OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | Dwain Butler appeared before the Oakland City Council Rules Committee Thursday morning with an idea to add the phrase “lovelife” to the city’s welcome signs. Although council members generally supported the sentiment of the charming request, the slow-moving wheels of government bureaucracy nearly swallowed it up before Councilmember Larry Reid intervened.
Wearing a black fedora Butler said was meant to evoke Bay Area dealmaker Willie Brown, he said the phrase, which is also the name of a local foundation, is “not just the people who lost their lives. It’s going forward, so our city can be recognized nationwide for standing for something. It’s a spiritual thing”
Joe Wang of the Oakland Public Works Department said most traffic signs cannot legally be modified, but a request to change a city guide sign is possible. “Actually there’s flexibility for us to do something,” said Wang. However, a design and cost estimate would first need to be determined, he said.
Councilmembers Libby Schaaf, Pat Kernighan and Dan Kalb then debated over how to proceed with the citizen request. For instance, Schaaf opposed sending the request to a committee without first having a report from the appropriate city department. Kalb agreed, but wondered whether the addition of a slogan to the city’s welcome signs should be open to every citizen to choose, not just one person.
“This really isn’t a big deal,” Reid interrupted and looking a bit perturbed by the added complexity being added to the simple request. “The kind of loss of life that we lose each and every year to the stupidity—to gun violence—and to add something that says lovelife. Hey, I want everybody to love life. Maybe it won’t stop the violence that’s occurring on our streets, but it’s certainly a message worth putting on our signs.”
The discussion ended when Reid offered to sponsor legislation on the subject. But, what about cost of either modifying or replacing the signs? No problem, Reid said send him the bill.