Letters to the Editor
As the city planner and staff person present at the Sept. 22 Del Monte warehouse Planning Board meeting, I would like to correct a number of errors in Sallyann Monti’s account of the hearing in her opinion piece ("City’s Urban Planning Ignores Reality," Oct. 2).
Monti states that the Planning Board — residents who volunteer many hours every month to sit as the community’s representatives on land-use matters — gave "the builder an hour to make his presentation ..." then "limited audience participation to three minutes ..."
In fact, the board gave city staff and transportation consultants approximately 25 minutes to present the project and staff’s recommendations and 10 minutes for the project architect to describe the architectural design. It then gave approximately 80 minutes for residents and businesses who chose to come to the hearing to speak. Everyone who wanted to speak spoke. About half of the speakers came to support the project as designed.
Monti states that I described the project as having "insufficient parking" and "no plan" for transit. In fact, I presented a comprehensive transit and parking plan for the project. That plan includes sufficient parking (based upon similar projects in the East Bay); on-site car-share service; on-site commuter bus service to Oakland and BART; and AC Transit passes, including access to the O Line to San Francisco. These transit services will be available to all residents of the project including the low-income residents. The project covers the cost for the low-income residents.
Monti also stated I said there would be no parking for visitors. In fact, I stated that the project has 45 spaces on the property and approximately 80 additional new spaces on the new streets, for a total of approximately 125 new spaces for visitors to the building and the commercial uses.
In addition, Monti stated that I "failed to mention" the fact that the traffic from Alameda Point was primarily a reverse commute. In fact, I stated that city traffic counts show that the number of cars using the tubes to leave the island during the morning commute period has gone down in the last 20 years.
My point was that congestion in the tubes has worsened over the last 20 years primarily because of regional growth and congestion on the regional transportation system in Oakland and on Interstate 880, not because new development in Alameda is generating lots of additional traffic that is jamming up the tubes.
The planning process in Alameda enables and encourages public input on all land use and development decisions. I hope more Alameda residents will attend these public hearings and community meetings.
A copy of this email sent to Alameda city planner Andrew Thomas was posted publicly in a local social media group.
Andrew, in a good faith effort to put our money where our mouth is, I would like to ask you and all the members of our City Council and Planning Board to only use means of public transportation for one week.
I would like you each to keep a running log: starting point, final destination, means of transportation, how long each segment took, cost, time of day, how long of a wait for said transportation (was it on schedule?) general description of experience. I would also want the participants to include this information for if they chose to use their car for any trips during the challenge and why.
I think this to be an important factor in determining feasibility of where we are headed. We are already receiving input from our city residents who are trying to use more public transportation.
Recently, the city of Alameda was victim to a series of arson fires set in the middle of the night. Thankfully, the fires did not injure or kill anyone. They did, however, destroy homes and businesses.
The Red Cross was brought on the scene early that morning to assist the victims, and many Alamedans immediately started to provide assistance in different ways. Some have given to the families directly, and some have organized fundraisers for specific businesses.
The city has also been asked to step in and help, and I have asked the Social Services and Human Relations Board (SSHRB) to work with community members and help organize an event to bring the community together. The result is a Community Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 19.
As your mayor, I am heartened to see the expressions of anger over the arson crimes, and the outpouring of desire to aid the victims. I also remind us all that we have had and, unfortunately, will have other victims of fires and other tragic incidents. Thus, I believe one of the best ways to help is to make contributions to the American Red Cross Bay Area (www.redcross.org/ca/san-francisco).
The Red Cross always responds to Alameda and provides support when we have victims in need. More importantly, it has the knowledge, skills, tools, and experience needed to make the well-balanced assessments of what each and every victim’s needs are. The Red Cross not only provides direct support, it also makes the appropriate referrals to other sources of aid.
At the event on Sunday, we will ask that people make contributions to the Red Cross. However, people can also make contributions directly to the families who have lost much, or find other ways to provide assistance. The SSHRB committee and community organizers will provide different opportunities for us to participate.
Editor’s note: the Community Pancake Breakfast Fundrasier is set for Sunday, Oct. 19 from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Alameda Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Ave. Suggested donation amounts are $20 for adults, $15 for children under 18, family rate $60. Proceeds benefit American Red Cross Bay Area Disaster Services. Free for children 5 years or younger Tickets at the door only! For more information call 390-6608 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.