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‘Paint the Town’ Mural Comes to West Oakland with a Tribute to Music History at the California Hotel

Date Posted: August 25th, 2018 @ 12:00 AM
Last Updated: October 23rd, 2018 @ 4:54 PM

News from: Oakland Dept. of Transportation


August 25, 2018

‘Paint the Town’ Mural Comes to West Oakland with a Tribute to Music History at the California Hotel

Street mural project highlights ongoing neighborhood work by OakDOT to make streets and sidewalks safer, and by EBALDC to revitalize the neighborhood with long-term residents

Oakland, CA – Residents painted a new street mural Saturday at the site of a new pedestrian and cyclist safety project near 34th Avenue and Linden Street in West Oakland – the art itself highlighting the rich musical past of West Oakland’s historic California Hotel.

Paint the Town is a pilot program launched in 2017 by the Oakland Department of Transportation (OakDOT) to encourage community ownership of public space by facilitating resident-designed, resident-organized mural projects on the pavement. Saturday’s mural project was developed and sponsored by the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) as part of the ongoing San Pablo Area Revitalization Collaborative (SPARC). The mural was painted as part of a community event called SPARC-It-Place.

“Streets murals can brighten and represent a neighborhood, and help strengthen community spirit,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “They also have the potential to reduce speeding traffic, especially when designed together with safety improvements like the murals here, today. But most of all, they’re fun to make and bring Oaklanders together to add life and surprise to our streets.”

“OakDOT is proud of our pioneering programs to innovate on public space and empower residents of every Oakland neighborhood,” OakDOT Director Ryan Russo said. “Every transportation department should give the community it serves the pens for its plans and the paintbrushes for its places.”

“This effort, ultimately, is looking at what a healthy neighborhood is,” said Joshua Simon, Executive Director of EBALDC. “When three people were needlessly killed on San Pablo Avenue near the California Hotel that really shifted the conversation on health, including what it means to feel safe. This project also highlights the power of arts and culture in a historic neighborhood that is threatened by displacement. Long-time Oaklanders deserve revitalization without that threat. Beautification isn’t just for newcomers.”

The design was proposed by California Hotel residents, an affordable housing development managed by EBALDC, and developed with local artists and through community design charrettes for neighborhood residents.

In launching the Paint the Town pilot program, OakDOT sought to minimize historical barriers to community participation in government programs. The department developed a toolkit outlining guidelines, and held application clinics for interested neighborhood and community groups. To encourage equitable service delivery, OakDOT set a goal of approving two projects in underserved communities for every one project approved elsewhere, and exceeded that goal significantly. The department ultimately selected 30 mural projects to facilitate in the first round of the pilot.

This mural will be the sixth completed project since the program started implementation in May 2018. All projects received some financial support from the independent Oakland Fund for Public Innovation for supplies, and seven projects were granted full support by the Fund, including the EBALDC project.

Street Murals approved by the program can be painted entirely on asphalt at intersections of low-volume streets or in the midblock of streets or potentially a whole block length. The EBALDC project is unique in that it was proposed at the same site where OakDOT had already planned improvements as part of a paving and roadway safety project that runs for several blocks along San Pablo Avenue. The improvements include:

  • Installing concrete and metal bollards along San Pablo Avenue to block off certain areas to vehicle traffic while allowing pedestrians and cyclists through,
  • Painted bulb-outs to direct vehicles away from pedestrian and cyclist traffic,
  • Repainted and improved crosswalks, and
  • Roadway reconfiguration

For questions, community members can email paintthetown@oaklandca.gov. For more information, visit the project website at: https://www.oaklandca.gov/services/dot/paint-the-town

Media Contact

Sean Maher

City of Oakland

Public Information Officer


(510) 238-6358 desk

(510) 473-2610 cell

Jill Kunishima


Director of Development and Communications

jkunishima@ebaldc.org (510) 606-1823