Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 12, 2014

Build it and they will keep out?

Filed under: Alameda, Public Resources, School — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

The great fence of Ruby Bridges is — thanks to quick work on the part of the School District and Alameda Rec and Park Department — up and has been up since the assault on a Ruby Bridges student late last year.   I supported the installation of the fence, not because I thought that it would keep bad elements out, but because the anger of the Ruby Bridges community was so palpable that the only thing that could have helped to mitigate the levels of anger was a very visible and very large symbol that something had been done, even if it were nothing more the symbolic.

Since the fence has gone up it’s been a mixed bag.  With parents and students continuing to prop open gates, the efficacy of the security of the fence is largely reduced.  I’ve seen students — elementary students — successfully hop the gates and fences so it’s role as a deterrent is fairly minimal.

I have to say, living with this fence now for a few months as both a parent of Ruby Bridges students and a neighbor in the community, I would firmly chalk the installation of the fence as a huge mistake.  So this comes as a warning to other elementary schools in light of recent meetings for the Facilities Master Plan process.  I know that some other elementary schools have expressed interest in their own Ruby Bridges-esque fence to secure their school and play yard but it is important to think about the repercussions of what the fence will do to the neighborhood as a whole.

The play yard and basketball courts of Ruby Bridges Elementary school have become unused because these past few months it’s unclear if the gates have been unlocked on a regular basis.  The random times I have been around the gates have been locked.  When I contacted the School District about this I was told that the school site was responsible for unlocking the gate on weekends and after children are no longer present on weekdays.   When I contacted the school site, I was told that Rec and Park was given keys and was responsible for unlocking the gates.  When I contacted Rec and Park, the Director said that the District was responsible and that “their staff” (I read this as District staff, probably school site staff) would ensure that the gates would be open to the public.   I am going to guess that this weekend — and hopefully Friday since it’s a school holiday — the gates will be open.   I’m just hoping that whoever is responsible for keeping the great fence of Ruby Bridges unlocked will have some sort of system in place to make sure that it is consistently done before daylight savings times hits, because that’s when the kids will really need it.

The weird thing is that my email to the Rec and Park department was the first time it was brought to the attention of the Rec and Park director, possibly because the assumption was from the community was that the play area was no longer “public.”   Visually it really does make it seem as though the play yard is not open to the public because it is no longer opening and inviting.  So that’s another unintended consequence of fencing up a previously unfenced yard, it’s imposing and uninviting.  But I guess in this age of stranger danger and worrying about school shootings the an inviting and welcoming atmosphere ranks pretty low for school sites.



  1. This blog has suddenly become rather vapid. What, nothing about Stewart Chen?

    Comment by vigi — February 12, 2014 @ 11:06 am

  2. nothing about politicians ever surprises me.

    Comment by John P. — February 12, 2014 @ 11:41 am

  3. Considering Lauren did an entire feature on Stewart Chen [which is now closed to comments]
    and didn’t turn this up, considering all the space & breath wasted on AM Gallant….this is a bona fide story

    Comment by vigi — February 12, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

  4. The first couple lines from Chen’s profile on this blog are comedy gold:

    1. What is the hardest decision you’ve had to make in your professional life?

    The hardest decision that I have had to make, so far, is my decision to run for Alameda City Council and, potentially, leave the Hospital Board.

    Comment by dave — February 12, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

  5. I didn’t know this about Steward Chen.

    I personally hated the fences. The park was suppose to be for the school as well as the community and after school the courts were suppose to be available to the public. I grew up in a small town and we would set up bases and play kick ball at after we ate our lunch. We would set up bases and get some exercise. Know they are all locked in. I guess times have changed.

    Comment by Joe — February 12, 2014 @ 5:26 pm

  6. A few years ago the then principal of Edison wanted to put a 12′ fence all the way around. Thankfully, the idea was nixed. I grew up across from a school in another community, where we played on the fields, the courts, and skateboarded down the long walkway all weekend. My mother still lives there and now it is totally fenced off and unavailable to the community except for scheduled events with school staff present. So sad that we cannot use our own public facilities as parks any longer.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — February 12, 2014 @ 5:48 pm

  7. #3 The Politics of Alameda is a lot like Camus’s L’Strangie

    Comment by frank — February 12, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

  8. From a news story behind a pay wall, this snippet….

    Hundreds of parents and residents are squaring off in an uncharacteristically rabid Newport-Mesa Unified School District debate – but not over the usual topics like academics, teachers or cheating. This time, it’s a debate over fences.

    The issue over fencing at two elementary schools in the district has ignited both parents and homeowners in the neighborhoods surrounding Adams Elementary in Costa Mesa and Andersen Elementary in Newport Beach. The district had hoped to install fencing around the two schools for safety …

    Comment by Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonAUSD) — February 28, 2014 @ 8:10 am

  9. What? Who wants to pay $20 to learn about a fence in Timbuktu when we can read about one right here in river city?

    Continue with the story. Get full access to and much more by becoming a 7-day subscriber. Just $19.99 gets you 4 weeks of home delivery. This is what 7-day subscribers enjoy:

    Comment by Jack R — February 28, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

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