Across the Estuary: Restaurant Updates


Tiki Tom’s still has a “Now Open” sign up on the other side of the Park Street bridge. But that’s all that is left of the place (though we’ll always remember the big inflatable green frog that once decorated its rooftop).

Over the last day or two, what remained of the restaurant — after a three-alarm fire on October 7 pretty well destroyed it — was completely torn down.

The remnants of a boat that burned in the fire are located nearby in two spots along the Oakland side of the estuary.


Given all the complaints Oakland residents had over noise at Tiki Tom’s, it would be surprising if another bar or restaurant went up there any time soon.

(Tiki Tom’s had been in business along the waterfront for just a couple years. It moved opened at the site when Pier 29 switched to its current location at Ballena Bay.)

In a positive development, a new waterway is expected to connect the estuary with Lake Merritt in about a year or so.

This means that Island residents looking for new spots to enjoy a nice meal or a special drink can paddle, sail or even motor over to the Lake Chalet in Oakland, for instance, and other nearby venues.

Thanks to Lake Chalet General Manager Todd Stillman for the update.


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 Hit By Storms, as Other News Unfolds

It’s been a week of wild weather — and wild news — and it’s only Wednesday!

As a series of storms (shown above in a recent image from the National Weather Service) brought lots of rain to the Island, ferry service on the Oakland-Alameda Ferry service was disrupted this morning. It did resume this afternoon.

Service to and from Harboy Bay was not interrupted.  But it’s good to check the latest news for both ferries during the winter.

Early morning on January 20, reports Michelle Ellson of The Island, members of the Coast Guard responded to cries for help from a 25-year-old man in the water near Grand Marina. He later died at Alameda Hospital, possibly due to hypothermia.

A day earlier, the Alameda Journal’s Peter Hegarty reported the recent arrest of  a woman who’d stolen property from Alameda resident and opera star Frederica van Stade. The alleged thief had sold some items through Michaan’s Auctions, on the former Alameda Naval Station, which has been cooperating with police in reuniting von Stade’s family with the stolen items.

For those looking to pick up some interesting items at below-auction prices, namely driftwood, here’s your chance. During the afternoon of January 19 (when it was high tide and a few kiteboarders were out), Crown Beach was littered with with driftwood, including one large light-colored curved piece shaped like a beached sea lion.

Just watch your step.  At least one fish that measuring about 40 inches had washed up on the beach, too.

To check the wind and other conditions on Crown Beach at any time, go the website of the Kite Wind Surf shop on the beach. The wind camera is taking a winter break; but the wind readings (speed, direction and gust) as well as the weather updates are live.


This Weekend: Come Join the Holiday Boat Parade, Tree Lighting & More

There will be even more than a beautiful harvest moon to see on Saturday night when the city of Alameda hosts the 33rd Annual Lighted Yacht Parade on the estuary.

Visitors are encouraged to come to the Main Street Terminal at 2990 Main Street before 5 p.m. on December 5 to get a seat on the special 5:15 p.m. ferry for the event.

On Thursday, December 3, when the harvest moon was particularly bright over the bay and estuary, the Toys for Tots bin on the ferry was sadly empty.

Parade enthusiasts bringing toys to donate will ride free during the event. Otherwise, tickets are $3.50-$6.25. Refreshments will be on sale.

Too bad the Mayor Beverly Johnson is busy and can’t be on the ferry. The city hosts its annual tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, too.

And there are lots of other events on tap this weekend, which is dubbed the Mayor’s Hometown Holiday Weekend. Grab a warm coat and enjoy!


Just in: Video of car in Alameda-Oakland Estuary

Indeed, it is not each and every day that a car lands in the Alameda-Oakland Estuary. Here’s some video of the car and the Alameda Avenue homeowner under whose house the car is lodged. (The house is on the Oakland side of the estuary, just east of the Fruitvale Bridge.) My best guess is, come high tide, they’ll tow that car out.


Car in the Alameda-Oakland Estuary, driver safe

The early morning helicopters above Alameda were not, it turns out, because students were protesting budget cuts and not because of an accident on 880, but, rather, they were the news copters chasing down shots of a car in the estuary. A woman apparently drove off the road in Oakland near the Fruitvale Bridge around five this morning.

I went over to take some pictures (see below), and one of the camera guys—several networks were there—showed me Continue Reading