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Planned 20-Foot Obelisk In Oakland’s Temescal Neighborhood Draws Complaints

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Christin-Ayers_BIO-HEAD Christin Ayers
Christin Ayers is a general assignment reporter for KPIX...
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OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – A 20-foot tall bright blue obelisk that may soon welcome people to Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood is receiving mixed reviews, with some worrying the monument could become an eyesore.

In a matter of weeks, the obelisk could be squarely planted at the crossroads of Shattuck Avenue and 51st Street.

Karen Hester, who has lived in Temescal for 17 years, told KPIX 5, “I honestly believe most of the neighborhood is going to really despise it and ridicule it.”

The Temescal Telegraph Business Improvement District has been quietly planning the obelisk for two years. Hester said she and many others didn’t find out about it until a couple of days ago.

Temescal artist Sarita Waite struggled to find the words for the artwork. “Blue, tall,” Waite said.

Both Hester and Waite said the obelisk is too blue and too tall. They don’t think the district should have spent $6,000 on something that will go on private property anyway.

“Why are we spending money that was collected for the public good and put it on private property?” Hester said.

But the business improvement district says they’ve done it before. They paid to put these murals up on a PG&E building to stop tagging. There was no public input process and no backlash.

In a statement, the district said, “Any public art project is going to be controversial…To anyone who really cared to be involved in this project, there were countless opportunities…”

A district board member told KPIX 5 they may have jumped the gun by sidestepping public input this time, but said the all-volunteer board was only trying to solve a notorious blight problem on the corner.

Board members said they are willing to hear residents like Hester out.

“It can be stopped if we have the political will to stop it and I think that we do,” Hester said.

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