FIRST:    READ these two articles (URLs here and full TEXT pasted below)

SECOND:    JOIN our letter-writing campaign

  • to write letters to the editor referencing these articles.
  • to contact council members referencing these articles/others.
  • to bring our issue before city council (before November election)

(Rumor has it that “Rebecca Kaplan is bringing something to the council in June (a 1-year contract?).” What if a critical mass of campers wrote letters asking councilmembers what they know about this – is it true?)


Oakland’s Feather River Camp fights city for contract

Carolyn Jones

Updated 6:26 am, Saturday, May 3, 2014


Oakland’s fumbles not limited to parks

Chip Johnson

Updated 7:15 am, Tuesday, May 13, 2014




The Office of Mayor Jean Quan

1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza 3rd Floor

Oakland, CA 94612


Audree V. Jones-Taylor, Director Oakland Parks & Recreation

250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 3330

Oakland, CA 94612

phone: (510) 238-PARK or (510) 238-7275

fax: (510) 238-3817



Councilmember Rebecca D. Kaplan (at Large)

Oakland City Hall

1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Suite 243

Oakland, CA 94612


City of Oakland website for how to contact YOUR city councilmember:




Oakland Tribune

Letters of up to 175 words will be considered for publication. All letters must include a full name, address and daytime phone number, plus any affiliations that would place your opinion in context. Your letter must reach us by 3 p.m.Wednesday.

Email: (no attachments)

Mail:     1970 Broadway, Suite

100, Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: 510-208-6409   Fax: 510-208-6477


San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate): go to

Letters to the editor should be sent via our submissions page. Due to space considerations, only letters of less than 200 words will be considered for publication. Please provide your name and telephone number along with your letter. You will be called if your letter is being considered for publication.




  • Did you know? Twenty or so years ago, the City of Oakland declared July 2nd to be Oakland Feather River Camp Day!
  • A note from Carolyn Guerrero (camp office staff): “…I was thinking that it would be entirely appropriate to have Audrey and the mayor come to CAMP to sign the contract in light of the 90th anniversary…  Imagine that Dana must have egg on ear face saying that the contract is being prepared and yet in another part it says this has been going on for 10 years.”



  • an alliance between camp and the city provides a win-win opportunity to enrich lives and families for residents of Oakland
  • ask the city council to hold Dana Riley accountable with regard to her fabricated demonstration of support for camp and her false claims regarding the forest service fees.
  • ask OPR director Audrey Jones to clear up the confusion around the these and other issues.
  • ask where are the kids who can/should go to camp? Do they know that we are willing and able to provide them a great and affordable camp experience? If not, why not?
  • ask why is it so difficult to send kids to camp? Why don’t many people know about Oakland Feather River Camp? Can’t the city do more to promote camp?
  • ask does lack of good communication and good will surrounding this dilemma reflect problems of a greater scale within Oakland administration? How quickly can this be fixed?



TEXT from articles pasted HERE:

Oakland’s Feather River Camp fights city for contract

Carolyn Jones

Updated 6:26 am, Saturday, May 3, 2014

The nonprofit that runs a woodsy, 65-acre family camp in the Sierra for the city of Oakland has not had a contract with the city since 2004, and board members said Oakland is neglecting one of its most beloved – and most kid-friendly – assets.

“From the flats to the hills and everything in between, this place belongs to Oaklanders. It’s an amazing city resource that we’re so lucky to have,” said board member Mike Moran about the Oakland Feather River Camp near Quincy. “I don’t want to hear any more excuses as to why we can’t get more support from the city.”

City staff said they’re working on a contract, but nothing is ready.

“The contract process is under way,” said Dana Riley, spokeswoman for the city’s Park and Recreation department.

Feather River board members said they’ve been hearing that for a decade.

The camp, opened by the city in 1924, is in a sunny canyon in Plumas County, along Spanish Creek in the Feather River watershed. It includes about 120 tents and cabins, a dining hall, swimming hole, archery range, horse stables and all the other amenities one would find at an old-fashioned camp. It’s a slightly more rustic version of San Francisco’s Camp Mather and Berkeley’s Echo Lake camp.

About 2,000 people a year visit the camp, just over half from Oakland. It’s a diverse and friendly crowd: African American church groups, the country’s oldest and largest gathering of gay and lesbian families, serious mountain bikers, teenagers away from home for the first time, seniors from Marin, artists and others seeking a relatively low-cost and relaxing vacation.

Some families have been attending for generations, returning annually for reunions, and some are new. This year the camp is expecting about 100 Berkeley families displaced by the loss of Berkeley’s Tuolumne Camp in last summer’s Rim Fire.

In the late 1990s, the camp ran into financial troubles, and the city turned over its management to a group of campers, who formed a nonprofit to run the facility. The agreement was that the city would pay the utilities and the costs of the annual lease to theU.S. Forest Service. The lease amount varies depending on how many at-risk youth and disabled people attend camp but can be as low as $400 a year.


Bickering over funds

That contract was drawn up in 2003, when Camps in Common took over, and expired in 2004.

Since then, the board and city have been left to bicker ceaselessly over repairs, upgrades and funding. The relationship with the city appears tenuous, at best. The camp is not advertised on any city website, and many people at City Hall haven’t even heard of it.

For years the city was in arrears in paying its lease to the Forest Service, although it’s now paid in full, Riley said. At one point, some city officials suggested giving up the camp entirely, board members said.

Kids not being sent

But even more frustrating, board members said, is the difficulty in getting low-income and at-risk kids to camp for the summer. That is the camp’s ultimate mission: providing outdoor experiences for kids and families, particularly those who have limited access to nature, they said.

For decades, the camp hosted hundreds of underprivileged kids. But the past few years the city’s parks department has sent hardly any kids to camp, saying the prices were too high. The last two years the city has sent none.

The board recently slashed fees for underprivileged youth, and this summer 40 kids from city recreation centers will spend a week at camp, Riley said.

“We’ve always been committed to sending kids to camp,” Riley said. “That’s something we hope to continue to do.”

That’s not enough, said Robert Pokorny, an Oakland truck driver who’s been going to Feather River camp since he was 8 years old. The city should be actively promoting the camp to residents and seeking out kids who would benefit from its offerings.


Needs to be promoted

In short, Oakland should promote its camp with as much passion and pride as San Francisco and Berkeley promote theirs, he said.

“For me, as a kid … God, it was everything,” said Pokorny, who grew up in East Oakland. “It was making friends, learning how to build a fire, canoeing, climbing the hills, swinging on the rope swing. … We could change lives here. The city doesn’t realize what it has, what this place can do for the youth of Oakland.”

City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan has been a longtime supporter of the camp, and said she will push for more city involvement.

“I’m disappointed that Feather River has had difficulty getting a resolution from the city administration,” she said. “We’re going to reach out and ask how we can help.”

Carolyn Jones is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Twitter: @carolynajones



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Oakland’s fumbles not limited to parks

Chip Johnson

Updated 7:15 am, Tuesday, May 13, 2014


City park and recreation departments exist to promote recreational activity, foster community spirit and perform the routine maintenance that allows people to enjoy the great outdoor facilities their tax dollars pay for.

That said, too often the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department turns out to be the biggest obstacle to those goals.

The latest fiasco, reported by my Chronicle colleagues Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, is about how the city lost a $150,000 Little League grant from the Oakland A’s to refurbish a baseball field at Bushrod Park in North Oakland.

In a nutshell, city officials said that they don’t have the resources to maintain the field properly and that its labor rules prohibit community members from doing the work. If that weren’t enough, the city’s park department proposed using the grant to reconfigure the field at Bushrod Park with high school dimensions.

It’s the third time the Athletics have donated money for baseball facilities and local officials have simply screwed things up.

Strike One: In 2008, the team donated $40,000 to the renovation of the baseball field at Ernie Raimondi Park in West Oakland. A beautiful regulation baseball field was laid out – and promptly forgotten. It has not been maintained and is no longer usable.

Strike Two: In March, years after the A’s donated their groundskeeper expertise and financial support to the volunteers who built Rickey Henderson Field for use by theOakland Technical High School baseball team, Oakland school officials said they would cut up the field to make room for an artificial turf soccer field.

Strike Three: The current fiasco at Bushrod Park.

It’s no wonder the team withdrew its grant and instead offered the donation to the city of Richmond, which apparently doesn’t follow Oakland’s laborious process. They accepted the money, planned on using it immediately, and have scheduled a ballgame and celebration at Martin Luther King Jr. Park at the end of this month.


Lure of Richmond

Perhaps the A’s should be looking at Richmond as a place for a new ballpark. It’s a city with a redeveloped waterfront – and a possible corporate sponsor: Chevron Field. I kind of like that.

Unfortunately, Oakland’s shortcomings don’t end with the parks department’s handling of gifts and baseball fields.

Less than two weeks ago, the operators of the city-owned Feather River Camp near Quincy (Plumas County) noted that they’d run the camp for the past decade without a contract with city officials.

The camp is in rough shape, and even when bond monies are available, they are often allocated to the things the camp needs least, said Robert Pokorny, a native Oakland resident who’s vacationed there since he was a child.

Mayor Jean Quan “was a good friend of the camp when she was a City Council member and now it seems like the recreation department is controlling her,” he said.

In the past two years, the city has stopped sponsoring the summer camp for inner-city kids.

At the Oakland Aquatics Center, the nonprofit Artemis Rowing program, after years of asking, has just been granted access to city locker, restroom and shower facilities – and it took a council member’s intervention to accomplish it.

Like Feather River, the program is geared to introducing inner-city youths to a recreational sport within their grasp but currently beyond their worldview.

If it is nothing else, Oakland is a city of volunteers and volunteerism. There are water preservation efforts, volunteer community cleanups at Lake Merritt, volunteer readers in schools and lots of efforts on behalf of children. Volunteers built the bike trail at Joaquin Miller Park, hold cleanup events at Lake Merritt, and tend the roses in the Rose Garden. The city can’t operate without them.

Let community step in

If Oakland’s Parks and Recreation Department doesn’t have the resources, personnel or funding to maintain the parks, ball fields and recreational facilities, then step aside and let the community figure out a way.

Oakland residents should not have to go without because there is a government agency that lacks the common sense to know how to accept a free and clear $150,000 grant.

And on top of that, when employee unions have such a grip on government that its labor rules can dictate the rules around community volunteer efforts, there is something seriously wrong with the way this city is run – and genuine concerns about who actually runs it.

Chip Johnson is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. His column runs Tuesday and Friday. E-mail: Twitter: @chjohnson