2016: Year in Review
With 2016 rapidly coming to a close, the Alameda Sun looks back over the top news stories in Alameda this past year. This week will cover January through June and next week will feature news from July through December.
The Water Emergency Transportation Authority worked to have a new dock for harbor seals delivered to Alameda Point in April, ahead of the start of construction for the ferry maintenance terminal. The maintenance facility’s berthing dock would displace the seals’ previous resting spot.
A new dock for the seals was a condition for the building of the maintenance facility.
Alameda Point developers submitted a new plan for consideration in regards to Site A at Alameda Point. Developers worked with park planners, design consultants, city staff, and a Planning Board subcommittee to prepare a new plan for development.
The first plans for Site A development became available for public viewing at a Planning Board meeting on Jan. 25. The plan called for 14.8 acres of the 68-acre total to be used for publicly accessible open space, parks and plazas on Block 10. The area also includes an urban park with renovated Navy buildings, across from the existing Waterfront Park.
The City Council approved phase two of the Alameda Point renovation, providing the city with 183.44 more acres of land; nine parcels with 29.83 acres of uplands and two parcels with 153.61 acres of submerged land. The transfer, which was scheduled for March, marks phase two of four phases planned in the overall agreement with the U.S. Navy.
The body of a missing woman was found floating in the Oakland estuary. The body was that of Diana Gail Hajisaari. Oakland Police Department’s Air Support found the body. A witness informed the police that he had seen Hajisaari get into the water at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park. The witness told the police that he thought Hajisaari was going for a swim. The witness came forward a day after seeing her enter the water, prompted to contact authorities after seeing posters of Hajisaari’s disappearance.
Plans to make Central Avenue between Main Street-Pacific Avenue and Sherman Street-Encinal Avenue safer were proposed at City Council meeting for public input. City staff had already created a design proposal and requested the Council’s approval. The safety plans were brought up after conducting a study on dangerous intersections. The study found that both intersections had a disproportionate number of injuries caused by collisions compared to other streets in Alameda.
Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) placed emphasis on sustainability efforts in Alameda’s public schools. AUSD stepped up with a plan for reducing electricity usage and a possible plan for producing renewable energy to use at all AUSD facilities in the future. The plan’s objective was to minimize energy demand as much as possible while also considering the limited financial resources available for the district.
Dannan Developments went before the Planning Board for approval to turn a parking lot at the corner of Webster Street and Taylor Avenue into a three-story multi-use building. Dannan proposed that the building would “consist of nine residential units, including two affordable units; 4,700 square feet of commercial space on Webster Street, and 18 off-set parking spaces behind the building.” Staff reviewed the buildings designs and recommended that the city hold public hearings for the plans.
Alameda resident John Beck was still nowhere to be found after disappearing before his first bankruptcy court date in February. After Beck’s failure to appear, he was reportedly seen at the 12th Street BART station in Oakland, at Land’s End in San Francisco and on Bodega Avenue in Sebastopol. Beck had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and even in his absence, his motion still moved forward. Beck had his appearance rescheduled with bankruptcy attorney Carl Gustafson for the March meeting.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) identified gas lines tangled with tree roots in the city. Plans were set to remove trees affecting the gas lines in the name of safety. The tree program is part of the Community Pipeline Safety Initiative, an initiative ensuring that first responders have immediate access to PG&E gas transmission lines in the case of an emergency. All relandscaping done was at PG&E’s expense and wouldn’t move forward without customer approval.
Recreation and Park Commissioners took tours of five park projects: Jean Sweeney Open Space Park, Encinal Boat Launch Facility, the Alameda Point Sports Project, Krusi Park and Estuary Park.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors inducted new members to the Women’s Hall of Fame, one inductee being Alameda resident and Golden Gate Audubon Society member Leora Feeney. Feeney was chosen for outstanding contributions to the county’s natural environment. Feeney has lead bird-counting efforts in Alameda, bird walks, and contributed to classroom activities at Alameda elementary schools.
The Alameda Renters Coalition (ARC) began a petition drive in hopes of collecting the 6,461 signatures required to get The Alameda Renter Protection and Community Stabilization Charter Amendment onto the November ballot. ARC began its petition drive with 30 trained volunteers and planned on training many more volunteers to “blanket the city” for its cause. ARC looked to the community, and got a plethora of support in return.
Mayor Trish Spencer invited city staff and friends to help her show support for the joint program “Play Ball.” The program was coordinated by Major League Baseball and U.S. Baseball and focuses on the fun nature of the sport and encourages widespread participation. Spencer took the pledge to conduct and promote Play Ball summer events, proclaim a Play Ball week, day, or month during the summer and to wear a cap from her favorite baseball team (the A’s) on April 4.
Councilmember Tony Daysog was one of three residents who signed a petition for a ballot measure filed with the City Clerk. The petition indicated that the purpose was to limit the relocation fees to extremely low-income, very low-income, low-income, or moderately low-income tenants; change the relocation fee formula; and exempt small business landlords who reside in Alameda from relocation fee requirement for specific instances when moving-in family members. Daysog felt that small homeowners, especially those in Alameda, should not be penalized the same as big corporations.
Golden Gate Audubon Society held its “Wild! In Alameda” symposium honoring Alameda’s rich wildlife. The symposium included trips around the Island to viewing stations. Around 100 people, including Mayor Trish Spencer, attended the two-hour symposium and viewed a slideshow that featured the species that make Alameda their homes for all or part of the year.
Alameda native Edward Bessonov, suspected of shooting two gas station employees, was charged with four felony counts, including two for attempted murder. Bessonov was also charged with two counts of assault with a semi-automatic firearm. He is being held on $3 million bail at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. The charges stemmed from the incident that left two people with gunshot wounds.
Volunteers helped in making the site of 3,000 tons of sand at Alameda Point ready for the arrival of the least terns. Multiple groups of volunteers came out on numerous occasions to fix any issues caused by wind and water erosion. The endangered least terns have had great success on the old airfield at Alameda Point, thriving since they narrowly avoided extinction more than four decades ago.
Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point’s remediation continued, upping the radium testing during the process. The special radium testing went beyond routine sediment sampling required throughout the bay prior to the issuance of any dredging permits.
More plans for Alameda Point’s restoration project became available to the public during a Planning Board public workshop intended for discussion and hearing public opinion on block 6 and 7 at Site A. During the workshop, the Planning Board considered proposed names for streets at Site A, and reviewed the new plans which included a landscaped plaza on each corner of West Atlantic Avenue on the west side of Main Street.
Alameda Point Collaborative brought a whole new meaning to “Farm to Table” at its annual Urban Farm Table fundraiser. Around 100 guests were seated underneath a canopy in the middle of the crops at Alameda Point Farm. Guests enjoyed gourmet meals with many of the ingredients having been grown only a few feet from where they were seated.
Plans for Alameda Landing’s all-commercial 41-acre waterfront parcel behind Target changed right before entering its final development stage. The new plans called for an additional 375 housing units, a 124-room hotel, restaurants and a small amount of commercial space. The developer decided to scratch the all-commercial plan due to lack of demand.
Encinal High unveiled a new mural showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Traditionally, the graduating class designs a tile mural where each student designs a tile to be mounted with their class. This mural, designed by students in the 2016 graduating class, was done in place of the traditional mural due to the students wanting to show their support for the movement.
Island, Alameda and Encinal high schools showed their support for students in the graduating class of 2016 as they celebrated their graduation. All three schools together applauded more than 1,000 graduates.
The Planning Board considered the plan for a two-story senior assisted living facility at the Harbor Bay Business Park. Westmont of Harbor Bay submitted the plan to open the facility on 5.5 acres of open space at 2900 Harbor Bay Parkway near the Harbor Bay ferry terminal. The property lay within an area known as the Esplanade, which the Planning Board originally approved in 2008. That approval gave developers the green light to put up 10 office buildings on 9.22 acres.