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News Briefs

Masks are back, a loud crosswalk glitch on Encinal, AFD’s new fire boat, nominate AUSD teacher of the year, plus water and energy news.

Masks required again in Alameda County

Alameda Post - New indoor mask mandate as of 12:01 a.m. June 3, 2022

Alameda County raised its COVID-19 level from the CDC’s “low” to “medium” on Thursday, December 8, according to a press release from the county, issued Friday, December 9. Masks are now required in homeless shelters, emergency shelters, all cooling and heating centers, and Alameda county correctional and detention facilities.

Indoor masking continues to be required for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, in health care settings and long-term care facilities. Also, in alignment with state and CDC guidance, residents who are at risk for severe illness and their household members are recommended to wear a mask in crowded indoor public places.

Daily reported COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising rapidly. As of December 8, the seven-day average case rate is 21 cases per 100,000 residents and 149 residents are in the hospital with COVID-19.



“We have observed worsening increases in COVID-19 case reports and hospitalizations since October,” said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. “Taking actions like masking and staying home when sick can prevent spreading illnesses like COVID-19, flu, and RSV and help protect our health care system from strain.”

Residents are also urged to get the updated COVID-19 booster, test if symptomatic or exposed and before and after gathering, stay home if sick or positive, and keep gatherings small and outdoors or increase ventilation indoors to limit the impacts of COVID-19. Everyone, 6 months and older, also should also get their annual flu vaccination now, county health officials say.

Free medication to prevent hospitalization is available to most adults and some teens with symptoms (even mild) and a positive COVID-19 test. Talk to a health care provider about treatment options or visit https://covid19.ca.gov/treatment. If support is needed to understand treatment options, please call Alameda County’s Community Support line at 510-268-2101.

New traffic signal blasts “Change Password!” all night

Neighbors on Encinal Avenue and Benton Street were not happy when they were kept awake all night by a loudspeaker on a traffic signal blaring “Change password!” every 30 seconds, all through the night on Thursday.

After Alameda Peeps member Annette posted the video on Facebook, City of Alameda Communications & Legislative Affairs Officer Sarah Henry commented, “This is a Caltrans project. I’ll inform them today.”

Fortunately, the City came to the rescue. Around 8 a.m. on Friday, according to an update to the Facebook post, a City of Alameda Public Works truck arrived at the site and reportedly confirmed that Caltrans installed the new signals and loudspeaker, while the City is required to maintain them.

According to the post, the Public Works employee said Caltrans had activated the new signal system on Thursday but did not inform the City that a passcode was supposed to have been entered. Consequently, until that issue was resolved, “Change password!” was blasted over the loudspeaker every every 30 seconds.

Thankfully, Public Works fixed the problem, and the neighborhood can now sleep better at night.

City awards contract for new fire boat

Alameda Post - a model of a fire boat
Photo Moose Boats.

The City of Alameda has awarded a contract to Moose Boats, LLC, of Mare Island, to construct a new M2-38 aluminum catamaran fire boat for the Alameda Fire Department (AFD). According to specs provided by the builders, the fireboat will be powered by twin Cummins QSB6.7L 480HP turbo diesel engines coupled to twin Hamilton HJX29 water jets. Darley pumps will provide 5,000GPM of water through two 5” discharges, two 4” discharges, eight 2.5” discharges, and four monitors.

This powerful fire boat will allow for deployment of fire attack hose lines in addition to supplemental water supply for land-based operations. Additionally, the new Moose Fire Boat will provide for enhanced dive and water rescue operations with an integrated dive/recovery platform for the AFD Dive Team. The catamaran also has a draft of under 24 inches, which gives it the ability to operate in the shallow waters that surround Alameda.

A fireboat is essential for AFD, as the island of Alameda is accessible only by multiple bridges and the Posey and Webster Tubes. AFD has a robust Marine Operation Program, consisting of a regional sub-surface dive team, water rescue swimmers, inflatable rescue boats, and a fire boat. Since a majority of the City is surrounded by water and utilized by a wide array of both commercial and recreational vessels, firefighters must be prepared to respond to a variety of all-risk marine emergencies.

The City of Alameda utilized GSA Schedule 84 Cooperative Purchasing Program, allowing the vessel to be purchased from Moose Boats’ GSA pricing schedule.

AUSD accepting Teacher of the Year nominations

Measure B Message from Superintendent and Board of Education PresidentDo you know a teacher who goes above and beyond in and out of the classroom? Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) is now accepting nominations for its 2023 Teacher of the Year.

“Research continually confirms that expert teachers who can deliver thoughtful and high-quality instruction are indisputably the most important factor in how much our children learn,” says Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi. “The Teacher of the Year program provides us with an annual opportunity to identify, showcase, and learn from our most talented and effective educators. I am looking forward to learning more about the excellent teachers we have in this district.”

Anyone can nominate a teacher. The deadline to submit your nomination form  is December 21 at 5 p.m.

After being nominated, AUSD teachers who meet the county and state criteria will be invited to participate in the next phase of the process, which entails submitting an application packet—including a resume, introductory letter, and letters of support—to the district office.

Cash rebates for energy, water savings

Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN) offers Bay Area multifamily property owners big financial incentives when you upgrade your building’s energy and water efficiency.

Alameda Post - BayREN logo. It says "BayREN Local Governments Empowering Our Communities"Multifamily housing properties in Alameda are eligible for cash rebates and no-cost technical consulting for energy and water savings through the program. The free consulting from energy experts shows which projects make the most sense for you and how much you can expect to save.

BayREN helps property owners plan for comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits and offers $750 per unit for projects that include measures such as building weatherization, lighting upgrades, and replacing outdated or inefficient appliances.

In addition to lowering utility bills, these upgrades may improve resident health and comfort, build resilience against extreme heat and wildfire smoke, and increase property values.

To learn more and get started, visit the BayREN website.

Streamlined solar permitting, new AMP incentives

The City of Alameda has launched a new streamlined solar permitting process. It works in conjunction with the Building Department’s new expedited same day permitting process for electrical service upgrades, heat pumps, and EV chargers. With the new online permitting program, the time to get a solar permit in Alameda is reduced from a month or more to about an hour. Apply for your solar permit here.

Alameda Post - AMP logo. It says Alameda Municipal PowerAs a commitment to bringing solar to the community, AMP is waiving the interconnection fee for residential customers in buildings built before January 1st, 2020. This fee waiver does not apply to commercial solar projects or installations greater than 50 kilowatts.

As of November 1, 2022, customers/contractors no longer need to pay the $330 interconnection application fee for installing new PV systems or new PV systems with battery storage.

For information on installing solar in your home, visit the Solar page of AMP’s website.

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