Amblin' Alameda: The pace of change

Amblin' Alameda: The pace of change

Morton Chalfy

This past week was a humdinger in the sense that my activities brought much of the future of Alameda into stark relief - with no relief in sight. The week was really "ramblin' Alameda," rather than amblin' (which wouldn't have covered nearly as much territory).

First there was the visit to our swimming exercise spot - the Mariner's Square Athletic Club, which sits at the corner of the Alameda Landing commercial plaza. After years of preparation the buildout has begun, and the area looks like a clone of Emeryville. As more stores open there, the traffic count rises and the activity level rises as well. To get there we passed the proposed Del Monte tract and the housing that is already being built adjacent to it. That trip alone cast the shadow of the future with its pall of oncoming traffic over the day.

Then there was lunch with a friend from San Francisco out at Alameda Point. We sat and ate on the patio behind the Rock Wall Wine Company and looked out over the water. Alameda Point is still a place where the fact of living on an Island is palpable. There are no cranes building high rises there yet, but the shimmering waters of that part of the bay seem excited by the vision of the development to come, for well or for ill.

And then there was lunch at Quinn's Lighthouse on the Embarcadero in Oakland. Strictly speaking not in Alameda, but so closely connected it might as well be. We ate overlooking the marina filled with boats and then drove down toward Jack London Square to a little park where our friends' dog could run and chase balls. On the way we passed the fenced-off construction site for Brooklyn Basin: Thousands of units with I-880 as their main road. Words failed me. That section of 880 is already the most notorious bottleneck of the road through our area and the idea of hundreds, if not thousands, of cars joining that slow moving caterpillar is enough to have us praying for the Jetsons' jet packs!

All these developments which hung fire for so long are now moving inexorably forward, and the one feature that stands out is the impact they will have on the 880 and the consequent impact that will have on traffic in Alameda - let alone Oakland, San Leandro and Hayward. It makes one want to finish ramblin' and resume amblin'.

Which, on Sunday morning, I did. With my friend and his dog I ambled down Broadway to the shoreline, where we turned west and walked along the muddy path beside the bird sanctuary. And on Sunday it was indeed a sanctuary. The sun shone, the water was smooth and placid and a flock of the larger shorebirds, perhaps dowitchers, were resting in the shallows and mud flats. They were calm, the scene was serene and the juxtaposition of natural beauty next to the bustle of Otis Drive was sort of magical.

For that moment of quiet appreciation I was able to literally turn my back on the coming storm of change while I contemplated the simplicity of birds and water, sunshine and high flying clouds.

Afterward I came home wondering, "What will we all do when gridlock happens?" We'll know in just a few short years.


Submitted by Richard Bangert on Tue, Feb 3, 2015

Morton, Lots of angst over visions of gridlock. Next time you are having lunch on the patio at Rock Wall and looking out toward San Francisco, ask yourself when will it be OK to walk between the Bay shore and the wetland in the distance beyond those six poles. Think about gatelock, instead of gridlock. In other words, the only thing standing between you and that wetland is bureaucracy. And if you like the bird sanctuary on Shore Line Drive, you'll love the one on the southwest corner of Alameda Point - where the only cars going by are on the Bay Bridge.

Submitted by Loved Alameda (not verified) on Sun, Feb 8, 2015

Morton, I often frequent the same places! Excellent, but brought tears to my eyes. The money zombies want this. Alameda is changing rapidly for the worst. It's very sad. We are thinking seriously of renting our home out and moving to Marin where the majority would never allow something like this to happen there.