August 2013

Neptune Pointe occupies a relatively small sliver of Alameda, tucked away at the end of a narrow, crumbling lane obscured by a Foster’s Freeze restaurant and a thick row of leafy trees. But the 3.899-acre property sits at the heart of a massive dispute between a trio of public agencies that are warring over its fate.

 

Here’s another edition of The Broad Brush, your weekly news in review. Here’s what happened this week.

Alameda Unified failed to reach federally mandated test score targets this year, putting the school district on a path to state intervention and sanctions.

Harbor Bay Isle Associates and a related company that operates the Harbor Bay Club are asking the city’s permission to move the fitness club to a nine-acre site in the Harbor Bay Business Park and to build 80 luxury homes in its stead.

The city department charged with maintaining Alameda’s streets, sidewalks and trees is getting new leadership. City Manager John Russo has appointed Robert G. Haun as the city’s acting public works director.

Haun is replacing Matt Naclerio, whose resigned after 14 years on the job; Naclerio’s resignation takes effect on October 16.

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

It was a busy couple of weeks around the waterways!

Long-simmering tensions between school board members and district staff erupted into public view Tuesday, as discussions over the district’s strategic goals for the year and plans to ask voters for bond money to fix Alameda’s aged schools spawned charges that some board members are overstepping their roles and micromanaging district staff.

Schools officials are accepting applications for membership on the Measure A parcel tax oversight committee. The committee will meet between three and six times between January and December of 2014, and its work culminates in an annual report presented to the Board of Education in December 2014.

Here's our live Tweet by Tweet from Tuesday's Board of Education meeting.

Monday’s Planning Board hearing on the design of new buildings that will house an In-N-Out Burger, Chase bank branch and Safeway gas station near the foot of the Webster Tube didn’t pack City Hall with residents who lined up to air concerns about crime and traffic the way an earlier discussion about drive-through lanes for the restaurant and bank branch did.

But while the cast of characters who participated in Monday’s discussion may have been smaller, the nearly two-hour conversation about the buildings’ design and other issues was wide-ranging.

Alameda’s commuters will need to find a different way to get across the Bay this week, when Caltrans shuts down the Bay Bridge in order to connect the new eastern span. The shutdown commences at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and the bridge is scheduled to reopen at 5 a.m. Tuesday, September 3 - a move that will affect the more than 280,000 motorists who traverse the bridge each day.

Here's a quick rundown on your options for getting to San Francisco and back.

Yesterday I had occasion to run an errand on Santa Clara Avenue just east of Park Street while my sweetie had an appointment on Central Avenue near Eighth Street.

Alameda Unified School District students who are starting classes today will be welcomed by new schools and principals, millions of dollars in facilities upgrades – and a new lunch menu. And there are even bigger changes to come, as the state implements a new school funding scheme and districts put new curricular standards in place.

Editor:

The Alameda Free Library’s 2013 Summer Reading Program was a huge success. With over 3,000 kids, teens, and adults participating in the Reading is So Delicious program, this year’s number of participants exceeded all expectations.

For the week of August 26, 2013

Planning Board

The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. Monday, August 26 in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

I'm taking a few days off from writing so I can log some quality time on one of the most important tasks facing any nonprofit organization: fundraising. Specifically, I'll be working on a new sponsorship program that will allow companies and local businesses to show their support for Alameda and for the local news we need to be informed and engaged local citizens. Stay tuned for more information on that next month.

Before I sign off, though, I want to offer my thanks to all of our recent donors: Anne Bevan, Ann L. McCormick, Scott and Sheryl Sheppard, Marilyn J. Pomeroy, our own Morton Chalfy, William Pai, Jessica Lindsey, Irene Dieter, Chuck Kapelke, Earleen Hamlin, Terry Flippo and Richard Hausman. Your contributions help us keep tabs on City Hall, the schools, Alameda Point and more - heck, we couldn't do this without you.

If you'd like to join this list of outstanding folks - well, that's easy to do. 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 as always for keeping local news alive, and I'm always happy to take your questions, tips and suggestions at michele@thealamedan.org. We'll be back Monday with more news.

Alameda's Planning Board and the public got an opportunity Wednesday night to weigh in on ambitious plans to activate Alameda Point's waterfront and to create a town center city staffers hope will jump-start revitalization efforts.

A pair of bills from local Assemblyman Rob Bonta that would cut election costs for a pair of municipal utility districts and lower fees for large credit unions that are chartered by the state have been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

The Alameda Free Library is seeking community members interested in reading aloud as part of the library’s upcoming Community Banned Books Reading Marathon.

Attention parents of young children: Which Alameda restaurants are the most kid-friendly (and where will you never darken the door with your stroller again)? Do you love caffeinating at Café Au Lait, or filling up at the Pampered Pup?

Alameda a la Carte’s Denise Shelton is writing a piece for September about which Alameda nosh spots, coffee houses and ice cream parlors are the most (and least) kid-friendly and we need to hear from you about your experiences having coffee and getting a quick bite out.

Denise will publish the results of our survey in her September 12 column. Thanks for your input!

Robert W. Crown State Beach has been called “a great achievement of landscaping and engineering,” a manmade beach on San Francisco Bay that once hosted an amusement center known as the “Coney Island of the West” and was restored three decades ago for erosion control and public use.

Erosion caused by a 2005 storm prompted the East Bay Regional Park District – which manages Crown Beach for the state and the city – to initiate efforts to restore the beach to its 1980s footprint. In September, the park district will begin a three-month, $5.6 million project that will spread 82,600 cubic yards of sand – about 20 percent of the beach’s 1980s footprint – across 8,000 linear feet of 9,000-foot-long beach.

The park district is hosting a community information day about the project from 9 a.m. to noon this coming Saturday, August 24 in the Crab Cove Visitor Center, 1252 McKay Avenue. At the event, parks staff will offer details about the project, answer questions and provide project plans, diagrams and historic photos for the public to view.

Proposed waterfront uses for a future Alameda Point town center. Drawing produced by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP.

For the week of August 19, 2013

Public Utilities Board

Alameda’s financially ailing hospital is preparing to take another hit to its finances, in the form of a retroactive $450,000 payment for Medi-Cal cuts imposed in 2011 as a state budget-balancing move. The cuts are slated to go into effect in January 2014.

 

Here’s another edition of The Broad Brush, your weekly news in review. Here’s what happened this week.

For years, Alameda has served as a destination for onetime city dwellers who prize its vintage homes, tree-lined streets and not-too-suburban feel. But almost as often as not, Alamedans leave the Island to buy the things they need.

The in-progress development of the long-awaited Alameda Landing project near the Webster Tube – a project that includes a 291,000-square-foot Target-anchored shopping center – has stirred hopes at City Hall and citywide that long-desired retailers offering clothing, high-end grocery, paper goods and more will finally come to the Island. But retail experts and city staffers who have been working to bring stores to town said drawing them requires a carefully crafted admixture of demographics, relationships, timing, space – along with a little luck.

Artemis Racing foils on San Francisco during the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals. Photo by Dave Bloch.

A CURVE TOO STEEP

School board members may be shifting direction on plans for a new schools bond, with some saying at Tuesday’s board meeting that they think a bond should fund projects benefiting all of Alameda’s schools.

Dear Editor:

Once dubbed the “Coney Island of the West,” Neptune Beach in Alameda was a popular resort drawing tens of thousands of weekend visitors to its beaches, cottage baths, and amusement parks. Sadly, the Great Depression signaled the end of the once vibrant resort and today the Neptune Beach site houses old, abandoned buildings and an overgrown, vacant parking lot. The adjacent road does not contain storm water pipes, or any basins to clean storm water prior to flowing into the Bay. In fact, it has been reported that a sewer line under the road is leaking into the Bay. Tim Lewis Communities seeks to fix these problems and transform the now blighted area into single-family homes, native landscaping and shoreline access that honors the area’s rich history while revitalizing the Crown Beach area.

Alameda’s Jeff Heyman is inviting prospective students to sign up for his Social Media for Journalists class at Laney College. The 17-week class, which will be offered from 1 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.

An In-N-Out Burger in San Leandro. Photo by Michele Ellson.

Governor Jerry Brown's request that a San Francisco Superior Court judge prohibit BART workers from striking for 60 days laid out the impacts of BART's four-day strike in July in terms of air quality, gas used and more. Here are some of the impacts of the BART strike as cited in the court filing, by the numbers.

 

One of the most important aspects of life in our home is the concept of MDRA: Minimum Daily Requirement of Affection.

Alameda’s public school students scored better on standardized math and English tests this year than they did in 2012, even as statewide test scores slid for the first time in over a decade.

The results came as the state prepares to phase out its existing tests and curriculum and roll out Common Core Standards.

 

Middle age begins with a sense of loss.

 

For the week of August 12, 2013

Planning Board

Photo from the BART blog.

A San Francisco Superior Court judge has ordered a 60-day cooling off period for BART unions and management, putting off a threatened strike and keeping trains running. Governor Jerry Brown sought the injunction putting off a threatened strike Friday, and the court said a hearing to consider approving the cooling-off period would be held if BART management and its union failed to reach contract deals. We've got more about the threatened strike and Brown's efforts to prevent it, at the jump.

Photo from the BART blog.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. Friday, August 9

Target is holding a job fair to fill 300 positions in their new Alameda store. Video by Michele Ellson.

Out and About - 2013-08-08 Edited

Target is holding a job fair to fill 300 positions in their new Alameda store. Video by Michele Ellson.

Target kicked off a three-day job fair Thursday at the College of Alameda as part of an effort to hire 300 people to staff its new Alameda store, slated to open on October 13. The retailer scheduled close to 500 interviews over the three days for jobs ranging from cashiers and cart retrievers to fitting room attendants, security guards and supervisors (a spokesperson for the retailer said they don't provide specifics on pay and benefit packages). In addition to the scheduled interviews, Target representatives are accepting walk-ins between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. today and Saturday, and they said that people without scheduled interviews should come early to increase their chances of securing an interview. People interested in working for the local Target - a 140,000-square-foot store that will house a Starbucks and pharmacy and offer fresh grocery items among its wares - can also apply online.

Video Date: 
Friday, August 9, 2013
Video Topic: 
Video Format: 
 

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

“Alameda – The Isle of Style and Gracious Living”: A long-ago developer came up with this pitch to San Franciscans to relocate to Alameda for a better, more genteel lifestyle. It still applies today and, in spite of budget woes and economic uncertainty, with a little effort and imagination, gracious living can be achieved here regardless of the size of one’s bank account.

At the center of this is something none of us can live without: food and drink. These are basic needs which, in the right hands, become much more. The difference between food and a feast is not in the quantity but the quality of the repast. Our city has so much to offer the restaurant goer, home cook, and discerning drinker of adult beverages.

Artemis Racing has invited the Alameda community to come over to the Seaplane Lagoon each race day around 9:15 a.m. to see the crew off. (I'd suggest going a little earlier; today they were halfway across the lagoon by that time.) The next scheduled race days are this Friday and Saturday. Since this is a best-of-seven event, a sweep by either team would end this round after those races; if not, they continue next Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

AC Transit's managers reached a contract deal with drivers and mechanics late Tuesday night, averting a strike that was set to being at 12:01 a.m. today. As a result, buses will arrive as scheduled for AC Transit's 181,000 riders across the East Bay and on the Peninsula.

Alameda's T-shirt league is staging a comeback. Photos from the ARPD Facebook page.

Kevin Kearney played baseball on a scholarship at Cal and, briefly, in the minor leagues. But the most fun he ever had playing a sport, he said, was the time he spent in the Alameda park department's T-shirt league.

 

Target will be holding a job fair for prospective employees for the retailer’s new Alameda store from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the student center at the College of Alameda, 555 Ralph Appezzato Parkway.

Artemis is back in the race!

The Alameda "home town" team (from Sweden) set out for their first race in the Louis Vuitton Cup today and has invited the public to see them off this week. They launched exactly at 9:15 a.m. as promised via their Twitter feed (follow @artemisracing). You can tune in to the race today at AmericasCup.com or YouTube.com/americascup at 1 p.m. for the beginning of the broadcast. The actual race begins at 1:15 p.m., but the "pre-start" is usually the most important part of the race.

Managers at Alameda Hospital are seeking approval of a budget that shows the hospital losing more than $1 million over the last six months of 2013.

The Alameda Health Care District Board will consider approval of the budget, which anticipates $42 million in net revenues and $43 million in expenses, on Wednesday.

 

I can’t be the only one who has noticed this disturbing set of occurrences but, if I am, consider this a sounding of the alarm. The Aliens are among us and they are taking over.

Vacaville Police officer Darren Young and his police dog Syan, get ready to compete in a search competition. Photo by Dave Boitano.

 

For the week of August 5, 2013.

Here's your civic calendar for this week.

Rent Review Advisory Committee

Updated at 7:56 a.m. Monday, August 5

Photo from the BART blog.

A BART strike Monday could send hundreds of thousands of Bay Area commuters scrambling for another ride to work. But Alameda’s commuters – especially those headed to Oakland and San Francisco – have other options. Here are some alternate commute options for BART riders and drivers seeking to avoid congestion on the Bay Bridge.

From Small - Rhythmix

Rosie Morales had been up all night finishing installation of “Small Worlds,” the show she has curated in K Gallery at Rhythmix Cultural Works. But rather than resting on her laurels, grabbing a beer and schmoozing, she plucked one of her own pieces off the wall.

“I think I’ll add more text to this one,” she said, and plopped down against a wall.

Photos by Diana Simon.

Reader Diana Simon was on Alameda Point the other day, where she captured these photos of America's Cup challenger Artemis Racing launching Big Blue, the team's new racing yacht - and forwarded them to us to share. The team is set to race the yacht in Louis Vuitton Cup matches starting Tuesday. You can check out Diana's photos by clicking the arrow to activate the slideshow.

 

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your review of the latest headlines. Here’s what happened this week.