April 2013

Updated at 8:04 p.m. Tuesday, April 30

The city is seeking to evict Nelson’s Marine from its perch on Alameda Point. The sheriff’s office could padlock the boat repair yard’s gates today, the head of a nonprofit rescue group that’s based there said.

Photo by Kristen Hanlon.

Of the many uplifting quotes Kenny the Clown holds in his mental file, one is worthy of at least two recitations during the course of our interview.

“Spreading joy and happiness is like perfume,” he said. “You can’t spread it without having a lot of it come back to you.”

I love the real estate agent's broker's tour in our town of Alameda. Besides seeing property, it's often a good time to talk about issues in the town.

This time we were talking about our two high schools. There's a lot of work do be done on both of them: $10 million at Alameda High for seismic repairs, and $2.5 million at Encinal High just for the pools.

A to-be-approved design for a plaque at City Hall.

For the week of April 29, 2013

Here’s what’s on your civic calendar this week.

Zoning Administrator

When the Harold Camping "Judgment Day" billboards started popping up around the Bay Area, I felt a mix of humor and disgust. I shook my head when I learned that Camping was a neighbor of mine in the East End of Alameda, and when Judgment Day passed without any visible judgment, I snickered as I walked past his tightly shuttered house.

Like many charismatic spiritual leaders before him, Camping convinced seekers to stake everything on what turned out to be his mistaken interpretation of the truth. Camping is not the first person to claim to know the mind of God or to profit from fear, and he bears responsibly for the chaos has he created. But his adult followers? Did they not get what they deserved? It is tempting to assume that Family Radio fans – people who relied so wholeheartedly on the arrogant ravings of a radio evangelist - are either crazy or dim-witted. But they’re not. I could easily have been one of them.


Fixing Encinal High School’s pools could cost more than $2.1 million, a newly released estimate shows – a bill that’s four times what city staffers thought needed fixes would cos


Today we’re kicking off our new Alameda Point Explained feature, which we hope will help guide you through what’s happening with existing businesses, toxic cleanup and future development at the Point. Today’s post walks you through the massive planning effort the city is undertaking in an effort to ready the Point for development, and we are hard at work on getting answers to the questions you’ve asked about the Point for a future post.

Alameda Point Explained is just a part of what will be a comprehensive effort to keep you up to speed on Alameda Point – an effort that will include ongoing news coverage, visuals and more. And it’s an extension of our mission to give you the information you need, in the way you need it, to engage on a critically important topic: the fate of a third of the Island.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions, because those will help us tailor our coverage to your needs. But we also need your support in order to fully provide the level of coverage we think you deserve.

If you find our Alameda Point coverage useful and would like to see us provide more of it, we hope you’ll consider making a tax-deductible contribution to The Alamedan. Supporting us is easy: You can contribute online or send checks to Community Initiatives (with Alameda Community News Project in the register), 354 Pine Street Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104.

The city is in the midst of a massive planning effort at Alameda Point intended to prepare the city to consider actual development plans for the former Naval Air Station as soon as next year.


Two big stories this week; one from far away and the other right here at home.

Fixing Encinal High School’s pools could cost more than $2.1 million, a newly released estimate shows – a bill that’s four times what city staffers thought needed fixes would cost and a few hundred thousand dollars less than building new pools from scratch.

Alameda's four charter schools educate nearly 1,400 students. Here's the demographic 411 on the Alameda Community Learning Center, Academy of Alameda, Bay Area School of Enterprise and Nea Community Learning Center that was provided to the Board of Education on Tuesday night, at the jump.

Five years ago, city leaders adopted a plan aimed at reducing Alameda’s carbon footprint. And community members formed a group, Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda, to help promote the plan’s emission reduction goals and gain the public’s help in reaching them.

Rob Bonta wants mental health services for youths who have experienced depression and violence. Contributed photo.

In an age of increasing violence, one East Bay legislator is sponsoring a bill that would help students affected by trauma.

UPDATE: The draft regulations have been posted here: http://alamedaca.gov/residents/news/2013/04/16/community-meeting-backyar....

If you’ve got an ass, there are rules in Alameda’s municipal code that govern its life on the Island. But the city’s code is silent on sheep, goats and the beehives that are becoming an increasingly popular fixture in local backyards.

But city officials, with the help of local backyard farmers, are working to change that. They’ve put together some proposed revisions to the city’s decades-old animal rules, and they’re seeking the public’s input on them at a community meeting scheduled for Thursday.


For the week of April 22, 2013

Here’s what’s on the civic calendar this week.

Planning Board


Welcome to my blog about aging. In this blog, I will present themes that are common to the aging process and with a personal twist. In light of the fact that the largest group in the United States right now is the Baby Boomers, aging is a topic of interest.

When a pair of bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, John West was just a few blocks away, waiting for a high school friend he was meeting there to come pick him up.

“I thought, that sounds – that didn’t sound right,” said West, who said he had finished the race well ahead of the explosions. “And my brain was sort of going, ‘What could that mean?’”

West is one of three Alameda runners who offered their accounts of the bombings’ aftermath this week.


Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your two-sentence news review. Here are your headlines for the week.

Photos by Steven Zegas.

Even though Berkeley’s Laurie Soman is what the regulars at Rhythmix Cultural Works' monthly bingo nights call a “bingo virgin,” she quickly got into the custom of balling up her paper cards after a game loss and throwing the ball toward the winner, bopping another player, unnoticed, on the head.

“This is the most fun part of the game,” Soman giggled as she repositioned herself with her yellow bingo dauber, an ink pen made especially for blacking out spots in the game, for the next round of the ten-round night.

Rhythmix’s regular, monthly second Thursday bingo night isn’t you’re grandma’s sleepy lodge game.

A new commercial development rises on the former Cavanaugh Motors property on Park Street. Photo by Michele Ellson.

A developer who’s building new commercial space on the site of a former Park Street car dealership is asking for the city’s okay to include a restaurant and brewery, a wellness center and artist studios in the tenant mix.


Photos by Dave Bloch.


The largest sailboat show on the West Coast took place at Jack London Square in Oakland for four days this past weekend. Thousands of visitors wandered around looking at boats (big and small) and all the STUFF you can buy for them. There were also booths by yacht clubs (three of Alameda's seven were there), boat financing and insurance companies, independent authors, magazines and sailing schools.

An evening ferry arrives at the Main Street terminal. Photo by Michele Ellson.

Alameda's City Council had a full agenda Tuesday, with decisions on a planning contract for a key portion of Alameda Point, height limits for part of Park Street - and a surprise announcement about a proposed Harbor Bay development. Here's the Tweet by Tweet.

Student get muddy at Ruby Bridges Elementary School science camp, one of the innovative programs being recognized at the Alameda Education Foundation's "Salute to Education." Photo courtesy of Ruby Bridges.

The Alameda Education Foundation is offering its “Salute to Education” this Friday, April 19 at Rock Wall Wine Company. The event will honor volunteers and innovative programs from Alameda’s schools. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door, and are available online or by cash or check at Cafe Q, 2302 Encinal Avenue. In addition to admission, the ticket price includes a drink ticket, commemorative wine glass and appetizers plus entertainment from the Alameda and Encinal high school jazz bands. Additional drink tickets will be available for $5 each. Rock Wall is at 2301 Monarch Street on Alameda Point. The event’s major sponsors are Cafe Q, Alameda South Shore Center and Rock Wall Wine Company.

Updated at 8:44 p.m. Tuesday, April 16

Harbor Bay developer Harbor Bay Isle Associates wants to construct 80 new homes where the Harbor Bay Club now stands and to build a new fitness center on land the company owns on North Loop Road, a representative announced to the City Council on Tuesday.

Low-income housing, a museum, and new classroom space are among the future uses Alameda residents envision for Historic Alameda High School. But most of the people who offered their thoughts on what should become of the school on Monday agreed that the campus should remain standing.


Last Sunday - the first of the month - I was fortunate enough to be treated to a professional’s view of the Antiques Faire held at the north end of Alameda Point.

The second of four community engagement meetings on the fate of Historic Alameda High School was Monday night. Here's Donna Eyestone's video; Michele Ellson's live Tweet by Tweet coverage, plus your thoughts and suggestions, are at the jump.

Visitors to Park and Webster streets could soon be dropping a few more coins in the meters in order to help balance Alameda’s budget in the coming years.


For the week of April 15, 2013

This week offers another full civic calendar for Alameda. Here’s what’s happening.

Board of Education


If you’re planning a remodel to your home, why not look at all the ways you can improve the overall comfort and health of your home at the same time? Studies show that if you’re selling your home, you can get up to 9 percent more on the sales price with a green label like GreenPoint Rated. Based on the average California home price of $400,000, that’s $34,800 more in your pocket! And a recent National Association of Realtors survey found that buyers valued updated kitchen appliances over granite counter tops.

Here's a list of energy saving measures and the rebates and special loan programs you can use to integrate them into your home.

Residents who participated in a meeting Thursday aimed at gathering input on the fate of Historic Alameda High School said they want the 88-year-old campus saved and reopened to students.

“It hasn’t been stated, but these buildings are in jeopardy of being torn down, and I don’t want to see that happen,” said Ed Kofman, whose grandfather’s name graces the school’s auditorium.


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

LIVE TWEETS: Historic Alameda High School engagement meet

The Board of Education hosted a community meeting to gather input on the future of Historic Alameda High School. Tweets from reporter and editor Michele Ellson, at the jump.

Tonight, the first of four meetings being conducted to gather the community's input regarding the future of Historic Alameda High School. But it won't be the first time schools leaders have sought to address seismic safety issues at the 88-year-old school. Efforts to address seismic safety issues on the old campus have been underway since 1935, a decade after the school opened to students. But much of the campus remains unsafe for student use, and has since been vacated by district administrators and the Alameda Adult School and fenced off. The Alamedan collected and reviewed a series of district reports and communications, news clippings and online sources to construct a timeline of efforts to address Historic Alameda High's seismic issues along with the needs of the school's students. Here's what we know.


What do you think should become of Historic Alameda High School? Schools leaders would like to know. So tonight they're kicking off a series of meetings intended to gather the community's thoughts on the subject.

If you can't make the meetings, we'll be streaming three of them live right here on the site - including tonight's meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. - and providing up-to-the-minute coverage via Twitter. We'll also be taking your comments and questions to pass along, so feel free to hit us @TheAlamedan for us to pass along to mediators Jeff Cambra and Alice Lai-Bitker or drop a comment right here on the site.

This post isn't a traditional poll, where we offer you a proscribed set of choices to pick from. It's an open space where you can offer your ideas, questions, and comments about the campus and about what the community and students at Alameda High need. Feel free to add your voice to the conversation, now or anytime before May 9.

The Discover Sailing dock at last year’s Strictly Sail event. Photo by Dave Bloch.

It's Strictly Sail Week!

The biggest sailing show on the West Coast happens today (Thursday, April 11) through Sunday across the water in Jack London Square, and there is no better time to explore sailing.

Alameda Hospital has earned a two-year extension on the January 1 deadline for seismic upgrades to two buildings it is required to retrofit, a report Chief Executive Officer Deborah E. Stebbins is set to give on Thursday night says. The hospital now has until 2015 to complete the work, though managers have told the state they’ll need an additional three years beyond that.

Some much-needed attention is being given to Alameda’s gateways. The Park Street plan for North of Lincoln had its first hearing at the City Council last week, generating interest and healthy debate. There’s news too, that Caltrans is considering refurbishing the Tubes at the West End entrance to Alameda. Both are long overdue.


Friends and family of the late Webster Street chef Soleil Banguid are hosting a fundraising memorial event to celebrate his life and to savor his food. Le Soleil Brille Toujours (The Sun Always Shines) will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

A new Safeway grocery store and gas station could become part of a Target-anchored shopping center being constructed next to the Posey Tube.

On behalf of Alamedans Together Against Hate (ATAH), we are writing to urge the Alameda Boy Scouts Council to speak out in favor of ending a discriminatory policy that prohibits openly gay boys from participating or becoming members of the organization, when the Boy Scouts of America takes up this issue at your national meeting in May.


The pace of my walkabout is usually quite predictable. I have to start out slowly to give my back and knee joints time to warm up, which takes three or four blocks, and then I unconsciously begin to walk faster.

A group of BUILD students makes its pitch at Wind River. Contributed photo.

It’s not often that taking a high school college prep class means making money. But that’s exactly what a cadre of tenth grade students from East Oakland did in March at Wind River.


There are a myriad of tasks that a person who calls themselves healthy can perform. Squatting is one of them. Now I'm not talking about slapping a heavy barbell across your back and squatting (though that does provide immense health benefits); I'm referring to a basic body weight squat. It's a very natural movement and one that Mother Nature intended for us to perform multiple times in a day, so imagine what types of mobility and flexibility issues could arise from not doing it.

Here’s a list of bills introduced by your state representatives since January, with a brief description of each and their status.


Scheduled for hearing

SB379, Would make it easier for charter early college high schools to allow students to spend more time attending community and state colleges; was scheduled for a hearing before the education committee on April 3. SB730, which would grant students at middle college high schools better access to community colleges and allow community colleges to strike partnerships deals with the schools; the bill is scheduled for a hearing before the education committee on April 10.


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

The Bay-Eagle Garden offers bursts of green. Photo by Kristen Hanlon.

On a quiet stretch of Eagle Avenue between Bay and St. Charles streets is an oasis of green known as the Bay-Eagle Community Garden. It takes up about two-thirds of a city block and is bordered by a small playground and homes managed by the Alameda Housing Authority. On a drizzly, overcast morning in late March, a few dedicated gardeners were at work weeding, preparing their plots for spring planting, and harvesting vegetables for the Alameda Food Bank. I spoke with Jane Jackson, who has seen the transformation of “a heap of broken glass and garbage” to the productive garden it is today.


"Strictly Sail" comes to the Bay next week

This abandoned tug is one of several items to be pulled from the water during an upcoming Estuary cleanup. Photo courtesy of CalRecycle.

Alamedan Joi Richardson captured this rainbow that was shining over Alameda on Saturday evening, in between this weekend's rains, and sent it along to share with The Alamedan's readers. Photo courtesy of Joi Richardson.

Schools leaders want to know what you think needs to be done with Historic Alameda High School. So they’re hosting four meetings to share information and gather public input regarding the future of the school in April and May.


As a certified old geezer I belong to an international club of people who rise from their beds several times a night to visit the porcelain parsonage and commune with the spirits of their bodies. We get up to go pee.

Greenway Golf kicked off a $6.7 million overhaul of the Chuck Corica Golf Complex last week, which started with turf removal and grading at the Lucious Bateman driving range. Photos courtesy of Rose Agracewicz, Greenway Golf.

The Chuck Corica Golf Complex’s driving range closed on Monday – but that’s good news. Renovations at the 86-year-old municipal golf complex have begun.

Renovations at the Lucious Bateman Driving Range, which will take an estimated four to six weeks depending on weather, are the start of a planned $6.7 million facelift for the golf complex. The renovations are to include a makeover for the Mif Albright short course and a $5.1 million redesign of the Jack Clark South Course that will turn it into a links-style course.

“People are enthusiastic that this time has finally come,” said Ken Campbell, chief operating officer for Greenway Golf, Chuck Corica’s new manager. “It’s fun seeing that excitement and enthusiasm around the club.”