Letters to the Editor

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Editor:
Three cheers to President Donald Trump for his order to withdraw troops from Syria!
These days it takes a lot more courage to end a war than to start one. I understand that not only Defense Secretary Mattis, but National Security Advisor John Bolton, and others, strongly pressured him in favor of the British-backed “regime change” policy to stay in Syria and confront Russia and Iran.

I also applaud the Democrats in the Congress who have had the courage to support the president in this matter, such as Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Ro Khanna and our own Barbara Lee. This is a time to put partisanship aside and be thankful that we have a president who has the strength to stand up to “the establishment” and do what’s right.

In 1993 Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had been an Israeli hard-liner, shook hands with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and noted that peace required “those with the courage to change axioms.” The lack of immediate action on economic development and the subsequent assassination of Rabin by an Israeli extremist doomed that hopeful moment.

Let’s act now to assure that this hopeful moment is not sabotaged. With a bit of support, we may see peace in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and the Koreas in the not-too-distant future.

 

Hunter Cobb

 

Editor:
I have been an Alameda, Harbor Bay Isle, Bay Farm resident for more than 22 years and am writing to express my strong opposition to the proposed Marriott Residence Inn Hotel on Bay Farm Island, adjacent to the Bay Farm Ferry Terminal (“Bay Farm Island Hotel Plan Approved, 7-0,” Dec. 13).

Please note, I am not opposed to commercial development for our community. I am, however, in favor of development that will benefit our community without imposing undue and excessive strain on local infrastructure and residents in terms of traffic, noise, safety and aesthetics.

My concerns regarding this proposed hotel are numerous, and I am asking the City Council when this issue comes before them on appeal on Feb. 5, to vote against this plan.

The hotel, restaurant and bar will bring virtually 24/7 activity and traffic coming and going in our neighborhood. This is a real safety concern for our children walking and riding their bikes to and from school during the school year and at play. The developer’s traffic study is flawed. We have been told the traffic study does not address traffic on our local streets, it only references Harbor Bay Parkway.

Hotels tend to attract crime, and the developer acknowledges that by stating they will provide 24 hour security. This is not good for our family-oriented community of Bay Farm.

Property values have gone down already. One of our Bay Colony neighbors, with a home for sale, said that scores of people initially viewed her home, but when her Realtor disclosed a hotel may be built in front of her home, the offers and interest dropped off. Check out Zillow. It shows a drop in property values for our community. 

The hotel will include conference space for weddings, meetings and other private events that will bring added noise and safety concerns on a day-to-day and nightly basis. The developer says the hotel is for short-term residential stays, but that can easily change. We’ve checked and have been told there is no code enforcement for this sort of concern in Alameda. Short-term residential can become permanent residential, and that will be a problem for the city and for our neighborhood community.

This massive hotel, if approved, would sit oppressively over the existing neighborhood, which consists primarily of two-story dwellings and an occasional three-story structure in the business park. There are no buildings currently on Bay Farm that exceed three stories, let alone five stories on 5.43 acres with 172 guest rooms. This proposed structure would drastically alter the coastline and skyline, and is simply too tall for this residential neighborhood. 

The proposed hotel is nearly twice as tall as the recently built McGuire-Hester building on the adjacent lot. This is not about neighbors “losing their views.” This is about a building that is grotesquely out of proportion with the neighborhood in terms of scale, size and aesthetic. 

It is rumored that there are at least two additional hotel proposals for Bay Farm, with at least one currently being built. With several local businesses planning to leave the business park, including North Face and the Raiders, it is imperative to examine the level of demand for so many more hotels. 

Furthermore, the developer has stated that the two other hotels in the neighborhood are always booked to capacity and rooms are rented for $600 per night. This is not true. Both hotels have had ample vacancies during our numerous recent searches online, with rates of $189 and $125 per night. Additionally, there is a Hilton Gardens Hotel being approved right now with 270 rooms. At the very least, if they must build a second three-star hotel, why not build on the soon-to-be-vacant Raiders practice field much closer to the Oakland Airport. It would offer easier access to the freeway and major streets without having to cross residential areas.

In conclusion, bringing such a monumental, mediocre, commercial development right up to the steps of our quiet, residential neighborhoods with its quiet, suburban feeling is just dead wrong.

 

Kelly Gordon

Editor:
There is an island city in San Francisco Bay. It is a small city in the midst of a densely populated metropolitan area; an area in which most of the roads are frequently congested with traffic.

The residents generally like their island very much and find many things to do there. But many of the residents need to leave the island every morning for employment and return in the evening.

Others get restless from time to time and want to leave the island for culture, entertainment, shopping or visiting. And some people living in surrounding areas sometimes want to visit the island for similar reasons.

Of course, since it’s an island, there are limited roadways for coming and going. And these access ways are choked every morning and evening and even at other times.

The people of the Island City figured out that perhaps the best way to get on and off an island is on boats. So they have a ferry service that can bring people to or from the big city reliably and quickly without being at the mercy of road traffic.

But guess what? There is no public transit that goes to the ferry terminal. Can you believe it?

 

Martin Butensky

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