Letters to the Editor

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Editor:
On Dec. 8, the Alameda Family Services League hosted its 48th Annual Alameda Holiday Home Tour, a fundraiser for Alameda Family Services. This year’s tour was a resounding success with more than 500 tour goers enjoying the fabulous homes, delicious tea and festive Gourmet Shop, raffle and Holiday Boutique. The tour would not have been possible without the support of our wonderful community members.

First and foremost, thank you to the creative, talented and generous homeowners who opened their homes to guests. Cindy, Lisa, Neal and Karin, Amy and Brad, and Brad and Aryn: Thank you so much for your generosity — you truly made this tour possible and unforgettable.

Our team of more than 100 volunteers also deserve a resounding ovation! Our Head Home Docents, home docents, tea volunteers, Santas, musicians, cookie and treat makers, and volunteers and Holiday Boutique vendors at the Elks Lodge were incredibly generous with their time and talent. We are also so grateful for the support and encouragement of the Alameda Family Services staff and board of directors.

In addition to volunteer hours, community members and local businesses stepped up to the plate with sponsorships, ads and raffle items. We are especially grateful for the folks at Alameda Elk’s Lodge No. 1015 and First Presbyterian Church of Alameda for their hospitality. 

Additionally, a heartfelt thank you to our wonderful Alameda Family Services League team. You are truly the magic-makers and the reason why Alameda Family Services League is able to present this beautiful fundraiser year-after-year for such a wonderful cause.

Finally, thanks to our wonderful Alameda community for your support! Every ticket bought, every goody purchase, every chance you entered in the raffle means more community members can access the invaluable programs and services provided by Alameda Family Services. Be sure to visit our Alameda Holiday Home Tour Facebook page and alamedaholidayhometour.com for the final amount raised during the 2018 tour. 

We look forward to seeing you next year, always the second Saturday in December, for the 49th Annual Holiday Home Tour!     

 

Katie Honegger, President, Alameda Family Services League

Editor:
I was heartbroken to see the Planning Board approve the monolithic five-story Marriott Residence Inn on the Harbor Bay shoreline at its Dec. 10 meeting.

Why? Because this hotel, as designed, is completely out-of-scale for the site and the neighborhood. Because it doesn’t fit in to its residential surroundings. Because it is a prefabricated, run-of-the-mill building with no distinguishing characteristics — it is not an upscale hotel as presented by the developer. Because I don’t believe the decision to allow this building takes a long view of what’s best for Alameda and Alamedans.

I am not against hotels in Alameda. I understand we need quality hotel space and that hotels bring sorely needed positive tax revenue. I am not even against a hotel on the site. I understand it is a privately-owned piece of property and that its current zoning, however misguided, allows for a hotel.

However, don’t we have a right to expect more from a developer who is building on the one of the last pristine shoreline properties in the Bay Area — that happens to be in our community? Shouldn’t this hotel be a model of waterfront development and not just an example of typical cookie-cutter hotels that could be built anywhere?

And finally, shouldn’t the surrounding neighbors have a say in ensuring that what is built in their neighborhood is an asset and does not have negative impacts on their home values and existing quality of life? After all, they — and we — are going to have to live with what is built long after the developer moves on to the next project.

Over the years, we have made many poor choices along our shoreline because either our vision for what we can be was too low, or we didn’t value our assets enough — everything from putting a windowless mail-processing plant on our beach front — to dumping toxic chemicals into the Bay — an unfortunate mistake made for us by the U.S. Navy.

Alameda is an island. We are defined as a waterfront community. Don’t we have a responsibility to future generations to make the most out of our shoreline, and to hold developers accountable to the highest possible standards? We look to the Planning Board and the City Council to support us in that responsibility.

 

Donna Fletcher

Editor:
In recent years the scratching sound of the leaf raking was music to my ears. However, since the 1970s, the soundscape has been replaced by the leaf blower. To the landscape contractor and Alameda gardeners in our schools and neighborhoods, the leaf blower is a gift from God, saving hours of tedious raking and grooming.  To many others, it is an abomination. 

When a neighbor’s mow-and-blow brigade arrives, with two or three gasoline-powered blowers fully vented, it robs us from the comfort of peace in our own homes and becomes a cacophony of these blowers sometimes for hours on end, even at its quietest idling speed. 

It appears that residential owners and the city, here in Alameda, have no power over the nuisance noise of these blowers.

Since residents have turned over care of their yards to gardeners, what was once a weekend exercise by homeowners, is now a weekday and weekend day-long noise assault on our neighborhoods.

Although there are other noise irritants with airplanes, barking dogs, music, etc., the leaf blower is a major culprit. The most powerful models can create a stream of air exceeding 200 mph and with noise levels as high as an ear-piercing 112 decibels.

A recent study measured the sound from a commercial-grade gasoline blower at various distances. Even from 800 feet away, the noise was above the 55-decibel threshold at which sound is considered harmful by the World Health Organization. Another problem is that the machines emit a low-frequency sound that is not measured conventionally but which travels long distances and penetrates building walls.

Some jurisdictions have laws banning or restricting leaf blowers but most cities and counties — including Alameda — don’t address blowers specifically but have noise ordinances that ostensibly establish when and how much noise can be made before running afoul of the law. You will find, if you put it to the test, that local authorities, as a rule, are unable to effectively enforce the laws. Why?

Fueling this ineffectiveness is a mindset that, if you live in an urban environment, you put up with noise!   Cities don’t have to be cacophonous and noise isn’t just an irritant; these blowers harm one’s health. Studies have shown that tens of millions of Americans are at risk of hypertension and heart disease from the effects of noise.

“Is Alameda blind to the fact that it is most likely causing significant health effects also?” Not to mention the destruction of peace and quiet in our own homes and schools.

 

Maria Angle

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