Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 26, 2014

To have temporary nausea

Filed under: Alameda, School — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

A commenter on an earlier post about the School Facilities Bond wrote:

In the meantime, the Alameda High School is the only school, to my knowledge, that is not Field Act Standard compliant and it will not take that much money to get it compliant. Then, staff can move back in and the school system can save the money they are spending on admin space at Marina Village to use for student education.

According to results of the community meetings around the facilities, it sounded as though this option, fixing up the Historic Alameda High School for District usage was not high on the list of priorities for most people.  In fact, I highly doubt that a bond measure asking for money to fix HAHS for administration uses would ever fly.   But, as a point of comparison right now the current price tag for renovating HAHS is $44 million.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 3.46.29 PM


That’s a full structural rehabilitation (Field Act Standards) but also converting the building for student use and then the District Office would occupy the older new building.   I’m sure there are some more add on that aren’t strictly HAHS related so let’s lop off $10 million and say those are for non HAHS and bring the renovation cost of HAHS to $34 million.

The current rental cost, the six year lease at the Marina Village site, is around $3.2 million.  The cost to have purchased the site would have been $5.9 million, only $2.7 million more than the rental cost.   A much much smaller amount than the anticipated cost to renovate HAHS and a missed opportunity in terms of an asset that would be appropriate for a long time for business services.

Here’s a fun quote from School Board member Trish Spencer from that 2012 article:

“I toured the site and became nauseous seeing the lush offices for the administration and thinking of where our students go every day,” she said. “We have students in facilities from the mid-1900s.

And yet when asked to vote to place a school facilities bond on the ballot to fix those facilities from the mid-1900s that makes her “nauseous” in comparison to the corporate business park District staff is currently in, she balks and actively attempts to torpedo the bond measure before it even gets off the ground.



  1. Really good point Lauren. I didn’t realize that Trish made these comments — it shows that she flip flops all over the place and that there is no reasoning behind her consistent “no” votes other than to be in opposition to everything the board votes yes on.

    But it appears she has followers who vote no on everything — no new development, no sale tax increases, no parcel taxes, no school bond measure, No No No!

    Comment by Karen Bey — June 26, 2014 @ 6:43 am

  2. I hope comment #1 isn’t suggesting one has to be yes on all those items listed. Each is complicated. Reasonable people might be yes on some and no on others.

    On the issue of the unsafe historic Alameda High building, people should not be in it unless it is repaired and made safe. The thing some still seem unwilling or unable to accept is that there just wasn’t any realistic place within AUSD for the district office to go once it became clear how unsafe that old building was, so they had no choice but to lease office space somewhere and it does seem like they got a reasonable lease rate. That office move was unfortunate, but it seems like also something that had to happen because there weren’t any practical alternatives. I don’t see how people can say it was a waste of money to move unless they are saying the school district should have left the district office there and put people’s lives at risk.

    Based on the info that has come out so far, it doesn’t yet seem clear how the proposed bond would deal with that old building.

    Comment by Inconvenient Building — June 26, 2014 @ 7:59 am

  3. Lauren, you did not mention the fact that to bring Alameda High School to Field Act Standards, the structural cost is $7-$9M per the cost estimates prepared by QUA (page 22) . Their figure does not include soft costs such as architectural drawings and all sorts of items the school district might add. This was the point of my comment you are using and is the amount to make the building usable for the administration, like it was prior to the discovery of insufficient structural integrity. .

    #2 – They could have leased the administration building at NAS and paid rent to the city. I bet it would have been far less money that what they are paying at Marina Village.That space was good enough for city employees and is a beautiful building.

    Comment by Nancy Hird — June 26, 2014 @ 9:12 am

  4. Trish Spender is a detriment to the school board, the district and the city of Alameda. I was appalled at her condescending tone, misplaced suspicion and unsubstantiated arguments at Tuesday’s board meeting as it related to the bond measure. Our schools are falling apart, and a substantial part of Alameda High School can’t be used due to unsafe conditions. She opposed putting the measure on the ballot. Why doesn’t she want voters to decide the fate of Alameda schools?

    She’s our version of Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman. Throw verbal bombs, oppose everythng, and get nothing done. I’m sorry someone like that even lives in Alameda, much less sits on the school board.

    Comment by Larry Witte — June 26, 2014 @ 9:25 am

  5. Concerning Trish Spencer’s comment: I read it as a comparison between the lushness of the Admin offices and the utilitarianism of student accommodations and neither the students nor the Administrators deserve “lush”, and she’s right. There’s nothing wrong with mid-1900s’ accommodations as Nancy Hird succinctly pointed out in #3.

    Comment by Jack — June 26, 2014 @ 9:26 am

  6. Take a walk through the district office. Lush/luxe are the last two words you will use. Plain and utilitarian will probably be the first.

    Comment by Ambrose Bierce — June 26, 2014 @ 9:55 am

  7. post #2, in your first paragraph you sated it well, “reasonable people might be yes on some issues and no on others.” Ms. Spencer however seems to be “no” on all issues, as long as staff or other board members are in favor of that issue. She is not reasonable, she is decisive. we need better.

    Comment by John P. — June 26, 2014 @ 10:14 am

  8. 6
    Then all the more reason why they should be located at the NAS, like was suggested by Nancy Hird.

    Comment by Jack — June 26, 2014 @ 11:07 am

  9. Ms Hird:

    You think it would be cheaper. Do you KNOW it would be?

    Do you know if it’s large enough? Do you know if that building is Field Act compliant, or if the city is willing or even able to rent it? Do you have information, or only suspicions?

    Comment by dave — June 26, 2014 @ 11:19 am

  10. Lauren wrote: “According to results of the community meetings around the facilities, it sounded as though this option, fixing up the Historic Alameda High School for District usage was not high on the list of priorities for most people. In fact, I highly doubt that a bond measure asking for money to fix HAHS for administration uses would ever fly. ”

    Now that some polling has been done this may be the case, but you are referring to the people who showed up at some meetings right? On the other hand many people have cynically speculated that the concern for preservation of the building would be used by the district to try to get the bond passed and I still think the issue of preservation and the popularity of preservation ethos in Alameda is at play and will factor in to the vote.

    #9, dave, Right. I believe the details on terms for the City Hall West have been stated here, but I can’t recall more than the buildings would have required improvements at a substantial cost. Not ready to use. The district did it’s own research on options and the conclusion that renting at Marina Village was the only viable option seemed suspect to many who wished to think other wise. An imperfect metaphor would be fox and hen house. Anyway, the problem with detractors of the move to Marina Village was that none of them put forward a really thorough plan which really broke down exactly where and how the offices could be accommodated elsewhere, including various district owned facilities. Of course those detractors did not have a stipend for doing a study in the way the district was able to muster internal resources for the same purpose. Kind of catch 22 all around. Despite all this, it’s hard to believe that if finding a cheaper solution than Marina Village which kept money closer to home ( i.e. at least City coffers, if not AUSD) that such a solution could not have been found. I’ve not visited the current offices, but from photos one would hardly call them opulent. Looks like decent space where any of us would like to work, but not palatial. Again, not something I can get overly excited about or find scathing. Raise an eyebrow maybe, but it’s a done deal.

    All the squawk about the fence is a bit over board. Everybody is a f-ing expert. It’s my subjective esthetic but the howling about it being ugly seems stupid. It’s simply not that bad. The cost? $800,000 is a huge chunk of change, but one assumes it was put out to bid and that a qualified person like Robbie at facilities vetted the bids. Considering the design and the elaborate construction it may not be unreasonable cost, but when I think about it I’m not sure why it couldn’t have been done for less. The only way for me to know would be to literally measure and study the plans and get estimates, so I’m agnostic on the cost. It’s done. The objective was to create a debris catch basin, so the heavy boards at the base. But it’s curious that the actual cyclone fencing material is attached on the OUTSIDE of the posts ( least resistance) and is attached with simple loops of steel wire which one can imagine being pushed past their limit by bouncing pieces of concrete cornice and other debris in a seismic event. But again, I’ll defer to engineers who designed the thing and not obsess. It’s done.

    I don’t like the idea of anybody having to work in a building which is at risk in the event of a quake no matter if they are private or public employees. Using the many persons at risk in the private sector as a comparison is a lame race to the bottom sort of analysis. I would never want any relative of mine to be working in the existing HAHS building in it’s current state. On the other hand I was asked recently if the Field Act legal requirements extends beyond students, which is an interesting question I’m not sure has been resolved. has it been? Anybody? In many smaller districts the administration office are contiguous and so students would be at risk and the issue is moot.

    FINALLY, since we DO need to deal with facilities improvements, the public at large ( not just five people) needs to weigh in on the bond option, and it seems irresponsible to deny that by blocking that option. Don’t like it, campaign against it. I don’t think this is a stacked deck, or outcome a foregone conclusion by any means. Despite all the contentiousness in the past over things like the theater, an open public debate seems like a good thing.

    Comment by MI — June 26, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

  11. #10 The Fence actually cost $185,000, not $800,000. (The larger figure that people use includes the costs of seismic upgrades that were done to HAHS at the same time.)

    #3 District staff did look at two properties out on Alameda Point when they were looking for a place to lease. According to the report, “significant facility work” would have been needed just to make those properties habitable. The properties also hadn’t been seismically retrofitted. And the rates discussed were higher than those of newer properties available on the island (such as Marina Village).

    Comment by Susan Davis (Sr. Manager, Community Affairs, AUSD) — June 26, 2014 @ 3:03 pm

  12. Well heck why don’t we just make all those empty buildings at Marina Village school rooms since they’re plentiful, cheap and available?

    Comment by Jack — June 26, 2014 @ 6:56 pm

  13. If you are worrying about Earthquakes and Safety…..Why would you move offices to a place that has a 73% chance to Liquefy from a place that has less than 1% chance . Putting up a fence around HAHS doesn’t mean it is more risky then the new offices…. In fact HAHS is 73 times safer ground in a 7.1 earthquake…….

    Approximate percent
    of area predicted to
    liquefy for M = 7.1

    Comment by interesting times — June 26, 2014 @ 8:28 pm

  14. Dis-interesting Johnny Times, I’d much rather be in a place that liquifies, especially after 5 PM.

    Comment by Jack — June 26, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

  15. I’d rather be a renter in a liquefaction zone who has to move after a quake because the foundation cracked, than be liable($) for the deaths of workers buried by a building known to be likely to collapse on bedrock.

    Comment by BMac — June 27, 2014 @ 10:20 am

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