Nat’l Night Out event interrupted by pot smokers

Message to folks who think doing drugs near a whole bunch of police officers is a good idea: It’s not, and you’ll probably get caught for it.

Well, that’s exactly what happened last night in San Leandro at one of the National Night Out events in the Best Manor neighborhood. According to one of our readers, Michael McGuire, an active citizen and member of the newly formed neighborhood group Citizens for a Safer San Leandro, some parents with young kids who had arrived at the event were trying to enjoy their barbecue but were disrupted by a small group of youngsters smoking weed at the entrance of Siempre Verde Park, apparently oblivious to the nearby crowd or the fact that police officers were out in full force.

McGuire said in an e-mail that police then confronted the pot smokers, and eventually they were arrested.

Don’t know the circumstances involving the arrests yet. But McGuire had this thought on the irony of it all:

In fact, the people arrested were right in front of a poster welcoming people to that event — though it neglected to overtly state that police officers, firefighters and probably the mayor were expected to attend. (All of them eventually did attend.)

McGuire also said this incident reflects what seems to be a growing problem in that part of town, especially at Siempre Verde Park, which is near the Oakland border and apparently attracts some unsavory activity.

But I guess having some people arrested for doing drugs at a National Night Out event isn’t that bad. After all, wasn’t that the whole point: to clamp down on crime by having a huge community and police presence? Who would have guessed it would have happened this way, though?


Razor-sharp criticism against Corbett

Many of you who have been following the news are well aware of the recent firebombings of animal researchers’ homes and cars in Santa Cruz that have put universities on high alert all over the state.

Those attacks have prompted calls for the state Legislature to revisit a bill introduced back in February that would allow UC officials to withhold names of animal researchers from public documents to prevent activists from harassing them.

The attacks also have elicited razor-sharp criticism from a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial writer, Chris Reed, who has been ripping state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, all morning in his blog for stalling that bill up in Sacramento.

Apparently, his gripe seems to be with Corbett’s refusal to support the bill and that her opposition to the bill doesn’t coincide with her consumer rights/human rights protection record.

From his blog:

Corbett doesn’t think these researchers deserve the same protection from Internet identification and targeting that she enjoys and that is provided to abortion clinic workers. She is wrong. People could die as a result of her machinations.

What do you think? Is this criticism of Corbett warranted? Is she living up to her political standards? Or is this all just being overblown?


Downtown San Leandro’s ‘new frontier’

(San Leandro Boulevard between Davis Street and Williams Street)

Back in February, San Leandro’s City Council approved a far-reaching project near the San Leandro BART station that, when completed, is expected to become the city’s first transit-oriented development.

The project is supposed to bring in 200,000 square feet of commercial space and 700 residential units, 100 of which are slated for affordable housing.

But, so far, few other details have been revealed because the project (now being called San Leandro Crossings) is still in its infant stages — although Luke Sims, the city’s community development director, is already calling the project the “new frontier of downtown San Leandro.”

The developer, Westlake Development Partners, however, decided to pay a visit to the City Council last night. So that means a few more — but still scant — details have been revealed.

Right now, we know that the first phase of the project is expected to entail building a 200-unit, four-story market-rate, mixed-use housing complex where the current east BART parking lot is located. Similarly, a 100-unit, four-story affordable housing complex is expected to be constructed on the west side of the BART station, along with a 325-space parking structure.

We also know the project received a hefty boost from the state (to the tune of $24.7 million in California Proposition 1C funding) to take care of some key infrastructure improvements. (The developer will be looking for more state funding for the affordable housing part of the project as well.)

Of course, council members had their opinions about what could help the project reach its highest potential.

Councilman Michael Gregory suggested the developer look to create an aesthetic vibe on the exterior of the housing units that reflects the “Mayberry” atmosphere of San Leandro. Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak echoed that idea, saying she doesn’t want to see any flat roofs (traditional architecture only). Councilman Bill Stephens said he would like to see both the market-rate and affordable housing portions of the project designed similarly. And Councilman Jim Prola kindly requested the developer build more affordable housing units, if possible.

The next step? The developer will be holding several community workshops between now and Sept. 22. So get ready, because here it comes.


Celebration officially begins for Casa Verde

Tomorrow (Tuesday, July 29), from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Casa Verde — San Leandro’s new affordable housing complex that replaced the former Islander Motel — will officially be kicking off its grand opening.

Housing officials and city dignitaries will be on hand — the address is 2398 E. 14th St. — to cut the ceremonial ribbon. Tours also will be held during the celebration.

And just in case you were wondering, the 67-unit Casa Verde has received more than 700 applications. I’ve also been told there are 250 people on the waiting list.


Citizens unite — for the marina

Residents of San Leandro: Here’s your big chance to have your say on what really goes on with the marina.

Applications for the citizens advisory committee, which will provide input to the master developer who will be revamping the 40-acre shoreline area at the San Leandro Marina, are now available on the city’s Web site.

So you’d better act fast if you want to be considered. The deadline to submit an application is Aug. 29.


Golf tourney to honor Jermanis

If you like golfing and helping needy families — and San Leandro City Manager John Jermanis — then the upcoming Davis Street Family Resource Center golf tournament to be held Aug. 8 at Stonebrae Country Club will probably interest you.

The folks at Davis Street are launching the inaugural event to help fund the organization’s basic needs program. But since Jermanis will be retiring Sept. 6 after serving the city for more than three decades — and he has been the city’s top administrator since 1997 — Davis Street decided to send him out with a bang (or, rather, a putt) as well.

According to a brochure, the tournament includes sponsorships ranging from $250 to $20,000 (this last one will get you a private champagne reception with the man himself).


A valid idea after all

Remember when San Leandro Vice Mayor Bill Stephens suggested back in February that governments should reduce the work week from five days to four to reduce global warming? Sounded farfetched, huh?

Well, not anymore, with Utah’s unprecedented move last week to switch to a four-day work week for thousands of government employees.

According to the Associated Press, that means Utah state workers — except for state police officers, prison guards and employees of the courts or Utah’s public universities — will put in 10-hour days Mondays through Thursdays.

But no one seems to mind because of the added benefits to the state budget:

Turning off the lights, the heat and the air conditioning on Fridays in 1,000 of 3,000 government buildings will save about $3 million a year out of a state budget of $11 billion, according to the governor’s spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley. The state will also save on gasoline used by official vehicles.

Whether Stephens had predicted this would happen is anyone’s guess. But you have to admit: In a Sylvia Browne kind of way, he did call it.


San Leandro mayor supports diplomacy with Iran

According to Cities for Progress, a network of elected officials and community activists working together under the umbrella of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Policy Studies — a progressive think tank — San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos is one of 35 U.S. mayors who has signed a resolution discouraging our country from preemptively invading Iran.

The resolution was initiated by Bob Kiss, the mayor of Burlington, Vt., at the recent U.S. Conference of Mayors summit in Miami, when he called for action from fellow mayors to support diplomacy with the Middle Eastern country. The initiative also is supported by such organizations as CODEPINK, Global Exchange and Cities for Peace, and it apparently echoes Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s recent call for peaceful negotiations with Iran.

In addition to Santos, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin and Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman signed the resolution.


Biodiesel gaining steam in San Leandro?

Think you have to drive far to find a healthy alternative to that fossil fuel of a thing we call gasoline? Well, think again.

The Western States Oil Co. station in San Leandro, 2709 Teagarden St., has just recently started selling biodiesel (so I’ve been told). While most of its customers are commercial trucks, the station also sells biodiesel to a modest amount of noncommercial vehicles as well — and it seems to be gaining interest among Earth-conscious Bay Area drivers.

An official with the company says the biodiesel is more popular with customers at its San Jose station, but he said those who come to the San Leandro station travel from as far away as Berkeley. (To partake in the B99 biodiesel, you have to sign up on a user’s group.)

Apparently, there are nearly 20 other biodiesel stations between Santa Cruz and Fairfield, according to Biodiesel.org — the nearest one to this area being in Berkeley.

Could it be that Western States Oil’s San Leandro station is next up on the Bay Area’s biodiesel horizon? Or has it just been overlooked? I guess only time (and maybe gas prices) will tell.


Residents tell school district: Stay out of our pocketbooks and, oh yeah, keep the city out of them, too

San Leandro school officials are not surprisingly disappointed after it was reported today that a survey concluded not enough residents would support a school parcel tax in the November.

What’s more disappointing about this survey, however, is that it also gauged voters’ support of a public safety parcel tax for the city, and only 53 percent of residents said they would vote for that in November (like the school district, the city’s parcel tax would need two-thirds support).

So what does all this mean? It’s too soon to tell, but I’m sure school officials now aren’t going to be the only ones left scrambling to find some more dough.

(On a side note, it has been widely discussed over the last few months how difficult it would be for both the city and school district to pursue a parcel tax during the same election this year. I guess this is confirmation. Tough break.)