Letters to the Editor

Registered users may submit a Letter to the Editor after they first log in.

Alameda community:
We were blessed this year with an extra colorful display of lupines and poppies along the Cross Alameda Trail. Who needs to travel to distant places to see beauty when we have this literally in our backyards?! Thank you, Mother Nature (and the City of Alameda)!

Editor’s note: This letter was posted in the Bike Walk Alameda newsletter.

— Bike Walk Alameda

From the earliest days of California’s statehood, the local communities have had the authority to make their own decisions governing land use and zoning in their respective villages, towns, cities, and counties. And, until recently, Sacramento respected this local authority.

This respect remained intact until a group of politicians, at the behest of the large developers and other special interest organizations who have been their primary campaign donors, began prompting them to alter the laws of the state in ways that would benefit these supporters at the expense of the residents of the nearly 500 local jurisdictions such as Alameda, Oakland, San Jose, and Los Angeles. Every small and every large community in the state is being victimized by these politicians. Even our own Assemblyman, now Attorney General, and our own State Senator have been among those who have been undermining our local authority and degrading our local quality of life.

And since we here in Alameda and the residents of virtually every other jurisdiction in the state, have been unable to convince our own wayward local politicians to return control of land use and zoning decisions to us, their own constituents, it has become necessary to take back control ourselves through the initiative process.

You may recall that last year dozens of Alameda residents were circulating petitions for signatures supporting the placement of our initiative which was drafted for the purpose of reclaiming our authority to control our local land use and zoning regulations, on the 2022 state ballot. This initiative called “Our Neighborhood Voices” would have created an amendment to the California Constitution that would have returned local land use and zoning authority to Alameda and every other local jurisdiction in the state. Sacramento’s politicians would no longer to be able to run rough shod over us, the people who elected them to serve. To serve us, their constituents, and not to prioritize the wishes of their deep-pocket donors.

Unfortunately, despite the tireless work of over a thousand volunteer petition circulators working throughout the state who were able to gather several hundred thousand signatures in support of placing the initiative on the 2022 ballot, we fell short of the number required, not by much, but short none-the-less.

The good news today is that the campaign to place the initiative on the 2024 ballot remains alive and well. The continuing campaign, however, is required to start over to gather signatures for the new election cycle, and we still need to be able to submit a million or more signatures to the Secretary of State’s office in order to qualify for a place on the ballot. We need everyone’s participation, if we are to regain our authority to control Alameda’s land use and zoning policies.

You can find more details on our "OurNeighborhoodVoices.com" website. In addition, we hold informal informational and fund-raising meetings via Zoom every Wednesday evening at 6pm. You can find the link on the ONV website. And if that’s not enough, there might still be time to attend the East Bay-focused Town Hall via Zoom which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 1st. The link is on our website.

Jay Garfinkle

Editor’s note: The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter.

Honorable Mayor, Vice-Mayor and Members of City Council:
I am a long-time Alameda tenant. Alameda tenants urgently need an emergency moratorium on Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) pass-throughs for ALL tenants, in ALL rental properties. CIP pass-throughs threaten all Alameda tenants with displacement and should be regulated by rent control.

As the corporate owners of South Shore Apartments await approval of a CIP for up to $24 million, South Shore tenants face having to pay for these improvements in the same year that many tenants are receiving banked rent increases. Some of these tenants live in non-habitable conditions. This must be stopped for South Shore tenants, and not be allowed to happen to tenants city-wide.

The current CIP policy puts property owners in a position to undermine rent control for their current renters and replace them with new renters who are able to afford market rates. The former blameless citizens who should be protected by rent control will then be without housing during this fraught time of inflation and housing shortages. In the present case, the CIP will be a gift to Blackstone, Inc., one of the largest and perhaps most unethical real estate investors in the world. This is the same company that owns PSSI, which has been exposed as employing child labor in meat packing plants. Yes, that's who will be profiting by the displacement of Alameda citizens, your constituents and neighbors.

In 2017, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that PSSI had among the highest numbers of severe injuries — defined as an amputation, hospitalization, or the loss of an eye — among the 14,000 companies tracked by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 29 states, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Please do not let South Shore and tenants city-wide face displacement by a flawed CIP policy that demands a major review by the City Council. We need an emergency moratorium on CIP pass-throughs now, for all rental property city-wide, including especially, South Shore Apartments.

At the very least, add a financial hardship plea process to the CIP ordinance as San Francisco has done. Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. This is your opportunity to do the right thing.

— Cheryl Kettell