Letters to the Editor

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I was disappointed in the comment by Councilwoman Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft in the article about the proposed Alameda transportation plan ("Council Moves Forward with Transportation Plan," April 9). She said, "I really do want to see us get people out of their cars."

Is Ezzy Ashcraft listening to her constituents? People have been voting with their pocketbooks for more than 60 years that they prefer to use the automobile for the majority of their trips. Data from the Alameda County Transportation Commission shows that more than 80 percent of trips within
Alameda are made by automobile. Less than five percent are made by transit. Is this news?

The majority of the cost of every bus trip on the island comes out of the pockets of the community, not out of the pockets of the rider. In 2011-2012, the fare-box recovery ratio for AC Transit was less than 20 percent. Where do you think the other 80 percent was coming from?

Let me speculate on what Ezzy-Ashcraft really meant, using some of her words and some of mine: "I really do want to see us get people out of their cars so that a small number of property owners can make huge profits on their investment in land and buildings." I challenge Ezzy-Ashcaft to show me where in our gazillion laws it says that property owners are entitled to make profits at the expense of the rest of the community.

The entire motivation for legislation that allowed for impact fees, back in the ‘80s, was to force property owners and developers pay for the community impacts of their projects. They’ve never really been forced to pay for the whole cost of their projects. The congestion we endure today is the direct result of failure to truly mitigate development impacts.

Let’s not pretend we can transit our way out of the growth impacts of Alameda Point or any of the large projects proposed for this city. It hasn’t been done anywhere. In that respect, we really aren’t all that different.

Stephen Lowens


After decades of public debate on the future of Alameda Point and a laudable community planning process, Alameda is finally in the late stages of negotiating the specifics of the first portion of the community plan for Site A on the old naval air station. As a West End resident, I am excited to see the transformation of the remains of the buildings that won the war into a vibrant, mixed-use community beside our shoreline in our own backyard.

In addition to helping alleviate the housing crisis on the Island, plans for Site A bring many additional benefits to our city. This includes a unique opportunity to locate residential space near commercial, retail and transit; providing housing and amenities for employees; and decreasing dependence on cars in correspondence with a shift away from single-occupancy car trips in general.

Young Americans like myself are more connected than ever before. In communities like Alameda at the heart of the Bay Area, the trend is toward traveling by bicycle, bus, ride-sharing, rail and in an increasing number of cases, a combination of the above. I understand that some are skeptical about this shift away from the car culture, but it is happening nationwide. The Bay Area is a classic case study of these changes. Alameda would do well to plan for these rapidly evolving transit preferences. By authorizing a citywide transportation study, our City Council has taken a step in this direction.

There is room for both new and old ways on our island. I believe it’s time we move forward with Site A, as part of a greater plan for our community that works for all Alamedans.

Casey Sparks


Alameda Education Foundation’s (AEF) Adopt A Classroom program achieved a new record this year. In March, we made our 189th presentation for the 2014-2015 school year. To put it in perspective, six years ago we did 39 adoptions, and we have now topped that by 150. AEF has donated $94,500 to classrooms thanks to generous members of our community.

I would like to thank the following donors from February and March: 2014 Alameda Zombie Crawl; AEC Living at The Lodge at Harbor Bay and AEC Living at Elder’s Inn.

A big thanks to the following Realtors from Harbor Bay Realty: Guy Blume, Nancy Joy Gordon, Nancy Evans, Jane Friedrich, Barbara Bolton, Walt and Judy Jacobs, Ringo Liu, Maureen Shandobil, Karin Fox, Steve Cressy, Steve Sorenson, Soyoung Lee, Donn Gutierrez and Hanna Fry.

Our hats are also off to Franklin Elementary School PTA and families; the Garber family; Perforce Foundation on behalf of employee Kate Rockwell and the Tricia Collins-Levi Fund.

Thank you to all our donors for recognizing the value of supporting our classrooms and for their generosity. General support for AEF enables us to give 100 percent of each donation to our teachers. More information is available at www.AlamedaEducation.org.

Kathleen C. Woulfe, Adopt A Classroom Chair