Letters to the Editor

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Editor:

Like many, my wife and I moved to Alameda in 2003 because we were impressed by the city’s strong sense of community. When our five-year-old son started elementary school this year, this sense of community became even more evident for us. We believe that everyone living here should have the same wonderful experience, but the lack of available housing and a persistent jobs-housing imbalance makes for a formidable barrier.

I am also a local businessperson. My company (and its predecessor) has developed over two million square feet of commercial space in Alameda, including the Peet’s Coffee Roastery and VF Outdoor headquarters. Both projects were awarded Bay Area development project of the year when delivered, and they are symbols of sustainability, each achieving high LEED and Bay Friendly certifications. VF Outdoor is the first net zero electric corporate campus in the Bay Area.

By forming Alameda Point Partners, we have created a Bay Area team with the critical experience and local relationships necessary to create a complete, mixed-use community. I believe job generation is the key to Alameda’s economic health and is the rising tide necessary to provide a greater lift for all those living here today. To attract and retain good businesses at Alameda Point over the long-term, companies must have convenient access to amenities, services and housing of all types, which does not exist there today.

I am fully aware of the impact Bay Area population increase has had on our Island. Growth will continue, and solutions must be found as part of that growth. We are committed to fostering a more comprehensive approach to transit solutions and being a catalyst for expanding such solutions throughout Alameda. We also understand that residents, like you and I, can and will continue to drive cars.

Our goal is to improve other modes of transportation so that people can conveniently shift a greater share of trips to transit, biking, and walking. It’s already happening — Alameda has 15.2 percent transit ridership, one of the highest among Bay Area cities.

Site A has a long-range plan, combining infrastructure and services to achieve its goals and serve as a blueprint for all of Alameda. It includes a comprehensive package of transit strategies that complement each other, including $10 million toward a new ferry terminal at Seaplane Lagoon, bus rapid transit, "last mile" shuttle connection to BART with 15-minute headways, bike and car sharing. The plan also includes transit subsidies for Site A residents and employees.

Housing advocates and economists will tell you that the surest way to ensure gentrification in this region is to do nothing. We can further improve the quality of life for those already here with more housing options and job opportunities.

Some may want us to deliver more affordable housing (25 percent is two-thirds more than most privately funded projects in the Bay Area) or more entry-level for-sale housing. The 800 units within Site A will not solve the housing crisis for all Alamedans; this is a region-wide crisis. But if ever there was a poster child for beneficial development, I think this is it. By re-imagining the Base, which is a key part of our history, we will create new opportunities for Alamedans who want to live and work here. Everyone should be able to discover the benefits of our community, just as my family has.

On May 11, Alameda’s Planning Board voted unanimously to recommend approval of Site A to the City Council. Many board members underscored the community-led process that shaped the plan; that it has come full circle from the one developed by the community shortly after the Naval Air Station closed.

We appreciate the feedback and overwhelming support from many Alamedans, especially those often skeptical about development in general but see the many benefits of this project and know that doing nothing at the base will have more long-term detriment for the people and businesses already here.

We encourage you to learn more about the project at www.alamedapointpartners.com. We always welcome your ideas for the future of Alameda Point.

Joe Ernst

Editor:

I lived in Alameda on Shoreline Drive for years in the 70s, and have family still living in Alameda. I recently came to visit and decided to take my favorite route down Shore Line Drive, to enjoy the beautiful view in springtime. I was horrified when I turned the bend by Crown Beach, to see this disastrous "bike lane" project!

The spacious four-lane beachfront boulevard was reduced into a narrow, congested, two-lane street! How this eyesore was allowed to happen the entire length of Shore Line Drive was devastating to see.

After research, the "community outreach" conducted by the Transportation Commission on the Project Update of Dec. 11, 2013, mentions the public outreach participants agreed on several key provisions:

 Provide more bicycling options. A minority of bicyclists get a million-dollar bike path that overtakes the entire beach access, at the tax-paying property owner’s convenience?

 Minimize traffic impact. How does creating a bottleneck by reducing four lanes to two minimize traffic impact?

 Provide parking for apartments/condos. Residents would disagree, especially removing residential parking, to provide handicapped parking and 30-foot loading zones? For a residential area?

 Reduce motor vehicle speed. It’s reduced to a crawl now, because of the traffic bottleneck.

 Make the area safer. Now the auto/pedestrian situation is dangerous and inconvenient.

The safety is questionable. Now residents are forced to parallel park in short, narrow parking spaces, holding up the traffic behind them! Opening driver doors causes the traffic to stop, since drivers run the risk of slamming into opened car doors in the narrow lane.

People lucky enough to find a parking space have to run behind their cars, before they can attempt to cross the two congested lanes, just a few steps forward putting them in the path of an oncoming car. Families with small children must be vigilant.

It’s only a matter of time until a serious accident happens.

The financial impact is questionable. Considering the current economy, how does a small minority of bicyclists get two highly traveled traffic lanes handed over on a silver platter?

I’m stunned such a terrible decision worked its way through due process. I’m sure homeowners aren’t happy to see their property values sink from the loss of the unobstructed view.

I’ve enjoyed the area 30 years, and only saw one or two bike riders every time I did. That million dollars could have been spent on better uses, such as upgrading the public bathrooms, widening and resurfacing the existing beach path, and paint a new designated bike lane on the street.

Shore Line Drive has always been a pedestrian place. Parking was easy after 5 p.m. The view of the city skyline was breathtaking. Now visitors will be forced to park on private residential side streets, to find their way to the beach, after they cross the ridiculous bike path.

This is a classic example of bad planning and lack of common sense, with no concern for the tax paying homeowners. How does removing two major traffic lanes (out of four) on a popular thoroughfare make any sense?

I can bet in 2011, several engineers and city staff members got paid big salaries and benefits, for pretending to know what they were doing. My sympathy goes to the residents and homeowners along Shore Line Drive.

Dawn Plants

Editor:

I live at the crossroads where Gibbons Drive intersects with Central and Versailles avenues. We’ve been in this house for the past eight years and I cannot count how many accidents there have been at this intersection.

As I write this, another one just occurred. Within the past two months there was also a collision between a car and motorcycle with major injuries.

As an added concern, there are many pedestrians crossing both Versailles and Central at this exact location. Since we are close to Edison Elementary School, many children and parents cross this intersection on the way to school and on the way home.

When will something be done about this? Every time I need to cross any of these streets to get to my driveway I hold my breath. Stop signs or redesigning the road (a roundabout?) would easily address this safety hazard and I can’t imagine it would cost the city more than the price accrued over time through the pain of those who are in accidents and/or their car repairs.

Karen Spedowfski

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