February 2013


Today marks The Alamedan’s first birthday, and the conclusion of an exciting startup year. In just 365 short days, we’ve established ourselves as Alameda’s local, in-depth and up-to-the-minute source for information on schools and City Hall, offering exclusive reports on Alameda Point and Alameda Hospital, a comprehensive elections guide and stories that helped you get to the bottom of the demise of redevelopment, city leaders' decision to allow multifamily housing despite Measure A and school safety after Sandy Hook.

We’re bringing the news into your living rooms with our live, online broadcasts of school board meetings that aren’t available on TV and with our popular Tweet by Tweet coverage, which allows us to engage with readers about the issues your leaders are discussing. And we held our first-ever event, a party on Election Night – the first of several to come.

This year we’ll be working to provide you with more news and information, in more of the formats that our online home affords. By the end of 2013 we’d like to provide you twice as much news and information as we’re giving you now, with more photos, video and data-rich maps to supplement the news stories we’re now producing on a website redesigned to optimize your reading experience.

To do that, we need to raise $20,000 this year, which is how much it would cost to add a news story every weekday. But we can’t do it without your help. We’ll be checking in with our readers once a month to ask you to consider contributing to our efforts to build the high-quality, locally run news source you deserve and seeking out local sponsors who share our belief that more news is good news.

If you value the news we’re providing and would like to see more of it, please consider contributing online or by sending a check care of our fiscal sponsor, Community Initiatives (with Alameda Community News Project in the register), 354 Pine Street Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104. In doing so you’ll be supporting a critical resource for your entire community and helping to provide news Alamedans won’t get anywhere else.

Thank you for reading and for supporting The Alamedan, and feel free to send your comments and suggestions to me at michele@thealamedan.org. We’re looking forward to telling more of Alameda’s story in 2013.

Hunter House Publishers was founded in 1978 and has made Alameda their headquarters since 1991. Located in a book-filled suite of offices above the Churchward Pub on Park Street, Hunter House employs seven people, most of them local, and publishes 12-16 self-help titles per year. Publisher Kiran Rana has been at the helm of the press for nearly 30 years.


Our big Artemis Racing event, sponsored and organized by the City of Alameda and its America's Cup Citizen's Advisory Committee - of which I am a member - takes place tonight at the Alameda Theatre. The event's free tickets are SOLD OUT, so it should be an exciting early evening. A Q&A with the Artemis team members, along with unique videos and a free raffle, are all on the agenda for tonight's program. Watch The Alamedan for a story and video on Friday and this blog next week for a report!

Tuesday's Board of Education meeting brought scores of teachers and their supporters demanding a new contract, plus discussions about layoff notices, professional learning communities and comments on Wood Middle School. We've got it all right here - plus pictures! - in our Tweet by Tweet.


The Alameda Children’s Musical Theatre is hosting auditions for its spring production of “The Wizard of Oz” from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. March 9 and 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

A 112-acre veterans’ cemetery and outpatient clinic the Department of Veterans Affairs hopes to build at Alameda Point won’t have a significant impact on the California Least Tern colony that breeds on the runways nearby, a draft environmental assessment the government released on Friday says – as long as the VA and other agencies follow a list of measures outlined by the federal agency charged

While recovering from the shock of what happened in the community of Newton, Conn. after a troubled young man killed 20 first grade students and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in mid-December, Alameda photographer Anne Kohler posed a question to her Facebook friends: “If you could describe, in one word, what we lost in Newtown, Conn. what would that word be?"


To paraphrase Gordon Gekko: Grants are good.

Artist Ken McGhee with "What's My Line?" Photos by Michael Singman-Aste.

“If you write a book about a serial killer, are you condoning his behavior or making a study about what makes a monster?” Ken McGhee stands in the Signature Gallery of the Frank Bette Center for the Arts, surrounded by his art. “What are the origins of this monster that has taken on such a life of its own that it becomes this thing called a ‘stereotype,’ which is for the ages?” McGhee asks. He seeks to answer these questions in his solo show “In Stereotype,” which opened on February 1.

Once again, plans for Alameda Point are under review as the city's environmental impact report is being prepared for what still remains as one of the most important land decisions in city history. It is very clear that there are no easy answers and that development is going to be limited and spread over many years.


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

City leaders said Tuesday they could consider imposing rent controls in Alameda after an emotional hearing about rent increases that drove an elderly couple and their disabled daughter from their home of 17 years.

Updated at 12:49 p.m. Sunday, February 24 in bold.

For the past several years, Alameda’s schools leaders have worked with educators and parents to put new schooling programs in place to meet parents’ desire for a broader range of educational options – and in doing so, retain families who might otherwise seek out charters or private schools for their children. But the district’s most recent effort to launch a middle school on the Encinal High School campus is colliding with one of the district’s foremost constraints – space – igniting frustrations and also, long-held anxieties about how some schools and students are perceived.

Those concerns boiled over at an informational workshop the Board of Education held at Encinal on Tuesday night, where four of five schools trustees said they would like to proceed with a full “Junior Jets” middle school program on the Encinal campus next year and three said the district should proceed with its offer to house the Alameda Community Learning Center, which has sat on the Encinal campus for 18 years, at Wood Middle School.

From the League of Women Voters of Alameda

The conversion of Alameda Point is moving along and the city is doing its best to convince employers to move here, Mayor Marie Gilmore said Tuesday night.

Gilmore’s assessment came during a State of the City address to the City Council and the audience at City Hall and those watching from home.

Mayor Marie Gilmore gave her State of the City tonight, part of a meeting that included discussion about rent control, a wildlife refuge at Alameda Point and more. Here's what happened at Tuesday's meeting, in Tweets.

Alameda's Board of Education met Tuesday to talk about a proposal to move the Alameda Community Learning Center to Wood Middle School and to give proponents of a new Junior Jets middle school program opening up at Encinal High next year to talk about their program. Here's what people said, in Tweet; Donna Eyestone's videos of Tuesday's meeting are below.

School Board Meeting - 2013-02-19 Raw

Video Date: 
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Video Topic: 
Video Format: 

School Board Meeting - 2013-02-19 Raw

Video Date: 
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Video Topic: 
Video Format: 

Contributed photos.

The 26,720-square-foot building at 2060 Challenger Drive once served as light manufacturing space for firms that provided assembly line, communication and security equipment. But at the beginning of the year the building became a new home for the Alameda Unified School District’s administrative offices, its open spaces and hard, concrete floors replaced by a thin tile carpet and neat rows of cubicles ringed by conference rooms.

“None of this was in place in November,” Alameda Unified’s chief business officer, Robert Shemwell, said as he gave The Alamedan a tour of the new offices earlier this month. “It was very industrial-looking before.”


After careful consideration, I have come to two conclusions: 1. I do love human beings, individually and as a species, and 2. Humans are likely to survive for a very long time, on the order of at least millions of years. Even to me these two conclusions require some explication.

A state board has declared an impasse in negotiations between Alameda’s teachers’ union and school district leaders over pay.

The only faith organization on the former Naval base, Community Bible Church occupies a spacious building on West Trident Avenue. Part of the Assemblies of God, the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination, it has had a home at Alameda Point since 2001.


Welcome to The Broad Brush, our weekly, two-sentence news review. Here’s your headlines for this week.

Photo by Michele Ellson.

A happenstance meeting at a networking event in San Francisco three years ago led two Alameda residents to create a city-wide educational and service program to help feed needy residents who rely on the Alameda Food Bank for fresh fruit and vegetables.

Quite a few things going on around the Bay and Estuary lately!

Alameda's Board of Education met Tuesday night to talk about space for charter schools, new schooling standards and a process for engaging the community in future facilities planning and we were there. Here are the highlights, in 140 characters or less.

Alameda’s Board of Education will be taking a closer look at plans to start a middle school magnet on the Encinal High School campus this fall – plans that prompted a controversial proposal to move the Alameda Community Learning Center onto the Wood Middle School campus.


Girls Inc. will be hosting its 14th annual Women Who Dare awards from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 16 at the Albert H. DeWitt Officers Club, 641 West Redline Avenue.

Storefronts lining portions of Alameda South Shore Center could adopt a more varied, Main Street look under new design guidelines approved by the Planning Board on Monday.


This morning on one of my almost-every-day walks, I followed one of my more usual paths down Willow Street to Shoreline. Passing Alameda Hospital from across the street, I noticed a small pile of papers scattered on the ground.

Updated at 5:42 p.m. Monday, February 11

An Alameda County Superior Court judge will dismiss a lawsuit claiming the city was responsible for the Memorial Day 2011 drowning death of Raymond Zack off the shore of Robert W. Crown State Beach.

Photo by Michele Ellson.

More than 100 people stopped by the Albert H. DeWitt Officer's Club on Saturday to tell the city how they think a new park to be built on the Alameda Belt Line's former rail yard should be designed.

The Alamedan's Facebook fans had a lot to say about our story on an elderly Alameda couple forced to leave their home of 17 years by a $600-a-month rent increase. Here's what you all had to say. In case you missed it, the story is here.

Jose and Aura Lyla Gonzalez lived in a bright, roomy unit at the rear of 1514 Benton Street for 17 years that was surrounded by trees, birds and good neighbors. But a few months ago the couple, who are in their late 70s, received word that the building had been sold to a new owner and then, a letter that their rent was going to increase by $600 a month – a 67 percent jump from the $900 a month they were paying.


Welcome to this week's edition of The Broad Brush. Here are your headlines.

Contributed photo.

The third time proved to be the charm for Tracy Jensen, who was appointed Wednesday to an open seat on the Alameda Health Care District Board.

Photos by Michele Ellson; click photo for slideshow.

Camera flashes were popping in Alameda Police Chief Mike Noonan’s office, which was packed Wednesday afternoon with more than a dozen giddy teens and their adult chaperones.

Alameda’s City Council on Tuesday unanimously signed off on new park fees intended to foster more efficient use of Alameda’s sports fields and better recovery of the costs of users’ wear and tear on parks.

Here's what happened at Tuesday's City Council meeting - in Tweets. You can join us live for future city and school board meetings - and for breaking news - @TheAlamedan.


The Alameda Education Foundation has opened registration for its spring break camps for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Camp offerings include Skilly Circus and Mad Science. The camps will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 1-5 at Donald D.

A severe flu epidemic that has dogged much of the nation has taken hold of California in recent weeks, though local public health officials said they are well prepared to handle additional flu cases and they urged people to get flu shots if they have not done so already.


Make no mistake about it: The zoning ordinance passed by the City Council last July ripped another chunk out of the hide of what remains of Measure A, the charter amendment restricting housing development in Alameda.


We were shopping at Nob Hill, something we do when we only have a few items to buy but also have an item to be mailed, since there is almost never a line at their in-store post office.

A court ruling that struck down portions of a 2008 Alameda school parcel tax has prompted new lawsuits against four school districts that won voter approval of school parcel taxes in November.


The Kiwanis Club of Alameda's 14th annual Chili Cook-Off and BBQ Dinner was held on Saturday, January 26th at the O'Club on Alameda Point. More than 280 attendees tasted chili from the 11 teams competing for the best chili in Alameda. Each chili was judged both by the attendees (peoples' choice) and by professional chefs. The Peoples’ Choice named Ala Costa (provided by parents/sponsors) the best, with High Street Station and EON Technologies second and third. The professional judges gave first prize to the Alameda Firefighters Local 689; Will Brother's Chili Pepper Company and Ala Costa were second and third. Other teams were 404 Classic, 1400 Bar and Grill, Alameda Business Network, Alameda Elder Communities, Chili Chupacabaras, and LilliWorks. All teams provided wonderful examples of culinary expertise!

A string of drowning deaths over the last few months on Northern California beaches has prompted the United States Coast Guard, National Park Service and East Bay SPCA to launch a campaign to keep beach lovers – and particularly, beach-loving dog owners – safe when they stroll alongside the waves.

Alamedans had a lot to say about the pending closure of Woori Market on Park Street and the shuttering of the Chestnut-Encinal Market "until further notice." Here's how you said the closures will affect you, and what you said you'll miss.

Contributed photo.

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