West End needs greater access

When Oakland's Chinatown raises very valid concerns about Alameda-bound vehicles clogging their streets, our city manager, John Russo, complains, "They're positing 10 times as much housing. Why pick on us?"

Because they have far more approaches to their housing, and we have only one to the West End, the already overstretched tubes.

The Planning Board wants to put more of us on public transit. Perhaps they all travel this way, and I congratulate them on their idealism. But there are Alamedans in their 60s and 70s, some of whom go shopping. No doubt the Planning Board members all lug their baggage on board buses, bright-eyed with idealism, and when young passengers remain glued to their gadgets, never looking up let alone offering a seat, our intrepid Planning Board members stand and warm their virtuous souls with the exercise required to keep bags upright while the bus lurches through traffic.

Perhaps they even get off and wait to change buses, when no direct line connects stores to homes. But not all of us enjoy such rosy idealism, and a few of us with more mileage slouch toward a comfortable pragmatism.

The West End needs another conveyance to the continent already. We get that a bridge or tunnel is pricey. But if Sacramento demands we add housing, we need leaders with the fortitude to tell Sacramento we're an island. If they want more of us on the Island, they need to return some of our taxes to help us build ways on and off it.

Ben Miller

Island's leaders need to go to bat

Alameda is an island. Ever since the Army Corps of Engineers severed the isthmus to Oakland in the 1900s, all car traffic has had to enter and exit through Oakland. The State of California says every city must provide additional housing for California's increasing population. The state failed to consider Alameda's unique limitations.

Given, our elected officials -- since we lost Assemblymember Robert Crown -- have done nothing. If Alameda does not comply, it gets sued. The City Council has given in, and without even being kissed, rezoned land promised to voters for open space at Crown Point. Once developed, it will never be reclaimed. While the state is at it, it wants to lower votes needed to pass special zones to 55 percent instead of the 66.66 percent the voters put in place decades ago. The next step is that Oakland is going to sue Alameda for the increased traffic. Catch 22? Only Attorney General Kamala Harris has stood up for the voters.

What Alameda needs is elected officials who will turn the tables on the state. If the state wants more homes in Alameda, then the state should approve and pays for infrastructure to accommodate the extra traffic. And the state should fund Alameda's defense against Oakland and any other cities that sue. Otherwise, treat Alameda like Catalina, another island city that has obtained special legislation.

Write, email, tweet, telepath or otherwise connect with our elected officials. Tell them "no." Sign the citizen's initiative to undo the council's damage to Crown Point. If Kamala Harris runs for governor, vote for her.

Barbara Thomas

former Alameda City Council member

Moving ACLC again is wrong

I was shocked and dismayed to learn that Alameda Unified School District is floating proposals to move Alameda Community Learning Center at the end of this school year. This is a mere one year after the school board voted to rip ACLC from its moorings at Encinal High School, over strong opposition of the ACLC community.

ACLC has spent well over $100,000 in the last move, as well as innumerable hours in improving its new facilities at Wood Middle School with the expectation that it would remain there for at least for the time being.

I would like to take the opportunity to remind the school board and the Superintendent that when any of our schools are devalued, the whole community is devalued. ACLC is not a traveling road show and deserves better than this.

Jennifer Chambers

Stop schools' musical sites

It seems fitting that the Alameda Unified School District facilities proposal caused a capacity issue of its own at the Alameda school board meeting recently, as the fire marshal came to manage the numbers of parents, students and staff from affected schools.

The articulate and eloquent student speakers were the highlight, testaments to these schools' success. Oliver, one young ACLC seventh-grader, brought the issue into focus when he reminded all that this proposal will mean every year of his middle school education will be spent in a different location.

How can it be fair when the same group must repeatedly bear the burdens of AUSD's poor foresight and lack of planning? How can AUSD and this school board be pro-innovation when the successful innovators are repeatedly punished?

Wood Middle School is also the victim of an AUSD administration that wants to play games instead of search for real solutions. AUSD forced this situation with last year's poorly conceived move of ACLC to a struggling Wood campus. Now here's another ludicrous package, proposing the upheaval of six schools across five campuses to add nine classrooms for Wood's expansion -- an expansion plan that the board has not seen and is not in line with falling enrollment.

Stop the musical sites. Deliver a stopgap of portables until there is a real plan that benefits all and doesn't unfairly punish those who have already given too much.

Scott Dodds

Thanks for tour that was success

The Alameda Family Services League would like to thank the community for supporting AFSL's 43rd Annual Alameda Holiday Home Tour. Hundreds of tour-goers enjoyed tours of five of Alameda's finest homes, a holiday dessert tea, gift boutique, raffle and gourmet shop with all proceeds benefiting Alameda Family Services. The 2013 Holiday Home Tour was a success thanks to many community members and business owners who donated their time, energy and goods to guarantee a fun and festive fundraiser.

First and foremost, thank you to the generous homeowners who shared with tour-goers their beautiful homes, wonderfully decorated for the season. Home docents and volunteers at the tea, gourmet shop and boutique were invaluable in the tour's success. We also thank the donors of goodies, gifts and raffle items that made the tea, gourmet shop and boutique wonderful shopping experiences and the raffle a plentiful one. The AFS board of directors and staff were also invaluable in making the tour a success.

Our gratitude goes out to the Alameda Elks Lodge #1015 for their hospitality in providing the location for many of the day's festivities and First Presbyterian Church of Alameda for hosting our holiday tea. A special thank you to our Home Tour sponsors: Farmers' Insurance/Jeffrey Schwalm, Harbor Bay Realty, Gallagher and Lindsey Realtors, Catellus, Realtors Nancy & Steve Brandt, and Alain Pinel Realtors, and all other individuals and businesses that advertised in the tour booklet.

Finally, to the Alameda community: Thank you for your continued attendance and support of the AFSL's Annual Alameda Holiday Home Tour -- we appreciate and value your dedication to ensuring the children, individuals and families continue to receive the invaluable services that Alameda Family Services offers.

Katie Honegger

president Alameda Family Services League