Thursday, 16 May 2013 12:37
By Jim Knowles
San Leandro Times
Two San Leandro High students are heading south this summer to improve their Spanish and learn more about the people in Uruguay.
Moriah Tate and Patricia Martinez are among 13 students from the Bay Area who will travel to Montevideo, Uruguay in late June for a one-month stay with a host family. The students were selected for the trip from more than a hundred who applied.
“I always wanted to travel abroad,” Martinez said. “I didn’t think I would get selected. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Plus, it’s free.”
The trip is sponsored by the Amigos Youth Ambassadors program and the cost is being covered by the Dept. of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.
Both Tate and Martinez are taking Spanish, so they speak well enough to get along in South America, but they want to be more fluent.
The students will be staying with families in the capital city but they’ll see other parts of the country.
“We’ll be in Montevideo but we’ll visit the country part of Uruguay too,” said Tate, a junior.
They found out about the chance to see Uruguay from an announcement at the San Leandro High counseling department, posted by counselor Amy Olsen. She helped the students prepare their applications and essays to be considered for the trip.
As part of the program, both students are doing a public service project here in the Bay Area.
Tate is going to organize a clothing and food collection for people in need as her project. She’s worked on several projects in the past year as a member of the city’s Youth Advisory Commission, which helped organized the Cinco de Mayo celebration, the Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, a Halloween carnival and the teen talent show at the Main Library.
Martinez, a sophomore, is working with Project What, a program for young people who have a parent behind bars. She’s giving a presentation this Saturday at the at the project’s program at the San Francisco Main Library, “Beyond Bars: Our Lives, Our Rights.”
Martinez will be a featured youth speaker on what it’s like having a parent incarcerated. She wrote a presentation, accompanied by photographs, of her dad and herself, describing their relationship.
Doing this project caused her to visit her dad in jail at Santa Rita where she said they had a meaningful conversation for the first time in her life.
The remarkable students will soon find out who the families are they’ll stay with in Uruguay.
“We’ll find out in two weeks at a pre-trip retreat,” Tate said. “And we’ll meet the other students going on the trip too.”
CAPTION: San Leandro High students Patricia Martinez and Moriah Tate, shown here with counselor Amy Olsen, will go to Uruguay this summer.
PHOTO BY JIM KNOWLES
Thursday, 16 May 2013 12:34
By Amy Sylvestri
San Leandro Times
The Heron Bay Home Owners’ Association is suing the City of San Leandro over a proposed wind turbine to be built on the property of Halus Power Systems.
Last month, the City Council voted to allow a variance that would permit the 100-foot tall turbine to be built, upholding an earlier decision by the Board of Zoning Adjustments, despite protests from Heron Bay.
The turbine is set to built on the property of Halus Power Systems, on the end of Grant Avenue in an industrial-zoned area.
Heron Bay, a housing development with 630 homes, is more than 500-feet from the planned site of the turbine – across an empty field and San Lorenzo Creek.
Halus builds and refurbishes wind turbines for companies nationwide. Halus owner Louis Rigaud says it’s reasonable to build an example of his work on his property and he will use it as a research tool to develop new wind power technology and also to provide energy to his building
The lawsuit alleges that the city should not have approved the variance without an Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
When the City Council approved the project, they said that they felt their staff’s research into noise levels, wildlife impact and having the okay from state and federal agencies was enough and the EIR was not necessary.
Riguad says he has not been sued himself, but anticipates that he will be.
“They are using lawsuits despite the fact that the city, the California Department of Fish and Game, the East Bay Regional Parks District, and others have no problem with the turbine,” said Riguad.
Riguad says that he thinks the HOA is trying to delay the project in the hopes that he eventually gives up.
“We are a small business,” said Rigaud, who employs 10 people. “In my opinion, they are trying to block the project without any evidence of environmental impact on their end and without ever bringing any credible objections.”
At past meetings, several Heron Bay residents have spoken out against the project, citing reasons such as the possibility of the turbine killing birds, causing headaches, and affecting property values.
City Attorney Richard Pio Roda says that he believes that the EIR wasn’t necessary and the City Council made a fully legal decision to allow the turbine and the city will emerge victorious from the suit.
The next step will be a meeting with the Heron Bay HOA’s lawyer, Robert C. Goodman, which will happen within the next 65 days.
Goodman, who specializes in environmental law, says that the case could go to trial before the end of the year if no settlement is reached.
Goodman says they will prove that the City Council didn’t have proper evidence to approve the turbine.
“The Heron Bay HOA and many other members of the public have pointed out numerous aesthetic and wildlife issues that the city didn’t properly look into,” said Goodman. “They city was told repeatedly and ignored it. Having an EIR was their obligation.”
Thursday, 16 May 2013 12:31
The neon in the “Manor” sign in the heart of the Washington Manor neighborhood will light up for the first time in 30 years.
The Optimist Club of San Leandro and the City of San Leandro split the $13,400 cost of restoring the neon sign, with the City using funds from its Commercial Rehabilitation Program.
Mayor Stephen Cassidy announced this week that the historic Manor Shopping Center neon sign will be illuminated on Friday, May 24.
The sign was erected at the corner of Manor Boulevard and Farnsworth Street when the shopping center was built in the 1950s.
The current owner of the property, Larry Fingerut, was 18 years old and working in his father’s shoe store when he watched a crane set the vertical piece of the sign in place. Fingerut recalled the sign was visible from Bay-O-Vista when it was lit.
Next Friday, the Manor sign will light up again.
CAPTION: The neon is being restored to the Manor sign.
PHOTO BY CINDY WARNER
Thursday, 16 May 2013 12:29
The Hayward Animal Shelter, located at 16 Barnes Ct. in Hayward, will have a pet adoption festival, called “Where Friendship Begins,” on Saturday, May 18, from 1 to 5 p.m.
The artists who created the shelter’s new mural will be on hand and Mayor Sweeney will speak at a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Meet the artists, chat with rescue groups and veterinarians, and see the Hayward police canine unit demonstrate their skills, learn about search and rescue dogs, tour the shelter, enjoy refreshments and enjoy games for kids and doggies.
Thursday, 16 May 2013 12:25
California Police Activities League says that it’s time to play ball – the Junior Giants are calling on all young sluggers and volunteer coaches.
Junior Giants is a free, non-competitive, co-ed baseball program for underserved youth, ages 6 to 14. Working together with local agencies, families and volunteers, Junior Giants reaches into communities and offers youth a chance to learn the basics of baseball during the summer while also discovering the importance of self-esteem and respect.
Entering its 19th season, Junior Giants annually serves over 20,000 participants in 85 leagues and serves as a positive alternative to unhealthy activities for at-risk youth.
Junior Giants is more than just baseball and offers several distinct programs to further enrich a player’s experience.
Players learn the Junior Giants four bases of character development: confidence, integrity, leadership and teamwork, as well as the importance of education, health and violence prevention.
Junior Giants baseball was created to provide underserved children living in inner cities, and rural communities the opportunity to run the bases, rather than the streets, each summer. Volunteer coaches, consisting of police officers from the Police Activities League (PAL), and caring community members help teach baseball and behavioral skills that stay with the children long after the last ball is thrown.
To join a winning team as a player or coach registration must be online by June 21 on their website www.Jrgiants.org.
Thursday, 09 May 2013 16:16
Trustees say district will pay off usurious bonds sooner, before huge payments become due
By Amy Sylvestri
San Leandro Times
The San Leandro School District has taken out a controversial type of bond – one that could wind up costing more than $100 million in on a $20 million loan. But the school board trustees say the high interest rate bonds are a necessary evil.
San Leandro and other school districts use Capitol Appreciation Bonds (CABs) to fund construction projects, in this case the $109 Measure B project which includes the ninth grade campus and the performing arts center.
The problem with CABs is, districts can put off payments for years and accumulate millions in interest – and then a huge payment will come due.
The San Leandro school district has said they plan to pay back the loan before the balloon payment, but no one has said when that might happen.
The two San Leandro CABs were issued in 2010. One in the amount of $5.6 million that will reach maturity in 2035 with interest adding up to $27.5 million. The other is in the amount of $14.3 million and that will reach maturity in 2039 with interest totaling $80.7 million.
Those CABs have payback ratios of 4.8-to-1 and 5.6-to-1, respectively. So the school district will have to pay five times more than the amount it borrowed.
A new bill was recently introduced in the state assembly that would not allow payback ratios of more than 4-to-1. Earlier this year, State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson denounced using CABs and sent a letter out to California schools demanding that the practice be stopped.
The school board lamented the necessity of the CABs but said the hope is that they can pay back the loans before the 2030s and save money by limiting interest.
The School Board voted to approve Measure B but the way it was funded was determined by the school district staff.
Of the current school board members, only Board President Diana Prola and Area 4 Trustee Mike Katz-Lacabe were on the board when the CABs were taken out.
Prola said that CABs are complex and she did not feel comfortable enough with her knowledge of them to comment.
“I don’t think I want to make a statement on it,” said Prola. “They (CABs) are very complex. When they are explained to me, I understand them, but I’m not feeling comfortable enough to make a statement right now.”
Katz-Lacabe said that he was not a “fan” of CABs but believes that sometimes they are the only way to fund a project, especially as state funding has been lean over the past several years. He said that the fact that the CABs can be paid back before their due date will save the district money.
“Unlike some capital appreciation bonds, we paid a slight premium for CABs that can be refinanced into lower interest rate bonds,” said Katz-Lacabe. “We have refinanced other debt when it makes sense to do so, saving San Leandro taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Trustee Corina Lopez, a member of the finance committee, said that she does believe that the district acted responsibly when deciding to use the CABs, but she would like to see them gone as soon as possible.
“This is an issue that the current board inherited,” said Lopez. “It seems to be a consensus generally speaking that CABs are not good for schools. As soon as we can get out of them, we should. I’m committed to doing so.”
Trustee Vince Rosato said the idea of the balloon payments that come with CABs make him “shudder,” and the board has been discussing how to get them paid off.
“Pay them off and find another way,” said Rosato.
Area 2 Trustee Lance James said that CABs were a necessity in a bad financial environment.
“I wasn’t on the board at the time this was decided and I seriously doubt it will happen again in the future,” said James, who compared the CABs to high-interest rate payday loans. “What a nightmare for the district. But when the state cuts cash flow, what can you do?”
At Large Trustee Jason Toro said it is important to remember that none of the Measure B projects would be possible without CABs.
“You can’t single out CABs from the rest of the Measure B funding, it is part of a larger package,” said Toro. “And looking at the package in its entirety, and the amount of work we need to do and what we got out of it, it do think it was wise.”
Toro added that he also thinks the CABs should be paid back as soon as possible.
Area 6 Trustee Ron Carey didn’t return calls for comment.
As for what they would say to the people who will take their places on the San Leandro School Board of the future, the trustees all believed that the district will find a way to pay back the bonds long before the 2035 payment comes due and that the balloon payment won’t be an issue.
“I would be very surprised if the $100 million happened,” said Katz-Lacabe. “I don’t think it will come to that.”
Thursday, 09 May 2013 16:15
By Amy Sylvestri
San Leandro Times
Knives were used in two unrelated fights last week in San Leandro.
In the first incident, a large group of women were arguing on the 300 block of Thornton Street last Thursday at around 4 p.m., according to Lt. Randy Brandt of the San Leandro police.
Brandt said the fight is still under investigation and the cause of the tussle is not known at this time, but the women all knew each other.
Over a dozen people were involved in the fight and many punches were thrown, Brandt said.
At one point, one of the women pulled out a knife and someone got slashed by it.
The fight was broken up by police and several of the people involved were taken for medical treatment, though no one was injured seriously.
Brandt said the women ranged in age from their teens to their 50s. Both sides of the argument gave police conflicting stories so it will be sometime before the investigation is complete and any possible arrests are made.
In the second incident, a couple were arguing near the intersection of Fairway Drive and Merced Street at around 1 a.m. on Friday morning.
A 29-year-old female and a 52-year-old male had been to a bar together earlier. They began arguing and the man made a motion as if to strike her with his fist, but did not hit her, Brandt said.
The woman then brandished a knife at the man, but did not injure him. Police arrived and questioned the pair, but neither person was arrested as the other did not wish to press charges.
Thursday, 09 May 2013 16:12
700 apartment unit plan scaled down to 200; new plans call for offices for OSIsoft, not housing
By Amy Sylvestri
San Leandro Times
The City Council got an update on the long-debated Bridge affordable housing project at Monday night’s school board meeting.
The Bridge Housing development – called the Cornerstone – has been in the planning stages for over five years. It is part of the city’s San Leandro Crossings Transit Oriented Development strategy to be built near the downtown BART station.
The original idea was to have up to 700 housing units, both market-rate and low income, but a delay in federal funds and a faltering housing market put the brakes on the development.
Under the current plan, there will be about 200 “affordable housing” apartments, with 102 to be built next year and around 85 senior units planned for 2015. The senior housing was not in earlier plans for the development. The apartments will be built where the BART parking lot is now, across San Leandro Boulevard from the station.
Candidates for affordable housing have a household income of 30 to 60 percent of the area’s median income or 30 to 50 percent of that income if they are seniors, according to Bridge representative Robert Stevenson.
Construction must begin by early 2014 if Bridge wants to retain $30 million in grant money from the state, according to Tom Liao, San Leandro’s housing and panning manager.
The project will also include 200,000-square-feet of office space for software company OSIsoft, to be built on the vacant lot west of the BART station. There will no longer be any market-rate housing.
About ten public speakers addressed the City Council, with most in favor of the development.
“This project needs to be built,” said speaker Robert Fox. “We want this done and done as soon as possible.”
But speaker David Erlich spoke against the project, saying funding was tenuous and affordable housing is “social engineering that isn’t going to work.”
Others questioned parking availability. The Cornerstone will have one parking space alloted per each unit. The senior housing will only allot parking spaces for about 60 percent of the senior apartments, with Bridge expecting not all seniors still driving.
In addition to the funding and parking problems, the project attracted controversy last summer when Bridge Housing project manager Kevin Leichner was appointed to the city’s planning commission despite protests by public speakers at council meetings about a conflict of interest.
The City Council members themselves were positive about the project, but did request further study into the parking problems.
“I love this project,” said Councilman Jim Prola.
Councilwoman Diana Souza said she was gratified to see the project still after alive after years of delays.
“I’m happy to see we are still moving forward,” said Souza. “This project is like a cat with nine lives.”
Mayor Stephen Cassidy reminded everyone that some funding is being held up because of the city’s dispute with the state over redevelopment funds and said the housing project is “not a done deal yet.”
“We are committed to moving forward and we are hopeful, said Cassidy. “Keep your fingers crossed.”
In addition to the funding problems, the project attracted controversy last summer when Bridge Housing project manager Kevin Leichner was appointed to the city’s planning commission, despite protests by public speakers at council meetings about a conflict of interest.
Thursday, 09 May 2013 16:10
PHOTO COURTESY OF FARLEY WALKER
CALICO recently held a partner appreciation lunch at its office on Estudillo Avenue to thank law enforcement officers, child welfare workers, prosecutors, and others who work together to conduct child abuse investigations in a manner where children’s needs come first. Amy Cassidy, representing Mayor Stephen Cassidy, read a proclamation designating April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in the City of San Leandro. CALICO also honored Detective Ali Khan, who was named SLPD 2012 Police Officer of the Year.
Thursday, 02 May 2013 13:26
The Ashland community will celebrate Cinco de Mayo on Saturday, May 4, with an alcohol-free fiesta at the Ashland Community Center.
Ashland is having its 11th Annual Cinco de Mayo celebration on Saturday at the Ashland Community Center, 1530 167th Ave.
Everyone is invited to come for the traditional Mexican entertainment, such as Aztec dancers, youth performances and a Mexican lunch. The fiesta is sponsored by County Supervisor Nate Miley and is free from the sale or promotion of alcohol.
The fiesta organizers reject the alcohol industry’s insidious use of the holiday to promote their product.
Ashland’s Cinco de Mayo celebration celebrates the true meaning of the day. On May 5, 1862, the French army attacked the town of Puebla and the Mexican Army, under General Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated the French Army despite the weak Mexican armament.
For Mexico, this military victory united the country and generated a stronger sense of patriotism. The Chicano Movement in the 1960s began to acknowledge May fifth as the day that reflects the Mexican/Chicano identity struggle in the United States. It became a time to mobilize neighborhoods and address social justice issues within the Chicano community.
In the late 1980s the alcohol industry began using May 5th (Cinco de Mayo) to promote their alcohol products. Saturday’s event seeks to emphasize the message of community pride, free of the alcohol that has become an element central to many Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the United States. It is hoped that this approach will eliminate alcohol-related problems and help educate the community about the origin of this historic event in the Mexican culture.
Sponsors Include CommPre/Horizon Services, Inc., Hayward Area Recreation and Park District (HARD), Alameda County Deputy Sheriff’s Activities League (DSAL), Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, Alameda County Fire Department, Alameda County Public Works, Alameda County Board of Education Member Aisha Knowles, Alameda County Community Development Agency (CDA), and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
Thursday, 02 May 2013 13:21
PHOTO BY JIM KNOWLES
Rotary Club members and volunteers recently painted the main room interior of the San Leandro Boys & Girls Club.
The Boys & Girls Club of San Leandro received a new coat of paint, thanks to a group of Rotarians who spent a weekend doing the job.
The Rotary Club of San Leandro arrived with paint, brushes and sprayers and painted the main room of the club at the corner of San Leandro and Marina boulevards on the weekend of April 19 to 21.
The Rotarians also had some help from volunteers from the Eden Area ROP students, the Interactors from San Leandro High School and the Rotaractors (Rotary young adults).
Thursday, 02 May 2013 13:06
By Amy Sylvestri
San Leandro Times
A fire destroyed six school district portables last week and fire officials described the cause of the blaze as “suspicious.”
The one-alarm fire started around 12:15 a.m. Friday morning and completely gutted the portables behind the school district offices, near the James Madison School property on Juniper Street. Firefighters took about 20 minutes to extinguish the flames.
The fire started inside one of the portables and the cause of the one-alarm blaze is unknown, but is “most likely suspicious,” according to Aisha Knowles, Alameda County Fire Department spokeswoman.
The Alameda County Fire Department inspector could not determine whether the fire started as a result of arson or an act of carelessness or negligence, Knowles said.
The fire department has ended its investigation and now it’s up to the district and their insurance agency if they want to go ahead with further investigation, Knowles said.
School district spokeswoman Robin Michel said that the insurance investigators are definitely pursuing the case and hope to make a determination as to the cause of the fire soon.
The portables had just been placed on the campus earlier in the week and weren’t yet wired for electricity, Michel said.
The portables were going to be a temporary office for the district while the current building was being remodeled. The renovation will be delayed, but is still planned for the summer, Michel said.
CAPTION: The portables had just been delivered to the school district before they caught fire.
PHOTO BY AMY SYLVESTRI