Panel Talks


As part of a transparent and collaborative approach to creating and maintaining a safe, clean, thriving Jack London District with flourishing businesses, vibrant events, and a high quality of life, the Jack London Improvement District hosts discussions about development and revitalization of Jack London.

Jack London Improvement District invites local and regional experts and appropriate moderators to generate discussions on land use, economic development, commerce, resilience, industry, history, culture, and other conversations relevant to the mission of the District. The discussions are educational and will help guide the long range vision of the District.


Join us at our next panel talk to help guide the neighborhood’s improvement with an informed, creative, and collaborative approach.

Past panel talk topics include:

Waterfront Development

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019 at Crooked City Cider Taphouse

The Oakland Alameda Estuary is a centrally located, accessible urban waterfront. Large scale developments and upcoming investments including recreational, commercial, and housing uses underway have the potential to be transformational in terms of activity and access. Come hear about the development planned and on the horizon. This is our first cross-pollination event with development leaders from both sides of the water-- Alameda and Oakland.

Speakers include:
Andrew Thomas, Planning Director, City of Alameda
Kristel Railsback, Alameda Point
Lydia Tan, Oakland A's
Greg Pasquali, Carmel Partners

View Slideshow



Monday, August 27th, 2018 at 417 Water St, Jack London Square

With: Cory Weinberg, moderator, business and technology writer for The Information                                                          Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director, Bike East Bay                                                                                                                      Kerby Olsen, Shared Mobility Coordinator, Oakland Department of Transportation                                                            Marlo Sandler, Senior Manager of Government Relations, BIRD                                                                                                   EV Ellington, General Manager, Lime Bike

As new shared mobility devices like e-scooters are deployed in Oakland, what are the implications and opportunities for the Jack London neighborhood? How can they help us achieve the goal of an accessible, inviting and vibrant Jack London?

More specifically, how could they help us achieve the following goals:

  • Keeping public right of way safe, accessible & inviting

  • Connecting Jack London to downtown and adjacent neighborhoods

  • Placemaking (transit stations of traditional public transit systems help with neighborhood identity and placemaking--could scooter systems help with placemaking?)

  • Durability/reliability/longevity of the system (are these just fly-by-night tech businesses that will leave us stranded when we're dependent on them?)

  • Economic development (not just in bringing more people to the District, but also in the job opportunities and workforce development associated with the operation of the systems themselves)

We hope this forum will inform the conversation and hope to see you there.


Monday, February 5th, 2018 at 54 Water St, Jack London Square.

With: Peter Gertler, Senior VP of HNTB

Joel Cox, Chief Engineer, Capitol Corridor and Alta Planning

Rail transit is on the rise through Jack London, and so is activity, visitor foot traffic, residential population, employment, and businesses. Community stakeholders in Jack London have long been interested in improving the pedestrian and vehicular train crossings in Jack London to create safer streets and facilitate a Train Quiet Zone, and many even contributed funds to begin the technical work necessary to kickstart the project. Hear from local and regional experts discuss what it will take to bring this significant infrastructure investment to Jack London.


Tuesday, September 26th, 6:00 PM at Original Pattern Brewing, 292 4th Street. 

With: Jeff Bellisario, Bay Area Council & Author of the report: The Economic Impacts of a New Baseball Stadium in Oakland
Michael Berne, Urban Retail Consultant, MJB Consulting
Noah Friedman, Senior Urban Designer, Perkins + Will
Moderated by Robert Gammon, Editor, Oakland Magazine and East Bay Express and Award-Winning Journalist.

Locating the A's Ballpark Downtown could be transformative in terms of economic activity, infrastructure improvements, and neighborhood impact. The Jack London Improvement District has been engaging businesses, residents, and stakeholders to participate in the discussion. As part of our Panel Talk series on issues relevant to the Jack London District, this event focuses on the development of a Ballpark. How can the District leverage the investment for maximum positive neighborhood impact-- from infrastructure to economic vitality? How can the community take ownership in the Ballpark and make it belong to Oakland?

Read Jack London Improvement District's Support of AB 734 Here 


Monday August 1st 5:30PM


Elaine de Coligny, Executive Director, EveryOne Home

Andy Standfield, Resident at local encampment

Peter Radu, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, San Francisco and Co-Author, A Place To Be, Report with UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy

Lynette McElhanney, District 3 Council President, City of Oakland

This event was in response to the increased momentum from the public and private sector to find compassionate, sustainable solutions for our homeless crisis. We hope you join the conversation to learn about current initiatives and changes.



In conversation with:

  • Erika Elliott, Colliers International

  • Gaye Quinn, Westlake Urban

  • Renato Sardo, Baia Pasta

  • Gaye Quinn, Westlake Urban

  • Richard Weinstein, Weinstein Local

    Moderated by: Michael Berne, MJB Consulting


In conversation with:

Mitchell Schwarzer, Professor of Visual and Critical Studies, California College of the Arts (and author of the recently published article "A Tale of Two Waterfronts", Journal of California History

Patti Rossi, Owner, The Fat Lady Bar & Restaurant

Gary Knecht, (Former) Planner, Historic Preservation Program, City of Oakland & Member, Estuary Policy Plan Advisory Committee

Richard Sinkoff, Director of Environmental Programs and Planning, Port of Oakland

Preceding the panel talk, Diane Heinze of the Port of Oakland lead a short walking tour highlighting the historic landmarks of Jack London Square.


A conversation with Mike "Bam" Tyau, Ala Ebtekar, and Kevin B. Chen

An evening to celebrate and unveil the newly commissioned temporary wall painting at 334 Broadway Street by Iranian artist GhalamDAR Ghalamdar قلمدار and local Bay Area artist Mike "Bam" Tyau, in collaboration with Stanford University Department of Art & Art History students. The project was directed and envisioned by artist Ala Ebtekar for Art, Social Space and Public Discourse at Stanford University and in partnership with the Jack London Improvement District

“It is the way to illustrate the dialogical nature of the construction of space through global visual conversations. As a native of Oakland/Berkeley who grew up in the area, I have no memory of a representation from this region of the world seen through public art. Besides speaking to a younger and more diverse audience, the project helps to bring visibility to an alternative representation from Iran and the Middle East at a time fraught with tensions and misrepresentations.”
- Ala Ebtekar

Art, Social Space and Public Discourse is the first sequence of programming from an unprecedented three-year initiative on Iranian art that investigates the multiple contexts that shift and define changing ideas of public space. This multi-site framework across the Stanford community, Bay Area locations, remote partners, online allies, and anchored through multidisciplinary presenters on the symposia panels will facilitate discussions and questions to hopefully be explored over the next three years. 

This initiative is supported by Stanford University, the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies, the Department of Art & Art History, Institute for Diversity in the Arts, Stanford Global Studies, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford Arts Office of the Associate Dean, Associate Dean of Humanities & Sciences, Bita Daryabari Endowment for Persian Letters, and Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and brought to this site by the Jack London Improvement District.

Learn more at


Jack London’s Role in Oakland’s Industrial Future: Savior or “Sayonara”?

On April 7 the Jack London Improvement District convened the latest installment of their Panel Talk Series; this evening the subject was how to support and maintain a thriving industrial sector in Jack London.  As noted in the SPUR report, A Downtown for Everyone, “Preserving land zoned for industrial uses ensures a diverse supply of jobs downtown. Industrial enterprises in downtown Oakland and adjacent areas benefit from proximity to the Port of Oakland, Northern California’s major port, and are a significant source of middle-wage jobs for workers without a four year degree.”

Yet the challenges to preserving Jack London’s industry are many. As SPUR’s Egon Terplan - the panel moderator - pointed out, industrial tenants are facing the same pressure of recent rent spikes as commercial and residential renters are. In fact, panelist Steven Shaffer admitted that if he was renewing his winery’s lease in today’s market he would not be able to remain in Jack London. Never-the-less, Steven was also quick to point out the many benefits that Jack London holds for his and many other local industries: proximity to both suppliers and consumers being chief among them.

Panelist Gurmeet Naroola expanded on this point, noting that Oakland has, in near measure, the same four ingredients that make Silicon Valley such a thriving hub of industrial innovation. He would classify [name]’s location benefit as a form of Social Capital, which also includes infrastructure. The other three ingredients are Intellectual Capital (good schools/talent pool), Venture Capital (money, experience, customers), and Cultural Capital (entrepreneurial mindset).

One common challenge that these assets can help address is the “1-10 gap”. As explained by panelist Jeff Williams, it’s relatively easy for an enterprising industrial startup to create a prototype, and also pretty straight forward to scale up from producing dozens of a product to hundreds. But where many enterprises fail is getting “from one to ten”. Nevertheless, he sees low-volume, high-value production as the future of the U.S. industrial revolution.

So what can Jack Londoners do to make sure this revolution doesn’t pass them by? Panelists and audience members discussed the pros and cons of a number of interesting ideas, including an industrial inclusionary ordinance, using zoning to protect a contiguous industrial-only area, allowing mixed industrial-residential developments, and establishing a lobbying organization dedicated to supporting local industry. While opinions on how to get there varied, there was broad consensus on one point: a thriving industrial sector was key to a vibrant and sustainable future for Jack London and Oakland.


In Conversation With:

Kelley Kahn, Project Director, Economic and Workforce Development, City of Oakland

Rachel Flynn, Director of planning, City of Oakland

Robert Ogilvie, Oakland Director, SPUR

Pamela Kershaw, Director of Real Estate, Port of Oakland

Moderated By:

John King, Urban Design Critic, San Francisco Chronicle

Highlight questions to the audience:

"Is Jack London a 'District'?" 24:00

"How many people would like to see a Ballpark at Howard Terminal" 50:00

"How many people live in a restored building, or new ground-up construction?" 55:40

"How many people are comfortable with the idea of a 20 story building in Jack London Square?" 1:22:50