Amblin' Alameda: Civics lesson

Amblin' Alameda: Civics lesson

Morton Chalfy

This past Thursday night, we participated in an extended lesson in civic life which first left us very impressed and then very surprised. The "impressed" portion came at a candidates forum held at the Main Library and co-sponsored by The Alamedan and the Alameda Sun. Chairs had been set out for 30 attendees but as people arrived, that number had to be quickly doubled.

It's hard not to be impressed by the citizenry of Alameda. The audience was attentive, involved, obviously cared about city government and though asked not to express support or dismay leaned heavily in favor of more open space and less housing development.

The array of politicians participating was indicative of politics in Alameda; not as heated as in Oakland or San Francisco, conducted by gentlemen and ladies who are sincere in their beliefs and believable when they promise to work hard, used no demagoguery or appeals to ignorance, hardly like American politics at all. It was refreshing and reassuring in the extreme to realize that whether any particular candidate wins or loses the city will be in good, thoughtful hands.

And then we left to seek some food. It was 8 p.m. on a Thursday and we hadn't eaten since noon, which was too long for a pair of codgers. We fully expected to have to hunt for an open restaurant and settle for whatever food was on offer but to our surprise, the sidewalks were full of people, Park Street was full of cars and there were restaurants open up and down the blocks. Naturally there was no place to park until we found a single space in the area next to the post office on Park Avenue, directly behind Juanita's Mexican restaurant.

That's one of our favorite eating spots so we happily took the space and a seat in the front window, where we could enjoy the passing scene. Imagine that, vibrant street and cafe life in li'l ol' Alameda on a Thursday night. One could easily imagine oneself in a much larger city with a much younger population. Oh, wait, that's what we have become.

At the candidates forum, the concerns were all about traffic and development and the traffic sure to be brought by development. We listened to the arguments carefully, examined our own opinions on the subject but then were confronted with the reality. Alameda is growing rapidly, changing its demographics with each new resident and if we're not careful, about to be overrun with people who love us and want to join us on our cozy little Island.

One of the stark truths we have to face is that our bridges and tunnels should be considered on ramps for I-880, (I think the mayor used that term) and as such are subject to backups and traffic jams based on traffic movement on the big artery. We definitely need some creative, out-of-the-box thinking on this one. Flying cars anyone?