Letters to the Editor

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The recent article, (“Transport-ation Choices to Go before Council,” Jan. 11) describes a 15-year plan, funded by a $61 million capital improvement program, directed at reducing single-occupant vehicle trips across the estuary (the article is unclear whether all these funds are directed at this purpose). The projects include a shuttle, parking, express bus service and a new ferry terminal.

Nowhere do I read about autonomous vehicles. This seems short-sighted given General Motors has asked the federal government for permission to run San Francisco driverless taxis next year — without drivers, steering wheels or pedals. Transit specialists, like most specialists, often optimize against their historical experience. For generals, this is called “fighting the last war.” Are Alameda’s transit specialists anticipating how autonomy will affect public transit?

While ferries provide new routes off-island, I don’t see a significant migration of commuters from cars to shuttles and buses. From my own experience, bus schedules are often inaccurate, there’s no room for bicycles, or buses ride nearly empty. Folks who don’t use bikes have the further problem of getting to and from the bus or shuttle station (“last mile”).

People increasingly expect “on-demand” transit, which arrives when they want it and brings them where ythey want to be. So far, this consists of taxis, Lyft and Uber — but these can be prohibitively expensive and don’t reduce single-occupant trips.

Alameda public transportation seems headed toward: 
1. small autonomous vehicles ferrying passengers between local destinations and transfer stations and 
2. larger autonomous vehicles carrying groups of passengers between transfer stations and to and from off-island destinations. Autonomy allows some transfers to occur on an ad hoc basis (no need to build a station). 

While autonomous vehicles are not yet available for lease or purchase, it’s possible to begin prototyping with human-driven vehicles. Can Alameda (with or without the help of a tech company) integrate Lyft and Uber for local trips and conventional shuttles to cross the estuary? We can meter traffic at crossings so high-occupancy vehicles (including shuttles) can bypass congestion.

The future is nearly upon us. Please, let’s spend our limited funds anticipating this future and create a safer, more livable city.


Rocky Kahn

On Saturday, Dec. 9, the Alameda Family Services League hosted its 47th annual Alameda Holiday Home Tour, a fundraiser for Alameda Family Services. This year’s tour was a resounding success with more than 500 tour goers enjoying the fabulous homes, delicious tea and festive gourmet shop, raffle and holiday boutique. The tour would not have been possible without the support of our wonderful community members.

First and foremost, thank you to the delightful homeowners who opened their homes to guests. Nancy and Roger, Nathan and Gabin, Elizabeth, Julie and Martin, and Nancy and Garr: Thank you so much for your generosity — you truly made this tour possible and unforgettable.

Our team of more than 100 volunteers also deserve a resounding ovation! Our Head Home Docents, home docents, tea volunteers, Santas, musicians, cookie-and-treat makers and helpers and holiday boutique vendors at the Elks Lodge were incredibly generous with their time and talent. We are also so grateful for the support and encouragement of the Alameda Family Services staff and board of directors.

In addition to volunteer hours, ommunity members and local businesses stepped up the plate with sponsorships, ads and raffle items. 

Additionally, a heartfelt thank you to our wonderful Alameda Family Services League team. You are truly the magic-makers and the reason why Alameda Family Services League is able to present this beautiful fundraiser year-after-year for such a wonderful cause.

Finally, thanks to our wonderful Alameda community for your support! Be sure to visit our Alameda Holiday Home Tour Facebook Page and www.alamedaholidayhometour.com for the final amount raised during this year’s tour. We look forward to seeing you next year for the 48th Annual Holiday Home Tour!


Katie Honegger, President Alameda Family Services League

Mayor Trish Spencer has more stories floating around about her then any politician in this town. These are by design. Initially when she became mayor, all I heard about was a well-educated attorney with a child attending Harvard who was “not very mayoral.”

Then the narrative was that she drinks too much. Let me tell you, as a person who does not drink, all of you get a little loose and a whole lot more fun after a glass of wine. So let’s not be too judgy. 

Trish has one fault. She did not get in line as a candidate. She did not ask permission — she did not ask special-interest groups like the unions for campaign money. She instead stood on various corners of town as we drove our kids to school and commuted to work. She held a homemade sign over her head that said, “Trish Spencer for Mayor.”   

This was a teachable moment for every parent. I showed my children the beauty of this country.  You live where you can wake up one day and challenge the status quo. 

This coming election year this fully independent mayor will, in all likelihood, have a smear campaign against her like we have never seen. She is not an automatic “yes” or “no” for anyone. She will make and has made, to the best of her ability, decisions solely for what she equates is best for this town. 

By no means am I portraying her as a perfect anything, but from my first-hand experience I have seen a person who genuinely seems to care about this town and that’s what we so badly need.  

Keep in mind that most union interests are held by people who don’t actually live in this town. I am not anti-union, I am anti-extremist. There has to be balance. I will be the first one to say that, as a community, we need to take care of our first responders, our  teachers and all the people employed to run our infrastructure. I don’t want my mayor, school superintendent, councilmembers or city manager indebted to any group but the residents of this town. 

So for those of you who are lucky enough to not know the politics of this town and the narratives of this mayor, please keep in mind that she always shows up, she has been the same Trish since day one and that she is not obligated to anyone but the average resident of this town. 

We need independent people like her in our town protecting our interests and values as a community.


Farhad Matin


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