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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Long Awaited Pickleworks Path May Finally Connect Neighborhoods in East Emeryville

Use EBI Money to Open Pickleworks Path

The single most widely recognized barrier to walkability in Emeryville has long been seen as the ever anticipated but never arriving 'Pickleworks path' proposed to connect the Doyle/55th Street dogleg with 53rd Street.  If the path was open to the public, as backers are wont to say, a six block detour for north/south traveling bikers and pedestrians would be removed and Emeryville would move a click or two towards validation for its claim of being "a connected place".
The path, starting on the north end between two buildings at the Doyle/55th corner and opening out into a parking lot off 53rd Street connecting north Hollis area with the residences at EmeryBay Village, was formerly accessible but closed when a private developer acquired and rehabbed the 'Pickleworks' building in 1999.  At the time, the City neglected to require the developer to open the path as a condition of approval for the Pickleworks project bringing howls from residents after the popular cut through was closed and gated. The developer has since resisted all attempts by a chastened City Hall to buy the land and re-open the path.  Calls have been made from residents, including from the Tattler, for the City to acquire the land by eminent domain but where City Hall once entertained the idea years ago, the latest Emeryville Capital Improvement Program didn't even list Pickleworks as a consideration.
Looking south through the normally closed
Pickleworks gates.

This ped/bike neighborhood connection path at Pickleworks is even more important now.  With the building of the Center of 'Community' Life on 53rd Street and Emeryville children from the North Hollis residential area detouring east to busy San Pablo Avenue to get to school, the City of Emeryville, who's General Plan cover page refers to the town as "a connected place" must finally open this vital neighborhood connection.

In another area of town, Emeryville fans of walkability lost another big battle a year ago.  That's when the City Council majority amended the City's General Plan to remove a required pedestrian path connecting 45th and 47th streets east of San Pablo Avenue, after a new private school, EBI on San Pablo Avenue, appealed to be let off the hook for building the required path as a negotiated part of their Planning Department approval process for their campus construction. At the time, EBI agreed to spend the money it would have spent on the 'EBI ped path' instead on some other unidentified pedestrian improvements along San Pablo Avenue.

We say EBI should instead pay for the connection at Pickleworks.  The City has a chance with this to correct a past mistake made by the City Council when they voted to reduce pedestrian connectivity by killing the EBI path and now move to greatly improve pedestrian and bike connection in our town at Pickleworks.  Let's finally bring this important neighborhood connection.


  1. I agree with opening the Pickleworks path, but not with spending the money EBI is on the hook for to do it. The City should simply persuade the landowners to open the Pickleworks path. No improvements are needed. Let EBI spend their money somewhere that real work needs to get done.

    1. FYI- the "persuasion" this landowner will need will have to be in the form of an eminent domain seizure. This landowner has been extremely clear he will not willingly sell this land to the City of Emeryville. We're going to have to take it from him (with or without jackboots).

      Incidentally, if the City in fact does this, I think it will be the first time the Constitutionally sanctioned use of taking of private land for direct public benefit has happened in Emeryville. The taking of private land by City Hall for the benefit of another private citizen (or corporation) has happened many times here. This private to private taking of land facilitated by the government, so popular in Emeryville, is a subversion of the original intent of the eminent domain powers granted by the Constitution.

  2. Excellent idea Brian. Didn't EBI state that that their pathway was going to cost $300,000? Hopefully the city doesn't give up that money as some kind of political favor. It will go far for our much needed parks and pathways.