Category Archives: City of Alameda

Catios

Neighbors have cats. Several outdoor cats. Neighbors do not a) provide an outdoor sandbox or desirable place for cats to ‘go’ and b) don’t bring their cats in at night, even when temps dip below freezing.

Results?

1) Our beautiful landscaped yard and outdoor dining area reeks of cat urine and feces. My husband removes a quart of feces a week from the soil. Sitting in the yard and having outdoor meals during this beautiful/warm summer is made unpleasant by the stench. Gardening has become a stinky land-mine event.

2) The cats overnight on our porches.The cats sleep in the daytime under our plants in the yard. My husband is highly allergic to cats so having them sleep on our doormats poses a significant health risk to him.

I’ve asked the neighbors to provide an outdoor sandbox for their cats in their yard and to bring their cats in at night, and explained why.

How did that work for us? Complete disinterest in the negative impact they create in general on their neighbors by having outdoor cats and complete disregard personally to us (literally 10 feet way [how far our homes are apart]), i.e., zero attempts to address the problems.

This morning, I see this article about “catios”. LIGHTBULB.  What a great idea:

Catio

Wow. A simple and great solution to protect both cats and neighbors!  Cat owners CAN be responsible, just like dog owners are expected and required to be. They can contain their cats, allow them outdoors and prevent the substantive and negative externalities on neighbors!  Another upside is outdoor cats would no longer decimate the bird population.

Please gawd let Catios become a trend in Alameda.

Why is it, anyway, that owning a cat doesn’t come with expectations and requirements to be responsible for the cat? Why is it different than owning a dog or a bird?

I’m tolerant (up to the point where people are taking advantage) and I’m an animal lover. I’ve even trained one of the neighbor’s cats, who is particularly lonely [needy for attention] and who we’ve found snuck into our home on more than one occasion, to sit-stay on the porch at the doorway and not enter our house when our door is open on warm days when we are coming/going to the yard.  But no matter which type of domesticated animal we choose to have in our homes, our responsibilities should be the same: to meet the animals’ needs and care in a manner that also does not have an egregiously negative impact others.


Point traffic figures flawed

Guest Opinion: Eugenie Thomson
In his June 11 commentary in the Alameda Sun, John Knox White, a city Planning Board member, attempts to defend that the analysis for the environmental impact report for Alameda Point’s 1,425 homes and 9,000 jobs will result in net-one-car-off-Island during the morning commute.
Alameda Point

His long-overdue admission that the report did rely on one net car off-Island during the morning commute is followed by a preposterous attempt to explain why concluding that a massive project like Alameda Point would produce only “one (additional) car off the island” and “isn’t as crazy as it sounds.” His belief is that Alameda residents who leave the Island will no longer do so because they will instead go to the new jobs created at Alameda Point.

It is every bit as crazy as it sounds.

“One-net-car” is the canary in the coal mine, but there is much more wrong with this environmental impact report. Its calculations are based on assumptions that are pure fantasy. And using them produced these erroneous results. The most surprising of all was the report concludes there will be no congestion at the West End now or after all is built. That’s right, vitally important and totally unbelievable.

To wit: The environmental impact report’s traffic analysis assumed a total of 5,400 new homes on the Island, including 1,200 new homes at Alameda Point, and 20,000 new jobs citywide, including 8,000 new jobs at Alameda Point.

To believe Alameda will generate 20,000 new jobs over the next 20 years, one must put blind faith in a whopping 66 percent increase in jobs, from 30,000 today to 50,000 in 2035. That kind of job growth just isn’t going to happen! An increase of 8,000 citywide over the next 20 years is unrealistic for an Island city like Alameda. But an increase of 20,000 more jobs is delusional.

This high job assumption skewed the calculations significantly and reduced the estimated traffic leaving the Island from both the Alameda Point project and the 4,200 other homes planned outside the Point. These errors were compounded by a non-professional like White to take it one step further. He adds his layman’s opinion to back into the report’s conclusions of one net car off-Island due to Alameda Point project during the morning commute and no change in traffic delay at the West End now or after all is built.

The people of Alameda are not anti-development, and neither am I. We just want development to be reasonable, well-considered, and based in reality. The Alameda Point environmental impact report’s citywide traffic results including White’s commentary are not reality-based; they are a trip down the rabbit hole.

Yes, the homes will be built. There is high demand for housing. Site A, the first project at Alameda Point, is primarily housing, with 800 units. And it is possible 5,400 homes can be built citywide as staff claims. The new zoning approved by the previous City Council allows for it.

We want to say yes to developers, too, but only when realistic data such as realistic commercial and housing development goals have been obtained and only if it will lead to good planning, reliable engineering, and fiscal neutrality (i.e. the base infrastructure not costing taxpayers in general).

Where Alameda Point and all the other projects are concerned, the people just want to know: How bad will the traffic be? How long it will take to get off the Island? Instead of the simple truth, we’re getting ridiculous claims of 8,000 jobs on the base and 20,000 citywide jobs, and city zoning allowing 5,400 more homes – ignoring the voice of the people when they voted down the SunCal plan.

Alamedans are being asked to believe the projection of zero morning outbound traffic at the Island gateways due to the Alameda Point project; no traffic congestion at the West End, now or after all is built; and the vast majority of us living encapsulated lives where we never leave the Island.

It is not just crazy, it is insulting.

I urge Alamedans to speak up. The council must carefully scrutinize staff reports to ensure the veracity and reasonableness of all information they contain. Doing less may result in far worse repercussions.

This environmental impact report’s citywide traffic study is flawed and should not be reused repeatedly to approve rezoning and new housing applications, as it has been.

Eugenie P. Thomson

Eugenie P. Thomson, P.E., is a retired licensed civil and traffic engineer and a longtime resident of Alameda and has volunteered on community projects.

 


Don’t Be Fooled by the Alameda Point EIR Fantasy

Guest post by Eugenie P. Thomson, PE

Alameda City Planner Andrew Thomas’ May 1 letter to the editor of the Alameda Sun is disingenuous and borders on ludicrous. In a carefully worded statement, Mr. Thomas states that the city council, planning board, and Alameda Point Environmental Impact Report (EIR) “did not say” at multiple public hearings “that the redevelopment of Alameda Point would result in only one car.” Far from producing the “Oh, okay then!” reaction he undoubtedly wanted, this declaration simply begs the question: Why not?

Why didn’t the city say what is obviously and undeniably demonstrated by the Alameda Point EIR? By Mr. Thomas’ own admission, the city had some 30 opportunities to tell the unvarnished truth about the Alameda Point project’s traffic impacts. Why did the powers-that-be choose to gloss over the truth and focus, instead, on the project’s dubious economic benefits and the Band-Aid approaches they proposed to mitigate the unconscionable traffic burden they were about to foist on Alamedans? I’ll tell you why: Because if the city and the council had presented the real facts, the people in those hearings would have said not no, but “hell no!”

The Alameda Point EIR is a fantasy. Page 4C-92 by the year 2035, Cumulative Project Conditions states the project’s impact is “insignificant” at the Webster and Posey Tubes. Table 2-2, the summary table of the project impacts indicates “no traffic impacts” due to the project at the west end of the island approaching the Posey tube during the morning commute.

Furthermore, tables 4.C-2 and Tables 4.C-15 in the EIR, with the exception of the intersection Challenger Drive and Atlantic Avenue, all intersections in the west end of the island, had no significant delays during the morning commute today nor in the future year 2035 with Alameda Point and with all the homes proposed in the Northern Waterfront. How is this possible?

And when traffic volume values shown in the figures in Appendix G are summed up—regardless of what Mr. Thomas says—the indisputable result is only one additional net car off-island due to the Alameda Point project during the 2035 morning commute. (Figures G-6B and G-6C for 2035 no project traffic volumes and Figures G-8B and Figures 8-8C for 2035 with project traffic volumes)

Those claims are not only wrong, they defy common sense. They even defy Mr. Thomas’ statements in his May 1 letter to the Sun: “In 2035…there will be no capacity left for more cars in the morning commute hour on Alameda’s bridges and in the tubes even without the redevelopment of Alameda Point.”

Then there’s this Thomas statement: “After more than 30 hearings, the city council and planning board determined that the benefits to the Alameda community from the redevelopment of Alameda Point outweighed the unavoidable transportation impacts.”

Really? Thomas professes that Alameda Point will bring 9,000 jobs, attract $600 million in private investment to support job and business growth, and support the existing business and residents at Alameda Point. But how in the world can Alameda support such growth at Alameda Point and the growth in the Northern Waterfront area, if the people cannot get from point A to point B? Common sense dictates that, before we bring development of that scale to our island, we must first be certain we can accommodate the growth. Mobility is the first and foremost criteria in making that judgment. A major influx of businesses and people will do nothing but exacerbate already untenable traffic conditions on the island.

The EIR, city council’s actions, and Mr. Thomas letter were all written with one goal in mind—to ensure the development and real estate communities would go along with the Alameda Point and Northern Waterfront projects and its findings in the EIR. The people’s well-being was secondary, and the facts were twisted to tamp down public dissent. Still, the city refuses to focus on the truth that traffic will be beyond overwhelming if all the development projects take place.

But that’s not the most alarming part of what is happening here. The Alameda Point EIR’s traffic data was used for the Del Monte Project and is being used for several other new development applications. The city simply modified the Alameda Point EIR’s traffic volume data for a few intersections near the proposed development sites and then accepted all the other findings in the EIR regarding cumulative growth. The traffic study in this EIR is fatally flawed and should not be used as the basis for approving even one project, much less multiple developments.

Don’t be misled by Mr. Thomas. The Alameda Point EIR’s traffic evaluations indisputably result in the conclusion of one net car off-island during the morning commute as a result of the redevelopment of Alameda Point. They constitute nothing more than a fairy tale. Alameda needs an honest, realistic traffic study of the predicted cumulative development, with reasonable assumptions regarding growth in jobs and housing, in order to realistically plan for the island’s future.

An old saying comes to mind: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” Shame on Andrew Thomas for trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people of Alameda in order to push through the Alameda Point redevelopment and Northern Waterfront projects, despite the fact that it clearly is inappropriate for the island and will throw us into a traffic gridlock that will make all our lives miserable. Shame on us if we let him get away with it.

Eugenie P. Thomson PE is a licensed civil and traffic engineer, retired, and a long-time resident of Alameda. The Traffic facts and Figures cited above are available on the website of the Alameda Sun.


Dangerous substandard designs for our roadways?

GUEST BLOG ARTICLE from EUGENIE THOMSON

Streets throughout California are being rebuilt to accommodate the increasing number of bicycles on the road. Due to narrow rights-of-way and the implementation of separate bicycle paths within preexisting roadway cross-sections, this process involves completely redesigning roadways.

I applaud the efforts to make the roads safer for all users but alarmingly, less-than-minimum safety design standards are being applied. This practice is counter to the needs and desires of the public and it is happening here in Alameda.

The City of Alameda has been approving design concepts for these roadway reconstruction projects that violate minimum design criteria and with experimental designs (i.e. Shoreline Bikeway), followed swiftly by approval of grant applications for their final engineering and construction. The Clement Avenue and Central Avenue Complete Street Plans are moving in the same direction.

Problematically, the City has no qualified civil engineers in responsible charge of these projects. All of the City’s four lead civil engineers have left. Clearly numerous safety and traffic delay problems are going unresolved.

Would you hire a divorce attorney who is not licensed? Would you hire an obstetrician who is not licensed? Of course not. Nor should Alameda hire planners to perform civil engineering functions who are not licensed or qualified in that field. But that is exactly what is happening.

I am very concerned that the City is moving forward with reconstruction of its streets with numerous safety problems and causing nightmarish congestion by what staff calls a road diet. (i.e. reduction of lanes).

The same cycle path on Shoreline Drive was recently approved by Public Works staff and consultants to be built on the estuary side of Clement Avenue between Grand and Broadway. The city and consultant’s staff, all planners, stated there were no major flaws. This was concerning, in and of itself. But little did they know that their design was particularly dangerous. Neither the drivers nor the bicyclists would have had adequate stopping sight distances to stop safely (i.e. blind corners) and there were numerous violations of even the most minimum safety design criteria.

Further their design with only one lane (11 feet wide) in each direction required a complete shutdown of Clement Avenue for the regular wide deliveries to the marinas. Their design also added an extra signal phase just for bicycles which would have required a reduction in signal time for autos at Park Street- severely increasing delay for all Alamedans leaving the island in the morning through the Park Street/ Clement Avenue intersection. There was no mention whatsoever anywhere of this excessive increase in delay. Were they hoping Alamedans would not pay attention?

Residents and business owners went to the Transportation Commission on March 25th to fight for what was right. It is heartening the Transportation Commission turned down the City staff and consultant’s plan but with only a slim majority. Wouldn’t you agree Alamedans should not have to go to City Hall and tell staff and consultants that their work has major flaws and the plan is biased and unsafe?

Traffic safety issues are going unaddressed. Let me explain from personal experience. About 15 years ago, my Mom then in her early eighties, was hit by a bicyclist in a similar configuration as along Shoreline. She stepped out of the passenger side of the car into the path of bicyclist traveling quickly. Bicycles easily travel east along the new Shoreline path at 20 mph or much more with the usual tail wind. This too is in the same space where young children excitedly exit the cars to go to the beach.

Building a “commuter cycle” track on Shoreline was inappropriate and unsafe for a recreational trail along a beach. It is a commuter bicycle concept to save time not meant for recreation. A recreational trail should have been built like the one at Crissy Field or like those in Holland along beaches.

I beseech Alamedans to speak up to Council before these poorly designed roadway plans for Shoreline, Central and Clement Avenues cause serious injury. As I think you will agree, these roadway changes affect virtually every Alamedan. We applaud the efforts to make our roads safer. However, far greater care must be taken in keeping us safe. Roads must be designed by qualified civil engineers as required by State Law.


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


ACT MEETING NOTES

Thank you to Nancy Hirdman who took down these notes:

Notes from Alameda Citizens Taskforce (ACT) Meeting held June 26th
Speakers: Jim Smallman, Doug deHaan and many members of the audience

JIM SMALLMAN

Measure A was an Alameda City Charter amendment which states:

A. There shall be no multiple dwelling units built in Alameda except for the Housing Authority’s Senior Housing
B. The maximum density shall be no more than 1 unit per 2,000 sq. ft. of land

This was passed by the voters in the 1970s because Victorians were being torn down and replaced with apartment buildings and because 10,000 homes were planned for Bay Farm which would cause traffic problems.

There are ways around Measure A and the state of CA has required affordable housing to be built through laws such as the Density Bonus Law. Some community governments attempt to resist the stat’s mandate and some use the mandate to push through development. Affordable housing is for low low (not a typo) income, low income and moderate income.

2% of the land is to be set aside for affordable housing but this 2% compounds every 7 years with the requirement for new housing plans. The last was unveiled on 7/3 of 2011 or 2012. Note: City Council passes important issues on evenings around holidays when people are not paying attention.
DOUG DEHAAN (and some audience members at times):
Density and transportation are the 2 hot points

The City of Alameda has 2 philosophies about transportation: 

A. Commercial – must have more parking spaces because we need tax revenue from sales. “Drive your care here to spend your money.”
B. Move masses with public transportation so we need state and federal funding and high density to support it. More riders means more dollars for more public transport. Ideas, either tried and did not work or are on the drawing board: (1)Water Taxi (had one) but now there will be 3,000 more units build in Oakland on the estuary which may have fees to pay for it. (2) Lite Rail to Fruitvale Bart (3) Bus lane dedicated through tube (4) Ferry Service with WETA on Alameda Point with a 7 story office/maintenance building (hangers are 40’) (5) Del Monte – Bus passes, 3 zip car parking spaces, 3 stop lights synchronized with other city lights
NOTE: Ferry carries only 180 passengers. Location issue. It will take 5 minutes for it to get out of lagoon if located there (has to go slow so it will not create wake that will disturb other boating in lagoon). Current location on estuary – takes too long to get out of estuary.

We get “transportation” dollars from state and federal sources. This transportation takes people and their spending (dollars) out of town. We should be having transportation as four “20 person buses” looping around island from Buena Vista round Encinal and back covering shopping areas. (Mastick Sr. Center has buses that loop around from 9-4 every 10 minutes) Target has a bus for employees.

We need to push for becoming exempt from the state mandates because we are an island and have constraints. Lobby Sacramento. We are already dense.

School Bond Issue – need more money for more students who are going to be coming to live in all the new units. Developers to pay some impact fees which will be passes on to buyers.

Density Bonus – as long as we are under this we can’t have more than 1 parking space per unit of affordable housing, and need less than 32 sq. ft. of open space which can be private open space such as patio or balcony.

More building increases tax base to cover the city staff pensions.

Today’s Measure A = Russo’s agenda to support ABAG (Assoc. of Bay Area Governments) We are seeing a fast moving implementation of “plans”. Audience member suggestion: We don’t have to belong to ABAG.

Alameda is “land wealthy” due to Alameda Point. Most development will be on the West End. Big issue is the tube.
Measure A is too general. It does not stipulate how it applies to re-development areas. There is a multi-family over-lay and city council and staff keeps saying “We could get sued”. How much housing in new development must be affordable? City says 25% (per agreement made with housing advocates) and developer Tim Lewis says 15% per state law.

Neighborhoods must come together such as Del Monte area where there will be 35 units per acre plus Tim Lewis wants to build 108 more units behind it on 1.5 acres. Note – This is not just that neighborhood’s problem – it is every neighborhood’s problem. For Del Monte area residents, in a crisis mode right now. What is done here could be blueprint for next development area.

What to do:

• Get more info to be more methodical in thoughts.
• Note “plants” in the audience, read the room.
• Make views known.
• Read blogs such as The Alamedan, Alameda Merry Go Round, Blogging Bayport
• Study census data
• Look into getting exempted from state density mandates (small group formed to study this, due to report back next monthly meeting)
• Look into getting out of ABAG (small group formed to study this, due to report back next monthly meeting)
• Stop dependency on state and federal money
• Require developers to pay for ongoing infrastructure costs such as police, fire
• Everyone – write letters to council members, letters to the editors
• All neighborhood groups should band together to join in the cause to keep Alameda livable. ( e.g Wedge, Harbor Bay, etc)
• Join the free website Nextdoor.com – help us to create a “relay” to get information across the whole island

Join in with Facebook groups:

P.L.A.N. Alameda
Alameda Peeps
Alameda 94501

Please visit our website: www.alamedacitizenstaskforce.org
Submitted by Nancy Hird
Disclaimer: Notes could not be written as fast as people were speaking. I attempted to capture what was said as accurately as possible.

MORE: From Alameda Citizens Task Force website under “Get Involved”

Getting involved is as easy as joining us for a group discussion at one of our monthly meetings held the fourth Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m. at the First Congregational Church UCC, 1912 Central Avenue. Our attendance varies and our informal discussions are about ways to better the quality of life for Alamedans. Often they take on an organizational or political nature.
Each quarter we have a special meeting with a guest speaker regarding a locally oriented topic. These meetings are held in the community room on the second floor at Alameda Hospital. Notice of the meetings is sent to a large anonymous email list primarily of regular and active members of ACT.

ACT watches the city government meetings closely and we frequently attend the City Council Meetings, Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Agency and the Transportation Commission, and Planning Board meetings. Our members also attend the AUSD meetings and other government meetings. Because the information presented at these meetings is vitally important to Alameda, we like to reserve a time in our General monthly meetings for reports given by attending members. This assists us in keeping informed about what our elected and appointed officials are deciding “for our own good”.

When we disagree with the actions taken by our city leaders, we coordinate letter writing campaigns to our leaders and the local newspapers. We also speak at the public government meetings to communicate alternatives to proposals being considered.

Governmental meetings are scheduled as follows:

City Council – 1st and 3rd Tuesdays, usually beginning at 7:00 p.m. These meetings usually follow closed council meetings regarding litigation or personnel matters. The closed meetings often cause the Regular City Council Meetings to begin after 7:00.

Planning Board – 2nd and 4th Mondays, usually starting at 7:00 p.m.
These meetings are located on the third floor of the Alameda City Hall in Council Chambers. (Corner of Santa Clara and oak Streets) They are also video streamed live and then archived for easy retrieval on the city website.
http://www.cityofalamedaca.gov/

The city website is a very good source for information and has relatively good recent document archival capabilities which are accessible via the website. If additional information is required, requests can be made by the city clerk’s office at City Hall.
To access information regarding City Council, Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Agency, Planning Board, Public Utilities Board, Transportation Commission or Special Events, Click on “City Hall”.

Webcasts and Podcasts are also available under “City Hall”. You can view meetings that are scheduled in the City Chambers in this area as well as watch or listen to archived meetings. Both the agendas and the videos, MP3 audios or MP4 videos are available in this area.

How Government Meetings Work

Upon arrival on the third floor of City Hall, there is a desk in the hallway that has agendas and speaker slips.
If a person intends to speak on any subject, he/she fills out the speaker’s slip and gives it to the person at the City Clerk Desk within Council Chambers at the left hand side of the dais (elevated semi-circle where the city leaders sit). The speaker’s slip can be for any subject, whether or not it is on the agenda as there is space on agendas for public comments that are not agendized. In the case of City Council, there are two Public Comment times for nonagenda items, one in the beginning of the meeting and one towards the end of the meeting to accommodate the schedules of people who want to address issues with the city council members. Speaking times are generally limited to 3 minutes and a light/sound system exists to alert speakers of their time at the podium.
Considering the three minute time limit, it is often helpful to plan in advance with other members of the public who want to speak on the same topic with the same views. By dividing up the subject areas of a topic among multiple speakers, all the points can be covered. (It is difficult, however; to schedule speaker’s time so a conversation with the council flows from one subject to another by a string of speakers.)

Some speakers read and others speak extemporaneously. It is always a good idea to organize thoughts and planned words in advance. It is also OK to just get up at the podium and say you agree with something another speaker has said. Speaking is usually one sided. It is rare for a city leader to ask questions or make comments during public comment times. They sometimes will call a speaker back to the podium with questions during their discussion times so it is wise to stay until the end of the meeting if possible.

Some people watch the meetings on cable television (Comcast Channel 15) and wait to attend until their particular subject is scheduled to allow them less time in council chambers, and to continue personal business at home until the last minute. They still must complete a speaker’s slip and present it at the proper location.