Trick-or-Treat Comes to Alameda Point

While Mayor Beverly Johnson and the Alameda Chamber of Commerce have issued written statements explaining their lack of support for SunCal’s Alameda Point Revitalization Initiative, one resident is having a bit more fun with his criticism of the plans.

Alameda resident David Howard, a member of Action Alameda,  is handing out “scary” SunCal-themed tricks and treats.

Howard calls the plans a “Frankenstein initiative,” and has printed candies with the names of “some of SunCal’s more than two-dozen bankrupt California projects,” he says.

According to Howard, the trick bags represent SunCal’s “empty promises for traffic mitigation, a sports complex and a levee to protect their development against projected sea-level rise at the site.”

Howard plans to be at the Webster Street Farmer’s Market at noon this Saturday to pass out some of the treats.

It will be interesting to see if SunCal plans a counter “trick-or-treat” demonstration – and how the various parties are costumed for Halloween.


Home Tour de Force


The latest Alameda Legacy Home Tour was a big success — with several hundreds of visitors from around the Bay Area touring some of the Island’s finest homes.

The event, which took place September 27, is a big fundraiser for the Alameda Museum and the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society.

This year’s event was sponsored by the Little House Cafe at 2300 Blanding Ave. (The building, owned by Perforce Software, resides in a 1904 Colonial Revival residence constructed in 1904 and restored by Perforce.)

This year’s tour included six historic homes in the Queen Anne, Arts & Crafts and Storybook styles.

On Central Avenue, tour participants got to visit an 1895 Queen Anne now owned by Alan Teague. It was built for a lumber merchant and designed by Denis Straub & Son, according to historian Woody Minor.

Teague has put in a small labyrinth in the backyard.

Alameda residents Brian McDonald and Keri Spalding enjoyed the tour and were also responsible for putting up posters around town to promote it. This is their 10th tour. McDonald says his family has had two homes in Alameda and like the TV character Gilligan, the family “doesn’t go off the Island.”

Mae Wade, Sharon Stone and other family members come together from all over the East Bay to take the tour each year; many of the Wade-Stone family members grew up in Alameda. “We always do the tour,” said Cecilia Wade, “and we really enjoy it.”

Next on the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society’s agenda is a historic look at Alameda Point, set for 7 p.m. Sunday, October 18, when local architect and Navy veteran Dick Rutter presents a talk: “The History of the Naval Air Station Alameda.” The venue is the First Presbyterian Church at Santa Clara and Chestnut. There is a fee of $5 for those who aren’t members of the AAPS.


Rock Wall Throws a Party at Alameda Point

Ken Rosenblum and guests enjoy the second open house at Rock Wall Wine Company on September 26, 2009.

Kent Rosenblum (left) and guests enjoy the second open house at Rock Wall Wine Company on September 26, 2009.

The second Rock Wall Open House on Alameda Point took place September 26, with a big crowd of both wine and guests.

Rock Wall opened a year ago, and already its organizers are planning the next open house — set for December 5.

Kent Rosenblum of Rosenblum Cellars was the mastermind behind the concept of bringing small wine makers to Alameda Point, so they could share production facilities and the like.

The group now has 75 investors and aims to attract about 500 to 600 visitors for its wine-tasting events, which include live music.

With the broad selection of wines being offered and the fun atmosphere at the Point, organizers are pleased with how the project is going and with the community’s support. Cheers!


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.]


Mark Irons: A perspective on Alameda Point

Mark Irons is an Alameda resident and a self-described environmentalist who has been active in local politics since arriving in Alameda in 1991.

by Mark Irons

Lately I have become preoccupied with three issues regarding Alameda Point: the possibility of renegotiating the cost with the Navy under the new Obama Administration, the impact from rising tides due to climate change, and mitigating the risks from seismic activity.

Renegotiating cost of transfer from Navy

I was reading a San Francisco Examiner article, which speculates on whether the new administration has local economic development on its radar with regard to base closures. There is an assumption that with Robert Gates remaining as Secretary of Defense, President Obama will be less likely to include things like low-cost transfers in his stimulus package, and that the Department of Defense will continue to look to the sale of former base properties for income, at a minimum to defray cleanup costs.

Whatever the new administration’s priorities, let’s hope our elected representatives press the issue, including our mayor who was at the National Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C. during Obama’s inauguration. A call to the mayor’s office (1/22/09) could not confirm her agenda while in Washington.

Climate change and rising tides

Before we can employ higher density housing to address climate change through reduced vehicle trips, we have to ensure a literal physical foundation for any project, especially in an area that will more than likely face rising sea levels and at least one significant seismic event.

SunCal’s draft Redevelopment Concept Plan is, as the title states, a “concept.” To SunCal’s credit the RCP is thorough in addressing all general factors and concerns, even if the plan is general at this stage.

The Concept Plan cites the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change figure of an estimated 18-inch rise in tide—though it doesn’t specify a date. The Bay
Conservation and Development Commission
report due out February 5 predicts a 16-inch sea level rise by 2050, accelerating to a 55-inch rise by 2100.

Even if the BCDC prediction is a worst case scenario, the map in the SunCal Report indicates a majority of the development site will be underwater if the sea rises by 18 inches.

San Francisco is considering fill and sea walls to protect Treasure Island. I haven’t found cost projections for those items, but costs for the entire build out are in the billions.

The earthquake challenge

The geology chapter of the SunCal report cites the vulnerability of current fill to lateral failure within 800 feet of shorelines in a seismic event and states the weight of additional fill will aggravate that condition. In plain language, that means the area is high-risk during an earthquake. New
buildings may be kept safe by piers drilled deep into bay mud, but in any large seismic event, the streets, underground infrastructure and existing buildings at the Point will be at higher risk than the historic island.

I am in favor of trying to develop the most forward thinking plans possible to mitigate things as far reaching as climate change, but only on a solid foundation.


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.


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.)


Like Alameda, Concord is planning for post-Navy development

I ran across this story today about development plans for the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. This from the news report:

The “clustered villages” concept calls for 28,900 people, 12,300 housing units, 26,500 jobs and about 3,200 acres of parkland and open space. That’s 64 percent of the base’s 5,028 inland acres, which is the part slated for development.

There’s a bit more detail here, and the Contra Costa Times—one of the parent publications of this blog—has a whole page devoted to the former Navy facility in Concord. You can read up about development at Alameda’s former base on Lauren Do‘s blog and, too, on Michele Ellson’s The Island.


Alameda Point Development, what now?

If you’re like me, you have a hard time getting your mind around development at the the former Naval weapons station. How many years has it been since the Navy left? And how is it that price tag for the property went from $1 to over a $100 million dollars? Confusing. Michele Ellson, writing in today’s Alameda Journal, has a good article about the development plan just submitted to the city by SunCal Companies, the current chosen developer. For more info on the plan, Lauren Do has this post, and this one, too. For all Lauren’s Point-related posts, go here.


Rising sea levels and development

Both Lauren Do and Michele Ellson posted this morning about rising sea levels and their impact on Alameda: Just what will be under water here as the ocean rises? A few months back, my presciently helpful research assistant sent email on this topic to Continue Reading