April 2013 Newsletter
As I embark on my new role as your Alameda City Councilmember, I want to introduce my email newsletter, which I will use to keep in touch with you about what's going on in Alameda and at City Hall, as well as impending Council decisions and debates. I want you to have the opportunity to impact the actions taken by your elected officials before they occur. I also want you to know about specific projects I'm working on to make our city a better place. And most importantly, I want to use this newsletter as a conversation starter, to generate feedback and input from you about how best to move Alameda forward.
So here's what's been happening in Alameda.
Appointed Vice Mayor of Alameda
As top vote getter in November's election, I was chosen by my colleagues to be Vice Mayor after being sworn in to the City Council in December. I am honored to hold this position and look forward to working with Mayor Gilmore and Councilmembers Tam, Chen, and Daysog in the months and years ahead.
The Beltline - An Opportunity for a New Park
In early March, I took a community tour of the former Beltline Railroad property in central Alameda. This 22-acre parcel is a hidden gem that runs parallel to Atlantic Avenue, between Sherman Street and Constitution Way. The first thing that struck me was the peaceful quietness of this area, just steps away from the Wind River Campus and Marina Village Business Park.
The Beltline property provides an exciting opportunity to plan a new park from scratch and the City has begun seeking community input. Feedback received at three public meetings and on the City's website indicates a strong interest in creating a park with open space, community gardens, walking trails, bicycle paths, playgrounds and possibly a sculpture garden.
There is still a long way to go with planning, funding and volunteer efforts needed. I encourage you to get involved in shaping this exciting opportunity for Alameda.
So What Do You Think? Click here to let me know what you would like to see done at the Beltline property.
Jack Capon Villa - A Win-Win For Alameda
On March 13, I attended the Groundbreaking Ceremony for Jack Capon Villa on Lincoln Avenue. This site, named after the late Jack Capon, who founded Alameda's Special Olympics program, is the first of its kind in Alameda. It will provide affordable apartment units for adults with developmental disabilities, an on-site, live-in manager, meeting rooms for classes and workshops, and a computer lab. Located near public transit, the Main Library and the Park Street shopping district, this project expands affordable housing opportunities in our city and benefits an underserved population. That's a win-win for Alameda.
Keeping Rents Affordable in Alameda
In early March I met with one of the leaders of the Alameda Association of Realtors to discuss a recent excessive rent increase that resulted in an elderly couple and their disabled adult daughter having to leave the apartment they had rented for 17 years. We had a productive conversation about this incident, about what constitutes affordable rental rates in Alameda, and how to reconcile the interests of both landlords and tenants if a similar situation arises in the future because, unlike some other Bay Area cities, Alameda doesn't have rent control.
So What Do You Think? Should Alameda have rent control? Click here to let me know.
Revitalizing North Park Street
With the departure of the car dealerships that once populated North Park Street, and the significant sales tax revenue they generated for the General Fund, Alameda is looking to attract new businesses to the area and improve its appearance at the same time.
On April 2 and April 16, the City Council addressed these issues. Prior to these meetings, I met with members of the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society and residents of the Wedge neighborhood, to hear their concerns with zoning issues in the North Park Street area, including building height limits and what to do with the former Island High site in the Wedge neighborhood.
The Council voted unanimously to allow a 60-foot maximum building height and special design review guidelines patterned after the successful Downtown Recovery Plan used by the City of Santa Cruz to rebuild its historic downtown after the Loma Prieta earthquake. I have also offered to work with members of Project Leaf to explore the idea of a community garden on former railroad property on Tilden Way.
Women Who Dare
(At the Women Who Dare event with honoree Alameda County DA Nancy O'Malley and guests)
Last month I attended the Women Who Dare Awards, a great yearly event put on by Girls Inc. of the Island City to commemorate adult and teenage women who are making a difference and breaking barriers in our community. For more information, visit: www.girlsincislandcity.org
Traveling to Sacramento to Testify in Favor of Alameda's Ferries
As an island community, Alameda's ferries are a critical part of our transportation infrastructure and emergency response system. The future development of Alameda Point depends on expanded ferry service. Recently, legislation was proposed that would seriously curtail Alameda's representation on WETA (Water Emergency Transportation Authority), the regional authority that governs the ferries so, on April 10, I accompanied Mayor Marie Gilmore and Planning Board Member John Knox White to the State Capitol, where we testified before the Assembly Local Government Committee, in opposition to this proposal. I will keep you posted on these developments.
Thanks so much for reading. Until next time . . .