Alameda Aims to Attract Berkeley Labs to NAS

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is looking for more space. And it’s got a sizeable budget and stimulas money to use for real-estate shopping.

To attract LBNL to the Island, the City of Alameda sent a letter on August 25 thanking LBNL staff for visiting Alameda Point and sharing details with the group about several airplane hangers in the former NAS, energy supply to the area and certain geotechnical details.

Now, the city just has to sit tight and hope that it gets asked to submit a formal proposal for LBNL’s second campus. City staff members expect other nearby cities, such as Emeryville and Richmond, to be potential rivals.

City Councilman Doug deHaan, who described the city’s efforts to attact Berkeley Labs to Alameda Point on August 26 at a community meeting on the former NAS, said he “feels confident that we have the attributes they are looking for,” including 1.2 million square feet of lab space.

The laboratory, which includes 6 facilities, is apparently planning to consolidate some of its operations. Currently, it has facilities in Berkeley, Emeryville and Walnut Creek.

The Department of Energy operations employ 3,915 staff members in the area, about one-third of whom are scientists. Its fiscal 2010 budget is estimated at $774 million, including $122 million in stimulas funding from the federal government.

According to LBNL, the facilities overall impact on the Bay Area is valued at about $500 million a year in direct economic spending and $690 million in indirect economic spending.


Alamedans Get Political Survey Calls From ???

Oakland-based EMC Research called this Alameda resident last night, August 29, to see if I would answer a brief survey on issues and candidates. But since the kids had to go back to school early today, August 30, I declined.

The survey group called back this evening, at about 7 p.m. and asked again if I would take a “short survey.”

I was asked for my reactions to mayoral candidate statements, opinions on  the mayoral and council candidates, the fire chief, interim city manager, Alameda Point, SunCal, unions, etc.

With the long list of candidates, hot issues and questions in the survey, I really had to narrow down my preferences, define my opinions and figure out what was influencing my choices. This was certainly educational — though I wouldn’t call the process “brief.”   

(The only controversy that wasn’t included in the survey was the new restricted schedule for our bridge openings.) 

About 15 or 20 minutes later, I was told that my survey information was confidential. But the survey-taker could not (or would not) tell me who was paying for the “research.”

Does anyone in or around the Island know who is responsible for the query?  

Or, better said, would the candidate responsible for this “research” come forward when the results are ready — and share both the data and the financial resources behind it?

This hometown voter wants to know … as I’m sure others do.


Alameda Schools Need Your Time, Supplies


The Alameda Education Foundation is making a last-minute push for school supplies and volunteers.

On Thursday, August 26, volunteers are needed from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the AEF Teacher Supply Store. Volunteers will prepare supplies and other items for the store’s 2010-2011 our grand re-opening. 

As part of the group’s work in welcoming Alameda’s teachers back to work, volunteers are needed to sort recent donations and clean up the outside garden and playground areas, used by a nearby pre-school.
The store is located in Portable Building # 7, behind the Woodstock Education Center at Third Street and Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway (formerly Atlantic Avenue). To get there, turn left onto Third from Ralph Appezzato and take an immediate left onto the driveway next to the building; then follow the driveway to the parking lot.

From 1 to 3 p.m. tomorrow, August 26, volunteers are needed to support Alameda’s homeless youth by putting together backpacks and organizing school supplies from the AEF School Supply drive. AEF says it has over 200 backpacks and lots of supplies!

Come to Alameda Towne Centre, starting at 1 p.m. Thursday. Volunteers are asked to meet near the Zeytini Restaurant (in the corridor between Trader Joes & Safeway.) 

AEF says some staff members and volunteers will be at the shopping center until the backpacks are filled.
Also, on Thursday and on Saturday, August 28, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., more school supplies will be collected during the Summer Beats Concert Series at Alameda Towne Centre.

Here’s what AEF still wants to collect for the kids: 
– Scientific Calculators
– Pencil Boxes and pencil bags
– Scissors (4 inches and smaller with metal edges) and
– Colored Pencils

Donations are being distributed through Alameda Family Support Services.

Donations can also be brought to Tuckers Ice Cream, the Bank Of Alameda on Park Street, and Color Me Mine in Alameda Towne Centre.
AEF also wants to thank  the community for its support — including Pat Schmitz (in the above photo), who delivered a fantastic supply of donations on August 12 on behalf of  St. Joseph Homeless & Shelter Services Ministry.


Alameda’s Park Street Bridge: Delays Expected


Now there’s more to complain about that the heatwave that’s hit the Bay Area.

The Park Street bridge is being affected by maintenance work, with slow traffic expected from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (at least) starting Wednesday, August 25, and continuing on Thursday, August 26.

The County of Alameda is working on the bridge and on August 25 began setting up traffic cones at about 8 a.m., when one inbound lane was blocked. In other words, the delays start before 10 a.m. and are likely to extend past 3 p.m. today and tomorrow. 

The bridge was first built in the late 1800s and then replaced with the present structure in 1935, when the peninsula of Alameda became the Island.

Work on the Fruitvale Bridge went on most of the summer, but has ended. Drivers and pedestrians can use that thoroughfare or the High Street Bridge as alternatives.

As the heat rose Tuesday, August 24, two artists worked in the shade of the Fruitvale Bridge in the afternoon. Their Plein Air paintings were interrupted by a dredging barge at about 2 p.m.


Alameda’s Plein Air Art Show in Final Week

Plein Air

Plein Air paintings, made by artists out and about around the Island, will be on display at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts through Friday, August 27.

Gallery hours at the center, 1601 Paru Street at Lincoln Avenue, are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The show, sponsored by Perforce Software of Alameda, opened in early August. The fifth-annual Plein Art Paintout, when the images were created by 40 local artists, took place in late July.

Awards were given to painters Nancy Roberts, Ulrich Gleiter, Sergio Lopez, David Savellano, Mark Farina, Larry Cannon, Joaquin Turner and Linda Darsow Sutton.

The Plein Air tradition began in 19th century Paris by Monet and the other French Impressionists. With quick loose brush strokes, they aimed to capture the light on their canvases as it changes throughout the day. Their paintings give an impression of the view without detail, hence the term Impressionism.

A special show at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musee d’ Orsay, ends soon — September 6. A second show, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, will open September 25.

For those looking for a broader local at Parisian history at the time of Impressionism, the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, has a special exhibit — Impressionist Paris: City of Light —  through September 26.  

After visiting any of all of these Impressionist exhibits, Alamedans should have an even greater appreciation of the outdoor creativity  on display at Frank Bette.


Alameda Theatre: Bringing Opera to the Island


The San Francisco Opera is sharing recordings of four operas with Alameda Theatre & Cineplex and about 10 other theaters across the Bay Area and the nation this month and next as part of its Grand Opera Cinema Series.

“Recorded live in high-definition at San Francisco’s historic War Memorial Opera House, this inaugural series of four popular grand operas provides an exceptional high quality experience that will have you feeling like you were watching this performance from your favorite seat in the Opera House,” according to SF Opera. 

Opera lovers and newbies alike can still catch digital recordings of two operas in Alameda – “Samson and Delilah” and “La Rondine,” which will be shown at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sunday and Wednesday, August 22 & 25 and August 29 & September 1, respectively.

“Samson and Delilah” by Camille Saint-Saens tells one of “the most compelling Biblical tales to emerge from the Old Testament,” says SF Opera. “This riveting opera features lush music and one of the most thrilling bacchanalian dance spectacles ever conceived for the stage.”

Sung in French with English subtitles, the production lasts for about two hours and a half, with two 10-minute intermissions.

“La Rondine” by Giacomo Puccini was inspired by Viennese operetta and tells the story of love between a kept woman from high society and a naïve younger man of moderate means.  (The photo above is from “La Rondine” and features Angela Gheorghiu as Magda de Civry.)

It is performed in Italian with English subtitles and lasts two hours and five minutes (with one 10-minute intermission).

Tickets are $10.50 — roughly the price of a movie, and the series means all we have to do is walk across the Island (or the neighborhood) to enjoy the San Francisco Opera!

Thanks to San Francisco Opera/Terrence McCarthy  for the photo.


Alameda Beaches: No Plastic Wanted


Crown Memorial Beach is an Alameda treasure.

Sometimes, especially during the summer, there are a few too many non-gold “coins” floating around in the water and throughout the sand.

All the metal soda and juice containers, plastic bottles, cigarette butts and other items — trash — ends up in the beach and eventually out in the Pacific Ocean. And one Bay Area-based organization is working to understand and address this issue: Project Kaisei.

On Tuesday, August 10, the documentary film “Project Kaisei: Capturing the Plastic Vortex” was shown in San Francisco at George Lucas’ Letterman Digital Arts Center. One of the scenes, an interview with the Kaisei founder Mary Crowley, was even filmed along the estuary in Alameda near Grand Marina and across from Coast Guard Island.  

The project, which gets its name from the Japanese word for ocean planet, aims to study and hopefully remove plastic and marine debris now concentrated in the North Pacific Gyre (two times the size of Texas!).

The group also works to educate the public about the need to prevent plastics from entering our water system and the importance of cutting down on our use of plastics, especially non-biodegradable plastics.

“Every year over 260 million tons of plastic are produced, much of it for one-time use and less than 5% of the world’s plastics are recycled. National Geographic estimates that over 85 million plastic bottles are used every three minutes. In many cases, plastic waste that is not incinerated or land-filled makes its way to the oceans,” according to Project Kaisei.

“Currently there are no proposed solutions to resolve the issue of removal of marine debris floating in the oceans. Most believe it is not possible to clean such a vast region, and aim for more responsible handling of waste on shore,” says the group.

“Using advanced technology, however, Project Kaisei will test existing technologies to learn if debris collected in the Plastic Vortex can be detoxified and processed into fuel via a patented technology that is now just beginning operations in a number of countries,” it explains.

This afternoon on Crown Beach, this blogger collected about 10 cigarette butts, six pieces of styrofoam, five plastic bags, four paper McDonald’s cups, four straws, two plastic McDonald’s cups,  two cigar holders and one plastic bottle cap. 

Keeping in mind that the plastic out in the Pacific can originate in Alameda, we can begin to address this problem by putting trash in bins as much as possible and not letting plastics into the storm drains.

We also can get ready for the California Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 25 — or get down to the beach for a walk and a bit of tending before then, if possible.  And, as Project Kaisei stresses, we can use less plastic, a convenient but highly polluting material.


Alameda Yacht Club Continues Community Dinner


This month, the Aeolian Yacht Club and High Street Station will help support Girls Inc.  of Alameda with their Tuesday night dinner series.

In May, the dinners raised $375 for Meals on Wheels; in June, they contributed $490 to the Alameda Food Bank; and in July, they helped donate $415 to the Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter.

This month, the two groups are adding vegetarian options to its meal plans. These meals are $12, while the standard plates are $10.

The meals are served starting at 5:30 p.m. at the yacht club, 980 Fernside Blvd.

On August 10, there will quesadillas, beans and rice, and other Mexican items, while on August 17, Italian pasta will be served. On August 24, lasagna is the main course.

To RSVP or request the vegetarian meal option, call 510-995-8049.


Lai-Bitker Speaks Out on Alameda Bridges & Emergency Services

fruitvale bridge

County Board of Supervisors President Alice Lai-Bitker has issued a public statement about plans to limit the hours when boaters can have easy access to open bridges on the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.

While a  proposal was submitted to the Coast Guard to permit the bridges to be closed in the “down” position from 4:30 p.m. to 9 a.m., the bridges will continue to be accessible to boaters with a four-hour notice to the Coast Guard, the supervisor explains.
This proposal, says Lai-Bitker, “will not impact the public safety or emergency response for Alameda residents. I am disturbed to know some residents are worried that homeowners along the estuary will not get emergency services.  This is a ridiculous speculation.”

According to the county supervisor,  the state threatened to the take away $2.5 million used to operate the estuary bridges from the county in 2009.

After meeting with boating groups and other community members, Lai-Bitker says, she also studied use data. The bridges did not open, or go up, for boaters, on 75 out of 365 days in 2009.  “These trends support modifying the current hours of operation,” she insists.

“Operating the bridges is an unfunded mandate the federal government handed to the county.  Boating is part of Alameda’s cultural identity — I understand the concern about modifications to bridge operations.  However, it is incumbent upon me to make sure our tax dollars are spent wisely and our local government seeks cost-effective ways to maintain public services in these challenging economic times,” she explains in a public statement dated August 4. 

“I believe we have done that with the proposal under review by the federal regulators,” the supervisorA concludes.

Alameda residents with questions about the bridges, estuary issues and emergency services should contact Lai-Bitker’s chief of staff, Shawn Wilson:  On Monday and Tuesday at  510-272-6693, Wednesday and Thursday at  510-278-0367 and on Friday at 510-418-6260.


Alameda Boy’s Battle with Leukemia

Five-year-old Shaun Dizon of Alameda passed away two weeks ago after losing his struggle with Myelomoncytic Leukemia (JMML).  Sadly, he died after a matching cord blood unit was found for him.

One of his family members shared these thought on the support Shaun received from the entire community:  “On behalf of the entire family, I would like to thank everyone for the outpour of love, support, and prayers that you’ve given and offered us.  Shaun is no longer suffering.” 

Ironically, it wasn’t the leukemia that made him so ill, Shaun’s family members say.  It was the antibiotics from all of the infections he’d received that made Shaun’s body very weak.

Shaun received his cord blood transplant in June.

“The ideal situation is to have a marrow/stem cell match and be able to have the transplant as soon as possible after diagnosis,” says Carol Gillespie, executive director of the Asian American Donor Program.

For information about how to register as a potential marrow/stem cell donor, contact AADP at 1-800-593-6667 or visit the group’s website.