Letters to the Editor

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We want to thank the Edison Elementary School students concerned about the lack of recycling options on Park Street (See the series of letters printed May 15, 22). We are also concerned and have been working with the city and Alameda County Industries (the city’s waste-management service) to come up with a cost-effective solution that all parties can agree on. 

Over the past few months a number of positive events have made it possible for us to finally plan for recycling in downtown Alameda:

• The city, in partnership with the Park Street Business Association (PSBA), is currently pursuing grants that will assist us with the costs of recycling on Park Street. 

• We’ve already started to include recycling and composting at the major events on Park Street. (During our recent Spring Festival, we deployed “clear-stream” units,, which included trash, compost, and recycling units.)
While not perfect, these units went a long way to segregate the refuse better than we’ve ever been able to in the past. We expect this program to continue in the foreseeable future at all of our major street events. 

• We had volunteers and “clear-stream” units in front of Peet’s and Starbucks on Earth Day to educate the public on what material goes into what container. 
Many of the businesses in downtown Alameda already follow best practices for recycling and composting. 

In addition, PSBA encourages businesses be “green” certified and to participate in special recycling and composting programs.

As a step toward  implementing recycling throughout the entire Park Street District and reducing trash on the sidewalks, all the green metal caged garbage cans will soon be replaced by larger receptacles on a temporary basis. These larger receptacles will be placed in more locations up and down Park Street and the side streets. ACI has agreed to increase the pick up service on Park Street to every weekday, instead of the current Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. This action will enable PSBA, the city, and ACI to determine what the best course of action will be to ensure proper trash, compost, and recycling service in the district.  

As plans become clearer, we will engage the public in the decisions being made in accomplishing our goal to be the “greenest shopping district.”


— Donna Layburn, owner, The Marketplace and PSBA President ,Kate Pryor, owner, Tucker’s Ice Cream and Chair, PSBA Maintenance and Improvement Committee

I want to respond to Horst Breuer’s letter that berated San Francisco Chronicle writer Chip Johnson for his interpretation of an interview with City Manager John Russo. (“Russo’s amanuensis,” May 15).

Breuer incorrectly states that Measure A, the 40-year-old charter amendment was to “preserve our Victorians.” Actually the measure simply states that “no multi-family housing could be built on the Island of Alameda.” 
One can interpret the meaning of that simple phrase only as prohibiting any type of multifamily housing.   

Fortunately, the state has found this type of language exclusionary. The state  has ruled against such restrictions. They prevent housing opportunities for those who would like to downsize to a small condo or provide starter housing for our kids and any others needing a variety of housing types.

With the closure of the Navy base, a third of the Island’s land mass has been deeded to the city. Now with support of state law and added land we are fortunate to have a way to address the need for homes in Alameda. 

We are also fortunate to have  the civic leadership and staff that support the need for more employment opportunities by creating new jobs at the former base and providing a diversity of housing there to serve all incomes.

The lack of a housing inventory in Alameda doesn’t provide for the housing needs of our current residents and certainly not the new workers at Alameda Point.


— Helen Sause, President HOMES (Housing Makes Economic Sense)


This is in response to the May 2 letter to the editor, “Redirecting Alameda Point Efforts,” written by my friend Frank Matarrese. He was critical of the city’s planned development of Alameda Point and advocated no new housing. 

Suggesting that we have no new housing at Alameda Point is essentially advocating that we do not develop Alameda Point. 

I, too, would like to create more jobs and have more open space but I understand that this cannot be done without building new housing.  However, I would like to limit the number of new housing units as much as possible.  
There are also certain points in his letter that I would like to address and clarify. 

First, in the City Council debate that Matarrese mentioned, I was advocating to limit the number of new housing units at site A to 800, which is the minimum quantity required for a residential/commercial mixed use project to work. 

Any unit over the 800 cap will have a $50,000 penalty. It is just not financially feasible to develop Alameda Point without new 

Approximately $600 million of infrastructure costs will be required to develop Alameda Point and transform it to a vibrant community.  This cannot be funded solely by expanding open space nor developing commercial buildings.

Second, the historic bachelor quarters are too costly to reuse or renovate.  We actually considered this and offered them to the Veterans Administration but they declined after determining that it is cheaper for them to build a new facility.

Third, the city’s Economic Development Commission no longer exists but this City Council has long been working on initiatives to attract new businesses and solidify current ones.

We all want what’s best for the city of Alameda, including having more jobs, more open space,  smooth-flowing traffic and we all recognize the value of Alameda Point.  

This City Council is responding to the community’s desire to develop Alameda Point and is trying to do it with the least number of new housing units possible.


— Stewart Chen Councilmember