Blogging Bayport Alameda

August 5, 2013

Lena Tam: Getting Engaged

Filed under: Alameda, Guest blogging — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

Over the next six months, the City will be engaging in an intensive effort to finalize the plans for Alameda Point that build upon the community’s past planning efforts over the last 17 years. We are not starting from scratch, but still have work to do. Alameda Point was once the driver behind our local economy. With your help, we believe it can be once again.

Do we have what it takes to build this long-term relationship in Alameda? The signs look promising:

1) We’ve Got it Goin’ On
The transfer of deeds to 1400 acres of land at the former Naval Air Station on June 24, 2013 is the first step. To summarize John Russo’s comment: “to whom much is given, much is expected.” This transfer will move Alameda Point away from public ownership into private tax rolls by taking advantage of the local and regional economic upswing. This is a great beginning and while we are grateful for this gift, we don’t expect this transfer to instantly fix our problems in the city.

2) We Enjoy Getting to Know Each Other
A marriage is not one long date. Getting engaged means that we grow together and learn about each other. All of the previous plans for Alameda Point have called for a development that includes a mix of employment, retail, and housing uses; encourages people to use alternative modes of transportation; maximizes views and access to the waterfront; creates local and regional parks; and provides housing for a mix of incomes. Exactly how this vision is implemented has not yet been determined. We need everyone to get involved and learn about each other’s aspirations. We have had stops and starts in the past, but this time is different.

3) We Need to Bring out the Best in each Other
Cheesy, I know. We are all in this together, and need to respect each other differences and perspectives. When we disagree, we can be respectful. We already agree on the big stuff. As a councilmember for the last 7 years, I am impressed with the pride that Alameda residents take in our community in comparison to other cities. We want safe and clean neighborhoods. We have passed measures to provide for libraries, parks, schools, and hospitals. We respect our public safety officers and city staff, and we want Alameda to be headed in the same direction.

4) We have to be Team Players
Compromise isn’t always 50/50. Sometimes it’s 100/0. We have to handle not getting our way sometimes. It’s not about winners and losers. It’s about using “we” statements and understanding the needs of the entire community at different phases in their lives.

5) We’re an Open Book
No topics are off-limits. We need to get real about our worries, dreams, frustrations and mess-ups. But we also have a responsibility to be informed and not rush to judgment. We need to speak the same language when we hear words like “Environmental Impact Report” and “Zoning Ordinance Amendments.” These are the major plans that the City anticipates completing by early next year:

  • Zoning Ordinance Amendment – The City will update the outdated rules and regulations about what development at Alameda Point should look and feel like. Right now the regulations say only manufacturing uses in existing buildings are allowed consistent with a former Navy base, not consistent with the community’s vision of a new mixed-use transit-oriented community with distinct neighborhoods and districts.
  • Master Infrastructure Plan – The infrastructure at Alameda Point is 70 years old and is starting to fall apart. This plan lays out how new streets, sewers, water pipes, electricity, and storm drains will be routed through the site and how much they will cost and how they could be phased. This plan also discusses how development at Alameda Point will address sea-level rise and major seismic issues.
  • Town Center and Waterfront Precise Plan – Because of the importance of the areas around the “gateway” (West Atlantic Avenue and Main Street) and the waterfront areas around the Seaplane Lagoon to the ultimate success of Alameda Point, the City is also preparing a more detailed plan just for this area that delves into the details of how this area should look and feel.
  • Environmental Impact Report – This document studies the impacts of the development proposed at Alameda Point on the environment to help the community make an informed decision about the proposed plans. This is where you’ll be able to read about potential impacts related to traffic, noise, air quality, historic resources, and biological resources like birds and wetlands, among other topics

6) We’re Thinking Long Term
The new community built at Alameda Point will become a big part of all of our lives forever. We need to hear from old and new voices that represent the diversity of our entire Alameda community. Please attend a public hearing and speak your mind; review a draft document and email a comment about it; take an online survey; read and respond to posts about Alameda Point at our Alameda Point Facebook page ( or Twitter account (@AlamedaNAS); or listen to a presentation about Alameda Point at a community meeting and tell us what you think.

Lena Tam is currently serving her second term on the Alameda City Council.



  1. kind of a corny story … don’t ya think????

    Comment by Cher — August 5, 2013 @ 6:43 am

  2. 1. All it lacks is a coloring page we can tear out and tack on the fridge.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — August 5, 2013 @ 7:36 am

  3. welcome to the dumbing down of Alameda!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Cher — August 5, 2013 @ 7:50 am

  4. let’s get to know each other …
    we do and unfortunatly the vast majority of Alamedan do not trust City Hall staff .
    last week there was an article abot seeking feedback , decisions have already been made .
    Sound like the elections are coming

    Comment by ernest — August 5, 2013 @ 9:01 am

  5. “Getting engaged”…isn’t that when the screwing officially begins?

    Comment by lante — August 5, 2013 @ 9:40 am

  6. Were going to be Alright. We have seen the Movie before.

    Comment by Lampooning — August 5, 2013 @ 10:47 am

  7. I want to take this opportunity to thank Councilmember Tam for the information and the invitation to participate in the discussions that will further define the development of Alameda Point. The City is at the forefront of a great opportunity. How that opportunity will be realized will take a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money. The challenge for the City will not be to poll the community on what it needs or wants at Alameda Point, but rather how it will attempt to harmonize the various interests in such a way that EVERYONE comes away with something. Overly Optimistic? Idealistic! Snowballs Chance in Hell! Maybe. But the City has the opportunity to do it differently this time. With strong direction from meaningful community engagement advocates like Councilmember Tam, there are great possibilities for open “No topics are off-limits” discussions.

    I can also appreciate and understand the comments posted so far. Looking back over the years, the City has not been open, transparent, forthcoming, or willing to recognize the views and interests of a number of its residents. One might ask, “What is different this time?” For one, there is a new group of staffers that bring a new culture. These folks are not afraid to engage residents in open public forums, to listen to all members of the community, to be transparent, and work on solutions that take into account the interests of all of our residents.

    A great recent example is the work Amy Woolridge, the City’s Recreation and Parks Director did at the public meetings to determine what the Jean Sweeney Open Space would look like. From all accounts I hear from, all interests were heard and recognized. More important, she was able to satisfy many of those interests either directly in the open space or at another location that was more suitable for the particular activity.

    Another difference is that Alameda now has a new city council. I have had the opportunity to work directly with Councilmembers Tam and Chen on projects and issues that required public input and can attest to their commitment to open, transparent, decision making. Additionally, Councilmembers Daysog and Ezzy-Ashcraft along with Mayor Gilmore have routinely gone into the community to hear and represent the views of residents.

    Earlier this year, I was honored to be part of a city wide community engagement involving Historic Alameda High School. Lauren asked me to guest author a post and in the next few days you can read some of the challenges one faces when designing and managing a meaningful community engagement. Key elements of that project were extensive public notice, affirmative outreach to known stakeholders, education and acceptance of the relevant information, and open discussion between groups with different interests to attempt to reach a consensus. Oh! One more aspect of that project. The AUSD staff elected to have the community run its own meeting and both staff and the school board participated as members of the community. Unique?

    Once again, thank you Councilmember Tam for the information and your invitation to the community to participate in this important development of Alameda.

    Jeff Cambra,

    Comment by Jeff Cambra — August 5, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

  8. hey jeff cambra … that’s some mighty cheap corn you are trying to peddle. You gotta to be pretty gullible to believe it. sorry no sale

    Comment by Cher — August 5, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

    • Not the first time I’ve heard that type of reply. I can appreciate the skepticism. Been right there with you on many occassions.
      My response is always the same. Do you care enough to participate in person?, and Would you participate if you thought your view would be heard, acknowledged, and respected? If the answer is yes to both, then I welcome your opinion and contribution. jc

      Comment by Jeff Cambra — August 5, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

  9. jeff cambra … just keep playing with yourself.

    Comment by Cher — August 5, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

  10. Lena Tam is transparently more responsive the the firefighters’ union that she is to taxpayers or citizens. Lena Tam openly sided with Suncal during negotiations, at the expense of and completely counter to the wishes of citizenry. She transparently voted to hire a city manager who A) was an elected official of another city B) had no previous CM experience and C) gave money to her campaign. That is transparently corrupt behavior.

    Transparency is good. Without transparency, we wouldn’t know these things, but because of it, it is transparently obvious that she is a very poor councilmember.

    Comment by dave — August 6, 2013 @ 5:47 am

  11. jeff cambra you are lena’s fool

    Comment by Cher — August 6, 2013 @ 6:50 am

  12. cambra .. you are no mediator, read your own words, they are very biased,

    Comment by Cher — August 6, 2013 @ 6:56 am

  13. Dave personifies “the politics of ignorance and resentment. It builds nothing. It gains little, if anything” (Kate Quick 8/6/13) Building bridges between warring factions at City Hall requires someone like Lena Tam that is not afraid to respond to everyone, even her critics and those that violate the public’s and steal from the City.

    Comment by BarbaraK — August 6, 2013 @ 9:14 am

    • I would like to bring the conversation back to the topic of the post, which was an invitation to participate in one or more of the various methods the City is providing to gather opinions and views from residents on the development of Alameda Point. Regardless of who is delivering the invitation, the City (not any one individual) has expressed an interest in hearing from its residents. The comments I read appear to be doubting the process of gathering the information, and how key decisions will be made? It appeared that we may have the same interest in this engagement process.

      I was interested in knowing how residents will be able to participate beyond simply voicing their views and opinions? Without more, the perception will be that when decisions are made, there will be winners and losers. It should be the rarest of exceptions that compromise means one interest gets 100% of what they want and another interest gets zero. There are many shades of grey between black and white. However, to not wind up on the zero end of the equation, one needs to participate.

      My question was and still is, “How will the City harmonize the various community interests in such a way that EVERYONE comes away with something?” I would invite readers to offer suggestions on what process they think the City should use to collect the information, how the information should be used, and most important, what mechanism should be used to make key decisions? jc

      Comment by Jeff Cambra — August 6, 2013 @ 10:49 am

  14. Since the city government is a representative democracy it’s the elected officials’ responsibility to decide what’s best for the community as a whole and act on those decisions.

    A direct democracy can get ugly but It the elected officials want to shirk their responsibility and not take the heat for decision making (because regardless of what ‘plan’ is conceived there will be fire and brimstone from factions that don’t agree with it) then place any overall plan(s) before the voters for up or down votes. Then keep on placing milestone decisions before the voters until the Point is dulled.

    Writing opinion stuff on slips of paper and presenting them to council members don’t mean squat.

    Comment by Jack R — August 6, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

  15. Whether or not you agree with Lena Tam’s decisions on the council, her facts and reasoning are right. I happen to agree with her lead in voting down the golf course land swap, and following the law on contracts with unions and developers and not waste taxpayer monies by putting the city in jeopardy. I still applaud her efforts to expose those that steal from the city (Kapler), violate agreements (Gallant), or are just plain incompetent (Highsmith).

    Comment by BarbaraK — August 7, 2013 @ 11:21 am

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