North Oakland Neighbors Organize to Push Back on ‘CloudKitchens’ Business on Adeline
Some North Oakland neighbors are organizing to push back on a project that has already been approved by The City of Oakland. They claim the permitting of the 35 stall “Ghost Kitchen” business CloudKitchens at 5329 Adeline Street was poorly noticed, hastily approved and failed to properly account for the disruption to the neighborhood the business will cause. They want to coordinate a community meeting to address these issues before the project is allowed to move forward.
According to the flyer being circulated, the business would be permitted to operate 18 hours a day, 7 days a week and bring “more than a 1,000 take-out customers per day.” The flyer anticipates double-parking in bike lanes and private driveways as well as the more frequent use of residential side-streets by delivery drivers.
The petition, being spearheaded by members of the Golden Gate Community Association, calls for the city to “put the brakes” on the project and has so far garnered about 200 signatures from North Oakland and Emeryville Triangle neighbors according to organizers. “The City [of Oakland] quickly issued permits for this business, owned by billionaire and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, without public notice or any consideration of its impacts on our neighborhood,” the flyer states.
Kalanick, who co-founded Uber and is credited with disrupting the ride-hailing industry, has turned his focus to disrupting the food takeout industry since being ousted from the company in 2017. According to BusinessInsider.com, Kalanick has already invested $130 million on 40 such commercial properties across the U.S..
Their business model looks to provide turnkey infrastructure to restaurants and aspiring chefs so they can apply their focus on cooking. “Our ghost kitchens are designed for speed, quality, and scale, making it easy to launch a delivery restaurant with low risk and low capital,” it states on their website.
Neighbors seemed divided on the benefits the project could potentially provide including job creation and the activation of a blighted space. Many argue that these do not outweigh the potential parking issues and vehicular traffic the business would likely bring.
Some neighbors perceived the opposition as a simple act of NIMYism and the entitlement of free street parking. “That big ugly building has been staring back at me for 23 years!” noted one commenter on social media expressing support for the project. “I don’t get why people think they have a right to block neighboring land uses like this incessantly,” added another.
Others validated the neighborhood disruption that this particular type of business can bring. “The notion that they will support small businesses is a myth,” a former neighbor described her experience with living near one of the businesses. “The ones by us are all basically occupied by Chick-fil-A because their capacity needs bumped the little guys out of the space. Delivery drivers trash the area and use it to take bio breaks.” she went on to describe. “[The] company is run by the founder of Uber so you can’t trust that guy to actually fix any issues that might arise. like, seriously terrible company.”
“I don’t get why people think they have a right to block neighboring land uses like this incessantly.”
Fueling the discussion is that the business would likely rely on so-called “gig workers” as well as growing community opposition to the Ghost or “Virtual” kitchen model that can compete with neighborhood restaurants while lacking the community benefit these brick & mortar establishments provide.
One positive outcome of the project is that the legendary Flint’s Barbecue of Oakland has already been signed on as a tenant. Family members of the original Flint’s have been “plotting a comeback” and raising capital through a crowdfunding campaign. KQED notes that customers will be able to order takeout in person at the facility and not just through delivery apps.
“While this project may check all the Planning Dept. boxes for HBX-1, it ignores major impacts on the Santa Fe and Golden Gate neighborhoods,”
“While this project may check all the Planning Dept. boxes for HBX-1, it ignores major impacts on the Santa Fe and Golden Gate neighborhoods,” said North Oakland activist Cathy Leonard who helped initiate the petition and is actively gathering signatures for it. “It impacts you too if you drive or bike on Adeline or Lowell Streets.”
The flyer calls on Oakland District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb to coordinate a community meeting to address these issues before the project is allowed to move forward. Opening of the facility is slated for July.
Supporters can sign the online petition posted on ActionNetwork.org.