Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 7, 2019

Dancing on the (safe) streets

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

Just between you and me, my husband is not that into a lot of local political stuff.  He listens to be occasionally if I like to go on a rant about something, but typically most of my political engagement regarding local politics happens on the internet.  And mostly on this blog or Twitter.  But my husband, yesterday, excitedly came to tell me about an email he received from Vice Mayor John Knox White.  Now, granted, it was a mass email sent to folks who signed up during the campaign but, none the less, an email from VM JKW.

The email was about street safety for people not wrapped in tons of steel and this is something my husband really can get excited about someone addressing in an upfront way.  Our kids walk and bike to school every day and he takes the ferry on some days and typically walks home from the ferry.  For those of you that use the Main Street Ferry you’ll know that Main Street is a complete shit show for bicyclists and pedestrians. I think I’ve complained about this before, but the fact that there haven’t been more serious accidents is a testament to how careful most people are and not because the city has done anything meaningful to make that area safe for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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May 6, 2019

Pool cue

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

Tomorrow night there’s an extensive staff report on the Emma Hood pool situation because there needs to be some action taken by the City Council to move the issue forward.  Previously the information on the pool situation has taken the form of oral reports kind of at the end of the City Council meetings.   Because the City and the School District need to move quickly to mollify the county Health  Department this whole business has proceeded faster than I’ve seen a lot of issues move in this city.

A bit of where we are:

In the past, ACDEH has been willing to allow “grandfathered” code violations while AUSD and the City attempted to find long-term solutions and funding.  ACDEH is now requiring closure of both pools at the Emma Hood Swim Center in May 2019 unless the issues are addressed and brought up to code.  The primary code violations cited recently by ACDEH include both pools having co-mingled water with a single pipe system and one pump room and a subsequent lack of ability to verify a required 6-hour turnover rate; re-plastering the dive pool; and addressing safety and ADA issues on the pool deck.  ACDEH is also requiring that by May 30, 2019, the City and AUSD have a long-term replacement plan in place to build a new aquatic facility with major milestones identified.

City and AUSD staff have secured proposals to re-plaster the dive pool and repair the pool deck with additional work to fix an air leak that will address the water turnover rate and smaller work to replace drain covers.  Staff met with ACDEH staff on April 24 to confirm that the proposed work addresses ACDEH concerns.  Once the scope of work is confirmed and funding authorized then repairs can commence after the high school swim season is completed at the end of May.  Emma Hood Swim Center will be closed at the end of May and is projected to re-open once repairs are completed and approved by ACDEH. These repairs are anticipated to be complete within eight weeks.

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May 3, 2019

Cumulative cloud

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

I started the slow process of creating a spreadsheet to track the available information regarding past rent increases.  Of course this data is only as valid as the individuals or the operations being asked to share the data with the RRAC.   The exercise was rather disheartening after seeing the number of annual rent increases so I haven’t added all of 2019’s information quite yet.

These are all cases scheduled to come before the RRAC but  may or may not have been adjudicated by the RRAC.

Even if these were nominal rent increases, I don’t know how anyone is able to afford an annual rent increase.

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May 2, 2019

National Horror Story: lowering the Barr

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

I mean, I guess the question always is: why are people so willing to risk their reputations and integrity in service of Donald Trump?

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May 1, 2019

Year after year

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

I’m trying to update my spreadsheet of RRAC adjudicated rent increases and I came across an interesting statement at the February 4, 2019 meeting of the RRAC.  When a tenant pointed out that the landlord group had plenty of money and owned an additional building that could be sold to help finance the whatever repairs were necessary during the deliberations one of the RRAC members said that information was “irrelevant” to the process.

If we’re arguing that all the personal information that must be disclosed by the tenant to prove hardship then surely the landlord should be expected to explain why — even though they have all these assets — that a rent increase (particularly after multiple years of rent increases) is necessary.  Surely the landlord should also be expected to prove up their “hardship” claim just like tenants who are expected to list every single ailment they may have or submit copies of their bank record showing how much money gets auto deposited into their accounts every pay period.

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April 30, 2019

RRAC wreck

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

The City Council will be holding a workshop on rent stabilization in a few days but I wanted to point out, for those that don’t know, don’t care, or don’t have the time to track the RRAC meetings that these hearings are deeply uncomfortable to listen to.  So while there are some folks out there that believe that breaking it down into numbers and percentages is a worth while exercise I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t even scratch the surface of the fruitless exercise that is the RRAC for some tenants.

I’ve been able to speed through a lot of city meetings recently because (1) podcast version and (2) 2x speed.

I’ve only recently stumbled upon the RRAC meetings and if they’re uncomfortable for me, the person who is parachuting in on these fraught discussions, imagine what it must be like for the tenants who have to share nearly every bit of personal information out there in order to justify a “hardship” so that the can throw themselves on the mercy of the RRAC board.

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April 29, 2019

There beneath the blue suburban skies

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

In our political conversations we always have an issue with people “feeling” a certain way and making judgment calls about a certain issue because of their feelings. That’s okay if, say, you’re arguing with someone on the internet or in the grocery store, but it’s much less okay when that person sits on an important decision making and advisory body.

On the Planning Board there is a Trish Spencer appointee who has recently started to become much more open about her feelings on topics and much more assertive with her take on the issue at hand. Unfortunately it’s been to chime in on topics like this.

Previously it’s been fairly benign such as getting into a bit of a bicker fest over the type of plants a landscape architect has chosen for a waterfront park project. The best part was when she vehemently disagreed with a particular choice of a plant or tree saying it was inappropriate for Alameda and then the landscape architect pointed out it’s on the list of City approved plants. That was fun. There were no less than two meetings when she complained about how crappy decomposed granite and that she doesn’t like it for the landscape treatment. Those were the types of, harmless, interactions that used to be the hallmark of this Planning Board member, but recently we’ve had more of the type of comments referenced above and we had a new one at the last Planning Board meeting.

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April 26, 2019

Election enfranchisement

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

I didn’t get a chance to go to the League of Women Voters meeting last night, as mentioned by former editrix of The Alamedan, Michele Ellson, but it’s timely that Steven Tavares over at the East Bay Citizen wrote about Union City’s efforts around district elections.  Granted Union City’s move came under threat of litigation as did the city of Fremont.

Highlights:

[T]he Union City Council and community will begin discussions over the often contentious act of equally carving up the city into four distinct districts. A preliminary map that aims to distribute Union City’s population by demographics could be debated, revised, and approved within the next three months.

Similar to neighboring Fremont two years ago, Union City officials received a demand letter on Mar. 15 from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) alleging the city’s use of at-large elections dilutes the influence of Latino-American voters and violates the California Voting Rights Act.

In the case of Fremont, the threat of legal action came from a Malibu-based attorney who had served several other California cities with demand letters, but also cited the disenfranchisement of Latino voters.

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April 25, 2019

Remade from her image

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

In June there are a bunch of board and commission seats up for appointment or reappointment.   As I’ve written about extensively, former Mayor Trish Spencer used this opportunity to reshape the majority of Boards and Commissions in her image. She passed over nearly everyone who was appointed by the former Mayor Marie Gilmore and opted to select new candidates rather than allow the incumbent to be reappointed, as historically had been done by past Mayors.

There was only one instance when she backed down from not reappointing a member, that was Transportation Commissioner Nate Chris Miley who is now termed out leaving an open vacancy come June.

While there were several candidates who were deemed unacceptable for enough of a majority of the City Council to push through, based on this list and the date of appointment, it’s clear that Trish Spencer did get her wish to reshape these boards and commissions.

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April 24, 2019

Representative representation

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

Given that it appears there is some momentum around the idea of District elections in Alameda: it’s something that came up during the City Council’s charter subcommittee follow up, the League of Women Voters has been looking into this as well, and even the ACT folks are open to it.  The last one not because they’re actually interested in minority representation for groups of people who have been traditionally disenfranchised, but for the poor beleaguered old school Alameda class who have not made good showings in recent elections.

One of the benefits of District elections is that if the city at large ever decided it wanted to try the ranked choice voting experiment it would be much easier to implement for the Council seats than the free for all we have now.

In discussing the aftermath of Measure A/B on Twitter, this Tweeter posted a nifty data visualization tool of the last Mayoral election.  The assumption — at least for me — is that the Measure A/B breakdown by precinct will look very similar to the Trish Spencer v. Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft race.  In fact on another blog a commenter, before the election, tried to frame Measure A/B as a Spencer v. Ezzy Ashcraft proxy.

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