Health of the Hood: Mills College/Seminary Ave

Each of our correspondents took roughly a 3 square-block walk around their neighborhood, taking stock of the area’s services, stores, homes, schools, and especially how people in the community were living their lives. The goal is to give real, detailed texture to our understanding of the quality of life in East Oakland’s neighborhoods from the perspectives of people who live there. These pieces were done in conjunction with Oakland Tribune Violence Reporting Fellow Scott Johnson’s Oakland Effect project.

 

By Katherine Brown

Path #1- heading south (56th Avenue to Millsbrae Avenue – Along MacArthur Boulevard)

This is a residential neighborhood with single family homes. MacArthur is a busy street – lots of cars driving by. Some cars are speeding/loud music. There are three bus stops along the walk. The lawns look well-kept. The streets look ok – some cracks and the lane lines and the “Stop” painted at each intersection is faded. All the street signs are intact and are visible. The cross walk that leads to the bus stop near the Mills college fence is not very visible. The on-ramps on the corner are fairly new. The streets are relatively clean. There are some leaves and paper on the sidewalk and street. The sidewalks are intact – no huge cracks or breaks. There are tons of trees across MacArthur – since this is Mills College. There are six trees along the path that I walked – five of the trees are fruit-bearing cherry plum trees. There was one woman walking her dog, and another man that came off the bus as I walked by. The neighborhood felt safe to me as I walked. There is quite a bit of noise along the walk because of the traffic along MacArthur – random horn blowing/music/engines.
*Seminary is a block beyond my three block limit  – where there is a church, an insurance office , and a childcare center.
Stores:
None along the walk.
Schools:
None along the walk.
Parks:
None along the walk.
Services:
None along the walk.

Path #2 – heading west (MacArthur Boulevard to Roberts Avenue – along Millsbrae Avenue/ Roberts Avenue to Picardy Drive – along Seminary Avenue)

This is a residential neighborhood with single family homes. The streets are relatively clean – with random oil spots on the streets. The “Stop” painted at the intersections are faded. There is a fire hydrant that looks rusted. The lawns are manicured and well-kept, and there is no debris on the lawns. There are quite a few cars parked on the street, and a basketball court in one of the driveways. There are lots of flowers planted in the front yards. The streets are relatively clean. Along this walk, there are about 30 trees all together – interestingly, two palm trees. There are two people walking dogs (one of the neighbors I know – we chat for a minute), and  three women and a baby. They all speak and are friendly. I feel safe walking down this path. I can here a few dogs barking from the backyards of the houses along the walk. It’s very tranquil along the walk from MacArthur to Roberts.
From Roberts to Picardy, it’s noisier because it is a busy street with traffic and cars driving by. As I walk towards Seminary along Roberts, I see some of the homes have overgrown lawns, peeling paint, cracked window blinds, and broken fences. There is one woman watering her lawn.

I begin to note the burglar alarm signs in just about all the lawns on this three-block walk. One house that looks unoccupied has a chain link fence across the front. There are three unoccupied properties across Seminary. I still feel safe on the walk. There are no trees on this short path.

Stores:
None along the walk.
Schools:
None along the walk.
Parks:
None along the walk.
Services:
None along the walk.

Path #3 – heading north (Seminary Avenue to 55th Avenue – along Picardy Drive)

This is a residential neighborhood with single family homes. Picardy is a long block – an equivalent to about four blocks. The lawns and landscaping is well-kept, and the houses are in good condition. One house still has Christmas lights. There are children playing together (baseball/riding bikes). An adult is reading while two girls laugh and play in the yard. There is Spanish-language music playing from one of the houses. There is the smell of fresh cut grass. There are a lot of houses with burglar alarm systems signs in the lawns. There are nearly 50 trees along this walk. I feel safe on this walk. People are friendly and say “hello” when I pass by. It is very tranquil. The streets are clean – no trash or leaves in the street or sidewalks.
Stores:
None along the walk.
Schools:
None along the walk.
Parks:
None along the walk.
Services:
None along the walk.

Path#4 – heading west (Picardy Drive to Brann Avenue – along 55th Avenue/ Brann Avenue to MacArthur Boulevard – along 56th Avenue)

55th Avenue is a busy street/lots of cars driving by. The lawns and houses look nicely kept. Birds are chirping. The lane lines and painted “Stop” at the intersections are faded. There are not any crosswalks at the intersection of Roberts and 55th Avenues – this is a 4-way stop. There is an empty property near Normandie and 55th Avenue. The streets look clean – not much trash/paper on the streets. Sidewalks are intact.I feel safe on the walk, but the street is a little noisy because of the traffic driving by. There are two bus stop signs indicating that service to that location has stopped. There are nine trees on this walk.

From 56th Avenue to MacArthur Boulevard along Brann Avenue is a residential neighborhood with single family homes. One speed bump in the street – there are four-hour parking signs on this street. The street looks clean – a few leaves and paper in the streets/a few cracks in the street. The lawns and houses look well-kept. The street lights are beginning to come on. I feel safe walking down the street. There is no one outside. It’s very quiet. There are fourteen trees on this path.

Stores:
None along the walk.
Schools:
None along the walk.
Parks:
None along the walk.
Services:
None along the walk.

 

About Katherine Brown

Katherine Brown was born in Houston, and her family moved to Oakland when she was 6 months old. “I am fortunate to have a loving family and an amazing community of friends,” Katherine says. “I love to help others, which is fused into my life and work.” Katherine enjoys volunteering, dance, and sports, with football being her favorite. View all posts by Katherine Brown →

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