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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Homelessness in Alameda

It’s good to see the city creating an action plan to find services and shelter for the homeless who have taken up residence in the soon-to-be-built Jean Sweeney Park. But let’s not forget about those living in the encampment at the foot of the Fruitvale Bridge.

homeless siteHidden behind trees near Pet Food Express next to the Fruitvale Bridge is a plot of land where a sprawling pile of trash has been accumulating for about a year. Someone is living there and bringing in the items that lie strewn about the area. A large kiosk-type structure has been built. A barbeque grill is a potential fire hazard, considering all the debris and pine needles on the site.  The cyclone fence leading to the bridge has been torn away, allowing easy ingress and egress for the homeless. The area has become a public health issue. Continue reading

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Floating Hope for Harbor Seals

A new cement float for harbor seals was delivered to Alameda Point on June 22. The seals had been opting to stay on the existing, familiar wooden dock. That option ended on Monday, July 11.

removing dockThe Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA), the Bay Area’s ferry agency, removed the existing 270-foot-long wooden dock in preparation for building its new ferry maintenance facility, east of the USS Hornet. If the seals decide to stay in the harbor, they will have to adapt to the new structure. On Tuesday morning, July 12, four seals were on the new float, a promising development. Continue reading

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Proceed with Caution

I almost hit a pedestrian while turning right from Otis onto Broadway. My heart dropped. The very thing I had appreciated as a pedestrian caught me off guard as a driver.

Broadway and Otis signalsAt some intersections around the city, walk signals and traffic lights heading in the same direction are no longer in sync. Walk signals now turn green several seconds before auto traffic lights do, allowing pedestrians to leave the curb before cars begin to move.  While well intentioned, it will take drivers some time to get used to. Continue reading

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Plan for Trees not Clear Cut

Main Street neighborhood treesMany beautiful mature trees at Alameda Point could be cut down unless measures are taken to protect them.

The second phase of redevelopment at the former Naval Air Station is focused on the Main Street neighborhood. The neighborhood is near the Main Street Ferry Terminal and encompasses the “Big Whites” and surrounding homes. Many old structures will likely be torn down, but what will become of the trees? Continue reading

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Hotel Reservations

Good project. Wrong place.

A proposed 100-room hotel on the shoreline of Harbor Bay Business Park is facing mounting opposition. If a growing number of residents and organizations get their way, the project will not move forward. Continue reading

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The businesses on the west end of the island will finally get the boost they’ve been waiting for, especially Webster Street.  Around 1,900 new homes are in various stages of planning and construction there.  800 new homes are slated for construction at Alameda Point with 400 in the planning stage, 300 at Alameda Landing, and the Del Monte Warehouse project will bring another 400.  The West Alameda Business Association (WABA) must be jumping for joy.

The Park Street Business Association, however, isn’t wasting any time capitalizing on the turn of events. It has decided to stake its claim by declaring Park Street as Alameda’s downtown. It has renamed itself the Downtown Alameda Business Association (DABA).

It reminds me of the time when South Shore Shopping Center was renamed Alameda Towne Centre. It didn’t translate well. Continue reading

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