December 2012

‘Tis the season for us to take a little break, so The Alamedan will be signing off for the rest of the year and returning on January 2. But before we go, we’d like to thank every reader, commenter and contributor who supported us this year – and to let you know what we’ve been able to accomplish with your help and what we’re planning for 2013.

If you value what we do, we hope you’ll consider supporting us by making a contribution today.

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your two-sentence news review. Here’s what happened this week.

Photos by Mike Rosati. Click photo for slideshow.

“If asked to describe myself, I’d tell you I’m an artist. I don’t know how I got into this industry,” Reusable Lumber Company’s Jim Steinmetz said.


The "Maritime Report" shifts focus this week, as your reporter is down in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. My wife and I come down here every year at this time, but this year has a very special significance.

Updated at 12:05 p.m. Thursday, December 20

The city has agreed to pay former Alameda Point developer SunCal $4.25 million to settle the developer's claims the city and its former manager failed to negotiate in good faith toward a development deal, a move that ends the developer's quest for damages and another chance to develop the Point.

Alameda’s City Council got a trio of new members Tuesday, the first time the majority of the council has been replaced in over a decade.

The end of 2012 heralds the close of yet another year chock full of local news. What stories did you care about most? We looked at our traffic figures to see which stories drew the most readers this year. Here’s our top 10, counting up to the most-read news of the year.


Another year’s milestone passed for me last week as I added another birthday to the mounting tally. It is not easy being a December child as one’s birthday is inevitably subsumed in the greater frenzy of Christmas.

An Alameda resident and onetime city employee who helped stabilize another East Bay city through a financial and political crisis is returning to City Hall as Alameda’s new assistant city manager.

Liz Warmerdam will rejoin Alameda’s city staff in her new role on January 22. Her starting salary will be $172,941, and she will be introduced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Photos by Michele Ellson. Click the photo for slideshow.

A little-known facet of Alameda history is set for a makeover, as Alameda Municipal Power prepares to refurbish hundreds of decades-old streetlights and perform maintenance work on others that have illuminated local streets for more than a century.

Photos by Tom Charron. Click on the photo for slideshow.

Alameda Police Chief Mike Noonan and a top schools official said they’re prepared to respond to an armed campus assault like the Connecticut massacre that reportedly left 27 dead, including 20 children.

“We do have kids’ safety at heart, and we want parents to know we don’t take this lightly,” Alameda Unified’s chief business officer, Robert Shemwell, said Friday.

Here's what Alamedans are reacting to today's shooting at a Connecticut school. More to come. Feel free to add your comments.

Photo by Kristen Hanlon.


Welcome to another installment of The Broad Brush, our weekly, two-sentence news review. Here’s what happened this week.

Photos by Michele Ellson. Click for slideshow.

Alameda’s Board of Education signed off on a proposal to expand Bay Farm Elementary School to include seventh and eighth grade students on Tuesday despite some concerns about the amount of money doing so will cost.

The board voted 4-1 to approve the expansion, with newly sworn in trustee Barbara Kahn casting the sole no vote.

New police and fire contracts designed to keep a lid on costs and buy the city some labor peace over the next five years were approved by the City Council on Tuesday night.

A state appeals court’s decision to strike down portions of a school parcel tax that Alameda voters approved in 2008 could have major implications for other California school districts seeking similar taxes – unless state lawmakers opt to change the rules granting school districts the right to levy them.

Tuesday’s school board meeting will mark the opening of what could be a year-long conversation about options for Alameda’s middle school students, and specifically about the future of Wood Middle School.

The Alameda Fire Department is investigating what they're calling a suspicious fire at the American Oak restaurant on Santa Clara Avenue. No one was injured in the fire, which caused an estimated $450,000 worth of damage to the building that houses American Oak and its contents, Alameda Fire Captain Jim Colburn said.

The Planning Board is set to consider a proposal to build 275 new homes on 22 acres of former Navy property that sit adjacent to the Bayport housing development and the Posey Tube.

Photo by Michele Ellson.

Welcome to another edition of The Broad Brush, our weekly two-sentence news review. Here’s what happened in Alameda this week.

Updated at 1:19 p.m. Friday, December 7

It’s lunchtime at Encinal High School, and Mary Clarke-Miller is working to keep the noise level in her classroom low enough for her to talk about the high school’s newish MAD Academy, a small “school within a school” that offers the 47 youths enrolled in it a more intimate learning experience – along with basic job skills and multimedia tr


A normally quiet time of the sailing year was made more interesting this week by an e-mail from Sweden's Artemis Racing, the America's Cup team with their base at Alameda Point.

Alameda’s public safety unions have signed off on new contracts that could see police and firefighters earning their first raises since 2006 but paying more toward their pensions and also contributing to increases in the cost of their health care coverage.

Members of Alameda’s hospital board are preparing to embark on what’s becoming a familiar ritual: They’ll be selecting a new member to replace someone who’s moved on to another office midterm.


We’re in a lull in the wind and rainstorms right now and the streets are wet and slick. The sunlight is so filtered by the cloud cover that it appears weak and sickly and not at all related to the glare of the summer sun.

A developer demolishes defunct warehouses on a site near the Park Street Bridge. Photos by Tom Charron and Michele Ellson; click photo for slideshow.

Neighbors discuss a fallen tree at San Antonio and Bay. Photos by Michele Ellson.

Thousands of Northern and Central California grocery workers – including employees of Nob Hill Foods in Alameda – are set to consider a contract offer that maintains their existing health benefit plan but will see them paying more for it. Union leaders are urging workers to approve the deal, which came on the heels of a nine-day strike.

WET, WET, WET: A storm soaks Alameda. Photos by Michele Ellson.

Heavy rains and wind gusts turned roads into rivers Sunday morning, downed tree limbs and knocked out power for hundreds of Alameda homes and businesses.