Letters to the Editor

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As I understand it, the state legislature passed laws requiring cities to support building increased housing. A mechanism was developed, and cities were given numbers of housing units that they should attempt to build. Alameda has apparently already hit the number given to it for new housing. In addition to already meeting the state mandate, there are several thousand units waiting in the wings for approval and/or completion putting Alameda way ahead of its goal.

I feel that it is time for Alameda’s leadership (both the City Council and Planning Department) to put the cart and the horse in the correct order. It is time for all building plans and permits to be terminated for new construction. I understand there is a state building mandate, but there is also a need that the state should provide the necessary transportation infrastructure for getting one and off the island for emergencies, tsunami evacuation, fires and traffic gridlock.

It is time to reverse the cart and the horse and deny any further growth without a new tunnel or bridge for island ingress and egress. A bridge from the Bay Bridge approaches to Alameda Point to Harbor Bay Ferry would be ideal, but I am sure that there are other locations also.

Yes, I realize that there will be lawsuits, but I feel that the City of Alameda needs to take a stand and shut down new construction until new ways to enter and leave the island are built. It is time for the City of Alameda to step up to the plate and stop this runaway growth. It is time to tell Sacramento that we need more egress before any more housing is built.

Yes, it might be 20 years before that happens, but look at the soul of our island now with all the building going on with no way to enter or exit the island being added. Look how box buildings are changing the island. It is this “pack-them-in philosophy that has gotten us here. Look what happens when the tubes have an accident to handle or the bridges are up for a tugs and barges coming through, absolute gridlock.
It is time for Alameda to say ‘no’ to building more homes until there is another way off and on the island.

— James Morgan

Alameda Hospital used to be the go-to Hospital for my elderly father since his family moved to Alameda in 1949. The reason I say “used to be” is the fact that it no longer is his hospital of choice. From his very first visit to his last, he has seen the hospital evolve into what it is today. But the biggest positive that the hospital used to have was its affordability.

Ever since Alameda Hospital became part of Alameda Health System (AHS), the fees have skyrocketed and the billing department has become atrocious. Since my father is elderly with ongoing health conditions, he has been seen by multiple professionals at the hospital. Many of the visits were to the emergency room (ER).

We have seen a dramatic increase in fees associated with the ER. Before the switch, he would never see separate bills for the ER. It was always one affordable fee, even after insurance was billed. Now, the ER bill involves separate fees: not just an ER fee, but a specialist fee and an imaging fee: three different bills for one visit. My father does have insurance. The ER doctor’s fee without insurance is $749 and $150 after insurance payed their portion. That is still ridiculous.

The billing department is worse now than ever before. He received a bill a couple of months ago for services performed in mid-2019. When added to his bill in June, it all totaled $1,200. Then two more bills last week for services that were done in April and May of 2019 that are getting ready to go to collections. The billing department needs to stop piling all these services onto one invoice and instead and expect the bill to be paid in full.

I will never recommend Alameda Hospital to anyone that can make it to another Hospital due to the change in cost. Alameda Hospital and AHS is a joke with their new billing system and lack of timely billing invoices. AHS truly takes advantage of those that are either underinsured or on a strict fixed income like my father. Something needs to be done about this and fast.

— Victor Gallegos

One of the questions we require before allowing anyone to join the Alameda Peeps Facebook group is, “Do you currently live in Alameda?” Too many responses are of people displaced from Alameda because of high rents wanting to move back.

Sometimes it’s people who work in Alameda, teachers, baristas and city employees who can’t afford the skyrocketing rents but still feel part of this community.

I’m so grateful to own a home now, especially in Alameda. It wasn’t easy to pull that off. Still, I’ve come to realize my privilege of calling Alameda home as someone who can afford it, seeing so many that can’t.

So many of the people who work in Alameda, including many of our essential workers and first responders, can’t afford to live here — completely priced out by a scarcity of affordable options. Workers have become forced to commute long distances as housing costs rise. All while many of the people who live here commute off the Island. It’s unfortunate and, in many ways, not fair.

This mismatch drives up the costs of everything in town; it hurts local businesses trying to attract talent and causes the traffic we all hate while contributing to climate change. This path we are on is not sustainable.

Some do not think Alameda should have any additional housing. Nevertheless, the state requires cities to make available areas to build additional homes. We must do our part to deal with the housing crisis we face. Being an island does not excuse our legal or moral responsibility.

The state says how much we have to build, not the City Charter. But then the charter explicitly requires that we only build the largest, most expensive types of homes that add the most cars, hurting public transit, adding to our traffic woes. We should instead be shooting to have housing that is more affordable to a broader range of people. That required new housing could encourage less car use if built near our mass-transit corridors.

Article 26 is obsolete, and it’s holding us back from doing what is right by our community. Forty-seven years is long enough. Exclusionary zoning has no place in our city’s charter. Alamedans need housing they can afford before rising housing costs displace any more of our neighbors. That’s why I’m voting yes on Z. I hope you do too.
Please visit http://yesonz.vote.

— Zac Bowling