Safeway crushing small businesses

Safeway is tearing down its stores and replacing them with mega-stores three times the size (Alameda, Rockridge, Claremont and proposed for Lincoln Square at Redwood Road and Highway 13).

It has established a developer subsidiary called Property Development Company LLC (Safeway Stores Inc. is the managing member) for the purpose of handling the teardown and construction process but also to buy up adjacent shops and tear them down, too. Local businesses are being replaced by chain stores and fast-food outlets. This has happened in Pleasanton, is happening in Rockridge, will happen at Claremont and is proposed for Lincoln Square.

Do we really want a modern shopping center with chain stores in all these locations? The stores are so big they take forever to get from one end to the other. We will miss the mom-and-pop stores.

James Hand


Mayor's message not based in reality

I received Oakland Mayor Jean Quan's State of the City pamphlet in the mail. She says Oakland is rising and moving forward and crime rates are coming down. She must be living in lala land.

On my way to the Oakland airport, I saw a lighted sign at a Walmart parking lot. It said: "Lock valuables in trunk, heavy burglary area."

Maybe we should incorporate that sign with the "Welcome to Oakland" signs that you see entering Oakland.

Gerald Scheberries


To renew fire tax, remove added laws

Please allow me to say something about the wildfire prevention tax that the city, the media and most of the public seem to not understand.

I have read a couple of articles now about the Oakland Fire department not adequately enforcing the "vegetation management" laws and specifically the one that prohibits "tree branches from being too close to structures."

This ordinance states that no tree or branch can be within 30 feet of a structure. This is ridiculous and unenforceable in most cities, and even more so here in the urban forest that is the Oakland hills.

Please open your eyes and think about this. The vast majority of properties are out of compliance, and if enforced, it would require thousands of trees be removed and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to residents. I personally would have to remove two or three trees at a cost of more than $5,000. This is no "minimal tax" as one letter writer states, and it would do little to make us safer from wildfire. The major factors in a catastrophic conflagration are wind, humidity and the dryness of fuel, and a 30-foot-buffer makes little or no difference.

We love our trees, choose to live in the forest and accept the fire danger. When we voted initially to assess ourselves, there were 10 vegetation management laws, but two were added several years ago without our consent, and this is one of the new ones that we never agreed to or voted on.

So maybe now everyone can understand why many of us voted against renewing the tax. Not all of us are ignorant of these regulations and the implications and far-ranging intrusions that they would have on our lives. Personally, I would sell my house and leave the city.

I suggest that if you want to renew the assessment district, you should remove the two new regulations. Goats and weed abatement are fine, but the added rules have gone too far.

Greg Case


Tax vote deadline didn't lack clarity

A Dec. 6 article written by Matthew Artz suggest some errors by the Office of the City Clerk in providing misinformation of the deadline associated with the Special Tax Election. The sample ballot received by all registered voters clearly establishes the deadline for receipt of all ballots:

"This ballot is for a special district tax levy election. You must return your ballot in the enclosed postage-paid envelope to the election official, P.O. Box 7002, Anaheim, CA. Or to the Office of the City Clerk of the City of Oakland no later than the hour of 8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 either by mail or in person."

The language is clear. For either of the two mayoral candidates, Councilmember Libby Schaaf or Mayor Jean Quan, to attempt to hold the Office of the City Clerk responsible for misinformation that they chose to send out on their email is not only ridiculous but unconsciousnable.

Any late ballots should not be counted. Both these mayoral candidates need to take responsibility for their own ineptness.

Gene Hazzard