June 27, 2008

City Press Releases Available as News Feed

Jane McCrea, the City of San Leandro's Public Information Officer, regularly issues press releases, but until now, they've never been available as a news feed (RSS). You can subscribe to the press releases at http://www.sanleandrobytes.com/city/atom.xml or get them the old fashioned way at http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/pressreleases.html.

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June 19, 2008

San Leandro's 2008 Population Estimated at 81,851

According to data released on May 1, 2008, by the Demographic Research Unit of the California Department of Finance, San Leandro's population was 81,851 as of January 1, 2008. This is a 0.7% increase from San Leandro's estimated population of 81,273 as of January 1, 2007. The 2007 population had previously been estimated at 81,466 and last year's increase was 0.5%.

Alameda County's overall growth rate was 1.3% (1,543,000) and California's was 1.3% (38,049,462), the same as 2007. The fastest growing city in Alameda County was Dublin with a 7.7% growth rate and the slowest growing cities were Berkeley, Piedmont and Newark, with respective growth rates of 0.5%, 0.64%, and 0.65%.

Click here for the E-4 Population Estimates for Cities, Counties and the State, 2001-2008.

Chart of San Leandro population from 2000 to 2008

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Councilmember Seeks Applicants for Board of Zoning Adjustments

Newly re-elected San Leandro District 6 Councilmember Jim Prola is looking for a District 6 resident willing to serve on the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) after Amanda Goldt recently resigned. Goldt was appointed to the BZA in March 2001 to replace Jeff McGallian by former District 6 Councilmember and current Mayor Tony Santos.

According to the commission/board application, "The Board of Zoning Adjustments hears and decides upon applications for the approval of such zoning matters as conditional uses, variances and parking exceptions. Decisions of the board are final unless an appeal is filed, in which case the appeal is acted on by the City Council. The board may be asked to make recommendations to the Planning Commission regarding amendments to the Zoning Code, especially in the area of permitted uses in various zoning districts and specific development standards."

The BZA is scheduled to meet on the first and third Thursdays of the month at 7pm, but about half of the BZA's meetings are cancelled in a given year.

Prola is also inviting residents to apply for other board and commissions, including the Human Services Commission, Planning Commission, Library-Historical Commission, Recreation and Parks Commission, Senior Commission, and Youth Advisory Commission. After Prola begins his new term in 2008, he plans to consider new appointments for all of these commissions.

Applications can be downloaded from the City of San Leandro web site.

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June 18, 2008

San Leandro Couple Married in Oakland

Weddings are not normally newsworthy, but Tuesday, June 17, 2008, was the first full day that same sex weddings took place in California and San Leandro couple Karen Fernandez and Luz Salcedo were married in Oakland that morning.

The couple celebrated in San Francisco's Castro district, where their photograph was taken by San Francisco Chronicle photographer Noah Berger:

San Leandro couple Luz Salcedo and Karen_Fernandez celebrate in the Castor after getting married in Oakland

Karen Fernandez is one of the founders of Quality of Life Services, a group that was formed in January 2008 in response to concerns about crime in San Leandro.

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June 17, 2008

San Leandro City Manager to Retire on September 6, 2008

After 12 years as San Leandro's City Manager, John Jermanis announced on June 16, 2008, that he would retire effective September 6, 2008.

Jermanis grew up in Berkeley, attended Berkeley High School and received a bachelor's degree in business administration from San Francisco State University. After he was hired as an accountant with the City of Livermore in 1969, he began his career in San Leandro in 1971 as assistant finance director and became the finance director in 1982. In 1997, he was hired as City Manager to replace Mike Oliver, who was forced out.

Congressman Pete Stark noted in the Congressional Record on May 12, 2004, that "John has a proven track record with the city of San Leandro that is hard to beat. His professionalism, intellect, and commitment to the city are exemplary. He is focused on making sure San Leandro stays on sound fiscal footing and is responsive to the needs of its citizens."

Mayor Tony Santos said that Jermanis "...is also enormously talented and has guided City staff in accomplishing an astounding list of major projects." In 2005, then Mayor Shelia Young said of Jermanis after extending his contract, "We gave him an incredible overall performance. We have a lot of trust and faith in him."

For more details, see the City of San Leandro press release and coverage in the Daily Review.

Assistant City Manager Steve Hollister will serve as Interim City Manager while the City searches for a replacement.

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Free Wireless in San Leandro

When you want to get out of the house and relax with your laptop, food and ambience, here's a list of the places where wireless Internet access is available for free:

Cafe Americano
2150 Washington Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 895-8044
SSiD/Network Name: 2WIRE385

Cafe Sorriso
1501 Washington Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 351-3605
SSiD/Network Name: Cafe Sorriso

Hilton Garden Inn
510 Lewelling Boulevard
San Leandro, CA 94579
(510) 346-5533
SSiD/Network Name: HGI-OAKSL2 and OAKSL3

Mon Cafe
971 Manor Blvd
San Leandro, CA 94579
(510) 895-5282
SSiD/Network Name: moncafe

Planet Coffee
1423 E 14th St
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 351-5527
SSiD/Network Name: Planet-Coffee

1273 MacArthur Blvd
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 357-5282
SSiD/Network Name: Sabinos

San Leandro Marina Inn
68 San Leandro Marina
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 895-1311
SSiD/Network Name: Marina Inn Lobby

Washington Manor Library
1241 Manor Boulevard
San Leandro, CA 94579
SSiD/Network Name: San Leandro Library
Requires an email address

Zocalo Coffeehouse
645 Bancroft Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 569-0102
SSiD/Network Name: Zocalo Coffeehouse

Free wireless is also advertised at Bayfair Center and Dennys, but San Leandro Bytes was unable to get a usable wireless connection at these locations.

If you don't have a laptop, free Internet access is available on six computers at Kmart at 250 Floresta Blvd:

Internet access at San Leandro's Kmart

San Leandro residents can get a library card and use computers at the library to access the Internet.

If you know of other places that offer free wireless Internet access, leave a comment.

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June 10, 2008

San Leandro Schools Awarded Grants for Lighting and Violence Prevention

According to the SafeState website, the Alameda County Office of Education was awarded a five-year grant for school community violence prevention (SCVP) at John Muir Middle School in San Leandro. The maximum grant award is $500,000 over a five-year period.

According to the SafeState web site, "SCVP grants may be used for any type of school violence reduction, including, but not limited to, bullying prevention, gang violence prevention, improvements in students’ feeling safe at school, and general violence prevention and intervention. An important program feature of the SCVP program is the collaboration between schools, local law enforcement agencies, students, parents, and the community." SafeState is a project of the California Attorney General's Crime and Violence Prevention Center.

According to a press release from the Oakland Raiders, San Leandro High School was awarded a $50,000 grant to improve lighting at Burrell Field from the Oakland Raiders, the NFL Youth Football Fund and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The grant application was submitted last year to the NFL's Grassroots Program. The grant will be matched with District funds to replace older lighting with more energy efficient lighting. The lighting ballasts will also be lowered, which will reduce their exposure to heat from the lights and lower the center of gravity of the poles, resulting in lower maintenance costs and improved safety.

The NFL Grassroots Program, a partnership between the NFL Youth Football Fund and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation’s leading community development support corporation, has resulted in the construction or renovation of 170 football fields nationwide in the past decade. In the last 10 years, the NFL Youth Football Fund has granted over $20 million to revitalize playing fields in underserved neighborhoods. Fields are newly built or significantly renovated, with improvements such as irrigation systems, lights, bleachers, scoreboards, goal posts and turf.

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City Seeks Input on Local Housing Issues on June 17 and 18, 2008

In a letter dated June 6, 2008, the City of San Leandro invited residents to attend community meetings on local housing issues:

"Dear San Leandro resident or interested party:

The City of San Leandro invites you and your neighbors to attend a community meeting on local housing issues. Meetings will be held on June 17 and June 18, 2008. The meetings are part of a year-long program to update the San Leandro Housing Element, the state-mandated plan addressing affordable housing and housing conservation in the city.

The current San Leandro Housing Element was certified by the State of California in 2003. State law requires that an updated Housing Element be adopted by the City Council and submitted to the State Office of Housing and Community Development by June 30, 2009. State certification is an important prerequisite for affordable housing funds, grants, and other programs that benefit San Leandro residents.

The new Housing Element will include specific policies and actions related to new housing construction and rehabilitation, affordable housing development, first-time homebuyer programs, housing for seniors and others with special needs, and fair housing practices in San Leandro. Your input is an important part of this process.

Each of the two meetings will include a presentation on the Housing Element process, a discussion of housing issues and needs, and opportunities for questions, suggestions, and feedback. All residents and local businesses are encouraged to attend.

Meeting times and locations are as follows:

Housing Workshop 1
Marina Community Center -Auditorium
Tuesday June 17, 2008
6:30-9:00 PM

Housing Workshop 2
San Leandro Public Library-Karp Room
Wednesday June 18, 2008
6:30-9:00 PM

Please visit http://www.ci.san-leandro.ca.us/CDPlanHousElement.asp for more information or email Phil Millenbah, Senior Planner at pmillenbah@ci.san-leandro.ca.us."

Click here for the City press release.

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June 6, 2008

San Leandro Representative Sought for Transportation Committee

ACTIA logoSan Leandro Mayor Tony Santos has an opening for the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) of the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA). As a member of the ACTIA Governing Board, Santos can appoint three members to the CAC. Current appointees are Norbert Casto, appointed in December 2007, and Elizabeth Cooke, re-appointed in September 2007. The vacant position was occupied by Victoria Wang, who was appointed in May 2007. According to minutes from the CAC meetings, Wang has missed three out of four meetings through January 2008. Wang also provided translations for the San Leandro delegation visit to Yangchun, China, in October 2007.

According to the ACTIA web site, "Local residents serve on ACTA/ACTIA's 33 member Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) as representatives of the numerous communities throughout Alameda County. These members are appointed by the ACTIA Board to keep informed of the progress of Measure B programs and projects, discuss local community transportation concerns, share information relevant to the overall success of ACTIA's mission, and provide feedback to their respective communities."

The committee is scheduled to meet on the third Thursday of each month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm, but usually meets about six times a year. Applicants must be Alameda County residents and each member serves a term of two years. For an application, contact the Mayor's office at (510) 577-3355. The appointment is at the sole discretion of Santos and does not require approval of the San Leandro City Council.

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June 5, 2008

Updated June 2008 Election Numbers

Updated vote counts were published by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters at 5:40pm on Thursday, June 5, 2008.

In District 2, the gap between Linda Perry and Ursula Reed narrowed slightly with Perry now at 41.68% of the vote to Reed's 30.63% of the vote. Charles Gilcrest had 300 votes less than Reed at 27.15%.

In District 4, incumbent Joyce Starosciak received 63.06% of vote with Paul Gonzales, who had withdrawn from the race, at 18.43% and Lou Filipovich at 17.96%.

Incumbent Jim Prola was shown with 57.44% of the vote and Estelle Clemons was a distant second at 17.82%. Mark Tichy had 9.36% of the vote, Hermy Almote had 8.4% and Wafaa Aborashed had 6.49%.

Vote totals will continue to change for the next few weeks as absentee and provisional ballots are counted, but the results of the election are not expected to change.

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Crime Up Over Last Year

According to statistics at the City of San Leandro web site, overall crime during the first five months of 2008 is up about 11% over the same period in 2007.

The largest increases were 100% increase in murders, 94% increase in simple assaults, 60% increase in rape, 48% increase in robbery and 32% increase in larceny. The increase in murders is because there were no murders in San Leandro last year and there was on this year. For murders and rapes, the overall numbers are so small as to make the statistics essentially meaningless.

On the other hand, aggravated assaults are down 57%, arson is down 33%, and burglary is down 17%. Auto theft is down just 4%. The number of arsons is so small that it makes the statistics essentially meaningless.

Click for a larger, more readable image

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June 4, 2008

Jim Prola and Joyce Starosciak win; Linda Perry and Ursula Reed in Run-off

While the presidential candidates talk about change, San Leandro's City Council election results suggest that local voters prefer to stay the course. Voters returned two incumbents to City Council and a former City Councilmember will face a run-off election against a candidate who campaigned as a "fresh voice."

Jim ProlaIn the race for San Leandro City Council District 6, Jim Prola defied expectations and won outright over four opponents with 57.52% of the vote with all 58 precincts reporting at 1:16am. Estelle Clemons was a distant second with 17.78% of the vote. None of the other candidates, Mark Tichy, Hermy Almonte, and Wafaa Aborashed, managed to get more than 10% of the vote. Prola celebrated his victory at Zocalo Coffeehouse and watched the election results with District 2 candidate Ursula Reed, former California Assemblymember Johan Klehs and San Leandro City Councilmember Surlene Grant.

According to campaign finance disclosures Prola outspent his nearest rival, Clemons, by nearly four to one ($22,243 to $5,659).

Prola said he had been worried that he would face a run-off election against so many opponents, so he and his campaign volunteers walked door-to-door in nearly 38 of the city's 58 precincts. Instead of resting on election day, he handed out about 400 flyers at the San Leandro BART station.

In District 2, San Leandro School Board Trustee Linda Perry will face a run-off election in November against Ursula Reed. With all precincts reporting, Perry had 42.08% of the vote with Reed a distant 30.11% and Gilcrest close behind at 27.29%. As of the most recent campaign finance disclosures, Perry spent the least amount of money during the campaign, $6,508, compared to $9,573 for Reed and $13,623 for Gilcrest.

Unless a candidate receives 50% plus one of the votes cast for that office, a run-off election must be held. This comes as a result of Measure F, which was passed in 2000.

Perry previously served on the San Leandro City Council from 1988 to 1996.

Gilcrest had more success as the consultant for a school bond in Hayward, which passed with 71.94% of the vote and only needed 55% to win.

Perry handily won re-election to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, where she was the top vote-getter of the seven candidates for the six seats.

Joyce Starosciak District 4 incumbent Joyce Starosciak easily won re-election over perennial candidate (and Republican nominee for 18th District State Assembly) Lou Filipovich with 62.58% of the vote. Despite having pulled out of the election, Paul Gonzales garnered more votes than Filipovich.

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June 2, 2008

Three City Council Candidates Receive Thousands in Last Minute Contributions

According to financial disclosures filed on June 2, 2008, San Leandro District 2 City Council candidates Charles Gilcrest and Ursula Reed received contributions of $4,000 and $1,000 respectively. District 4 candidate Joyce Starosciak received a contribution of $1,300.

Gilcrest received the $4,000 contribution from Alberto Torrico's campaign committee. Torrico is running unopposed for the California State Assembly and is the Majority Floor Leader.

Click here for Gilcrest's late contribution report.

Reed received $1,000 from Security Pro Corp. of Rohnert Park, an alarm and security access control systems contractor.

Click here for Reed's late contribution report.

Starosciak received $1,300 from Construction and General Laborers Local Union 304.

Click here for Starosciak's late contribution report.

During the period between May 18 and the election (June 3, 2008), candidates are required to disclose contributions of $1,000 or more within 24 hours. There are no campaign contribution limits for San Leandro City Council elections.

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Late Campaign Filing by District 6 Candidate Aborashed

In late campaign finance disclosures filed by San Leandro City Council District 6 candidate Wafaa Aborashed on May 30, 2008, Aborashed closed her previous campaign account (FPPC ID # 1265613) and disposed of the account balance of $2,043.56. San Leandro Bytes attempted to contact Aborashed to find out where the balance went, but was unable to reach her.

In a filing for her new campaign account (FPPC ID # 1307344), Aborashed had $1,157 in her campaign account as of May 17, 2008.

During the period from March 18 to May 17, 2008, Aborashed raised a total of $3,119, including a personal loan to her own campaign of $2,000 and contributions of $500 from Anthony Batarse, Jr., chief executive officer of automobile dealer Lloyd A. Wise, $180 from Eva Konigsberg, and $120 from Family Music Circle.

Aborashed spent $1,961 during the reporting period, including $1,200 for her candidate filing and ballot statement, $195 for a list of registered voters, $166 to Site 5 SolusanRoman for web site and email and $114 to Vista Printing for campaign literature.

Click here to see Aborashed's filing.

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June 1, 2008

Not a Genuine Black Man Selection of Silicon Valley Reading Group

Not a Genuine Black Man coverNot a Genuine Black Man, Brian Copeland's story of growing up in one of the first African American families in San Leandro in the 1970s, has been selected by Silicon Valley Reads for 2009.

Copeland's book will be the topic of discussion at dozens of events throughout Santa Clara County during February 2009, some of which will include talks by the author. Silicon Valley Reads will also select a companion children's book so that families can read and discuss the experience of growing up different.

“I am honored that my book has been selected for Silicon Valley Reads,” said Copeland, who still lives in San Leandro. “I hope that my story will resonate with readers and spark meaningful dialogue about racism in America.”

The book started out as a solo performance at The Marsh in San Francisco, where it became the longest running show of its kind. The show has been performed in Los Angeles, Off Broadway, and around the Bay Area. In August 2008, the show will open at the Hoover Theatre in San Jose.

Silicon Valley Reads is presented annually by Santa Clara County Library, Santa Clara County Office of Education, and the San Jose Public Library Foundation with funding from community groups, corporate and individual donors.

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