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Archive for the 'Island Life' Category

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.

Posted on Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
Under: Alameda Point, Development, Island Life, Print columns, Race and racism, Real Estate, the economy | 17 Comments »

On Vacation

The Alameda Journal Blog will be on vacation until April 29.

Until then, find Alameda Journal stories online here. You’ll also find daily Alameda news updates at The Island. For insightful posts, most often on development and city politics (and look for rough and tumble discussion in the comments section) check out Blogging Bayport. And for a host of other local blogs, less regularly updated, check out the blogroll in the right margin of this page.

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Under: Island Life, Off-Island Life | No Comments »

Alameda: Smoking in doorways

There is almost no time you can walk by the Lemon Tree on Santa Clara Avenue and not get a face full of smoke. Step through the door of some of our nicest local cafes and you will, from time to time, walk through a plume of smokey air. In order to prevent that unpleasant health hazard, many jurisdictions have passed ordinances disallowing smoking in public spaces. California state law, for example, prohibits smoking within 20 feet of the doorways of public buildings. And right now Martinez is considering a host of laws governing smoking in public spaces, including bans on smoking within 20-feet of any enclosed area where smoking is already prohibited as well as at parks, bus stops and public events.

Straight from Wikipedia (for your easy perusal) here is a sampling of bans on smoking in effect in California:

Belmont, October 9, 2007, banned in parks and other public places, as well as inside apartments and condominiums.

Berkeley, March 26, 2008, banned smoking all commercially zoned sidewalks

Burbank, April, 2007, banned in most public places including outdoor dining and shopping areas, parks, service lines and within 20 feet of all building entrances/exits.

Calabasas, 2006, banned in all indoor and outdoor public places, except for a handful of scattered, designated outdoor smoking areas in town. Believed to be the strictest ban in the United States.

Los Angeles, 2007, banned in all city parks.

San Diego, July 11, 2006, banned smoking at all City of San Diego beaches and parks, including all beaches from La Jolla to Sunset Cliffs.

San Jose, October 2007, banned in all city parks.

You can check out Wikipedia’s list of smoking bans from around the country here.

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Under: California, City Council, Going Green, Island Life | 4 Comments »

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.]

Posted on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Under: Alameda firefighters, Alameda Point, Development, Island Life | 2 Comments »

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.

Posted on Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
Under: Development, Island Life | 5 Comments »

Alameda man charged with murder of two men

Twenty-year-old Andrew Wong, a Safeway employee, has been charged with murdering two fellow employees over gambling debts. From an Alameda Journal story:

Police said the suspect, Andrew Wong, 20, owed money to both victims, in one case as much as $5,000. He is charged with two counts of murder with special circumstances: multiple homicides; one killing committed during a burglary; and one committed during a robbery.

Michele Ellson of The Island had this on one of the murders. And the Chronicle has a story as well.

Posted on Monday, April 13th, 2009
Under: Crime, Island Life | No Comments »

Alameda life, without owning a car

I wrote about my family’s no-car experience in my column last week, Car-free and OK. And, as with most everything that humans do, I am not to first to give this sort of endeavor a try. You can read about other people’s experiences with reducing car travel:

Chad Jones: Living car-free in the Bay Area

Joe Rodriguez: How and why I became—and have remained—car free

Mountain View family trades cars for bikes, enjoys life more

Carless in Sacramento (by choice)

You can also read the column I wrote my family’s our experience back in August when we first sold our cars. That one is called, Kicking the habit of using a car.

Posted on Monday, April 13th, 2009
Under: Going Green, Island Life, Print columns, the economy | No Comments »

College of Alameda prayer lawsuit

Back in December of 2007, two College of Alameda students were disciplined and threatened with expulsion for praying.

From the accounts I’ve read, it sounds like one student was praying with an instructor in an office shared by another instructor and refused to stop at the request of instructor whose office it was. Words were then exchanged between the instructor, the praying student, and the student’s friend. From Peter Hegarty’s Alameda Journal account, Steven Wood the attorney for the students said:

It’s not about money at all, it’s about principle…The students want the district to admit that it was wrong, apologize and recognize that they have the right to take part in nondisruptive prayer.

The story has been covered in the religious press: here and here. In a March 31 ruling, a San Francisco judge denied the College of Alameda’s request to dismiss the case and so it will continue to work its way through the court system.

Posted on Friday, April 10th, 2009
Under: College of Alameda, Island Life, Schools | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted on Thursday, April 9th, 2009
Under: Alameda Point, Development, Island Life | No Comments »

Alameda Fire Chief Dave Kapler station on impact of cuts

I met with the Alameda’s Fire Chief Dave Kapler this morning to ask him the question that I think is probably on most Alamedans’ minds: “What do fire station ‘brown outs’ mean for us when we call in an emergency?”

Kapler gave me some stats, comparing response time in 2008 to response time in 2009 since brown outs began. (His stats are from before last week when the department changed the vehicle slated to be closed when staffing levels drop below 27 because of illness or vacation from a Bay Farm ambulance to the engine at station five, the western-most Island station.)

In 2008, the average time in took both vehicles (staffed by five firefighters/paramedics) to be at the scene of an emergency was Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
Under: Alameda firefighters, Alameda Point, IAFF, Island Life, Prop. 13, the economy | 6 Comments »