Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 14, 2013

Field Act of dreams

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

So, seriously, who’s been going around telling people that Kofman Auditorium is at the business end of a wrecking ball?   Because when I watched one of the meetings about the Historic Alameda High School practically all of the letters read by Alice Lai-Bitker — who is the representative for the rest of us who are not represented by some stakeholder group — everyone seemed to refer to how special the Kofman auditorium is, smells and all.

Because if you notice, the Kofman Auditorium is not listed as one of the affected buildings because that is one of the few buildings that IS Field Act compliant.


Anyway, as mentioned last week, the District now has numbers for retrofitting the building to four earthquake safety standards, you’ll need to click to enlarge, but this is how it breaks down:


Here it is in table form with the soft costs added in and the modernization cost added in as well. I estimated the modernization cost at $150 per square feet which was super conservative considering that an estimate of modernization costs for the Portland School District was around $330 per square feet during their 2011 bond. The very conservative estimate was calculated by multiplying the $150 per square foot by the total square footage in the slide above.

Collapse Prevention Historic Building Code Basic Life Safety Field Act Standard
Low $20.2 million $18.8 million $21.3 million $21.9 million
High $24.9 million $23.1 million $26.4 million $27.2 million
Soft Cost (30% of High estimate) $7.47 million $6.93 million $7.92 million $8.16 million
Modernization Cost $11.25 million
Total $32.37 million $30.03 million $34.32 million $46.61 million

So the least it would cost to retrofit and modernize the building for student usage — because honestly now — are people going to argue that we should retrofit the building for student use but not go ahead and modernize as well?  That would be silly.   So I didn’t include modernization costs for the first three earthquake safety standards because the only way that students can use the buildings would be to meet the Field Act standard.

In reviewing these numbers it seems like this whole exercise was rather fruitless since it doesn’t include numbers for the other options such as a whole scale demolition and rebuilding.   I know that makes some people tense and clench, but let’s face it, in order for the School Board to make an informed decision about what to do, you have to lay out ALL the options on the table.

At $46.61 million, and besides I’m getting a sense that number is low too, because they based it on the Napa High School renovation which wasn’t converted back to student usage and I picked a pretty low price per square footage number, that’s about half of the cost estimated to fix up ALL the other facilities in the Alameda Unified School District.   I’m not sure if that’s the highest and best use of whatever bond funds the School District may or may not be able to lure out of people.



  1. Only in Alameda…What is the debate? This is way too expensive and/or not the will of the people at the present time (remember the pool vote?). Keep Kofman Auditorium and knock down the rest, or keep it the way it is and don’t use it for school purposes if you simply like big empty buildings with questionable architectural integrity and no conceivable function surrounded by “the fence” – which should scare away most developers… But is their a market for buildings of this type without modernization? The only discussion is what to put up in its place.

    Comment by Solidcitizen — May 14, 2013 @ 6:50 am

  2. I was at one of the meetings and asked point blank if Kofman was in danger of being demolished. Kirsten Vital got up and said “these meetings are not about Kofman.” Which is nice but it did not answer the question. The school board has the final decision as to what will happen to any of its buildings, Field Act compliant or not. The City Council has no jurisdiction and public opinion is great but, in the end, means nothing. The AUSD board can do what it likes. This means that, if they decide to sell the property to a developer and use the big bucks they would get for the land to modernize and/or replace other buildings, and if the deal is contingent on Kofman being part of the package, the buyer can then do as he or she wants with the building, including tearing it down. In fact, AUSD could tear it down themselves anyway, just for yucks (not that they would, I’m just saying). No one from AUSD had lifted a finger to reassure people that Kofman will continue to stand. It would be easy to allay fears with a simple official statement. Since AUSD has failed to do this, one would be foolish to assume it can’t or won’t happen. If AUSD is already considering it, it serves their best interests to allow the public to assume that it’s not on the table just because the building is safe to use. Few people have turned up for the meetings, I believe, in part, because they don’t think there’s an issue. The point is, neither Kofman’s structural integrity nor its historic landmark status, provide any protection against demolition if AUSD or a future owner decides it has to go.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 14, 2013 @ 8:18 am

  3. we do need some sort of estimate for demolition and new construction to be able to make informed decision. It is hard for me to wrap my brain around the idea of selling off the buildings, unless Alameda High is completely relocated, though with open ball field to the east of the newer building perhaps new construction could occur adjacent without AUSD bearing demo costs of HAH, but allowing it to reap income from land sales. Any path will take years to complete. If BOE votes to do nothing with buildings in the short term that still leaves all options open. A school near where I grew up built a new building next to an old one before tearing the older one down, but in that case the older building remained in use. This whole situation is a complicated mess and anybody who thinks the path out of this is obvious and simple is fooling themselves. Remember than Carnegie library has been retrofitted and the plan to renovate interior and replace aluminum windows etc. imploded with the economy, so there it sits.

    Comment by MI — May 14, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  4. So because the Supe said “these meetings are not about the Kofman” you interpreted that as “these meetings are about the Kofman and no one is reassuring us that the Kofman won’t be torn down.”

    Got it.

    Or maybe it is what it is. These meetings were not about the Kofman and if the Kofman becomes an issue there will be more meetings to address that particular asset. But no, it must be some elaborate agenda to not talk about the Kofman when the Kofman is surreptitiously on the agenda.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 14, 2013 @ 9:09 am

  5. My commissioner of Alameda buildings says keep Kofman and let San Andreas have the others.

    Comment by Jack Richard — May 14, 2013 @ 9:33 am

  6. 4 Seven Kofmans in four sentences. You may want to check with sick bay, maybe get some cough drops.

    Comment by Jack Richard — May 14, 2013 @ 9:36 am

  7. Keep Kofman columns, facade. Tear down the rest and build replacement. Move forward. We can’t even fix the broken 2nd elevator at the parking garage and library right?

    Comment by Testing123 — May 14, 2013 @ 10:52 am

    Abe must be rolling over in his grave.

    Comment by vigi — May 14, 2013 @ 11:23 am

  9. 8. Whoa … regardless of what we do with the school, that website needs an update! Haven’t seen anything so internet retro in ages 🙂

    Comment by alameda — May 14, 2013 @ 12:19 pm

  10. Two Major Bonds Floated By the District With Major Selling Point Saving Historic Alameda High School

    A school bond for $47.6 million was passed in 1989 for repairs of all schools, building a new school on Bay Farm -Island and a new gymnasium at Alameda High School. Seismic work for Historic Alameda High School was included in this bond, however; after work was completed on the other schools, the balance was not sufficient to accomplish all the necessary work on Historic Alameda High School. A compromise was therefore made that only the central part of the Main Building including the Auditorium and the classrooms on the floors above would be retrofitted, restored, and renovated. There were insufficient funds to complete this project, so considerable funds were donated by the Foundation in order that this area could be restored and beautified with painting, carpeting, lighting, etc.

    Alameda County, CA March 2, 2004 Election
    Measure C
    Alameda Unified School District
    55% Approval Required
    13,809 / 71.9% Yes votes …… 5,396 / 28.1% No votes

    Alameda School Repair Measure. “To renovate aging neighborhood schools, improve student safety conditions, relieve classroom overcrowding, construct, equip, upgrade classrooms, facilities and sites, and qualify for over $17 million in State matching funds, shall the Alameda City Unified School District issue $63 million of bonds at legal rates, with annual audits and citizen oversight, with no proceeds going to the State and all funds remaining in Alameda to benefit neighborhood schools without increasing existing tax rates.

    Historic Alameda High School East Wing 1) Repair/replace roofing 2) Repair/replace heating, ventilation, electrical, plumbing systems 3) Repair/renovate classrooms, buildings, windows, walls/doors 4) Upgrade emergency/security/technology systems 5) Seismic retrofit, hazardous materials abatement, disabled access projects 6) Renovate restrooms
    Historic Alameda High School West Wing 1) Repair/replace roofing 2) Repair/replace heating, ventilation, electrical, plumbing, lighting systems 3) Repair/renovate classrooms, buildings, windows, walls/doors 4) Upgrade emergency/security/technology systems 5) Seismic retrofit, hazardous materials abatement, disabled access projects 6) Renovate restrooms
    Listed building, repair, and rehabilitation projects and upgrades will be completed as needed. Each project is assumed to include its share of furniture, equipment, architectural, engineering, and similar planning costs, construction management, and a customary contingency for unforeseen design and construction costs. The allocation of bond proceeds will be affected by the District’s receipt of State bond funds and the final costs of each project. The budget for each project is an estimate and may be affected by factors beyond the District’s control. The final cost of each project will be determined as plans are finalized, construction bids are awarded, and projects are completed

    Comment by School Board and Administrators Just Flips Finger After Getting Money — May 14, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

  11. Comment by Why Worry......Trust us we have never mislead — May 14, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

  12. Auto Spell Check error

    Comment by From Mislead to misled in a single bounce — May 14, 2013 @ 1:48 pm

  13. 4. “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” The bushel basket from this AUSD board has been decidedly mixed. For this reason, I wonder what they will do. I asked and I was evaded. Why the lack of transparency? If the AUSD has absolutely no intention of allowing Kofman to be torn down, why not say so? As you pointed out, Lauren, a number of letters Alice read at the meeting were prompted by the fear that Kofman might be demolished. Alameda Civic Ballet has been vocal about its concerns in this regard, in no small part because their annual production of “Nutcracker” is performed there. Why devote so much of the meeting time to these remarks if it’s a “non-issue”? Implying that my concern is a paranoid fantasy is unfair. The paranoia is only fueled by the reluctance of AUSD to squarely address the concerns voiced by a number of people in the community.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 14, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

  14. 10. I was surprised to know through vigi post 8 that there was another construction bond in 1989 three years before we moved here which may have been more explicitly promising HAH retrofit than Measure C ever has. I was here for C and voted for it and I have no clear recollection that complete retrofit of HAH would be forthcoming or promised. Not only that, anybody who has any clue of real costs can easily infer that the long list is essentially a wish list as much as anything else, since the bond with state matching funds could not be stretched to all that stuff. It’s a list of what’s broke which could be addressed with the bond funds. As far as I’m concerned I am glad we passed both of them or our school buildings would probably be half condemned, Alameda High stairwell still flowing like Niagra Falls in rain storms. Maybe there was strategic mis-representation in the campaign rhetoric, but I don’t read it has waving retrofit of HAH as big fish to be fried and then not doing it.

    Even if you do have a point, what are you asking us to do, never spend another public dollar on infrastructure so we can spend it all on “necessities” for kids like state of the art hi tech? Maybe I would not be in disagreement with your points about waste, or whatever, if you clearly delineated strategy for solution rather than simply pointing an accusatory finger at others. You constantly lay blame but never really offer anything in the way of concrete solutions , only generalities. When are you going to put down the keyboard and run for school board or start organizing volunteer fire department?

    Comment by M.I. — May 14, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

  15. Or maybe people were worried about the Kofman being torn down because folks assumed it was on the list and went around saying that it was going to be torn down instead of taking the whole issue at face value.

    Besides, the fact that we don’t even have a demolition number should speak volumes.

    Comment by Lauren Do — May 14, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

  16. 15. I have never heard anyone say it was going to be torn down. People are concerned that it might be and the fact is that it might. The fact that we don’t have a demolition number may speak volumes, but what exactly do those volumes say? That’s not on the horizon, or that they’d rather postpone dealing with the public outcry if it is?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — May 14, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

  17. What Speaks Volumes is No One Trusts the Actions of the School Board and Administrators.

    Moral and Ethics Create Trust…….. They Have lost the Trust …..

    You Don’t Say something is for the Kids Benefit and then take all the money .

    You Don’t Campaign as your Major point For Restoring Something that is important to the Community and then through a Penny in the Wishing Well and Hope No one Remembers. Those Bonds Passed because the people Trusted the HAHS would be restored.

    Comment by Pathetic Situation — May 14, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

  18. If the Supe wouldn’t talk about Kofman, then it’s being considered for demolition or sale or nothing.

    Comment by Jack Richard — May 14, 2013 @ 5:31 pm

  19. 14

    How many days would it take me to get 5000 Qualified Applicants to Be Firefighters and Paramedics for 75,000 a year Total Compensation….. They Shut off applications at one City in One Day after 5000.

    I know our Moral obligation is to Buy Each Fireman the equivalent between 4-8 houses fully paid for so they can retire at 50 and pay them twice what a Federal Fireman makes. Were Alameda and were on Verge of BK.

    We might then have a few Dollars to Fix a few things in the City like those Pesky Roads and Sidewalks and maybe even have a few Park Programs that are free. Maybe even Fix our Pools… Were Not that Crazy.

    Comment by Moral Obligation — May 14, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

  20. 14

    Give me a List of All the Companies that Employer Matches 36% of their Pay to Retirement Benefits. It’s about 12 Times the Average.

    Large number of our Fireman will receive the Equivalent of 8 -12 Fully Paid For by the Residents upon retirement.

    We like to do the Morally Right Thing.

    Comment by Moral Obligation — May 14, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

  21. 19. 20. I don’t need answer your rhetorical questions or feed your diversion from my question which I repeat: When are you going to run for BOE and start that volunteer firefighter campaign, being the first to volunteer of course?

    I was just surfing side bar of blog roll and under Politubing watched Tom Lynch, 2012 candidate for BOE, mention that a new high school would cost in the range of $350 million. He said he got the figure from Ron Mooney. He also talks about flipping classes, where kids are assigned Kahn Academy videos for home work and then return to class the next day and spend time going over it with real live teachers. Sounds great.

    Comment by M.I. — May 14, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

  22. Re: costs to build new school buildings of the same square footage as would be potentially demolished (not including Kofman Auditorium, the classrooms above it, and the old gym, all Field Act compliant). I asked the question at the meeting– how much would it cost to build a new state of the art facility that would have the same square footage as the buildings being replaced? The answer from the architects was, ball park $400 to $500 per square foot. This does not have any demolition costs included, or any of the soft costs that also weren’t included in these ball park estimates. So for the 75,000 square feet of space, the cost for new comes to around $30 to $37.5 million, without the demolition costs.

    The existing school buildings were built as a school with a good design with windows on each classroom. The science rooms were just remodeled prior to closure and are nicer than the rooms in the 1970’s buildings, that are too small to fit all of the students doing a lab at the same time. If the district will need the space at all, it makes sense to retrofit the existing rather than build new.

    The only way demolition of the old parts would be cheaper than retrofit is to demolish them and replace with sports fields or something flat that does not require earthquake safety.

    Part of the previous bond issues were used to make the classrooms above Kofman usable for students. The new high school buildings were only built for a population of about 1400. For the past several years the school has had between 1800 and 2000 students so they have had to borrow space from the old buildings. The old buildings held 2000.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — May 14, 2013 @ 8:58 pm

  23. Keviis……They are not that good at Math unless they have to divide between I and Me.

    Comment by Were Starting To Understand — May 14, 2013 @ 9:07 pm

  24. ” The new high school buildings were only built for a population of about 1400. For the past several years the school has had between 1800 and 2000 students so they have had to borrow space from the old buildings. The old buildings held 2000.”


    Most of the Growth is coming from Oakland where they are closing their Schools down. Have many friends that make their track into Alameda to our schools. They are safer and many carpool.

    Comment by Were Starting To Understand — May 14, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

  25. At AHS, the growth is not from Oakland. Lincoln is way overcrowded too.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — May 14, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

  26. Oakland School District has Gone from 59,000 Students To 38,000 Students..They are Not Coming to Alameda….The Growth isn’t from Oakland… Amazing what you learn here.

    Comment by Amazing what you learn here — May 15, 2013 @ 2:46 am

  27. Oakland’s youth population experienced a -15.7% decline between 2000 and 2010, a loss of over 17,000 youth under 20 years of age. The biggest decline in population has been school-age children between the ages of 5 and 14, which fell by over 20% since 2000. In addition, charter schools opened in Oakland now account for over 10,000 students which are no longer part of Oakland School District student population.

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — May 15, 2013 @ 7:40 am

  28. Morally, I have no problem with kids and their families skipping some rules to get a better quality education for their kids. The problem is in the costs and tax dollars. Alameda should find a way to recoup some of these costs from Oakland (good luck).

    Comment by jsanders128 — May 15, 2013 @ 8:22 am

  29. And Moral Obligation, you are absolutely right: firefighters are bankrupting this city. Check out their monster salaries here:

    Comment by jsanders128 — May 15, 2013 @ 8:23 am

  30. 15,300 Foreclosures in Oakland…A lot of Families Hurt and Kids and Families with No Money.

    Comment by In The Real World — May 15, 2013 @ 8:25 am

  31. I’m Sure Lauren will get you 2012 Update Jsanders.

    Comment by In The Real World — May 15, 2013 @ 8:28 am

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