Letters to the Editor
So the man who will be making the bucks says it’s all going to be safe (“Hazardous Waste on West End Not Likely,” Jan. 9)? Hmm. It’s been my understanding that most American ports do very little inspection of much of anything coming into this country by ship. But if there’s lots of money to be made, surely it’ll be safe. And it’s not like the government ever avoids telling us about toxic spills or seeping nuclear waste or geoengineering (that white hazy stuff they spray over the Bay Area virtually every day, that’s supposed to look like clouds. Remember voting for that?). I’m sure our government, always the champion of the regular folks, not corporations, is going to protect us from all bad things. On the other hand, if we ever find out just how much radiation is already in our waters because of Fukushima, we’ll likely be mostly dead by then, from all the rest of the normal, legal poisoning that happens in our water, air and food. Why do we let the bad guys do bad things to us? Because we are the battered wife.
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.
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.