Editorial

Are you registered to vote yet? Local high school students may be ahead of you in preparing for the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

On Friday, Oct. 17, League of Women Voters of Alameda (LWVA) volunteers and the Alameda County Registrar of Voters (ROV) staff will help as many as 350 Alameda High School seniors in 10 social science classes to register or preregister to vote, helping them build a lifetime of voting and civic engagement. (The voter registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 20.)

On Sept. 22, the Planning Board approved Tim Lewis Communities’ TLC plan to build 414 housing units on the Del Monte site (308 of them at the warehouse). That’s more than twice the size of what the draft Housing Element identifies as "realistic capacity" and almost three times the size the approved Housing Element identifies. And, if that isn’t over capacity enough, the Planning Board also voted to approve at least 30,000 square feet of commercial and retail space on the same 11 acres.

Last week’s decision to cancel the varsity portion of the Island Bowl, a game played and celebrated, uninterrupted, for 60 consecutive years between rival high schools, was a curious, possibly impolitic, call.

It was an alarming departure from Alameda tradition that few — if any — of Alameda’s denizens and even fewer natives would have had the hubris or rashness to make. Here are just a few questions (more below):

 Who ultimately, was the target of the punishment?

 Was it a constructive punishment?

Most Alamedans, I believe, would agree that the brick façade of the historic Del Monte warehouse is gorgeous and should be protected and preserved. They also likely welcome increased access to the Oakland Estuary and more open space and agree that we need affordable housing.

The development of the 11-acre Del Monte site is a good way to accomplish these goals. This would all work if development is done right, which, unfortunately for all of us, it is not.

Here’s what’s wrong.

I attended the Alameda Planning board meeting on Monday Sept. 22. I watched the Planning Board recommend the adoption of plans to convert the Del Monte into 400 new housing units and 30,000 feet of retail and commercial space.

The board gave the builder an hour to make his presentation (which was basically the same sales pitch he’s made many times before), then limited the audience participation to three minutes (down from five minutes they are typically allotted).

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