Letters to the Editor

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The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter.

Dear Alameda community:
Last Tuesday night was my final City Council meeting. Thank you to the voters who gave me this job. I learned a lot these last four years. Being in politics can be exhilarating and it can certainly be humbling. I was privileged to have been part of doing a bit of good for Alameda. 

It’s been great to celebrate some accomplishment, but I do want also to say I am sorry for the times where I did not hit the mark.

I wish nothing but the best to the new Council. It’s important that we keep government open and in clear view of us all. Do the best for the common good and help those most in need. Those are my asks.

Happy Holidays and farewell.

Frank Matarrese


On Dec. 18, the City Council voted to strip away buffer zone protections for public or private facilities in town that primarily host recreational or social activities for minors. This new definition for what is considered a “youth center” in Alameda does not bring the current definition “in step with state law,” as reported in the Alameda Sun (“Outgoing Council Wraps up Business,” Dec.20). 

In fact, the new definition was created only after the city realized that the one dispensary location that was preliminarily approved was located next door to a martial arts school which primarily serves children five to 17 years old with daily after-school classes and tutoring.

Dozens of parents and supporters of the school attended the Nov. 27 City Council meeting to protest the definition change, asking that the Council continue to provide them with the same protections afforded recreations centers in parks since they are not different. 

Rather than delay the vote to identify a more equitable solution, the council voted 3-2 to accept the changes. Then-councilmembers Ezzy Ashcraft and Matarrese both questioned the haste to make changes and that it had the appearance of “spot zoning.”

In fact, state law provides that marijuana dispensary licensees “shall not be located within a 600-foot radius of a school providing instruction in kindergarten or any grades one through 12, day care center, or youth center that is in existence at the time the license is issued, unless a licensing authority or a local authority or a local jurisdiction specifies a different radius.

Decades of research into the proximity and density of alcohol outlets in cities has shown that there is a direct correlation to increased underage alcohol use with proximity to outlets. In Colorado where recreational marijuana has been legal since 2012, marijuana dispensaries are located most densely in low income communities and that negative impact has been documented.

Hopefully the new mayor and City Council will be willing to take another look at how dispensaries can locate in the city and provide some buffer zone protections to facilities that serve youth in an equitable manner as possible.


Serena Chen


Dear Eric, Dennis & Alameda Sun staff:
Thank you so much for supporting our awesome “Sensory Santa” event on Dec. 1 (“Kids with Special Needs Can Arrange Quiet Visits with Santa,” Nov. 22). We had 17 families and 27 local children come by for a free visit and professional picture with Santa. 

Many families told us how grateful they were to be able to take their children to Santa for the first time because we offered private visits in a low-stimuli environment. About half of the children were on the Autism Spectrum. One mom told us that her family with 12-year-old twin boys on the autism spectrum, had not had a family picture taken in years until our event.

Thank you for helping to get the word out with my article and sharing the event. 



Dr. Heidi Wroebel