December 25, 2009

Part-Time Rapper is Newest Rent Review Board Member

Sara Mestas At the December 21, 2009, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, Sara Mestas was unanimously appointed to the Rent Review Board. When she became aware in September 2009 that the City of San Leandro had cut the crossing guards from its budget, Mestas volunteered as a crossing guard, spoke at a City Council meeting, and organized a press conference at Corvallis Elementary School.

According to the City of San Leandro web site, the Rent Review Board provides a "forum for the hearing of rent disputes between landlords and tenants and to provide recommendations to the City Council regarding the settlement of those disputes." It is scheduled to meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month, but the last time it met was in September 2008.

Mestas had considered running for Mayor in 2010 before she was appointed to the Rent Review Board. Although she hadn't been registered to vote in recent elections, Mestas recently endorsed Mayor Tony Santos and Councilmembers Michael Gregory and Jim Prola, stating, "I endorse Tony Santos for Mayor, 2010-2012, also council persons Prola and Gregory." Santos and Gregory are running for re-election in 2010 while Prola is expected to run for re-election in 2012. Regarding the city's current fiscal situation, Mestas suggested that "the best thing that can be done is to cut spending," and also noted that "there are some council members and city employees who are spending money like they just won the lotto, some who would rather have a fancy hotel instead of affordable housing or a hospital." She also supports ranked choice voting and city ownership of an ethanol and hydrogen fueling station.

A mortgage company employee and aspiring rapper using the stage name Mo Wiley, Mestas was interviewed in November 2009 on Sacramento & Co., about her new album and her activism to get funding restored for school crossing guards.

More biographical details are available from http://www.luckmedia.com/mowiley/biography.html.

Posted by mike at 4:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 24, 2009

Corina Lopez Enters the Field for District 5 City Council Seat

Corina Lopez - photo taken at Taste of San Leandro in April 2009 Corina Lopez filed paperwork today to become the third candidate for San Leandro's District 5 City Council seat, currently held by Bill Stephens. Stephens cannot run for re-election because of term limits imposed in 1974. Lopez will face Recreation and Parks Commissioner Peggy Combs and School Board Trustee Pauline Cutter.

Lopez, together with her husband, run a small technology consulting company called Pinnacle Vista Technology. She is also current president of the Best Manor Homeowners Association and is working with Rene Mendieta to form a new Latino Business Council.

In July 2009, Lopez was appointed as an At-Large member of the Human Services Commission.

The San Leandro City Council will decide in January 2010 whether the election will be in June 2010 or in November 2010.

Posted by mike at 1:31 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 22, 2009

Christmas Lights in San Leandro 2009

769 Sybil
769 Sybil Avenue

975_Estudillo
975 Estudillo Avenue

1171 Oakes
1171 Oakes Blvd.

739 Portola Dr.
739 Portola Dr.

15102 Chapel Ct.
15102 Chapel Ct. There are other decorated houses here, but none quite so elaborate.

Posted by mike at 1:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Census Looking for Workers

The U.S. Census will hire nearly 1,000 workers for its local office, which covers San Leandro, Alameda, San Lorenzo, and parts of Oakland and unincorporated Alameda County. Workers who qualify and are hired will earn $22 per hour.

Thirty-minute long civil service tests are held at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at the San Leandro Library at 300 Estudillo Avenue. Sample tests are available at the library or online (español). No appointment is necessary for aspiring workers, but two forms of identification are required. For more details on employment requirements and an application, click here.

For more information, call 510-764-2960.

Posted by mike at 12:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 21, 2009

San Leandro Checkpoint Nabs Robbery Suspects

The sobriety checkpoint conducted by the San Leandro Police Department this weekend resulted in four arrests for suspicion of driving under the influence, two arrests for being drunk in public, and the arrest of two suspects in a strong-arm robbery earlier in the day at Lucky's. A "be on the lookout" alert had been issued for the robbery suspects and they were arrested without incident. The checkpoint, which had been publicized in local media, also resulted in six other citations and ten vehicles being towed.

A total of 537 vehicles passed through the checkpoint, which was scheduled to be held from 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. on December 18 and 19, 2009. A similar checkpoint conducted in August 2008 netted 10 arrests for people suspected driving under the influence, but the checkpoint lasted slightly longer, from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m.

The checkpoint was funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, which provided the grant as part of the "National Impaired Driving Campaign" campaign from December 16, 2009 to January 3, 2010.

According to a fact sheet from the California Office of Traffic Safety, "In California, 1,029 people were killed in alcohol related crashes in 2008, down from 1,132 fatalities in 2007 – a decrease of 9.1 percent (FARS). Additionally in 2008, there were 28,457 people injured in alcohol-related crashes, down from 30,641 in 2007 (SWITRS 2008 provisional data)."

As noted in an article about the August 2008, sobriety checkpoint, guidelines for sobriety checkpoints were established by the California Supreme Court decision Ingersoll v. Palmer (43 Cal.3d 1321 (1987), which include advance notice of the checkpoint and using a neutral formula (not officer discretion) to decide which cars are selected to be stopped. Critics claim that the checkpoints violate the Fourth Amendment, but the Supreme Court said that the infringement of this right was outweighed by the public interest in reducing drunk driving.

Posted by mike at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 15, 2009

School Board Names Ninth Grade Campus After Fred Korematsu

In a unanimous decision, the San Leandro School Board named the new ninth grade campus after Fred Korematsu at its meeting on December 15, 2009. The decision came after consideration of seven names was reduced to choices between Freshman and Fred Korematsu. The official name will be "San Leandro High School, Fred Korematsu Campus." The decision also came before Kathryn Korematsu and Karen Korematsu, Fred Korematsu's wife and daughter, respectively made it to the meeting and addressed the Board.

The Board also approved the first interim budget and elected new officers. Mike Katz-Lacabe will serve as President, Lisa Hague will serve as Vice President, and Hermy Almonte will serve as Clerk.

Posted by mike at 11:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2009

Zocalo Holds Fundraiser for Davis Street Family Resource Center

According to a press release issued today, Zocalo Coffeehouse is holding a tree decorating fundraiser for Davis Street Family Resource Center. For donations starting at $5 and ranging up to $500 for the tree topper, you can decorate the very large tree occupying the center of Zocalo. All of the donations benefit Davis Street and Zocalo will match donations up to $5,000, for a total of $10,000 to Davis Street.

According to the press release, "For nearly 40 years the Davis Street Family Resource Center has assisted tens of thousands of families in our community via health clinics, job search, childcare, clothing and food banks, and more. The number of families in need turning to Davis Street has increased 5X in the past year alone and they are straining to support these needs." In late October 2009 through November, Davis Street, together with the San Leandro Unified School District, distributed H1N1 flu vaccine donated by Energy Recovery to San Leandro children and families.

The fundraiser starts today and will continue through the end of the year. Zocalo Coffeehouse is located at 645 Bancroft Avenue in San Leandro. Davis Street is located at 3081 Teagarden Street in San Leandro.

Posted by mike at 10:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 10, 2009

Main Library Now has WiFi

The main San Leandro Library now has wireless access for people who like to work at the library with their laptops. According to library staff, the installation of wireless access points was completed in November 2009.

Like the Washington Manor library, which has had wifi since it opened in 2006, wireless internet access is free of charge. To use the wireless network, connect your wireless device to the "San Leandro Library" wireless network. Then open a web browser such as Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, enter any URL (http://www.sanleandrolibrary.org, for example) and you will be presented with a login page. Once you enter an email address to "login," you will be able to use the wireless network.

According to Information Services Manager Rayan Fowler, the main library has eight Bluesocket wireless access points, compared to two at the smaller Manor library. The internet connection is provided by TowerStream.

Posted by mike at 10:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 9, 2009

City Mailer Details City's Financial Plight

A letter from the City of San Leandro arrived in resident's mailboxes earlier this month detailing the financial plight of the City. The letter, signed by San Leandro Police Chief Ian Willis and Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert, states, "The City has been forced to cut six police officers, even though our police force is already below the number of officers needed for a city of San Leandro's size. The City is also facing the potential elimination ,of a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters, which would result in longer fire and medical emergency response times and greater loss of life and property." The letter was followed by a glossy mailer with essentially the same information.

The letter includes six questions and answers about San Leandro's services needs and a survey on residents' priorities.

On November 16, 2009, the San Leandro City Council voted to pay political consulting firm Lew Edwards Group $61,000 to educate San Leandro voters about the City's need for money. It is not clear whether this mailing is part of Lew Edwards' work.

See below for the full text of the letter.

November 30, 2009

Dear Friend:

As one of our community's leaders, we are writing to update you about San Leandro's urgent financial, public safety and vital services needs.

Sacramento politicians have recently taken $7 million from San Leandro to resolve their own budget mess, and with a new $20 billion deficit, are threatening to take more. Combined with the economic downturn, this already has resulted in a $14 million decline in City revenues, jeopardizing our community's local services, including public safety.

The City has been forced to cut six police officers, even though our police force is already below the number of officers needed for a city of San Leandro's size. The City is also facing the potential elimination ,of a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters, which would result in longer fire and medical emergency response times and greater loss of life and property. Unfortunately. the City does not have adequate funds to support local services needs.

To address these issues, the City recently commissioned a community survey to hear directly from residents about their needs. This survey found that San Leandrans want to protect local City services. In fact, 66% of voters would support a potential revenue measure to maintain important services like police, fire, 9-1-1 emergency response, library programs and street and pothole repairs.

We need temporary emergency funding to protect and maintain essential services, including:

  • Neighborhood patrol officers

  • Fire and emergency medical response times

  • Investigation and gang suppression police officers

  • Library programs for children, adults and families

  • Street and pothole repairs

  • Fire prevention services

  • School police officers and crossing guards

We are working to get as many community perspectives on these issues as possible and want to hear what your priorities are for San Leandro. Please help us by providing your input on the enclosed Community Survey and returning it today.

We will continue to keep you informed and have enclosed a "Frequently Asked Questions" sheet for your information. Please contact the City Manager's Office at 577-3353 with any further questions.


Police Chief Ian Willis           Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert


Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About San Leandro's Essential Services Needs

Q: What is the issue?
A: Sacramento politicians have already taken $7 million from San Leandro to solve their own budget mess, and with a new $20 billion deficit, are threatening to take more. This, combined with the faltering economy, has resulted in a $14 Million decline in City revenues, jeopardizing our community's local services, including public safety. Existing local funds are insufficient to address the City's needs.

Q: Have public safety services been affected?
A: Yes. The City has been forced to cut six police officers, even though our police force is already below the number of officers needed for a city of San Leandro's size. The City is also facing the potential elimination of a fire ladder truck and nine firefighters. Less police officers patrolling our neighborhoods and fewer firefighters will result in longer 9-1-1 emergency response times, putting our safety at risk.

Q: Are there other important needs in San Leandro?
A: We need to invest in our City's critical infrastructure and services, including our streets, libraries, and parks to keep our community strong. We must continue to support our kids by ensuring the City is a good partner to schools by offering programs and activities to keep our children focused on learning and out of trouble.

Q: How can these needs be addressed?
A: We want to get more input from the community on their priorities and will develop a plan to address these needs in the most fiscally responsible way possible. At this time, no reliable sources of revenue exist to fill the existing funding gap and maintain service levels, including police and fire protection, 9-1-1 emergency response, library hours and programs, and city street repairs. The City continues to explore all opportunities to attract new businesses and revenue generators to San Leandro. A potential San Leandro revenue measure, which may be considered at the end of this process, would generate temporary emergency funding that would be locally controlled for local services and could not be taken away by the State.

Q: How would temporary emergency funding affect San Leandro's local community services?
A: Additional funds would maintain essential services, including:

  • Neighborhood patrol officers

  • Fire"and emergency medical response times

  • Investigation and gang suppression police officers

  • Library programs for children, adults and families

  • Street and pothole repairs

  • Fire prevention services

  • School police officers and crossing guards

Q: How can I find out more information?
A: We want to hear from you-please help us develop a plan that works for San Leandro by filling out our Community Survey form. If you would like to find out more about these issues, please call the City Manager's Office at 577-3353.



Posted by mike at 10:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wind and Jazz Ensembles Concert Thursday Night at San Leandro High School

The San Leandro High School Wind and Jazz Ensembles will hold a concert on Thursday December 10, 2009, at the San Leandro High School gym. The concert starts at 7:30pm and tickets are $8 per person.

San Leandro High School is located at 2200 Bancroft Avenue in San Leandro.

Posted by mike at 9:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 8, 2009

City Council Delays Decision on Voting Until January 2010

At its meeting on December 7, 2009, the San Leandro City Council voted to delay any decisions on whether to use instant runoff (or ranked choice voting) until it meets again in January 2010. This will allow staff to see how the City of Oakland proceeds when it meets to consider instant runoff in early January.

Councilmember Jim Prola offered a motion to table discussion on ranked choice voting (RCV) until January 2010 and to direct staff to find ways to reduce the first time costs associated with RCV. Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak offered a substitute motion to go with the staff recommendation, which would mean that RCV would not be implemented for the 2010 elections. Starosciak's motion was defeated 4-3, with Councilmembers Prola, Michael Gregory, Ursula Reed, and Mayor Tony Santos voting against it. Prola's motion prevailed, with only Starosciak and Councilmember Diana Souza voting against it.

In other actions, the City Council appointed former City Councilmember and former Mayoral candidate Orval "OB" Badger to the Personnel Relations Board. Badger fills the position vacated by Bill Jardin, who died earlier this year. Badger was appointed to the San Leandro City Council in 2001 to replace Gordon Galvan and was unopposed when he ran for re-election in 2002. In 2006, he ran for Mayor and was defeated by Santos.

The City Council also voted to tighten restrictions on smoking in public places, work places, recreational areas and athletic facilities in the city. This was partly in response to the 2009 State of Tobacco Control report issued by the American Lung Association of California in January 2009, which awarded the City of San Leandro a "F" for its efforts to discourage smoking.

Posted by mike at 1:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 6, 2009

Recreation and Parks Commission to Recommend Community Selections for Measure WW Projects

At its meeting on December 2, 2009, the San Leandro Recreation and Parks Commission accepted the selections of the community for how Measure WW funds should be spent. The selections from the community were the result of community meetings held on November 7 and 10, 2009.

The selections are:

  • Toyon Park Play Equipment
  • Marina Park - Group Picnic Areas
  • Par Course Improvements
  • Marina Park Irrigation Improvements
  • Marina Dog Park (cheaper option)
  • San Leandro Ball Park Locker/Restroom Refurbishment
  • Stenzel Park Drainage Project
  • Bleachers at the Pacific Sports Complex
  • Resurface Skate Park with concrete
  • Resurface park pathways

These projects will be recommended to the San Leandro City Council meeting at a meeting in January 2010. The selections from the community meetings were based on safety, reducing maintenance costs, providing play equipment where there wasn't any, and projects that have widespread impact or are used by many people.

In May 2009, the Measure WW Ad-Hoc Committee, led by Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak, recommended that $2.4 million be used to build a competitive lap pool at the Washington Manor Aquatic Family Center, $1 million for group picnic area renovations at the San Leandro Marina, and $250,000 for improving other San Leandro park areas.

Measure WW was a $500 million East Bay Regional Park District bond measure passed in November 2008. The $3.7 million allocated for San Leandro is to assist "with financing the acquisition and improvement of local park and recreation facilities."

Posted by mike at 7:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 4, 2009

Election Looks Set for June 2010

According to the agenda for the December 7, 2009, meeting of the San Leandro City Council, the City Council and Mayoral election looks likely for June 2010 and not November. While the City has been considering ranked choice voting (also known as instant runoff voting or IRV), the date of the next election has been up in the air. IRV would allow for a single election in November but without IRV, the City Council must allow for a runoff election to decide races in which no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.

The staff recommendation, which is usually, though not always, adopted by the City Council, is to proceed with the June 2010 election and not to pursue ranked choice voting for the November 2010 election.

However, the staff report notes that, "Delaying the decision until January 2010 will have impacts both on staff workloads and on the candidates and their campaigns. However, the Council can continue the matter to its January 19, 2010 meeting and still meet legal time lines."

Posted by mike at 3:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 2, 2009

San Leandro School Board Selects Ninth Grade Campus Finalists

The San Leandro School Board narrowed down the list names for the new ninth grade campus from 29 to 11 at its December 1, 2009 meeting.

The School Board solicited input for the name beginning in October 2009 and closed the nominations on November 18, 2009. More than 70 submissions were received, with the most submissions for Fred Korematsu, Barack Obama, and Nels "Dan" Niemi.

The final name will be selected at the December 15, 2009, meeting of the School Board.

Names selected by the Board are as follows:

  • Cesar Chavez
  • Faith Frazier
  • Freshman
  • Future
  • Al Gore
  • International
  • Luster Knight
  • Fred Korematsu
  • Bill Lockyer
  • Dan Niemi
  • Barack Obama
Posted by mike at 1:10 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Recreation and Parks Commission to Discuss Measure WW Funds Tonight

On Wednesday, December 2, 2009, the Recreation and Parks Commission will review input from two community workshops held last month on how to allocate $3.7 million in funds from Measure WW. Measure WW was a $500 million East Bay Regional Park District bond measure passed in November 2008.

The workshops, held on November 7 and November 10, 2009, gave the public an opportunity to provide input into the allocation of Measure WW funds from a list of more than 40 projects. These projects ranged from reconstruction of tennis courts and replacement of bleachers to a competition pool at Washington Manor.

In May 2009, an ad-hoc committee of the City Council, led by Vice-Mayor Joyce Starosciak, recommended that $2.4 million be used to help build a competitive lap pool at the Washington Manor Aquatic Family Center, $988,000 for rebuilding the group picnic areas at the San Leandro Marina, and $250,000 for improving other San Leandro park areas. The Recreation and Parks Commission was tasked with seeking community input when it became clear that the City Council did not support the ad-hoc committee's recommendations.

The meeting will be held at 7pm in the South Offices conference room, located south of City Hall and located behind the California Conservatory Theatre at 999 E. 14th Street.

Posted by mike at 12:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack