Bigger Council Is Not Better

Out of the blue, Councilmember Tony Daysog suddenly has a new priority.  He wants to expand the city council from five to seven members.  (Daysog’s Swearing-in Ceremony Speech, Alameda Sun, Dec. 29)

What gives?  This expansion was not part of his recent campaign platform nor proposed during his 18 years of service on the council, including his stint on the recent city-charter-review subcommittee.  There has been no community outcry for such an expansion either.

Can you imagine how much longer city council meetings will last if this happens?  The council can barely get through its meetings in a timely fashion as it is, often having to continue agenda items.  Adding two more members with another nine minutes for each to speak on every issue could make meetings go later into the night, hindering public participation.

Daysog claims that “for a city of our size,” having more councilmembers would make for a more “responsive city hall.”  But Alameda is a relatively small city. Continue reading

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Support Local News Publications

Many communities do not have any local news publications, but Alameda is blessed to have three!  

The Alameda Sun is where the city publishes all its public notices and covers local issues.  The East Bay Time’s Alameda Journal reports on local matters with an added regional perspective.  The Alameda Post is the city’s only all-online publication bringing to light an array of local news, including a weekly newsletter and podcast.

Alamedans should not take any of these local publications for granted.  The only way to keep them going is by subscribing or donating, and businesses placing ads.  Treat yourself or someone else to a subscription to one or more of these local news organizations.  It is also a service to the community that keeps giving all year long. Continue reading

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Election Results Reveal Need for Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) was a topic of discussion at Alameda’s 2022 candidate forums and in written questionnaires.  That’s because the voting method is needed in Alameda.  The recent election illustrates the value of RCV. 

Majority Rule

RCV ensures that candidates receive a majority of the votes cast in a single election in order to win.  Alameda’s current system allows that whoever gets the most votes wins, even if it is not a majority.  In a democracy, shouldn’t the majority rule? Continue reading

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Ranked Choice Voting Gaining Steam

Ranked Choice Voting gathered steam in the 2022 election.  From statewide to county and city races, the voting method of ranking candidates by preference was adopted by voters in eight more places.  Plus hundreds of thousands of voters across America, including the Bay Area, are already using it.  In Alameda, ranked choice voting was a topic of discussion at candidate forums and in written questionnaires.

“RCV is on a clear path to becoming the norm, not the exception,” said Deb Otis from FairVote.org.  “In large parts of the country, voting equals ranking.” Continue reading

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Encinal Terminals Project Approved

In a nail-biter finish, the Alameda City Council approved the revised Encinal Terminals project, including the proposed land exchange.  The project promises to turn a blighted industrial site into a mixed-use development with 589 homes, a Bay Trail waterfront promenade and plazas.

Councilmember Trish Herrera Spencer was the deciding vote after she received two concessions from the developer, North Waterfront Cove, LLC,  during the meeting.  Her vote was conditioned on getting a greater number of units designated as “for sale,” because for-sale units would provide more opportunities for middle-income people to start building housing security, especially when augmented by first-time-homebuyer programs.  She also ensured that all residential buildings will be designed to the extent possible with operable windows to facilitate natural air flow and ventilation. Continue reading

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Waterfront Housing Proposal Returns Again

The Encinal Terminals project is coming back before the city council for the third time on January 4, 2022.  [Continued to January 18.]  The proposed project would be located on an old shipping site along the Oakland Estuary, behind the historic Del Monte building.  But part of the project site sits on state public tidelands controlled by the city, which cannot be used for residential development.  So a land swap that would allow the developer to build housing on these public tidelands is being considered, again. Continue reading

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Cliffs at Crown Beach

More than five inches of rain pummeled Alameda on October 24, making it the wettest October day ever. The storm washed away tons of sand along Crown Memorial State Beach and Alameda Beach, leaving cliffs at the edge of the vegetated sand dunes.

“The most significant damage of our shoreline parks was at Crown Beach,” Jim O’Connor told the Park Advisory Committee.  O’Connor is the Assistant General Manager of Park Operations for the East Bay Regional Park District.  “A lot of rain came at one time and there was significant erosion,” which “may be an effect of climate change.”

The so-called atmospheric river of rain washed away nearly all the sand that was placed there almost eight years ago to the day, exposing the original yellow sand some of us remember from before. Continue reading

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Crab Cove Park Expansion Options Being Vetted

The East Bay Regional Park District is gathering community input about how to further develop its park at Crab Cove on Crown Beach.  The park district acquired an extra four acres there in 2016.

The park district has grouped possible uses into three design concepts: recreational destination, open space retreat, and educational bayfront.  The recreational destination approach is geared toward active uses on the site.  The open space retreat approach would include dense vegetation with a winding path for passive exploration.  The educational bayfront concept allows the public to learn how sea level inundation of the park would affect habitat over time.  The main purpose of the outreach is to find out which features, regardless of the concept, the community desires. Continue reading

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Trial by Data

The verdict is in.  Alameda’s current voting system falls short on a number of counts.

On April 27, the Alameda League of Women Voters hosted a forum that compared various election methods:  Alameda’s current plurality-at-large system, plurality by districts, ranked-choice voting by district, and ranked-choice voting at large.  The findings were telling.

Continue reading

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Democracy on Front Burner

Democracy is at the forefront of today’s political debate.  Alameda is no exception.

Alameda’s plurality voting system allows top vote-getters to win, even when a majority of voters did not vote for them.  And lopsided expenditures contribute to the impression that the election of certain candidates is inevitable.  There are ways, however, to ensure that a minority of voters or big-monied interests do not control the outcome of our elections.

This month the Alameda League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering voters, is hosting a two-part online forum to educate voters about ways in which democracy can be strengthened in Alameda.

Continue reading
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