The major stories we published during the second half of 2022.
On Friday, we posted Alameda 2022 in Review – Part 1 of some of the most important stories we covered in the first half of 2022. The major themes of the year’s stories haven’t changed much since 2021—the effects of COVID-19 on our community, growth, development, transportation, and crime. But this year brought people back out of their houses after COVID restrictions were lessened or lifted altogether, and many community institutions and events returned to action. 2022 also featured important local elections and other news from City Hall, along with new parks and public art, and the passage of the Housing Element and Active Transportation Plan which will shape Alameda’s future. This is Part 2 of our first-year digest.
The Fourth of July Parade returned to an enthusiastic audience that was estimated at 60,000 along the 3.3-mile route through the island. Mayor Ashcraft handed out awards at a ceremony several weeks later in Jean Sweeney Open Space.
The results for Measure B, the school bond measure, were finally certified on July 7. The measure passed with 56.34%, or 270 votes more than the 55% margin required for passage. Registrar of Voters numbers showed just over 40% of eligible Alameda voters cast ballots in the election.
City Council approved placing a measure on the November ballot to amend the City Charter to allow the Council to increase their salaries. They also voted to apply rent control to all floating homes in Alameda, and return in a year to decide if rent control should be applied to all recreational marinas.
The Planning Board had a busy month, holding a public workshop on the Draft Housing Element and approving amendments to the development plans for Site A that increased the number of housing units to be built and delineated more than 300,000 square feet for retail and commercial space.
The Maritime Administration moved the last of their ships from Alameda to berths in Oakland, leaving the USS Hornet alone at its pier. The Housing Authority of the City of Alameda announced the purchase of Hawthorn Suites Hotel on Webster Street and intention to convert the property into 50 affordable studio apartments. And we celebrated Tina ‘bean’ Blaine, who left her position as Executive Director of Rhythmix Cultural Works, after being involved with the organization for more than 15 years.
Things slowed down a little over the summer. The application to place the McKay Avenue property on the state historic register ultimately was dismissed, with the State Historic Preservation Officer stating the site had lost historic integrity. Meanwhile, Interim City Manager Dirk Brazil resigned for personal reasons and appointed Human Resources Director Nancy Bronstein and Public Works Director Erin Smith, to be Acting Co-City Managers.
The roster of candidates for the November General Election was set, and we introduced our Alameda Election 2022 News page with candidate information, events, and other related news. We also published the statements of candidates for Mayor and City Council. As a nonprofit, we will not endorse or oppose candidates or legislation that are to be voted on by the public.
Public art flourished in the summer weather. Three different artworks were installed around the island, joining another major sculpture installed on Bay Farm Island in July.
Activity picked up with the start of the new school year. City Council candidate Bill Pai withdrew from the race after news of an arrest was circulated on social media, although he was never charged with a crime. The City of Alameda’s Housing Element was deemed to be in compliance with state housing law, after Article 26 had been found to be in conflict and unenforceable back in May, another step towards approval. The Planning Board then held an initial public hearing to review amendments before approving the Housing Element at the end of the month.
City Council authorized the purchase of a fixed ALPR system, now consisting of 35 cameras at 14 locations, and pushed back against Chief Joshi’s request to authorize himself to update APD policy without prior Council approval. Meanwhile the CARE team received $1.8 million in funding from the state, and Governor Newsom approved AB 252, imposing rent control on 477 floating home berths in San Francisco Bay, including the 42 at Barnhill Marina.
A rolling blackout frustrated many in the city, especially when it was learned that the power outage was unnecessary and had been caused by a dispatcher’s misunderstanding. Then noise from the Portola Music Festival frustrated even more Alamedans, who couldn’t determine the source of the booming bass coming from across the Bay.
We took a look at the rich history of Bay Farm Island, visited Astra, the rocket company at Alameda Point, and looked into the ongoing dispute between the City and Greenway Golf Associates, lessors of Corica Park golf course.
The month started and ended with the return of more local traditions. The fourth “Corks, Forks, Rhythm & Brews” festival was held during the first weekend of the month on the West Mall at Alameda Point with a celebration of local food, beverages, and music. And, despite no contests being held this year, residents all around the city resumed lavishly decorating for Halloween.
City Council approved alterations to the Grand Street resurfacing plan after a contentious meeting. The proposal, approved by a 3-0 vote, included pedestrian crosswalk and street safety improvements, a two-way protected bike lane between Shore Line and Otis drives, and traditional bike lanes from Otis Drive to Encinal Avenue. Later in the month, Council voted to proceed with a City Aquatic Center on the west side of the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park. The project, which includes completing the rest of the plans for the park, is anticipated to cost $22 million to $25 million. At the same meeting, Council unanimously voted to terminate the City’s Declaration of a Local Emergency in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Planning Board held a workshop on the Draft Alameda Active Transportation Plan. Its stated goals are to reduce roadway fatalities and injuries, foster a transportation shift, reduce auto congestion and greenhouse gases, and enhance public health and quality of life.
Alameda’s inaugural Pride celebration was held with a weekend of events around the city and a celebration at Chochenyo Park. A resident of the houses known as the “Big Whites” at Alameda Point wrote about the deplorable conditions of the houses and the lack of action to remedy the issues that were causing her to withhold rent and consider moving.
Our commitment to election news and information reached a new height as we held candidate forums in person for Mayor and City Council at Mastick Senior Center and shared the videos widely on the internet. We also published another Voter’s Guide, covering the November General election.
The General Election was held November 8, and the Alameda Post was the only source tracking Alameda’s results as the votes were counted. Jennifer Ott was selected to be the new City Manager, returning to City administration after several years with the city of Hayward.
In the first meeting of the month, City Council revised the design of the Grand Street plan to include separated bike lanes and chicanes, which had been rejected at the previous meeting. They also approved the hiring of a full-time Police Auditor/Advisor to improve police accountability and renamed three new parks on the West end of the island, including the former Waterfront Park next to Seaplane Lagoon.
Later in the month, Council voted 3-2 to approve the Housing Element that will accommodate the City’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for 2023-2031. Despite strong opposition from many in the community, more than 5,000 new units of housing will be built around the city. Council also authorized an experimental Guaranteed Basic Income pilot program that would provide $1,000 per month to approximately 150 households over two years.
The Navy ramped up plans to clean up PFAS-contaminated groundwater at Alameda Point. A groundbreaking ceremony was held for Dignity Village being constructed on the Bottle Parcel on Fifth Street. Wilma Chan was honored with the renaming of Constitution Way in her honor, and Ruby Bridges visited her namesake school on Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day. The City celebrated the Japanese American community, or Tonarigumi with a dedication ceremony.
Subpar Miniature Golf, a beloved local institution, returned to Park Street in a new location formerly occupied by Walgreens, and the residents of Christmas Tree Lane began preparing for the holiday season. And finally, we published our first installment of Two Birds from Alameda, our weekly editorial cartoon penned by Brice.
City Council approved Jennifer Ott as City Manager, and voted to approve the Active Transportation Plan, which will promote bicycling and walking as preferred modes of transportation. Later in the month, the new City Council was sworn in, including Tracy Jensen, who won the seat left open when John Knox White chose not to run for reelection. In their first meeting, Council voted to finalize the purchase of the Bottle Parcel property for Dignity Village.
The Planning Board unanimously approved a project on the former Pennzoil property on Grand Street that would include completing Clement Avenue and the Cross Alameda Trail.
We celebrated the anniversary of our first post from 2021 with a look at some of our numbers from the year, and then celebrated again with the sights and sounds of Alameda’s holiday spirit. And the year ended with possibly the biggest 24-hour rainfall ever recorded in Alameda. The Alameda Post weather station recorded 5.28 inches of rain on December 31.
Join us as we cover all the news and happenings from our community all over Alameda in 2023.