July 2013


I’m sure you’re all familiar with the phrase, “time is money.” Journalism – done right – is a time-intensive task. Whether we’re attending a public meeting about a hot local topic or researching an issue to provide in-depth understanding, getting you the information you need involves putting some serious hours on the clock.

Slowly but surely we’ve been building our team of news gatherers, an effort that has allowed us to expand our coverage beyond the walls of City Hall and deeper into the community (keep an eye out for a new food and wine column next month, and more video storytelling to come). Having more people on board to tell the story of Alameda also allows us to go deeper into the big stories that matter to you most.

We know you have a lot of questions about redevelopment at Alameda Point, Alameda Hospital’s plans to affiliate with Alameda County’s public health system and new development in the West End and beyond, and we want to get you answers. But to do that, we need your help.

Your contribution of $75 covers the cost of a news story and $100, a story and photo (and you’ll get a nifty, limited edition Alamedan T-shirt as a token of our thanks). But a contribution of any amount earns you a spot on our donor wall and lets people know that you support their access to answers about what’s going on in this town – and it buys us the time to provide them.

Supporting The Alamedan is easy. You can make your contribution online or write a check made out to our project sponsor Community Initiatives (with Alameda Community News Project in the register), 354 Pine Street Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104.

Thanks for supporting The Alamedan, your online news source. And keep contacting me with questions, comments and suggestions at michele@thealamedan.org.

2012 Plein Air Paintout winner Ed Bertolet's Crab Cove vignette. Photo courtesy of Frank Bette Center for the Arts.

Frank Bette Center for the Arts’ Eighth Annual Plein Air Paintout is taking place this week all over Alameda, as 40 artists from all over the United States paint on the Island’s streets, shores and parks. Artwork created as part of the juried show will be on display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday near the frog pond at the interior of Alameda South Shore Center, corner of Park Street and Otis Drive. The works will be made available for viewing and purchase at Frank Bette following the show. Frank Bette is at 1601 Paru Street, and is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Sundays.

Cigarette butts litter a city-owned parking lot in the Park Street shopping district. Photo by Michele Ellson.


On Friday afternoon my sweetie and I attended a performance of “Love Stinks” at the Altarena Playhouse. This was the one and only performance of this work, done by the students of the two-week drama camp the Playhouse conducts several times a summer.

Captain Ray Thackeray with a donated fortress anchor for the Thunderbird 2. Contributed photo.

Founded in 2010, the International Rescue Group is an Alameda-based volunteer organization that provides aid to coastal communities suffering from natural disasters. Utilizing a network of boats cruising around the world and a purpose-built ship, the Thunderbird 2, the IRG can deliver fresh water, food, and medical supplies to communities who otherwise might have to wait many days or even weeks for help. Recently I had a chance to talk with Ray Thackeray, founder of the IRG, to find out more about the group and its mission.


For the week of July 29, 2013

Pension Board

The Pension Board meets at 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 29 in Conference Room 360 on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

Rendering courtesy of Phoenix Commons.

On the Oakland side of the Park Street bridge, in the neighborhood known as Jingletown, a new senior living community will be built on the site where the restaurant Tiki Tom’s burned down in 2010. The project, Phoenix Commons, is the latest endeavor of Alameda Elder Communities, which also operates the Waters Edge Lodge on Harbor Bay and the Elders Inn on Webster Street.

Phoenix Commons will be the first senior community of its kind in the Bay Area, according to Chris Zimmerman, chief executive officer of Alameda Elder Communities. Described as a “cooperative lifestyle community,” the complex will be comprised of 41 one- and two-bedroom units and communally shared areas.

“Cohousing is a co-op without the co-op label,” said Zimmerman. “The ideal of living together and sharing risk and everything else is really a co-op model."


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

Dozens of renters are looking for new homes after receiving eviction notices from the new owners of their complex.

City staffers want you to offer your thoughts on their plans for Alameda Point. And they’re taking to the Web - and the streets - to offer information and solicit your opinions on their planning efforts.



Good things are starting to happen around the America's Cup races. The event is getting past the "billionaires behaving badly" stages and actually becoming a sports event that is really worth watching.

Members of the City Council said they want to set up a trust fund to help cover the city’s $86.4 million retiree health care liability. They just need to find money to put into it.

Equipped 4 Success volunteers show off donated supplies. Photo courtesy of the Alameda Education Foundation.

A group of Alameda nonprofits is banding together for a second year this year to sponsor Equipped 4 Success, a school supply drive that aims to fill backpacks for 1,000 low-income students.

Alameda’s Planning Board unanimously approved a drive-through and late-night hours for an In-N-Out Burger near the foot of the Webster Tube on Monday – provided the city can win Caltrans’ approval for a crosswalk intended to protect pedestrians who might otherwise jaywalk into traffic exiting the tube.


It is six long blocks from my house to Shoreline Drive, and on my morning’s walk I was struck by the isolation of the walking person in a landscape full of the automobile.

Photos by Dave Bloch.

Artemis Racing officially launched what they're calling the "Blue Boat" at a christening ceremony Monday morning that was attended by nearly 300 team members, family and friends, according to a news release on the team's America's Cup website. The Alameda Point-based Artemis' shore team has worked for two months to construct the new boat, following the capsize of the team's first yacht during a practice session on May 9. Maritime Report blogger Dave Bloch shared these photos; additional pictures are available at the link.

A longtime nurse with a wealth of both on the ground and management experience in a range of health care settings has been picked to serve on the Alameda Health Care District Board.

The board on Thursday selected Lynn Bratchett to fill out the remainder of Elliott Gorelick’s term.


For the week of July 22, 2013

Board of Education

The Board of Education is holding a special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday, July 22 in the Ballena Conference Room #153 at the district office, 2060 Challenger Drive.

UPDATED at 12:16 p.m. Friday, July 19

Alameda police are investigating a botched armed robbery attempt at a High Street convenience market which ended with an off-duty sheriff's deputy killing one suspect and possibly wounding a second, who is still at large.

The Unity of Truth: Solving the Paradox of Science and Religion (iUniverse, 2012)
By Allen A. Sweet, C. Frances Sweet, and Fritz Jaensch

Photo courtesy of the authors.

Many of the seven billion people who live on the Earth look to either science or religion as the ultimate source of authority in their lives. In The Unity of Truth: Solving the Paradox of Science and Religion, three Alamedans bring their diverse expertise to bear on the question of how science and religion can be mutually supportive. The narrative incorporates physics, theology, and mathematics in its consideration of the “big questions”: the beginning of the universe, evolution, and the meaning of life. Recently, I met with two of the three authors to talk about the origins and development of the book.

Authors Allen A. Sweet, C. Frances Sweet and Fritz Jaensch offer a condensed version of the conclusions in their book. Published with permission of the authors.



Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your two-sentence headline review. Here’s the quick-and-dirty on what happened this week.

The future of an In-N-Out Burger, Safeway gas station and Chase bank branch proposed for a 2.3-acre site near the Webster Tube will be considered by the Planning Board on Monday.

Dear Editor,

The parcel on McKay Avenue continues to be a source of controversy. The “why” seems to defy logic! The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) attempted to purchase the site from the Department of Agriculture when it learned it would be sold and for months the two parties argued over the price, each bound by its regulations as to what it could offer/pay. As I understand it, the EBRPD could offer only approximately half of the value the Agriculture Department was required to achieve from sale of the site. In addition, there is the issue of McKay Avenue, which has been draining sewage into neighboring properties and the Bay for its lifespan of 50+ years and the $2 million price tag to rebuild it for access of whatever the use is to be. Apparently the Department of Agriculture was then instructed to offer the parcel, did so, and sold it to the highest bidder, Tim Lewis Communities.


Photos by Dave Bloch.


The Louis Vuitton Cup, also known as the America's Cup Challenger Series, is actually underway. As you've heard, the 15 round robin races pitting New Zealand, Italy and Sweden against each other shrunk to five races because Sweden's Artemis Racing, which like Italy is based at Alameda Point, is still building their boat after the first one was destroyed in the May accident. (More on that in the next item.)

The county medical system that Alameda Hospital is effectively seeking to join has conquered – or held at bay – a host of seemingly intractable problems, though it faces fresh challenges with the implementation of health care reform and the pending expiration of a countywide sales tax that supports the services it provides.


The Alameda Police Department is urging residents to plan a block party, ice cream social or other outdoor event with their neighbors for this year’s National Night Out, which takes place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Lori Fujimoto.

Lydia Bird’s introduction to the Alameda Raptor Monitoring team came six years ago, when its coordinator knocked on her door in search of Cooper’s Hawks. Bird had been noticing the raptors in her neighborhood for years, but didn’t know that much about them.

Three years later she saw some of the medium-size hawks strolling on her sidewalk, so she got in touch with the coordinator, Harv Wilson, and was pulled into the team, which scans thousands of tall trees each year in search of a handful of nests in an effort to protect the hawks and their young fledglings.

“It’s this amazing world going on over our heads,” Bird said. “There’s this whole little wild kingdom going on four stories up.”


I’m just back from the Gulf Coast of Florida and the grandchildren are wonderful, thanks for asking, film at 11. You have to see the one-year-old truckin’ along, pumping her arms and occasionally stopping to let out a squeal of pure glee at being able to motor on her own.

City leaders are slated next week to begin tackling what City Manager John Russo is calling the “largest threat” to Alameda’s long-term financial stability – rising retiree medical costs.

The council meets to discuss the growing costs and how policymakers might tackle them on July 23.


For the week of July 15, 2013

Public Utilities Board

The Public Utilities Board meets at 7 p.m. Monday, July 15 in Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

Editor's note: The Alamedan wishes to acknowledge the team at Alameda Point Info for providing source documents for this story.

One of the primary challenges facing city leaders seeking to revitalize Alameda Point is how to manage all of the traffic that new homes and businesses will generate.


Last week’s BART strike forced tens of thousands of Bay Area commuters to find other ways to get to work.

The 51A bus traverses Alameda on the way to and from the Rockridge and Fruitvale BART stations. Bus map from AC Transit's website.


Artemis Racing offers the media a tour of their Alameda Point home base. Video courtesy of Artemis Racing.

LOTS of America's Cup-related news this week.


On Saturday, Artemis Racing held a long-awaited media tour of their base at Alameda Point. No photography or video was permitted, but their own staff had cameras all over the place. On Tuesday, Artemis released a 15-minute video of tour highlights, including some really good comments by CEO Paul Cayard and Helmsman Nathan Outteridge. Readers of this blog know that I'm partial to Artemis - they're our (original) Alameda Home Town Team, after all - and I'm happy to say that I heard nothing but pride and determination from all the team members who spoke with us.

CORRECTION, 2:09 p.m. Thursday, July 18: The Alamedan inaccurately listed Alameda Health Care District Board candidate Jon Murphy's job title as "Director of VN and RN programs, Merritt College"; he is an instructor at the college, an official with the Peralta Community College District confirmed, and also serves as coordinator of the college's medical assisting program. The Alamedan regrets the error.

An attorney, two nurses and a political staffer are among the half-dozen people who have applied for the Alameda Health Care District Board seat vacated by Alameda Hospital critic Elliott Gorelick – a job whose description could see some dramatic changes if a proposed affiliation deal with the county’s medical system is finalized.


Spaces are still available for Bayanihan Art Summer Sessions: Art With A Statement!, a free summer arts program for high school students.

Alameda’s Planning Board approved the design of the remainder of a Target-anchored shopping center that’s being built near the Webster Tube – the final administrative approval the project needed before construction could start.

Editor's Note: This letter was originally sent to City Planner Andrew Thomas and is being published at the request of its author.

I believe the time has come and gone for public comments but I still want to make my opinion known on this subject. I am a lifelong Alameda resident and I think it would be a disservice to the citizens of Alameda to put 48 housing units into this small space. If these new houses are built, traffic impacts for people like me that are handicapped will make it even harder to get down to Crab Cove on any given day and especially for the concerts in the summer. Not to mention putting that many homes in such a small space is ridiculous when there's plenty of room at Alameda Point for new homes. Don't infill this lot adjacent to one of Alameda's most precious public spaces with housing. I'd like to see it become part of Crab Cove/Crown Beach Park so that it can benefit all citizen's of Alameda. I also agree that EBRPD was not given a decent chance to put forth their proposal before the property was rezoned. Do you live in Alameda? If so, I just can't believe a fellow citizen would want this housing project to continue. Sell the land to the EBRPD for a small fee and let it become part of our beautiful shoreline park please. (7/6/13: I now understand that the city does not own the property but is responsible for the rezoning to pave the way for the developer to buy it and build on it. Check out documents at http://friendsofcrownbeach.com/)

Allison Martin

Alameda's casual carpool spots.


For the week of July 8, 2013

What’s on Alameda’s civic calendar this week? Read on to find out.

Planning Board


Aging has continued to be a rewarding and growthful journey for me with minimal preoccupation about getting older. This way of handling aging was enhanced by research I did in graduate school.


UPDATE, 4:20 p.m.: Appears to be agreement that two died in SFO crash; reports of between 190 and 230 injured. Two of four runways reopened.

UPDATE, 3:35 p.m.: A passenger plane crashed at San Francisco International Airport this morning, reportedly injuring dozens of the 307 passengers and crew who were aboard. Media outlets are offering conflicting accounts about whether anyone on the flight has died, though San Francisco General Hospital has tweeted that all of the 10 patients it was treating earlier were in critical condition. SFO was shut down and inbound flights diverted to other area airports; the airport's managers announced at 3:28 p.m. that they had opened a pair of runways and that passengers should check with their airlines for updated flight information. We're posting others' Twitter updates regarding the crash; you can read more at the jump.

UPDATE: 3:32 p.m. Saturday, July 6: SFO just tweeted that they've reopened two runways and that passengers scheduled to fly to or from SFO today should check in with airlines for updated arrival and departure information.

UPDATE: 2:36 p.m. Saturday, July 6: SFO just posted a tweet saying they'll reopen two runways "shortly." More on the impact of this to come.

BART's unions have agreed to a 30-day extension of their existing contract, management announced late Thursday night, and service is to resume at 3 p.m. today. BART will offer limited charter bus service until the trains are running again, they said in an e-mail to riders.

San Francisco Bay Ferry will offer regular weekday service from Alameda's two terminals, at Main Street and Harbor Bay, according to the ferry service's website. AC Transit, which is still in contract talks with its own unions, was to resume regular weekday service today.

Additional information is available via 511.org; we'll provide updates as they come.

Out and About - 2013-07-04 Edited

Alamedans celebrated the Fourth of July on Thursday either by watching the annual Mayor's Fourth of July Parade - or participating in it. This year's parade had nearly 200 entrants and a cast of thousands that included cyclists and horseback riders, military men and business owners, politicians, a dad-powered unicorn chariot and Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. The Alamedan toured the pre-parade lineup and chatted with some parade participants about their creations; here's our video.

Video Date: 
Friday, July 5, 2013
Video Topic: 
Video Format: 

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your roundup of the week’s big news. Here’s what happened this week.

Alamedans celebrated the Fourth of July on Thursday either by watching the annual Mayor's Fourth of July Parade - or participating in it. This year's parade had nearly 200 entrants and a cast of thousands that included cyclists and horseback riders, military men and business owners, politicians, a dad-powered unicorn chariot and Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. The Alamedan toured the pre-parade lineup and chatted with some parade participants about their creations; here's our video.


After all the jockeying and posturing that got the 34th America’s Cup to San Francisco Bay, after over a year of watching the AC45 catamarans racing around the Bay and in different ports around the world, after nearly a year seeing the AC72’s being designed, built and tested, and afte

Alamedans have been hugely responsive to calls to divert trash from landfills, with 95 percent of residents in single-family homes and small apartment complexes dumping 32 gallons of garbage each week or less.

A seasoned administrator will be stepping up to serve as the College of Alameda's interim president. Dr. Eric V. Gravenberg is set to assume his new role on July 15.

Alameda Meals on Wheels’ outgoing board president, Ed Kofman; current President Mark Sorensen; and director Rosemary Reilly were the recipients of a Kiwanis donation and the Kiwanis' Golden Ruler from President Bob Larsen following a recent presentation on the program.

The Fourth of July parade route.


The Alamedan is checking in with commuters to find out how the roads, buses and ferries are looking today. Here's what they're seeing. Talk to us about your commute by commenting here, at our Facebook site or on Twitter, @TheAlamedan.

A parklet is installed on Park Street, September 21, 2012.

The city is considering guidelines for the installation of parklets that would trade parking spots for new, public gathering spaces.

Photo from the BART blog.

As of press time Monday night, BART workers appeared headed for a second day on strike. Here are other options for getting where you need to go.

The Bank of Alameda is set to be acquired by the Bank of Marin, the Novato-based bank announced Monday.

Video by Donna Eyestone.

Updated at 2:52 p.m. Monday, July 1

The morning commute out of Alameda was a quiet one Monday morning – until commuters hit heavier-than-usual traffic on freeways and over the Bay Bridge.

BART workers are striking today, but Alameda's commuters were prepared. Ferries handled long lines of commuters, buses had seats, and the Tube really wasn't all that backed up, though some say things worsened off-Island. Here's how this morning's commute unfolded, in tweets and Facebook posts.

Photo courtesy of the Alameda Education Foundation.

Judy Blank and Anna Elefant were looking for a new way to help Alameda’s schools after a stint as co-chairs of the then-new Bay Farm Elementary School’s PTA. Elefant was elected to the school board, while Blank, who was a dental hygienist by trade, joined a group seeking to revive a decade-old foundation that funded enrichment classes at local schools. Blank is leaving the Alameda Education Foundation after more than two decades of service that included seven years as board president and two as executive director, leaving a legacy that includes a supply store for teachers, charters’ inclusion in the foundation’s middle school sports program – and Alameda’s very own Monopoly game.

Dear Editor,

As someone who has worked on the closure and development of the Naval Air station for the past 20 years, I was as excited as everyone there to witness the transfer of the first phase of Navy lands to the City of Alameda. The Mayor, City Manager and others echoed the feeling of most of us for this major forward step in finally developing Alameda Point.