Letters to the Editor
Alameda can be picky about a lot of things. For example, the great Video Parlor Panic of the ’80s led to the anti-video-game-parlor ordinance currently being considered for repeal; and if you even whisper the word “development,” people freak out about traffic. Then there’s the anti-smoking ordinance and the need to license one’s cat.
Which is why I find it surprising that Alameda, a community that generates a pretty fair amount of landscaping service, still — apparently — permits the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers, the single most inefficient gardening tool imaginable.
We’re talking about a gasoline-fueled two-cycle engine (like a motorcycle) powering a fan — a blowing fan. I once saw (I promise this is true) a guy try to blow off a leaf that had sort of hooked itself by its edge onto the concrete.
He must have spent 20-30 seconds futilely blowing at it when he could have just nudged it with his foot. And then of course, all the leaves went into a pile, which, when picked up, spilled leaves back onto the ground. That’s what I call efficiency. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.) And all the while the guy was burning oil and gasoline in a residential neighborhood. And do we even have to mention the noise?
A vacuum-type device, that sucks the leaves into a bag or some such (a smaller hand-held version of a sidewalk cleaner) would certainly seem preferable. We have the pollution issue and the carbon-fuel global warming issue (how many of these leaf blowers are in use in the Bay Area on a typical Saturday?). And the noise issue. And the incredible stupidity of the very concept of a leaf blower, rather than a leaf sucker.
Let’s start with banning gasoline-powered blowers. New, less-expensive varieties of high-capacity rechargeable batteries are available for electric blowers, which are orders of magnitude quieter than an engine (put a gas-powered fan in your living room sometime, see how it feels), with a similarly-smaller carbon footprint. Some way of incentivizing professional gardeners to eschew blowers entirely might provide additional advantages.
C’mon, Alameda! It’s almost 2016, for heaven’s sake.
I would like to propose a new concept for the use of the old Harbor Bay Club property. Assuming that the existing Harbor Bay Club will be allowed to move to the proposed location in the business park, I suggest a housing element for the site where the present-day club sits, but one with a reduced traffic impact: a Trilogy or Del Webb type of community. Building smaller one-level homes, or a two- or three-story condo-style development geared to the active senior population would attract senior/retirees to relocate.
Like the Trilogy and Del Webb developments, these homes would be for the 55 and older (or, 62 and older) residents, who are often a part of the retired population. Alameda already does a great job in providing “assisted living” locations But, what is missing is an option for that large, niche population of “baby boomers,” who are still vibrant, active, and who would relish a chance to downsize, while staying in the East Bay.
These retired (or semi-retired) residents would not add more vehicles into the already congested commute-time traffic on and off Bay Farm Island. Retired (or semi-retired) residents would not clog the bridge, would not be bringing young children into the over-crowded schools and generally have more disposable income to spend in their home environs.
And, as in a Trilogy or a Del Webb scenario, we would like to see a part of the old gym maintained (if possible), and the pool and a few of the tennis courts as well. Similar retirement communities do have sports amenities for their residents.
A Del Webb or Trilogy concept would give Alameda another way to serve this population. Alameda has wonderful assisted-living and family-oriented venues, but, does not offer a specific model for the retired population, ready to down-size and enjoy life and what an excellent place Alameda is for relaxed, healthy enjoyment!
This concept thrives in Rio Vista, Manteca, Brentwood and other more remote locations. But, now, even Pleasanton has a similar retirement development. Alameda could become another city to embrace this concept and capitalize by appealing to the senior population longing for an opportunity like this
The Alameda Sun received a copy of the following letter.
Dear Mayor and Councilmembers:
I am a homeowner in the North of Park Street area. I am opposed to container buildings in the Gateway to Alameda.
My grandfather was a police officer here walking the beat in the late 1800s. Prior to that he went to sea on a schooner. My mother, born in 1901, leaned out the window with her brother watching people walking from her grandmother’s apartment in the Hotel Leona above the current McGee’s Bar and Grill.
Those who visit and we who live here, especially when we return from work, after driving over the Park Street Bridge do not need to be greeted with cold, rectangular, metal boxes which would be suited for affordable housing far from the Gateway. Keep the Gateway in the same historical, architectural design as the rest of the North of Lincoln businesses, adding as many trees as possible.
Do not approve these containers which feel and look like they need to be put on the back of a semi and hauled off.