NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE ACTION

GUEST WRITER EUGENIE THOMSON

If serious action isn’t taken—soon—Alameda residents will find themselves stuck in hour-long traffic jams when leaving the island.

Alameda will have its moment of truth—a day when there won’t be enough money to mitigate all the traffic congestion spawned by out-of-control growth and permit parking costing homeowners over a $400 per year. Residents will only find buses that are also stuck in traffic. When that day comes, there will be no turning back. Our fragile quality of life will be gone forever.

Plain talk is where truth resides. Yet, the City overwhelms taxpayers with reams of complex documents that stymie the average voters. Why has City Hall refused to consider how much longer it will take residents to leave the island via car or bus? Why hasn’t the City been able to explain the effects of all this growth?

Could it be that the City Council, staff and consultants don’t want the residents to know the true effects of the projects? They do mention mitigations (e.g. TDM), but those mitigations are only likely to address a tiny percentage of the traffic and parking impacts.

How is it the Del Monte project’s traffic report states there are a) No parking problems even though the parking supply is only 1.25 cars per unit and the average car ownership is 2.2 cars per unit in Alameda as per the 2000 Census? and b) When all the developments on the island are built, conclude there will only be 19 more cars than today going through the Posey Tube during the AM peak hour by year 2035 and then concluding in no added congestion due to Del Monte and all the development projects combined at the west end?

And it should not take someone like me with a civil engineering license to opine that the City’s idea to lower the parking supply at future development projects is simply not workable in Alameda where sufficient parking supply exist around the development sites. The new residents will park in the surrounding neighborhood streets instead. Traffic will not be reduced like City Hall keeps on saying with reduced parking supply. What will be reduced is the cost for not building the larger garages under the condominium complexes and greatly increasing the developers’ profits.

The Del Monte project at 414 residential units along with all the other mega projects planned by Council is a bad idea for our island. Why all these risks with irreversible harm and without the consideration that Alameda is an island?

Alamedans need to speak up to cap the growth at a reasonable level and require developers to supply parking comparable to actual car ownership patterns, not to the new city standards set by the wishful anti car folks. These unproven and unsustainable standards will result in irreversible harm to our neighborhoods.

The island and its connections to the East Bay need to work for all users, its residents and businesses, pedestrians, bicycles, cars, trucks and buses.

Ignoring the problems and then creating nightmarish congestion and parking problems will ruin what is so great about Alameda. This has been going on continuously since the environmental document process regarding Alameda Point Project started, through proposed projects like Neptune Point and today with the Del Monte and other northern waterfront projects.

Now is the time to take action. Let us move forward and use our taxpayers’ dollars to build a community, we can be proud of. That I believe starts with voting for Frank Mataresse for council who supports a cap on residential development and for Trish Spencer for Mayor who comes with a fresh approach.

And secondly, I urge residents to speak up and let Council know they must define the traffic and financial risks and challenges clearly and accurately.

So many have tried, have volunteered many hours, provided written and oral constructive comments, but Council ignores them. Sadly, I too have lost total trust in any professional report from City Hall.

I urge all Alamedans to vote for Frank and Trish for more government transparency, an open debate of the traffic and financial challenges and for capping development to a level that is reasonable for our island. As of now, I will not vote for the other council seat, neither candidate is concerned about the extremely risky financial and development decisions being made by current Council.

Act today, tomorrow it will be too late.

Reference:
The Del Monte Traffic Impact Analysis March 25, 2014 for the above traffic facts can be found on the City website: Planning Board Agenda item #7B, June 23, 2014, click on File # 2014-652, then click on Draft Supplemental Negative Declaration (Exhibit 3) and download the PDF pages 214 and 233. By doing the simple math calculation one can obtain the difference between the volumes for northbound coming out of the Posey tube (this is the volume approaching the 7th and Harrison intersection # 20: AM Existing is 902 thru and 1686 turning => total 2588 vehicles per hour; and AM Cumulative year 2035: 869 thru and 1738 turning => total 2607 vph). This calculates to only 19 more cars per hour above the report’s today’s AM peak hour volume into the Posey tube after all the developments are built including Alameda Point for the Cumulative condition without Del Monte, the cumulative condition upon which Del Monte was tested for its future traffic impacts. And then concluding neither Del Monte nor all the other projects combined would produce zero traffic impacts at the west end.

And the last paragraph on page 253 provides the consultant’s parking conclusion (TR-9) of no parking problems.
Unfortunately, Council is not questioning these reports with the hidden incorrect data and unbelievable results even after the residents raise these concerns. Instead, Council is ignoring the future traffic problems, does not perform the effort to find financially feasible infrastructure solutions nor assess how much development is feasible for the island. Sad but true.


Alameda City Leaders “LISTEN” (only) when we vote.

Alameda Sun LETTERS

Fool the Incumbents Before They Fool Us

Have you driven the main thoroughfares of Alameda lately: Park and Webster streets, Island Drive, Buena Vista, Lincoln and Central avenues? Have you driven through the tubes or crossed the bridges any time around the morning or evening commute?

Recently, thanks to a non-fatal accident in the tube, it took my wife 90 minutes to get from the Webster Tube (which the accident closed) to Marina Village via Interstate 880, the Embarcadero and the Park Street Bridge — a distance of less than five miles.

Does any of this make you wonder about what’s coming: worst-case, a Napa-like 6.1 event that destroys the island’s infrastructure; best case, already approved and planned development that leads to more congestion and gridlock. And if you think you’re safe because you don’t live on one of the main thoroughfares or near the tubes or bridges, think again. If the main thoroughfares are jammed, drivers will be looking for alternate routes, and those routes are your quiet neighborhood streets. Given what is coming, none of us (except maybe the developers) will emerge unscathed.

Mayor Marie Gilmore and the City Council have planned (construction has already begun on some) 1,100-plus housing units to be built between the Posey and Webster tubes and the Park Street Bridge, all of them along Buena Vista and Clement avenues. Another 1,425 housing units are planned for Alameda Point (all using the tubes for ingress and egress) with the first 800 units to begin construction as soon as possible.

Given that each unit averages two cars, that’s 5,000-plus vehicles added to Alameda’s roadways, entering and exiting through the tubes or over the Park Street Bridge. That doesn’t include the 8,000 to 10,000 additional cars to be added by new housing construction on the Oakland side at Brooklyn Basin and Jack London Square — all of it backing up in Chinatown, Broadway, Jackson Street, Fifth 23rd and 29th avenues, as well as Interstate 880. That’s 13,000 cars — 15,000 more when all of the building is done!

These changes are already in the works. Additionally, Gilmore and the City Council have approved another 1,540 “housing opportunity sites,” which would add 3,000 more cars into the mix. These units have not yet been contracted out, though given the values and priorities of the current “leadership” of Alameda there can be no doubt about the outcome: more development and more congestion and a worsening of the quality of our lives.

What makes these plans and approvals even more dubious is that the mayor and City Council justify them by saying they are “required.” According to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and its “Regional Housing Needs Allocation” report, Alameda only needs to add 1,723 new housing units through 2022. In other words, Alameda Point (1,425 units) and Alameda Landing (284 units) alone fulfill Alameda’s housing obligations through the year 2022. Nothing more is “required.” That’s the good news.

The better news is it is election time, the only time that “leaders” listen.

Recently more than 6,000 Alamedans signed a petition opposing the sale of Crown Beach area properties to a private developer for housing. Gilmore and the City Council, against all of its greediest and short-sighted desires, demurred and voted — as the petitions demanded — to maintain the area as open space and to stop its active pursuit of the sale. Why? Because two of the sale’s most vocal and active supporters — Gilmore and Chen — are up for re-election and they don’t want those 6,000 people voting against them. Gilmore and the City Council voted to stop the sale of land at Crown Beach, hoping to remove that item from the election agenda. I’m writing this letter in the hope of keeping it on.

Remember, the mayor and City Council tried to give away the Chuck Corica Golf Course. They are still dickering with Ron Cowan over the Harbor Bay Club. These are the same people who ignored the public vote and City Charter regarding multiple family housing and Measure WW regarding the use of Crown Beach and public land. Gilmore and the City Council seem to have not met a construction project they haven’t gleefully embraced, regardless of its impact on the existing community and the concomitant reduction of the quality of life. Elect them and expect — and we’ll get — more of the same.

Luckily, though, we have choices.

Frank Matarrese, former councilman, has written several public letters arguing for fewer housing units and more light industry, adding jobs and reducing congestion. He’s also argued for more open space and more public input in land-use decisions before those decisions are made… It’s true, he has a spotty history

and he originally supported the 5,000 housing SunCal plan. However, he seems to have re-thought those issues and he has been publicly counseling less housing and slower growth. He has also publicly recognized transportation and congestion — this is an island after all — as matters to be addressed before development takes place, not after. Ask him where he stands on these issues today, and if his positions haven’t changed, vote for him.

Trish Herrera Spencer, current school board member, is running for mayor. She worked to get signatures on the Crown Beach petition. We know how she feels about Crown Beach. We also know she is not pleased with the secret, back-door, land swap deal recently made by the Alameda Unified School District. She was the only member of the school board to vote “no” on the new $176 million school bond. If she has the same concern and caution about lack of public input in general, and she believes traffic issues must be addressed before development takes place, vote for her.

Jim Oddie is a staff person for Rob Bonta, which is not good news, as Bonta, too, never seemed to see a construction and housing project he didn’t love. Bonta is one of those who voted to override the City Charter and rezone single family properties into multi-story, multi-family complexes before he was elected to the state legislature and got out of town.

Still, Oddie is not necessarily Bonta, and perhaps he is his own man with his own thoughts; though it’s impossible to tell. His campaign website skillfully manages to say nothing. Ask him about public input and land use and transportation plans and gridlock at the many community meetings he will attend, and see what he publicly says — and writes. If his answers are correct, vote for him.

Gilmore seems incapable of doing anything other than opening the new Walgreens. Chen has past legal problems and a reputation for easy-going, do-nothing, going along with the crowd.

Remember, three votes change everything. It’s a working majority of the City Council.

If you don’t like the direction Alameda is racing toward, vote the incumbents out. They are counting on low voter turnout, despair, fatigue and short memories. Fool them before they fool us.

“Anyone but the incumbents” should be the mantra for the 2014 election for City Council and Mayor. Say it: “Anyone but the incumbents.” It feels as good as it sounds, and the city you save is your own.

Mark Greenside is an Alameda resident and retired professor of political science, history, and English.


MAXIMUM CAPACITY

A LETTER from Heather Little

To the members of the Alameda City Council and Planning Board,

As members of our city leadership, I would like to ask if the concept of “maximum capacity” is a part of your decision making process when considering the numerous, high density development projects that are either underway or close to being underway all across our island? I recognize the need to allow for incremental growth and “do our part” to address the ever increasing population of the Bay Area, but the current rate of growth currently planned for our island far exceeds what is required by the Association of Bay Area Governments. In their current projected plan to address population increases over the next 8 years, the City of Alameda is only required to increase our population by a total of 1, 723 persons which you can see very clearly in Appendix C of their Regional Housing Need Plan for the San Francisco Bay Area: 2014‐2022. Yet we are potentially going to be meeting this increase requirement with just one of the projected planned projects!

With this in mind, I know we have room for development, but unlike most other bay area cities, our unique geographic circumstances lead me to believe that we have already exceeded safe levels of maximum capacity that is a required safety measure for all confined spaces.   Particularly for central and western Alameda, where all residents primarily use an aging tube to vacate, this is of extreme concern. I would request that we start remembering that we live on an island, a confined space, which requires some measure of discussion about what our ultimate limits and abilities to accommodate truly are. The argument that we “already don’t have enough egress off of the island to safely address the needs of the current population in the event of a major catastrophic event, so why should it matter if we add more?” doesn’t sit well with me.

If ABAG recognizes that incremental growth, 1,723 additional persons over 8 years, is sufficient to the needs of the bay area, why the hurry to build, build build? How are you prepared to address the traffic and parking congestion that is taking place across our city now, let alone after these multiple density housing projects are finished? You say you want to encourage a “green” city by reducing the ability (or desire) to have a single occupancy vehicle (car) yet I, as an avid cyclist, walker, scooter-er don’t see this city doing anything tangible to reduce car dependence. Where are our 0 pollution days? Our commute to work days? Our bike to the grocery days? Come on city leaders, we need more action and less talk.

Heather Little

Home owner

Plan! Alameda supporter


THE POWER

REMEMBER FOLKS:

THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE IS STRONGER THAN THE PEOPLE IN POWER.

VOTE TRISH FOR MAYOR!!!!

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 4, 2014


The record according to Gilmore

Denise Lai:

Regarding Mayor Gilmore: “Even a Congressman in the old “pork barrel” days couldn’t boast of a more impressive record.” – Robert Sullwold

Originally posted on Alameda Merry-Go-Round:

Protector of the Golf Complex.

Fund-raiser for Alameda public parks.

Advocate for open space.

Who fits all of these descriptions?

If you said, Bill Delaney, chair of the recreation and parks commission and president of the Alameda Friends of the Parks, your answer is accurate – but it’s not the one we’re looking for.

The correct answer is, “Why, Mayor Marie Gilmore, of course.”

View original 3,500 more words


Trish Spencer for Mayor

Denise Lai:

What Mr. Gorelick said. AGREE 100%.

VOTE TRISH FOR MAYOR

Originally posted on ahdboardeg:

For what it’s worth, I will be voting for Trish Spencer.  For the good of Alameda, the cartel that runs Alameda politics is BAD(TM) for the city.

1.  They give too much money and power to the fire department.

2.  We only don’t notice how much money/power the police have because the fire department is so much more powerful, but there is too little oversight of the police budget as well.

3.  The present administration is way too cozy with developers.

4.  The clique that surrounds and supports the present administration (Lauren Do, John Knox White, Karen Quick, etc.) are fatuous at best and bullies at worst.   They will generally dismiss/attack legitimate concerns ignoring the fact that the city is headed towards bankruptcy and overdevelopment.

I’ll keep this short because I doubt anyone cares and I am classified as being on the cranky fringe of Alameda politics (see #4…

View original 148 more words


The Chen Identity

Denise Lai:

An assessment of Stewart Chen’s campaign list of “accomplishments': ” . . . it took more than a little dissembling [for Chen] to assemble such an all-inclusive list.” -Sullwold

Originally posted on Alameda Merry-Go-Round:

So what has Councilman Stewart Chen, D.C., accomplished during the 18 or so months since he squeaked onto Council as the third highest vote-getter in November 2012?

If you look at the list of achievements the Councilman has posted on his website, you might say:  Quite a lot.

But if you look at the list a little closer, you’ll be forced to conclude:  Not as much as he wants you to think.

View original 3,197 more words


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.