Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rip Del Mundo

Wow it has been some time since my last post.
Seems like a lot has happened on our Isle of Style and much remains the same.

  • SunCal and friends are limping into an election to start 2010.
  • "Groups with agendas" are distracting our school board (maybe from proposing another parcel tax?)
  • Alameda Hospital is making "those noises" again.
  • The Encinal Jets made the NCS Championship again. (YAY!)
  • Yours truly got a write up in "Alameda" Magazine. (To which I say thank you for making me appear outwardly worthy, despite my true nature as a hack.)

Earlier this fall I spent some time in Central America. I spent a lot of time with people whose main concern was what, if anything, they might eat that day, whether they would be able to replace their worn shoes or if they might be able to beg, borrow or steal enough money off the street so their parents would let them back in the house to sleep that night. Yet every day, they were polite, courteous, respectful and amazingly full of good cheer.

In retrospect, makes our local problems seem like "high class" ones, doesn't it?

Remember the message of love this holiday season.



Thursday, October 01, 2009

Bring it on down to Burger-ville!

Yay! Another burger joint!

Is Alameda the NFL of Bay Area Cities - NFL often being called the copycat league.

An overabundance of Chinese Restaurants, nail salons, yogurt bars and now...here come the burger-meisters.

Diversity is needed in ALL forms.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Can't Agree More

From The Island Blog (paraphrased):

Alameda Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Melody Marr said her board would prefer that SunCal negotiate its development agreement with the city. She said the developer should work something out with the City Council instead of trying to make a deal with voters at the ballot box.

And that is why we'll be waiting another 10 years for any progress on the Point. After this debacle, nobody in their right mind would want to attempt a development project of this scale here.

Snarkily yours,


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Didn't Carly Simon have a song about us?

Jared Huffman and Ethan Elkin's op-ed piece in Sunday's SF Chron literally hit close to home. Yeah, I know I cancelled my Chronicle suscription; how I came to be in possession of the Insight section is another story.

The main thesis of the piece is that developers have oversupplied the market with single-family homes leaving anyone desiring a home within walking distance of jobs, services, schools, parks and public transit with few options. Their assertion is that local land-use policy is the primary roadblock creating the phenomenon of suburban sprawl, yet trends show demand is increasing for "walkable communities."

The statement that really hit close to Island home? "Even with major transit stops in place, local restrictions stymie growth out of fear of increased traffic and a desire to preserve the 'character of the neighborhood.'" Sounds familiar to me.

The writers go on to suggest 3 ways to address the issue. You can read the piece yourself for details.

I know, this is old hash. I thought this song was about me.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Messed Up Relationship with my Tree

In the August 6 Alameda Sun there were some cryptic letters to the editor titled "Save the Trees" and "Alameda a Misnomer". Given my love-hate relationship with the city owned liquidambar in front of my house, my curiosity was piqued.

"Save the Trees" refers to a City Staff report calling for "removal of all the tree in the Fernside, Gibbons and Versailles area." "Alameda A Misnomer" accuses the City of wanting to "hack down our venerable stock of trees" in the same areas.

I went to the City Council minutes to locate the staff reports. None found. I did find the Tanaka Group's Master Tree Plan update from January 09 which is a slide presentation and summary of a lot of items we already know.

I love my tree: it's tall and majestic, it provides a lot of shade, it looks awesome lined up on the street with the other urban canopy, sometimes a Cooper's Hawk takes a break on one of its branches.
I hate my tree: it rips up the sidewalk in front of my house, it's snapped my water main twice, it attracts crows that squawk at sunrise and crap all over the place.

All reasonable neighbors agree that some sort of 30 year phased swap out plan is needed to address the infrastructure problems these trees create. I know, it's not the trees' fault they were planted there...

So what gives? Where's this Staff Report? Even the Alameda Lorax is strangely silent about this one.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Opting Out of Decent Behavior?

Hello Islanders,

It's been awhile since my last post. I guess summer got the best of me this year.

I see now a recall petition to remove AUSD School Board Members who supported the recently approved Anti-Bullying Curriculum. I understand the critical issue in the petition is that the Board did not give parents the ability to opt their kids out of the program.

The program is not a sex-ed curriculum. It's focused on getting along. The LBGT community won't go away just because you don't agree with their lifestyle - for religious or ANY reason. We need to learn to live with each other. That's called tolerance.

Way to step in the bucket of your own stereotype, Alameda.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Right of Way

I've been on the reading end of a raging neighborhood forum debate over more crosswalks on Fernside Blvd between High and Blanding.

This is a major thoroughfare in a residential district. By law, the speed limit (posted) is 25MPH. This particular section of Fernside is one lane each way with a 2-way left turn lane down the center. There are many small connecting side streets creating LOTS of intersections and potential areas to cross.

It is true - cars are gunning down Fernside at speeds much higher than 25mph. During rush hour the traffic is pretty impressive. Work on the bridges creates a temporary spike in congestion.

So we have our customary "residents ask for crosswalk, City ignores and stalls, residents ask louder for crosswalk, throw rocks at each other" scenario building over an additional pedestrian crossway midway between Blanding and High at (roughly) Harvard. How much does that paint cost?

The interesting aspect of this debate is the discussion of pedestrian right of way. Now it is true that pedestrians have right of way at all intersections, marked and un-marked. But what is "RIGHT OF WAY" really? The first rule of right-of-way (California Driver's Handbook) is NEVER ASSUME THE RIGHT OF WAY. For intersections and pedestrians, what right-of-way establishes is WHO GETS TO GO FIRST in the event that two entities arrive AT THE SAME TIME. So for example:
  • At a CONTROLLED intersection - a pedestrian would have right-of-way to proceed first THROUGH the intersection, then the motorist would proceed after it is safe
  • In a BIKE LANE - a runner would move to the right to yield right of way to a faster cyclist using the marked bike lane

Does right of way mean that you can simply walk into the intersection unaware of what is either already there, or what is ABOUT to be there? Let's not delude ourselves into believing that a couple of painted lines is going to cause cars to stop. Does it really make sense to claim your right of way in front of some jerk doing 50 in a residential zone? Pedestrians still need to look both ways and be sure you can safely cross the street BEFORE you enter the roadway.

Rule of the road is that CAR is BIGGER and FASTER than UNPROTECTED PEDESTRIAN. USE CAUTION (and some good sense) WHEN ENTERING ROADWAY.