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In Alameda: Cleaning up after your dog

It is two or three times a week at least that I clean up dog poop from my yard, or my driveway, or the sidewalk in front of my house.

And I don’t have a dog.

At the school near where I live, there are very often piles of poop left there. I don’t blame the dog. You can’t blame the dog. I blame the dog owners who, through whatever trick of mental justification, leave their dog’s poop there.

As my neighbor H. Atkisson wrote in a recent letter to the editor:

I find myself wondering what is going on in Alameda that so many people find it socially acceptable to allow their dogs to poop on a lawn and walk away. Do the dog owners think that nobody will notice? That it will somehow be absorbed into the ground?

Atkisson ended with this plea:

It is illegal to let your dog roam without a leash, and it is illegal to leave your dog poop on public or private property. Please respect your neighbors and the law. Clean up your poop.

You can read the whole letter (though you must scroll down) here.

2

Helicopters over Alameda in the wee hours

This time it has to do with two closed lanes on 880 near High Street and maybe ?? the memorial later today at the Coliseum for the four Oakland police officers slain last week.

At 5:30 a.m., 5:50 a.m. 6:45 a.m. the helicopter noise goes on!

Apparently, there has been some effort made to curtail the low-flying, noise-making beasts over Oakland and Alameda. But, according to this article by Angela Woodall, not much progress has been made. From Woodall, here’s the lay of the land which allows the disruptive noise to persist:

...The majority of all complaints the FAA receives are about noise. But the agency only handles air-safety-related complaints, not grievances about noise. Those should go to the municipality, FAA officials said.

But Councilmember Nancy Nadel (Downtown-West Oakland) said air-traffic noise complaints cannot be handled by the city.

Oh well, no one can enforce any regulations. But we can ask:

Nadel said she met last year with pilots from all the major Bay Area news stations, FAA official David Smith, a staff member from the office of Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, because helicopters were more prevalent than usual in West Oakland in the aftermath of the MacArthur Maze collapse.

Nadel said the pilots pledged to try to be sensitive within the constraints of being forced to fly low by air traffic controllers to facilitate airplane traffic and their news directors’ orders to get the precise shot they need at the precise moment they ask for it, which can require them to hover for 15 minutes or longer.

Basically, we here on the ground are at the mercy of some newsdirector’s ‘need’ for a particular shot. But, this morning, we already know two lanes are closed on 880, and we know there’s going to be a memorial later. Do we need to hover for hours? Perhaps the reporting dollars might be better spent on the ground investigating the Oakland social and political forces that led some people to celebrate as a hero the man who killed the four police officers last week. Perhaps that is a more important story than the lanes closed this on 880 due to a construction this morning?

12

Comcast billing in Alameda, tricky-tricky

When last I ran into trouble with Comcast (my phone wasn’t working), they told me 1. there’d be no charge for the repair visit and 2. that I’d get a credit for two days—very generous.

But then a week or so ago I got a past due bill that 1. did not reflect that I’d paid the previous month’s tab 2. charged me $48 bucks for the repair and 3. didn’t reflect the credit they said they’d give me. (The bill does reflect, though, that I’m getting the Starz channels, which were offered to me as compensation for my troubles earlier in the month.) Then a couple days later I got another bill from Comcast (??) this one slightly smaller in size and reflecting one but not both of my most recent payments to their company.

I waited a few days, minding my other life responsibilities, and then, yesterday morning sat down, bills in hand, to call Comcast. Since last time I’d had reasonably good results with the Alameda Power & Telcom changeover office, I called them. Immediately, though, I was into their recorded-voice-system, and I hung up. I remembered the real-life manager who’d called me last time and that he had—kindly!—given me his cell phone number. I called it. He answered. He was home (daughter was sick) but said he’d have the right person call me back. And a few hours later a man did! I explained my situation, the confusing and contradictory bills, the unexpected charges. It turns out that when I signed up for Comcast, nothing was done to stop the billing for the AP&T (now Comcast) service: they were billing me for service twice, once as Comcast and the other time as Comcast.

A few minutes later, the man called back, said it was all fixed: accounts combined and properly credited. And the remaining balanced totaled. I promptly sent them a check. I am curious if others have had double billing issues and if they have had good results for resolution. I for one feel extremely lucky to have the cell phone number of a particularly dedicated and able Comcast employee.

1

Alameda school pesticide policy

Michele Ellson of The Island has a post up about the Alameda Unified School District‘s pesticide use policy and what Laura DiDonato, a parent who serves on the committee that created the policy, says is the district’s violation of its own rules.

Apparently, in 2001 AUSD approved a pest management policy in order to accord with California law which called for the use of pesticides only in cases of emergency, but has recently stopped following it. According to DiDonato, California law requires school districts to have a registry of parents who wish to be notified when pesticides are going to be sprayed, to post warning signs before and after spraying, and also keep records of pesticide use for public inspection. But DiDonato told The Island that only the only rule that is being followed is the one that requires general notification about the possibility of pesticide use. Ellson wrote about that notification a while back.

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ACI mixing recycling and compost?

Dan Wood from A Progressive Alamedan has a post up today about seeing Alameda County Industries employees mixing trash (grey bin contents) with recycling (blue bin contents) with compost (green bin contents). I have heard other reports of this “unsorting” over the years as well. (Eye on Blogs made note of Wood’s post, too, asking if others have see the same mixing of bin contents.)

5

Another “NO!” re leaf blowers in Alameda

I was glad to see Alameda Sun columnist Noelle Robbins had a piece this week on the negatives of leaf blowers. As I have said on the same topic, “It’s time for Alameda to explicitly ban the beasts. It’ll be better for our peaceful small town, better for our air and, not the least, better for the people who wield them, forced to endure the noise and breathe the particles all day long.” Robbins had these stats about much air pollution leaf blowers create:

According to the California EPA Air Quality Resources Board, each leaf-blower engine, although seemingly tiny, churns out the equivalent of the same smoggy pollution as 80 cars, each driven for 12,500 miles every year. In fact, all small-engine yard machines, including lawn mowers, weed trimmers and leaf-blowers, contribute five percent of all our air pollution annually. And with the lack of emission controls on these devices, that consists of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds, all the components of global warming chemicals.

And this on the noise they create:

Leaf-blowers are also responsible for noise pollution, a type of infringement on our senses that can have serious negative health impacts. A normal decibel level, considered acceptable in residential areas, is about 60 decibels (60dB). Every increase in decibels means noise that is 10 times louder. Leaf-blowers usually generate about 70-75 dB. According to the U.S. EPA this level of noise actually degrades quality of life by interfering with communication and sleep, leads to reduced accuracy of work and increased levels of aggravation, which can linger hours after exposure.

Maybe now with Alameda’s Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda in business we can get these things banned in Alameda. Some times goals converge: you can do right by the long-term health of the planet and your own immediate comfort in one fell swoop.

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Life on the Island: Leaf blowers, no!

This week’s Life on the Island column is about the noise and particle pollution of leaf blowers. Read it in whole (or, in part, if you prefer) here. [Ed. note: The Alameda Journal blog is officially on vacation until August 20, but you can find the online Alameda Journal here---or read what other bloggers are saying at Alamedans.]


Past “Life on the Island” columns
July 29, 2008: Backyard wells and conserving water
July 22, 2008: Out and about on a home-town date
July 15, 2008: Changes in school leadership offers new opportunities
July 8, 2008: Getting an education in civics Continue Reading

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California’s plan to spray light brown apple moth suspended

As many of you may recall, back in April there was a big to-do about the the State of California’s plan to spray synthetic pheromones in plastic microcapsules over Alameda (and other Bay Area cities) in an effort to eradicate the light brown apple moth. The news today is that the state has halted their controversial strategy. You can read the Contra Costa Times story about it here. And Michele Ellson over at The Island has more detail as well.

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Oil comes ashore at Alameda’s Crown Beach

We did not go to the beach today—the kids had cooking camp in the morning and then my daughter had ballet this afternoon—but from this just posted Oakland Tribune story (the Tribune is part of the sisterhood of newspapers that includes our hometown Alameda Journal) it sounds like there were tar balls and oil sheen that forced the closing of Robert Crown Memorial State Beach this afternoon. My guess is that tomorrow will not be a good beach day, either. KRON 4 has the story, too.