NBC Bay Area is reporting that a Buddha statue on Oakland’s 11th Avenue — placed on a median in 1999 by local resident Dan Stevenson and his wife to discourage people from dumping garbage — may be removed due to safety concerns. Several emails were sent to District 2 City Councilwoman Pat Kernighan after a wooden structure was placed around the Buddha. People who visit the statue to pray and make offerings must stand, kneel, or sit in the street, potentially putting themselves and drivers in danger.
Though the article mentions that “Kernighan insists there are no plans to tear out the Buddha just yet” and that the complaint is simply being investigated at this point, a group entitled “SavetheBuddha” has sprung up on Facebook. Kernighan also posted the following on SavetheBuddha’s wall:
“My Council office has heard from many about the Buddha figure on 11th Avenue. Most neighbors agree that the Buddha figure’s presence has helped to alleviate illegal dumping and to bring a sense of community to the neighborhood. These positive outcomes make me want to see the figure remain. I’ve expressed that hope to the Public Works Department. They are investigating various issues involved. There is a downside, though, to the Buddha figure’s current location. People who arrive to pay respects are doing so partially in the street. I worry for their safety and the potential hazard this creates for people driving through that area.
“I have asked Public Works to inform me and the neighborhood before taking any action. For now they are looking at the issues. I will keep neighbors posted on any recommendations. In the meantime, I would be interested in any solutions proposed by the community regarding the traffic safety issues.”
Below is NBC Bay Area’s television report on the 11th Avenue Buddha.