I believe the solution needs to be found within Piedmont’s borders, and sacrifices will need to be made by all.

    Thanks Lem for providing a forum,
    Anne Marie Miguel

  4. I agree that it would be terrible as a regular, ongoing school site, but it’s only a 9 month hardship per elementary. It seems a good trade off to get a new school for Havens and 4 upgraded schools (PHS, PMS, Wildwood, and Beach) in exchange for 9 months of inconvenience per elementary school population. (PHS and PMS would still be Piedmont in most plans)

    I work at 65th and Christie, about 8 blocks further from Piedmont than the temporary school site, and it takes me about 25 minutes on a bike to get to work. Even the most careful driver should be able to make it faster than that.


    From the intersection of Oakland and Grand, it’s about 3.4 miles to 1275 61st Street. For comparison, it’s about 2.2 miles from that same intersection to Hampton Field.

    Again, the inconvenience is real, but it is for such a short time period and the benefits are high, that I think it’s worth it. The Havens community and the city center as a whole will be drastically improved by the new Havens school and our other schools will be retrofitted. Piedmont schools are a major reason people move to Piedmont and I see the completion of this project as a big win for the PUSD system and all the school communities, as well as the city as a whole.

  5. I left work tonight from 65th and Christie in Emeryville at 4:49pm and was at the intersection of Oakland and Grand avenues 11 minutes later at 5:00p. This is without carpool lane (no kids in the car) during Monday rush hour.

  6. drewbendon said

    I have been following this process in detail, reading all the comments that have been forwarded through the Havens Parents Club, attending as many of the meetings as I have been capable and trying to remain as objective as possible.

    Here are some of my thoughts on Emeryville vs. the in-town options.


    These issues have been raised:

    • Emeryville has a higher crime rate.
    • There are more registered sex offenders closer to the site than in Piedmont.
    • Emeryville might be on landfill and might suffer more in an earthquake.
    • In the event of a disaster it is further away & would require a level of disaster preparedness greater than that that would not be required in town as other resources are available.
    • Regular bus trips to and from school present the possibility of accidents.
    • Possible use of an open public park could present safety issues.

    In general I am not as concerned about these safety issues as some others. I think the kids will be safe in the closed campus. I am a bit more skeptical of the park, though I assume they wouldn’t go there without a plan. I actually think the biggest safety concern is in transport – accidents happen, but I don’t think that the probability is significant. I don’t mean to disparage my friends who are very concerned about this issue. I am not as concerned. Nevertheless, though I think the probability of harm is low, I think that if something did happen it would create a big problem for the community. So on this issue I favor an in-town solution.

    School Environment

    • I have not been inside the school, but I have seen photos. It looks pretty nice to me. Some parts look better than what we have now. It has the amenities you’d hope to find in a school and none will be shared with another school.
    • It is fenced in with a very high fence. The parts that look to the park (on the angle) will have a nice view. The parts that look to the building under construction will have a much more industrial view. The setting is not as nice as any of the in-town options.
    • Staying in town adds the comfort of familiarity as well.
    • The Emeryville site does not have a lot of play space; though it appears similar to what Havens has now (minus the trips to the tennis courts). There is a public park being built across the street and on the next block down. The design looks very nice and it will be brand new. It does not look like it will be enclosed.
    • It has been suggested that the location of the school could be a positive influence in that the kids will be exposed to people in a lower income strata. I doubt that there is any significant benefit in the manner in which they’ll be “exposed.” They’ll see the neighborhood from behind bus windows and fences and won’t be interacting with the community.

    I personally think that as a society we tend to undervalue aesthetics in our environment. But I’m also willing to acknowledge that that is more important to me than to others, especially kids. So in my mind I would say that this weighs against Emeryville, but for evaluation purposes I think neither site prevails.

    Sense of Community

    • The teachers believe that keeping the school together provides better continuity of the school community. They also point out that it is much easier to provide all of the needed services to the kids when they are all together.
    • One parent with experience in moving a school to a temporary site said that for that school there was no such benefit.
    • Parental involvement will likely decrease as the additional driving and parking will make volunteering too inconvenient (especially for folks with small children still at home). Parent volunteers are an important component of the school community and benefit to the kids’ education and if budget constraints require laying off any staff, parental involvement is more important.

    I think that the fundamental “community” for students is their classroom and friends and siblings. These kids do well when they are placed on sports teams with kids from the other schools. Camaraderie develops quickly. I do think that “community” is more of an issue for adults and particularly the teachers, and I don’t think it’s insignificant. But, in my years of working I have had jobs with lots of friends and jobs with few or none in environments I’ve liked and those that I haven’t. For the one year in question, I do not think that this should be a determining factor. Because it is important to the teachers though, I will say that on this issue neither site prevails.


    • Initially I was under the impression that the Emeryville option would be substantially less expensive. From the information we have so far; that does not appear to be the case. And the cost savings from Emeryville only manifests itself under three sets of circumstances: 1) all of the students from all 3 schools go there; 2) Havens students go there and in the following years the portables remain at Havens for use by the other elementary schools or 3) because of a lack of state modernization funds we are forced to forgo the projects at Wildwood and/or Beach.

    Honestly, the biggest problem here is the lack of adequate information. Superintendent Hubbard seems to think that over 3 years the Emeryville option wold save $500,000. If that is the case, then this factor weighs slightly in favor of Emeryville, but I’d really like to see better numbers.

    Coordination With Other Educational/Recreational Opportunities

    • There are some educational/recreational opportunities under the community’s control that could be altered to suit the time constraints of an Emeryville solution. The City can alter Recreation Department programs ,though, due to time and space constraints, it is not clear that all of the options we have now will remain. Similarly, we can probably adjust sports practices as needed and may lose some time on those. There would need to be coordination with Piedmont Language School. I don’t know how difficult that would be. While none of these issues may be dramatic, the cumulative administrative burden is not insignificant.

    • Some in town activities, such as the Piedmont Swim Team practices, can’t change their times because there are no other times. Similarly, if your child has a music lesson at a certain time it is nearly impossible to change that time. Those types of things could present issues.

    This factor weighs in favor of an in town solution.

    Walk to School

    • We live across the street from school, and 2-3 blocks from the middle school/high school complex & the pool & Mulberry’s. It was a factor when we bought our home. We moved most recently from near Solano Ave. where we could walk to lots of stuff. Before that we lived in two neighborhoods in Seattle where we could walk to great stuff. I strongly supported Mulberry’s and have advocated for years to make Piedmont more bike and pedestrian friendly. While this factor may not be as big for some folks it is very important to our family.

    This factor weighs in favor of an in town solution.

    Scheduling Issues

    • Whether to positive effect or not, all of our lives are scheduled to the hilt. For some building in 40 minutes to 1 hour a day of transportation (to the bus stop, loading/unloading the busses, and travel time) will be a significant burden. For some (like my wife) who find the scheduling difficult now, having the school in Emeryville will mean that they are unable to volunteer any time at school or to attend mid-day parent teacher conferences or performances. For me, travel to and from doctor’s appointment, for example, will take an additional 20-30 minutes out of my day, to my boss’ chagrin. With an in-town solution, scheduling adjustments would be minimized.

    This factor weighs in favor of an in town solution.

    So, in my mind, this is how everything balances out. On safety there is a benefit to an in-town solution, though reasonable people can differ on this or on how significant that is. School environment and sense of community can be argued either way, and therefore are a wash to me. Cost is in favor of Emeryville, though it is not clear by what margin. Coordination with other educational and recreational opportunities weighs a bit in favor of an in-town solution. For me walking to school and scheduling issues weigh heavily in favor of an in-town solution.

    Each of us will weigh these factors differently based on how they impact us. We should appreciate that how our friends and neighbors consider these issues is just as valid as our own opinion. We weigh and balance them differently and we might have a different position if we were in the position of being a decision-maker. I might, for example, weigh safety more heavily because I wouldn’t want the responsibility on my head if somebody’s child got hurt by just the kinds of things that are being discussed. It may not be entirely rational, but then again the community jumped on this seismic work and had to start it immediately based on a certain probability that an earthquake would occur within a specific time period. In hindsight we can say that we could have taken our time to plan this all out better because no earthquake has occurred, but that’s in hindsight.

  7. On Tuesday, I drove home city streets from the Emery campus. I left 61st and Doyle at 4:48pm and arrived in Piedmont 14 minutes later at 5:02. My route was 61st to San Pablo. SP to 40th. 40th to Piedmont Ave. Right on inda, then left on Grand.

    Today I rode my bike in to work, I left at 7:02am and arrived at the school at 7:20am. Another 4 minutes and I was at work.

  8. tillerinstinct said

    It would seem that the Emeryville option provides a much more cost effective solution than any scenario involving portables. I am surprised that I have not seen cost mentioned when comparing the options. My six year old happens to be very excited about the prospect of riding on a school bus. They’ve got seatbelts and everything now. Hey, for a year, I think I can deal.

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