Letters to the Editor

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While I don’t condone the examples of bicyclist bad behavior cited by Greg Hansen in his letter (“Give them three feet; they’ll take a mile, Jan. 9), as a frequent bicyclist on the West End I can understand the reluctance of many cyclists to share the streets with sometimes inattentive or rude drivers. Just today during my one-mile round trip down Santa Clara Avenue I had an aggressive driver come up close to me at a stop sign and then insist on passing me in the face of an oncoming car and a red light one block ahead. One minute of patience would have allowed the driver to safely and comfortably pass me. On the return trip, thanks to a car parked in the bike lane, I had to swerve out into the traffic lane. Fortunately I had enough advance warning to check the traffic lane and to ring my bell to (hopefully) alert the parked driver and to prevent him from suddenly opening his door or pulling out in front of me. The sidewalk starts to look mighty tempting when you compare the damage from swerving to avoid a pedestrian versus being swerved into by a car whose driver didn’t notice you. I assume that you keep at least a yard between bumpers as you drive through town; why would you want to travel less than that distance away from a much more vulnerable bicyclist? I always wear a helmet while biking — but I don’t expect that it alone will protect me from serious — or even fatal — injury should I get hit by a car. Let’s focus on mitigating the most dangerous behaviors (i.e. cars speeding and dangerous passing) through a combination of ticketing, creating more bike lanes and promoting more bicycle safety programs for both bicyclists and drivers.

— Penelope Gordon

The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter.

Dear Harbor Bay Neighbor: With the start of the New Year, we’ve been working hard on several fronts. And what we’ve found so far is bound to turn more than just a few heads! (Ron Cowan’s) Harbor Bay Isle Associates (HBIA) continues to state that “the club needs to move to stay in business” and this “is not debatable.” This position suggests that the Harbor Bay Club is losing money at its current location with its current amenities, and will go out of business if it is not moved to the business park and replaced with either houses or a hotel/conference center. Naturally, this led us to dig into the finances of Harbor Bay Club. We found that in 2008 HBIA, using a side company called Harbor Bay Club Associates LP, took a $6 million loan against Harbor Bay Club and then rolled that into a $7 million loan in July 2013. A loan of this magnitude typically requires the cash flow from the business to be at least 120 percent greater than the debt service and the loan amount to be no more than 65 percent of the value of the collateral (in this case the land). So, despite the payments on a $7 million loan, the club is generating a sizable income stream for HBIA. Cowan also has millions of dollars’ worth of equity in the business, which he would hardly walk away from by going out of business. No one with any financial sense would be so fiscally irresponsible as to default on as profitable a business as this, especially a multi-millionaire developer. This financial revelation changes everything. It reinforces that HBIA is not concerned with providing a quality facility (or they would have reinvested a chunk of that $6 million from 2008 into deferred maintenance at the existing club) and proves the club is financially stable with no threat of closure. So, why do they keep saying they will close? We believe HBIA simply refuses to accept the fact that Cowan is not “entitled” to build more homes in a completed planned unit development (PUD) where there isn’t any available property. So, they’ve resorted to a cheap scare tactic. We don’t buy it and neither should you. Harbor Bay Neighbors favors renovating (or rebuilding) the club at its existing location so it stays an amenity for the residents it is specifically designated to serve. And with $7 million in its pocket, HBIA should be able to figure out a staged renovation plan. (Think “TransBay Terminal” in San Francisco, which continues to serve 100,000 customers daily while they build a new transit hub. It can be done.) We need your help. With the threat of club closure discredited, moving the club and building houses or a hotel on the current property offers nothing to our community. It’s time to tell the city to reject HBIA’s application now, and focus city resources where they are needed, such as on the redevelopment of Alameda Point.


— Tim Coffey, Spokesman Harbor Bay Neighbors


On Saturday, Jan. 18, 315 volunteers of all ages, in a day of service, launched the Alameda Community Garden in the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park by weeding, mulching, and building planter boxes and compost bins. They also painted a mural, tiles and signage at the site located just behind the Food Bank near the intersection of Constitution Way and Atlantic Avenue. The project was coordinated by the office of Supervisor Wilma Chan and the Alameda Recreation and Parks Department. The participants were provided a pizza lunch. The atmosphere during this effort was electric with excitement as these dedicated volunteers eagerly and enthusiastically engaged in a multitude of tasks and were rewarded with rich learning experiences while accomplishing impressive results in an inspiring sense of community. At the same time this project was proceeding on the west end of the park, Barbara Rasmussen and volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints were doing additional work painting the historic Alameda Belt Line office buildings located at the east end of the park at Sherman Street. This project, which they began last spring and extended over the summer, was remarkable in reducing deterioration, eliminating an eyesore, and generating interest and excitement in the development of the park. Their constancy and devotion are greatly appreciated.


— Jim Sweeney The Jean Sweeney Open Space Park Fund