Breaking News … stands

Over a decade ago, banks of newsstands were installed in the Park Street business district to replace the hodgepodge of shabby-looking newsstands.  Unfortunately, the spiffy new newsstands came on the scene just as newspapers were giving way to digital media like smartphones and laptop computers.  Today, the mostly empty and vandalized newsstands are the new eyesore.

Photo Essay:

A sign of The Times

Park Street at Lincoln Avenue Continue reading

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Coulda Woulda Shoulda at Encinal Terminals

On December 19, the city council will decide whether to approve the proposed Encinal Terminals project located behind the former Del Monte warehouse at Buena Vista and Sherman streets.  The project calls for 589 homes with commercial uses and public shoreline amenities.  But before approving the proposal, we should solve its problems now, or we may later wish we had.

The proposed project falls short in affordable units, climate adaptation features, sustainable design requirements, infrastructure guarantees, and an equitable public land swap. Continue reading

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Drive your Chevy to the levee in Alameda?

Alameda is in the process of updating its local climate action plan, and sea level rise will be on the agenda.  Much of our shoreline will be impacted.

Will we need sea walls, levees and dikes?  A new system of pumps for storm water diversion? Continue reading

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Sierra Club speaks out on Encinal Terminals Project

The Encinal Terminals project was originally scheduled for approval at the October 17 city council meeting. However, it has been postponed.

According to city staff:  “There was interest in getting the project on the October 17 City Council agenda but there are still a few issues staff is hammering out with the developer and we weren’t ready.  The project is an active one and we are continuing to work on the final documents including the Master Plan, Development Agreement and Public Trust Exchange Agreement.  When everything is completed and we have a package to go to the City Council for its consideration it will be placed on a meeting agenda.”

Meanwhile the Sierra Club published an opinion piece in the local newspapers.  It reads: Continue reading

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Sierra Club Opposes Tidelands Swap at Encinal Terminals

The Encinal Terminals Project is a planned development on an old shipping site along the Oakland Estuary behind the Del Monte building.  The project proposes to construct 589 residential units with commercial buildings, a park, a shoreline promenade, and a marina.  A sizable part of the proposed project would be on land that is currently state tidelands.

The project has been approved by the planning board and comes before the city council on October 17.

The San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club has taken a position opposing the tidelands property swap.  The Club says the land swap is a bad deal for California, is contrary to the state’s Public Trust Doctrine, undermines climate action potential, and creates an encumbrance on state tidelands. Continue reading

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Proper Channels to Breakwater Beach

There has been a secretive effort by city staff to rename one of Alameda’s beaches.  It’s not only bad form, it’s a bad idea.

Breakwater Beach is a small beach located at Alameda Point near the Navy’s former campground and the city’s Encinal Boat Launch Facility.  The beach and its adjacent Bay Trail are under the jurisdiction of the East Bay Regional Park District. If not for the breakwater there, a barrier that protects the harbor from the force of the waves, the beach would not exist.

The regional park district plans to spend half a million dollars upgrading Breakwater Beach and the adjacent dune and shoreline next year.  Unbeknownst to the public, however, city staff has told the park district to use the term “Encinal Beach” in its documents. Continue reading

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AMP Leaves Alamedans in the Dark

Our electric company may be publicly owned, but public participation is down because it requires too much energy.

In 2017, eight of the eleven monthly public utilities board meetings, including two with important workshops and presentations, have been or will be held at the Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) offices at Clement Avenue and Grand Street, instead of at city hall.  I was late to one workshop because I could not get up to the secured conference room until someone happened by in the otherwise empty corridor and let me in.  To make it even more difficult, the workshops were scheduled during the workday. Continue reading

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No Rush to Judgments

The city clerk, in coordination with the city manager, routinely prepares the agenda for city council meetings.  There are times, however, when an individual councilmember would like to add an issue to the agenda.  When this occurs, the councilmember must first formally ask the other councilmembers if they would like to pursue the issue, using a process called “council referral.” A majority vote is needed to put the new matter on a future agenda for discussion and resolution.

Simple enough.  A council referral is meant to be a stepping stone to further council action.  Unfortunately, when the referral process was adopted a decade ago, the option allowing for immediate dispositive action was added.  Such ambiguity can leave the public not knowing what to expect. Continue reading

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State Commission Nixes Harbor Bay Hotel Plan

privately owned lot between parklandOn February 16, 2017, the state’s Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) — tasked with overseeing San Francisco Bay waterfront development — denied Mina Patel a permit to build a 98-room hotel at 2530 Harbor Bay Parkway, about a half-mile south of Alameda’s Harbor Bay ferry terminal.  The commission’s vote was 11 in favor, six opposed and one abstention, falling short of the 13 votes needed for approval of any permit.  It is rare for BCDC to deny a permit. Continue reading

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Sparks Fly over Utility Ballot Measure

ballot measureThe “Utility Modernization Act” (Measure K1) up for a vote this November seeks approval of two unrelated utility issues in a single ballot measure, presenting voters with a dilemma if they favor one but not the other.

As arguments emerge, supporters and opponents alike tend to focus on only one-half of the ballot measure.  One part is about collecting a tax, the other about transferring funds. Continue reading

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