Land swap proposal like lipstick on a pig

The most recent Alameda Point land swap for a pool, where the objective appears to be innocent, is quite the opposite and sets a very low bar for local politics. If that land deal took place, it would lead to other requests from our schools that wish to expand their wants beyond budgetary parameters, too.

This happens to be a proposal whose purpose appears to be altruistic but is selfish vote-getting. Nice try, City Hall.

Make it seem novel, put lipstick on the pig, wrap it up as a "children's need" and maybe the public will buy it. The pig is what it is.

As Johnny Cochran would like to say, "If the school district funds don't fit (stretch), you must quit on being Joan d'Arc (pool)." And put the lipstick elsewhere.

This deal was just another attempt to house-hunt for the administrators. When public schools sink to 150th in the world, you keep the administration tied to their results until further improvement.

Under recession conditions, you cannot afford to expand your wants beyond the budget. I recommend school needs remain on school property.

Pit O'Maley

Land swap deal bad for neighborhood

How long did it take the school district, city and housing authority to reach their final win-win-win approval of the two-years-in-the-planning swap deal? Three weeks' time from the first public notification. It was accomplished in secrecy, with their stating that closed sessions were allowed by the Brown Act.

It all started with swimmers. The Alameda Unified School District got $1.9 million with the city giving $750,000 for the Encinal pool renovation and $50,000 for legal fees. I think I'll take a dip when it's completed.

AUSD's tidelands' 17-acre holdings went to the city. The city has restrictions on how it's used. It can't be sold to a private party. This year the city compensated AUSD about $27,000. What's it worth in the future? Perhaps Tim Lewis Communities, which bought the nearby Del Monte Warehouse could give us an estimate.

AUSD exchanged with the city 12 acres in a commercial zone for 20 acres both at Alameda Point -- about 10 acres for a future school and another 10 that include the historic Bachelor Officers' Quarters. The city will maintain it for 10 years. Will AUSD, because it's a public entity, eventually sell it to a developer avoiding historic building preservation protection? Or will this building be used to develop the very-low-income housing covenant of 30 single occupancy rental units for seniors? Probably not, for -- as they have stated -- they are not in the housing business.

The AUSD gave $4.6 million to the Housing Authority that it originally received for low-income housing for AUSD employees. It can only be used for affordable housing. The Authority gave $1.2 million back to the AUSD for the 0.83-acre Island High site in the Wedge Neighborhood.

The Authority board, who are volunteers, not elected, engaged in dialogue with some residents of the Wedge, hearing our concerns for:

  • Low density. Use the R-4 development standards. Do not bypass all voter-approved Alameda density laws. People moved to our neighborhood for the school. Avoid the overcrowding that high density will cause at our neighborhood school, forcing our children to go to an elementary and middle school across town. Senior housing would avoid this huge concern.

  • A mix of affordable income levels. We have many very-low-income rentals in our neighborhood.

  • Rental and owner-occupied homes, which will foster pride of ownership.

  • Parking on site. We have little parking for our current residents. Density also creates more congested traffic.

  • Green space. Future residents and neighbors need the rest and relaxation green will bring. We had tried to get a community garden on this site.

  • Design elements that blend with our historic homes. Some examples include height limits of no more than two stories and lighting shielded from homes.

  • Proper oversight, which will ensure care and safety.

    When will we have a win? This deal was concluded without transparency or resident involvement. Would we have gotten in the way?

    The Housing Authority has stated it will perform studies, engage neighbors and submit to public hearings before construction begins on the Old Island High site. It must involve us in the planning of this property for future residents, current residents and for our children. We all need a good quality of life. The Authority must provide green space and diversity, not density.

    Patsy Paul

    Volunteer assistance needed at food bank

    The Alameda Food Bank is in need of volunteers.

    Our volunteers work in a fun, family-like environment giving daily help to our Alameda friends and neighbors in need. We are looking for people who have an afternoon or morning free each week and would be willing to make an ongoing commitment to us.

    Current volunteer shifts are available 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 2 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays. We also need drivers.

    If you are interested in the possibilities, please contact Program Manager Samantha Kahn at 510-523-5850.

    Troy Gilbert

    Executive Director Alameda Food Bank