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.

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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.

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Funding the Police

Alameda is joining numerous cities across the country in rethinking how we provide policing before next year’s city budget is prepared.  What level of policing we want and expect from the Alameda Police Department (APD) will determine the funding we provide.

Recently the League of Women Voters and AAUW hosted an online discussion with the APD to inform the public of current police policies and practices, and the challenges and opportunities we face.  Michele Ellson moderated the discussion.

The panel featured Interim Police Chief Jeffery Emmitt, former Police Chief Paul Rolleri (Ret.), and Captain Matt McMullen.  They fielded questions about recruitment and training, daily operations, staffing, accountability and oversight, data collection, use of force, and building trust and legitimacy.

The populist rallying cry to “defund the police” lost some steam by the end of the discussion when it became apparent that the APD has already been defunded. Continue reading

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Shameful Demolition of Homeless Housing

Rehabbed units on right

What a shame.  What a waste.  There is decent former Navy housing for the homeless near the Main Street Ferry Terminal just two blocks from Target, but our city is tearing it down.  Meanwhile a for-profit developer has upgraded similar units that were built next door in the same year and is getting market rate rent for them.

The three- and four-bedroom apartments were constructed in 1969.  Their interiors were remodeled and new dual-pane vinyl windows installed shortly before the Coast Guard families vacated the Navy-owned site in 2005, leaving the units pretty much in move-in condition.

In 2019 the Navy gave the city 13 acres containing 96 units of vacant housing in this area known as North Housing.  The sole purpose of the land conveyance was to provide housing and services for the homeless. Continue reading

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Start Paving the Way to Recovery

There is no better time than now to finish repaving and restriping Park Street.  The COVID-19 shelter-in-place directive provides an opportunity to get the job done with the least amount of disruption to our local businesses.  Plus, the upgrade would be a nice welcome-back gift to our merchants when things return to normal.  The city’s Public Works Department has pointed out some challenges to making this happen though. Continue reading

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Infrastructure Ballot Measures Should be Focused

On March 17, the city council will discuss placing measures on the November 2020 ballot to raise revenue for city-infrastructure needs.  Items at issue include upgrades to streets and sidewalks, city buildings, and handling the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.  Both tax increases and bond measures are being considered. Continue reading

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Watchdog has no bite

On February 18, the city council stripped the Open Government Commission of its authority to enforce the Sunshine Ordinance, Alameda’s open-government law.  The commission no longer has the power to nullify an action passed in violation of the Sunshine Ordinance and order corrective action through a rehearing.

The commission can now only “recommend” not “order” corrective action if a violation occurs.  While all the councilmembers agreed with this change, Vice-Mayor John Knox White and Councilmember Malia Vella wanted to wait until the commission had a chance to come up with new language that would give some teeth to its potential “recommendations.” Continue reading

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