R.L. Polk & Co.

Polk's Oakland (California) city directory (Volume 1928) online

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Establishments Employees Annual Payroll Yearly Output

1916 573 7.706 $5,966,000 $28,522,000

1927-28 1,289 45,825 62,400,000 430,000,000

These figures also point out the attitude Oakland should assume toward newcoming
industries or mercantile concerns. We are proud of our two slogans: '■Oakland, Where
Rail. Air and Water Meet." and "Oakland. Industrial Capital of the We.^t." Both of these
are statements of truth — based upon actual facts and figures. The reason for their truth
lies in Oakland's outstanding location from the standpoint of giving service to her own
ctizens and to the rest of the world.

Western and Pacific Coast markets select Oakland for factory location and warehouse
storage for many fundamental reasons. One is that Oakland, according to statistical ex-
perts, is 15 per cent nearer to the entire Pacific Coast population than is any other city.
and also that it furnishes the most etficient route to the markets of he Pacific Ocean.
Another is that, according to government figures, Oakland has the best year-round work-
ing climate in the United States. Still others are that low land values, which reduce
capital investment and overhead; the presence of abundant and cheap power, which also
reduces production costs; the proximity of manifold transcontinental and oceanic trans-
portation services, which reduces handling and carrying charges; and the closeness of
the rich and productive back country, which lessens cost of raw materials and of food
commodities — all combine to make factory operation low and living conditions cheaper
and better for labor itself.

Oakland's living costs are about 15 per cent lower than in eastern industrial centers,
while Oakland's death rate per thousand population is only 10 as compared with 14 for
the entire United States.


Industry seeks such perfect locations ' and such unequalled climate as Oakland has
available. It should be the duty of Oakland and representative Oakland organizations to
get behind a movement, not only to point out our advantages to big industry, not only to
settle big industrial plants on the magnificent sites on and adjacent to our harbor and
many transcontinental railroad terminals, but to see that such industries, when once
fettled here, are given every opportunity for succrsa and advancement. Our climate and
other advantages are known — but Oakland must also gain ajid keep the reputation of
being a city appreciating the location of great industries, and eager to do all in her power
to aid them. To achieve such a result, Oakland must present to all comers a united and
harmonious front — for industries, like individuals, prefer a community determined to
make the best of its opportunities and convinced that by so doing it can achieve great-
ness. Witness Los Angeles with not half our natural advantages.

Great concerns, with their huge payrolls, have greatly accelerated the wave of pros-
perity already started by our own purely local organization. Moreover, through their
affiliations in the Eastern centers of industry, Oakland's name is becoming nationally
know nas a city of industrial opportunity, while the "Oakland" stamp on their products
is carried into every port and nation in the world. Yet we must not be content — we in
Oakland must demand more, and present a concordant and unselfish front In co-operating
with newcomers for our mutual success.


Despite the unprecedented building activities in our do\\aitown district during the
fiscal year of 1926-27. as has been mentioned. Oakland in the past year has seen a large
number of splendid developments in the same area. Many of these are not yet completed,
yet the record of their initiation comes within the scope of this history.

Properly first among these is the new building of the recently organized Capwell-
Emporium Company, a Ten Million Dollar corporation, which is now being built to cover
practically a city block bounded by Telegraph Avenue, Twentieth Street, Broadway and
Nineteenth Street. This mercantile house w-ill cover 80,000 square feet of land, and
though present plans call for a structure four and one-half stories in height with a floor
space of over eleven acres, the foundation is being constructed to withstand the weight
of a seven-story building. It will cost Two Million Five Hundred Thousand Dollars: and
the total value of the improvements, including land, will approximate at least Five
Million. Its construction is a monument to the faith in Oakland of great mercantile
interests — while its development between two main North and South arterials at
20th Street is indicative of the determination of big business to break from the old
barriers bounded on the north by 14ih and Broadway and to follow its northern trend
of traffic.

Another proof that business is expanding beyond the old barriers is the construction
of the ?150.000 New Century Market on the block bounded by Jefferson on the East,
Fourteenth on the North, Grove on the West and Thirteenth on the South. Such location
on Fourteenth Street, our most widely used cross-cit> artery starting where the combined
Alameda County highways join at our Eastern boundary line and flowing westward
through the heart of Oakland straight for the Western waterfront, marks a construction
most logical. The construction will be of the most modern type, including the newest
developments in refrigeration and sanitary devices, all conveniences for the shopping
public, radio towers, even a menagerie for the children of customers. As an added facility
the New Century Market organization has purchased a large area on the block to the
south to be used as a parking lot for its customers, with gas. oil. and repair service in
readiness. The market itself, with 192 stalls, already has received nearly 790 offers for
space — it will be the largest west of the Mississippi and one of which all Oakland can
well be proud.

Of outstanding importance in the way of civic development as well as new construc-
tion are the newly formed Women's City Club and the Women's Athletic Club. The six-
story building of the former, costing $350,000, is nearly completed, covering a large
footage on Alice Street, just north of Fourteenth. The latter is rising six stories in the
Grand Avenue district, covering an area of 140 by 132 feet on Bellevue Avenue facing
Lake Merritt. Designed by Oakland architects, it will have all the conveniences of the
modern athletic club, swimming pool, gymnasium, dining and lounge rooms, private
living rooms, and so on. Both these buildings are tokens of the civic enterprise of
Oakland women, and fine additions to the city's social, club and civic life.

Oakland women are again to be congratulated in the completion this year of the new
Baby Hospital, on Dover Street, costing $282,757. This philanthropic enterprise has for
long taken a prominent place among our city's charitable organizations, and the new
construction comes as result of the untiring efforts and mutual sacrifice of hundreds of
public spirited Oakland women.

The new Peralta Hospital, built at Thirtieth and Hawthorne Streets, costing 1500,000.
and equipped with every latest medical and hygenic device, is another notable addition
to Oakland's many fine hospital facilities.


Madison-Lake Apartments, completed during; year on Madison Street at Lakeshore Driv
bodying latest features of the hotel-apartment type of dwelling.

Another pioject initiated during the year is the new Girl's Hotel. The construction of
this building, to cost $350,000, is anticipated in the near future.

The new Franklin Building — twelve stories high, costing $380,000, and completed
last fall on Franklin Street near Seventeenth — is another fine addition to our downtown
buildings. It marks a continuation of the permanent development of Franklin Street, a
development that found its impetus when after many years of effort I finally brought
about the removal of the car tracks, converting Franklin into one of Oakland's new and
finest business boulevards.

In the amusement field the outstanding construction is the new $800,000 Oakland
Theatre, now almost completed on Telegraph Avenue, between Seventeenth and Eighteenth
Streets. This marks the fourth large unit of the West Coast Theatre organization in Oak-
land. With its 4500 seating capacity it will be one of the largest moving picture houses
in the country.

The Duffwin Theatre, dedicated to the "legitimate" stage, now practically completed
on Seventeenth Street between Telegraph and San Pablo Avenues at a cost of $150,000,
marks the second theatre to be built this year well north of the old Fourteenth Street
barrier of Oakland's business center. As does the new Oakland Theatre, this also points
out the faith of theatrical people in our city, and is indicative again of the growing ten-
dency of Oakland people to find amusement within our own boundaries.

These two theatrical developments give me the opportunity of urging once more that
Oakland peoiile patronize Oakland places of amusement. Our city now offers increasingly
the best in both the legitimate and the motion picture theatrical business, as well as in
the complementary adjunct of excellent places of refreshment and dancing in hotels and
restaurants and cabarets.

That Oakland's theatrical status is being more and more recognized, it is only neces-
sary to point out that this year the Chicago Grand Opera Company chose the Oakland
Municipal Auditorium tor its only Bay District performances, and that such New York
companies as brought out the Student Prince and the Desert Song likewise produced in
Oakland. The Chicago Opera Company played four night, with an average paid attend-
ance of 6500 persons each performance. On this I will write more fully later — but the


Moraga Fire House, opened during early part of year on Moraga Road — an innovation in fire
house buildings given publicity all over the country.

point I wish to make here is that our own city now offers the best in the amusement
line and Oaklanders will do well to patronize their own home theatres, hotels, cabarets
and restaurants. We have the best, and every dollar spent on this side of the Buy is a
dollar suipporting Oakland enterprise and Oakland citizens.

Other new buildings of consequence are the Income Securities Building and the Wm.
A. Cavalier Building on Fourteenth Street, the first north between Franklin and Web-
ster, the second south between Franklin and Broadway. Apartment house additions that
are notable are the Madison-Lake, six stories and costing $600,000 on Lakeside Drive at
Lake and Madison Streets; and the new Jackson Residential Hotel, costing $450,000 and
with six stories on the west side of Jackson Street just south of the Lake. Both are the
new apartment-hotel type, including in their limits barber shops, beauty parlors, drug
stores, medical attendance, and novelty shops — a credit to the city.


Twenty Per Cent Tax Reduction Effected

The outstanding achievement of the administration marking the fiscal year just
passed is the reduction of the property tax. It has long been my conviction, and in this
1 am backed by economists and tax experts of this country and of Europe, that low
property taxes invariably result in an influx of new citizens, new industry, new business.
In the past. I grieve to state, several great industries, though enthusiastic over Oakland's
industrial location where rail, air and water meet, and wide awake to our all year-
round working climate — declared by government appraisers to be the best working
climate in America — nevertheless located in other coast cities because Oakland's former
tax rate added too exorbitantly to their operating overhead.

In fixing the city budget at the beginning of the past fiscal year, therefore, the new
administration, looking to Oakland's reputation as an industrial city as well as to the
needs of our home-owning public, cut over One Million Dollars from the expenditures of
the previous year. This resulted in reduction of the Oakland city tax rate — with no in-
crease in assessments — by 51c; bringing the old tax rate of $2.50 down to $1.99. This
radical tax cut and stand for economy had its effect upon the Alameda County authori-
ties, who promptly followed our example, cutting the county rate from $3.60 to $3.17.


Jackson Res

The total tax rate for Oaklanders was therefore reduced from a total of 16.10 to a total
of $5.16 — saving Oakland owners of homes, business property and industrial sites prac-
tically One Dollar on evei-y Hundred Dollars at which their property was assessed. Un-
doubtedly this great reduction of approximately Twenty per cent in tax-overhead was
one of the causes of the Spring building activity hitherto described — and just as undoubt-
edly it will result in an influx of new settlers, both of those seeking homes and those
searching for Pacific Coast industrial plant location.

Indicative of the manner in which the taxes could be cut and sti'l maintain municipal
efliciency 1 have Imt to mention the Street Department ainirojiriation, which was reduced
from the $870,000 of the previous year down to $550,000 in the last year. Needless
employees, numbering some 105, were dispensed with, resulting in a great saving with no
loss of departmental efficiency — while the policy of putting in only concrete streets,
which I urge and upon which I will speak later, will also ultimately result in still
further reduction in upkeep.
Consolidation of Tax Assessment and Collection Functions

Another great saving was achieved by a consolidation of two city and county offices,
which I advocated many years and finally put through to be effective during the just
passed fiscal year; namely, the merging of the assessment and collection of city taxes
with the similar county functions. This has resulted in the saving, for the one year
alone, of over $95,000. In the fiscal year 1926-27 it cost the city assessor's and tax
collector's offices $105,000 to perform these functions. In the year just riassed, the
County did the same work for the city for the total sum of approximately $8,000. The
saving amounts to nearly five cents on the tax rate. In my ajipeal for "City and County"
government for Oakland, to be dwelt upon later on. I will show how the consolidation
of all our governmental functions can cut even our present reduced total Oakland-Alameda
County tax rate approximately in half.
Income Other Than Taxes — Compi'ehensive Business License

Tax cuts resulted in a gross- reduction of something like a Million and a Quarter Dol-
lars — with a net reduction of governmental expenses very close to One Million, as has
been stated. In order to meet the odd Quarter Million; therefore, the new administration


adopted a program of getting all possible legitimate revenue from other sources than
taxes. Outstanding among such sources is the system of licensing business, a plan in
operation in practically every other big city of the country. As first contemplated when
making out the budget, business was to be licensed upon a gross income basis in ac-
cordance with systems adopted by San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis,
Chicago and other great cities. This, however, met with such objection that an arbitrary
license plan was adopted, based upon the averages of other cities. At the time of the
adoption of the comprehensive business license ordinance in the early months of 1928,
some Twenty Per Cent of businesses had for many years been paying tc'ward the sup-
port of government. The new plan merely extended this support to all businesses and
professions, spreading the cost of government in a more equitable and just manner. It
brought during the tiscal year an additional $240,000 into the treasury — result in the
net saving of this fiscal year, as stated, of approximately One Million Dollars under last.
Oakland business men on the whole are convinced, as am I myself, that reduction of
property tax, resulting in infiux of property purchasers and new industry and home
seekers, results in great benefit to the general citizenship. Shortly prior to this writing,
also, the courts have upheld the city's action in this regard.

Wet Garbage

For the first time in history Oakland this year availed herself of another source of
income used by practically every other city in the country; namely, the sale of wet
garbage. Under the State Sanitary Laws, control of wet garbage is placed in the hands
of municipalities. In accordance with this the new administration took over the wet
garbage of all places producing 50 gallons or more per week, and sold the contract for
its purchase, through efforts of the Commissioner of Streets, to a concern whose similar
contractual relationship with neighboring cities has been of the best. In this way the
city now receives a minimum income of $24,000 per year, where formerly we received
nothing. At the same time the contract protects the city from such menacing accumu-
lations of wet garbage as occurred during the State-wide "hoof and mouth" epidemic
among cattle and hogs of a few years ago. It is pre-eminently a health measure, yet the
income derived through the new measure amounts to well over a cent on the tax rate
and saves the average taxpayer so much more.
Dry Garbage

In this connection a word about the present dry garbage contract, which expires
December 27, 1928, is apropos. This contract exists between the City of Oakland and the
Oakland Scavengers Association, the latter a partnership. It brings to the City of Oak-
land a minimum monthly guarantee of $1,600, but at the same time the City must pay
out, on a tonnage basis, something like $90,000 per year to the Signal Steamship Com-
pany for disposal of the garbage at sea.

The so-called "garbage investigation" of last Fall clearly indicated that garbage, both
wet and dry, has a value greatly under-estimated by the public at large. I therefore
recommend that when the new dry garbage contract is let, and this must be some time
prior to the expiration of the present agreement, this Council see to it that the City's
monthly minimum income be stipulated in as large a sum as possible. At the same time
the contract should be on such an adjusted scale that the City would have to pay nothing
at all for disposal. It is my understanding that the present contractors, as well as others,
stand ready and willing to co-operate in such manner with the City. Whoever gets the
contract, however, must be fully equipped for, and placed under sufficient bond to guar-
antee, the uninterrupted collection of dry garbage so that the health interests of the
City cannot suffer.
Police Activities and Pine.s

Another addition to the city income has resulted through the doubled activities of the
Oakland Police Department, under Commissioner Charles C. Young and Chief of Police
Donald Marshall. Doubled enforcement of prohibition and traffic laws resulted in an
income of something like $70,000 over and above last year's police income. I wish to
congratulate the Police Department upon its activity, and to convey the city's appreci-
ation also to the police judges, Edward J. Tyrrell and Howard Bacon, for their aid in
this enforcement work. As a result our city is cleaner in the way of criminality and
petty law breaking than ever before in its history, and the City Treasury greatly bene-
fitted through fines paid by such law violators.


Increased enforcement of ordinances pertaining to the Oakland Pound has likewise
resulted in an addition of several thousand dollars income over last fiscal year's.

City Attorney's Department

Special mention must here be made of the activities of the newly reorganized City
Attorney's Department. Through the income possibilities of this department are of
secondary importance, nevertheless during the fiscal year just passed it brought in to
the city an unanticipated income of $25,000. This w^as welcome, of course, but the main



point is tliat the efficient force developed under City Attorney Preston Higgins, an ap-
pointee of my own under the new administration coming in July 1. 1927. not one case
has been lost, and some forty odd cases that had been before the department for many
years were promptly compromised or taken into court and brought to speedy adjudi-
cation to the city's gain. The new division of duties among the deputies. Alfin N. Nelson.
Stanley Wood, Homer Buckley and John W. Collier, who respectively have the func-
tions of Street Assessment. Public Utility. Ordinance Making. Railroad Commission Work
and so on, is an excellent one and greatly facilitates municipal legal activities.

That Mr. Higgins. too. has been chosen to head the city attorneys of all Oakland
Metropolitan District cities in their fight against increase of Telephone Rates, is also a
matter for congratulation. The matter of public utilities will be taken up later.

One part-time addition to the City Attorney's staff I am glad to see has been granted
hy Council: namely a deputy to be appointed for a period of nine months every second
year when the State Legislature meets. Such a man should be entrusted with the draw-
ing of bills and the compiling of arguments therefor which the City of Oakland may wish
to be introduced into Legislature, and likewise appear before Legislature during its ses-
sion. During past times Oakland has merely sent a representative for a few days to
Sacramento when something specifically affecting our interests was at stake — a city
employed "Legislative Counsel." devoting all his time to such duties, will be invaluable.

City Planning-'

Of particular importance, and including one of the most important functions now
accruing to city government, is the matter of City Planning. This year, in accordance
with a new State law approved by Governor C. C. Young in June, 1927, I appointed a
City Planning Commission.

This Commission is now actively engaged in formulating plans for the more efficient
and esthetic development of the physical aspect of our city. It already has approved a
Major Highway and Traffic Plan, which is now before the Council for study before final
adoption. Sufficiently broad traffic inlets and outlets, for a city growing so fast as is our
own. are of vast importance. Activities of the Street Department depend, from the stand-
point of main traffic arteries, largely if not entirely upon the adoption of a Major Plan,
and such a plan should be adopted as soon as study has been completed.

The Clay Street opening, the fuller development of the northern and southern cross-
town arteries, the broadening of San Pablo Avenue, of College Avenue, of Twenty-second


Street from Broadway to the Western waterfront, relief from congestion of the Twelfth
Street Dam, development of a Civic Center, all of these are before the Commission, but
largely dependent upon the early adoption of such a plan as is mentioned above.

Other matters coming under initiative jurisdiction of the City Planning Commission,
but dependent upon final action of the City Council, are such important questions as
Zoning, Heights of Buildings. Architectural Control and Control of Subdivisions. In
other w'ords, the Planning Commission duties include the broad and comprehensive study
of the demands of the city from the standpoint of its physical needs and welfare in
almost every aspect of community life.

Heights of IJuildings

Prom my own experience as Mayor of the City for nearly eighteen years I know the
need of opening main highways to avoid congestion, particularly in the downtown dis-
trict. And in connection with this. I would also advocate limiting the heights of future
downtown buildings to a maximum of 150 feet — this will spread the business district
and make individual business houses more easy of access; and would bring as a natural
consequence a more facile use of downtown streets.
Automobile Parking

The automobile parking situation must also be met in this connection, and it is not
unlikely that some plan will be arrived at whereby parking will be prohibited entirely
in certain present business sections. Here, too, I would urge our building public to con-
struct more of the permanent type of downtown automobile storage garages. One is
already contemplated near the corner of San Pablo and Sixteenth Street which. I am
informed, will have a capacity of nearly a thousand cars. Others should be paying propo-

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Online LibraryR.L. Polk & CoPolk's Oakland (California) city directory (Volume 1928) → online text (page 3 of 432)