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Alameda 2023 in Review – Part 3

Interesting and popular stories from the third quarter of 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, we are looking back at some of the stories we published about Alameda this year. We will be publishing a roundup for each quarter in the coming days. Read Part 1 – Part 2Part 4 (once it’s published).

We wish you and your family a healthy, happy, and joyous new year, and we hope you’ll stay with us for our coverage of Alameda in 2024!

July 2023

Alameda Post - Alameda's July 4th Parade 2023. Photo by Maurice Ramirez.
There were lots of bright colors and rainbows throughout the 2023 parade. Photo Maurice Ramirez.

Alamedans enjoyed a wonderful 4th of July Parade. Adam Gillitt recapped the celebration and answered the question, “Where were the horses?” Maurice Ramirez provided a gallery of spectacular photos. When it came time to give awards for parade entries, Whisk Cake Creations took the Mayor’s Trophy.

The Alameda County Arts Commission awarded $17,500 to seven Alameda nonprofit arts groups—the Foodbank Players, Altarena Playhouse, West End Arts District, Soli Deo Gloria, RADIUM Presents, Friends of the Alameda Free Library, and ArtPush. The grants help these local arts organizations to continue their programs here in Alameda.

Alameda Post - a bioretention area with a deep trough for plants and soil
Bioretention facility on Orion Street at Alameda Point. Photo Richard Bangert.

Irene Dieter reported that three intersections on Central Avenue were set to incorporate bioretention facilities. The special soil and vegetation features help filter out harmful chemicals from stormwater runoff before the stormwater flows into the Bay.

The Planning Board recommended that City Council approve amending the Alameda Marina Master Plan to increase the number of housing units from 760 to 801. Karin K. Jensen detailed the next steps in the project as Alameda plans for more housing.

Three Alameda rowers were selected to represent the United States at the World Rowing Under 19 Championships. Jack Hume and Cosmo Hondrogen of Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School, and Mattis Hevin of Bishop O’Dowd, were chosen to be part of the four-man team, along with McKeane McBrearty of Oakland.

Alameda Post - rowers in the water off of Alameda
Photo Jacqueline Huebner.

Alameda Food Bank Executive Director Cindy Houts announced that she would retire on August 3 after eight years of stellar service to our community. Houts’ tenure was the longest of any executive director in AFB’s 46-year history. Over at the Alameda Free Library, Director Jane Chisaki retired after 39 years of service; she started as Children’s Librarian in 1984.

Family members, friends, and neighbors gathered at Crab Cove to welcome Jenn Levine home from her two-month 2,800-mile bike ride. Levine rode from Michigan to California to raise money for the Epilepsy Foundation. Ken Der shared the celebratory event and Jenn’s first remark: “All I want is ice and pop. And a shower!”

After her return, Levine was hired as the new School Director at Temple Israel. Known as a “kid-whisperer,” Dr. Levine worked in Jewish education for 20 years before accepting this position and has an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, with a focus on disability justice and inclusion.

Alameda Post - the California Yearbook Academy logo, group of AHS students with their award, and a group of EHS students with their award
Top Right: Encinal yearbook staff Sam Cleminshaw, Remi Langwerowski, Emilia Arneson, and Ada Wiedlea took home first place in the small school division for their 2024 yearbook theme at the California Yearbook Academy.  Bottom: Alameda High School yearbook staff (left to right) Willow Beam, Nik Ostergren, Olivia Alexander, Grace Tanner, Jaena Freeman. Photos Alicia Lardieri.

For the second straight year, both Alameda public high schools won regional awards at the California Yearbook Academy. Joshua Linville reported that the Encinal Horizon took first place in the small high school division, while the Alameda Acorn took second place in the large high school division.

FAAS made it easier than ever for volunteer dog walkers. Maria Goodavage advised prospective walkers to stop by the shelter between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. any day of the week for a drop-in walk—it remains the highlight of a shelter dog’s day.

Two Birds from Alameda featured one of Alameda’s most head-scratching of real estate decisions.

Alameda Post - Bill Darling smiles broadly while being presented with Dress Blues by a younger Marine
Bill Darling’s excitement and joy was plainly visible as he accepted his Dress Blues. Photo Maurice Ramirez.

Bill Darling, a two-time World War II Purple Heart recipient, finally got his Marine Dress Blues at the 4th of July Parade awards in Jean Sweeney Open Space Park. The Post shared Bill’s story and photos from Maurice Ramirez and Adam Gillitt that captured the heartwarming event.

Ken Der reported that Eddie’s Place, a medically supported shelter for unhoused patients at the Marina Village Inn, had already served over 100 patients since it opened in May. The program was designed to provide care to medically frail, unhoused guests who had been discharged from an emergency room or required continuing medical care and recuperation following hospitalization.

Adam Gillitt sat down with California’s former Controller and Alameda resident Betty Yee for an exclusive interview as she prepared for her candidacy in California’s 2026 Governor’s race. Yee’s priorities include economic equality, growing the economy, climate change, and housing affordability. (The interview was posted in two parts: Part 2 appeared on August 1.)

Alameda Post - a wall of the Healing Garden with murals and posters
New artworks on display at the Healing Garden. Photo Adam Gillitt.

Thanks to generous community donations, the “Healing Garden Revamp” successfully restored the Garden’s stage and furniture, and created a new art wall. West End Arts District Executive Director Tara Pilbrow highlighted the artists who created eight original works on display in July.

August 2023

The top-seeded Alameda Anchors won the 2023 Bay Area Collegiate League baseball championship at College of Alameda’s Pat Bail Field. The Anchors were so formidable that the umpires and managers called the game via the league’s “mercy rule” after the top of the fifth inning because the team led the third-seeded Napa Deep Roots 14-0.

Alameda Post - Ryan Justus and Pamm Drake in front of the Dance/10 studio
Ryan Justus and Pamm Drake in front of the Dance/10 studio on Santa Clara Avenue. Photo Al Wright.

Dance/10 Performing Arts Center founder Pamm Drake passed the torch to Ryan Justus, an alumnus and studio manager for the past 16 years. Generations of Alamedans have studied all styles of dance and theater at the studio and have performed throughout California and around the world. And of course, Drake is known for the Tap-Dancing Christmas Trees.

Adam Gillitt offered highlights of AB 1706, Assemblymember Mia Bonta’s first bill to be signed into law. The new law reconfigured public tidelands and private lands at the former Encinal Terminal, a 32-acre site on the Estuary, allowing development of nearly 600 units of new housing to proceed.

Alameda Post - a view of the unused land at Encinal Terminal. AB 1706 allows the land to be put to use for housing
The Encinal Terminal, as seen from the roof of Alta Star Harbor, photographed summer 2023. Photo Adam Gillitt.

The City gave loans to private businesses, and Alamedans wanted to know why. Karin K. Jensen explained the details about a $9.5 million loan to a housing developer at Alameda Point and another $300,000 loan to Firebrand bakery and café.

Later in the month, Abigail Thorne-Lyman was named Director of the Base Reuse and Economic Development Department. City Manager Jennifer Ott said Thorne-Lyman would “play a critical role in the City’s future economic growth, as well as in the expansion of parks and infrastructure to support the quality of life of all of our residents.” And the Alley Up free shuttle service made its debut on August 25. The 10-week pilot program was slated to include eight stops around Alameda Point.

Gene Kahane reviewed The Bereaved, a new historical novel by former Alameda Poet Laureate and Alameda Post founding board member Julia Park Tracey. “I’m writing this piece to tell you that this story, written by this remarkable person and writer, is worth the ache you will feel… For while there are no longer Orphan Trains, there are still orphans, and women without support, and poverty, and moms who every day act heroically to love and support their families.”

Alameda Post - The Bereaved book cover and author, Julia Park Tracey. Photo Sybilline Press.
The Bereaved book cover and author, Julia Park Tracey. Photo Sybilline Press.

Gil Michaels, a self-described citizen of “Geezerville” and monthly columnist for the Post, recalled a hilarious blind date at the Acapulco restaurant. The meetup, which involved a beautiful, inebriated woman, her pet rabbit, and some bean dip, occurred on the eve of President Nixon’s resignation.

Alameda Post - the outside of Sandwich Board, a small one story brick deli building
Check out Sandwich Board at 2412 Webb Avenue. Photo Adam Gillitt.

For four decades, Sandwich Board has provided delicious sandwiches from a family-owned local business. Owner Mike Lee talked with Liz Barrett about the shop his parents bought in 1983—and the 36 turkeys that he roasts every week to produce the famous turkey sandwiches. Food and family are the bottom line at Domenico’s Italian Deli, a beloved family-owned eatery that has served Alameda since 1966. Ann Murphy, Domenico’s daughter who currently owns and runs the deli, shared some beloved memories of the deli’s history with Liz, as did several longtime customers.

Alameda Post - two men and a woman stand in front of Domenico's Italian Deli wearing branded shirts
James, Ann, and Mike are making sure the family business thrives at Domenico’s. Photo Adam Gillitt.

String and Shadow Puppet Theater, a troupe of artists based in Olympia, Washington, performed “Ship of Fools: A Giant Puppet Odyssey” at Jean Sweeney Park. Photographer Maurice Ramirez captured some of the highlights from the performance and the crowd.

Alameda Point is home to a very important breeding site for a colony of endangered California least terns. Rick Lewis reported on an excursion to the site with photos of the “small, resilient, and entertaining birds” and their camouflaged chicks.

The latest Schnitzer Steel fire, which filled the air with acrid and possibly toxic smoke, was the third one at the recycling plant since 2018. Oakland and Alameda firefighters got it under control, but not before it blanketed the Bay Area with smoke. Air quality suffered greatly during the fire, but no Spare the Air alert was put in place.

Alameda Post - the new Bay Farm School buildings and a large green space
New Bay Farm School building and green space. Photo AUSD.

Bay Farm School kicked off the 2023/2024 school year with brand new learning spaces—both indoor and outdoor. Also, Bay Farm and Edison Elementary schools were among the nine U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools chosen for the 2023 Green Strides Tour in Northern and Central California this fall.

Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) CEO John Lipp wrote an op-ed, noting that 60 shelter dogs and cats were being airlifted from Maui after the devastating fire in Lahaina. Lipp asked the community to help make room for the Maui pets in our shelter by fostering or adopting pets.

Alameda Post - Teale Harden smiles and poses next to a container of apples
Teale Harden. Photo by Maurice Ramirez, courtesy Alameda Food Bank.

Alameda Food Bank’s new Executive Director, Teale Harden, wrote an op-ed about tackling hunger at its source. She said the food bank is partnering with organizations to ensure that needs beyond food are being met.

Artists Pancho Pescador and Pablo Raiz Arroyo covered three shipping with murals as part of a massive Taxiway Mural project produced by the West End Arts District (WEAD). Entitled “Life of Flight,” the painted containers were designed to define the performance area for RADIUM Runway events. Maurice Ramirez captured the artists and their work in photos.

Alameda Post - Pancho Pescador (left) and Pablo Raiz Arroyo (right) painted “Life of Flight”, a set of murals on shipping containers at Alameda Point’s taxiway along Seaplane Lagoon. Photo Maurice Ramirez.
Pancho Pescador (left) and Pablo Raiz Arroyo (right) painted “Life of Flight”, a set of murals on shipping containers at Alameda Point’s taxiway along Seaplane Lagoon. Photo Maurice Ramirez.

Speaking of artists, crack open a copy of the bestselling book—and soon-to-be movie—The Covenant of Water, and you’ll find illustrations from the author’s cousin, Alamedan Tom Varghese. C.J. Hirschfield talked with Varghese about the book, growing up in Kerala, and how he discovered he wanted to be an artist.

Karin K. Jensen took a break from covering City Hall and shared her experience volunteering with Shelter in Peace, an Alameda-based nonprofit providing transitional housing and rent assistance for immigrants, refugees, and low-income families in Alameda County.

Maurice Ramirez attended the RADIUM Runway 2023 opening performances and shared his images from Alameda’s exciting new performance venue next to Seaplane Lagoon.

Alameda Post - RADIUM Runway Opening day and night. Photo by Maurice Ramirez
RADIUM Runway opening day. Photo Maurice Ramirez.

September 2023

The Alameda Rent Program held a public workshop to review proposed updates to the City’s Capital Improvement Plan Policy. Karin K. Jensen explained the two options presented at the meeting and included concerns brought forth by tenants and landlords.

Alameda Post - a classroom set up with sewing machines
A College of Alameda classroom dedicated to the Apparel Design and Merchandising (ADAM) program. Photo Ken Der.

Ken Der took a walk around the College of Alameda with President Dr. Diana Bajrami to see what was happening on campus, including a new building, “Fall is Free” tuition assistance, and career-focused programs.

Alameda’s guaranteed income pilot program, Rise Up Alameda, began accepting applications for eligible households on September 8. The new program was designed to provide 150 randomly selected low-income households with $1,000 per month for 24 months.

City Council approved a new Special Events Grant Program to foster public events benefiting the economy and community by subsidizing local events such as the Downtown Alameda Art and Wine Faire and the Mayor’s Fourth of July Parade. Karin K. Jensen discussed the program, plus newly approved housing units at Alameda Marina and an increase in Councilmember and Mayor salaries.

Alameda Post - Deepa Fernandes in her home studio.
Deepa Fernandes in her home studio in Alameda. Photo Matt Rogers.

Deepa Fernandes, the host of NPR’s news magazine program “Here and Now,” broadcasts to an estimated 4.5 million weekly listeners from her Alameda pantry. C.J. Hirschfield shared her conversation with the multiple award-winning bilingual journalist, who introduces each show with, “I’m Deepa Fernandes, in Alameda, California.”

As Alameda home prices soar, more and more families are forced to move away. Thushan Amarasiriwardena talked with the Mays family—a firefighter and teacher duo with three children who are headed to Sacramento in hopes of stability for their young family.

Alameda Post - The May family packs a box into the trunk of a vehicle. One child is in their mother's arms, and another runs around the yard.
Jerry and Nicole May, along with their three kids, moved from Alameda to Sacramento this summer, a city where they could afford to buy a home on public-sector salaries. Photo Thushan Amarasiriwardena.

The San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) announced that Alameda’s Main Street Ferry Terminal would be completely closed for refurbishment from October 23 through at least January 1. Commuters and travelers were advised to plan ahead for alternative routes and transportation.

Adam Gillitt’s editorial explained that taxpayer-funded, AUSD-authored content was being provided in an exclusive window to the East Bay Times and Alameda Journal before any other news outlets were permitted access. After the editorial was published, AUSD agreed to stop the unfair practice.

Rick Lewis celebrated the fluffy, endangered Ridgway’s rail chicks that grow up at Martin Luther King Shoreline/Arrowhead Marsh. “Every baby Ridgway rail that grows to adulthood brings the species one step further away from extinction,” he said. Watching the chicks is during the lowest tide of the day.

Alameda Post - an adult bird feeds a chick
Adult Ridgway rail feeding a chick. Photo Rick Lewis.

Dennis Evanosky dove into Alameda Point’s history, including the first airmail cargo flight across the Pacific Ocean on the ‘China Clipper’ which inspired a 1936 Warner Bros film in advance of a series of tours around the former Naval Air Station during the month of October.

An Independent Hearing Officer ruled in favor of applying the City of Alameda’s Rent Control ordinance to residents of Admirals Cove. The ruling was applied to the 150 units of former naval housing situated on a 15-acre parcel of land between Alameda Landing and the Main Street Alameda Ferry Terminal. The housing units were originally constructed for the Navy in 1969 and were sold to a private developer in 2017.

Eighty high school students gathered at Encinal’s media center to participate in a 10-hour coding hackathon hosted by IslandHacks. Encinal student Chris Setera reported that the event, which served both experienced coders and complete beginners. One of the organizers, Justice Petersen, called it “an awesome experience.”

Alameda Post - IslandHacks Organizer group photo
IslandHacks organizers. Photo Justice Petersen.

Karin K. Jensen reported news from City Council: The Draft Three-Year Strategic Plan was discussed with robust public comment and was set to be finalized before being presented for approval in November. Financing of $16 million for the new Aquatic Center was approved. And a plan to lease the former site of the Alameda Food Bank on Thau Way to the All Good Living Foundation was authorized.

Alameda Post - Blues, Brews, and BBQ music and food festival event, September 17, 2023, Washington Park, Alameda. Photo © Maurice Ramirez
Blues Brews & BBQ drew a huge, happy crowd this year. Photo Maurice Ramirez.

The sixth annual Blues Brews & BBQ festival at Washington Park was a feast for eyes and ears as well as tastebuds. Maurice Ramirez’s photographs captured the essence of the hugely popular event.

After massive outcry over the noise invasion from the Portola Music Festival in 2022, both the City of Alameda and APD posted alerts on social media notifying Alamedans to brace themselves for the loudness again on September 30 and October 1.

Alameda Post - a scenic photo of the Truckee River and River Ranch Lodge
Steve Gorman highlights great trips for Alamedans looking for adventure, like this trip to Lake Tahoe. Pictured here is a view of the River Ranch Lodge, located on a bend in the Truckee River. Photo Steve Gorman.

Steve Gorman recapped his camping and biking adventures along the West Shore of scenic Lake Tahoe. The trip was a little more than he bargained for, including a dramatic appearance of a giant, hungry black bear in the middle of camp!

The Alameda Food Bank prepared to coordinate truckloads of food for Coast Guard personnel if a government shutdown left them without income starting October 1. Liz Barrett highlighted the special relationship between Alameda and the Coast Guard, as well as the critical role the food bank plays every week in keeping families afloat.

Alameda Post - actors take a ground photo outdoors at an amphitheater
The Foodbank Players took Romeo and Juliet on the road to perform at the Bruns Amphitheater. Photo Karin K. Jensen.

Putting on a Shakespearean show takes a village, and Alameda continued to rise to the occasion to support the Foodbank Players. Karin K. Jensen talked with Director Gene Kahane as he celebrated the troupe’s sixth show and reflected on all the locals who help them in their efforts to support the Alameda Food Bank.

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