CloudKitchens Opens Soon – North Oakland Neighbors Brace for Impact
CloudKitchens’ multimillion-dollar makeover of 5333 Adeline St. is nearly complete and even has a new name: Longfellow Food Hall. Yet the business still refuses to inform the community of the exact opening date, hours of operation, or how it plans to address the onslaught of parking, traffic, noise, pollution, garbage, and pest impacts.
Thank the City of Oakland for CK’s tone-deaf behavior. Last year, the City rubberstamped zoning approval for CK, a multinational backed by billionaire and former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The $58 permit green-lit CK to provide 36 food sellers with facilities to prepare menu items for takeout by walkup customers and delivery services like Uber Eats and GrubHub.
More permit perks: The permit required no public engagement or restrictions on business activities, despite CK being surrounded by homes and having no off-street parking for the 100+ workers and 1,000+ delivery drivers each day. This gives CK carte blanche to maximize operations, regardless of their local impacts, by leasing to as many food chains as possible. Panera Bread Company and Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria have already signed on and we expect more to follow.
500+ residents have signed in-person and online petitions opposing City’s zoning decisions. Please sign if you haven’t done so yet!
WHAT’S AT STAKE
1) Public input, transparency, & accountability
Residents learned about CK only when construction workers began remodeling the warehouse in April 2021. By then it was too late to stop a development that City Zoning staff rubberstamped in September 2020. Zoning stands by its actions despite the long-term negative impacts that would have been avoided had the community been notified at the right time.
2) Our quality of life
- Parking: CK has no off-street parking, which will likely result in 100+ workers and 1,000s of customers per day taking over residential parking, red zones, and bike lanes. Also expected: delivery drivers to freely park on the sidewalk and in traffic lanes as they do at Oakland’s other CK, the Oakland Food Hall (2353 E12 Street).
- Noise impacts: Neighbors live less than 40 feet from business operations that will generate noise from morning to midnight, seven days a week.
- Pedestrian and bicyclist safety: Traffic flow will intensify on the already hazardous Adeline and Lowell Streets.
- Odors, rats, and waste disposal from 36 commercial kitchens
3) Validity of the Lowell corridor’s mixed-use HBX-1 zone
When Zoning approved CK zoning clearance, it made two major errors by 1) ignoring the HBX-1 requirement for business and residential activities to compatibly coexist and 2) classifying CK as Light Manufacturing rather than a type of restaurant. Both errors overwhelming favored CK for years to come.
4) The City’s commitment to equity & climate change
- Zoning ignored the City’s equity policy and ordinance by not using its discretionary power to help level the playing field for a billionaire investor and a historically black neighborhood. Zoning Manager Robert Merkamp, however, dismissed that argument by claiming that “…the city may not consider an individual’s personal economic condition or any other non-planning related factor in making zoning determinations.”
- Zoning ignored the City’s Equitable Climate Action Plan (ECAP) for transitioning Oakland to a low-carbon economy by 2030 by permitting a business that relies on driving up fossil fuel emissions and neighborhood pollution through 1) its use of 36+ gas-fueled commercial kitchens, 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and 2) drawing 1,000s of food delivery drivers here each day who will stop, idle, and start back up.
More about CK
CK is backed by Kalanick’s $300 million plus $400 million from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, its first Silicon Valley venture after the Kashoggi murder. Since 2019, 50+ CKs have sprung up in the U.S. and hundreds more abroad. (WSJ). Oakland’s first CK, the Oakland Food Hall, opened on E12 St. last year. Expect more CKs wherever warehouses are up for grabs.
Location, location, location: The HBX-1 mixed-use (residential-industrial) corridor is close to freeways, arterials, and potential customers. Kalanick grabbed the $14,000 sq.ft. warehouse for $2.65 million – a real deal given an estimated $200,000 a month in rents and a zoning permit allowing for unlimited growth.
Zero tolerance for criticism:
CK conducted an aggressive PR campaign against a Chicago neighborhood much like ours when it tried to stop the parking and traffic nightmare created by CK’s leasing to Chick-fil-A. (Chicago Block Club).
Workplace from hell:
300+ employees and executives recently quit CKs across the U.S. in an exodus that reflects deep tensions over leadership, secrecy, and pay – the same issues that led to his ouster from Uber. (Business Insider).