April 20, 2012

Forum on Building Strong Families on Saturday 4/21

Putting the Pieces Together to Build Strong Families On Saturday, April 21, 2012, former California Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin will be the featured speaker at a forum entitled "Putting the Pieces Together to Build Strong Families." The free event will focus on the issues facing families and youth in San Leandro.

Topics will include technology and teens, youth wellness issues, job training and mentoring resources, and parenting education.

The free event starts at 8:30am at the San Leandro Library at 300 Estudillo Avenue. The event is sponsored by the City of San Leandro and the San Leandro and San Lorenzo Unified School Districts. Childcare will be provided at no cost, but call (510) 577-3351 or email childrensforum@sanleandro.org to register in advance.

The schedule for the forum:

8:30 amRegistration, continental Breakfast, and resource fair.
9 amWelcome by Mayor Stephen Cassidy
9:10 amKeynote Speaker, Former California Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin
10:10 amBreakout Session I. “Teens and Technology” – Dr. Ammar Saheli, San Lorenzo Unified School District Director of Student Services, and San Leandro police Detective Neil Goodman. “Cracking the Communication Code: Parenting Tips for Maintaining Healthy Relationships with your Child” – Dale Gregory, MPH.
11:10 amBreakout Session II. “Wellness Issues Facing San Leandro Youth” –Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan “Job Training and Mentoring Resources” – San Leandro Recreation and Human Services Director Carolyn Knudtson.
NoonClosing remarks by Supervisor Wilma Chan.

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April 19, 2012

California Challenges San Leandro's Redevelopment Financial Obligations

According to an article published by California Watch today, the California Department of Finance is challenging the legality of obligations in San Leandro's redevelopment budget.

In a letter dated April 11, 2012, the Department of Finance states that $2 million from a loan from the City of San Leandro was prohibited by California Health and Safety Code Section 34171 (d) (2). That section states, "For purposes of this part, "enforceable obligation" does not include any agreements, contracts, or arrangements between the city, county, or city and county that created the redevelopment agency and the former redevelopment agency."

The $4.3 million loan was approved 7-0 on June 21, 2004, when Shelia Young was Mayor of San Leandro. According to the resolution, the City would loan up to $4,372,774 for the Plaza Project Area, which includes most of downtown San Leandro and the Joint Project Area, which includes a large area around E. 14th Street, Marina Boulevard, and San Leandro Boulevard (see map). As of February 2012, the outstanding balance on that loan was $2 million.

The Department of Finance also objected to $8.9 million in cooperative agreements, based on Section 34153 (b) of the Health and Safety Code, which "prohibits a redevelopment agency from entering into a contract with any entity after June 27, 2011." According to the Enforceable Obligation Payment Schedule, the $8.9 million was allocated as follows:

Eden Road Construction$1,500,000
Doolittle Drive Streetscape Improvements$4,193,611
MacArthur Boulevard Streetscape Improvements$1,274,134
Hays Street Streetscape Improvements$2,000,000

These cooperative agreements were approved 4-0 at a special meeting of the San Leandro City Council and San Leandro Redevelopment Agency on Monday, January 17, 2011, the day before the regular City Council meeting. Monday was also the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Councilmembers Pauline Cutter, Michael Gregory and Ursula Reed were absent from the special meeting.

In the background material for the meeting, the Staff Report states, "The purpose of the proposed Cooperative Agreement is to contractually bind the Agency to fund and support specified projects outlined in the staff report in order to protect these funds from being taken by the state." It appears that the Department of Finance disagrees that the cooperative agreements are the same as contracts, since no contracts for the actual work had been finalized prior to the June 27, 2011, deadline.

If the Department of Finance prevails on these objections, it means that the City of San Leandro loses $2 million that would have been paid back by the successor to the Redevelopment Agency. Instead, that $2 million goes to the State of California to re-allocate to other agencies. Similarly the $8.9 million would go back to the State and the four projects listed above would not be funded. That could mean more money for schools, which was one of Governor Brown's goals in dismantling California's redevelopment agencies.

City of San Leandro Business Development Manager Cynthia Battenberg issued a memo today that the City will "...take advantage of a clause in AB 1x 26 that allows a Successor Agency to re- enter into an agreement with the City. Staff will be recommending that the City and the Successor Agency re-enter in the legally binding $2m General Fund loan and the portion of the Cooperative Agreement covering Eden Road and Hays Street as the City has already made a significant investment in these projects."

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April 11, 2012

Everything You Wanted to Know About the San Leandro Library

Addie Silveira prepared this video for the San Leandro City Council work session on March 12, 2012. The video features members of the San Leandro Library staff describing a typical year for the library.

Last year, the main library had 60-70,000 visitors every month and the Manor Branch had about 10,000 visitors every month.

All of the library branches together circulated about 800,000 items last year. The Marina Mulford branch library circulated 45,000 items last year, while the South Branch circulated 25,000 items.

The library includes a reference collection of 3,000 print items, 14,000 movies in DVD, VHS, and Blu-Ray formats, 9,000 music CDs and cassettes, and 3,000 audiobooks on CD and cassette. There are 270 magazines, 20 newspapers, and 50 titles for children and teens. The library has National Geographic Magazines back to 1909 and Time and Newsweek back to the 1930s. For those interested in local history, the San Leandro Reporter newspaper is available on microfilm from 1879 to 1951. The foreign language collection includes Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese books.

With available wireless internet service and 60 public computers, the library also provides access to digital information, including a collection of downloadable eBooks and audiobooks.

The library offered about 300 programs last year, including monthly family nights, concerts, movies, and the library's biggest program: the Summer Reading Program. Last year, more than 4,000 kids participated and the program culminated in a outdoor carnival.

A teen reading program at the library is one of only 16 in the country to receive preview copies of books. Participants write reviews of the books that go to the publisher and helps the library earn money to add books to its collection.

The video ends with a plea to the San Leandro City Council for the Project Literacy program and the Museum/Art Gallery, which has been closed since 2009. This year, the Museum/Art Gallery will be open for school field trips because of funding received as part the Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

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April 10, 2012

San Leandro Police Provide Police Dog Demonstration

Officer Walt Aldred and Gunner
At McCartney Park on Monday, April 9, 2012, the San Leandro Police Department thanked the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association for a donation to their K9 program by providing a demonstration of their police dogs in action.

Up until two weeks ago, the San Leandro Police Department had two German Shepherd police dogs. Now there are three with the addition of Conan, an 18-month-old dog that is now in the process of bonding with its handler, Officer Jason Bryan. Conan replaces Aero Vikar, a German Shepherd dog that completed a 160-hour K9 school with Bryan in August 2011. According to San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli, there wasn't a good fit between Bryan and Aero Vikar, and the dog was returned.

The other K9 teams are veterans Walt Aldred and Gunner and Kevin Hackl and Arago. Gunner joined SLPD in March 2005 and is about nine years old. Arago joined the SLPD in 2007.

The first demonstration involved Officer Aldred sending Gunner after Officer Joey Bacon, who was wearing a protective sleeve on his arm. Gunner took off at full speed towards Bacon until Aldred called off the dog, which quickly laid down facing Bacon.

For the second demonstration, Bacon hid in a trash can and Hackl's dog Arago was sent to find him. After the dog passed by the trash can a few times without any recognition of a suspect hiding in the trash can (and urinated a couple of times on a nearby tree), Hackl explained that the dog was operating under less than ideal conditions and was likely distracted by the crowd watching the demonstration. Once the dog recognized that there was someone in the trash can, the dog put its paws on top of the trash can and furiously scratched at the trash can.

In the third demonstration, Aldred had Gunner perform a search for narcotics that were hidden in a bag on Officer Louie Guillen's bicycle. Gunner is the only San Leandro Police dog that is trained to search for narcotics. Aldred guided the dog to sniff around the bicycle, but appeared to work hard to focus the dog on the bag. It took a while, but once the dog caught a whiff of the narcotics, it gave a clear indication, including barking, that it had detected something.

Sergeant Joey Nguyen-Delgado noted that police dogs typically come from Europe and cost around $10,000. According to Nguyen-Delgado, German Shepherd dogs and Belgian Malinois, which look a lot like German Shepherds, are most common for police service nowadays. Other dogs that have previously served as San Leandro Police dogs include two doberman pinschers, a giant schnauzer, and a rottweiler.

Hackl's dog Arago reportedly killed Chloe, a 6-year-old Finnish Spitz dog in Brentwood on December 26, 2010. Hackl was not present when the dog was killed.

Photos of the event by Tim Holmes

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April 6, 2012

New Bike Racks Installed in Downtown San Leandro

Bike rack on E. 14th Street
On Wednesday April 4, 2012, 14 new bicycle racks like the one shown here were installed on East 14th Street and Washington Avenue in the downtown area of San Leandro. Three similar bike racks were installed near City Hall late last year.

According to City of San Leandro Senior Transportation Engineer Reh-Lin Chen, two more bicycle racks near the downtown Wells Fargo have been put on hold until construction of the Estudillo parking garage is completed.

San Leandro Councilmember Michael Gregory, often seen biking around San Leandro, said he was pleased to have the bike racks installed, but would also like to see more "mini-parks" like the one in front of Allphin Jewelers that includes a bike rack.

The San Leandro Downtown Association is sponsoring Bike SL 2012 on Sunday May 6, 2012. Participants can choose from a challenging 13-mile ride around Lake Chabot with Councilmember Gregory that starts at 10:30am or a family-friendly 5-mile bike ride through San Leandro that starts at noon.

Bike-to-work day is scheduled for May 10, 2012, and the City of San Leandro Engineering and Transportation Department will host an "Energizer Station" at the entrance to the San Leandro BART station from 7 to 9am.

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