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Touching sacred cows: Alameda’s Measure A

Last week I wrote a column for the Alameda Journal about Measure A, a sacred cow of Alameda politics. I said that we ought to think about means of controlling growth that allow for thoughtful and comprehensive (rather than reactionary) planning. I wrote:

It is well within human ingenuity to craft laws that allow for the construction of apartments where it is appropriate and still protect handsome old houses. And it is folly to cling so tightly to a law passed out of fear and anger. It’s time for Alameda to show that it can protect what is valuable about its past at the same time as it embraces the future.

You can, of course, read the whole column here.

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Debris from March fire in Alameda causes concern

After the fire in an abandoned building at Alameda Point in late March, many Alamedans were concerned about the possibility of debris from the fire containing toxic byproducts. Alameda’s fire marshall says debris was tested, and found safe. You can watch ABC news story the day after the fire started here—with info about how authorities think the fire started and what they say burned in the fire. Some Alamedans have expressed concerned about the smoke. And this blog, Alameda Army Medical Fire Depot, was started to track citizen concerns about the burn and their efforts to get answers about asbestos and other toxic byproducts from the fire. And here’s the city’s Q&A about the fire.

[Updated, 7:49 am: The Island has some good info about the smoke's toxicity and the city's response.]

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A visit to Alameda’s Angela’s Bistro

Last Friday night we dined with friends at the just-opened Angela’s Bistro on the corner of Central and Oak. The place was jolly and crowded and sleekly-decorated. We spotted at least one school board member and at least one graduate of my high school.

When my dining companion’s menu caught fire on a candle—the holder was so slight the flame was above the rim—the waitstaff asked to keep the menu (we were told it was the third such fire of the evening) to show management and convince them that the holders, though lovely, were not so sensible. There was bread, but slow. Wine but no wine menu and dessert but no dessert menu. The food was a little uneven—our teeny-tiny eggplant appetizer was a bit of a shock (that two-bite serving for $7 dollars?)—but overall the food was yummy. And, for a second night open, all was running relatively smoothly. We will go back. A special hat tip to our young waiter—just moved from Hawaii—who was gracious and lovely throughout the meal.

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Alameda Point development debate heats up

The Chron’s Carolyn Jones did a story. In November, Alameda voters will be asked to weigh in on what they think the future should hold for the westerly third of our man-made island. Will we allow multiple unit dwellings there? Or nix any changes to Measure A, the 1973 law which capped new construction at two units max? You can read more about the proposed development here and here and here and here. And one more.

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Very exciting Alameda City Council Show last night

Luckily, even though I started watching the show late (a bit after 10 p.m.) and stopped when council took a five minute break at 11:30 p.m. (they finally adjourned at 12:16 a.m.), I still got to catch some action.

The owners of 1150 Bay Street—Gold Coast!—have planned an extensive and what sounds like tasteful and green-friendly update of their home, with the aim to restore many of the original elements of the poorly-maintained house. The problem? They wanted to build a porch on the front. And the problem with that? Not actually anything, legally speaking: the proposed porch is well within the 20-foot required set back in the City of Alameda. The problem, then? Continue Reading

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Play fair, Alameda

Life on the Island, the column I write for the print edition of the Alameda Journal, is up online now. This week it’s about Save Our City! Alameda and how the group’s tactic of asserting that the city is on the verge of bankruptcy as a way to bolster opposition to development at Alameda Point just serves to muddle debate and make it harder for people to get to the real, complicated issues that concern Alamedans.

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Michele Ellson on discussion about Alameda Point development

If you aren’t visiting Michele Ellson’s The Island blog on a regular basis, you should be. She’s issuing daily reports on all things Alameda. Yesterday she posted an editorial comment on the recently-launched campaign by a group called “Save our City! Alameda,” which opposes development at Alameda Point. (You can watch that group’s ad here.) Ellson looked into the facts and figures presented in the spot—you can read what she found here. And, yesterday, she posted this call for reasoned debate about development in Alameda:

Our Island is facing its biggest issue in a generation, the redevelopment of the former Naval Air Station Alameda. The issues around the redevelopment are complex, and the ramifications of any development or lack thereof are huge. We need to critically examine SunCal’s proposal and any viable alternatives, and we need someone who can honestly and respectfully outline any concerns.

What we have instead is Save Our City! Alameda, which launched an all-out assault on the plan this week based on a conflation of facts and outright misinformation, with the offer of a nice-sounding but largely undeveloped idea to turn the site into another Presidio as an alternative to SunCal’s development plan.

You can read Ellson’s whole comment here.

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Meeting tonight about SunCal development at Alameda Point

As you may or may not be aware—we are all busy with so many things, no?—tonight Alameda’s City Council (sitting as the Alameda Redevelopment and Reuse Authority) will hear from SunCal, the company that is working on a plan for developing Alameda Point. Michele Ellson over at The Island has a clear and helpful presentation of the type of development, plans for funding the development, and so on. You can read (or skim) the SunCal plan here and there is some discussion of the ads put on by a group advocating for a different solution to development at the point, here and here. (You can see the ad put out by the new David Howard-spearheaded group, “Save Our City! Alameda,” here.)

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“Save our City! Alameda” runs new ad

A group called “Save our City! Alameda” has launched a 30-second ad. Here’s a list of supporters of the group (you’ll have to scroll down to see all the names), which include David Howard, Pat Bail, Art Lipow and David Kirwin. You can watch the ad (which I happened to catch as I was flipping channels the other night) below.

Here’s Lauren Do’s analysis of the the claims made in the spot, and also more info about “Save Our City! Alameda” from Michele Ellson over at The Island. And here’s the Alameda Journal story on the current state of Alameda Point development plans.