Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 29, 2021

The characters make the neighborhood

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

I can’t express how this piece in Rewire resonated with me because it’s something that has always bothered me about our local conversation around development, particularly housing development. It has to do with how even the language we use to give a reason why a development is not wanted is exclusionary in itself. The phrase mostly commonly offered in Alameda? “Neighborhood character”

From Rewire:

But what counts as “neighborhood character,” and who gets to define it?

In many cities, it’s wealthy, white homeowners who have lived there for decades.

“A common tactic is to use zoning for single family homes or large lot zoning that requires the single family homes to have a significant amount of land around the structure,” said Lance Freeman, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.

“Things like that make it difficult to construct multifamily housing. So clearly that would serve to keep out certain types of housing that would be more affordable.”

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March 26, 2021

Attorney General attention

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

By now everyone should have already heard the news that Assemblymember Rob Bonta has been appointed (pending approval by the legislature which should be a gimme) to the vacant Attorney General seat.

And, naturally, like everyone who has ever taken a photo with Rob Bonta has practically fallen over themselves to get those photos up on social media as a marker of “I knew him way back when!” You newbies won’t remember but one of Rob Bonta’s first political forays in Alameda was to run for the Hospital Board. So Hospital Board members: dream big. Dream big ya’ll.

Anyway, this appointment is really a huge upside for the AAPI community, we really need someone who will focus on the trauma and issues that have been facing the community recently. It’s also a good thing for the Bay Area because all the last few appointments have been from Southern California.

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March 25, 2021

Better than this

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

Look I’ve heard a lot of things in my time watching public meetings. It really runs the gamut but I was really surprised by one comment during the school board meeting on Tuesday night:

It even had other commenters taking time out of their comment period to essentially say, “dude WTF?” He had a graph print out that he showed to the Zoom audience as well.

But just so you all know before the school district released their data about why elementary school families were not returning to in person instruction, everyone following this debate was confidently told that the reason why was because the schedule was impossible for parents and is there was an extended schedule more people would return. Turns out that gut feeling was probably just indigestion or lactose intolerance because according to the school district survey, it was more complicated than that.

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March 24, 2021

Just breathe

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

It was something that was brought up during last City Council meeting but the topic of Universal Basic Income was floated as an item for consideration. The City of Oakland is starting a Universal Basic Income pilot which is modeled on Stockton’s pilot program. From ABC 7 news:

“We gave 125 residents $500 a month,” said former mayor of Stockton, Michael Tubbs. “We had money distributed on debit cards every month, we had researchers doing surveys, looking at spending data.”

“What we found is people spend money on how you and I spend money. 99% of the money went to things that weren’t drugs and alcohol, which is sad that I have to say that.”

Tubbs says after analyzing data from the first year of Stockton’s pilot, they saw tremendous benefits. “It caused people to be able to be more likely to find full-time work, be less likely to be unemployed, we saw the guaranteed income had positive mental health impacts comparable to Prozac.”

I heard a longer interview with Michael Tubbs on the New Abnormal podcast and he made it clear that what the UBI did was give people “breathing room.” It allowed people to be able to take time off, say a part time job, to then interview for that full time job.

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March 23, 2021

Don’t leave them this way

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Tonight is another big night for the School Board in their quest to inadvertently upset as many parents as possible because, at this point, everything they are doing is wrong because we’re constantly moving the goal posts of what we want.

I say “we” as though I have anything to do with any of these efforts, I just say “we” because I’m part of the AUSD parent community and I don’t to be the person who keeps saying “those people over there on the East End of the island.” The funny thing is I just had a heated debate with #2 son (he’s in the 7th grade) about the difficult position the district is in regarding this whole reopening thing particularly for secondary education. He’s on the “well, they should have been planning this whole time” bandwagon. I tried to explain how cohorts would be tricky given the whole mix of grades etc and so forth but he wore me down because he is a relentless talker and I just walked away. To which he determined he had “won” because I walked away. It’s tough not to eye roll your kids.

But I digress. Anyway the district is continuing on the pathway of hopefully getting something open on the secondary school level in order to not miss out on that sweet sweet state funding. Can I suggest just doing sixth grade? It may prove to be the easiest because, at least at Junior Jets, they largely stay in two classrooms and their electives are Junior Jet only electives.

Anyway. for TK – 5, AUSD is considering adding more time to in-person instruction by April 19. But the numbers are looking a bit uneven across the island of which kids are going back and which kids are not. According to recent data:

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March 22, 2021

No signs needed

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 8:06 am

In Alameda we have this thing about being afraid to “lose our past” or “forget history.” It comes up when we talk about renaming monuments and buildings from the less deserving. It comes up when we’re trying to construct buildings to serve the most vulnerable in our community. It’s wielded like a sword against anything which might bring change under the guise of preservation of history.

But the thing about it is it’s only selective history that is worthy of remembering. But since we’re on the subject of anti-Asian sentiment this is something that most people don’t know about Alameda and what always comes to my mind when people wistfully opine that we need another Neptune Beach.

Neptune Beach was de facto segregated folks.

And it wasn’t just that they wanted to keep Black folks out, nope. Asians weren’t desirable either.

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March 19, 2021

Yellow peril

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

As I mention yesterday I’ve been doing a lot of processing of the recent attention around anti-Asian violence in the US. I also reflected on why it took me so long to actually write about it since a lot of high profile attacks have happened near Alameda. I guess the reason why I haven’t written about it is the same reason why Asian Americans are often the perfect victim of crimes. We’re largely seen as not American, we’ve been conditioned to just go along to get along (assimilate), and our pain is often dismissed. So I wondered if I made waves about this if I’d have to spent countless of minutes explaining why this issue is important and why we need to talk about it.

Well Atlanta was my breaking point. It was the first time during this whole pandemic that I actually thought to myself that I should probably tell my family I love them every morning because who knows if I’ll come back home at the end of the day. But even in that I suppose that I’m lucky it’s taken me this long to come to that realization because a lot of other people with skin much darker than mine and baggage much heavier learned that lesson at a much more tender age.

Atlanta was my breaking point because of the near immediate rehabilitation tour that the folks supposedly in charge of “protection” began to justify the acts of one horrible human being. That a “bad day” for one white male served to excuse the horrific act of violence against women and the Asian community.

Because, folks, this is not new. Anti-Asian violence did not come out of nowhere it’s just getting more attention now than ever before. Because discrimination and violence against Asian folks is usually no big deal. Just look at our local example of trying to get Haight Elementary’s name changed. A historian brought Haight’s problematic comments and positions about Asian people to the citizens of Alameda and a lot of people shrugged and didn’t care because the name “Haight” as a school was more meaningful to them than to strip Alameda of public buildings honoring a bigot.

And, for those that follow along in the comment section, despite anecdotes I’ve told of being born somewhere in the Midwest, I’ve been on the receiving end of a great deal of “othering” and “perpetual foreignness” by commenters trying to tie me to Vietnam as though I have any more connection to the country other than my ancestry and visiting as a tourist.

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March 18, 2021

Telling on yourself

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

It was a struggle to decide whether to write about the uptick in reporting of violence against Asian Americans or about the City Council meeting on Tuesday night. I realized that I’m not 100% prepared to process the Asian American violence thing yet so City Council it is.

There was lots going on that night so if you want to get a play by play, visit the #alamtg tag on Twitter. Please excuse any typos on my part because it was (1) late and (2) I was typing on a cell phone. There is one specific issue I did want to address from that night because it’s a framing that we shouldn’t allow to go unaddressed. And, look, I know it’s not the responsibility of the other City Councilmembers to police their fellow City Councilmembers but it’s really important given the national context of “othering” people, who belongs, and whose voices are important in the political discourse.

At the end of the discussion on the work of the police reform and racial equity subcommittees‘ work, Councilmember Trish Spencer went on an absolute tear about the subcommittees themselves. She complained that the subcommittees meetings were private (I’ve never heard her complain about the Sweeney Park or DePave Park subcommittees non public meetings but consistency has never been Trish Spencer’s strength) and that “the community” was left out of these discussions. She also complained that the subcommittees were “not representative of the community” which is a fascinating conclusion.

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March 17, 2021

Small human vectors

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:07 am

I mean I’m not super excited about roaming child COVID vectors wandering around Alameda because it’s going to be ages until I qualify for a COVID vaccine but I have to say I was a little gleeful when I saw a crossing guard for the first time on Monday. It was also nice to see my own neighborhood school, Ruby Bridges, get a visit from Governor Gavin Newsom as he’s doing his recall redemption tour because it’s rare that Ruby Bridges Elementary gets any kind of media attention unless kids are targeted by suspicious people in suspicious cars in Berkeley and news trucks think it’s a great idea to start filming in front of Ruby Bridges. But I digress.

Anyway, Assemblymember Rob Bonta and the Superintendent were also there. As folks may know Alamedan Rob Bonta is on the short list to fill the vacated Attorney General slot once Xavier Bercerra is confirmed as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Video here:

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March 16, 2021

Safe and sound

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

So tonight, City Council, the tank is back on the agenda after not being heard at the last meeting. There are only two regular agenda items on the City Council, but a bunch of consent items, so I’m hopeful they’ll finish these off tonight.

Even though the City Council voted to sell the tank, I mean, “Emergency Response Vehicle” in the summer of 2020, it hasn’t been done and the police department would like the City Council to reconsider this decision. There is a notable change in the make up of the City Council and with time there becomes less of an urgency so do things that seemed important at the moment and we might see some changes City Council votes tonight based on an interview Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft gave to the students at KJTZ last Thursday.

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