Archive for October, 2011

City issues mea culpa

October 30, 2011

This is a good start, the next steps are to ensure the replacements are “reasonably” mature trees and not twigs. That and to ensure that similar snafus don’t occur again.

The City failed to notify the general public recently that the 2nd phase of the Streetscape Project on Park Street would begin with the immediate removal of the trees between Lincoln Ave and Webb Ave and from Central to San Jose. There is no excuse; this was a mistake. The sight of tree-less stretches of Park Street shocked and dismayed many, many Alamedans as they were going about their regular routine on the street. We acknowledge that people were justifiably angry with City Hall for this unwelcome surprise.

The “after” visuals look good, but the question still remains: could this have been achieved without the destruction of the mature trees?


Treemageddon on Park St

October 23, 2011

It was depressing to walk around Park St last evening. Many people stopped by to read the condolence messages that were displayed on the pathetic looking stumps that serve as a reminder of the carnage.

There is no dispute that the plan to remove all the trees between Central and Encinal was explicitly mentioned in the staff report and voted 5-0  by the City Council. I’m sure the staff reports contain some very fine prose, but I don’t know if reading them is the first thing most Alamedans think of when they wake up every morning.

The bigger questions are:

  • Why wasn’t there a taped notice on each of the trees announcing the imminent removal (as is usually done elsewhere)?
  • Did the City fear a backlash if there was an advance notification?
  • Was it really necessary to remove several mature trees? It will be another decade or so (atleast) before we have anything close to the majestic canopies that were brutally felled.
  • What part of Alameda is Spanish for “grove of poplar trees” or “tree-lined avenue” wasn’t clear to the City Council?

Webster and Posey tubes need cleaning

October 18, 2011

As many of you may have noticed, the walls are covered with soot from the automobile exhaust and are slowly turning pitch black in many places.

Turns out it is not a simple matter of just hosing down the walls. The runoff has to be collected and disposed off separately to meet the EPA standards, ie: they cannot let the runoff into the storm water drain as it will eventually enter the bay. Unlike the Caldecott tunnels, the Alameda tubes do not have the ability to divert the runoff into the sewer drain (this also explains why the Caldecott walls are much cleaner). As a result of the additional costs, CalTrans is deferring the cleanups.

I suspect that if more people complain, CalTrans will act. As it currently stands, the tubes are not a great advertisement for Alameda. You can also reach CalTrans at 510-286-0315.

Speeding in Alameda

October 17, 2011

There’s been a lot of chatter about how the 25mph limit is no longer strictly enforced. In my own (admittedly) unscientific observations, I often see cars speeding on Lincoln Ave, Otis Dr as well as on Webster St (as they exit the tube). This is especially bad at the intersection of Stargell and Webster as cars try to beat the light in both directions, often jumping the red light.

In checking with APD, looks like there were approx 1400 speeding tickets issued between Jan-Aug 2010 vs approx 860  for the same period this year. That is correct, your eyes were not deceiving you. The number of speeding tickets has dropped nearly 40% over the past year.

APD promptly responded to my request for clarification. To paraphrase the response: the drop is due to a significant staffing reduction in the Traffic Unit (3 three officers and a sergeant were lost due to injury, and 2 positions were lost in the most recent round of budget cuts). The traffic unit has gone from 6 motorcycle officers plus a sergeant to one officer and one sergeant. This is a temporary setback and they are working to fix it.

I look forward to having the traffic unit back in full strength so they can start (re)enforcing the speed limits.