2015: A Year to Remember Part Two

File photos In November, a local landlord handed out eviction notices to his entire building of tenants just before the new rent ordinances went into effect, leaving 34 families in the lurch just before the holidays. The week after, tenants, members of the Alameda Renters Coalition and attorneys, met to discuss their plan of action.

Part Two of Two Parts

July

Jay-walkers got a nasty surprise when Alameda police set up a crosswalk sting in late June. Some 168 citations were issued to pedestrians who disobeyed traffic laws to jaywalk. About 80 percent of the citations were for pedestrians; however, drivers were also ticketed for distracted driving and speeding.

Harbor seals at Alameda Point received a new home in response to public outcry over the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) plans. WETA’s proposed maintenance center would have eliminated the old haul-out where local harbor seals like to rest; the haul-out will be relocated just to the east.

More development was approved for Alameda Point as council gave its approval for Site A construction. After 18 years of debate and delay, construction of infrastructure, commercial buildings and housing can begin. Some 800 new homes are slated for Site A, as well as commercial space for about 1,500 new permanent jobs.

The Alameda Police Department and City Council considered the addition of body cameras for the police force, as part of the national debate on police use of excessive force. Body cameras provide unbiased witness to police-public interactions; APD has some 80 cameras awaiting deployment on the force.

City Council took a look at rent ordinances to give some power to the Rent Review Advisory Committee’s rulings, and opened the discussion of rising rents in the city. San Francisco and Oakland rents have skyrocketed, which affects Alameda rents as well. Tenants spoke of rents raised beyond their means and of 60-day evictions increasing.

August

As fires burned across Northern California, Alameda firefighters joined the strike force. More than 20 fires raged in August, including the Mad River fire near Eureka. In local fire news, the Coast Guard joined Alameda Fire Department (AFD) firefighters in attacking a boat fire just off the Main Street ferry landing.

An earthquake of 4.0 magnitude shook Alameda from the Hayward Fault in August, reminding island-dwellers that the Big One is still in store for Californians. Coincidentally, Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) sought state seismic funds to repair Historic Alameda High School.

Local fires on the West End burned two homes on Central Avenue near the Bait and Tackle Shop; a string of suspicious fires followed, in a four-block radius that caused APD and AFD officials to investigate further. Fires at Alameda Point, Third Street, Second Street, Ferry Point and Encinal Avenue on a single night had no injuries and no significant damage, but caused enough mayhem to arouse suspicion.

September

A fin whale, likely struck and killed by a container ship, was dragged into port in the Estuary, where it decomposed and rose to the surface near the Main Street ferry landing. The whale carcass was later towed out to sea for disposal.

The Navy began a new round of cleanup operations on former gas station sites around the west end of the island. The groundwater cleanup efforts have been ongoing for some 15 years, because groundwater remediation is a time-intensive treatment.

The Navy worked to eliminate petroleum hydrocarbon contamination in addition to removing underground tanks, fuel lines and soil.

Fleet Week blew into town with the Blue Angels, the coast was cleaned up when 250 residents donned gloves and picked up trash from the beaches. The city adopted two ordinances to strengthen tenants’ rights. Both ordinances resulted from residents and City Council dialogue over rising rents and evictions.

October 

The Navy agreed to transfer the property of Miller Elementary School, which was also used as Island High School and Woodstock Child Development Center to AUSD. AUSD had leased the property at no cost, but necessary upgrades made the use of the facilities untenable. However, Measure I school funds and expected student enrollment growth made the transfer more appealing; AUSD made the request and the Navy responded favorably.

City Council voted not to change the zoning for the parcel on Bay Farm Island where the Harbor Bay Club sits. Developer Ron Cowan had wanted to move the club to North Loop Road and build 80 homes on the current site. The council voted 4-0 to leave the zoning as is, denying the new homes. Mayor Trish Spencer abstained.

An Oakland man pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of an Alameda resident five years ago. Daquan Lane, 25, entered a guilty plea before the Alameda County Superior Court Judge Allan Hymer on Oct. 15, for the fatal shooting of Eric Lamont Franklin in 2010.

East Bay Regional Parks District (EBRPD) triumphed over the federal government in the long-running dispute over the former federal property at Crab Cove; EBRPD got the OK to purchase the three-acre parcel on McKay Avenue for some $2 million, ending the dispute.

November

A local artist played a role in honoring the six Irish college students who died in the Berkeley balcony collapse in June. John Frankel painted a memorial tribute that was presented to the president of Ireland, Michael Higgins, at a ceremony in November.

Angry renters stormed City Hall’s council chambers at a tenants’ rights meeting, leading to two arrests and some injuries. Members of renters’ groups claimed the chambers were filled with landlord partisans to prevent tenant voices from being heard; landlords said tenants were out of control and had planned “chaos.”

Mayor Trish Spencer visited Alameda’s sister city, Dumaguete, Philippines, in mid-November. Spencer was to make connections that would lead to future business and educational opportunities between the two cities.
December

Students at Amelia Earhart Elementary School dedicated a statue of the long-lost pilot. The statue, a life-size bronze sculpture, was created by Jane DeDecker, with an inscription from the aviatrix, “What do dreams know of boundaries?”

Vandalism at the West End’s Islamic Center on Santa Clara Avenue was deemed not a hate crime by police; however, the broken windows heightened fears of anti-Muslim action at a time when fears of terrorism are already high and political rhetoric continues to fan those flames. 

An SUV careened into the estuary waters at the Nob Hill shopping center, and its driver drowned. Nob Hill employee Brian Tetirick dove in to try to save the man, but was unable to see in the murky water. AFD divers located the man underwater but it was too late.

A bundle of fake TNT cleared out a neighborhood on Lincoln Avenue late in the last week of the year, but the bomb squad determined the bundle to be safe; it was a movie prop. No culprits were named.

Contact Sun Staff at editor@alamedasun.com.

 

In October, Google-owned Makani was fine-tuning a turbine’s docking maneuvers on Alameda Point before deploying it to a test site in Hawaii. The wind energy company moved one step closer to full-scale testing of its electricity-generating kite.
A tugboat tows the carcass of a whale from the Oakland Estuary to Angel Island where a team of 14 scientists performed a necropsy. They determined that the whale died after being struck by a ship. The carcass was then dragged into the estuary where it came to rest at the Mariner Square Drystack and Marina at the foot of Mariner Square Drive.
A fatal car-pedestrian accident took the life of Alameda resident and blues legend August Lee Collins in September. His career spanned 50 years, and he was inducted into the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame.
The Alameda-based USCG Stratton helped bust some major drug traffic with a $181 million cocaine seizure in Mexico’s waters in August. A semi-submersible vessel carrying more than 16,000 pounds of cocaine was the Stratton’s target, on the heels of a June drug bust netting another 5,460 pounds of the drug.