March 30, 2010

Emergency Preparedness and Fire Safety Workshop Wed. March 31

A workshop on emergency preparedness and fire safety will be conducted by the Alameda County Fire Department at 7:00pm on Wednesday, March 31, 2010, at the San Leandro Library.

Topics covered in the workshop will include what to do before, during and after an earthquake, how to build an emergency kit and what items should be included and the proper way to store it. The workshop will also include fire prevention topics such as exit drills in the home, the importance of smoke alarms, kitchen fire safety and how to use a fire extinguisher.

The free workshop will be held in Conference Room B at the San Leandro Library, located at 300 Estudillo Avenue in San Leandro. For more information, call 510-618-3490.

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March 29, 2010

Downtown Symposium Tuesday Morning


The City of San Leandro will hold a Downtown Symposium Tuesday March 30, 2010, from 8am until 11am. According to the press release from the city, "Guest speakers include representatives from the City of San Leandro, Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Association, as well as developers and others who are also actively involved in the Downtown’s transformation....Community members are encouraged to attend and learn how to get involved in the reshaping of Downtown San Leandro."

Refreshments will be available. Presentations are scheduled from 8:30am to 10:30am. The event will take place in the Karp Room of the San Leandro Library at 300 Estudillo Avenue. For more information contact Tim Ricard at 510-577-3315.

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March 28, 2010

Hayward Demos Endorse Wilma Chan for County Supervisor

The Hayward Demos Democratic Club endorsed Wilma Chan for District 3 Alameda County Supervisor at its candidate forum on Saturday, March 27.

Three of the four District 3 candidates for Alameda County Supervisor were present for the forum, in which a number of prepared questions were asked followed by questions from audience members. Perennial candidate for office Lou Filipovich was invited, but did not attend the forum.

When asked about her accomplishments in the legislature, Chan responded that she "passed over 55 bills when I was there, and about 20 related to health care…one of the bills I passed, AB356, was the bill that blew the whistle on Anthem Blue Cross," referring to the 39% proposed increase in Anthem's insurance rates. Beverly Johnson said that "the greatest accomplishment I've had in Alameda is the construction of a new library…that opened about three years ago" in response to a similar question. In his response to how his professional experience as a financial planner relates to serving as a county supervisor, Harold Lowe noted that he worked with unions at American President Lines, worked with pharmaceutical companies, and worked with educators to make them more effective as examples of how he had practical experience rather than just "the theoretical."

On San Leandro Hospital, Lowe said that "it's interesting to understand that someone would talk about closing the hospital" when more people are going to have insurance and use hospital services. Lowe said that he would have "top-to-top conversations and broaden the conversation," but referred to Summit as the owner of the hospital (Sutter is the owner). Chan said that she was already working on the issue and there are two viable options: "one would be if Sutter would release the lease and another provider would come in and buy…the other option is for the County to continue the lease, but to do a hybrid model" keeping the emergency room open. Johnson said that she helped lead the process to keep Alameda Hospital open and that the current process needs to be stopped and "take time and really look at this." She sounded skeptical about Sutter's claims that San Leandro Hospital operating at a loss and said that we need to "develop a long-term strategic plan for delivery of health care services throughout the county."

The candidates also addressed questions about county childcare services, county general assistance funding, state and federal funding of county programs, and the three professional sports teams, the possibility of them leaving, and public funds for keeping them.

In the District 2 Alameda County Supervisor race, the Hayward Demos endorsed candidate Kevin Dowling over Liz Figueroa, Nadia Lockyer and Mark Green. Hayward Mayor Mike Sweeney received an endorsement as well, which won't matter much, since he is unopposed and will not appear on the June ballot. Finally, Hayward City Council candidate Sara Lamnin received the endorsement over Mark Salinas and Marvin Peixoto.

The election for District 3 Alameda County Supervisor will be held in June 2010.

Additional links to video from the candidate forum:

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March 26, 2010

Former Oakland School Board Member to Run for San Leandro City Council

Former Oakland School Board member David Anderson filed paperwork on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, indicating his intention to run for the District 1 San Leandro City Council seat currently held by Michael Gregory. Gregory was elected in 2006 and is up for re-election this year.

Anderson, a retired sheet metal worker, says that elected representatives must get out and talk to their constituents. He wants to be the "magnet that brings people together" to solve many of the City's problems. He also highlighted the importance of keeping the Boys and Girls Club pool open for the city's senior citizens. San Leandro Bytes asked Anderson about the city's financial situation, transit-oriented development, and other issues, but Anderson has not yet responded.

Anderson grew up in Oakland, graduating from McClymonds High School. From 1987 until 1992, Anderson served on the Oakland School Board, including as School Board President in 1991. In 1992, after Anderson lost his bid for re-election, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that "police are investigating accusations that Anderson offered to vote in favor of renewing the $ 92,500-a-year contract of [Oakland Unified School District] general counsel Dan Siegel if Siegel would help to arrange for Anderson to get a consultant's job with the district." According to the article, Anderson denied the charges and "accused Siegel and Superintendent Pete Mesa of suggesting that he could have the consulting job and retire his campaign debts if he supported Siegel." Siegel handed a tape to police that he claimed substantiated his allegations, but the Alameda County district attorney's office that there wasn't enough information to file any charges.

During a telephone conversation, Anderson referred to the accusations as baseless innuendos and said that when he left the Oakland School Board, the District had a multimillion dollar surplus. Ten years later, the state of California took over the Oakland Unified School District and provided a $100 million loan to help resolve the district's fiscal crisis.

In 2000, Anderson ran again for the Oakland School Board, losing the race and finishing fourth out of five candidates.

In 2005, Anderson moved to San Leandro, but registered to vote in San Leandro just within the past six months. When asked about this discrepancy, Anderson replied that he owned a house in Oakland on 30th Street.

San Leandro's District 1 includes some of the central downtown area up to and including the San Leandro Hills, where Bay-O-Vista is located.

The City Council election will be held in November 2010.

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March 24, 2010

Estabrook Senior Housing Nears Completion


The Eden Housing Estabrook Senior Housing complex is nearing completion, as can be seen in the above photograph. The 51-unit facility will provide affordable housing for seniors with incomes that are at or below half of the local median income.

Construction started in March 2009 and is expected to be complete in the summer of 2010. Financing for the property included a HUD Section 202 Senior Housing Program construction grant of $7.3 million, a $2 million loan from the City of San Leandro, and a $2 million loan from the City of San Leandro Redevelopment Agency (both approved in July 2007).

The Estabrook Senior Housing is located at the southwest corner of Estabrook Street and E. 14th Street, directly across from McKinley Elementary.

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Public Hearing on Bus Rapid Transit Thursday March 25

The San Leandro Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) at its meeting on Thursday, March 25, 2010.

According to a notice from the city, "A.C. Transit has requested the City adopt a Locally Preferred Alternative for their proposed upgrading of the existing 1R bus line along East 14th Street to Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). BRT would offer decreased travel times for bus passengers along the corridor by designating bus-only lanes on portions of East 14th Street."

The planning commission will discuss and recommend one of two proposed alternatives: one alternative would have BRT end at the downtown San Leandro BART station and the other would have BRT end at the Bayfair BART station. The complete BRT route goes from San Leandro through Oakland to downtown Berkeley.

BRT requires dedicated or partially-dedicated lanes for buses that make limited stops at elevated platforms. It promises to improve bus transit times, but AC Transit and its consultants acknowledge that it will increase transit times for automobile travel. In previous meetings, San Leandro Councilmembers Jim Prola and Michael Gregory have expressed support for BRT. Mayor Tony Santos has raised a number of concerns about BRT but has not expressed overall opposition to the project.

Concerns had been expressed by community members about the BRT route through downtown San Leandro, where traffic lanes are narrower. More recently, Councilmember Ursula Reed cited the loss of parking spaces along E. 14th Street in her city council district.

For more information about BRT, see the AC Transit web site.

The meeting will take place at 7pm on Thursday, March 25, 2010, in the City Council Chambers at 835 E. 14th Street in San Leandro.

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March 21, 2010

City Council Budget Workshop Monday Night

The San Leandro City Council will meet on Monday, March 22, 2010, for a workshop and presentation of the preliminary general fund budget for 2010-2011. The City Council will attempt to address an expected $7 million deficit.

A preliminary budget was presented to the Finance Committee on March 2, 2010. The proposed budget calls for reducing personnel by 64 full-time equivalents (FTEs) from the previous year, though most of the reductions are through attrition. This is in addition to the monthly furlough day that reduces salaries by 4.6% for everyone but the police and fire departments.

Optimistic financial projections by Interim Finance Director Perry Carter have meant that the budget has had to be revised regularly to address decreased revenues from sales tax and property tax. While the adjustment process is normal throughout any year, the changes this year, and in recent years, have been consistently and dramatically downward.

Proposed reductions to Recreation Programs include closing Farrelly and the Boys and Girls Club pools, elimination of adult sports progams, cutting the hours of the Family Aquatics Center by 25%, and elimination of all community events, including the Cherry Festival and tree lighting.

Proposed library reductions include closing the San Leandro History Museum and Art Gallery, reduced hours at the Main and Manor libraries, keeping the Mulford-Marina and South Branch Libraries open with temporary foundation funding, and elimination of library community programs, cultural programs, and book clubs.

The proposed half-year elimination of a ladder truck and elimination of a deputy fire marshal with the Alameda County Fire Department are expected to save $950,000 from last year. Reserve funds will be used to pay for the ladder truck for the first half of the year with the hope that passage of a sales tax in November will fund the remainder of the year.

In Community Development, the recently enacted Climate Action Plan will be suspended, the permit center hours will be reduced to 50% of business hours, and all long-range planning and land use and development policy analysis will be suspended.

The Police Department will lose five uniformed officers, including a motorcycle officer dedicated to traffic enforcement and the school resource officer allocated to city middle schools. No funding for school crossing guards is in the proposed budget.

The complete list of proposed cuts can be seen in the finance committee presentation.

The City Council workshop starts at 7pm on Monday, March 22, 2010, in the City Council Chamber at 835 E. 14th Street and not in the South Offices Conference Room where workshops usually take place.

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Vigil for San Leandro Hospital on Monday

A vigil to save San Leandro Hospital will be held on Monday, March 22, 2010, at 5:30pm. The goal of the vigil is to stop the closure of San Leandro Hospital by Sutter Health and Alameda County.

The Eden Township Healthcare District and Sutter Health are currently locked in a legal battle over the fate of San Leandro Hospital, spearheaded largely by Eden Township Director Carole Rogers.

A rally held in June 2009 featured a number of speakers, including California State Senator Ellen Corbett. A flyer for the event asks supporters of saving the hospital to join with "Eden District Board, California Nurses Association, the San Leandro Hospital nurses, doctors and staff, local residents, patients, seniors, Physicians Organizing Committee, San Leandro Community Action Network, and our community."

Expect to see County Supervisor candidates Wilma Chan and Beverly Johnson at the vigil, since both are proclaiming saving San Leandro Hospital as one of their top priorities.

The vigil will be held at 13847 E. 14th Street, in the parking lot adjacent to the Medical Arts Building and San Leandro Hospital.

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March 18, 2010

Carnival and Silent Auction Fundraiser for McKinley

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, McKinley Elementary's PTA will hold a carnival and silent auction to benefit arts and science enrichment at McKinley. Live musical entertainment and food vendors will be at the event as well.

Bidding on silent auction items begins at at 11:30am. The rest of the program, including games and music, starts at 12:30pm.

Silent auction items include:

The programs will take place in the multi-purpose room and the playground. McKinley Elementary is located at 2150 E. 14th Street in San Leandro.

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March 16, 2010

Vote on RCV Ordinace Delayed Until April

A vote to implement a ranked choice voting (RCV, aka instant runoff voting) ordinance will have to wait a little longer after San Leandro Councilmember Joyce Starosciak delayed a City Council vote on the issue scheduled for last night's March 15, 2010, meeting.

The vote on the RCV ordinance had been placed on the Consent Calendar portion of the agenda, where items are usually expected to pass without issue. Every member of the City Council, however, may remove items from the Consent Calendar for further discussion or to have a separate vote on the issue. Starosciak did just that and, with RCV supporters Michael Gregory, Ursula Reed, and Diana Souza not at the meeting to ensure passage of the RCV ordinance, the vote is now scheduled to be on the April 5, 2010, City Council agenda.

The City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding on sharing RCV costs between the County of Alameda and the Cities of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro on January 19, 2010, by a vote of 5 to 2, with Councilmembers Starosciak and Bill Stephens dissenting. As a result, the City Council and Mayoral election will held in November 2010, instead of June 2010.

Although unlikely, if the City Council fails to approve the RCV ordinance before the November election, San Leandro could find itself paying for RCV without actually using it.

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March 15, 2010

Tam Drops Out of County Supervisor Race; Three Left

On March 15, 2010, Lena Tam announced that she would not run for the District 3 Alameda County Supervisor seat. The move surprised some observers because she had the endorsement of Alice Lai-Bitker, who currently holds the seat.

In her announcement, Tam stated, "...the City of Alameda needs my experienced leadership more at this time....It has become even more clear to me that campaigning for the Board of Supervisors at this time is distracting my attention from taking care of business and governing the City of Alameda." For the full text of the announcement, see The Island.

To date, only Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson and Wilma Chan have completed the necessary paperwork to become an official candidate. Harold Lowe has until March 19, 2010, to complete his filing. Young announced this weekend that she has withdrawn from the race and is endorsing Chan for the seat.

The election will be held June 8, 2010.

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March 14, 2010

Young Out of County Supervisor Race; Endorses Chan

According to a press release issued today, former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young has decided not to seek the District 3 Alameda County Supervisor seat and has endorsed Wilma Chan.

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March 12, 2010

Roosepalooza Live Music Benefit Tomorrow at 7pm

The Roosevelt Dad's Club will hold its second "Roosepalooza" fundraiser at 7pm on Saturday, March 13, 2010. The evening of live music will benefit Roosevelt Elementary's Performing Arts Program.

Tickets are $20 each and are available from Rob Rich (510.409-7543), Wes Blair (510.633-2857), or any Roosevelt Dads Club member. There will a full "no-host" bar, so attendees must be 21 or older. Babysitting is available the night of the show at Roosevelt.

The live music line-up includes:

  • Pinto Wagon - Acoustic "Pinto-pop" with Roosevelt Dad John Sherwood
  • King Cab - Lo-fi Garage Country Band with Roosevelt Dad Ben Decker
  • Go Dead - Psychedelic Rock with Roosevelt Dad Jeff Faust
  • Van MiniVan - with Roosevelt Dads Al Stichon & Simon Miller

Doors open at 7pm with music starting at 7:15pm. The event will end around 10pm.

The event will be held at the Oakland Zoo's Snow Building, located at 9777 Golf Links Road in Oakland.

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March 11, 2010

Labor Endorses Chan for Supervisor

The Alameda Council Central Labor Council has endorsed Wilma Chan for District 3 Alameda County Supervisor over rivals for the seat held by Alice Lai-Bitker. Alameda Mayor Bev Johnson's campaign issued a press release today announcing her official entry into the race and endorsements from Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblyman Sandre Swanson and former state Senate President Don Perata.

According to Johnson's press release, her first priority will be to keep San Leandro Hospital open. Chan is also opposed to the closure of San Leandro Hospital, inviting her supporters to the vigil scheduled for Monday, March 22, 2010.

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March 8, 2010

Last Chance to Get Local Census Jobs

The U.S. Census local office, which covers San Leandro, Alameda, San Lorenzo, and parts of Oakland and unincorporated Alameda County, will hold its last series of employment tests this week. Workers who qualify and are hired will earn $22 per hour.

The last series of thirty-minute long civil service tests will be held at 11am and 4pm on Wednesday March 10, 2010, and at 10am, 12:30pm, and 3pm on Saturday March 13, 2010, 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.

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County Supervisor Race Gets Crowded

Harold Lowe became the fifth potential candidate in the race for District 3 Alameda County Supervisor late last week. Although the filing deadline is normally March 12, 2010, the deadline will be extended until March 19, because incumbent Alice Lai-Bitker will not be running for re-election. As of March 5, none of the candidates had completed the paperwork to become an official candidate.

Like all of the other candidates, Rowe is also a Democrat. He has served on the Advisory Board for Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley for more than 10 years. Unlike the other four potential candidates, Lowe has not been elected to office before.

Lowe is currently president of Forus Financial Services , an independent financial planning company he recently started.

He faces a highly competitive field with former California State Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young, Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson, and Alameda Councilmember Lena Tam all vying for the seat.

When it comes to money, Johnson leads the field with $13,893 in her campaign account and no debt. Young has $8,324 in her campaign account and no debt. Tam has $1,844 with an equal amount of campaign debt. Chan has an active campaign account, but the amount of money she has from previous campaigns could not be determined. No information was available on whether Lowe has existing campaign funds.

However, the money situation could change if Lai-Bitker uses the $83,982 in her campaign account to help Tam, whom she has endorsed.

A recent poll asked voters about the District 3 Alameda County Supervisor race, but assumed only four candidates. While the source of the poll is not known, as of December 31, 2009, only Lai-Bitker had enough money to bankroll it.

The election will be held on June 8, 2010. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a run-off election will be held in November.

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March 4, 2010

Fundraiser for Bancroft at Drakes Brewing on Friday

Friday Night tastings are back at Drakes Brewing and this month's tasting on Friday March 5 will help raise money for Bancroft Middle School.

Each Friday Night will support a local school or non-profit. A donation of $5 is requested at the door. Over 21 please, though children may accompany their parents. For $15, you get a Drakes glass and three full pours. Additional drink tokens may be purchased for $3.50 with $1 of that going to Bancroft. Food from Roli Roti will be available for purchase as well. Relax by bringing your own folding chair, and be prepared for some rain because Friday's forecast calls for rain.

Drakes held Beer Festival and Washoes Tournaments in 2007 and 2008 as fundraisers to benefit Roosevelt and Jefferson Elementary schools.

Drakes is located at West Gate Center in the area between Wal-Mart and Sports Authority. For more information, see

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March 2, 2010

Student Art Show Opening and Reception March 5

SLHS Hero Art Show at San Leandro Museum and Art Gallery

An opening reception for Hero Art: Exhibition of Youth Creativity will be held on Friday, March 5, at the San Leandro Museum and Art Gallery and will feature Alameda County Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker. The exhibit runs from March 6 to 28 and features the artwork of students from the AP art class at San Leandro High School and students from Roosevelt, Washington, and Monroe elementary schools.

Guests will be treated to a musical performance by students from San Leandro High School and Bancroft Middle School.

The reception will be held from 6 to 8pm at the San Leandro Museum and Art Gallery, which is located at 320 W. Estudillo Avenue in San Leandro. The Arts Council of San Leandro and the San Leandro Public Library are sponsoring the event.

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March 1, 2010

The Race for Alameda County Supervisor

With less than two weeks to go until the March 12, 2010, filing deadline, only four candidates have been issued the necessary paperwork to run for the District 3 Alameda County Supervisor seat held by Alice Lai-Bitker.

Former San Leandro Mayor Shelia Young, who ran for the seat in 2006, is the sole candidate from the southern area covered by the seat, which includes Alameda, San Leandro, part of Oakland, San Lorenzo, and other unincorporated areas of Alameda County. Young was elected to the San Leandro City Council in 1996 and served two years before being elected Mayor in 1998.

Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson is termed out after serving two terms and Councilmember Lena Tam has served just one term on the Alameda City Council. Lai-Bitker endorsed Tam for her seat in early February, which could give Tam an edge in the race.

The fourth candidate is Wilma Chan, who held the County Supervisor seat from 1994 until 2000, when she was elected to the California State Assembly, where she served three terms. In 2008, she ran for California State Senate against Loni Hancock and lost. In 2005, Chan named Tam as Woman of the Year for her community service and later endorsed Tam for Alameda City Council.

Although the race is non-partisan, all of the candidates are Democrats. Unlike the California State Senate or Assembly, County Supervisors have no term limits, which, combined with the salary and staff, and no long commutes to Sacramento, make the position quite attractive.

The complete list of candidates and whether they have submitted paperwork is available at

3/2 Update: Corrected dates of Young's elections and number of terms for Johnson.

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Recovery Funds in San Leandro: Who's Been Stimulated?

According to the web site, San Leandro groups and businesses have received about $20 million in stimulus money. The San Leandro Unified School District received the largest amount, $4.1 million in grants, all but $26,000 from the Department of Education. This money was used mostly to save jobs by filling in budget gaps from reductions in funding by the State of California.

Service West received a $3.2 million loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA), which helped it complete the purchase of a 132,000 square-foot building in San Leandro. Service West installs office furniture and is located at 2054 Burroughs Avenue in San Leandro.

The City of San Leandro received more than $3.1 million in grants from the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, Department of Justice, Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Health and Human Services. $1.6 million from the Department of Transportation will be used to resurface Aladdin, Washington, and Bancroft Avenues, and Springlake Drive.

Building Futures with Women and Children received nearly $2.5 million in grants, most of which was for the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program. The web site lists Building Futures by its legal name, Cornerstone Community Development Corporation. Building Futures partnered with Davis Street Family Resource Center for the homeless grants, which are part of the mid-county Housing Resource Center, serving San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Castro Valley, Hayward, and Alameda.

Alameda Applied Sciences Corp. received more than $650,000 in grants from the Department of Energy to develop a "device to provide next generation particle accelerators with potential applications to research, industry, and medicine" and "a high-energy cathodic, arc-based process to deposit an A-15 superconductor onto coupon substrates without requiring high temperature heating of the substrates." Alameda Applied Sciences is located at 626 Whitney Street in San Leandro.

New Comback International Corporation received a $1.1 million loan from the SBA. From the company web site, it's difficult to tell what they do. New Comback is located at 2040 Williams Street.

The dredging of the San Leandro Marina was shown as a $966,969 contract from the Department of the Army to Ahtna Engineering Services, Inc. More than 90,000 cubic yards of dredge spoil was removed in late 2009 as part of the partial dredge to five feet below the average low tide.

The Alameda County Health Care Services Agency received more than $700,000 in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services for capital improvement and to "increase services to health centers."

CellASIC Corporation received an $82,295 grant for work on a device for screening for liver damage. CellASIC is a bioengineering startup located at 2551 Merced Street in San Leandro.

Click here for a list of recipients. However, please note that the list from the web site shouldn't be considered exhaustive since the information reported by agencies and by recipients is frequently different.

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